COMBAT LIBERALISM (Mao)
An extremely important and pithy essay by Mao Zedong to which revolutionary Marxists should pay careful attention, and which we should all read over again from time to time as a personal reminder of the standards of political behavior for communists. Generally this Dictionary just summarizes the important works by the creators of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but in this case we feel it is well worth presenting this entire short essay here:
See also: LIBERALISM [Maoist Sense]
“We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for
ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our
fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.
“But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.
“Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.
“To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.
“To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one’s suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one’s own inclination. This is a second type.
“To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.
“Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one’s own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.
“To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.
“To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.
“To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.
“To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.
“To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along—‘So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell.’ This is a ninth type.
“To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.
“To be aware of one’s own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself. This is an eleventh type.
“We could name more. But these eleven are the principal types.
“They are all manifestations of liberalism.
“Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.
“Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.
“People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well—they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.
“Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.
“We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.
“All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.”
—Mao, “Combat Liberalism” (complete text), Sept. 7, 1937, MSW 2:31-33, also online elsewhere including: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm
See: PHLOGISTON THEORY
See: HISTORY—As Comedy
Euphemism for the women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II. This took place in all the many countries that Japanese imperialism invaded, but was especially common in China and Korea. For over half a century following the defeat of Japan the authorities in that country denied outright that this widespread outrage had happened at all. Only in recent years, and under tremendous international pressure, has the Japanese government finally admitted a tiny part of the truth, with respect to just one or two countries, and finally offered some recompense to the few remaining victims in South Korea who are still alive after all these decades.
It should be noted that soldiers from virtually all bourgeois armies employ prostitutes, including the U.S. military. Prostitution is itself a form a sexual slavery, since the women forced by economics into prostitution most often are in desperate situations and have no alternative way to survive. But the “comfort women” used by the Japanese imperial army were outright abducted and enslaved and had no choice whatsoever about it.
“The bronze statue of a teenage ‘comfort woman’ in Seoul, South Korea’s
capital, is intended as a daily rebuke to the Japanese embassy opposite. The figure
represents one of the many thousands of Korean women who were forced to serve as
prostitutes in wartime military brothels catering to imperial Japanese soldiers. Citizens’
groups paid for the figure to be erected in 2011 when relations between Japan and South
Korea were at a nadir. Well-wishers bring her flowers, shoes and, in stormy weather, even
a hat and raincoat. Yet now the statue is meant to move elsewhere as part of a landmark
agreement struck between the two countries on December 28th  to try to settle their
dispute over comfort women once and for all—and transform dangerously strained relations.
“Of former sex slaves who have come forward in South Korea, only 46 survive.... In all [in South Korea alone], there were tens of thousands of comfort women. Many were raped dozens of times a day, beaten and infected with venereal diseases.” —The Economist magazine, Jan. 2, 2016, p.27.
See: COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
COMINTERN — Representatives in China
This is a list of some of the more important representatives or agents of the Communist International sent to China, along with some of the other Soviet officials or representatives in China up until the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
| Comintern Representatives and Agents in China |
(Including other Soviet or International representatives.)
|Borodin, Mikhail Markovich
|1923-27||Comintern representative and main adviser to the|
Guomindang Central Committee.
|Braun, Otto||K. O. Wagner
Li De [Li Te, old style]
|1932-39||German-born Comintern military advisor to CCP|
Central Committee (1932-35), and opponent of Mao.
|Ewert, Arthur Ernst||Harry Berger
|1931-34||Comintern representative in China (1931-34).|
|Karakhan, Lev Mikhailovich||1923-26||Soviet ambassador to China (1923-26).|
|Kovalev, Ivan Vladimirovich||1948-50||Stalin’s representative in China (1948-50).|
|Lominadze, Vissarion Vissarionovich||“Nikolai”, “Werner”||1927||Comintern representative in China in 1927.|
(Hendricus Josephus Sneevliet)
|1921-22||Comintern representative in China in 1921-22.|
(Mikhail Alexandrovich Fortus)
|“Petershevskii”||1930-31||Comintern representative in China in 1930-31.|
|Roy, M. N.||1927||Comintern representative in China in 1927.|
|Stern, Manfred||General Kléber
|1932-35||Soviet military intelligence; later leader of the|
International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
|Vladimirov, Petr Parfenovich||1942-45||Soviet intelligence officer stationed at|
CCP Yan’an headquarters.
|Voitinsky, Grigorii Naumovich
(G. N. Zarkhin)
|Wu Tingkang||1920-21||Comintern representative in China in 1920-21.|
|[Sources: Alexander V. Pantsov & Steven I. Levine, Mao: The Real Story (2012); Wikipedia; and other Internet sources.]|
A term used by bourgeois economists to describe planned economies (socialist or state-capitalist) where there is no (or very limited) open market for commodities at least within the sphere of production. (Even under socialism distribution of consumer goods to the public is still mostly through commodity markets until we get to a communist society.) Bourgeois ideologists oppose these “command economies” to the so-called “free market” economy, and therefore view “command economies” as inherently authoritarian and opposed to “freedom”. What they have failed to notice is that within virtually every capitalist corporation itself, there exists this very same sort of “command economy”! Thus every automobile corporation makes detailed and elaborate plans about how many cars to build, in a given period, the processes and materials to use, the design and location of its new plants, etc. State capitalism in the Soviet Union was also a planned economy for the most part, and in a sense “one big corporation” with multi-leveled layers of detailed planning. The commandist (anti-democratic and anti-mass line) structure and operation of revisionist Soviet industry has colored the conception of bourgeois economists about what a “command economy” must be like.
Under genuine socialism, and communism too, it will be important to oppose any actual commandist aspects that may develop in production, especially within the individual workplaces (where they are nearly universal and mandatory in capitalist production today). Emphasis on the mass line, proletarian democratic management of industry, and obtaining ideas and input from all the workers involved are our main tools to combat the possible secondary bad aspects of economic planning.
See also: PLANNING (Economic), DECENTRALIZATION—Socialist
Ordering, or even forcing, people to do something, rather than using the method of discussion and persuasion to convince them to act. Commandism is a bourgeois method of leadership, not a proletarian method. But unfortunately, some revolutionaries have not been adequately trained and educated in the use of proletarian democratic methods. For this reason commandism within our own ranks is a continuing problem to be struggled against.
“Marxists have always held that the cause of the proletariat must depend on the masses of the people and that Communists must use the democratic method of persuasion and education when working among the laboring people and must on no account resort to commandism or coercion. The Chinese Communist Party faithfully adheres to this Marxist-Leninist principle.” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW 5:391.
“Commandism is wrong in any type of work, because in overstepping the level of political consciousness of the masses and violating the principle of voluntary mass action it reflects the disease of impetuosity. Our comrades must not assume that everything they themselves understand is understood by the masses. Whether the masses understand it and are ready to take action can be discovered only by going into their midst and making investigations. If we do so, we can avoid commandism.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:316.
See: SPECIAL FORCES
Certificates (IOUs) for unsecured short-term loans, often for a 3-month period, from one corporation to another. Holders of these IOUs can also sell them to other corporations. This widespread inter-corporate short-term lending has become essential to the continued smooth operation of the American capitalist economy. As of 2019 the size of the commercial paper market in the U.S. was an amazing $1.13 trillion dollars.
During a financial crisis the market for commercial paper can “seize up”; that is, corporations may not be able to find other companies willing to make them short-term cash loans at any rate of interest. Because of the crisis almost all companies want to hang onto all the cash they have. This seizing up happened in 2008-9 during the financial crisis associated with the Great Recession, and the U.S. Federal Reserve had to step in and make hundreds of billions of dollars of loans to corporations.
On March 17, 2020, in the early stages of the financial panic developing which was tipped off by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, the Fed once again announced that it would be making up to $1 trillion dollars available to prop up the commercial paper market (i.e., to make direct cash loans to individual corporations to keep them from going bankrupt). This shows, once again, just how integrated the capitalist government is with supposedly “private” corporations, as well as how extremely precarious the whole financial and economic situation is at the present time.
A government minister (high official) in the Soviet Union.
A ministry (government agency) in the Soviet Union.
COMMITTEES OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM
The Committees of Correspondence is a social-democratic (i.e., revisionist and non-revolutionary) organization, originally organized within the revisionist Communist Party USA as a pro-Gorbachev, anti-Gus Hall faction, and opposed to what was called “Leninism” in the CPUSA milieu. They were led by Gil Green and included many prominent members and close associates of the CPUSA, such as Herbert Aptheker, Angela Davis and the folk singer Pete Seeger. In 1991, at the time that Soviet social-imperialism was collapsing, they split off from the CPUSA to form an independent organization. Their name (appropriately) comes from the committees organized by the governments of the American states during the American bourgeois revolution for the purpose of promoting coordinated action against Britain. In the year 2000 they added the phrase “for Democracy and Socialism” to their name, which is ridiculous since they have no idea what either genuine democracy or genuine socialism even are! They are sometimes referred to by their initials as CCDS, and allow dual membership with the reformist so-called Socialist Party USA.
