Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   At - Au   —


ATATÜRK, Mustafa Kemal   (1881-1938)
See:
MUSTAFA KEMAL

ATOM
The basic particles of ordinary matter, which are themselves composed of smaller particles—
protons and neutrons which form a central nucleus, and a cloud of electrons surrounding the nucleus. The number of protons in the atom determines which chemical element it is an atom of. There are 92 elements found naturally, and elements with more than 92 protons have been created in the laboratory (all of which are unstable, i.e., radioactive).

“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.” —Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol. I, (1963), p. 1-2.

ATOM BOMB
See:
NUCLEAR WEAPONS,   NUCLEAR WEAPONS—America’s Use of in World War II

ATTACK FROM THE LEFT!
See:
ALWAYS ATTACK FROM THE LEFT!

ATTACKED BY THE ENEMY
See:
TO BE ATTACKED BY THE ENEMY

AURIGNACIAN
[To be added...]

AUSTERITY (As a Bourgeois Economic Policy)
A theory or policy often popular in bourgeois economic and political circles that a way to resolve economic crises is through “belt-tightening”. Whose belts are to be tightened? Those of the working class and masses, of course! These asterity programs generally focus on cutting back government expenditures, but the areas where the budgets are mostly cut are almost invariably in social programs such as social security, welfare benefits, unemployment insurance and health care programs. These programs were all won as reforms in an attempt to make life somewhat more bearable under capitalism, but no reforms won in a capitalist society are ever secure and permanent. When the capitalist economy enters a period of serious crisis, as it has done once again at the present time, then these reforms are cut back or even stripped away entirely under the excuse of “economic necessity”.
        The interesting thing is that doing this is actually economically counter-productive even for the bourgeoisie! The more the working class and masses are driven down, the less money they have and the smaller the market for the goods that the workers at the capitalist corporations produce! A capitalist
overproduction crisis develops because the capitalists do not (and cannot) pay their workers for the entire value of all that they produce. Things are kept going (for a while) by allowing working class consumers and the government to go ever deeper into debt. But when the expansion of these ever-larger debt bubbles begins to be curtailed—either through restrictions on consumer debt or through “government austerity” policies—then a crisis breaks out or further intensifies.
        So why then does the ruling class resort to austerity programs from time to time? First, they see the ever increasing government debt and know that it cannot increase forever (and at the ever faster speed that is required). Second, for bourgeois ideological reasons, most of the ruling class tends to disapprove of any government programs that in any way serve to benefit the workers and masses, even in limited ways. And third, their ideology blinds them to how economic crises actually develop under capitalism, and many of them even theorize that it is government debt which is causing these crises [!] (rather than being a temporary measure to prevent crises from developing and/or intensifying). The fact that austerity programs lead to a worsening economy always seems to surprise the largest section of the ruling class!

“A report by the IMF’s internal auditor concluded that having first advised countries to adopt fiscal stimulus during the [2008-2009] global financial crisis, the fund’s later push for austerity had ‘turned out to be a mistake and its timing unfortunate’, because the recovery was fragile. Christine Lagarde, who has led the IMF since 2011, said the auditor’s report benefited from hindsight.” —Economist, Nov. 8, 2014, p. 11.
        [This “mistake” was deep-seated and not just one of “timing”; it reflected the continuing failure of the bourgeois economists at the IMF (as well as those elsewhere) to understand the seriousness of the crisis, let alone its basic nature and cause—as a major overproduction crisis of the sort inherent in the capitalist system. Consequently, while the IMF now recognizes that the austerity program it encouraged actually aggravated the crisis, it still has no idea about how to resolve that continuing crisis!]

AUSTIN, John   (1911-60)
Bourgeois British philosopher of the linguistic or ordinary language school, who was both educated and taught at Oxford University. His approach to philosophy centered on the extremely careful and detailed analysis of everyday language and its implications, even to the point of pedantry.
        See also:
DIMENSION WORD

