COOLIES or COOLIE LABORERS
[‘Coolie’ is a derogatory word derived from the Hindi word kuli as well as the Chinese word wuli which meant “bitter workers”.] Chinese workers who were intensely exploited and often treated virtually as slaves. (On occasion unskilled laborers of other nationalities have also been called “coolies”.)
Because of the worldwide anti-slavery movement during the 19th century, which largely ended the international slave trade by the middle part of that century (though slavery itself still existed in many countries), the capitalist exploiters of the world were casting about for new sources of extremely cheap labor to do the most onerous work. By the 1840s Chinese laborers were being brought to work on plantations, railroads, in mines and elsewhere in many regions of the world, including the United States, Hawaii [not yet grabbed by the U.S. though more and more controlled by U.S. businessmen], British Columbia, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, the Dutch East and West Indies, British Malaya, and South Africa. Between 250,000 and 500,000 Chinese workers emigrated to those countries from 1847 to 1874. Many more emigrated from China later and were similarly super-exploited.
COOPERATION — In Nature
[Intro material to be added... ]
See also: KROPOTKIN, Peter
“Of Darwin’s doctrine, I accept the theory of evolution, but assume Darwin’s method of verification (struggle for life, natural selection) to be merely a first, provisional, incomplete expression of a newly discovered fact. Before Darwin, the very people who now, wherever they look, see nothing but the struggle for existence (Vogt, Büchner, Moleshott and others), once laid particular stress on co-operation in organic nature, the way in which the plant kingdom supplies oxygen and food to the animal kingdom and, conversely, the latter supplies plants with carbonic acid and manure, as indicated notably by Liebig. Both conceptions are to some extent justified, but each is as one-sided and narrow as the other. The interaction of natural bodies—both dead and living—comprises harmony as well as strife, struggle as well as co-operation. Hence, if a self-styled naturalist takes it upon himself to subsume all the manifold wealth of historical development under the one-sided and meagre axiom ‘struggle for existence’, a phrase which, even in the field of nature, can only be accepted cum grano salis [with a grain of salt], his method damns itself from the outset.” —Engels, Letter to Pyotr Lavrov, November 12-17, 1875, MECW 45:106-7.
Being absorbed or assimiliated into a group or into a new ideological perspective. Sometimes the meaning is innocuous, as in “she was co-opted into the central committee”, where it just means that the person was brought into an existing central committee as a new member. But often the term implies a sinister intent on the part of those doing the co-opting, such as in effect bribing someone to change their ideas. Thus the capitalist ruling class co-opts many young activists into its ideological perspective and system of governance through such means as offering them paid jobs in political or social work, offering them respect and acclaim as authors if they say “acceptable” things, etc. So being “co-opted” in this sense means essentially the same thing as being bought off.
COPENHAGEN INTERPRETATION (of Quantum Mechanics)
The absurdly idealist philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics put forth by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and their supporters. According to this bizarre conception, there is no such thing as an objective world until it is perceived (or “measured”) by someone. Heisenberg, for example, stated that “Some physicists would prefer to come back to the idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist independently of whether we observe them. This however is impossible.” Another physicist, David Mermin of Cornell University, under the spell of the Copenhagen Interpretation even went so far as to claim: “We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks.” It is difficult to believe that anyone can seriously put forward such nonsense!
In response to this sort of foolishness, Albert Einstein commented: “The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science.” And he added, more specifically, that “The Heisenberg-Bohr tranquilizing philosophy—or religion?—is so delicately contrived that, for the time being, it provides a gentle pillow for the true believer from which he cannot very easily be aroused. So let him lie there.” [All these quotations are taken from Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics (1987).]
See also: COMPLEMENTARITY, SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT
COPERNICUS [KOPERNIK], Nikolaus (1473-1543)
Great Polish astronomer who founded the modern heliocentric conception of the solar system.
CORPORATE STOCK BUY-BACKS
See: STOCK BUY-BACKS
CORPORATE TAXES [U.S.]
“How much tax do corporations pay? In theory, their top tax
rate is 35 percent—one of the highest in the world. In reality, most U.S. companies
pay far less by exploiting tax breaks and loopholes. Of the 500 major companies in
the S&P 500 stock index, 115 paid a tax rate of less than 20 percent over the past
five years. Nearly 40 paid less than 10 percent. Boeing, for example, paid 4.5
percent in taxes on its profits over the past five years, Southwest Airlines paid
6.3 percent, and Yahoo paid 7 percent, according to research firm Capital IQ. General
Electric, one of America’s largest corporations, reportedly will pay little or no
federal tax on its $14.2 billion in global profits for 2010.
