Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

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Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:

  • TA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ta-Td.
  • TE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Te-Tg.
  • TH.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Th.
  • TI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ti-Tn.
  • TO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters To-Tq.
  • TR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Tr-Tt.
  • TU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Tu-Tz.

Although this older “T.htm” file still exists (in case there are still links to its contents),
all new entries and revisions to old entries are being made to the above files.

A rural collective production brigade in the mountainous area of northern Shansi Province which became the pace-setter and model for agricultural work and economic and social development throughout China during the Maoist period.
        In 1975 Tachai had 83 households with about 450 people. Prior to the liberation of China in 1949 Tachai was just one of countless desperately poor villages in China. But after Liberation, and under the excellent leadership of
Chen Yonggui [Chen Yung-kuei, old style], the secretary of the Tachai Party branch of the CCP, the whole village (and later the surrounding area) was mobilized to engage in collective work for the benefit of the whole community. Through socialist collective ideology and hard work and perseverance they turned what had been a miserably poor and downtrodden village into a thriving and prosperous community, despite originally having no natural advantages (such as good soil) in the region. A fundamental change in the mental outlook of the people of the brigade took place, and farm production rose rapidly.
        Chairman Mao took note of this great socialist success and in 1964 issued the call to the rest of rural China: “In agriculture, learn from Tachai.” After that the “Learn from Tachai” movement spread rapidly and many Tachai-type brigades and communes soon appeared in various parts of China. In 1970 Hsiyang County, where the Tachai Brigade is located, launched the learn-from-Tachai movement in all its communes and brigades. Grain output that year doubled that of 1967, and Hsiyang County was declared China’s first Tachai-type county. In 1975 the State Council convened a national conference on learning from Tachai, and in 1976 the number of Tachai-type counties grew to 400. And in 1976 China reaped its 15th consecutive rich harvest.
        Chen Yonggui’s socialist spirit and great success at mobilizing the peasant masses led to his gradual elevation to positions of leadership in the local area, then the county and province, and eventually he became a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party and a Vice-Premier of the State Council. He briefly retained these positions after Mao’s death, but then as the capitalist-roaders gained greater power Chen was removed from these positions, and the entire socialist collective economy of rural China was completely dismantled.

TAILISM (Tailing the Masses)
[Intro material to be added... ]

“Tailism in any type of work is also wrong, because in falling below the level of political consciousness of the masses and violating the principle of leading the masses forward it reflects the disease of dilatoriness. Our comrades must not assume that the masses have no understanding of what they themselves do not yet understand. It often happens that the masses outstrip us and are eager to advance a step when our comrades are still tailing behind certain backward elements, for instead of acting as leaders of the masses such comrades reflect the views of these backward elements and, moreover, mistake them for those of the broad masses.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, vol. 3, p. 316.

Those people from Taiwan who are now living and working in mainland China, where there are more economic opportunities. As of the end of 2011 it is estimated that there are around one million people in this category.

A famous work by Mao Zedong first published in May 1942 and included in volume III of the Selected Works of Mao Tsetung. It is on the Internet in English at several places including
http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/YFLA42.html and http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_08.htm .
        The Forum on Literature and Art took place during the month of May 1942, and Mao himself gave two presentations, an Introduction on May 2nd, and a longer Concluding speech on May 23rd. Mao stressed the importance of art serving the interests of the masses of people and especially their revolutionary interests. He talked about these key questions in art and literature:
        The problem of class stand, stressing that art should take the standpoint of the proletariat and masses, and that CCP members should promote the political line of the Party in their art work;
        The problem of attitude, that art should criticize the enemy and support the people in their struggles;
        The problem of audience, that our art is for the workers and the masses, rather than for the rich and privileged classes;
        The problem of work, meaning that those engaged in art and literature should merge with the masses, get to know their needs and situation, and learn from the masses how to reach the masses with their art; and
        The problem of study, that artists and writers must study Marxism-Leninism so that their work will be richer in content and more correct in orientation.
        The “Talks...” were especially strong with regard to the need for artists and writers to share the life of the masses so that they will be better able to reflect the real situation in society. And this work even includes one of Mao’s earliest statements of the basic idea of the mass line: “Revolutionary statesmen, the political specialists who know the science or art of revolutionary politics, are simply the leaders of millions upon millions of statesmen—the masses. Their task is to collect the opinions of these mass statesmen, sift and refine them, and return them to the masses, who then take them and put them into practice.”
        For a further discussion of this important work, and its context, see: “For Your Reference: About ‘Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art’”, Peking Review, vol. 15, #20, May 19, 1972, available at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1972/PR1972-20b.htm

A bourgeois and petty-bourgois refrain found in Australia, New Zealand and the UK aimed at those who are supposedly “jealous” of people who are “successful” (i.e. adept at personal enrichment through the extraction of surplus value). It is of course perfectly natural for the bourgoisie to ascribe any hostility to capitalism and the accumulation of wealth as emanating from jealousy, because they genuinely cannot conceive of any legitimate grievances that people might have against their “wonderful” system. Of real interest is the large number of people of proletarian backgrounds who subscribe to the tall-poppy notion. This is another example of how bourgois philosophy and morality infects the proletariat, many of whom come to embrace the system that exploits them because “it’s human nature to want more”, or some such bourgeois notion. —L.C.

Assets which can be touched or felt, including homes, stores, factories, machinery, raw materials purchased, vehicles, livestock, etc., as opposed to intangible property such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts, cash, accounts receivable, intellectual property, and so forth.
        In capitalist societies tangible property is taxed, often heavily so, while intangible property is normally not taxed at all. Thus there are property taxes on homes, but no property taxes on stocks and bonds owned. Why is this, do you suppose? The rich man owns a lot more tangible property than does a poor man, of course. But a much higher proportion of the wealth of the rich man is in the form of intangible property, in stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and so forth. That is why those things are not taxed! The bourgeoisie runs society in its own class interests, after all! (It is true that there are taxes on income from both tangible and intangible property, but not on the intangible property itself. And even with regard to income taxes, the tax code is loaded with a vast number of
loopholes for the rich.)

[To be added...]
        See also:

TARGET RATE (Federal Reserve)

A term referring to what has become the central strategy of U.S. imperialism in its so-called
“War on Terror”. One of the specific methods utilized is the assassination of individuals, as was done by a U.S. Navy Seal team in the case of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011. However, much more common and typical is the use of drones to remotely kill supposed “terrorist suspects” and, inevitably because of very frequent “accidents”, much larger numbers of innocent civilians including a great many children. Because of this, the strategy of “targeted killing” is constantly generating many more new enemies of U.S. imperialism than it is killing. It is therefore doomed to fail in the end.
        Targeted killings (assassinations) have been part of the arsenal of U.S. imperialism since it came into existence well over a century ago. But until recently assassinations were more of an adjunct to “gunboat diplomacy”, invasions, and more conventional strategies of war. The “War on Terror” itself also began with the more conventional bombings and invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. But U.S. imperialism and its allies became bogged down in those wars, and found them way too costly. So, as is so often the case, the U.S. looked for a cheaper technical solution to what was actually a social problem of their own making. This new strategy of assassinations by drones first became important during the second term of George W. Bush. But during the Obama administration it has really mushroomed and become the basic strategy for its entire “War on Terror”. Because of all the civilians being murdered, this “targeted killing” strategy is gradually turning that war ever more clearly into a war of U.S. imperialism against the people of the world.
        See also the New York Times article, “Targeted Killing Comes to Define War on Terror” (April 7, 2013).

TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program]
An emergency U.S.
government bailout program for banks and other financial institutions which was passed in the fall of 2008 with an initial appropriation of 700 billion dollars. The name comes from the original idea that the money would be used primarily to buy up the “toxic assets” of the banks and Wall Street firms, such as their foolish investments in subprime mortgages and securities based on them. (The government bill used the euphemism “troubled assets” rather than the actual term being used by the public and Wall Street brokers themselves—“toxic assets”.) Actually, however, the government quickly changed its idea about what to do with all this money, and started using it to “recapitalize” these banks and other corporations. The aim was still to prop up these supposedly “private” corporations and keep them from going bankrupt, but the method was switched to simply giving them the money (in exchange for grossly overvalued stock certificates) instead of directly buying up their bad investments. This was a hidden form of bourgeois nationalization, in which the government “invested” in these financial institutions but did little to control or direct them, let alone to do so in the interests of the people.

TASCA, Angelo   (1892-1960)
syndicalist in Turin in his early years. Worked with Gramsci, Togliatti and Terracini, and after the Livorno Congress in 1921 joined the Italian Communist Party. He was a rightist who broke with the left wing of the party around 1926, and was expelled in 1929 (because of his support of Bukharin against Stalin it is said). He emigrated to France and became a French citizen in 1936. During the Spanish Civil War he supported the Trotskyite POUM in opposition to the Communist Party of Spain. During World War II Tasca was an important official in the Vichy regime in France (which collaborated with Nazi Germany). After World War II he became a professional anti-Communist and “fiery anti-Stalinist”.

“After the trial of Bukharin, Tasca abandoned Marxism altogether and swerved to the right. The outbreak of war found him broadcasting for French radio. In 1940, he rejected an opportunity to escape to London and worked for the Vichy government as an anti-Communist propagandist. He did so because he was convinced that the enmity between Communists and Socialists had brought France to defeat. However, his hope that France could be reborn under Vichy was short-lived and he soon made contact with the Belgian resistance. It was not enough and his early collaborationism prevented his having any kind of political career in France or Italy after 1945. With some bitterness, he turned to writing fierce anti-Communist studies based on his own archives and diaries. He ended up on the CIA-funded lecture circuit....” —Paul Preston, quoted in a Stanford University sponsored anti-communist website discussion at: http://web.stanford.edu/group/wais/Fascism/fascism_angelo.htm


Lawyers employed to allow corporations and the rich to make best use of the thousands of pages describing special LOOPHOLES (see below) in the tax laws in capitalist countries.
        See also:

“How does General Electric get away with paying little to no federal taxes? By employing a tax department of some 975 lawyers and accountants, often called the world’s best tax law firm. Headed by John Samuels, a bow-tie-wearing former Treasury Department official, the tax department has more than tripled in size over the past two decades, all in the interest of reducing the company’s tax bill. The department is widely admired for its artful accounting, crafted by the dozens of former IRS officials and former employees of congressional tax-writing committees that GE has hired. ... GE also files tax returns in 250 global jurisdictions, many of them low-tax countries where profits are parked to avoid the U.S. taxman.” —The Week, Sept. 2, 2011, p. 13.

