[From Hindi and related languages, ‘dakaiti’:] A term often used in English in India for armed robbery or banditry. More fully: the criminal activity of gangs of armed bandits, including not only armed robbery but also often murder and other crimes. Dacoit is the word for an individual bandit.
An armed squad. This is a term frequently used in India for small revolutionary guerrilla squads.
[Sometimes not capitalized.] The newer name in India and South Asia for what were once called the “Untouchables” or the “Scheduled Castes”. Unlike those terms, Dalit is the name used by these people to refer to themselves, and means “the crushed” or “the oppressed”. Traditionally they have been landless and restricted to the worst and poorest paying jobs. Because these people have been so victimized by the Hindu caste system, many of them in modern times have converted to Buddhism or Christianity.
See also: CASTES
DALTON, John (1766-1844)
The developer of the modern atomic theory in science, and thus one of the most important founders of the science of chemistry. He also made contributions to meteorology and the physics of gases.
“Dalton transformed the atomic concept from a philosophical speculation into a scientific theory—framed to explain quantitative observations, suggesting new tests and experiments, and capable of being given quantitative form through the establishment of relative masses of atomic particles.” —Arnold Arons, Development of Concepts of Physics (1965).
“So convincingly did Dalton present his [atomic] theory that within twenty years it was adopted by the majority of scientists. Furthermore, chemists followed the program that his book suggested: determine exactly the relative atomic weights; analyze chemical compounds by weight; determine the exact combination of atoms which constitutes each species of molecule. The success of that program has, of course, been overwhelming. It is diffiult to overstate the importance of the atomic hypotheses. It is the central notion in our understanding of chemistry.” —Michael H. Hart, The 100: A ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History (1992).
DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
English naturalist and primary creator of the scientific theory of biological evolution by natural selection. He was one of the most important and most influential of all scientists in human history.
See also below, and: DARWINISM, EVOLUTION, COOPERATION IN NATURE, SCOPES “MONKEY” TRIAL, “SOCIAL DARWINISM”
“How great is the stature of the thoroughly modest Darwin, who not only collects, arranges and elaborates thousands of facts from the whole of biology but takes delight in quoting any predecessor, however insignificant, even to the diminution of his own glory, in comparison with that braggadocio Dühring, who while contributing nothing of value himself is over-exacting of others...” —Engels, preparatory notes for the writing of Anti-Dühring (c. 1876), MECW 25:599.
DARWIN — Marx Dedication Myth
The erroneous claim that Marx asked permission of Darwin to dedicate volume 2 of Capital to him, and that Darwin refused. No such events actually occurred despite the continuing repetition of this myth.
“In 1931 a Soviet journal claimed that it had a letter from Darwin rejecting a request by Marx to dedicate Capital 2 to him. In fact, the Darwin letter was written to Edward Aveling, partner of Marx’s daughter Eleanor, who wanted to dedicate his own book, The Student’s Darwin, to the great scientist. Darwin refused because he did not wish to be associated with the open attacks on religion. It was almost fifty years before the myth that Marx had asked Darwin’s permission to dedicate Capital 2 to him was disproved.” —Ian Fraser & Lawrence Wilde, The Marx Dictionary (2011), pp. 73-74.
The general scientific theory of evolution by natural selection initially developed by Charles Darwin, but also often including a variety of secondary erroneous scientific notions and/or reactionary political ideas.
Marxism, of course, enthusiastically embraces evolutionary science, and sees in its materialist explanations for the origin of species some important additional verification of its whole philosophical outlook, including the fact that nature and society are not predetermined to develop according to some religious or cosmic plan. Marx, Engels, and other Marxists, have nevertheless been critical of some secondary views of Darwin and his followers, and especially their bourgeois tendencies toward “Social Darwinism”. The most extensive discussions of Darwinism in the Marxist classics are in Engels’s work Anti-Dühring (1878) and his unfinished manuscript Dialectics of Nature (1873-1882).
“[D]uring the past 4 weeks I have read all manner of things. [Among others] Darwin’s book on Natural Selection [On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection]. Although developed in the crude English fashion, this is the book which, in the field of natural history, provides the basis for our views.” —Marx, Letter to Engels, Dec. 19, 1860, MECW 41:232.
“Darwin’s work [Origin of Species...] is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. One does, of course have to put up with the clumsy English style of argument. Despite all shortcomings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.” —Marx, Letter to Ferdinand Lassalle, Jan. 16, 1861, MECW 41:246-7.