“Has it always been this way? No. As a result of the loopholes and deductions added to the byzantine tax code in recent decades, corporations pay a far smaller share of total U.S. taxes than they once did. In the 1950s, Washington collected 30 percent of all its federal revenue from business taxes. Last year, it was just 9 percent.” —The Week [a bourgeois news magazine], Sept. 2, 2011, p. 13.
[Of course it is only liberals who argue about whether corporate taxes are “too low” or not; Marxist revolutionaries don’t think capitalist corporations should exist at all. —S.H.]
“Corporations are paying the lowest level of taxes in four decades. Last year companies paid taxes of just 12.1 percent on their U.S. profits, the lowest share since at least 1972 and far lower than the 25.6 percent they paid on average from 1987 to 2008.” —A Wall Street Journal report quoted in The Week, Feb. 17, 2012, p. 38.
See also: TAX LAWYERS, TAX LOOPHOLES, INVERSIONS
[To be added... ]
“I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our
monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of
strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.” —Thomas Jefferson,
letter to George Logan, Nov. 12, 1816; online at:
[The first stage of operation of corporations may have been to defy the laws of the nation; but the later stage is to buy the politicians to make those laws. —S.H.]
CORPORATION — As a “Person”
In 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that a corporation has some of the same legal rights as a person, a human being, has. Since then this absurd doctrine has been expanded by the courts as well as in actual practice to cover other legal rights of persons under the U.S. Constitution. At present this has reached the point where corporations now ridiculously claim to have the right of “free speech”, and thus supposedly cannot be prevented from spending millions of dollars to promote politicians who are in their pocket, nor from indoctrinating the public with reactionary ideas and opinions that suit them. Corporate capitalism already essentially controls the U.S. and the world, but this is not enough for them. They want to keep expanding their control and power until it is absolute, and the masses have no say whatsoever. Thus one liberal bourgeois constitutional scholar, Garrett Epps, after attending Supreme Court hearings in 2009, expressed the opinion that some Justices (such as John Roberts and Antonin Scalia) now seem to feel that corporations do not simply enjoy the same rights as persons, but rather that they actually enjoy greater rights than mere people do!
“Corporations are people, my friend!” —Mitt Romney, leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, while campaigning in Iowa, Aug. 11, 2011.
CORPORATIONS — Cash Hoards Of
During good economic times and booms, capitalist corporations do not generally keep huge amounts of cash on hand, beyond what is needed for ordinary operating expenses and a reserve fund for exceptional situations. Instead, they typically use their excess money to invest in the expansion of production or else to pay off existing debt.
However, at the present time there is a still-developing long-term overproduction crisis in the U.S. and world capitalist economies. In this situation most corporations can already produce all the goods they can sell with their existing factories and machinery and have no reason at all to expand production to any greater excess over what they have already done. Moreover, many of them have either little debt or else only have long-term, low-interest debt, which does not need to be paid off soon. Furthermore, as of 2014 corporate profits are at or near record levels. In this situation U.S. corporations are accumulating ever-greater hoards of cash which they simply do not know what to do with! (Many, however, have been resorting to massive stock buy-backs, to keep their piles of cash from growing quite so fast.)
In the chart at the right we see the rapid accumulation of cash by American non-financial corporations over the last few years. (This does not include the huge piles of money that banks and financial institutions have also accumulated, let alone the trillions of dollars which the Federal Reserve has created and made available to banks in its programs of quantitative easing.)
The Economist noted in its caption for this chart that:
“Corporate America is holding $1.73 trillion in cash, with the top five companies hoarding almost half a trillion between them, according to a report published by Moody’s Investor Services. The firm estimates $1.1 trillion (or 64%) of the total is being held abroad, a 16% increase on the previous year, as companies choose to take advantage of cheap borrowing costs at home to fund their spending, rather than face the tax bill when repatriating profits. Technology firms are increasingly responsible for this stockpiling of money. Tech companies now hold $690 billion in cash between them, more than double their 2009 holdings, and 40% of the total. Apple alone holds $178 billion.” [May 16, 2015, p. 85.]