Loopholes are special exceptions in the tax code which allows those who qualify (virtually always corporations and special categories of rich people) to escape paying part of their taxes. Politicians are bribed (usually in the form of “campaign donations”) by the rich to include the loopholes which will benefit those bribing them. The fact that the tax code is now so enormously complex and full of tens of thousands of loopholes speaks for itself as to who is in control of the American government.
        See also:

“The federal tax code, which was 400 pages long in 1913, has swollen to about 70,000. Americans now spend 7.6 billion hours a year grappling with an incomprehensible tangle of deductions, loopholes, and arcane reporting requirements. That is the equivalent of 3.8 million skilled workers toiling full-time, year-round, just to handle the paperwork. By this measure, the tax-compliance industry is six times larger than car-making....
         “Every wrinkle in the tax code represents a favor to some group.... A typical loophole has passionate defenders but no opponents. Those who benefit from it, benefit a lot. Those who would gain from its repeal (i.e., taxpayers in general), have never heard of it. So the mess gets ever messier. Happy April 15th.” —The Economist, April 10, 2010, p. 35.

A term used mostly in bourgeois economics to indicate one or another type of distortion in economic choices caused by a tax. The most frequently mentioned type of tax wedge is the difference between the cost of a worker’s wages to the employer, and what the worker actually receives as take-home pay. The national, state and local governments deduct substantial parts of a worker’s gross pay for income taxes, Social Security taxes, unemployment and disability taxes, and so forth. Thus the worker’s net pay, i.e., what they actually receive in their pay checks, is very much smaller.
        Sometimes a broader difference is drawn between the total cost of employment of a worker to the capitalist company (including not just gross pay but also the costs of vacation, health, retirement and other benefits) and take-home pay. (This broader difference is not, strictly speaking, entirely a tax wedge.)

[To be added...]
        See also:

A militant peasant movement initiated in the Bengal region of British-controlled India in 1946 for the purpose of allowing share-cropping peasants to keep for themselves a larger share of the food they grew. This was near the end of a long period of
British imperialist caused famine, and at a time when it was the usual practice of landlords to take 50% of the crops. This Tebhaga Movement, led by the Kisan Sabha [Peasant Council] front of the Communist Party of India, sought to reduce the share taken by the landlords from one half to one third.
        The landlords, and the colonial government, of course used force to try to stop this movement, and the ensuing violence forced many landlords to flee from the villages, leaving areas of the countryside under the control of the Kisan Sabha. One of the leaders of this great peasant struggle was Charu Mazumdar, who much later led the great peasant uprising in Naxalbari, and went on to found the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).
        To try to regain control of the situation, the Muslim League ministry in charge of the province passed the Bargadar Act, which legally set the maximum portion of the harvest that the landlords could take at one third of the total. However, once things settled down, the law was not fully enforced. Nevertheless, the Tebhaga Movement gave the Bengali peasants a taste of their own potential power, and helped set the stage for the later revolutionary movement.

The religious or
idealist philosophical view which holds that design, purpose and goals, analogous to those which exist in many human actions and activities (and those of other higher animals), can also be found in the world in general. Thus the idea that the sun exists in order to warm the earth is an example of a teleological view, as is the idea that the world was created for human beings (by some god). Of course the sun does warm the earth, but no force created the sun for that purpose. And, the earth is in general quite well suited for the existence of human beings and other animals, but this is because we have evolved to live under these conditions (such as this amount of gravitation force, this range of temperatures, etc.).
        [More to be added...]

A law adopted by the English Parliament in 1847 which restricted the working day for women and children to 10 hours.

TEN PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION [Of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army]
PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY—Ten Principles of Operation

TENDENCIES (As Scientific Laws)
SCIENTIFIC LAWS—As Mere Tendencies

A flowering tree in India and Sri Lanka, Diospyros melanoxylon, popularly known as the Coromandel Ebony or East Indian Ebony. It has hard and dry wood. In addition, its leaves are used to wrap tobacco cigarettes called bidis. Tendu is called “kendu” in the Indian states of Orissa and Jharkhand. Tendu workers have often played a militant role in labor and social struggles in South Asia.

The use of terror as a means of coercion. Terror, in turn, is the use of violence in order to force your opponents to accede to your demands, and the extreme fear that this violence then creates in those opponents.
        The imperialists and bourgeois ruling classes rarely openly admit to using terror or terrorism against either other countries or their own populations. But of course military and police attacks certainly do instill great terror. If bombing and the use of weapons like napalm is not terrorism, then the word has no meaning whatsoever. By far the greatest terrorists in the capitalist world are the capitalists themselves and their police and armed forces. They easily account for 99% of all the terrorism in the world today.

TERRORISM — By the Revolutionary Proletariat
[Intro to be added... ]

“And the victorious party [in a revolution] must maintain its rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries. Would the Paris Commune have lasted more than a day if it had not used the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie? Cannot we, on the contrary, blame it for having made too little use of that authority?” —Engels, quote in Lenin, “Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:251. (I have not yet tracked this down to its original source in Engels’ writings. —S.H.)

“OK yes, I believe that a revolution is impossible without terror, precisely because the right will resort to terror to stop it. That brings up another aspect of revolution, which is this: to succeed a revolution must go all the way. No stopping midstream. The right will always use terror to foil it, so the revolution must use terror to stop it.” —Jean-Paul Sartre, interviewed by John Gerassi, quoted in Joseph Walsh, “Sartre: Conversations with a ‘Bourgeois Revolutionary’”, Monthly Review, June 2010, p. 61.

THAILAND — Communist Party of Thailand
The Communist movement in Thailand (still called Siam until 1939) had a slow and confused development, partly because of the complex ethnic make-up of the country. Initially it was composed mostly of ethnic Chinese and there were very few Communists of Thai ethnicity. Though this imbalanced diminished over time, it remained a major problem throughout the party’s history. The CPT was also primarily an urban party until the 1960s when, under repressive government attacks, it retreated to the forests and began an armed struggle. During the 1970s it rapidly expanded its revolutionary army (the People’s Liberation Army of Thailand), which reached a peak of between 12,000 and 20,000 soldiers by early 1979. There were guerrilla zones in more than 40 provinces, with CPT influences in thousands of villages with a total population of more than 3 million people.
        However, the CPT and PLAT then fell to pieces, primarily because of internal ideological and organizational weaknesses and poor leadership, and weak ties with the non-Chinese masses throughout much of the country. The rapidly developing revisionism in China after Mao’s death led to much less support and sympathy for the revolution in Thailand. During the period of hostility and conflict between China and Vietnam (1978-9 and later), the weapons supplied by China to the Thai national army to resist an expected Vietnamese invasion (which never occurred) were actually used against the PLAT revolutionaries. Because of poor leadership and ideological confusion the PLAT soldiers began surrendering to the government, often en masse. By the mid-1980s the revolutionary war was abandoned and the CPT itself disappeared from view. It will be up to a new generation of Thais to recreate a revolutionary communist party and carry out the still desperately needed social revolution in that country.
        For further information see: Pierre Rousset’s article on the Communist Party of Thailand at:
http://links.org.au/node/1247 or http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article14956

Early Greek philosopher of the
Ionian School, often called the “first philosopher”. In addition to that, he was credited by Aristotle with being the founder of physical science; he may have been the first person in recorded history to put forth materialist speculations about the physical nature of the world. (He believed that the most basic substance, and the ultimate constituent of all things, was water.) He is said to have predicted the solar eclipse on May 28, 585 BCE, and to have introduced the study of geometry to Greece from the Middle East.

A reactionary Chinese movie, the criticism of which played an important role in getting the
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution underway. This motion picture was begun by the Guomindang’s [Kuomintang’s] Central Film Studio, but remained unfinished when the GMD was forced out of power in the great Chinese Revolution in 1949. The film was then completed and promoted by the revisionists Zhou Yang [Old style: Chou Yang] and Hsia Yen within the CCP after the victory of the Revolution. Zhou Yang, Liu Shaoqi’s leading agent in the field of culture, called it “one of the best Chinese films” and journalists inside and outside the Party were ordered to write hundreds of articles praising it.
        Wu Xun (or Wu Hsun) (1838-1896), himself, was born into a very poor family in Shandong. He had no education and worked in semi-slavery for landlords, and later became a beggar. But he diligently saved and invested his money and through astute business dealings eventually became a rich man and a landlord himself. While he was known for his philanthropy, the portion of his riches that he gave away of course came from his own much larger exploitation of peasants and workers. Thus a film glorifying such a person is hardly something that a real communist would make or promote. [See: PHILANTHROPY]
        Chiang Kai-shek and the GMD highly praised the deeds of Wu Xun from 1934 on, as part of their cultural indoctrination efforts called the “New Life Movement”. Wu’s story was told in comic books, and statues were erected to him in many primary schools around the country. And even after the Liberation of the country, when this film about Wu Xun was finished, the newspapers were filled with articles praising the movie and lauding Wu Xun for his philanthropy and portraying him as a model for the masses.
        Mao himself initiated the first major criticism of this film in his editorial in Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily] entitled “Give Serious Attention to the Discussion of the Film The Life of Wu Hsun” (May 20, 1951):

“The questions raised by The Life of Wu Hsun are fundamental in character. Living in the era of the Chinese people’s great struggle against foreign aggressors and the domestic reactionary feudal rulers towards the end of the Ching Dynasty, people like Wu Hsun did not lift a finger to disturb the tiniest fragment of the feudal economic base or its superstructure. On the contrary, they worked fanatically to spread feudal culture and, moreover, sedulously fawned upon the reactionary feudal rulers in order to acquire the status they themselves lacked for spreading feudal culture. Ought we to praise such vile conduct? Can we ever tolerate such vile conduct being praised to the masses, especially when such praise flaunts the revolutionary flag of ‘serving the people’ and is underlined by exploiting the failure of the revolutionary peasant struggle? To approve or tolerate such praise means to approve or tolerate reactionary propaganda vilifying the revolutionary struggle of the peasants, the history of China, and the Chinese nation, and to regard such propaganda as justified....
        “Is it not a fact that reactionary bourgeois ideas have found their way into the militant Communist Party? Where on earth is the Marxism which certain Communists claim to have grasped?” —Quoted in “The Class Struggle in China’s Ideological Sphere” [PDF: 872 KB], in Peking Review, issue #37, Sept. 7, 1969.

