Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   De - Dh   —


“DEAD CAT BOUNCE”
A false or merely temporary recovery in the stock market or in some other form of bourgeois financial speculation. Typically in a major crisis there is a huge stock market crash fairly early in the process, and then a long period of further, more gradual decline. But some speculators (“investors”) will have money on hand from earlier stock sales or from other sources and will assume that the crisis is not really as bad as it is. They will want to buy stocks near their low prices in order to “make a killing” as the market recovers. Often they are so anxious not to miss this “golden opportunity” for a speculator that they will jump in at the first glimmer of hope that there is a stock market turn around, and will thus promote a short-term, false recovery. When it becomes clear that the crisis is continuing and is much more serious than these particular speculators imagined, the market will resume its fall and they will lose additional money. The more serious the economic crisis, the more “dead cat bounces” there will be until the stock market more or less stabilizes for a long period at a quite low level.

“DEATH CEILING” PROGRAM (In Capitalist China)
After Mao Zedong died in 1976, the
capitalist-roaders seized power in a coup d’état and then did in fact rapidly transform China back into a capitalist country. One of the great many terrible effects of this hugely negative transformation was the massively worsening health and safety conditions at Chinese workplaces, and the growing numbers of deaths of workers on the job. By 2004 this trend had become so alarming that even the new national bourgeoisie ruling class itself—centered in the (supposedly) “Communist” Party of China—felt that something had to be done about it. The central government sent each province a set of “death ceilings” that, if exceeded, would harm the chance of local government officials getting any promotions. This led to two results: First, it probably led to some gradually improving safety conditions. And second, it undoubtedly led to much more government lying about the actual worker death statistics. As one recent Western study commented: Immediately after the new program began, “For each category of accidental deaths, we observe a sharp discontinuity in reported deaths at the ceiling, suggestive of manipulation.” [Raymond Fisman & Yongxiang Wang, “The Distortionary Effects of Incentives in Government: Evidence from China’s ‘Death Ceiling’ Program”, NBER Working Paper No. 23098, Jan. 2017.]
        Despite the statistical lying, even the reported number of worker deaths in China remain very high (though they fall from year to year). For 2009 China’s State Administration of Work Safety reported that 83,196 workers lost their lives in work-related incidents, as compared to 5,071 worker deaths in the U.S. that year (which was outrageous enough!). China’s workforce was about 5 times larger than that in the U.S., but its reported (!) number of worker deaths was 16 times as high.

DEATH FROM OVERWORK
See:
KAROSHI

DEATH PENALTY — In the United States

“[Those who face death sentences in the U.S. are not society’s worst criminals, but rather are] chosen at random, on the basis, perhaps of geography, perhaps of the views of the individual prosecutors, or still worse on the basis of race.” —U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, repeating his call to his fellow Court members to rule on the constitutionality of the death penalty, which they refuse to do. “U.S. Supreme Court: Death penalty appeals rejected”, AP report, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 13, 2016, p. A12.

DEATH SPIRAL (In Insurance Industry)
See:
INSURANCE DEATH SPIRAL

DEATH SQUAD
An irregular armed group, normally composed of elements either in the direct pay of the military or “security” establishment, or else having close ties with them, that is tasked with eliminating people that the ruling class of a particular state (usually a “Third World” dictatorship) finds bothersome. Death squads became a hallmark of the Latin American regimes—particularly in El Salvador and Guatemala—that were backed and armed by the United States government during the 1970s and 1980s.
        The “unofficial” nature of death squads is designed to afford the regime that employs them a degree of “plausible deniability”. Thus these regimes can exact violence on their opponents while claiming that the killings and other atrocities are perpetrated by elements that are “out of control”. The
Salwa Judum in India currently acts much like a death squad for the Indian state and its landlord backers against the Naxalites (Maoist guerrillas) and their supporters. Death squads also continue to operate in Colombia under the guise of right-wing paramilitary groups linked to the official military, who are fighting a war against nominally Marxist guerrillas called the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The use of death squads is one example of terrorism that is employed by the bourgeoisie to intimidate and suppress proletarian and peasant movements fighting for justice. —L.C.

