Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ag - Ak   —

The ratio of the number of people of ages which are normally dependent on others (i.e., children and old folks) to the number of people who are of working age. The World Bank generally defines the age dependency ratio as the number of people who are either younger than 15 or older than 64 divided by the number of people whose ages are 15 through 64. Of course not all working age people actually work (since some are disabled, sick or unemployed, for example), and some people outside the 15-64 range actually do work (including not only many older people but also considerable numbers of child laborers), but the ADR nevertheless gives a rough estimate of the relative number of non-workers to workers in a given population.

1. [Wide sense:] Oral, printed and visual political works or activity whose purpose is to influence people’s consciousness and mood, and to motivate them to take political action.
2. [Narrow (Leninist) sense:] As above, but specifically with respect to a single issue.
        See also:

“Those who make nation-wide political agitation the corner-stone of their programme, their tactics, and their organizational work, as Iskra does, stand the least risk of missing the revolution.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:513.

1. Agitation and
propaganda (in the Marxist-Leninist sense), considered together or as a complementary pair; political education.
2. A frequent abbreviation used in the Soviet Union, such as for the Department of Agitation and Propaganda of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

AGNOSTICISM — About the Existence of God
Claiming not to know, or the view that one cannot know, whether or not
God exists. Agnosticism in this sense is most commonly a liberal evasion of what in this modern scientific age should be considered common sense materialism, that no such thing as a “disembodied mind” (as gods and ghosts are supposed to be) can possibly exist. This is because mind and mental attributes are merely high-level functional descriptions of a physical brain at work, as well as the overall objective states that this physical brain is in at specific times.

“But this philosophical idealism, openly, ‘seriously’ leading to God, is more honest than modern agnosticism with its hypocrisy and cowardice.” —Lenin, referring to the neo-Platonists, in a note while reading Hegel’s book Lectures on the History of Philosophy (1915), LCW 38:303.

AGNOSTICISM — Epistemological
Philosophical, or epistemological, agnosticism is the view that no one can really know anything about the world, at least with any certainty.
        See also:
RELATIVISM—Epistemological, and Philosophical doggerel about agnosticism.

Ignoramus et ignorabimus.” [“We are ignorant and we will remain so.”] —Emil du Bois-Reymond, a German physiologist, in his 1872 address “Über die Grenzen des Naturerkennens” (“The Limits of Science.”) [He was arguing not simply that there are still many things we don’t know (which of course is true), but rather that there are a great many important things that we cannot possibly ever know—which is a highly dubious, and agnostic, notion. —Ed.]

“Agnosticism (from the Greek words ‘a’ no and ‘gnosis’ knowledge) is a vacillation between materialism and idealism, i.e., in practice it is vacillation between materialist science and clericalism. Among the agnostics are the followers of Kant (the Kantians), Hume (the positivists, realists and others) and the present-day Machists.” —Lenin, “Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Joseph Dietzgen” (May 5, 1913), LCW 19:80.

“One expression of the profound crisis in present-day bourgeois ideology, a reflection of the crisis in the capitalist social order, is the spread of agnosticism and scepticism among intellectuals. Scepticism and irrationalism have always been characteristic of the ideology of classes that history has doomed to extinction, of classes incapable of creating a new, life-affirming view of the world. As in the past, when Lenin wrote Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and other works, so today agnostics and other idealists deny not only the primacy of matter and put consciousness in first place, they also hold the world around us to be unknowable.” —V. S. Gott, Soviet philosopher of science, This Amazing, Amazing, Amazing but Knowable Universe, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977; original Russian edition 1974), p. 49.

The policy which developed in the course of the Chinese Revolution in which land taken from rural landlords and the richest peasants was redistributed in a much fairer and more equitable fashion among the peasantry. This began in liberated areas in the late 1920s, became more widespread as the revolutionary wars continued, and was completed in almost all of the rest of the country during the 1950-1952 period. This nationwide land reform movement was carried out by the peasants themselves under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Note that this entire movement was completed before the collectivization of agriculture occurred during the mid-1950s, which itself developed in stages and led eventually to the People’s Communes.
        See also:
AGRICULTURE—Discussion Of in the Marxist Classics

“Beginning from the winter of 1950, the new liberated areas, one after another, unfolded a large-scale agrarian reform movement. By the winter of 1952 agrarian reform was basically completed, except in some minority nationality areas. In the old and new liberated areas throughout the country, about 300 million landless or land-deficient peasants received some 700 million mou of land.” —Editorial note 3 to Mao’s article, “Fight for a Fundamental Turn for the Better in the Nation’s Financial and Economic Situation” (June 6, 1950), SW 5:32.