But that was way back in 1951. How did it come about that this episode served in part to help initiate the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s? It was because the revisionists did not really change their ways. Further reactionary works, such as the historical drama “Hai Rui Dismissed From Office”, continued to appear, and formed a definite reactionary pattern. When Yao Wenyuan, at the urging of Mao and Jiang Qing, criticized “Hai Rui Dismissed...” in 1965, this opened a floodgate of revolutionary criticism against all such reactionary cultural works, going back to the founding of the People’s Republic. And it led eventually to the criticism of those at the top (led by Liu Shaoqi) who had promoted and protected this sinister current.



THEORIES OF SURPLUS VALUE   [“Volume IV of Capital”]
A major part of the economic manuscripts left by Marx at his death which was intended to become volume IV of his great work
Capital. Although the fourth volume of Capital that Marx hoped to publish was expected by him to be primarily historical, the actual manuscripts he left of TSV include many passages of great importance to the theory of Marxist political economy. TSV is thus an extremely important, though often neglected, part of Marx’s writings on political economy. It contains many points not fully elaborated in the first three volumes, as well as a detailed history and criticism of the crucially important topic of surplus value as it was originally developed by classical bourgeois economists.
        TSV was not published, even in German, until the first decade of the 20th century. The first of the three volumes of TSV, which were all edited (poorly and tendentiously!) by Karl Kautsky, appeared in 1904, the second in 1905, and the third not until 1910. Prior to their publication other Marxist writers on political economy—including Lenin—did not have access to Marx’s complete theory on a number of key topics, most notably with regard to Marx’s criticism of “Say’s Law”. More accurate editions of the three volumes of TSV, based on Marx’s original manuscripts, were published in German in 1956, 1959 and 1962. The versions of these three volumes in English translation (from Progress Publishers in Moscow) did not appear until 1963, 1968 and 1971, respectively. The late publication of TSV, the dubious reliability of its first German edition, and its relative neglect even since its proper publication, have all created serious problems for Marxist political economy, especially in Britain and the United States.

“First, a manuscript entitled Zur Kritik der politishen Oekonomie, ... written in August 1861 to June 1863. It is the continuation of a work of the same title, the first part of which appeared in Berlin, in 1859.... The themes treated in Book II [volume II of Capital] and very many of those which are treated later, in Book III [volume III of Capital], are not yet arranged separately. They are treated in passing, to be specific, in the section which makes up the main body of the manuscript, viz., pages 220-972 (Notebooks VI-XV), entitled ‘Theories of Surplus-Value.’ This section contains a detailed critical history of the pith and marrow of Political Economy, the theory of surplus-value and develops parallel with it, in polemics against predecessors, most of the points later investigated separately and in their logical connection in the manuscript for Books II and III. After eliminating the numerous passages covered by Books II and III I intend to publish the critical part of this manuscript as Capital, Book IV. This manuscript, valuable though it is, could be used only very little in the present edition of Book II.” —Engels, Preface to Marx’s Capital, Vol. II, (International: 1967), p. 2. [Engels died before he was able to follow through with this plan to publish TSV as volume IV of Capital.]

[Speaking of Kautsky’s edition of TSV in 1904-1910:] “In this edition the basic principles of the scientific publication of a text were violated and there were distortions of a number of the tenets of Marxism.” —Note 36, Lenin: Selected Works, vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress, 1967).

THEORISTS (Revolutionary)
[Intro material to be added... ]

“What kind of theorists do we want? We want theorists who can, in accordance with the Marxist-Leninist stand, viewpoint and method, correctly interpret practical problems arising in the course of history and revolution and give scientific explanations and theoretical elucidations of China’s economic, political, military, cultural and other problems.” —Mao, “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (Feb. 1, 1942), SW 3:38.



“Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie
         Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.”
         [Gray, dear friend, is all theory
         And green the golden tree of life.]
              —Goethe, Faust, Part I, Mephisopheles speaking to a student.
         [Lenin liked to repeat this aphorism, as for example in his “Letters on Tactics” (April 1917), LCW 24:45. He did not mean that theory is to be generally ignored or rejected, but merely that theory is never as rich, complex and fully appropriate as life is itself. Just before quoting Goethe, Lenin says “It is essential to grasp the incontestable truth that a Marxist must take cognisance of real life, of the true facts of reality, and not cling to a theory of yesterday, which, like all theories, at best only outlines the main and the general, only comes near to embracing life in all its complexity.” Good theories are a general guide to action, but should not be taken as an absolute dogma regardless of the actual situation. —S.H.]

The branch of philosophy which is concerned with the nature and extent of human knowledge, how we come to know things, the reliability of what we know, and so forth. Also known as
epistemology in more pretentious language.

Various related revisionist theories whose central dogma is that the establishment of socialism and then communism depends entirely, or at least to a very large degree, upon the prior expansion of the
productive forces to a very advanced level, under some form of capitalism. (Whether that is to be Western-style monopoly capitalism; or state capitalism of a form like that in the Soviet Union during the revisionist period; or some type of so-called “market socialism”; or whatever.)
        The productive forces are the material means of production (factories, machinery, raw materials, etc.) together with human labor of an appropriate quality and capability. Thus certainly the productive forces must have reached some reasonable level of development before socialism (let alone communism) can first be established. No sensible person imagines that genuine socialism (in the modern Marxist sense) could have been established in ancient times, for example, or before the capitalist era.
        But the “theory of productive forces” goes well beyond that recognition; it insists that even in the present world, after centuries of capitalist production, socialism (and communism) are still not possible unless the productive forces are further expanded to a major degree. The essence of this reactionary theory, therefore, is that, “at least in our country”, 1) the productive forces have not yet been developed to the point where socialism can be successfully established; and 2) that the productive forces cannot be further and rapidly developed under any sort of socialism which can be established at the present time. In other words, those who uphold this revisionist theory view the continuation of capitalism as still essential “at the present time”.
        This theory has been especially prominent among revisionists in poorly developed countries (the “Third World”). But it has even been championed by some people in the more advanced capitalist countries. The theory, after all, first developed at the end of the 19th century in one of the leading capitalist countries, Germany, where it was championed by Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky among others.

“The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi consistently advocated the reactionary ‘theory of productive forces.’ According to this fallacy, socialist revolution is impossible and the socialist road cannot be taken in any country where capitalism is not highly developed and the productive forces have not reached a high level. Before the seizure of political power by the proletariat, he advocated this theory to forbid the proletariat from rising to make revolution and seizing political power. After the seizure of power, he raised it to oppose socialist transformation in a futile effort to lead China on the road of capitalism. When the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production was completed in the main, he continued to advocate this theory in a clandestine attempt to restore capitalism.” —Hung Hsueh-ping, “The Essence of ‘Theory of Productive Forces’ is to Oppose Proletarian Revolution”, Peking Review, #38, Sept. 19, 1969.

“Bernstein first put forward this fallacy in 1899 in his book The Premises of Socialism and the Tasks of the Social-Democracy. He maintained that with the highly developed social productive forces, capitalism would grow into socialism peacefully. Therefore, he said, revolution by armed force would become a meaningless phrase. He arbitrarily declared that the victory of socialism could only depend on the general social progress, especially on the increase of social wealth or the growth of social productive forces accompanied by the maturity of the working class in terms of knowledge and morality. He concluded: As for the capitalist system, it should not be destroyed but should be helped to further develop.” —Kao Hung, “From Bernstein to Liu Shao-chi”, Peking Review, #38, Sept. 19, 1969.

Shorthand, often used in Maoist China, for the dialectical viewpoint that within any thing or any process there are two contradictory aspects which are simultaneously opposites and a unity, and that one of these aspects is principal and the other secondary. It is opposed to the “one-point” theory (which fails to recognize any internal contradiction within the thing) and also to the
theory of equilibrium which does not distinguish the principal aspect of a thing from its non-principal aspect.
        See also: ONE-INTO-TWO

“THESES ON FEUERBACH”   [Notes by Marx]
A set of 11 short theses (or principles) set down by Marx in the spring of 1845. They were just his own notes at the time. But they are so profound, and so concisely summarize the fundamental principles of the Marxist approach to philosophy and to social practice that they have become justly famous. Engels first published them in 1888 as an appendix to his book
Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.
        The central theme in the “Theses on Feuerbach” is an elaboration of a scientific understanding of practice (social activity). Among the many important concepts and principles which may be found in an early and only partially developed form in the Theses is that of the mass line method of revolutionary leadership and having a mass perspective.
        But rather than read about the “Theses on Feuerbach”, people should just go read them! They are online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm. See also: FEUERBACH, Ludwig

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” —Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach”, Thesis XI.

THIERS, Louis Adolphe   (1797-1877)

“A reactionary bourgeois politician, traitor to his country and butcher who suppressed the Paris Commune uprising in French history. Minister of Internal Affairs in 1834, he stamped out the people’s uprising in Lyon. Immediately after becoming head of the bourgeois government in February 1871, he sent reactionary troops to disarm the Paris people. Following the armed uprising by the proletariat of Paris on March 18, he fled to Versailles. Colluding with Bismarck and mustering reactionary forces, he strangled the Paris Commune revolution. Marx referred to Thiers as ‘a master in small state roguery, a virtuoso in perjury and treason, a craftsman in all the petty strategems, cunning devices, and base perfidies of parliamentary party-warfare; never scrupling, when out of office, to fan a revolution, and to stifle it in blood when at the helm of the state.’” —Explanatory note accompanying an article on the Paris Commune, Peking Review, vol. 14, #13, March 26, 1971.