1. The transformation (as in a pre-capitalist or early capitalist society) towards the production of more commodities (goods produced for sale) rather than goods produced for use by the maker of them.
2. The transformation of something that was not previously sellable as a commodity into one. Example: Air is normally free for anyone to breathe; but when a large city develops a major smog or pollution problem, capitalists have been known to sell bottled clean air (or sometimes pure oxygen) to people struggling to breathe. This “commodification of air” has occurred at times in both Tokyo and California and perhaps elsewhere.
3. [Modern bourgeois sense:] The transformation of a product into a commodity in the narrow bourgeois sense [See definition 3 in the entry for COMMODITY below.]
“And while societies can be more capitalist or less capitalist, they are the most capitalist when all inputs (including labor-power) and outputs of the production process are completely commodified.” —Robert Albritton, Economics Transformed: Discovering the Brilliance of Marx (2007), p. 10.
COMMODIFICATION OF WOMEN
The hiring of women by capitalists so that they can themselves be sold in one way or another. Obviously prostitution is a major way this is done in bourgeois society, but there are many somewhat less blatant ways of doing this, as the poem below demonstrates.
[Introduction by Rita Dove, a former poet laureate of the U.S.:]
“Much has been said about the commodification of women in the workplace, especially the service industry, but gauging its emotional toil is often an elusive undertaking. This brisk and biting poem reads like a witness statement—the case against the manager mounts with each ‘helpful’ tip. What’s especially disturbing is how comfortable he feels dispensing his advice, unwittingly confirming that the chauvinist power structure remains in place, even as his own words turn against him. Lauren K. Alleyne has written a fitting poetic indictment of a man who is hoisted, to quote Hamlet, ‘with his own petard’.”]
The Manager’s Tips for Working at the San Francisco Restaurant and Bar
by Lauren K. Alleyne
He said to my breasts: you’re hired.
He said: you’re going to be in training for six weeks
and I don’t pay trainees. You work for tips.
He said: I’d show off my assets more
if I were you. He said, I’d turn on that million-dollar smile
no matter what kind of day you’re having.
He said, men drink more if they think you’re really listening
to them: lean in. Especially in the right dress. He said,
go on, Hector wants to dance with you. He said,
loosen up. He said, nobody likes a stuck up bartender.
He said, if anyone asks, it’s always best to be nineteen.
He said, if someone wants to buy you a drink, let them.
He said, watch Ruthie work, she knows the ropes—
look at her swing. (Her red hair crawls with a drunk man’s fingers.)
He said: Honey, I’ll give you a tip for free;
how this goes is entirely up to you.
[From the New York Times Magazine, March 25, 2019, p. 22.]
1. [In Marxist political economy:] A product of labor made for sale, rather than for direct use. “[A] commodity, that is, a use-value which has a certain exchange-value.” —Marx, TSV, 1:399.
2. [Widespread broad bourgeois sense:] Any product, regardless of whether it is produced to be sold or not.
3. [Narrow bourgeois sense:] A product which is produced by a large number of seriously competing companies, the sale of which therefore cannot create extra profits for any monopolistic or oligopolistic producer. Thus we see comments such as: “PC’s have become a commodity, which is why IBM got out of the business of selling them.”
See: FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTION OF COMMODITY PRODUCTION
Economic production in which goods and services are produced in order to be exchanged for each other in some form of market. The commodities are produced by individuals or groups of people who engage in their activities more or less separately and independently from one another. The most widespread form of commodity production today is of course capitalism, but commodity production existed in more primitive and limited forms before capitalism developed, and long before capitalism became the dominant socioeconomic system in the world.
Commodity production is contrasted to production in a natural economy (which is production for direct use without exchange in any market).
The mental skills and ideas that most people in a given society or social era share. Common sense is much more extensive and complex, and includes vastly more implicit knowledge, than most people realize. However, it also includes the biases and erroneous conventional opinions of the given age as well.
“It [common sense] is the mode of thought of its time, containing all the prejudices of this time.” —Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy; quoted in Lenin, LCW 38:273.
This means violence between different “communities” (ethnic or religious groups) in a society, and is most commonly referred to in connection with India.
See also: BJP, and HINDUTVA
See: PARIS COMMUNE, PEOPLE’S COMMUNES (China), UTOPIAN COMMUNE, VILLAGE COMMUNE (Russia)
1. Communist society.
2. A social ideal and theory of society in which there are no social classes.
3. [In bourgeois usage:] Any government or political movement which is at least vaguely or nominally influenced by Marx, Lenin or Mao Zedong, regardless of its real nature.
“Communism ... is the name we apply in a system under which people become accustomed to the performance of public duties without any specific machinery of compulsion, when unpaid work for the common good becomes the general phenomenon.” —Lenin, Selected Works [1930s English ed.], Vol. 8, p. 239. [Not yet located in the 4th English edition of his Collected Works. —Ed.]
COMMUNISM — Among Early Christians
“Christianity knew only one point in which all men were equal: that all were equally born in original sin—which corresponded perfectly to its character as the religion of the slaves and the oppressed. Apart from this it recognized, at most, the equality of the elect, which however was only stressed at the very beginning. The traces of community of goods which are also found in the early stages of the new religion can be ascribed to solidarity among the proscribed rather than to real equalitarian ideas. Within a very short time the establishment of the distinction between priests and laymen put an end even to this incipient Christian equality.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:96.
COMMUNISM — As Part of a Supposed “World Jewish Conspiracy”
One of the most bizarre bourgeois theories about Communism and the world communist movement, is the fantastically anti-Semitic and utterly ridiculous theory that “Communism” is part of a “world Jewish conspiracy” against civilization! This theory was especially popular in Germany and other ultra-racist countries during the early decades of the 20th century. But it was far more widespread than that. The quotation below, promoting this nonsensical theory, is from someone who is still unaccountably an international bourgeois hero, Winston Churchill. Note that he also blames the great French Revolution at least in part on “International Jews”, and also connects up this supposed Jewish conspiracy with other conspiratorial trends, such as the “Order of the Illuminati” which was founded in Bavaria in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt (“Spartacus” to the members of his secret society). Bizarre indeed!
Apparently conspiratorial theories about communist movements tend to arise in the bourgeois mind because they cannot comprehend how anybody can find fault with their marvelous capitalist system (violent, exploitative and oppressive as it is), nor can they understand why anyone would ever want to overthrow capitalism. It’s quite a mystery to them, evidently, which calls for quite extraordinary theories.
“In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort [by so-called
‘National’ (or loyal) Jews and Zionists] rise the schemes of the International Jews. The
adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations
of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race (sic). Most, if not
all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all
spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of
Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary),
Rosa Luxembourg (sic) (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide
conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstruction of society on the
basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been
growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely
recognizable part in the age of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every
subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary
personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the
Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters
of that enormous empire.”
—Winston Churchill, “Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People”, a speech he gave to a British military unit on Feb. 8, 1920, which was printed in the newspaper Illustrated Sunday Herald.
COMMUNISM — Attitude of Americans Towards
Most Americans have never had much knowledge or understanding of what communism actually is, and for more than a century now they have been strongly indoctrinated by the capitalist ruling class to both fear and fervently oppose it. For most of that time, this hostility extended to “socialism” as well, though more and more people are now becoming sympathetic to the idea of socialism (even though they still mostly don’t have any clear understanding of what that really means either). But certainly extremely few Americans have yet begun to understand that genuine socialism is the period of transition of capitalist society to communism!
But can the American people eventually change their ideas, and become not only knowledgeable about what socialism and communism really are, but also come to strongly favor them and even devote their lives to help bringing them about? Well, yes and no! During prolonged periods of extreme economic crises and/or war, many millions of people can indeed come to learn such basic things. However, many older people will likely not be able to learn and change in revolutionary ways even then. But older generations eventually die off and new generations rise to replace them. Part of the fundamental change in attitude of the American people toward communism will come from the changing of ideas of those already living, but an even bigger part of that overall change in society will have to come through the replacement of older generations by younger ones.
We see this process underway already, though it still has a very long way to go. In the graphic at the right we see how the deeply indoctrinated hostility toward communism among Americans has been gradually easing for many decades already. Note the dotted black line which shows the overall average opinion, while the colored lines show the opinions of different generational groups. Back in 1975 nearly half of the adult population thought that all communist books should be removed from public libraries. By 2018 that figure had dropped to about 25%. (This is still terrible, of course, but it is nevertheless a big improvement.) And the most interesting thing here is about just why this previously ferocious hostility toward communist ideas is now declining so fast. It is not primarily because older people are changing their minds; instead it is almost entirely because old reactionary generations are dying off, and new more open-minded generations are replacing them. With regard to this specific issue about allowing communist books in libraries, literally 100% of the difference over this 43-year period is due to generational change and not to older people changing their minds.