CORPORATIONS — Extravagances Of
More and more of the world’s wealth is being captured by the giant multinational corporations. This continues to be true even while the long-developing world capitalist overproduction crisis intensifies, which means that many big corporations are awash in huge cash hoards that they don’t know what to do with. (See entry above.) This has led a number of them into a trend of creating enormously wasteful monuments to themselves, on a par with the giant pyramids of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. The picture at the right is of the new enormously expensive Apple Corporation headquarters now under construction in Silicon Valley (California), which is in the shape of a giant space ship.
“Several months before he died in 2011, Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder
and the mastermind of the project, predicted that the spaceship-like structure would
become ‘the best office building in the world’ and that people from everywhere would
travel to see it.
“To prove Jobs right, around 13,000 construction workers have labored for years behind thick, high walls. The site spans several city blocks. Earlier this year, everything was hidden from view except cranes and a huge sand pile that rose a few hundred feet high, like the Great Pyramid of Giza. The scale of the project rivals the ancient Egyptians’ monuments. Every piece of glass on the four-storey exterior is curved, requiring special panes to be made in Germany—the largest pieces of curved glass ever manufactured. With a price tag of around $5 billion, it may be the most expensive corporate headquarters in history.”
—“Versailles in the Valley: The World’s mightiest technology firms are building monuments to their success”, The Economist: 1843, April-May 2016, p. 35. [Can you imagine how many starving children’s lives could be saved if Apple had instead donated this $5 billion to alieviate world hunger? We are sure that thought never occurred to the criminal bourgeois hero, Steve Jobs. —Ed.]
CORRECTION [In bourgeois finance]
A substantial fall in a stock market, or other financial market, after a previous large run up in average prices. Often a fall of 10% in these circumstances is considered to be a “correction”. The general assumption of speculators is that this correction will soon reverse itself and the “bull” market will resume.
The extra-legal expropriation of wealth by some group or individuals (usually capitalists and their servants) for their own benefit and personal aggrandizement. Corruption is officially regarded as an evil in bourgeois society because it degrades the credibility of the system in the eyes of the proletariat (and in some cases even destabilizes and threatens the viability of the system itself). Corruption is supposed to be “policed” by various regulatory and investigative bodies of the state. However, in the era of monopoly-finance capitalism, the large enterprises and banks have become so powerful that most “punishments” they receive are effectively little more than slaps on the wrist designed to placate public hostility. Occasionally, however, some capitalist or servant of capitalism is convicted of a particularly brazen crime and much fanfare is devoted to the need for subsequent reforms intended to “prevent” people like this from being empowered. Of course, corruption—and the personalities that partake in it!—are themselves organic outgrowths of the basic relations of production in capitalist society, and are another manifestation of how capitalists become “the embodiment of capital”. —L.C.
“It is hard to say which has sunk lower in the last three years, the monarchy or the republic. The monarchy—on the continent of Europe, at least—is everywhere assuming its final form. Caesarism, at an increasing pace. Everywhere sham constitutionalism with universal suffrage, an overgrown army as the buttress of government, bribery and corruption as the chief means of government, and enrichment through corruption and fraud as the sole end of government, are irresistibly undermining all the splendid constitutional guarantees, the artificial balance of forces of which our bourgeois dreamt in the idyllic days of Louis Philippe, when even the most corrupt were still angels of innocence compared with the ‘great men’ of today. As the bourgeoisie daily loses the character of a class temporarily indispensable in the social organism, shedding its specific social functions to become a mere gang of swindlers, its state turns into an institution for the protection, not of production, but of the overt theft of products.... The republic, however, is not faring any better.” —Engels, “The Republic in Spain” (Feb. 1873), MECW 23:417. [We wonder what Engels would have thought of the vastly more extreme corruption in America today, when Wall Street swindlers control the government and have been literally able to loot it and the public of trillions of dollars over the past few years!]
CORRUPTION — Political
“In the last days of the [parliamentary] session, which ended on Saturday, the Lower House was concerned almost exclusively with election scandals, which have sprung up like mushrooms out of the ground and covered every wall of the Houses of Parliament. There was a fearful stench of corruption, which harmonized excellently with the odors of the Thames and would have nauseated the honorable members if they had not been accustomed to such things. In some cases it was a question of individuals who had bought or sold herds of British voters openly (and that was the offence) like so many herds of sheep...” —From the “Political Review” section of Das Folk, Aug. 19, 1859, MECW 16:637. [This German-language newspaper was published in London and was at this time under the editorship of Marx, who may have written this item.]
Unpaid labor which feudal serfs or peasants are forced to supply for whatever purposes a feudal landlord demands. The amount of such corvée labor required is most often a traditional arrangement (such as so many days/month).