DEBORIN, Abram [Abram Moiseyevich Ioffe]   (1881-1963)
Influential Soviet philosopher whose views led to considerable ideological debate and criticism in the 1920s and 1930s.
        Deborin became a Bolshevik in 1903, but in 1907 joined the Mensheviks as one of
Plekhanov’s followers in both politics and philosophy. He received a degree from the philosophy department of Bern University in Switzerland in 1908. After the October Revolution in 1917, Deborin left the Mensheviks and began lecturing in philosophy at Sverdlov University, the Institute of Red Professors and the Institute of Philosophy. He was soon given some editorial responsibilities at the philosophy journal Under the Banner of Marxism, and was the editor in chief from 1926 to 1931. One of the major campaigns of the journal during this period was the ideological struggle against religion and idealism in Soviet life. In 1928 Deborin was admitted into the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
        Deborin was one of the early promoters of the term dialectical materialism (first used by Plekhanov in 1891 and by Lenin in 1894) as the designation for Marxist philosophy, and published an article with this title in 1909. Lenin read this article and was evidently quite unimpressed with its contents, though he did not make extensive comments on it. [See LCW 38:477-485]
        In 1923 Deborin published one of the few serious studies of Ludwig Feuerbach that was written in the Soviet Union. He greatly overstated his case that Feuerbach was an important philosopher by saying at the end of the first edition that Marxism itself is a variety of “Feuerbachism” (a claim dropped in subsequent editions).
        Deborin led one of the two main trends in Marxist philosophy in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s, the trend that was called the “dialecticians” (or, later when it was criticized, the “Deborinists”). This trend promoted Hegelian-style dialectics, which often had an idealist flavor to it. The other trend, called the “mechanists”, was led by Lyubov Axelrod who used the pen name “Orthodox”. Nikolai Bukharin was viewed as an ally of the “mechanists”, though he had some differences with them. The “dialecticians” emphasized the role of dialectics in dialectical materialism, whereas the “mechanists” tended to downplay dialectics and emphasized the role of materialism in Marxist philosophy. Some of the mechanists went so far as to deny the existence of any separate and distinctive Marxist philosophy; they, instead, simply viewed natural science as the worldview of Marxism. Thus it appears that Deborin was overall more correct in this dispute than were his opponents, though there seems to have been one-sidedness and error on his part as well. In particular, though Deborin championed dialectics, it seems that there were some serious idealist aspects to his conception of dialectics. [See for example the Mao quotations below.]
        Deborin and his followers demanded that Marxist philosophy should guide scientific research, which is actually a correct stance in a Marxist-led society. However, there are serious dangers associated with this policy if it is applied simplistically and dogmatically. This later became all too apparent in the form of Lysenkoism.
        On January 25, 1931, Stalin and the Central Committee of the CPSU issued a statement establishing an orthodoxy in the Soviet Union as to how dialectical materialism was to be viewed, and criticizing Deborin as a “Menshevizing idealist”. (This official doctrine was later further codified in Stalin’s 1938 article “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”.) One of the specific criticisms of Deborin was that he had distorted the relationship of Marx and Marxism to Feuerbach.
        After this criticism Deborin wrote and published fewer and fewer works, and then almost nothing between 1935 and 1956. From 1935 to 1945, however, he was a member of the prestigious Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. During the Khrushchev period his articles began to reappear, and in 1961 a major collection of his articles was published.

“The criticism to which the idealism of the Deborin school has been subjected in Soviet philosophical circles in recent years has aroused great interest among us. Deborin’s idealism has exerted a very bad influence in the Chinese Communist Party, and it cannot be said that the dogmatist thinking in our Party is unrelated to the approach of that school. Our present study of philosophy should therefore have the eradication of dogmatist thinking as its main objective.” —Mao, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW 1:311.

