Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Bo - Bq   —

An imperialist war by Britain against Dutch settlers (“Boers”) in southern Africa at the beginning of the 20th century which managed to expand and secure British colonial control over that entire region.

“Imperialism, as the highest stage of capitalism in America and Europe, and later in Asia, took final shape in the period 1898–1914. The Spanish-American War (1898), the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05) and the economic crisis in Europe in 1900 are the chief historical landmarks in the new era of world history.” —Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism” (Oct. 1916), LCW 23:106.

“Great Britain’s quarrel with the Boer republics dated back many years. When the British during the Napoleonic wars had taken over Cape Town and its environs, the Dutch farmers there had trekked inland. In doing so, they had situated themselves over great lodes of gold and diamonds. So enter, in time, the archintriguer Cecil Rhodes. The object of Rhodes’s scheming was the removal of the Boers so that he could get his hands on the most valuable mineral deposits in the world. Wealthy already, he induced the British government to provoke a war with the Boers, a fight he was certain the Boers would lose.
        “With British forces concentrated on the borders of the Boer republics, President Kruger met with [British] Commissioner Milner only briefly; there was nothing to say. So on October 8, 1899, Kruger issued an ultimatum, demanding a British withdrawal. No retreat ensuing, the Boer War began on October 11, 1899.
        “Three years later, the British won the war, barely. Only by burning Boer farmhouses, forcing Boer women and children into concentration camps, and bringing most of the firepower of the empire to bear against a handful of grunting Dutch farmers did Great Britain manage to prevail.
        “Even in victory, the British government concealed from its people a telling statistic. To pay for the war, London had had to borrow a fifth of the cost from American banks.”
         —Robert Smith Thompson, The Eagle Triumphant: How America Took Over the British Empire (2004), pp. 32-33.

BOGDANOV, Alexander   [Pronounced: bog-DAN-ov]   [Pseudonym of Alexander A. Malinovsky]   (1873-1928)
Russian philosopher and economist, writer and Social Democrat. He joined the Bolsheviks in 1903, but was expelled in 1909 because of his anti-Marxist views and activities. (See:
OTZOVISM.) Although he started out as a vague sort of materialist, he soon veered into a doctrine known as Energism. Then he supported the extreme empiricist and subjective idealist doctrines of Ernst Mach. Next, his confused attempts to overcome the conceptual difficulties of Machism led him to create a kind of objective idealist theory of knowledge which he called “Empirio-Monism”. (He published a 3 volume work with that title in the years 1904-06.) After that he moved into other areas and tried to formulate a theory he called “tectology”, a supposed universal organization science (somewhat like the later theories by others which are known as “cybernetics” and “systems theory”). But throughout this whole long and strange intellectual odyssey he stood opposed to dialectical materialism, and was strongly criticized by Lenin for this (including in Lenin’s 1908 book, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism).
        In 1917 Bogdanov was a founder and the leader of the “Proletkult” organization which sought to promote proletarian culture, but which also proclaimed the necessity for the total replacement of all existing cultural forms with “completely new” proletarian forms of culture. This view too was strongly criticized by Lenin.
        Bogdanov’s writings had made a very strong impression on Nikolai Bukharin, who was one of the top theoreticians of the Bolsheviks at the time, and on many others as well. Partly for this reason Bogdanov had quite a reputation himself as a Marxist theoretician by 1917, despite his idealistic theories which had been exposed by Lenin earlier. In 1920 Lenin re-published his book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism in order to combat this renewed idealist trend centered around Bogdanov in the revolutionary movement. At the same time, the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) established more political control over the Bogdanov’s Proletkult organization, which had developed its own line partly opposed to that of the party.

“If you would write a novel for the workers on the subject of how the sharks of capitalism robbed the earth and wasted the oil, iron, timber and coal—that would be a useful book, Signor Machist!” —Lenin, to Alexander Bogdanov, trying to get him to do something useful in politics and science, rather than perpetually dabbling in pseudo-scientific philosophy. Quoted in Maxim Gorky, Days With Lenin (1932).