A nominally non-government institute which engages in political advocacy with respect to government policies in areas such as social issues, economics, international imperialist strategy, military issues, the best political strategy for the ruling class within the country (or often the best strategy for just for one section of that ruling class), and so forth, and which prepares “research studies” to support the views and policies it favors. Think tanks are therefore, and with only the rarest exceptions, operations run by and for the capitalist ruling class, or one of its contending sections. The government itself supports these think tanks in many ways, including through providing them with lucrative contracts for “research”, and by exempting them from paying taxes by calling them non-profit organizations (even when they openly work to promote greater profits for capitalist corporations). Sometimes the government will directly set up a think tank, or provide it with ongoing general funding under one pretext or another.
        One of the earliest think tanks was the Institute for Defence and Security Studies founded in London in 1831. But think tanks have truly mushroomed as key parts of the system of bourgeois rule mostly since World War II, and especially in the United States. The term “think tank” itself originated in American slang in World War II and came into general consciousness in the U.S. in the 1950s. The archetypical, and one of the most prominent think tanks, is the RAND Corporation, which was founded under the sponsorship of the U.S. Air Force as an offshoot of the Douglas Aircraft Corporation shortly after World War II. During the Cold War, and since then, the number of think tanks in the U.S. and around the world has skyrocketed; by 2006 there were at least 4,500 them in the world, mostly focused on international affairs, foreign policy, and “security” matters (military issues and how to keep the restless population under control).
        Some of the many prominent U.S. bourgeois think tanks include:
        *   American Enterprise Institute — A right-wing counterpart to the slightly “left”-wing Brookings Institution. One of the loudest proponents of
        *   Brookings Institution (one of the oldest U.S. think tanks, founded in 1916) — Quintessentially an “establishment” institution which describes itself as non-partisan, but which sometimes seems to lean toward the Democratic Party.
        *   Cato Institute — Promotes dogmatic libertarian “free market” doctrines and policies.
        *   Center for American Progress — Promotes more politically liberal bourgeois policies than most think tanks.
        *   Heritage Foundation — Promotes right-wing “conservative” doctrines and policies.
        *   RAND Corporation — In effect this has been a major research arm of the U.S. government, focused especially on military and “security” matters, but extending far beyond that scope.

In feudal France (before the great
French Revolution of 1789) society was characterized as being composed of three “estates”: The First Estate was the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church; the Second Estate was the nobility (the class of the feudal landlords); and the Third Estate was everyone else, including peasants, workers and capitalists (or bourgeoisie). However, it was the rising new class, the bourgeoisie, that dominated this Third Estate politically (though certainly not numerically). The Estates-Generales was a weak and very intermittent French national assembly that represented these three estates. In 1789 it was convened (after 175 years!) in order to deal with a major financial crisis of the state. But from the perspective of the ruling nobility, this assembly got quite out of hand! The bourgeois leaders of the Third Estate demanded much more power, and this precipitated the French Revolution.


A term introduced by the French economist Alfred Sauvy in 1952 to refer collectively to all the non-industrial nations of the world. Due to the
Cold War, many people soon reinterpreted the “Third World” to mean those countries which were aligned neither with the Western imperialist bloc (headed by the United States) nor with the “Socialist bloc” (headed by the Soviet Union). Under this interpretation the “Third World” became nearly synonymous with “non-aligned countries”. It was later during this Cold War period that the Communist Party of China put forward the largely incorrect “Three Worlds” Theory, in which the term the “Third World” was contrasted to the “First World” (the two superpowers) and the “Second World” (the other imperialist or advanced capitalist countries). This moved the term back closer to its original meaning, but not quite completely so—since it was then also a political term as well as an economic designation. Since the explicit and enthusiastic promulgation of the “Three Worlds” Theory by the Chinese revisionists beginning soon after Mao’s death, most revolutionary Marxists have rejected that theory (at least in its usual notorious form). But because of its association with that erroneous theory, the term “Third World” was also shunned by many revolutionary Marxists for a long period.
        However, since the collapse of the revisionist Soviet Union and its bloc, and the end of the Cold War, the term “Third World” has shifted back to something even closer to its original meaning: Those countries which are largely undeveloped economically. There have been attempts (by bourgeois writers) to replace the term “Third World” with the euphemistic term “developing countries”, but most such countries are not really “developing” economically very much at all, since they remain so greatly under the control of and exploitation by the imperialist nations. The term “undeveloped countries” would be better, but it also has some possible implications that these countries are culturally undeveloped which is totally false and slanderous. Thus many people are once again using the term “the Third World” to mean these economically undeveloped countries. Unfortunately, other people still use the term in somewhat different ways, which means that it remains somewhat ambiguous.
        The term “semicolonial countries” is better, but somewhat outdated; more appropriate today would be “neocolonial countries”. But in many countries these terms are not widely understood by the masses.
        In short, there are difficulties in picking the most appropriate short terms or phrases to replace the “Third World” in the sense of meaning those countries which are largely undeveloped economically, or in the closely related sense of those countries which are exploited and oppressed by imperialism. Perhaps the most appropriate phrases today, depending on the precise sense we mean, are: 1) “the economically undeveloped countries”; 2) “the exploited and oppressed countries”; 3) “the neocolonies” or “the neocolonial countries”. When we do use the term “Third World” we should be sure that our audience understands it in the same way we do.
        We should also be aware that there can be intermediate or transitional forms, between imperialist countries and countries exploited and oppressed by imperialism. China today, for example, is both still exploited by foreign imperialism and at the same time a rising new imperialist power which exploits other countries itself. It was once a “Third World” country; but though large sections of the population are still very poor, with the massive expansion of industry in China and the shift of so much world production to that country, that characterization no long seems at all appropriate.

[To be added...]


THOMSON, George Derwent   (1903-1987)
An English classical scholar (specializing in ancient Greek drama and poetry), a scholar of the Irish language (which he mastered from the people of the Blasket Islands off the west coast of Ireland), and a revolutionary Marxist who remained true to the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and who also embraced Mao. He is best known to us Marxists for a series of 3 short books which served as a fine introduction to Marxism: From Marx to Mao Tse-tung (1971); Capitalism and After (1973); and The Human Essence (1974).
        George Thomson joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1936. He achieved wide recognition in intellectual circles for his works Aeschylus and Athens and Marxism and Poetry (1945). He pioneered in the Marxist interpretation of Greek drama, arguing for a connection between work songs and poetry, and that ancient songs were connected to social rituals.
        Thomson was a member of the CPGB Cultural Committee and also its Executive Committee. In 1951 he was the only member of that Executive Committee to vote against the Party’s programme (known as The British Road to Socialism) because “the dictatorship of the proletariat was missing”. Thomson was profoundly affected by the Chinese Revolution of 1949, which eventually led to his split with the CPGB and involvement in efforts to replace that revisionist party with a new revolutionary one. “He never lost his political beliefs. He was committed to working class education, including giving lectures to factory workers at Birmingham’s Austin car plant.” [Wikipedia article]
        Thomson’s works available online:
From Marx to Mao Tse-tung
http://www.bannedthought.net/MLM-Theory/MLM-Intro/Marx2Mao.pdf   [9,790 KB];
Capitalism and After http://www.bannedthought.net/MLM-Theory/MLM-Intro/CapitalismAndAfter-GeorgeThomson-1973.pdf   [11,007 KB];
The Human Essence http://www.bannedthought.net/MLM-Theory/MLM-Intro/TheHumanEssence-GeorgeThomson-1974.pdf   [8,694 KB]

“THOUGHT” (As a system of political ideology, as in “Mao Tse-tung Thought”)
[To be added... ]

A thought experiment is a theoretical consideration based on known or presumed facts and theories which is designed to generate implied consequences which either support those theories and presumed facts, or else bring them into serious question. Conceiving of specific thought experiments is thus one important means of testing and rationalizing scientific theories. Thought experiments have played an important role in the development of physics and other sciences.
        Galileo, for example, probably did not actually perform the famous experiment often attributed to him, of simultaneously dropping two equally sized balls of different weights off the Tower of Pisa to see if the heavier one would fall faster than the lighter one. Instead he used a thought experiment to convince himself that they would fall equally fast. One variation of this thought experiment is to imagine first two balls of equal weight dropping beside each other, and then the absurdity of thinking that they would both fall faster if a string or hook held them close together and made them into a “single system” with twice the weight. Other famous thought experiments in physics include
Schrödinger’s Cat and the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Thought Experiment, both being attempts to help us correctly understand quantum mechanics.
        In the case of Galileo’s thought experiment about gravity an actual physical experiment could have easily been carried out instead (or in addition), but in other cases of thought experiments, it is impractical, or impossible, or perhaps morally wrong to actually perform them in the real world. For example we may try to determine theoretically what the climate consequences of a worldwide thermonuclear war might be (such as a “nuclear winter”), but actually purposefully performing the “physical experiment” of having such a war to test the theory is totally out of the question.
        There is a very important role for thought experiments in revolutionary politics. As much as possible, the leaders of the masses need to know what the actual effects of promoting certain mass actions will be before they start to actually promote them! They need to think through, as best as possible, what the results of various policy alternatives might be (with respect to promoting both the immediate and long term interests of the people).
        Thus, in using the mass line method of leadership, we gather as many ideas from the masses as we can about how to advance the revolutionary struggle. For each of these ideas we perform a thought experiment, trying to imagine the results of the particular proposal, in light of everything we know (including MLM theory and the objective situation). The most promising “social thought experiment” is the one we pick to actually attempt to implement among the masses. Then, whether or not our ideas about what would happen actually proved correct, we begin the whole process again but with further knowledge and experience.
        See also: INTUITION PUMP

A mass movement launched by the Communist Party of China in 1951 focused against corruption, waste, and bureaucratic obstructionism within the Party, the People’s government and the economy.

A term used in Maoist China, and especially during the period of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, to refer to the following three articles by Mao: “Serve the People”, “In Memory of Norman Bethune”, and “The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains”. These three articles were no doubt given special emphasis because they strongly promote the basic proletarian moral principles of selflessly helping others and working for the collective welfare of the people. Another, less common term for these same articles was “the three good old articles”.

A term used in Maoist China (which in Chinese is written in three phrases and eight additional characters), for a manner of political work which consists of:
        A firm, correct political orientation;
        A plain, hard-working style;
        Flexibility in strategy and tactics; and
        Unity, alertness, earnestness and liveliness. (Note that despite the “three” and “eight” numbers in common, this is not the same thing as the

A provisional form of revolutionary rule developed in China in 1968 during the
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, when political power was re-captured from the revisionists and capitalist-roaders within the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government. The three-in-one revolutionary committees consisted of a combination of revolutionary cadres, representatives of the People’s Liberation Army and representatives of the revolutionary masses.