See: BIG BANG THEORY
A parameter which Albert Einstein added to his equations in general relativity theory which, if it is just the precisely correct value, does not allow the universe to expand.
A term of derision for fully consistent internationalists, used primarily by those (including Stalin) who seek to combine nationalism and Marxism.
[To be added...]
COST OF LIVING INDEX
See: CONSUMER PRICE INDEX
COUNCIL FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC AID (CMEA)
An intergovernmental council, known familiarly as Comecon, originally set up in January 1949 by the USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, to promote mutual trade and the coordination of the economic plans of the member countries. Even during the Stalin era the organization tended to serve the economic interests of the Soviet Union more so than any of the other member countries. (This was an aspect of the “great nation chauvinism” that Stalin was sometimes guilty of.) But in the revisionist period in the Soviet Union (mid-50s on) Comecon became more and more simply a means for the social-imperialists to exploit the other nominally socialist countries under their thumb. This occurred through bullied and unfair trade agreements, international planning decisions more favorable to the development of the Soviet Union than to the other countries, and so forth.
Albania joined CMEA in February 1949, East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) in 1950, Mongolia in 1962, Cuba in 1972 and Vietnam in 1978. Yugoslavia became an associate member in 1964. In the late 1950s North Korea and China acquired observer status, though after 1961 China no longer sent observers. After 1961 Albania also no longer participated. Romania weakened its connection to Comecon in 1973 and moved closer to the European Community.
Comecon was initially hailed by supporters of the Soviet Union as “the Russian Marshall Plan”. In its early days it did help to develop the economies of the Eastern European countries. Besides developing general goals for trade and technical assistance, Comecon organized joint scientific research and development.
In 1954 Comecon moved more in the direction of economic integration of the member countries through the coordination of the various five-year economic plans, and in 1955 production priorities were set for each country. Energy policies were also coordinated. In 1961 “Basic Principles” for the long-term development of member countries were drawn up. But Khrushchev’s proposals in 1962 for the creation of a single economic plan and single planning authority for all the countries was rejected by the other Comecon countries on the grounds that it was a major encroachment on their national sovereignty. Romania was especially outraged by the Soviet “suggestion” that it should specialize in agriculture instead of any all-round development of its economy.
In the Brezhnev era the Soviet social-imperialists further stepped up their efforts to integrate the Comecon economies under Soviet direction, but there was much resistance to this from all the countries except Bulgaria whose lacky rulers seemed happy with its assigned agricultural role.
In 1963 Comecon set up the International Bank for Economic Cooperation as an alternative to the IMF, and in 1970 the International Investment Bank to finance projects that were part of coordinated five-year plans, and as an alternative to the World Bank.
The Comecon countries agreed in 1970 to medium and long-term economic cooperation up to 1980, and a central planning bureau was set up in Moscow to direct this. In 1987 joint Comecon ventures between some productive enterprises and research institutes in the USSR and Eastern European countries were established. But the still crude forms of economic cooperation were illustrated by the fact that profits from these joint enterprises could be returned in the form of commodities because of the problems involved in currency negotiations. Overall, trade and economic cooperation and integration within Comecon declined during the Gorbachev period.
By 1989 the increasingly market-oriented ideology in all the Comecon countries led to many calls for less economic planning, and there no longer seemed much point to CMEA to the revisionists. In June 1991 CMEA was formally dissolved.
See also: “INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOR”, “INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST OWNERSHIP”, “STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION”
1. [In bourgeois society:] Opposition to social revolution, and defense of the oppressive and unjust status quo.
2.The replacement of one socioeconomic formation with another, lower one (or attempts to do so). This implies a return to an earlier, more oppressive form of society, and hence a change which is very much against the interests of the people. After every successful revolution the forces of counter-revolution must be contended with, and suppressed. (See: DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT )
1. The erroneous theory in bourgeois so-called “political science” that there are generally two or more centers of political power in society which oppose each other and serve as “balances” or countervailing forces toward each other. This notion is directly opposed to the Marxist view of the state as virtually always being totally dominated by one or another social class to the point where it can only be viewed as the dictatorship of that ruling class. Of course, in modern society a relatively tiny ruling class such as the bourgeoisie must deny that it is exercising a dictatorship and try to pretend that it is merely “one force among many” in society.
2. The absurd liberal reformist doctrine that in the United States a coalition of labor unions, small businesses, small investors, “progressive” social forces and locally-based political parties (and especially the Democratic Party) can “balance” the power of giant corporations, big banks and Wall Street, and implement and secure major changes for the better in American society. This view also totally denies that there is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in the U.S., and claims that “potentially at least” there is some actual democracy within American society today.
