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: ENCHUFADO
[To be added... ]
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.
“BOMBARD THE HEADQUARTERS”
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: https://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1967/PR1967-33-Mao-Bombard.pdf and also in Mao SW 9:280. The full issue of the magazine ( https://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.]
BOMBS DROPPED BY U.S. IMPERIALISM ON OTHER COUNTRIES
See: UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM—Perpetual Wars Of
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: GOVERNMENT SECURITIES, JUNK BOND
[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,’ pennyless
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.
BOOKCHIN, Murray (1929-2006)
An all-too-typical sort of superficial and confused American “left” intellectual who was a Trotskyist for years, and then became an anarchist for more decades before shifting away from that too.
“Murray Bookchin, ... was a highly influential radical ecological and anti-capitalist theorist. After many years in the Trotskyist movement, Bookchin began identifying as an anarchist in 1958, a label he would keep for the next four decades. His ideas centrally focused on decentralization, ecological concerns, and overcoming capitalism. In the late 1990s he ceased identifying as an anarchist owing to frustrations with what he saw as the predominance of individualism and non-revolutionary ‘lifestylism’ in the tendency. He is strongly associated with the ideas of social ecology and libertarian municipalism.” —From the blurb on the back cover of one of his books.
BOOKS (and BOOK KNOWLEDGE)
“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.]
“What do we need in order to learn communism? Here a number of dangers
arise, which very often manifest themselves whenever the task of learning communism is
presented incorrectly, or when it is interpreted in too one-sided a manner.
“Naturally, the first thought that enters one’s mind is that learning communism means assimilating the sum of knowledge that is contained in communist manuals, pamphlets and books. But such a definition of the study of communism would be too crude and inadequate. If the study of communism consisted solely in assimilating what is contained in communist books and pamphlets, we might all too easily obtain communist text-jugglers or braggards, and this would very often do us harm, because such people, after learning by rote what is set forth in communist books and pamphlets, would prove incapable of combining the various branches of knowledge, and would be unable to act in the way communism really demands.
“One of the greatest evils and misfortunes left to us by the old, capitalist society is the complete rift between books and practical life; we have had books explaining everything in the best possible manner, yet in most cases these books contained the most pernicious and hypocritical lies, a false description of capitalist society.
“That is why it would be most mistaken merely to assimilate book knowledge about communism. No longer do our speeches and articles merely reiterate what used to be said about communism, because our speeches and articles are connected with our daily work in all fields. Without work and without struggle, book knowledge of communism obtained from communist pamphlets and workers is absolutely worthless, for it would continue the old separation of theory and practice, the old rift which was the most pernicious feature of the old, bourgeois society.”
—Lenin, “The Tasks of the Youth Leagues” (Oct. 5-7, 1920), LCW 31:284-285.
“The old schools [under capitalism] provided purely book knowledge; they compelled their pupils to assimilate a mass of useless, superfluous and barren knowledge, which cluttered up the brain and turned the younger generation into bureaucrats regimented according to a single pattern. But it would mean falling into a grave error for you to try to draw the conclusion that one can become a Communist without assimilating the wealth of knowledge amassed by mankind. It would be mistaken to think it sufficient to learn communist slogans and the conclusions of communist science, without acquiring that sum of knowledge of which communism is a result. Marxism is an example which shows how communism arose out of the sum of human knowledge.” —Lenin, ibid., p. 286.
“In order to have a real grasp of Marxism, one must learn it not only from books, but mainly through class struggle, through practical work and close contact with the masses of workers and peasants. When in addition to reading some Marxist books our intellectuals have gained some understanding through close contact with the masses of workers and peasants and through their own practical work, we will all be speaking the same language, not only the common language of patriotism and the common language of the socialist system, but probably even the common language of the communist world outlook. If that happens, all of us will certainly work much better.” —Mao, “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work” (March 12, 1957); also in the first (1966) edition of Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, p. 312.