“In every place or unit where power must be seized, it is necessary to carry out the policy of the revolutionary ‘three-in-one’ combination in establishing a provisional organ of power which is revolutionary and representative and enjoys proletarian authority. This organ of power should preferably be called the Revolutionary Committee.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, #43, Oct. 25, 1968, p. 21.

“There are three elements in the basic experience of the revolutionary committee: It embraces representatives of the revolutionary cadres, representatives of the armed forces and representatives of the revolutionary masses, constituting a revolutionary ‘three-in-one’ combination. The revolutionary committee should exercise unified leadership, eliminate duplication in the administrative structure, follow the the policy of ‘better troops and simpler administration’ and organize a revolutionized leading group which links itself with the masses.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, #43, Oct. 25, 1968, p. 21.

These are rules of conduct that members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were required to follow during the Mao era, and which helped the PLA to truly serve the interests of the masses and win their support during the Chinese Revolution. The three main rules of discipline were:
        1) Obey orders in all your actions;
        2) Don’t take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses;
        3) Turn in everything captured.
The eight points for attention were:
        1) Speak politely;
        2) Pay fairly for what you buy;
        3) Return everything you borrow;
        4) Pay for anything you damage;
        5) Don’t hit or swear at people;
        6) Don’t damage crops;
        7) Don’t take liberties with women;
        8) Don’t ill-treat captives.
(Despite the use of the same numbers, this is not the same thing as the
“THREE-EIGHT WORKING STYLE” described in an entry above.)

“THREE OURS”, The (Of the RCP.)
This refers to the following set of three slogans formerly prominently promoted by the RCPUSA in its newspaper and on its web site:
        “Our ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism,
        Our vanguard is the Revolutionary Communist Party,
        Our leader is Chairman Avakian.”
There are obviously some serious problems with these slogans. The second, for example, proclaimed the RCP as the “vanguard”, when in fact it had not even begun to lead the American working class toward revolution in any noticeable way. And the third slogan set up Bob Avakian as the permanent and unchallengeable leader of the Party, which is both anti-scientific and anti-democratic. But strangely enough, it was discomfort about the first slogan that led the RCP to quietly drop the “Three Ours”, circa 2008. Instead of calling the science of revolution “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”, as they formerly did, they now call it simply “communism”.
        The explanation for this change offered by Party members is that this does not mean that “Mao is being demoted”, but rather that this has to do with breaking with “religious trends in the ICM” that supposedly led communists to uncritically uphold Marx, Lenin and Mao, and never admit they made any errors. (This is quite ironic in light of the religious cult of personality around Avakian which the RCP has created, and their refusal to admit that Avakian ever makes any errors!) In addition, the RCP thought that the first slogan somehow implied that we don’t need to further develop our revolutionary science, while they believe that with the defeat of China we are in a new stage of development of communism as a science. The strong suspicion among some of those not in the RCP is that Avakian made this change because he knew they could not get away with calling his supposed “new synthesis” “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Avakianism”. This calls to mind the old principle of bourgeois success: “It is not enough that I am honored and raised up; others must also be knocked down!”

A term popularized in China’s
People’s Liberation Army during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which referred to the important tasks of the PLA to: 1) Support China’s industry; 2) Support its agriculture; 3) Support the broad masses of the Left in the ongoing political struggle; 4) Military control (maintaining proper control of the military); and 5) Political and Military training in the PLA.

The name given to several related versions of a geo-political theory, some of which are mostly correct (or innocuous), but the worst versions of which are very wrong and dangerous indeed! This theory starts from the straightforward recognition that the countries of the world in the 1970s could be analyzed as consisting of three distinct groups: The First World, consisting of the two superpowers, the United States and the revisionist Soviet Union, both of which were imperialist countries seeking to totally dominate and exploit the world in their own interests; the Second World, consisting of the other junior imperialist or advanced capitalist countries; and the Third World, consisting of all the other countries, including most of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, which were dominated and exploited by imperialism, especially by the two superpowers. So far there is nothing very contentious in this theory, and pretty much every sophisticated person (except for the supporters of one or the other superpower) understood the world situation in roughly this way at the time. Mao, for example, is quoted as saying to a leader of some unidentified Third World country in February 1974:

“In my view, the United States and the Soviet Union form the first world. Japan, Europe and Canada, the middle section, belong to the second world. We are the third world.... The third world has a huge population. With the exception of Japan, Asia belongs to the third world. The whole of Africa belongs to the third world, and Latin America too.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, #45, Nov. 4, 1977, p. 11.

The important question, however, is exactly what use was (or is) to be made of this 3-way analysis? Mao sought to make use of it to help create a united front of Third World countries against the two superpower imperialist countries. That was no doubt reasonable and correct. But some subsidiary views and uses of this theory, that Mao certainly didn’t agree with or approve of, are quite another matter!
        The countries of the “second world” were viewed as having a dual nature. On the one hand they shared in the exploitation of the Third World, but on the other hand they were also pushed around (to various degrees) by the two superpowers. This led to the notion that at least some of these “second world” countries might be won over to joining a united front against the two superpowers, at least on some matters. This was unrealistic with regard to most issues, however. The first goal of all imperialist countries is to defend the imperialist system.
        This notion of being able to enlist the support of some “second world” junior imperialist countries in a united front against imperialism had as much persuasiveness as it did at that time only because there were then two superpowers in the “first world”, and the real goal was more and more to unite all other countries, imperialist or not, against just one of those superpowers, the revisionist
social-imperialist Soviet Union. In effect the “three worlds theory” actually became a “four worlds theory”: one enemy superpower, one lesser-evil superpower, other junior imperialist countries, and all the other countries of the world—the “third world”. Given that the Soviet Union was on the verge of a military attack on China at the time it was understandable that China should look at things this way. But this was still not the basis for a revolutionary strategy of the people of the world against imperialism in general.
        Much worse, however, was the tendency to support reactionary Third World regimes (as part of building a “united front” against the superpowers) instead of supporting the revolutionary masses in those countries in their efforts to overthrow those regimes! In theory, both of these rather contradictory things could be done simultaneously, but somehow even in revolutionary China the former seemed often to take precedence over the later. The tendency was to refrain from (or soft-pedal) criticizing the crimes of these reactionary regimes against their own people, and to be excessively cozy with Third World tyrants and imperialist lackies such as the Shah of Iran and the dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. While building a united front of countries against imperialism is a good idea, that idea is perverted if it only amounts to being friendly towards lacky regimes completely controlled by the imperialists.
        This in turn led to much confusion among revolutionary forces in these Third World countries. It is true that “state-to-state” relations are one thing and “party-to-party” relations are another thing. But this “Bandung spirit” of building a united front of Third World countries against imperialism seems to have helped promote seriously erroneous shifts in political line by some nominally Communist or revolutionary parties. One of the most notorious cases occurred in Indonesia where the KPI backed the bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno (rather than arming the masses as they should have been doing at that time), and were then destroyed in 1965 in a reactionary military coup and nationwide massacre directed by the CIA.
        The “Three Worlds Theory”, in one form or another, was part of the thinking that lay behind the de facto foreign policy of the Chinese government for decades. While Zhou Enlai was alive, he was in charge of it. Aspects of it were criticized at times by Mao, and were also criticized during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and by the so-called “Gang of Four”. But after Mao’s death in September 1976, there was a huge burst of enthusiasm for the theory and the more anti-revolutionary policies it led to. Of course to cover themselves, the Chinese revisionists attributed this theory entirely to Mao personally, including its worst aspects and policies that Mao would have certainly opposed. The most thorough presentation of the theory by the CCP was in the long article “Chairman Mao’s Theory of the Differentiation of the Three Worlds Is a Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism”, in Peking Review, #45, Nov. 4, 1977, online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1977/PR1977-45-ThreeWorldsTheory.pdf [PDF: 34 pages, 4,411 KB]. (Readers should be forewarned that some aspects of this theory as presented there sound pretty good in abstract terms; many of the disastrous problems associated with it are due to how it is actually invariably applied in practice.)
        While the revisionist Soviet Union is now long gone, something like the Three Worlds Theory still exists in various forms. One expression of it is the common (but erroneous) view among many revolutionaries around the world that U.S. imperialism, as the only remaining superpower, is the only foreign enemy to focus on in anti-imperialist or revolutionary work. A corollary view is that other imperialist countries, such as Britain and France, are of little concern in anti-imperialist work, and might even be united with and supported at times in opposition to the United States. And China is often not yet recognized as an imperialist country at all, even though in reality it is already the second most important and powerful imperialist country in the world, and is rapidly rising while U.S. imperialism is clearly declining and becoming more and more vulnerable, especially economically.
        Other views which have commonalities with the “Three Worlds” Theory are World Systems Theory, and the “Triad” conception (of Samir Amin) which also fail to recognize China as a rapidly strengthening imperialist power.
        See also: “THIRD WORLD”