[From the Spanish words for ‘Bolivarian’ and ‘bourgeoisie’.]
        A term used in contemporary Venezuela, mostly by opponents of the “Bolivarian” regime founded by Hugo Chávez, to refer to the new bourgeoisie which has profited from the Bolivarian revolution, and which has to a considerable extent risen to replace the old bourgeoisie which the revolution partially overthrew. As the old ruling class abandoned their mansions, especially in the “Country Club neighborhood” of Caracas, they were bought up by this rising new Boliburguesia. This is the inherent danger in any half-way revolution which does not institute the genuine dictatorship of the proletariat.
        See also:

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Officially known as the Bolshevik section of the
RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY (RSDLP) from 1903 to 1918, as the RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY (BOLSHEVIKS) from 1918 to 1925, and then eventually the COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION. [More to be added...]

[To be added... ]

BOLTZMANN, Ludwig   (1844-1906)
Famous Austrian physicist who was a staunch materialist in his outlook (though not a Marxist), and who criticized
subjective idealist views such as those of Ernst Mach.

This was the name of the
big-character poster written by Mao Zedong on August 5, 1966, during the early stages of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Mao’s poster was issued in support of an earlier big-character poster written by a group of anti-revisionists at Peking University, including Nie Yuanzi (of the philosophy department there), on May 25, 1966. By saying “bombard the headquarters” Mao’s intent was to refocus the GPCR onto the top capitalist roaders in the Party, and especially on the person who soon came to be called the “top party person in authority taking the capitalist road”, or “China’s Khrushchev”, namely Liu Shaoqi. Here is Mao’s poster in full:

Bombard the Headquarters—My Big-Character Poster
        “China’s first Marxist-Leninist big-character poster and Commentator’s article on it in Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) are indeed superbly written! Comrades, please read them again. But in the last fifty days or so some leading comrades from the central down to the local levels have acted in a diametrically opposite way. Adopting the reactionary stand of the bourgeoisie, they have enforced a bourgeois dictatorship and struck down the surging movement of the great cultural revolution of the proletariat. They have stood facts on their head and juggled black and white, encircled and suppressed revolutionaries, stifled opinions differing from their own, imposed a white terror, and felt very pleased with themselves. They have puffed up the arrogance of the bourgeoisie and deflated the morale of the proletariat. How poisonous! Viewed in connection with the Right deviation in 1962 and the wrong tendency of 1964 which was ‘Left’ in form but Right in essence, shouldn’t this make one wide awake?”
         [From Peking Review, #33, Nov. 3, 1967, online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1967/PR1967-33-Mao-Bombard.pdf and also in Mao SW 9:280. The full issue of the magazine ( http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1967/PR1967-33.pdf) also includes two articles discussing the significance of Mao’s big-character poster: “Completely Smash the Bourgeois Headquarters”, from Hongqi; and “Bombard the Bourgeois Headquarters”, from Renmin Ribao.]


BOND [In capitalist economics]
A security certificate, or “IOU”, for a long-term loan either to a corporation or to a government (or government agency). Bonds usually pay a fixed rate of interest for a fixed period, and at the end of that period the principal must be repaid in full. (However, in a capitalist society—which inherently depends on ever-rising debt—the principal for expiring bonds is most often paid by raising money through the issue and sale of new bonds!) Most of the time bonds are more conservative investments than stocks; they have less risk of a sudden fall in market value, but also less possibility of increased value through any Ponzi-like general rise in prices such as often occurs in the stock market. Nevertheless, the owner of the bond may also sell it at market prices to another investor, who will then receive the interest and also get the returned principal when it comes due. Since there is this market of fluctuating bond prices, there is also gambling by speculators who hope to buy low and sell high and therefore cheat the other investors/speculators.
        See also:

[Intro to be added...]