BOOKS — Banned
“The Roman Inquisition, after its reorganization in 1542, assumed supervision of printing projects in Italy, and in 1559 promulgated the first worldwide Index of Prohibited Books. In 1564, following the Council of Trent, harsher new restrictions stipulated that authors as well as printers could be excommunicated for publishing works judged heretical. Even the readers of such texts could be so punished. Booksellers, likewise, had to beware, keeping an exact listing of their stock, and standing ever ready for impromptu inspections called by bishops or inquisitors.” —Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter, (NY: Penguin, 2000), p. 178.
“According to the American Library Association, there have been attempts to ban or restrict access to 1,651 book titles so far in 2022, up from challenges to 1,597 books in 2021, the year with the most complaints since the group began documenting challenges.” —New York Times, “Attempts to Ban Books are Increasing”, National Edition, Sept. 17, 2022.
BOOKS — Reading Of
Because of the advent of the Internet and “social media”, there has been a significant decline in the reading of books, by younger people especially. This is becoming a serious problem for the promotion of revolutionary consciousness among the masses. People who can read, but don’t, are hardly better off than those who are completely illiterate. It may be that from now on promoting MLM revolutionary consciousness will have to include finding ways to get reluctant youth to actually read revolutionary books. Just dabbling with radical or even revolutionary opinions on the Internet is simply not enough.
“According to a 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), when adjusted for inflation, money spent to purchase books ‘has fallen dramatically.’ Publishers rarely say aloud what this study suggested: books are losing younger readers.” —Ken Auletta, Googled: The End of the World as We Know It (NY: Penguin, 2010), p. 235.
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: CAPITALIST ECONOMIC BOOM, POST-WORLD WAR II CAPITALIST BOOM
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.
BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY — Political Limits Of
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.
See also: FAKE NEWS, MEDIA—Conservative Attitudes Towards, NEWS SOURCES, NEWSPAPERS, TRUSTWORTHY NEWS SOURCES
“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.
A legal right to hold private property in the form of capital and/or unfair quantities of personal private property; and largely because of this, to also possess important social advantages, privileges and influence that others do not have. Of course bourgeois right is a notorious characteristic of capitalist society, but it also continues to exist in a generally diminished form in socialist society as well—that is, during the transition stage from capitalism to communism. Only in communist society will there be absolutely no such thing as bourgeois right.
In capitalist society bourgeois right primarily consists of legal rights to the ownership and accumulation of property in the form of industrial, financial, or other kinds of capital, and the privileges and social influence (including especially political influence) that the ownership of capital provides. The greater the accumulation of capital by an individual or family, the greater the privileges and influence. However, the accumulation of personal private property, such as luxurious homes, lavish wardrobes, expensive art collections, large personal bank accounts, vacation properties, expensive automobiles and even yachts, can also considerably augment the social privileges and influence of the owners. (Indeed, to some extent conspicuous consumption exists for just this reason in capitalist society.)
In (genuine) socialist society there is of course no private ownership of the means of production, and there is no private ownership of capital in any form. (Or, in other words, “capital”, as the thing we Marxists refer to in capitalist society, no longer exists! The means of production still exist, of course, but the social class relationship—capital—resulting from the private ownership of that means of production no longer exists.) For that reason, under socialism there can be no bourgeois right and no social privileges or influence that arises out of that kind of ownership of private property. However, as long as there is a system of equal wages for equal amounts of work (let alone differences in wages under socialism for one reason or another) there will inevitably be differences in the accumulation of wealth by different people—even if they are all workers! This is because equal wages for equal work does not take account of the fact that different people have different levels of needs.
If one worker under socialism has children while another does not, then the needs (and expenses) of the worker with children will be much greater than those of the worker without children. They may well make the very same wages, but identical wages in this case do not lead to equality in living standards; quite the opposite. Individuals with special needs of any other kind lead to similar inequalities. And while one would certainly expect that the health care and welfare systems under socialism will be vastly superior to those pathetic systems under capitalism, it is quite likely that at least in the early days of socialism they may still not be perfect. In that case the system of equal wages for equal work may still not completely lead to full social equality for people who have serious health problems or who are unable to work for long periods. Then too, people in different regions may have different needs (such as for greater clothing and high heating expenses in winter in colder areas). The system of equal wages for equal work can in part be modified to allow for such regional differences, but it is virtually impossible to do this perfectly for every individual in their own special circumstances.