What does all this mean as far as where we revolutionaries should put the focus of our educational efforts and of our work of mass leadership in struggle? It obviously means that our main efforts should be focused on youth, on young workers, on students, and thus those who have the greatest possibilities for rapidly advancing their revolutionary consciousness. One of the major reasons the revolutionary process of the replacement of capitalism with first socialism, and then communism, is taking as long as it is, is that we must primarily depend on new generations that arise in the midst of intensifying crises to accomplish humanity’s great task.
See also: GENERATIONAL CHANGE (U.S.)
COMMUNISM — Bourgeois Objections To
[To be added... ]
See also: FREE RIDER PROBLEM
[Marxist sense:] A person who works to bring about the overthrow of capitalism by the working class, and the transformation of capitalist society into socialism and then into communist society. Communists attempt to do this collectively, which means they form and promote revolutionary parties.
“They [Communists] have no interests separate and apart from those
of the proletariat as a whole.
“They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.
“The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. II, MECW 6:497.
COMMUNIST ANARCHISM or ANARCHO-COMMUNISM
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL (COMINTERN)
An international association of communist parties established under the leadership of Lenin... Also known as the “Comintern” for short, as the “Third International” (since it followed the Second International), and often simply as “the International”. [More to be added... ]
See also the sub-topics below, and COMINTERN—Representatives in China
“The Communist International, that is, the Third International, was a
united international body of the world’s Communist Parties and communist organizations.
After the outbreak of World War I the revisionists who had usurpted the leadership of
the Second International were further unmasked. In unity with the revolutionary Leftists
of various countries, Lenin waged an unrelenting struggle against these types. On March
2, 1919, under his leadership, the First Congress of the Communist International was
held in Moscow, at which the founding of the Third International was officially
announced. In the 24 years from its founding to its dissolution, the Third International
defended Marxism-Leninism and helped the advanced elements of the working class in all
lands to organize revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Parties. It supported the Soviet Union,
the world’s first socialist state, lent assistance to the liberation movements of the
oppressed nations in the East, and carried on an international struggle against fascism.
During World War II, in view of the fact that the growing complexity of the changes
taking place both in various countries and in the international arena had made it
impossible for the existing organizational form to answer the needs of the new situation,
the Communist International, with the unanimous approval of the Communist Parties of all
lands, announced on June 10, 1943 its official dissolution.” —Reference note, Peking
Review, #47, Nov. 18, 1977, p. 26.
[Whether it was actually correct to dissolve the Comintern in 1943 is a contentious issue, as are many questions about how the organization actually operated, such as its complete domination by Stalin, and so forth. —S.H.]
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL — First Congress
“The First Congress of the Communist International was held on
March 2-6, 1919, in Moscow. Fifty-two delegates attended, 34 with the right to vote and
18—with voice but no vote. The following Communist and Socialist parties, organizations
and groups were represented: the Communist Parties of Russia, Germany, German Austria,
Hungary, Poland, Finland, the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Byelorussia, Estonia,
Armenia, of the German colonies in Russia, the Swedish Left Social-Democratic Party,
the Norwegian Social-Democratic Party, the Swiss Social-Democratic Party (Opposition),
the Revolutionary Balkan Federation, the United Group of the Eastern Tribes of Russia,
the French Zimmerwaldian Left, the Czech, Bulgarian, Yugoslav, British, French, and
Swiss Communist groups, the Dutch Social-Democratic Party, the American League of
Socialist Propaganda, the American Socialist Labor Party, the Chinese Socialist Labor
Party, the Korean Workers’ League, the Turkestan, Turkish, Georgian, Azerbaijan and
Persian Sections of the Central Bureau of Eastern Nations and the Zimmerwald
“The first meeting of the Comintern passed a decision ‘to consider this meeting as an international communist conference’, and adopted the following agenda: 1) the inauguration, 2) reports, 3) the platform of the international communist conference, 4) bourgeois democracy and proletarian dictatorship, 5) the Berne Conference and the attitude towards socialist trends, 6) the international situation and the policy of the Entente, 7) the Manifesto, 8) the White terror, 9) elections to the Bureau, and various organizational questions.
“The conference, whose work centered on Lenin’s theses and report on bourgeois democracy and proletarian dictatorship, unanimously expressed solidarity with Lenin’s theses and adopted a decision to refer them to the Bureau for dissemination in the various countries. The conference also adopted a resolution tabled by Lenin, in addition to the theses.
“On March 4, after the theses and the resolution on Lenin’s report had been adopted, the conference decided to constitute itself as the Third International, and to take the name of the Communist International. On the same day a resolution was unanimously passed to consider the Zimmerwald Left dissolved, and the Comintern platform was approved, on the following main principles: 1) the inevitability of the capitalist social system being replaced by a communist system; 2) the necessity of the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle to overthrow bourgeois governments; 3) the abolition of the bourgeois state and its replacement by a state of a new type, i.e., the state of the proletariat, of the Soviet type, which will ensure the transition to a communist society.
“One of the most important documents of the Congress was the Manifesto to the world proletariat, which declared that the Communist International was the successor of Marx’s and Engels’s ideas as expressed in the Communist Manifesto. The Congress called upon the workers of the world to support Soviet Russia, and demanded non-interference by the Entente in the internal affairs of the Soviet Republic, the withdrawal of the interventionist troops from Russian territory, recognition of the Soviet state, the raising of the economic blockade, and the resumption of trade relations.
“In its resolution on ‘The Attitude Towards the “Socialist” Parties and the Berne Conference’, the Congress condemned the attempts to re-establish the Second International, which was ‘an instrument of the bourgeoisie only’, and declared that the revolutionary proletariat had nothing in common with that conference.
“The establishment of the Third, Communist International played a tremendous part in restoring links between the working people of many countries, in forming and consolidating Communist parties, and in exposing opportunism in the working-class movement.” —Note 73, LCW 31.
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL — Second Congress
“The Second Congress of the Communist International met from
July 19 to August 7, 1920. The opening session was held in Petrograd and the
subsequent sessions in Moscow. It was attended by over 200 delegates who represented
workers’ organizations of 37 countires. Apart from delegates representing the
Communist parties and organizations of 31 countries, there were delegates from the
Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany, the Socialist parties of Italy and
France, Industrial Workers of the World (Australia, Britain and Ireland), the National
Confederation of Labor of Spain and other organizations.
“Lenin directed all the preparatory work before the Congress. At its first session he made a report on the international situation and the fundamental tasks of the Communist International. Throughout the Congress, in his reports and speeches, Lenin fought uncompromisingly against the opportunist Centrist parties, who were attempting to penetrate into the Third International, and levelled sharp criticism at the anarcho-syndicalist trends and ‘Left’ sectarianism of a number of communist organizations. Lenin took part in the work of various commissions and delivered reports and speeches on the international situation and the fundamental tasks of the Communist International, the national and the colonial questions, the agrarian question and the terms of admission into the Communist International. Lenin’s theses on the fundamental tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International, the national and the colonial questions, the agrarian question and the terms of admission into the Communist International were endorsed as Congress decisions.
“The Second Congress laid the foundations of the programme, organizational principles, strategy and tactics of the Communist International.” —Note 77, LCW 31.
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL — Third Congress
“The Third Congress was held in Moscow from June 22 to July 12, 1921.
Its 605 delegates (291 with voice and vote, and 314 with voice only) represented 103
organizations from 52 countries, namely: 48 Communist Parties, 8 Socialist Parties,
28 Youth Leagues, 4 syndicalist organizations, 2 opposition Communist Parties (the
Communist Workers’ Party of Germany and the Workers’ Communist Party of Spain) and 13
other organizations. The 72 delegates from the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks
were headed by Lenin.
“The Congress discussed the world economic crisis and the new tasks of the Communist International; the report on the activity of the Executive Committee of the Communist International; the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany; the Italian question; the tactics of the Communist International; the attitude of the Red International Council of Trade Unions to the Communist International; the struggle against the Amsterdam International; the tactics of the R.C.P.(B.); the Communist International and the Communist youth movement; the women’s movement; the United Communist Party of Germany, etc.
“Lenin directed preparations for and the activities of the Congress; he was elected its Honorary Chairman; he took part in drafting all the key resolutions; he gave a report on the tactics of the R.C.P.(B.); he spoke in defense of the Communist International’s tactics; on the Italian question; in the commissions and at the enlarged sittings of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, and at the delegates’ meetings. Before and during the Congress, Lenin met and talked with delegates about the state of affairs in the Communist Parties.