“Even during the 1970-1973 period, the CCP’s view of the international situation had serious problems. Its position was that the two superpowers (the U.S. and the Soviet Union — ‘the first world’) were the principal enemies on a world scale; the Western imperialists and Japan (the ‘second world’) were part of an international united front against the superpowers; and the “peoples and countries of the third world’ were the most reliable revolutionary force in opposing the superpowers.
        “As a perspective for the world’s revolutionary movement, this analysis was flawed. It detached the U.S. and Soviet Union from the imperialist system as a whole; it downplayed the reactionary nature of the other imperialist countries in Western Europe, Japan, Canada and Oceania; and it advanced a classless conception of nationalism by lumping together the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America with their rulers, who had limited contradictions, if at all, with one or another imperialist power.
        “Some of the problems with the ‘three worlds perspective’ were reflected in a widely quoted statement attributed to Mao, ‘Countries want independence, nations want liberation, and the people want revolution.’ Mao’s eclectic statement, which tended to place struggles of Third World countries for national independence on a par with revolutionary movements, shared some aspects of the Bandung line associated with Zhou in the 1950s and 1960s.
        “... While Mao advocated tactical unity in some areas with the U.S. in order to deal with the Soviet threat to China, after 1973 Deng and Zhou sought to implement a strategic alliance and political understanding with U.S. imperialism. This took the form of the fully developed ‘Three Worlds Theory.”....
        “As a result of the dominant position achieved by the revisionist forces after 1973, China began to withdrew support for revolutionary movements in the Third World. Parades of U.S. puppets were honored in Beijing for their contributions to ‘the struggle against Soviet hegemonism.’ In 1975, the Chinese government supported the U.S. and South African-backed UNITA in the Angolan civil war — in the name of defeating the Soviet Union’s attempts to gain a strategic foothold in Africa through its support for the MPLA.
        “In the Middle East, China’s prior support for revolutionary movements was reversed. Chinese aid to revolutionary forces in the Gulf States was dropped in favor of diplomatic ties with Oman. Another sign of this reversal of Chinese foreign policy was a speech by Foreign Minister Qiao Guanhua in 1975 in which he said that China was reconciled to the existence of Israel as a ‘fait accompli.’....
        “Thus, the counter-revolutionary developments in Chinese foreign policy in the mid-1970s were a direct outgrowth of the Three Worlds Theory and the revisionists in the CCP who spawned it. This threw many Maoist parties and organizations around the world into a tailspin, from which most never recovered.” —Excerpts from pages 30-34 of the excellent article, “Chinese Foreign Policy during the Maoist Era and its Lessons for Today”, by the MLM Revolutionary Study Group in the U.S. (January 2007), online at http://www.mlmrsg.com/attachments/051_ChForPol-Final-4-09.pdf

“An important weakness of the ‘three worlds perspective’ was that it did not make a correct analysis of the imperialist system as a whole. This theoretical framework sowed confusion about the nature of the ‘Second World’—the other Western imperialist powers–and exaggerated their conflicts with the U.S. This perspective was reshaped by Deng and other revisionists into the Three Worlds Theory, which asserted that the West European and Asian imperialist powers played a progressive role in the world by defending their national independence against the Soviet Union, the “most dangerous” imperialist superpower. This essentially called on revolutionary and Maoist forces, especially in Western Europe, to support, or stop opposing, their own bourgeoisies and various oppressor regimes which opposed the Soviet Union.” —Ibid., p. 38.

A weapon planted [by police] at a crime scene in order to mislead investigation, especially in situations where deadly force would only have been justified if the victim were armed. Also an untraceable weapon kept in readiness for such use. [From the online Wiktionary.]

A brutal massacre of the unarmed masses in Tiananmen Square in 1989, who were calling for democracy and protesting the regime led by the capitalist-roader Deng Xiaoping. Many of the protesters were wearing Mao badges and waving Red Books. This revolutionary character of the demonstration has been covered up in the West, and the event is portrayed as merely a demonstration calling for bourgeois democracy which was crushed by a (so-called) “Communist” government.

A reactionary demonstration in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on April 5, 1976 by demonstrators who gathered both in respect for
Zhou Enlai (who had just died) and in opposition to the revolutionary line of Mao and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The fact that both of these themes were combined together by the demonstrators led to further suspicions and criticisms (on the part of Maoist revolutionaries) of the role that Zhou Enlai had been playing during the GPCR.

[British English slang originating in India.] A lunch box carried by workers. Occasionally such lunch boxes are used to conceal IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and these are sometimes called “tiffin bombs”.

[To be added...]

Although “time travel” is a popular theme in science fiction (usually more aptly referred to as fantasy fiction) it is scientifically impossible, and even logically impossible.
        Of course people, and the world as a whole, are constantly “moving into the future” in their everyday existence. And something seemingly closer to the instantaneous effect imagined for time travel into the future could occur through methods such as biological stasis or hibernation for a certain period, which might conceivably allow a person’s consciousness to suddenly jump from one time period into a far future time period. But this is no more philosophically startling than the fact that when we go to sleep each night and then awaken in the morning our consciousness has jumped 7 or 8 hours “into a future time”.
        But time travel into the past is absolutely impossible. The standard refutation of the idea is the “grandfather paradox”: If it were possible to travel into the past it would then be possible to kill your grandfather in his youth, thus preventing your own birth and your ability to move backwards in time. In short, the idea leads to a logical contradiction. It assumes that the past was both a certain definite way (fixed), and also that it can “later” be changed into something different (which means that it was not fixed).
        Any sort of real time travel, either to the past or to a discontinuous future, involves breaking the chain of
cause and effect in the development of the world, and is therefore a scientifically incoherent notion.


On May 26, 1939, at a time when the Communist Party of China was under heightened attack by reactionaries, Mao Zedong wrote an influential three page article, “To Be Attacked by the Enemy is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing”. This article was later included in the Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung (Peking [Beijing]: 1971), and was also included in Volume 6 of the Selected Works of Mao Tsetung published in India. It is available online at:
        The basic theme of that fine article is summed up in this paragraph:

“I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.” —Mao Zedong, SR, p. 160.

TOBIN, James   (1918-2002)
American bourgeois economist in the Keynesian tradition. In 1981 he was awarded the so-called “Nobel Prize” in economics which is sponsored by the Bank of Sweden.

A tax proposed by James Tobin on foreign exchange transactions (the buying or selling of foreign currencies). The primary purpose of such a tax would be to reduce the level of speculation in international currency markets. Although often talked about, such taxes are virtually non-existent, and even if implemented would most likely be set at too low a rate to significantly reduce currency speculation.

Capitalism is an unstable system in many respects, and specifically competitive capitalism is unstable in that there are powerful forces which tend to transform it in the direction of monopoly, as Marx pointed out long ago. When severe economic crises develop, however, this creates additional major problems. It is no longer a question of a number of fairly inconsequential small companies going bankrupt, but now a question of some extremely large banks and other corporations failing. Some of these large corporations are now so important for the economy that their failure would lead to such drastic repercussions that the capitalist class in general has been forced to declare them “too big to fail”. In other words, it is forced to use its control of the state to
bail out these giant banks and other corporations which it deems “too big to fail”.
        In the Panic of 2008-9, which is part of the overall still-developing profound world capitalist economic crisis, the U.S. government has already spent literally trillions of dollars in both temporary and permanent bailouts of banks and corporations which it considered “too big to fail”. This has become a major feature of the crisis and will remain so from now on.

“By dividing the whole circulation [of bank notes] into a greater number of parts, the failure of any one [banking] company, an accident which, in the course of things, must sometimes happen, becomes of less consequence to the public.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book II, Ch. II, (Modern Library, 1937), p. 313. [What Adam Smith did not understand, however, is that the growth of monopoly is in the interests of the most important and influential capitalists, who therefore also normally control the bourgeois state. Thus even if there are nominal laws against monopoly, there will eventually come to be giant monopolistic (or at least oligopolistic) corporations whose failure would indeed be tremendously disruptive to the entire capitalist economy. Therefore it is inevitable that banks and corporations “too big to fail” arise, and that the bourgeois state will then bail them out and prop them up when they get into financial difficulty. It is today a petty-bourgeois pipe dream to think that corporations can be kept small and inconsequential enough so that their individual failures really do not matter.]

TORTURE — By U.S. Government
It has long been known that the
CIA and other branches of the U.S. government routinely use torture in their interrogations of people. This was finally even officially admitted in a Senate report on CIA torture in 2014. The Obama administration then piously condemned the use of torture, while at the same time continuing torture and U.S. imperialist terrorism around the world through the use of drone attacks and in many other ways. (This hypocrisy is ridiculed in the cartoon at the right.)

See: PRODUCTIVITY—“Total Factor”

The number of children that would be born to a woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and bear children in accordance with the current age-specific fertility rates. Although the TFR is one of the better measures of fertility in different countries at use at the present time, it tends to overstate actual fertility levels during periods when fertility rates are rapidly declining (as is the case at present in most parts of the world).

TRADE UNIONISM (As Merely Reformist Struggle)
[To be added... ]
        See also:

“For a number of years the English workers’ movement has been going round and round bootlessly in a confined circle of strikes for wages and the reduction of working hours—not, mark you, as an expedient and a means of propaganda and organization, but as the ultimate aim. Both on principle and statutorily the trades unions actually exclude any political action and hence participation in any general activity on the part of the working class as a class. Politically the workers are divided into Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, into supporters of a Disraeli (Beaconsfield) administration and supporters of a Gladstone administration. So one can speak of a workers’ movement here only to the extent that strikes take place which, victorious or otherwise, do not advance the movement by one single step. In my view only harm can come of inflating strikes such as these into struggles of world-historical importance (as does the Freiheit here), strikes which were, moreover, as often as not deliberately engineered by the capitalists in the late years of depression so as to have an excuse for closing down their factories, strikes in which the working class makes no progress whatsoever. No attempt should be made to conceal the fact that at this moment a genuine workers’ movement in the continental sense is non-existent here...” —Engels, draft of a letter to Eduard Bernstein, June 17, 1879, MECW 45:360-1.

“... any subservience to the spontaneity of the mass movement and any degrading of Social-Democratic [Communist] politics to the level of trade-unionist politics mean preparing the ground for converting the working-class movement into an instrument of bourgeois democracy. The spontaneous working-class movement is by itself able to create (and inevitably does create) only trade-unionism, and working-class trade-unionist politics is precisely working-class bourgeois politics. The fact that the working class participates in the political struggle, and even in the [bourgeois democratic] political revolution, does not in itself make its politics Social-Democratic [socialist/communist] politics.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:437.


“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” —Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch01.htm

TRANCHE   [Capitalist Finance]
[From French, meaning slice.]
        1. A portion of a loan, investment, or sale of securities. As in “The first tranche of the new series of bonds issued by the corporation came to $100 million; the second and third tranches will be $75 million each.”
        2. [In the context of mortgage-backed securities and
CDO’s:] Portions of the CDO’s issued which are differentiated on the basis of the supposed safety of the underlying mortgages or other debt. Thus the “senior tranche” will be the portion of the securities which are backed up by the mortgages which are least likely to be defaulted on. Then there is the “mezzanine” tranche, with a greater risk of default, followed by the “equity” tranche (or “residual” or “first loss” tranche), which are the CDO’s backed by the mortgages with the highest probability of default. While this separation of mortgage-backed securities into tranches was thought to at least create some safe investments, so many sub-prime and other dubious mortgages were being issued in the period leading up to the Great Recession in the U.S. that even investors in the supposed “senior tranches” often suffered huge losses.