“As a young Army chief of staff in 1932, [Douglas] MacArthur, against the explicit instructions of [President Herbert] Hoover, took it upon himself to not just disperse a crowd as Hooever had asked but also completely clear Washington of the ragtag ‘bonus army,’ penniless World War I veterans (and their wives and children) who had camped on the banks of the Anacosta River while pleading with Congress to pay out their military benefits early. [This was at the beginning of the Great Depression.]
        “What should have been a minor test of crowd control turned, in MacArhur’s hands, into a fiasco. Several hundred troops under Mac’s command torched the camp, killing an infant and bayoneting a boy who was chasing a rabbit. Photographers caught it all. The public recoiled in horror, and Hooever’s shot at re-election, never great to begin with, vanished. In a conversation with Felix Frankfurter, Hoover’s opponent said he spied his chance in MacArthur’s overreach. ‘Well, Felix,’ Franklin Roosevelt said, ‘this will elect me.’ The incident may help explain why FDR later mused that MacArthur was the most dangerous man in America.” —Michael Duffy, “Even headstrong generals must answer to someone”, a review of a biography of MacArthur, Time magazine, Oct. 31, 2016, p. 48.


“Merely having a library filled with books about, say mathematics, fashion, or word origins does not make one a mathematician, a fashion designer, or an etymologist. What counts, rather, is the degree to which the concepts in those books are internalized by a person, thus enriching their conceptual space and turning them into a thinker able to make new categorizations and analogies.” —Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking (2013), p. 132.
         [Likewise having a library filled with books about Marxism does not make one a revolutionary. In revolutionary politics the goal is indeed for us to internalize the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and many other less prominent creators of MLM theory. And that can only happen through serious and sustained study. At the same time, of course, we go further and recognize that mere book knowledge, no matter how well internalized it may be, is still not enough. In addition to that we need our own participation with the masses in struggle and at least some considerable direct investigations of our own about objective conditions and the ideas and mood of the masses. —Ed.]

BOOM QUARTERS (In U.S. Capitalism)
       The graph at the right shows the percentage of boom quarters in the U.S. economy from 1930 through 2015 (omitting the World War II years which were a major aberration in the economy). For each period it shows the percentage of the yearly quarters in which the annualized GDP growth rate was 6% or greater. Note the rapid decline in boom quarters from the post-war highs in 1947-1969, and the fact that there have been no boom quarters at all in the most recent period. Source: Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), p. 44.
        See also:

Left wing of the Ukrainian
Socialist-Revolutionary Party, a peasant-based nationalist party, which split off and briefly functioned as an independent party starting in May 1918. They published a central journal known as Borotba [“Struggle”]. This was the faction of the SRs in Ukraine that decided to support Soviet power. In March 1919 they adopted the name “Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Revolutionary-Borotbists (Communists)”, which was soon shortened to “Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists)”. Its leaders included Vasil Blakitny, Grigory Grinko, Ivan Maistrenko and Aleksander Shumsky.
        The Borotbists applied twice for affiliation with the Communist International as the main communist party of Ukraine, but the Comintern viewed this as an attempt to split the Ukrainian people and called on them to dissolve their party and merge into the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine. Some of the Borotbists did so. Because of the growing stature of the Bolsheviks among the Ukrainian peasantry, the rest of the Borotbists voluntarily dissolved their own organization. But some of their former members joined the Ukrainian Communist Party [Ukapists] and participated in further nationalist agitation against the USSR.