“The Third Congress had a great influence on the formation and development of young Communist Parties. It paid great attention to the Comintern’s organization and tactics in the new conditions of the world communist movement. Lenin had to combat the Centrist deviation and ‘Leftist’ dogmatism, pseudo-revolutionary ‘Leftist’ cant and sectarianism. As a result, revolutionary Marxism prevailed over the ‘Leftist’ danger.
“In the history of the world communist movement the Third Congress is known for the following achievements: it worked out the basic tactics of the Communist Parties; it defined the task of winning the masses over to the side of the proletariat, strengthening working-class unity and implementing united front tactics. The most important aspect of its resolutions, Lenin said, was ‘more careful, more thorough preparation for fresh and more decisive battles, both defensive and offensive’.” —Note 121, LCW 32.
COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL — Dissolution Of
[Intro to be added.]
See also: Mao on the Dissolution of the Comintern: “The Comintern has Long Ceased to Meddle in Our Internal Affairs”, excerpt from a speech to comrades on May 26, 1943. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-6/mswv6_36.htm
“The Communist International remained in existence until 1943, when the Presidium of its Executive Committee, with the approval of all Communist Parties, took a decision to dissolve the Comintern owing to the changed situation and the impossibility of leading the international communist movement from a single center.” —From Note 72, Lenin: Selected Works, Vol. 3, (Moscow: Progress, 1967), p. 801.
COMMUNIST LABOR [Political Economy]
The first international organization of the revolutionary proletariat, which was founded in London in the summer of 1847.
See also: LEAGUE OF THE JUST
“The League was organized and guided by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who, on instructions from the League, wrote its programme—the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The Communist League set itself the aim of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, destroying the old bourgeois society founded on the antagonism of classes and establishing a new society without classes and without private property. The Communist League played an important historical role as a school for proletarian revolutionaries and as the embryo of the proletarian party; it was the predecessor of the International Working Men’s Association (the First International). It existed until November 1852, its most prominent members later playing a leading role in the First International.” —Note 7 to Lenin, Selected Works, vol. I, (Moscow: 1967).
“At the beginning of 1847, Marx and Engels joined the League of the
Just and took part in its reorganization. The first congress of this league took place
in London and confirmed the renaming of the league the Communist League. The former
motto ‘All Men are Brothers’ was replaced by the slogan of proletarian internationalism
‘Workers of All Countries, Unite!’ This slogan, which had first appeared in the draft
rules of the Communist League, became the militant slogan of the international workers’
“The foundation of the Communist League—the first international workers’ organization which proclaimed scientific communism to be its militant banner—marked the beginning of the union of Marxism and the workers’ movement. Ahead lay the enormous task of implementing the decisions adopted at the congress, of strengthening the League both ideologically and organizationally and of increasing its links with worker and democratic organizations.
“On 29 October, 1847, the second congress of the the Communist League took place again in London, and was attended by representatives from Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, England, Poland and other countries. It was the first international congress of the proletariat to record in its decisions the ideas of scientific communism. The Rules of the Communist League, adopted at the congress, declare the aim of the League to be: the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the destruction of the old bourgeois society based on class antagonism and the foundation of a new society without classes and without private property.
“Marx and Engels were asked to draw up a Manifesto of the Communist Party in order to set clearly and openly before the world the programme of the Communists. This, the major document of the age, was written in two months, from December 1847 to January 1848. Reading the Manifesto gives enormous intellectual satisfaction. Each should discover this for himself, pondering over each sentence of this famous revolutionary document.”
—The Basics of Marxist-Leninist Theory, ed. by G. N. Volkov, et al., (Moscow: Progress,1979), pp. 24-25.
The world-famous and deeply profound document written by Marx and Engels in 1847 and first published in February 1848. Its formal title is The Manifesto of the Communist Party. It contains the first and probably still the best overall summary of the theoretical principles of Marxism and the strategy and tactics of the Communist revolutionary movement.
The Communist Manifesto is online in numerous places, including: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/
“It [the Communist Manifesto] was commissioned by the Second
Congress of the Communist League in November 1847, and it was first published in February
“This was a stormy period: the period of the February 1848 Revolution in France and of the climax of the Chartist Movement in Britain, when the working class appeared for the first time on the stage of history as an independent force.
“Readers who want to know something of the background of the Manifesto should read the various prefaces—written by Marx and Engels to different editions (published with the Manifesto), and should also turn to Engels’ History of the Communist League and Marx’s Class Struggles in France, 1848-50.
“The Manifesto was an epoch-making document. Up to that time, socialists had been putting forward utopian schemes (imaginary projects for an ideal society) or were engaging in secret conspiracies, while the rising working class movement lacked a revolutionary theory. The Manifesto signified the union of scientific socialism with the mass working-class movement.
“The fundamental ideas of the Manifesto may be summed up under five main headings:
1. The Theory of the Class Struggle
“The history of all societies since the break-up of the primitive communes has been the history of class struggles.
“In capitalist society a stage has been reached when the victory of the exploited class, the proletariat, over the ruling exploiting class, the bourgeoisie, will once and for all emancipate society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.
“The conception of the working class struggle set forth in the Manifesto follows from Marx’s materialist conception of history, the essentials of which are summarized in Engels’ prefaces to the English edition of 1888 and to the German edition of 1883.
2. The Development of Capitalist Society
“Capitalism itself developed out of feudalism, and the capitalist class is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the mode of production and exchange.
“The capitalist class has conquered exclusive political sway in the modern parliamentary state. In its development, it has played a most revolutionary role. It has brought into being the great new productive forces of modern industry. But in creating modern industry it has created its own gravediggers, the proletariat.
3. The Development of the Proletariat
“The growth of the proletariat as a class is accompanied by the growth of its organization, both economic and political.
“At first the proletariat is incoherent and scattered. It is originally dragged into the political arena by the bourgeoisie, which must appeal to the proletariat to help fight the remnants of feudalism. The Manifesto deals with the stages of political development through which the proletariat becomes organized into a class, and consequently into a political party, combined against the bourgeoisie.
“While the proletariat fights against all relics of feudalism and for the fullest extension of democracy, it leads the struggle for socialism against the capitalists, a struggle which must culminate in the proletariat conquering power and becoming itself the ruling class.
4. From Socialism to Classless Society
“With power in its hands, the proletariat makes drastic inroads into the power of the capitalists and into capitalist property relations.
“From the rule of the proletariat will come classless society, in which will arise new people, new human relations—‘an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.’
5. The Aim of the Communist Party
“The Manifesto contains a trenchant defense of the aims of Communism, and it exposes various fashionable brands of ‘socialism’ as expressions, not of the working-class standpoint, but of the reactionary standpoints of other classes—of the decaying aristocracy, the petty-bourgeoisie or the bourgeoisie itself. The ideas of Communism, on the other hand, are not inventions of any would-be reformers, but spring from the existing class struggle.
“Communists have no interests apart from those of the working class as a whole. Their policy is to fight for the immediate aims of the class, to form an alliance with every movement opposed to the existing social order, and in the movement of the present always to take care of the future, striving to unite the class for the overthrow of capitalist class rule and for the conquest of power.”
—Maurice Cornforth, Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (London: 1952), pp. 6-7.
“The Communist Manifesto of 1847 is an extraordinary document, full of insights, rich in meanings and bursting with political possibilities. Millions of people all around the world—peasants, workers, soldiers, intellectuals as well as professionals of all sorts—have, over the years, been touched and inspired by it.” —David Harvey, in his introduction to an edition of the Communist Manifesto.
1. The morality of people in communist society.
2. The morality of communists (i.e., the same thing as proletarian morality while classes still exist). [I personally try to use the term only in the first sense, in order to avoid confusion. —S.H.]
COMMUNIST PARTY — Membership Of
The membership of any genuine Communist Party should be made up of genuine and sincere revolutionaries who are truly working toward the transformation of capitalism into first socialism and then communist society. In addition there are high requirements for the character and capabilities of Party members. They should be, for the most part, drawn from the working class itself, be in close touch with the working class, and represent and promote the interests of the working class and especially their central interest in social revolution.
[More to be added...]
“The party organization must consist of the advanced elements of the proletariat. As a vigorous vanguard organization, it should be able to lead the proletarian revolutionary masses in their struggle against class enemies.” —Mao, Jan. 19, 1968; SW 9:423.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA
[Usually referred to in short as the “CCP”, for Chinese Communist Party, rather than the “CPC”.] This is the great revolutionary party founded in 1921, and which—under the leadership of Mao Zedong—led one of the greatest revolutions in world history, achieving state power on the mainland of China in 1949. During the 1950s it transformed China into a socialist country, both in industry and through cooperatives and the people’s communes in the countryside. It then engaged in a massive ideological struggle against the revisionist Soviet Union, and against revisionists and capitalist roaders within its own ranks. These revisionists were pushed from positions of power in China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and until Mao’s death in 1976. Unfortunately, at that point the proletarian revolutionary followers of Mao were defeated. Under the leadership of the arch villain Deng Xiaoping, China was transformed back into a capitalist country.