This means that even under socialism some people will inevitably become somewhat better off than other people; some will accumulate more personal wealth, be able to obtain better educations for themselves and their children, develop social connections among other similar better-off people, and begin to form the social basis for a new privileged social class. This proto-class will in turn virtually inevitably try to become a new full-fledged bourgeoisie, once again having the legal right to own capital, to exploit hired workers, and to control and run society in its own selfish class interests. And in that case, instead of socialism developing into communism, it will soon revert back into total capitalism or capitalist-imperialism!
This is why the question of bougeois right, and how to deal with it in socialist society is so extremely important. It is probably the deepest reason why the socialist system is inherently unstable. Through further mass struggle socialism can in fact be advanced and transformed into communism. But without extensive mass struggle led by a genuine MLM party, socialism can quite easily revert back into capitalism. It has already happened in the Soviet Union and China after the deaths of revolutionary leaders.
We have mentioned that socialist society can be somewhat moved toward the basic principle of communist society—“From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”—through adjustments to the wage system, such as by raising the wages of those who have special needs because of illness or other factors. But for the most part it is better to deal with this by creating totally free and high quality health care for everyone, and first rate social welfare systems for unemployment, disabilities, and other forms of social welfare. However, even these things are not good enough! (After all, they have been established in social democratic states, and then been weakened or destroyed when the capitalists in power decided they must do so.) Thus the ultimate way to defeat bourgeois right, and the danger of capitalist restoration, is to eliminate the wages system completely and transform the entire economy into communism. Even the use of money must be eliminated. Since socialism is unstable, we must transform it into communism to achieve true social and economic stability, as well as genuine and complete social justice.
Bourgeois right is a somewhat subtle concept. This is because it refers not only to actual property rights but generally also to the privileges and influence which derive from those ownership rights. To help further clarify things, we provide below a number of important quotations from Marx and Lenin.
See also: PROPERTY — Versus Possessions
“‘Equal right,’ says Marx, we indeed have here [in socialist society]; but it is
still a ‘bourgeois right,’ which, like every right, presupposes inequality. Every
right is an application of an equal measure to different people who in fact are not
alike, are not equal to one another; that is why ‘equal right’ is really a violation of equality
and an injustice. Indeed, every man, having performed as much social labour as another, receives an
equal share of the social product (after the above-mentioned deductions). But people are not alike:
one is strong, another is weak; one is married, another is not; one has more children, another has
less, and so on. And the conclusion Marx draws is:
“[Quoting Marx:] ‘...with an equal performance of labour, and hence an equal share in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right instead of being equal would have to be unequal.’
“Hence, the first phase of Communism [i.e., socialist society] cannot yet produce [complete] justice and equality: differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still exist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible, because it will be impossible to seize the means of production, the factories, machines, land, etc., as private property.”
—Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (August-September 1917), (Peking: FLP, 1973), pp. 110-111.
“Marx not only most scrupulously takes account of the inevitable inequality of
men, but he also takes into account the fact that the mere conversion of the means of production
into the common property of the whole of society (commonly called ‘Socialism’) does not remove
the defects of distribution and the inequality of ‘bourgeois right’ which continues to prevail
as long as products are divided “according to the amount of labour performed.”
—Lenin, “The State and Revolution”, ibid., pp. 111-112.
“In the first phase of communist society (usually called Socialism) ‘bourgeois
right’ is not abolished in its entirety, but only in part, only in proportion to the economic
revolution so far attained, i.e., only in respect of the means of production. ‘Bourgeois right’
recognizes them as the private property of individuals. Socialism converts them into common
property. To that extent—and to that extent alone—‘bourgeois right’ disappears.