[In particle physics:] An elementary particle which carries a force. The most familiar example is the
photon, or particle of light, which carries the electromagnetic force. The W or Z bosons carry the weak nuclear force, and gluons carry the strong nuclear force.
        (More technically, bosons are particles of full-integer spin which are characterized by Bose-Einstein statistics in quantum mechanics. Thus there are also composite, or non-elementary particles, which are also classed as bosons, not because they carry force, but because they have full-integer spins. Included in this category are mesons, nuclei with an even number of neutrons and protons, and atoms containing an even number of protons, electrons and neutrons.)
        See also: FERMION,   HIGGS BOSON

In China, before the revolutions of the 20th century, there was a horrible feudal custom of binding the feet of women to supposedly make them appear more demure in their appearance and movement. This brutal crime against women led to major deformities and broken bones and prevented them from walking normally. In the picture at the right there is a comparison of the bound feet of a victim of this practice next to the feet of a normal woman. Of course the revolution led by Mao and the Communist Party of China put a complete end to this disgusting feudal custom.

The form of capitalist society in which the
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is camouflaged by superficial (i.e., fundamentally false) democratic forms. One favorite technique is to alternate rule between two different bourgeois political parties, both of which represent the fundamental interests of the capitalists and which differ only on secondary questions on which the capitalists themselves are not in agreement. The masses are accorded a minor role in deciding which of these two basically indistinguishable parties (from the proletarian point of view) shall administer capitalist power in any given period, in order to give them the illusion that they are controlling society. Whenever bourgeois rule is seriously threatened the capitalists dispense with the camouflage and resort to fascism.
        See also below, and: CITIZENS—In American Bourgeois Democracy,   DIRECT DEMOCRACY,   ELECTIONS—In a Bourgeois Democracy,   “LESSER OF TWO EVILS”,   MAJORITY [Hinton quote],   POLYARCHY,   “TWO PARTY SYSTEM”

“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” —Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:243.

“There is not a single state, however democratic, which has no loopholes or reservations in its constitution guaranteeing the bourgeoisie the possibility of dispatching troops against the workers, of proclaiming martial law, and so forth, in case of a ‘violation of public order’, and actually in case the exploited class ‘violates’ its position of slavery and tries to behave in a non-slavish manner.” —Lenin, ibid., LCW 28:244.

“The reason why the omnipotence of ‘wealth’ is more certain in a democratic republic is that it does not depend on the faulty political shell of capitalism. A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell ... it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it.” —Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (August-September 2017), LCW 25:393.

The fundamental restriction for all politics within bourgeois democracy is that the differences of opinion must remain within the sphere of the general acceptance and support of the capitalist system. If a section of political opinion begins to shift outside that boundary, then—sooner or later—the supposed “democracy” within the bourgeois democratic system will be severely curtailed, in one way or another.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit that spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within the spectrum.” —Noam Chomsky, quoted in Chad Pearson, “Scholarship on the Rise of the Right: Liberal Historians and the Retreat from Class”, Monthly Review, Feb. 2019, p. 40.



“Proletarian revolution in education is still going on and class struggle has not yet come to an end. As to bourgeois ideology, if you do not transform it, then you will be transformed by it.” —Kuei Yu-peng, a student in the department of mechanical engineering, Tsinghua University, “Revolution in Education: Our Experience”, Peking Review, vol. 14, #34, Aug. 20, 1971.

[To be added...]
        See also:
FAKE NEWS,   MEDIA—Conservative Attitudes Towards,   NEWS SOURCES,   NEWSPAPERS

“Five U.S. media conglomerates [now have] more communications power than was exercised by any dictatorship and despot in history.”
         —Ben Bagdikian, a liberal bourgeois journalist and media critic, in his book The New Media Monopoly (2004), referring to the concentration of media control in the U.S. into just five major corporations: Time Warner, the Walt Disney Co., Murdoch’s News Corporation, Viacom and Bertelsmann (a German company). [Of course even before this nearly complete media concentration, the bourgeoisie already had a nearly total class monopoly on news and opinion all along. —Ed.]