[More to be added...]
See also the sub-topics below, and: NEIBU
COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA — Party Congresses
|National Congresses of the Chinese Communist Party|
|First||July 23-31, 1921||Shanghai and (on the last day
only) Jiaxing, Zhejiang
|12 delegates representing 50 party members. Zhang Guotao & Chen |
Duxiu are top leaders; Mao represents Hunan.
|Second||July 16-23, 1922||Shanghai||12 delegates; 195 party members. Mao absent.|
|Third||June 12-20, 1923||Guangzhou||About 30 delegates; 420 members.|
|Fourth||Jan. 11-22, 1925||Shanghai||20 delegates; 994 members.|
|Fifth||April 27-May 9, 1927||Hankou||About 80 delegates; 57,967 members.|
|Sixth||June 18-July 11, 1928||Moscow||About 84 delegates (plus 34 alternates); membership about 40,000. |
Held outside China because of reactionary GMD attacks. Mao absent.
|Seventh||April 23-June 11, 1945||Yan’an [Yenan]||544 reg. delegates; 1.21 million members. Mao named undisputed |
leader & Mao Tse-tung Thought added to Party Constitution.
|Sept. 15-27, 1956||Beijing||1,026 delegates; 10.73 million members. Mao Tse-tung Thought |
removed from Constitution.
|May 5-23, 1958||Beijing|| |
|Ninth||April 1-24, 1969||Beijing||1,512 delegates; 22 million members. Liu Shaoqi & Deng Xiaoping |
removed; Lin Biao becomes Vice-Chairman. Mao’s Thought added back
|Tenth||Aug. 24-28, 1973||Beijing||1,249 delegates; 28 million members. Lin Biao condemned. This is the |
high tide of proletarian revolutionary power in the CCP.
|Eleventh||Aug. 12-18, 1977||Beijing||1,510 delegates; 35 million members. Deng Xiaoping reinstated in |
all previous posts.
|Twelfth||Sept. 1-11, 1982||Beijing||1,600 delegates; 40 million members. Hu Yaobang replaces |
transitional figure Hua Guofeng.
|Thirteenth||Oct. 25-Nov. 1, 1987||Beijing||1,936 delegates; 46 million members. New generation revisionist |
Zhao Ziyang replaces partially retiring Deng Xiaoping.
|Fourteenth||October 12–18, 1992||Beijing||1,989 delegates; 51 million members. Jiang Zemin is CCP General |
Secretary. Hu Jintao elevated to Politburo Standing Committee.
|Fifteenth||September 12–18, 1997||Beijing||2,074 delegates; 60 million members. Jiang Zemin announces plans |
to sell or close most state-owned enterprises.
|Sixteenth||November 8–15, 2002||Beijing||2,114 delegates; 66 million members. Hu Jintao becomes General |
Secretary. Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents” nonsense added to
|Seventeenth||October 15–21, 2007||Beijing||2,217 delegates; 73.4 million members. Hu Jintao’s bourgeois ideas |
enshrined in Party Constitution as the official guiding ideology.
|Eighteenth||November 8-15, 2012||Beijing||2,270 delegates; 85 million members. Affirmation of “Socialism with |
Chinese Characteristics” as a “system” (zhidu) written into the party
constitution for the first time.
|Nineteenth||October 18-24, 2017||Beijing||2,280 delegates; 89 million members. Added new guiding ideology “Xi Jinping |
Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” to the party
[Sources: Colin Mackerras & Amanda Yorke, The Cambridge Handbook |
of Contemporary China (1991), and various Internet sites.]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA — Revisionist/Capitalist Period (1977-?)
While at one time the most revolutionary proletarian party in the world, the coup d’état by the capitalist roaders following Mao’s death in September 1976 quickly transformed the CCP into a fascist bourgeois party. It has only become further entrenched as such since that time. There are now even a number of capitalist billionaires who are Party members!
“We are the Communist Party, and we will decide what communism means.” —Chen Yuan, a top banker and a leading member of the contemporary CCP. Quoted in “‘The Party is like God’”, The Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 2, 2010, p. 42; originally quoted in Richard McGregor, The Party (2010).
“Jack Ma, China’s richest man and the guiding force behind its biggest
e-commerce company, belongs to an elite club of power brokers, 89 million strong: the
Chinese Communist Party. The Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper included
Mr. Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group and the country’s most prominent
capitalist, in a list it published on Monday of 100 Chinese people who had made
extraordinary contributions to the country’s development over the past 40 years. The
entry for Mr. Ma identified him as a party member.” —Li Yuan, “In China, Billionaires
Sidle Up to the Party”, New York Times, Nov. 28, 2018.
[In one of the most bizarre statements ever made, this article also adds at the end: “Making it clear that Mr. Ma, the most successful businessman in China, is a member could strengthen the party’s legitimacy.” Gasp! Presumably the CCP is now only concerned about its legitimacy within the ranks of the bourgeoisie, and not with any supposed “legitimacy” among the working class and masses. —Ed.]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MARXIST)
The largest revisionist so-called “Communist” party in India, most often referred to by their initials as the “CPM”. [More to be added... ]
“How uncivilised, if the wave of ‘boss-napping’ in France is indeed
sinister. [Referring to the article “Vive la différence!”, The
Economist, May 9, 2009.] It was different in West Bengal in the 1970s when the
Communists [CPM] took power. One afternoon, a colleague was informed that he and I
would be gheraoed (sourrounded, literally) at close of day
by the staff at the Calcutta office in protest at our regressive management policies.
Alarmed at what would be a delayed start to the usual whisky session at our club, we
negotiated and were granted permission by the protestors to leave early, go home to
shower, change into comfortable clothing and return suitably armed with our favoured
“And so we spent our evening surrounded by 35 staffers who made impassioned speeches and gave high-decibel calls for death to capitalists as we depleted a bottle of Black Knight. It didn’t much improve the taste of the whisky, and the calls for our demise did at times seem over the top. But sinister? Not at all.” —Letter from Stanley Pinto of Bangalore, India, to the editor of the British ruling class business magazine, The Economist, May 30, 2009, p. 20. [It is clear that even back in the 1970s the CPM was merely pretending to be revolutionary. Their calls for the “death of the capitalists” were merely part of their stage play secretly conducted along with the capitalists and designed to fool the masses.]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRAN (MARXIST-LENINIST-MAOIST)
A Maoist party founded on May 1, 2001, as a continuation of the Union of Iranian Communists (Sarbedaran). Its party organ is called Haghighat [“Truth”]. It was a member of RIM while that organization existed, and has often been viewed as being closely aligned with the RCPUSA.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF NEPAL (United Marxist-Leninist)
A totally revisionist and politically decadent bourgeois party, which has long since given up any serious pretense of being a revolutionary party. It is one of the three largest parties in Nepal and provides a rather transparent “left cover” for bourgeois forces there, and generally takes very similar positions to that of the openly bourgeois party, the Nepali Congress.
“The Vice Chairman of Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist Leninists (UML) Mr. Bam Dev Gautam has opined that there exists no difference between his own party and Nepali Congress. He made this remark in the district of Dang, November 3, 2010. ‘People have begun feeling that there is no difference between my party and the Nepali Congress’, he said and added, ‘We have failed because we cannot differentiate between our friends and foes.’” —Telegraph Nepal, Nov. 4, 2010.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION
[To be added... ]
COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY/MARXIST-LENINIST [TKP/ML]
The largest and most important revolutionary (anti-revisionist) Communist party in Turkey. Note that this Party uses a slash (“/”) in its name; there are (or have been) other similarly named parties which use other punctuation.
The TKP/ML was founded in 1972, and its great founding leader was Ibrahim Kaypakkaya who was tortured to death in prison in 1973. The TKP/ML’s most important periodical is called Partizan [“Partisan”]. It has a military wing, “TIKKO” (Liberation Army of Workers and Peasants of Turkey), which is engaged in guerrilla warfare.