“I’m amused that Darwin, at whom I’ve been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only—with its geometric progression—to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labor, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes [war of all against all] and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.” —Marx, Letter to Engels, June 18, 1862, MECW 41:381.
“Darwin was led by the struggle for life in English society—the competition of all with all, bellum omnium contra omnes—to discover competition ... as the ruling law of ‘bestial’ and vegetative life. The Darwinism [i.e., Social Darwinism], conversely, considers this a conclusive reason for human society never to emancipate itself from its bestiality.” —Marx, Letter to Paul and Laura Lafargue, Feb. 15, 1869, MECW 43:217.
“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....
“All that the Darwinian theory of the struggle for existence boils down to is an extrapolation from society to animate nature of Hobbes’ theory of the bellum omnium contra omnes and of the bourgeois-economic theory of competition together with the Malthusian theory of population. Having accomplished this feat (the absolute admissibility of which, as indicated above..., I contest, especially where the Malthusian theory is concerned), these people proceed to re-extrapolate the same theories from organic nature to history, and then claim to have proved their validity as eternal laws of human society. The puerility of this procedure is self-evident, and there is no need to waste words on it. If, however, I did wish to enlarge upon it, I should represent them, firstly as bad economists and secondly as bad naturalists and philosophers.” —Engels, Letter to Pyotr Lavrov, November 12-17, 1875, MECW 45:106-7.
DAVIS, Angela (1944- )
Prominent African-American revisionist who was a long-time member of the so-called Communist Party USA, and then later split off with a CPUSA faction to form the Committees of Correspondence.
“DAYS OF RAGE”
A violent demonstration, or riot, organized and led by the “Weathermen” (later Weather Underground Organization) faction of the Students for a Democratic Society in Chicago on October 8, 1969, and two days later. This demonstration was against the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam and was timed to coincide with the Chicago Seven trial. The organizing slogan was “Bring the war home!”, and the organizers hoped to create massive chaos in Chicago with many thousands of protesters causing widespread havoc. They expected this to start to “wake up” the American population to the vicious imperialist war going on, and to be the first step in a growing series of destructive and chaotic demonstrations by students and others which would eventually force the U.S. to withdraw from Vietnam. One of the organizers, Bill Ayers, said much later that
“The Days of Rage was an attempt to break from the norms of kind of acceptable theatre of ‘here are the anti-war people: containable, marginal, predictable, and here’s the little path they’re going to march down, and here’s where they can make their little statement.’ We wanted to say, ‘No, what we’re going to do is whatever we had to do to stop the violence in Vietnam.’” [From the documentary The Weather Underground, produced by Carrie Lozano and directed by Bill Siegel and Sam Green, 2003.]
The organizers expected many thousands of protesters to come, but only two or
three hundred actually showed up. Nevertheless they went ahead, first by rampaging
through the afluent Gold Coast neighborhood, smashing the windows of a bank and many
cars. After a few blocks they ran into a police barracade which they charged. More
than a thousand police counter-attacked, and at least twice the cops purposefully
ran squad cars directly into groups of protestors. The whole riot lasted only about
half an hour, during which 6 Weathermen were shot by the police and a large number
were injured. 68 rioters were arrested and 28 police were injured.
Shortly before that demonstration/riot, the Weathermen had blown up a statue honoring the police. Two days later, they staged another violent demonstration of about 300 people which broke through police lines and smashed the windows of cars and stores in the downtown Chicago Loop area. Within 15 minutes more than half of the crowd had been arrested, including most of the leaders of the Weathermen.
While the motives of the protesters (opposing the imperialist war and attempting to stop it) were admirable, this sort of “propaganda by the deed” turned out to be highly counter-productive. It did not serve to turn the American masses against the war; on the contrary, it served more to turn many of them against the students and the anti-war movement. It is not that violence is necessarily wrong, but people should be smart enough to only use it when there is good reason to believe it will advance a good cause. The Weathermen were so out of touch with the masses that they could not understand this. They were even quite out of touch with the thinking of most of the members of SDS itself, which is why they expected so many more members to show up at the demonstration. And, finally, this sort of pointless hooliganism (in the words of Engels), along with the destructive penetration of the Progressive Labor Party into SDS, ended up destroying that important organization, and seriously harming the student, anti-war, and revolutionary movements as a whole.
See: TACHAI PRODUCTION BRIGADE, CHEN YONGGUI
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