“Then there’s the tone that establishment media outlets use to discuss government wrongdoing. The culture of US journalism mandates that reporters avoid any clear or declarative statements and incorporate government assertions into their reporting, treating them with respect no matter how frivolous they are. They use what the [Washington] Post’s own media columnist, Erik Wemple, derides as middle-of-the-road-ese: never saying anything definitive but instead vesting with equal credence the government’s defenses and the actual facts, all of which has the effect of diluting revelations to a muddled, incoherent, often inconsequential mess. Above all else, they invariably give great weight to official claims, even when those claims are patently false or deceitful.
        “It was that fear-driven, obsequious journalism that led the [N.Y.] Times, the Post, and many other outlets to refuse to use the word ‘torture’ in their reporting on Bush interrogation techniques, even though they freely used that word to describe the exact same tactics when used by other governments around the world. It was also what produced the debacle of media outlets laundering baseless government claims about Saddam [Hussein] and Iraq to sell to the American public on a war built of false pretenses that the US media amplified rather than investigated.” —Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (2014), pp. 55-56.

Any of numerous variations of moral attitudes and views which express the basic interests of the bourgeoisie. For example all forms of bourgeois morality defend—either explicitly or implicitly—the right of the capitalists to exploit workers.



[To be added.... ]

The capitalist class; the ruling class in capitalist society, which owns the
means of production (factories, etc.) and exploits hired labor.

“By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labor.” —Engels, footnote added to the 1888 English edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, MECW 6:482.

BOURGEOISIE — Class Interests Versus Individual Interests
Within every social class there are contradictions between the individual interests of its members and their overall class interests, but these individual vs. class contradictions are especially strong in the case of the bourgeoisie.
        The capitalists are actually in essence a pack of thieves, each of which lives by stealing the labor of “their” workers (i.e., exploiting them through the systematic extraction of
surplus value). Since stealing is the essence of how they operate they also have the strong motive and many opportunities to steal from each other. But the capitalist system would fall apart if some rules were not established in this vicious dog-eat-dog system. Thus there need to be laws and law courts to protect the “sanctity of contracts” and to otherwise protect individual capitalists from predation by their own kind. Of course the richest and most powerful capitalists collectively make these rules through their political control of society. But even the very richest and most power capitalists have to make concessions here; the laws they establish also restrict their own behavior to some degree. Therefore the most rational course of action for each individual capitalist is to favor a system of laws which promote their overall class interests, while at the same time seeking to get around those laws as best they can.
        The reason that the laws and tax codes are so incredibly complex is that individual capitalists, or small groups of them with similar interests, have managed to get a myriad of special loopholes in the law for their own special benefit. This is just one of the many ways in which the private or individual interests of specific capitalists eat away against the overall class interests even of the bourgeoisie itself! Of course many capitalists just ignore the existing laws entirely, when they think they can get away with it.
        There are many other means by which the individual interests and class interests of the bourgeoisie come into very serious conflict. See the quotation below for just one example.

“The first core paradox [intrinsic to the profit system] is that capitalism rewards businesses and investors for engaging in certain types of behavior. When all businesses respond the same way, however, it creates major problems no one wanted, or it makes existing small problems much larger. The classic example is how businesses respond to an economic slowdown. The prudent course for an individual firm is to cut back on prospective investment and lay off workers and marshal resources—minimize losses—until a turnaround appears on the horizon. But when all firms follow the same course, and stop investing while laying off millions of workers, the recession grows much worse and proves far more intractable. All businesses suffer as a result, not to mention workers and everyone else. What is rational for the individual capitalist produces utterly irrational results when it is done by capitalists as a whole.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready (2016), pp. 107-8.

BOURGEOISIE — Past Revolutionary Role Of
While the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, is today the most reactionary and anti-revolutionary class, and the class that stands in the way of social progress, this was not always so. In its youth the bourgeoisie led in the struggle against feudalism in Europe, and in that long past age actually played a most revolutionary role in society.

“Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communications by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
        “We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
        “Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:486.

“The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
         “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” —Marx & Engels, ibid., MECW 6:486-7.

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