Many of the documents and statements of the TKP/ML are available online at: https://www.bannedthought.net/Turkey/index.htm
COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY (MARXIST-LENINIST) [TKP(ML)]
A different party than the TKP/ML. One of its documents, “Maoism—Lives, Fights, Wins and Keeps Winning!”, from 1997, is posted at: https://www.bannedthought.net/Turkey/index.htm This party later renamed itself as the Maoist Communist Party of Turkey and North Kurdistan.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY/MARXIST-LENINIST — Hareketi [“Movement”]
A party which split off from the TKP/ML in 1976. It renounced Maoism and people’s war in 1980, and leaned strongly toward Hoxhaism and the Albanian Party of Labor. In 1994 it merged with the Communist Workers Movement of Turkey (TKIH) to form the Revolutionary Communist Workers Movement of Turkey.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF TURKEY/MARXIST-LENINIST (Maoist Party Centre)
A party founded in 1987 as a split off from the TKP/ML. One of its documents (from 1990) is posted at: https://www.bannedthought.net/Turkey/index.htm
COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [CPUSA]
A liberal-radical reformist political party which has been hopelessly revisionist for most of its history. When the Soviet Union existed it slavishly followed orders from Moscow. [More to be added... ]
The social revolution which transforms capitalism into communism, via a transitional stage of socialism, and in the process eliminates all social classes and therefore all exploitation of one class by another. The “Four Alls” listed by Marx state the four essential points of communist revolution.
COMMUNIST REVOLUTION — Bourgeois Fear Of
[Intro material to be added...]
“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the Powers
of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar,
Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
“Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?” —Marx & Engels, opening words to the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), MECW 6:481.
A classless socio-economic system in which all the means of production are owned and controlled by the people as a whole. The basic economic principle of communist society is “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
See also: SOCIALIST SOCIETY
COMMUNIST WORKERS’ PARTY OF GERMANY [Kommunistische Arbeiter Partei Deutschlands (KAPD)]
A semi-anarchist “left” opportunist party which split off in April 1920 from the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which itself had only recently been founded by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and others in the Spartacus League at the very beginning of 1919. The KAPD called for immediate revolution and the establishment of its own rather dubious understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat; rejected all participation in elections under any circumstances; rejected any political work within reformist trade unions; belittled the need for extensive preparatory political educational work among the masses to create the conditions for revolution; opposed the whole idea of democratic centralism; and opposed the need for the working class to be led by a single proletarian revolutionary party.
Some of the support for the KAPD came because of a few mishaps, missteps and confusions within the KPD in its first year. The KAPD was fairly strong in Berlin, Hamburg and a few other cities and regions, and it is claimed that at the end of 1921 it had 43,000 members. After 1921 the KAPD rapidly lost members and influence and the KPD had a vastly larger membership and mass following. The KAPD was strongly under the sway of “council communists” such as the Dutch writers Anton Pannekoek and Herman Gorter who had also founded the much less significant Communist Workers’ Party of the Netherlands (KAPN).
Although the participation of the KAPD (and its members before the KAPD was actually formed) in the Communist International and its Congresses was tolerated by the Leninist forces and other Communist parties, they were heavily criticized. Lenin’s major 1920 pamphlet, ‘Left’-Wing Communism—An Infantile Disorder, which he prepared just in time for the Second Congress of the Comintern, was directed against the KAPD and similar trends.
For this reason the KAPD and similar groups broke with the Communist International in 1921. They then worked toward establishing an alternative international organization, to be called the “Communist Workers International”. However, in 1922 the KAPD split into two independent groups over whether the time was ripe to do this. Both of them kept the same name, but were referred to as the KAPD Essen Faction and the KAPD Berlin Faction, and it was the Essen group which joined the Communist Workers International.
Although the KAPD party (or parties) continued to exist in a tiny way until at least 1927, they and their “International” became of less and less significance, and soon disappeared entirely.
“On the other hand, the difficult position of the Communist Party of
Germany is aggravated at the present moment by the break-away of the not very good
Communists on the left (the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany, K.A.P.D.) and on the
right (Paul Levi and his little magazine Unser Weg or Sowjet).
“Beginning with the Second Congress of the Communist International, the ‘Leftists’ or ‘K.A.P.-ists’ have received sufficient warning from us in the international arena. Until sufficiently strong, experienced and influential Communist Parties have been built, at least in the principal countries, the participation of semi-anarchist elements in our international congresses has to be tolerated, and is to some extent even useful. It is useful insofar as these elements serve as a clear ‘warning’ to inexperienced Communists, and also insofar as they themselves are still capable of learning. All over the world, anarchism has been splitting up—not since yesterday, but since the beginning of the imperialist war of 1914-1918—into two trends: one pro-Soviet, and the other anti-Soviet; one in favor of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the other against it. We must allow this process of disintegration among the anarchists to go on and come to a head. Hardly anyone in Western Europe has experienced anything like a big revolution. There, the experience of great revolutions has been almost entirely forgotten, and the transition from the desire to be revolutionary and from talk (and resolutions) about revolution to real revolutionary work is very difficult, painful and slow.
“It goes without saying, however, that the semi-anarchist elements can and should be tolerated only within certain limits. In Germany, we tolerated them for quite a long time. The Third Congress of the Communist International faced them with an ultimatum and fixed a definite time limit. If they have now voluntarily resigned from the Communist International, all the better. Firstly, they have saved us the trouble of expelling them. Secondly, it has now been demonstrated most conclusively and most graphically, and proved with precise facts to all vacillating workers, and all those who have been inclined towards anarchism because of their hatred for the opportunism of the old Social-Democrats, that the Communist International has been patient, that it has not expelled anarchists immediately and unconditionally, and that it has given them an attentive hearing and helped them to learn.
“We must now pay less attention to the K.A.P.-ists. By polemising with them we merely give them publicity. They are too unintelligent; it is wrong to take them seriously; and it is not worth being angry with them. They have no influence among the masses, and will acquire none, unless we make mistakes. Let us leave this tiny trend to die a natural death; the workers themselves will realize that it is worthless. Let us propagate and implement, with greater effect, the organizational and tactical decisions of the Third Congress of the Communist International, instead of giving the K.A.P.ists publicity by arguing with them. The infantile disorder of ‘Leftism’ is passing and will pass away as the movement grows.”
—Lenin, “A Letter to the German Communists” (Aug. 14, 1921), LCW 32:514-515.
COMMUNISTS — Aims Of
The long-term goal of communists to is bring about communist society. However, there are many more immediate tasks which must be carried out for this to occur, each of them with many sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks. The communists must:
Organize themselves into a political party;
Connect themselves up closely with the class struggles of the working class;
Educate the working class on the need for social revolution and what that means;
Help the working class organize itself for revolution;
Lead the working class and its allies in seizing political power;
After this seizure of power, transform capitalism into the transitional stage of socialism;
Lead the working class in struggling against any attempts by the old (or any newly developed) bourgeoisie to return to power; and,
Lead the working class in transforming socialism into communism, where no social classes exist any longer.
“The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. II: MECW 6:498.
“In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV: MECW 6:519.
“The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV: MECW 6:518.
“While actively leading immediate struggles, Communists in the capitalist countries should link them with the struggle for long-range and general interests, educate the masses in a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary spirit, ceaselessly raise their political consciousness and undertake the historical task of the proletarian revolution. If they fail to do so, if they regard the immediate movement as everything, determine their conduct from case to case, adapt themselves to the events of the day and sacrifice the basic interests of the proletariat, that is out-and-out social democracy.” —A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement: The letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 19.
“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Ch. IV, final paragraph: MECW 6:519.
“We Communists do not conceal our political views. Definitely and beyond all doubt, our future or maximum programme is to carry China forward to socialism and communism. Both the name of our Party and our Marxist world outlook unequivocally point to this supreme ideal of the future, a future of incomparable brightness and splendour. On joining the Party, every Communist has two clearly-defined objectives at heart, the new-democratic revolution now and socialism and communism in the future, and for these he will fight despite the animosity of the enemies of communism and their vulgar and ignorant calumny, abuse and ridicule, which we must firmly combat.” —Mao, “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), SW 3:282.
COMMUNISTS — Leading Role Of
[William Hinton, speaking of the role of Communist Party members in the
small village of Long Bow in Lucheng County, Shansi Province, China, in 1948:]
“Thus, as Comrade Ts’ai explained it, the Communist Party in contrast to the People’s
Congress [the village governmental body], was not in a position to exercise state power
in any form. It could only persuade and set an example. There was nothing to prevent
people from electing Communists as delegates to the Long Bow Congress, but no Communist
could have more power there than any other delegate. Communists could exert leadership
only through their own unity and their ability to come up with solutions to difficult
problems that won majority support.
“The leading role of the Communists, in other words, depended not on coercion, not on special powers, but on education, persuasion, and the active participation of all its members in the daily affairs of the village. In the long run, the ability of local Communists to lead depended first on demonstrably correct policies and second on the prestige based on merit and performance of its individual members, on the extent to which they took an active part in all mass organizations and led by example, educated others day by day and hour by hour, and proved themselves to be more selfless, more devoted, and more principled than ordinary people.” —William Hinton, Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (1966), p. 542.