The ratio of agricultural production to the number of workers who produce that production. For a given crop, the production may be measured by volume or by weight, but for agricultural production as a whole it must usually be measured by the money value of all the crops added together. To compare agricultural productivity from one time to another or from one place to another, the money value must be translated into a single currency which is also adjusted for inflation. Even so, there will probably be problems in making such comparisons if the prices of the various crops have significantly changed for non-inflationary reasons (such as because of supply and demand fluctuations).
        However, the overall improvement in agricultural productivity can also be measured by simply dividing the number of farmers and agricultural workers at different times by the total population of the country, as in the following example:

“[Because of technological advances], between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries the British agricultural revolution achieved a substantially greater production of food while simultaneously becoming less labor-intensive, and the fact that a decreasing proportion of farmers and agricultural laborers was needed to feed everyone else enabled greater urbanization. By 1850, Britain had the lowest proportion of farmers of any country in the world, with only one person in five working in the fields to feed the entire nation. By 1880 only one Briton in seven had to work the land, and by 1910 that had fallen to one in eleven. And in developed nations today, which exploit artifical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, as well as enormously labor-efficient technologies like combine harvesters, every agricultural worker grows enough food to feed around fifty others.” —Lewis Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch (2014), p. 77 (footnote).

AGRICULTURE — Discussion Of in the Marxist Classics
Here are some general sources to investigate on this topic:
        •   The development of capitalism in agriculture:
           — Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Parts 4, 7, 8; Vol. III, Part 6.
           — Lenin, “Capitalism and Agriculture in the U.S.A.” (1915) [LCW 40:408-415];   The Development of Capitalism in Russia (1896-99) [LCW 3];   “The Agrarian Question and the Critics of Marx” (1907) [LCW 13:169-216];   “New Data on the Laws Governing the Development of Capitalism in Agriculture, Part One: Capitalism and Agriculture in the U.S.A.” (1915) [LCW 22:13-102];   “The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-7” (1907) [LCW 13:217-429]
        •   The socialist collectivization of agriculture:
           — Engels, “Peasant Question in France and Germany”
           — Lenin, “On Cooperation” (1923) [LCW 33:467-75]
           — Stalin, “The 15th Congress of the CPSU(B)” (1927), section II, part 3. [Works 10:310-321];   “On the Grain Front” (1928) [Problems of Leninism; Works 11:85-101];   “Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy in the USSR” (1929) [PL; Works 12:147-78];   “Concerning the Policy of Eliminating the Kulaks as a Class” (1930) [PL; Works 12:184-89];   “Dizzy With Success” (1930) [PL; Works 12:197-205];   “Reply to Collective-Farm Comrades” (1930) [PL; Works 12:207-34];   “Work in the Countryside” (1933) [PL; Works 13:220-39];   “Speech Delivered at the First All-Union Congress of Collective-Farm Shock Brigaders” (1933) [PL; Works 13:242-63]
           — Mao, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927) [SW 1:23ff];   Report From Xunwu (May 1930), tr. by Roger Thompson, [Stanford Univ. Press, 1990);   “Preface and Postscrpt to Rural Surveys” (March-April 1941) [SW 3:11ff];   “Spread the Campaigns to Reduce Rent, Increase Production and ‘Support the Government and Cherish the People’ in the Base Areas” (October 1943) [SW 3:131ff];   “The Land Problem”, in “On Coalition Government”, sect. IV. part 6 (April 1945) [SW 3:297-302];   “Rent Reduction and Production are Two Important Matters for the Defense of the Liberated Areas” (Nov. 1945) [SW4:71-73];   “Tactical Problems of Rural Work in the New Liberated Areas” (May 1948) [SW4:251-2];   “The Work of Land Reform and of Party Consolidation in 1948” (May 1948) [SW4:253-9];   “Request for Opinions on the Tactics for Dealing with Rich Peasants” (March 1950) [SW5:24-25];   “Take Mutual Aid and Co-operation in Agriculture as a Major Task” (Dec. 1951) [SW5:71];   “Solve the Problem of the ‘Five Excesses’” (March 1953) [SW5:89-91];   “Two Talks on Mutual Aid and Co-operation in Agriculture” (Oct.-Nov. 1953) [SW5:131-140];   “On the Co-operative Transformation of Agriculture” (July 1955) [SW5:184-207];   “Rely on Party and League Members and Poor and Lower-Middle Peasants in the Co-operative Transformation of Agriculture and the Current Class Struggle” (October 1955) [SW5:211-234];   “Prefaces to Socialist Upsurge in China’s Countryside” (Sept.-Dec. 1955) [SW5:235-41];   “Request for Opinions on the Seventeen Article Document Concerning Agriculture” (Dec. 1955) [SW5:281-83];   “The Relationship Between Heavy Industry on the One Hand and Light Industry and Agriculture on the Other”, in “On the Ten Major Relationships” (April 1956) [SW5:285-86];   “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”, section III: “The Question of the Co-operative Transformation of Agriculture” (Feb. 1957) [SW5:399-401]
        See also:
LENIN—On the Agrarian Question;   AGRARIAN REFORM—China