The term “countervailing power” was popularized by the liberal bourgeois economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his book American Capitalism (1952) where he argued that the otherwise excessive power advantages of huge corporations and banks could be offset in the labor market by powerful labor unions and within the political system by these unions in alliance with small businessmen, citizens’ organizations, and so forth.
The original inspiration for this idea was the supposed great success of the New Deal in the 1930s. However, the very limited improvements in capitalist society in the New Deal were only possible because of the extreme economic crisis of capitalism during the Great Depression and the desperation of the ruling class itself to maintain control by granting some temporary concessions to the working class. Moreover, it was only possible for the ruling class to continue many of these concessions for the quarter century following World War II because that war had temporarily resolved the U.S. and world capitalist overproduction crisis. However, that post-war boom came to an end in the mid-1970s, and since then there has been a long period during which the New Deal social benefits and welfare state have been gradually rolled back in the direction of eventual total elimination. The unions, the key economic force which Galbraith and others have identified as a “countervailing power” to corporations and Wall Street have been weakened to the point where they hardly matter any more. (The percentage of unionized workers in U.S. private industry has fallen all the way down to just 7.4% by 2015, and even those unions have little fight left in them. And, as far as political influence goes, the richest fraction of 1% of the population donates far more to politicians than all the unions put together now do.)
In short, whatever very limited and temporary aspect of truth there may have once been to the notion of any “countervailing power” against the corporations and the banks, it has now disappeared for good. Despite this, there continue to be liberal reformers who still believe in the theory and still try to fool the working class into believing it too. (See the quotes below from Robert Reich.)
“[The] ... centers of countervailing power that between the 1930s
and the late 1970s enabled America’s middle and lower-middle classes to exert their own
influence [in opposition to the big corporations and Wall Street]—labor unions, small
businesses, small investors, and political parties anchored at the local and state
levels—have withered. The consequence has been a market organized by those with great
wealth for the purpose of further enhancing their wealth. This has resulted in ever-larger
upward pre-distributions inside the market, from the middle class and poor to a
minority at the top....
“[T]he pay of average workers has gone nowhere because they have lost their aforementioned countervailing economic power and political influence....
“[T]he solution is not to create more or less government. The problem is not the size of government but whom the government is for. The remedy is for the vast majority to regain influence over how the market is organized. This will require a new countervailing power, allying the economic interests of the majority who have not shared the economy’s gains....
“My conclusion is that the only way to reverse course is for the vast majority who now lack influence over the rules of the game [in the American capitalist economy] to become organized and unified, in order to re-establish the countervailing power that was the key to widespread prosperity five decades ago.”
—Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Bill Clinton administration, in his book Saving Capitalism (2015), pp. xiv-xv.
[Of course Reich is entirely correct when he says that the basic problem is “whom the government is for”. But what he can’t understand or accept is that there is a capitalist ruling class and has been one all along. He himself admits that the rich totally control the economy and the government. And yet he still believes in the system that the enemy capitalist class totally controls; he still imagines that “American democracy” can be made to work in the interests of the people, despite the fact that it is the total instrument of the bourgeoisie for maintaining and extending their wealth and political control of the country. —S.H.]
“But over the past three decades, countervailing power has almost
vanished from American politics. Labor unions have been decimated. In the 2012
presidential election, the richest 0.01 percent of households gave Democratic candidates
more than four times what unions contributed to their campaigns.
“Small retailers have been displaced by Walmart and Amazon. Local banks have been absorbed by Wall Street behemoths.
“And both political parties have morphed into giant national fundraising machines. The Democratic National Committee, like its Republican counterpart, is designed mainly to suck up big money.” —Robert Reich, in a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 21, 2016, p. E8.
[After thus all but admitting that there is really no objective basis whatsoever for any “countervailing power” within the American economy or politics, Reich nevertheless went on to say that Hillary Clinton, if she is elected president, will have to try to construct such a force from the defeated Bernie Sanders supporters if she hopes to get anything at all accomplished in her term of office. So what does Reich expect? That Clinton, this repulsive politician who concerns herself with nothing except her own career, will urge the masses to riot in the streets to promote real social change? How foolish can you be! —S.H.]
“COUNTRYSIDE SURROUNDING CITIES”
See: FOREIGN EXPERIENCE
See: COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MARXIST)
See: COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION
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