In the U.S. and most other countries workers no longer live near to where they work, and have to commute to and from work. Of course, this is time for which they are not paid, and it is quite substantial. According to the Christian Science Monitor Weekly (March 18, 2013, p. 10), 8.1% of U.S. workers spend more than 60 minutes commuting each way. This is a substantial part of their non-working, non-sleeping time. The average U.S. daily one-way commute is 25.5 minutes, which is still substantial. About 23% of long-distance commuters use public transportion.
A community that is created and dominated by a single capitalist corporation which often owns the homes of the residents as well as the stores, city agencies and services. The people living in company towns usually have no choice but to work for the one dominating company, and are at risk of not only losing their jobs but of also being forced to move away with nothing if they say or do anything that the company dislikes.
Under capitalism in general, workers are in effect the property (wage slaves) of the capitalist class as a whole. But those living in company towns are often not merely wage slaves, but in a condition a step closer to complete slavery.
Company towns were once fairly commonplace, especially in the U.S., but over the past century they have become less common, especially with the great decline of U.S. manufacturing.
“America has had more experience with company towns than any other country
(though presumably China will eventually catch up with America in this, as in everything
else).... At their height there were more than 2,500 such towns housing 3% of the
“Company towns usually came in one of two forms—the satanic and the Utopian. The satanic type were little better than gulags, where workers were forced to live in company shacks and spend their money in company shops. You could pass a lifetime in a company town without knowing any real freedom. But many other towns were monuments to the Utopian spirit. Benevolent bosses such as Milton Hershey, a chocolate king, and Henry Kaiser, a shipping magnate, went out of their way to provide their workers not just with decent houses but with schools, libraries and hospitals. This Utopian impulse inevitably went hand-in-hand with benevolent bossiness. Hershey served as his town’s major, constable and fire chief and employed a squad of ‘moral police’ to spy on the workers.” —The Economist, Oct. 16, 2010, in a review of the book by Hardy Green, The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills that Shaped the American Economy (2010).
A labor union, usually of workers at a single company, which is actually controlled (to a degree or totally) by the management of that company, and which—despite its claims to the contrary—actually represents the interests of the company and not those of the workers. Company unions are only possible where at least a significant portion of the workers can be fooled with regard to what their real interests are.
It should be noted, however, that most unions, even those which militantly represent the short-term and immediate interests of its members and which therefore cannot properly be called “company unions”, nevertheless do not really represent all the interests of their members and the working class as a whole. Typically even militant labor unions, especially in advanced capitalist countries, do not at all promote the true political and long-term interests of the working class, and especially their most central long-term interest—seizing working-class political power through social revolution.
The philosophical view that free will is compatible with determinism. In other words, the view that although everything (including each of our own decisions) has definite causes, we are nevertheless still able ourselves to decide what actions to take. Dialectical materialism supports this compatibilist viewpoint.
Of course, there are normally reasons (either explicit or implicit, and either important or trivial) which determine what we consciously decide to do, but far from precluding a free choice, these reasons are what help us decide what choice to make. Conscious human beings (and also many other animals, for that matter) are themselves part of the causal chains that lead to the choices that they make. The parts of the causal chains that are internal to them, and which they are conscious of, are the parts they have control over, and therefore manifestations of their free will.
The opposite view, incompatibilism, holds that if determinism is true (i.e., if everything has causes—including each choice we make), then free will is impossible. But this is a simple-minded or naïve conception of what “free will” might plausibly be construed as. Philosophical idealists often subscribe to incompatibilism, because they do not wish to view people’s actions as being determined by physical causes. On the other hand, naïve materialists also sometimes subscribe to incompatibilism because they have a simplistic notion of what “free will” must mean, a notion similar to that of the idealists. Thus these naïve materialists accept the fact that everything, including each of our own choices, has causes, but falsely conclude that this means there can be no such thing as free will.
1. Under capitalism: The antagonistic struggle between different commodity producers for more advantageous conditions of production and sale of commodities and for more profits. (Ironically, however, this competition—when real—usually leads to smaller profits for all the producers.)
2. SOCIALIST COMPETITION: A non-antagonistic sport-like contest between different production teams or enterprises to see which is capable of producing more and better goods for the people while at the same time striving to use less labor and fewer raw materials. The better methods developed by the winners are then freely communicated to all other socialist enterprises.
“[C]ompetition rages in direct proportion to the number, and in inverse proportion to the magnitudes, of the antagonistic capitals. It always ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals partly pass into the hands of their conquerors, partly vanish.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Part VII, Chapter XXV, sect. 2; International Ed. (1972), p. 626; Penguin ed. (1990), p. 777.
COMPETITION — Bourgeois Views On
“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. Capitalism without competition
is exploitation.” —U.S. President Joe Biden, in his March 1, 2022, State of the Union address.
[Well, of course, there are forms of capitalism which have virtually no competition within them, such as state capitalism. They are still capitalism because they still extract surplus value from the workers they hire, from which their profits are drawn. It is this surplus value that the capitalists extract from workers that constitutes the primary form of exploitation under all types of capitalism, even the most competitive. However, it is true that lessening competition through more and more monopoly practices, or even the outright elimination of competition under pure state capitalism, do make greater monopoly profits possible, or in other words, increased exploitation. But it is so typical and completely bourgeois of capitalist spokesmen like Biden to try to totally deny the existence of any exploitation of workers under competitive capitalism, and to attempt to restrict the concept of exploitation to the price gouging of consumers by monopolies! —Ed.]
“COMPETITION EXCUSE” (Why Low Wages and Bad Working Conditions are “Necessary”)
See: CHILD LABOR
“We must not become complacent over any success. We should check our complacency and constantly criticize our shortcomings, just as we should wash our faces or sweep the floor every day to remove the dirt and keep them clean.” —Mao, “Get Organized” (Nov. 29, 1943), SW 3:160; and in this precise form in Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-tung (1966), p. 266.
COMPLEMENTARITY (Quantum Mechanics)
A set of related philosophical concepts especially associated with the idealist Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. On a gross level, complementarity can simply refer to wave-particle duality in which the view of entities in the microworld as behaving as waves in some situations complements the view that these entities behave as particles in other situations. Here the concept of complementarity can be innocuous, and might only mean that in some experiments and situations it is useful to view electrons and other subatomic particles as waves instead of as particles.
However, complementarity usually implies an idealist philosophical stance, such as the view that microworld entities like electrons are in fact both waves and particles, or the view that they are “neither” until they are observed or measured, or the view that electrons and the like actually do not even have any definite properties at all until they are measured, and so forth. Here is one description of this conception of complementarity with an unsupported idealist philosophical conclusion at the end:
“A profound aspect of complementarity is that it not only applies to measurability or knowability of some property of a physical entity, but more importantly it applies to the limitations of that physical entity’s very manifestation of the property in the physical world. All properties of physical entities exist only in pairs, which Bohr described as complementary or conjugate pairs (which are also Fourier transform pairs). Physical reality is determined and defined by manifestations of properties which are limited by trade-offs between these complementary pairs. For example, an electron can manifest a greater and greater accuracy of its position only in even trade for a complementary loss in accuracy of manifesting its momentum. This means that there is a limitation on the precision with which an electron can possess (i.e., manifest) position, since an infinitely precise position would dictate that its manifested momentum would be infinitely imprecise, or undefined (i.e., non-manifest or not possessed), which is not possible. The ultimate limitations in precision of property manifestations are quantified by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and Planck units. Complementarity and Uncertainty dictate that all properties and actions in the physical world are therefore non-deterministic to some degree.” —From the Wikipedia article on Complementarity.
This idealist conclusion that “all properties and actions in the physical world are therefore non-deterministic to some degree” simply doesn’t follow! This is only a limitation on the formulas of quantum mechanics to determine properties and actions beyond a certain level of accuracy, not a limitation on the reality or definiteness of reality itself.
The comprador bourgeoisie, or comprador capitalists, refers to that section of the bourgeoisie within a country (especially a Third World country) which acts as the local agents of one or another foreign imperialist power and/or the corporations headquartered in one of those imperialist countries. Thus in China in the period leading up to World War II there was a major group of comprador capitalists working in league with the Japanese imperialists, and another even larger group of compradors working in league with the U.S. or British capitalists.
COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE — Unreliability Of (For Foreign Imperialists)
Virtually every comprador would love to become more independent of the foreign imperialist power he serves, and transform his subordinate class into an independent national bourgeoisie. For this reason the foreign imperialist power which that comprador serves cannot completely trust him. Indeed, if the foreign imperialist power is in a major decline, or even if it is only temporarily distracted by problems elsewhere in its empire, it is a frequent occurance that compradors will try to operate more independently and start to ignore directions from the imperial center. For this reason the imperialist power still in overall control of the country frequently finds it necessary to kill or replace some of the local compradors or their political representatives.