The philosophy of nonviolence as promoted by
Mohandas K. Gandhi. He called nonviolent action itself satyagraha.

AI SIQI   [Old style: Ai Ssu-ch’i]   [Pronounced (roughly): eye suh-chee]   (1910-66)
Well-known Marxist-Leninist philosopher in revolutionary China. Mao often sought him out for philosophical conversations both during the
Yan’an (Yenan) period and in later years. Ai was well-known for his ability to explain and popularize abstract ideas to the masses, using easy to understand examples and ordinary language, and even employing Chinese proverbs and well-known literary allusions. His most famous book was Philosophy for the Masses (c. 1934-36), which—like his other works—has not been translated into English (unfortunately!).
        Ai Siqi was actually a pen name; his original name was Li Shenxuan. As a young man he was educated in philosophy in Japan, and returned to China in the early 1930s. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1935, and went to Yan’an in 1937. There he taught both philosophy and Marxist-Leninist theory more generally, in higher party schools. In 1937 he published his book Philosophy and Life, which is said to address the unjustified criticism leveled at Marxism that it has no moral or ethical principles. Besides his own writing, he also translated many foreign works of Marxist philosophy into Chinese, including many Soviet books and articles.
        In 1949 the CCP started an important theoretical journal (Study) and Ai was a frequent contributor. He was an important and influential person in philosophical circles in revolutionary China, and often led in the criticism of bourgeois and reactionary philosophical ideas including those which sometimes arose within the Party. Ai was one of the people in charge of establishing the China Philosophical Society, and was a member of the philosophy and social sciences section of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. But perhaps his most important contribution was that, after Mao himself, for three decades Ai was the most important populizer and polemicist in philosophy in China.


An extremely serious problem which is mostly downplayed by the capitalists and their governments, even though it is one of the leading causes of health problems and deaths for millions of people around the world today. According to the UN’s World Health Organization, more than 90% of the world’s people breathe unhealthy air, and air pollution disproportionately affects people in “developing countries”, the two worst cases being India and China. Air pollution is the 4th largest risk factor to human health at the present time. It is responsible for one in eight premature deaths in the world, totalling about 8,800,000 people annually.
        See also:

“Air pollution is a vastly underestimated problem. Polluted air is linked to one in eight deaths worldwide, and studies have shown that bad air quality can cause cognitive impairment in young people and increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people. But until recently, there was no good source of air quality data that researchers and activists could rely on.
         Christa Hasenkopf, an atmospheric scientist, decided to fix that. She and a software developer started OpenAQ, an open source platform that collects air quality data from governments and international organizations in a single place and makes it free and accessable.” —Kevin Roose, “A Year in Good Tech”, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2019. [The OpenAQ website is at: http://www.openaq.org ]

“In Europe, nearly 400,000 people a year die prematurely because of poor air quality, according to the European Union.” —“E.U. Says Carmakers Colluded to Delay Clear Air Tech”, New York Times, April 6, 2019.

A large naval ship from which war planes may take off and land, which means that carriers can function as moveable airfields allowing their generally imperialist owners to extend their air power to most parts of the world. Aircraft carriers were the most powerful naval ships of World War II and the last half of the 20th century. Today they are very vulnerable to attacks by cruise and ballistic missiles and also from newly developed rocket-propelled torpedoes—for which there are no known countermeasures. These advanced anti-carrier weapons are mostly only available to other imperialist powers, which means that while aircraft carriers are probably no longer of major use in an all-out interimperialist world war they remain of great importance for the imperialists in threatening and attacking
“Third World” countries.

Greek philosophical term which means weakness of the will, lack of self-control, or doing something against one’s own better judgment. The first extensive discussion of this topic was in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, book 7.


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