“However, it continues to exist as far as its other part is concerned; it continues to exist in the capacity of regulator (determining factor) in the distribution of products and the allotment of labour among the members of society. The socialist principle: ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat,’ is already realized; the other socialist principle: ‘An equal amount of products for an equal amount of labour,’ is also already realized. But this is not yet Communism, and it does not yet abolish ‘bourgeois right,’ which gives to unequal individuals, in return for unequal (really unequal) amounts of labour, equal amounts of products.”
“This is a ‘defect,’ says Marx, but it is unavoidable in the first phase of Communism [i.e., socialism]; for if we are not to indulge in utopianism, we must not think that having overhrown capitalism people will at once learn to work for society without any standard of right; and indeed the abolition of capitalism does not immediately create the economic premises for such a change.
“And there is no other standard than that of ‘bourgeois right.’ To this extent, therefore, there still remains the need for a state, which, while safeguarding the public ownership of the means of production, would safeguard equality in labour and equality in the distribution of products.”
—Lenin, “The State and Revolution”, ibid., pp. 112-113.
“Of course, bourgeois right in regard to the distribution of articles of
consumption inevitably presupposes the existence of the bourgeois state, for right
is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing the observance of the standards of
“It follows that under [the first stage of] Communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois right, but even the bourgeois state—without the bourgeoisie!
“This may sound like a paradox or simply a dialectical conundrum, of which Marxism is often accused by people who do not take the slightest trouble to study its extraordinarily profound content.
“But as a matter of fact, remnants of the old surviving in the new confront us in life at every step, both in nature and in society. And Marx did not arbitrarily insert a scrap of ‘bourgeois’ right into Communism [or what we now refer to as socialism —Ed.], but indicated what is economically and politically inevitable in a society emerging out of the womb of capitalism.”
—Lenin, “The State and Revolution”, ibid., p. 118.
[One thing that Lenin did not mention here, however, is that the very existence of bourgeois “right”, even in a developed socialist society, might in itself foster the growth of bourgeois ideas more generally, and even lead to the advent of a new bourgeoisie! This is further reason for thinking that socialism is an unstable social formation; it must either develop all the way into full-scale communism, or else eventually fail and revert to capitalism. —S.H.]
“In capitalist society, the economic foundation for the bourgeoisie is the capitalist
possession of the means of production. After the proletariat seizes power and basically completes the
socialist transformation of the system of ownership, does the bourgeoisie still exist? Marx, Engels
and Lenin have clearly pointed out that the existence of bourgeois right is a condition for the
existence of class differences. As long as bourgeois right exists, there will be classes and class
struggle. At the same time, the brilliant idea was also put forward that bourgeois right serves as
the soil and condition for the emergence of a new bourgeoisie. Under new historical conditions,
Chairman Mao defended and developed these brilliant thoughts. Chairman Mao said: ‘With the
socialist revolution they themselves [i.e. the capitalist roaders—Ed.] come under fire. At
the time of the cooperative transformation of agriculture there were people in the Party opposed,
and when it came to criticizing bourgeois right, they were resentful.’ Here Chairman Mao’s
instruction profoundly clarifies the relationship between the bourgeoisie and bourgeois right. It
explains the economic interests and political outlook of the inner-party bourgeoisie.”
—“A Summary of Views on the Problem of the Inner-Party Bourgeoisie”, as reprinted (in Chinese) by the Propaganda Department, Zhongshan County Party Committee, Communist Party of China, July 8, 1976. Partial English translation online at: https://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GPCR/SummaryOfViewsOnTheInner-PartyBourgeoisie-English-Partial-OCR.pdf
BOURGEOIS “SOCIAL SCIENCE”
The mass of pseudo-scientific theories and dogmas which the capitalist ruling class has created in order to try to justify and defend its continued exploitation of working people and its continued class rule.
“AN ASTONISHING SUSPICION...”
“And now the astonishing and perturbing suspicion emerges that perhaps almost all that has passed for social science, political economy, politics and ethics in the past may be brushed aside by future generations as mainly rationalizing.” —James Harvey Robinson, The Mind in the Making (NY: 1921), p. 47.
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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