AUSTRIAN SCHOOL (Of Bourgeois Economics)
A trend in bourgeois economic thought which originated in Austria in the late nineteenth century, has spread around the world among some of the most doctrinaire apologists for and defenders of capitalism, and which promotes an extreme form of
laissez-faire economic policy, with the absolute minimum of government “interference” in a private capitalist economy. In other words, the Austrian School wants to turn back the clock to the ideology that dominated bourgeois economic thought in the pre-monopoly capitalist era, and is ideologically blind to the absolute necessity in contemporary capitalism for there to be a partial merger of the capitalist state with the “private” corporate economy, if the system is to be kept going at all. Most contemporary bourgeois economists do understand this, to one degree or another, including not only the Keynesians but also those of the dominant neoclassical school. For this reason the ideas of the Austrian School are viewed by most contemporary bourgeois economists as sort of a quaint and outmoded expression of the economic ideas of the nineteenth century. This is especially the case during times of serious capitalist economic crisis, such as the present, which require much more state intervention. On the other hand, when the dominant schools of bourgeois economics seem to be failing so miserably, some bourgeois individuals are then drawn toward economic sects such as the Austrian School.
        The Austrian School was founded by Carl Menger (1840-1921) at the University of Vienna. Menger, along with William Stanley Jevons in Manchester and Léon Walras in Lausanne, Switzerland, was also a founder of the marginalist theory in the 1870s. Thus from the beginning, the Austrian School was totally opposed to the labor theory of value. Later Menger’s student, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914), led this informal “school”, and was especially well-known for his specious attacks on Marxist political economy. Prominent later adherents to this bourgeois school of thought include Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) and Friedrich Hayek (1899–1929), who both also made constant attacks on Marxism and socialism a major part of their work. At the present time many of the adherents of the Austrian School call themselves “libertarians”, or even (pro-capitalist) “anarchists”.
        One of the doctrines of the Austrian School is that too low interest rates lead to the growth of too much debt, which in turn leads to investment or asset bubbles. This, of course is true, but it fails to understand that the creation of debt bubbles of one kind or another is absolutely necessary in the functioning of capitalism. If there were no debt bubbles building up, there would be no capitalist booms whatsoever! Nevertheless, the defenders of capitalism who don’t understand this point are sometimes attracted to those, like the Austrian School, who constantly rant against the growth of debt.
        Keynesians (correctly) view the basic reason for capitalist economic crises to be insufficient market demand (“effective demand”), although their rejection of Marxism (and the concept of surplus value) prevents them from understanding just why this insufficent demand is inherent in capitalism. However, the Austrian School holds that the business cycle is driven by “supply side” factors. They view overinvestment (due to low interest rates) as leading to overproduction and crisis. But they absurdly believe that if interest rates were at just the right level (the so-called “natural rate of interest”) this overinvestment and overproduction would not occur, and neither would inflation. Thus they conclude that all capitalist economic crises are due simply to the mismanagement of the economy by the government. The Austrian School, even less so than the Keynesians, is completely unable to understand how overproduction crises are inherent in capitalism, no matter what the government does.
        See also: ANARCHO-CAPITALISM,   LIBERTARIANISM

AUTHORITY
[To be added...]
        See also:
PARIS COMMUNE [Engels quote]

AUTOMATION
The replacement of jobs by machines, which—these days—almost always means, or at least includes as part of those machines, electronic computers.
        In the industrial revolution machines replaced human labor but human beings were still needed to control or tend those machines. But major advances in
artificial intelligence are now allowing computers to replace the control functions too which humans were previously needed for, and machines are more and more able to “tend themselves”. Thus the role of human beings in production processes is being fairly rapidly and steadily diminished or even eliminated, not only in manufacturing but also in service industries.
        See also below and: COMPUTERS—and Society,   COMPUTERS—and Unemployment,   ROBOT (Industrial)

“Let us remember that the automatic machine, whatever we think of any feelings it may have or not have, is the precise economic equivalent of slave labor. Any labor which competes with slave labor must accept the economic conditions of slave labor. It is perfectly clear that this will produce an unemployment situation, in comparison with which the present recession and even the depression of the thirties will seem a pleasant joke.” —Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (1950) (NY: Avon Books, 1967), p. 220. [Wiener, along with the other pioneers of what we now call artificial intelligence, expected the advent of this new age of fully automatic machinery to be only a couple decades in the future. While he was wrong about the timing, the disaster for human employment under the capitalist system is now coming true after all, some 70 or so years later. —Ed.]

1.   Anything a human being is able to do, a machine will someday soon be able to do—and faster, cheaper and better.
         2.   Machines can do practically anything except buy the goods that are produced.
         —Two equally profound observations that both go back at least as far as the 1950s, but whose full truth is only beginning to dawn on people in the 21st century.

AUTOMATION — Low Wages as a “Protection” Against

“Robots are getting much lighter, they can be repurposed easily and can do delicate work humans find very difficult and once regarded as impossible for machines. ‘One company promises its robots eventually will be sewing garments in the U.S., taking over one of the ultimate sweatshop tasks.’ [‘Meet the New Generation of Robots for Manufacturing’, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2015.]
        “The one proviso historically offered by economists was that low wages slow down the incentive for businesses to turn to automation. The ‘good news’ for manufacturing workers was that, as long as they did not press management for higher wages or better working conditions, they might keep some of their jobs. How has this worked in practice? A firm like Nissan relies upon robots for its factories in Japan, but its factories in India rely on cheap local labor. Indeed, a good deal of economic analysis of the speed and intensity of technological innovation and diffusion is based upon the cost of labor. When wages are relatively low, innovation slows down, and when wages are high, firms have a greater incentive to turn to automation. The logic is that as American labor costs continue to decline, firms will be more likely to hire real workers and less inclined to turn to automation, or to move manufacturing jobs abroad to low-wage locales.
        “As we enter the second half of the chessboard, that economic thinking can be filed next to the discredited notion that market economies always gravitate toward full employment, or that market economies tend to reduce inequality. ‘China, India, Mexico, and other emerging nations are learning quickly,’ Rifkin writes, ‘that the cheapest workers in the world are not as cheap, efficient and productive as the information technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence that replaces them.’ [Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014), p. 124.]”
         —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and the Citizenless Democracy (2016), pp. 99-100. [From a Marxist theoretical perspective, the price of labor power cannot fall significantly below the cost of maintaining basic human existence whereas there is in theory no limit as to how far the cost of automatic machinery may fall. Thus stagnating or even steadily falling wages can at most slightly postpone the day when automatic machinery will replace virtually all human labor. This once again shows that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the continued existence of humanity. —S.H.]

AUTUMN HARVEST UPRISING
An uprising of peasants and workers in September 1927 in Hsiushui, Pinghsiang, Pingkiang and Liuyang Counties in the Hunan-Kiangsi border area of China, who formed the 1st Division of the First Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolutionary Army. Mao Zedong led this uprising and led this force into the Chingkang Mountains to establish a revolutionary base area there.




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