[To be added...]

TRANSITION   [In Philosophy]

“What distinguishes the dialectical transition from the undialectical transition? The leap. The contradiction. The interruption of gradualness. The unity (identity) of Being and not-Being.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:284.

A Pacific regional “free trade” proposal which the U.S. Obama Administration is currently attempting to get set up and ratified. This proposal goes beyond the
World Trade Organization [WTO] agreements and requirements, and focuses especially on issues such as easing legal regulations and border controls which interfere with trade between countries. The TPP is slated to include the U.S., Australia, Japan and a number of other Pacific countries, but not China! The goal of the TPP proposal is to try to slow down China’s ever-growing exports. I.e., this agreement, while officially for the purpose of promoting “free trade” among all Pacific nations, is actually conceived as a trade-war measure directed against China. If it goes into effect (and China remains barred from membership) it is expected to negatively impact Chinese exports, but this impact will likely be fairly modest. As of late 2015 the TPP has been formally agreed on but has still not been ratified by the legislative bodies of all the countries involved. Because of the serious political divisions in the U.S. ruling class, even its own Congress is not guaranteed to approve it!

“The most glaring [fault of the Trans-Pacific Partnership] is that China, the largest Pacific Rim trading nation and the world’s top exporter, was deliberately left out by America. As a result, TPP is the near-equivalent of NAFTA without the United States. It is a protectionist regional device to contain China’s further rise as the world’s number one trading nation.
        “The share of world trade of the pact’s two biggest countries, America and Japan, has been declining for some time in world and Pacific exports, because of the spectacular rise of China. TPP confirms once again that Washington’s China policy is less about win-win situations and more about seeking zero-sum outcomes, in this case by creating an integrated counter-weight to China in East Asia. The deal was designed to establish America as a leader in Pacific trade.
        “The WTO does not describe regional trading deals as preferential trade agreements for nothing: one implicit objective is to discriminate against non-members. The pact’s signatories would be wise to leave the door open to newcomers, including China.”
         —Istvan Dobozi, former lead economist at the World Bank, in a letter to the editors of The Economist, Oct. 24, 2015, p. 16.

TRENDS (Political)

“Naturally, at times individuals unconsciously drift from the social-chauvinist to the ‘Centrist’ position, and vice versa. Every Marxist knows that classes are distinct, even though individuals may move freely from one class to another; similarly, trends in political life are distinct inspite of the fact that individuals may change freely from one trend to another, and in spite of all attempts and efforts to amalgamate trends.” —Lenin, “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution: Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party” (Sept. 1917), LCW 24:77.

A term used by
Samir Amin and others to refer collectively to the three dominant imperialist centers in the world as of the beginning of the 21st century: The United States, Japan and Northern Europe (Germany, Britain, France, etc.). With the rapid rise of China as a new imperialist power this term already seems quite out of date.


A ridiculous notion championed by many defenders of capitalism that if we allow the rich to become even richer they will invest more, hire more workers, raise salaries, and thus indirectly increase the wealth of people at the bottom of society as well. The wealth will supposedly “trickle down” from the rich to the poor.
        This theory is not only erroneous from a theoretical standpoint, it has over and over been shown to be totally false in practice.

“The most striking number in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Sept. 17 [2013] report on income and poverty isn’t about poverty. It’s about middle-class, working America. According to the Census, American men who work full time year-round earned less in real terms in 2012 than they did in 1973.
        “So much for a rising tide lifting all boats. Gross domestic product has nearly tripled since 1973, when President Richard Nixon was still flashing his V sign, but the gains have gone mostly to the people at the top.”
         —Peter Coy, “The Trickle Down Has All But Dried Up”, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Sept. 20, 2013, pp. 18-19. The article goes on to report that real income for American men declined by 4% between 1973 and 2012. American women workers increased their real wages somewhat over that period (as more employment opportunities opened up for them, but they also now make less in real wages than they did in 2001. Of course the overall situation for the working class is even worse than these figures suggest, since a growing percentage of the U.S. population is now unable to find employment at all.

A contradiction that develops between conflicting economic goals with regard to the amount of currency in circulation when that currency (e.g., the U.S. dollar) is used both as a national currency and as an international reserve currency by other countries. For example, the quantity of dollars in circulation may need to be restricted in order to lower inflation rates in the U.S., while other countries may at the same time need more dollars as reserves to promote international trade and to protect their own economies. Even if inflation at home is not a problem, other countries may insist that something be done about the enormous U.S. trade deficits that occur when dollars are held overseas as reserves and are not used to buy American goods.
        Although this potential problem should have been obvious from the start (when the
Bretton Woods international financial system was agreed to in 1944), it was first explicitly noted by the Belgian-American bourgeois economist Robert Triffin in the 1960s. The problem is in a way quite ironic! For the most part the U.S. has benefitted tremendously by having its currency be so important as an international reserve. It has allowed the U.S. to hugely exploit the rest of the world (including other advanced capitalist countries) by buying goods in dollars which then to a great degree are never redeemed for goods produced in America. In effect the rest of the world has given the U.S. an enormous amount of expensive goods for free!
        The “Triffin Paradox” developed, however, in part from the huge abuse of this great advantage by the U.S. At times there are greater influxes of Euro-dollars and other dollars held overseas back into the U.S. to buy American goods (which can cause the dollar to fall in value). And even when that is not occurring, the U.S. got so dependent on running huge Federal government deficits to keep its own economy going that inflation at times has gotten quite alarming. (This was especially the case during the “Great Inflation” of the 1970s and early 1980s, though it will eventually recur again in a much more dangerous way.) This in turn reduces the value of the foreign reserves in dollars that other countries are holding, much to their displeasure.
        It is obviously ridiculous to have an international financial system wherein some goals require an increase flow of dollars out of the U.S., and other goals require an increased flow of dollars back into the U.S.!

“As Francis Warnock (professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business) points out in a paper for the Council On Foreign Relations, in 2010, the US confronted a dilemma first identified in 1960 by the Belgian-born Yale economist Robert Triffin.
        “To supply the world’s risk-free asset, the country at the heart of the international monetary system has to run a current account deficit. In doing so, it becomes more indebted to foreigners until the risk-free asset ceases to be risk-free.” —Wikipedia entry on the “Triffin Dilemma” (accessed Feb. 11, 2013).

TROPES   [Philosophy]

Tropes—the designation for the reasons for doubt advanced by the ancient Skeptics (ten tropes) and later supplemented (five tropes) by Agrippa. By means of these reasons the Skeptics tried to prove the impossibility of cognizing things and the absolute relativity of all perceptions.” —Endnote 104, LCW 38.

TROTSKY, Leon [Lev Davidovich Bronstein]   (1879-1940)
centrist between Bolshevism and Menshevism and opponent of Lenin, who finally joined the Bolshevik Party not long before the October Revolution, and who played an important role in the Russian Revolution for a period of time. After Lenin’s death he led first the internal opposition, and later the external opposition from exile, against Stalin.
        In the 1905 Revolution Trotsky became president of the first Soviet in St. Petersburg. After joining the Bolsheviks in 1917 and taking part in the October Revolution he became commissar for foreign affairs and conducted negotiations with the Germans for the peace treaty at Brest-Litovsk. However Trotsky himself opposed that treaty. Later as commissar for war he led in expanding the Red Army from a small initial core into a large fighting force and in conducting the civil war against the Whites (anti-Bolshevik forces). In 1920-21 he opposed Lenin’s policy on the trade unions and engaged in harmful factional activity which threatened the unity of the Bolshevik Party. At the Tenth Party Congress, Lenin pushed through a resolution and change in the composition of the Central Committee which greatly weakened Trotsky’s position.
        After Lenin’s death in 1924, one of the central struggles was over the issue of “socialism in one country”. With the defeat of the socialist revolutions in the West (especially in Germany), it became necessary to try to consolidate socialism in Russia alone for a period, a policy which Stalin supported, but which Trotsky strongly opposed under the slogan of “permanent revolution”. This adventurist policy which Trotsky supported at the time would very likely have led to the early demise of revolutionary Russia. This program also cost Trotsky a lot of support in his leadership struggle with Stalin, and he soon lost out completely. In 1927 Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and in 1929 he was banished from the Soviet Union.
        In exile Trotsky tried to build up and lead a world revolutionary force (the “Fourth International”) in opposition to the Comintern and the Communist movement. Many of his accusations against Stalin, such as that Stalin was bureaucratic, anti-democratic and authoritarian were largely correct (although Trotsky had those same strong tendencies himself!). In 1940 a supporter of Stalin murdered Trotsky with a mountain-climber’s ice ax while he was in exile in Mexico.

“When he [Trotsky] was playing against this surreptitious master [Stalin], did he ever stand a chance? It is difficult to believe that he did. He was, as I have hinted, an intellectual’s politician, not a politician’s. He was arrogant, he was a wonderful phrase-maker, he was good at points of dramatic action. But, as with Churchill (there are some resemblances), his judgment, over most of his career, tended to be brilliantly wrong. In politics, particularly in the life-and-death politics of revolution, you can’t afford to be brilliantly wrong. He had opposed Lenin on most issues during the years before 1917. His colleagues hadn’t forgotten that anti-Bolshevik past. Further, he was liable to sway himself with his own eloquence.... He was a brave and dashing extemporizer: but when it came to steady administrative policies, he could suddenly swing into a bureaucratic rigidity stiffer than any of the others....
        “No, I don’t believe he could ever have made it. If by a fluke he had done, he wouldn’t have lasted long.” —C. P. Snow, Variety of Men (1971), p. 255.