“The ruling classes of most countries in the world today are forced into the position of being compradors (or de facto agents) of foreign imperialist powers, and of the world imperialist system as a whole, to a very considerable extent. (For a limited time they can also forge partnerships with international capital, but such arrangements are always transitional.) If they become too independent, if they seek to promote their own national economic interests in opposition to the interests of international imperialism, then tremendous economic pressure is put on them, sometimes rising to the level of outright economic warfare. And if they persist they are apt to suffer serious political interference and even assassinations or political coups engineered by foreign imperialist intelligence agencies [such as the CIA]. And, if all that still doesn’t whip the recalcitrant local ruling class back into line, the world imperialist system will mobilize its massive military forces (usually at present led and/or organized by the U.S.) to invade the country and forcibly attempt to set up a new client regime friendly to the world imperialist system.” —N. B. Turner, Is China an Imperialist Country? Considerations and Evidence (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2015), p. 48. Online at: https://www.bannedthought.net/International/Red-Path/01/RP-8.5x11-IsChinaAnImperialistCountry-140320.pdf
“Britannia may have ruled the waves, but when it came ashore for either
formal or informal rule it needed local allies who could serve as intermediaries in
controlling complex, often volatile populations. These ‘subordinate elites’—so essential
to the rise of any empire—can also precipitate its decline if they move into opposition.
With its contradictory motto ‘Imperium et Libertas,’ the British Empire necessarily
became, as the London Times said in 1942, ‘a self-liquidating concern.’ Indeed,
historian Ronald Robinson has famously argued that British imperial rule ended ‘when
colonial rulers had run out of indigenous collaborators,’ with the result that the
‘inversion of collaboration into noncooperation largely determined the timing of
decolonization.’ The support of these local elites sustained the steady expansion of the
British Empire for two hundred years, just as their later opposition assured its rapid
retreat in just twenty more.”
—Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: the Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017), p. 50. [Of course McCoy ignores here the central role of mass independence movements within the British Empire, and thus exaggerates the role of “local elites” (compradors) turning against the empire. But still there is some secondary validity to this perspective, as the compradors began to see their national bourgeois opportunities expand by joining up with, and taking over the leadership of, those mass independence movements. —Ed.]
An analysis or evaluation of some situation, phenomenon or process which is thorough, and which focuses on the most important contradictions at work there, and on all the most important facts relating to it. This is in contrast to a superficial investigation, or one which focuses only on a few isolated facts.
[Intro material to be added... ]
“The proletarian party must be flexible as well as highly principled, and on occasion it must make such compromises as are necessary in the interests of the revolution. But it must never abondon principled policies and the goal of revolution on the pretext of flexibility and of necessary compromises.” —A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement: The letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 24.
A data or information processing machine or entity, capable of performing mathematical calculations and other operations on the input information, and giving output information as a result.
The first things that were called “computers” were the human beings who performed mathematical calculations, and especially those who were set to work on the more complex calculating tasks such as preparing tables of logarithms. Then mechanical calculators were invented to do some of the computing chores that humans can do (such as multiplications and divisions). Finally, around the time of World War II and shortly afterwards, programmable electronic digital computers were invented which soon became able to perform most or all of the mathematical calculations that humans can do (but vastly faster and more reliably than humans can), and also an ever larger part of the other intellectual operations that humans can perform—including image processing, pattern recognition, semantic processing, recognition of analogies, and so forth.
Though the term “computer” today most often still refers to the present digital electronic machines with only moderately sophisticated programming and capabilities (though rapidly improving), there is also the more abstract philosophical concept of a computer that includes not only existing machines, and the much more powerful ones that will be constructed in the future, but also the brains of the higher animals and of human beings ourselves. On this general philosophical conception of what a computer really is, a human brain is also a computer (or a complex of multiple computers working together).
See also the topics below.
COMPUTERS — Security Of
“The hacking practice [of the United States National Security Agency] is quite widespread in its own right: one NSA document [leaked by Edward Snowden] indicates that the agency has succeeded in infecting at least fifty thousand individual computers with a type of malware called ‘Quantum Insertion.’ ... Using Snowden documents, the New York Times reported that the NSA has in fact implanted this particular software ‘in nearly 100,000 computers around the world.’ Although the malware is usually installed by ‘gaining access to computer networks, the NSA has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet.’” —Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (2014), pp. 117-118.
COMPUTERS — and Society
The development of ever more sophisticated computers is having a profound effect on human society. It is a major factor in these and other regards:
• Computers are leading to a qualitative increase in the productivity of human labor, and very rapidly so in a historical time frame.
• Computers are rapidly leading to the automation of mental work as well as physical labor. [See entry below on COMPUTERS AND UNEMPLOYMENT.]
• Computers, through their networking aspect, are allowing the shifting of more and more jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
• Computers are aggravating the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, that between social production and private appropriation.
• Computers, therefore, are making the need for social revolution and the transformation of capitalism into socialism and then communism all the more urgent.
• Computers will make it all the easier to construct socialism and then communism, once the working class is able to achieve political power.
The advent of computers is perhaps the culmination of the technological revolution that is a prerequisite for social revolution and the successful full transformation of capitalism into communist society.
Even in socialist and communist society computers will continue to have long-term profound transformative effects on humanity, though surely in generally more positive ways than they often have now.
COMPUTERS — and Unemployment
The mechanization of work has been a major and growing trend in society since the industrial revolution. For a long time the types of work which were moved to machines were hard physical labor and routine physical operations that were performed over and over again in production. Human beings were still necessary to guide and control these sorts of machines. So though these early types of machines did substantially decrease the total amount of human labor necessary, they did still require some new jobs to be opened up, jobs which often required higher levels of skills and provided better pay.
Digital computers first began to be utilized in corporations in the 1950s. In the first few decades of their use they were mostly employed to do new tasks which were not feasible before, and especially in the preparation of many detailed business reports to aid managers (which mushroomed far beyond their level of true usefulness). Only a relatively small number of clerical jobs were lost, and these were more than made up by the large number of jobs which then arose in data processing and in the manufacture and servicing of computers and related equipment. This phenomenon led to a dogma among bourgeois economists and social observers that claimed that while computers (and technology in general) did eliminate many jobs, on balance they led to more and better jobs. This, however, was only a temporary situation.
By the 1990s computers were clearly eliminating more jobs than they were creating, and this trend has really taken off in the new 21st century and under pressure from the developing economic crisis. The bloated levels of management and management reports are now being trimmed (under the rubric of “restructuring”). And the availability of much improved software for the management of capitalist businesses, along with ever cheaper computer power, is automating more and more clerical sorts of jobs, and now even much intellectual work (including within data processing and the computer industry itself!).
In addition, the combination of computers and industrial machines, which now very frequently take the form of industrial robots, is also eliminating many of the remaining manufacturing jobs.
We could put the overall situation this way: The first wave of automation starting in the mid-20th century mostly eliminated many “blue-collar” manufacturing jobs. The second wave of automation, made possible by computers, began also eliminating large numbers of “white-collar” clerical jobs, especially from the 1990s on. And now this second wave of automation is also being extended to so-called “knowledge workers”, or intellectual work, middle-level management, and so forth. As just one example of this newest trend, many former extremely well paid Wall Street financial analysts are now losing their jobs because their work can be done vastly more cheaply (and generally more reliably) by computers.
The end result is that computers are enormously intensifying the trend towards higher unemployment under capitalism. Under socialism, of course, the elimination of onerous work through the employment of computers, robots, and other advanced machinery, is an extremely good thing, and the benefits from this will be spread among the entire population. But under capitalism it leads to enormous unemployment and desperate poverty, and is thus a disaster for the working class. The root problem is not really with computers, of course; it is instead due to the private appropriation of wealth by a tiny class of exploiters under capitalism.
See also: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, AUTOMATION
COMTE, Auguste (1798-1857)
Reactionary French bourgeois philosopher and sociologist, best known as the founder of positivism.
[Speaking of planetary nebulae:] “This temporary limitation—astronomers
knowing where things were in the sky and what they looked like but not what they were
made of—was seized upon by the philosopher Auguste Comte in 1835. Groping for an
example of knowledge permanently beyond human ken—always a dangerous presumption—Comte
declared that while humans might eventually learn the shapes, distances, sizes, and
motions of celestial bodies, ‘never, by any means, will we be able to study their
“Comte’s assertion was refuted just a few years after his death, when spectroscopes were trained on the Sun and stars by the physicists Joseph Fraunhofer, Gustav Kirchhoff, and Robert Bunsen, revealing their composition and ushering in the new science of astrophysics.” —Timothy Ferris, Seeing in the Dark (2002), p. 237. [The Comte quote is from his Cours de Philosophie Positive (1835).]
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