“Thus it is already clear that contradiction exists universally and in all processes, whether in the simple or in the complex forms of motion, whether in objective phenomena or ideological phenomena. But does contradiction also exist at the initial stage of each process? Is there a movement of opposites from beginning to end in the process of development of every single thing?
         “As can be seen from the articles written by Soviet philosophers criticizing it, the Deborin school maintains that contradiction appears not at the inception of a process but only when it has developed to a certain stage. If this were the case, then the cause of the development of the process before that stage would be external and not internal. Deborin thus reverts to the metaphysical theories of external causality and of mechanism. Applying this view in the analysis of concrete problems, the Deborin school sees only differences but not contradictions between the kulaks and the peasants in general under existing conditions in the Soviet Union, thus entirely agreeing with Bukharin. In analyzing the French Revolution, it holds that before the Revolution there were likewise only differences but not contradictions within the Third Estate, which was composed of the workers, the peasants and the bourgeoisie. These views of the Deborin school are anti-Marxist. This school does not understand that each and every difference already contains contradiction and that difference itself is contradiction. Labor and capital have been in contradiction ever since the two classes came into being, only at first the contradiction had not yet become intense. Even under the social conditions existing in the Soviet Union, there is a difference between workers and peasants and this very difference is a contradiction, although, unlike the contradiction between labor and capital, it will not become intensified into antagonism or assume the form of class struggle; the workers and the peasants have established a firm alliance in the course of socialist construction and are gradually resolving the contradiction in the course of the advance from socialism to communism. The question is one of different kinds of contradiction, not of the presence or absence of contradiction. Contradiction is universal and absolute, it is present in the process of development of all things and permeates every process from beginning to end. —Mao, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW 1:317-318.

DEBS, Eugene Victor   (1855-1926)
Originally a conservative American labor leader who became quite radicalized by his experiences seeking fairness and justice for railroad workers. He resigned from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and in 1893 founded the American Railway Union, an industrial-style union along the lines of the later CIO. While in jail for 6 months in 1895 for leading a strike, he read the Communist Manifesto for the first time and his thinking began gradually shifting toward socialism. As the new Socialist Party of America took shape Debs became a prominent leader, and then a leader of the left wing of the Party. He ran for President on behalf of the Socialist Party five times. In 1912 he won amost a million votes, about 6% of the total cast. In 1905 Debs also took part in organizing the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
        When World War I started in Europe Debs took a strong stand against American participation, and this firm opposition to the war continued after the U.S. entered it. In one of his speeches he said:

“I am not a capitalist soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war with heart and soul, and that is the world wide war of the social revolution. In that war, I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary, even to the barricades.” [Quoted in the Encyclopedia of the American Left (1990), p. 186.]

The bourgeoisie could not tolerate that sort of firm opposition, and Debs was arrested for sedition in June 1918 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. While in prison Debs was once again the Socialist Party candidate for President. His followers wore buttons which proclaimed “Vote for Prisoner 9653”. And many people did vote for him. He received more than 900,000 votes, almost as many as in 1912.
        When the Bolshevik Revolution occurred in Russia in 1917, Debs came out as an enthusiastic supporter of it. He was a great American revolutionary socialist leader.

DEBT
[Intro to be added...]
        The graph at the right shows the ratio of all forms of debt in the United States to the size of the economy (GDP). This includes mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and all other types of consumer debt; business debt; and government debt.
        See also:
CREDIT,   LEVERAGE,   DELEVERAGING

“The ‘crack cocaine’ of our generation appears to be debt. We just can’t seem to get enough of it. And, every time it looks like the U.S. consumer may be approaching his maximum tolerance level, somebody figures out how to lever on even more debt using some new and more complex financing. For years, I have watched this levering up process, often noting that it was taking an ever increasing amount of debt to produce a dollar’s worth of GDP growth.” —Jeff Saut, capitalist financier, Sept. 2007. From Kevin Phillips, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008).
         [Note that in fact the debt bubble could not really keep expanding for ever, even though it appeared for a time to some boosters of debt that it might! And the problem was not the tolerance level of consumers for ever expanding debt, but rather the tolerance level for the capitalists who were loaning ever more money to consumers. It eventually became clear to them that much of this debt was never going to be paid back. That’s when the bubble began to burst. —S.H.]