A movement originated by Trotsky (see above) and his early followers, which has generally served a negative role in the revolutionary movement. It has tended to be based mostly on petty-bourgeois elements and students from the upper, better educated strata of the working class. It has also tended to be highly dogmatic, sectarian and devisive (though the entire revolutionary movement has also suffered from similar tendencies in recent decades). Lenin once remarked that anarchism was a kind of penalty for the opportunist sins of the working class movement. In the same sort of way, it might be said that Trotskyism has been a sort of penalty for the sins of Stalin (and his followers) and his authoritarian and often mistaken leadership of the world communist movement. There has never been a successful revolution led by any Trotskyite/Trotskyist party or movement.
        [More to be added... ]

Followers and supporters of Trotsky generally call themselves “Trotskyists”. However, the term which was long used for them within the International Communist Movement was “Trotskyites”. Because those who strongly disagreed with Trotsky and Trotskyism were the ones to use the term “Trotskyite”, it immediately developed very strong negative connotations. This is one of the reasons that Trotskyists themselves strenuously object to being called Trotskyites! Here’s a little ditty on the topic I wrote some years back, entitled “Easily Insulted”:

The Trotskyite stepped up to say:
         “You’ve got it wrong again today!
         You’re really making me quite pissed;
         The proper term is Trotskyist!”

In the last couple decades, however, within the very weak American revolutionary movement there has been a small tendency toward starting to reject some of the excessive organizational sectarianism of the past. (Possibly in part because of less firm ideological education in all the various left trends. In other words, there may also be a negative aspect to this!) And this has meant, in part, a toning down of mutually perceived insults such as “Trotskyite” and “Stalinist”. On the one hand we often do need to work together with people we strongly disagree with on other issues; on the other hand, there is a strong tendency toward liberalism (in the Maoist sense) in the contemporary revolutionary movement, a reluctance to make criticisms where they are actually appropriate, and to view just criticisms and accurate characterizations as “insults”. Personally, my old habit was to use the term “Trotskyite” rather than “Trotskyist”, but to be more polite I am trying to switch over to the latter. Still, for me, the connotations are exactly the same, whichever term is used! —S.H.

A unit of weight measurement in the old imperial system, now mostly used to measure the weight of gold and other precious metals. The Troy ounce is roughly 10% heavier than an avoirdupois ounce (which is much more broadly used in the U.S.). There are 12 Troy ounces in a Troy pound (as opposed to 16 avoirdupois ounces in an avoirdupois pound). The Troy ounce is now precisely defined as equal to 31.1034768 grams in the metric system, and there are 32.1507466 Troy ounces in 1 kilogram.
        For more details see the Wikipedia entry at

A petty-bourgeois group formed in Russia in 1906, and consisting of a section of the peasant members of the First State Duma (parliament) headed by intellectuals belonging to the
Socialist-Revolutionary Party.

A form of socialist theory circulating in Germany in the 1840s, and which was especially associated with the philosopher Moses Hess. This early socialist theory promoted an abstract form of justice and humanity (a la
Kant), and rejected any proletarian class perspective. The adherents of this trend called themselves “true” socialists because they opposed even a temporary alliance with the bourgeoisie against feudalism, and regarded capitalism as the main enemy at all times and places. (This notion sounds very much like what came to be popular a century later among Trotskyists, with their rejection of any two-stage revolution in countries like China!)
        Marx and Engels strongly criticized this trend in their early writings (including the Communist Manifesto). They regarded it as in effect opposing the struggle against feudalism and for democracy, and felt that it actually promoted the thinking of the German petty-bourgeoisie, rather than the revolutionary proletariat.

That which is actually the case; the facts of the matter. There are all sorts of foolish esoteric arguments about the “nature of truth” among bourgeois philosophers, but actually it is a quite simple concept.

“Communists must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interests of the people; Communists must be ready at all times to correct their mistakes, because mistakes are against the interests of the people.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:315.

“Truth is a process. From the subjective idea, man advances towards objective truth through ‘practice’ (and technique).” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book The Science of Logic” (1914), LCW 38:

TRUTH — Abstract

“Concrete political aims must be set in concrete circumstances.... There is no such thing as abstract truth. Truth is always concrete.” —Lenin, “Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, July 1905, LCW 9:86. [I don’t think Lenin’s point is that there are no truths about abstractions or abstract entities; there are geometric truths about circles and pentagons, for example, and they are certainly conceptual abstractions. I believe his point is that political generalizations may not always remain valid in specific concrete circumstances. —S.H.]

TUITION — College — U.S.
College tuition in the U.S. has been zooming up very rapidly for many years. But this rate of increase has accelerated even more since the U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis took a turn for the worse in 2008. The chart at the right is from the report
“Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come”, by Phil Oliff, et al., of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (March 19, 2013).
        The graph at the left, from that same report, shows how more and more of the burden of higher education is being shifted onto the backs of the students and their families. In effect public higher education in the United States is in the process of being converted into another form of private education, making it harder and harder for anyone but the children of the rich to get a college education at all.

A wild speculative
asset bubble that developed in Holland from 1636-37 with regard to rare tulip bulbs. At the peak of the madness, one single rare “Viceroy” tulip bulb was sold for two very large measures of wheat and four of rye, eight pigs, a dozen sheep, two oxheads of wine, four tons of butter, a thousand pounds of cheese, a bed, some clothing, and a silver beaker! [Charles Kindleberger, Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, 3rd ed. (1996), p. 101.]

SHAKUR, Tupac Amaru

TURATI, Filippo   (1857-1932)
Reformist leader of the Italian working-class movement. He was one of the organizers of the Italian Socialist Party in 1892, and the leader of its Right wing. He put forth a policy of class collaboration between the proletariat and bourgeoisie, and supported the Italian bourgeoisie during World War I.

TURING, Alan   (1912-1954)
English mathematician and computer scientist.

A mathematical model (not a physical machine!) which describes at an abstract level the functioning of any possible digital computer system. This model was put forward in Alan Turing’s famous 1937 mathematics paper On Computable Numbers.

A behaviorist sort of test of artificial intelligence proposed by Alan Turing in 1950, in which a computer is deemed to have achieved a high level of intelligence if humans, when putting questions to it, cannot tell if the answers are coming from a computer or from a human being. This sort of test is now considered rather naïve and much less profound than it was originally assumed to be.



An arrangement in bourgeois society wherein a single social class rules through not just a single political party, but rather through two primary parties which both represent that same class. These two parties work co-operatively in a “bi-partisan” way when their overall class interests are at issue, but divide and contend when it comes to matters on which the ruling capitalist class is itself divided. Ruling in this way also makes it easier for the bourgeoisie to fool the masses into thinking that they actually control society through a democratic process. Actually, however, the “democracy” is real only with regard to questions on which the bourgeoisie is itself split. In the U.S., for example, the masses are still under the complete control of the exploiting capitalist class whether the Democratic or Republican party wins an election.

Important work by Lenin written during the 1905 Revolution in Russia and contrasting the tactics of the Bolsheviks versus the Mensheviks in that Revolution. (Keep in mind, however, that Lenin used the word ‘tactics’ to include what we now call both strategy and tactics.) This work is in LCW 9:15-140, and is available online at:

“This book, which appeared in July 1905, lays down the tactical line of the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Revolution in opposition to the line of the Mensheviks. It deals with the role of the working class in taking the lead in the bourgeois revolution and passing from the bourgeois revolution to the socialist revolution.
        “In order to understand this book and the tactical line of the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Revolution, the reader should consult the History of the C.P.S.U.(B), Chapter III, Section 3, where the tactical differences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and the revolutionary policy of the Bolsheviks are fully explained.
        “The Revolution of 1905 in Russia was essentially a bourgeois democratic revolution. Its task was not to overthrow capitalist rule and establish socialism, but to smash Tsarist absolutism and establish the fullest democracy. The fulfilment of this democratic task was a necessary stage in the advance to the socialist revolution.
        “On the eve of the 1905 Revolution two opposed lines were put forward in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party:—
        “The Bolsheviks held that the revolution must be led by the workers in alliance with the peasants. They called for an armed rising to overthrow the Tsarist Government and set up a provisional revolutionary government in which the workers would participate. The liberal bourgeoisie, said the Bolsheviks, aimed at a compromise with the Tsar at the expense of the people, and it was necessary to isolate them.
        “The Mensheviks, on the other hand, held that the liberal bourgeoisie must be the leader of the bourgeois revolution; that the workers should establish close relations, not with the peasantry, but with the liberal bourgeoisie; and that if it proved possible to set up a provisional revolutionary government, this must be a government of the Liberals, and the workers should not participate in it.
        “The fundamental tactical principles expounded by Lenin in Two Tactics of Social Democracy are as follows:
        “1.   The main tactical principle which runs through the whole book is that the working class must win the leadership of the bourgeois democratic revolution. In order to carry through the revolution, the working class must find an ally, namely, the peasants, and must isolate the liberal bourgeoisie who did not aim at the overthrow of Tsarism but at a compromise.
        “Here Lenin advanced a new conception of the role of the working class in the bourgeois democratic revolution. In the previous history of bourgeois revolutions, it had been the bourgeoisie which had played the leading part; in the new historical situation, Lenin showed that the working class must become the leading and guiding force of the bourgeois revolution.
        “2.   Lenin showed that the most effective means of overthrowing Tsarism and achieving a democratic republic was a people’s uprising. The aim must be an uprising which would overthrow Tsarism and set up a provisional revolutionary government. This government would be the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants. It would not yet be a socialist government, but the workers should not hesitate to participate in it. Its task would be to crush the counter-revolution and to institute in a revolutionary way such democratic measures as the eight-hour day in the towns and the re-distribution of land in the countryside.
        “3.   Having achieved the democratic republic, the revolutionary movement would not come to a stop but the workers must then carry the revolution forward to the socialist revolution. Having overthrown autocracy and established a democratic republic in alliance with the whole of the peasantry, the working class would go forward with the mass of the poor peasantry to defeat the bourgeoisie and establish the proletarian dictatorship and socialism.”
         —Maurice Cornforth, ed., Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (1953), pp. 61-62.


A distinction helpful in clarifying the relationship between different kinds of abstractions. Consider, for example, the sentence: “The bourgeoisie is the enemy.” In one sense there are 5 words in this sentence, but in another sense there are only 4 different words, since the word ‘the’ appears twice. In type/token terminology, there are two tokens of the type ‘the’ in that sentence, and just one token each for the other word types. Thinking of things as types and tokens can sometimes clear up confusions that people have, and resolve “philosophical” questions. (See
AESTHETIC OBJECT for one example.)

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