DEBT DEFLATION
A term coined by the early 20th century bourgeois economist Irving Fisher to refer to the situation where the price of commodities is falling faster than debts are being reduced, which thus has the effect of increasing the effective debt burden (because existing debts must be repaid with money that is gaining in value relative to commodities). This is a common phenomenon in severe capitalist overproduction crises and their accompanying financial crises.

DEBT TO GDP RATIO
The ratio of the all the debt in a country to its annual
Gross Domestic Product. This is one of the key indicators of whether or not a country’s debt has become dangerously large. [See graph to the above right for the history of this ratio in the U.S.]
        The ratio of just government debt to GDP is another important indicator of the economic stability of a country. As of the spring of 2010 the highest governmental debt to GDP ratio in the advanced capitalist countries is that of Japan which has surpassed 190% and is still rapidly growing. That ratio would be totally disastrous in most countries, but since most of Japan’s government debt is owed to Japanese citizens and corporations, it is somewhat less dangerous than it would otherwise be. Nevertheless it is has become quite alarming and is probably not sustainable for much longer.
        The debt to GDP ratio has become dangerously high in many countries but is still growing fast almost everywhere. A new phase in the developing world economic crisis will occur when it becomes impossible for one or more major countries to continue to expand their government debt. The Greek debt crisis of May 2010 was just a forewarning of what is to come on a much grander scale.

DEBT & PRODUCTION RATIOS TO GDP
The comparative ratios of debt to GDP and goods production to GDP, as they develop over time. In the graph at the right we see that in the U.S. economy debt has been climbing ever faster in relation to GDP, while the production of goods (as opposed to financial and other services) has been falling as a percentage of GDP. [From: John Bellamy Foster & Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis (2009), p. 20.] This was a sure sign of impending financial crisis.

DECEMBRISTS
Revolutionaries of the Russian nobility who opposed the autocratic monarchy and serfdom. They organized an unsuccessful revolt in December 1825.

DECENTRALIZATION — In a Socialist Economy
[To be added... ]

DECEPTION (In Tactics)
See:
SURPRISE AND DECEPTION (In Tactics)

DECISIONS — Participation In

“If you are not at the table when decisions are being made, you are the dish that is being served.” —Witticism from an unknown source, with more than a germ of truth to it.

DECONSTRUCTIONISM
A skeptical and often anti-intellectual movement in contemporary bourgeois philosophy, founded by the French philosopher
Jacques Derrida, and one of the trends within what is called postmodernism. The goal seems to be to disprove the possibility of any coherent meaning or theory in any sphere. There is claimed to be no privileged position—not even the scientific contact with reality!—that makes any “text” (written work) significant or true.
        The approach is to “interpret” all philosophical or other intellectual “texts” by trying to “deconstruct” (dissect) them to bring out their incoherence, inconsistencies, false assumptions, prejudices, hidden agendas and false conclusions. While critical examinations of any work are of course necessary and justified, at the hands of the deconstructionists they are almost entirely negative procedures. They rarely put forward any positive views or try to defend correct views against unjustified attacks. This is why deconstructionism is mostly a cynical, nihilist method. The tacit assumption is that nothing is really correct or valid!
        Moreover, in practice, the “texts” chosen for examination, and the deconstructionist examination of them, are both generally esoteric and extremely obscure. Strange terms and coinages are used, and it is often the case that neither the text itself nor the deconstruction of it is very intelligible. On top of this, often snide comments, puns and jokes are put forward as if they were serious, thoughtful arguments. As a result, deconstructionism itself does not deserve to be taken seriously.

DEDUCTION   (Logic)
A mode of argument, or reasoning, which starts from a set of premises and seeks to draw a conclusion from them. If the conclusion is drawn in accordance with the laws of formal logic, the argument is said to be valid. If, in addition, the premises are known to be true, the argument is said to be sound.
        See also:
LOGIC—Formal

DEEP LEARNING
A recently developed technique in
artificial intelligence methodology, using artificial neural networks in certain ways, which appears to constitute a major breakthrough in that sphere.
        The most important social significance of deep learning and other current advances in AI is that the pace of the disappearance of jobs is rapidly being stepped up. In 2013, even before the full importance of deep learning became clear, one study at Oxford University estimated that 47% of all jobs in the U.S. were at high risk of being lost to computers soon.
        For a more technical and extensive discussion of deep learning see the Wikipedia articles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_learning and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_neural_network

“An AI technique called ‘deep learning’, which allows systems to learn and improve by crunching lots of examples rather than being explicitly programmed, is already being used to power internet search engines, block spam e-mails, suggest e-mail replies, translate web pages, recognize voice commands, detect credit-card fraud and steer self-driving cars. ‘This is a big deal,’ says Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of NVIDIA, a firm whose chips power many AI systems. ‘Instead of people writing software, we have data writing software.’” —Tom Standage, “The Return of the Machinery Question: Special Report on Artificial Intelligence”, the Economist, June 25, 2016, p. 4.

“Deep learning comes in many flavors. The most widely used variety is ‘supervised learning’, a technique that can be used to train a system with the aid of a labelled set of examples. For e-mail spam filtering, for example, it is possible to assemble an enormous database of example messages, each of which is labelled ‘spam’ or ‘not spam’. A deep-learning system can be trained using this database, repeatedly working through the examples and adjusting the weights inside the neural network to improve its accuracy in assessing spamminess. The great merit of this approach is that there is no need for a human expert to draw up a list of rules, or for a programmer to implement them in code; the system learns directly from the labelled data.
        “Systems trained using labelled data are being used to classify images, recognize speech, spot fraudulent credit-card transactions, identify spam and malware, and target advertisements—all applications in which the right answer is known for a large number of previous cases....
        “Another technique, unsupervised learning, involves training a network by exposing it to a huge number of examples, but without telling it what to look for. Instead, the network learns to recognize features and cluster similar examples, thus revealing hidden groups, links or patterns within the data.... [One test system in 2011 quickly learned by itself to recognize images of cats in this way from among a vast mass of videos of things in general. —Ed.]
        “Reinforcement learning sits somewhere in between supervised and unsupervised learning. It involves training a neural network to interact with an environment with only occasional feedback in the form of a reward.” —Ibid., pp. 5-6.

DEFEATING AN ENEMY WITHOUT FIGHTING A BATTLE
The technique of using guile instead of force to defeat a less clever enemy.

Mao Zedong fought his first battle with this students’ voluntary army on November 20, 1917, in which he successfully defended his school and disarmed some soldiers of a defeated Northern Warlord army.
        A vivid account of the battle has been given by Zhou Shizhao, a close friend of Mao who studied at the same school:
        “News arrived one day after lunch that some soldiers of a defeated unit of the Northern Warlord’s Eighth Division were beating a precipitate retreat from the area around Zhuzhou and Xiangtan towards Changsha. They were already at Monkey Rock, less than two kilometers from the First Normal School. As the soldiers were not sure who had taken Changsha, they did not dare to proceed and were taking a rest there and seizing food from the peasants. The news threw the whole school into confusion. After hearing the conditions of the defeated unit and knowing they were hungry, fatigued and badly shaken and had no knowledge that the Guangxi army had not yet entered Changsha, Mao judged they could be driven away. He told more than two hundred of the bolder ones in the students’ voluntary army to arm themselves with the wooden rifles they used in their daily drill and station themselves on top of Miaogao Hill behind the school. He then got in touch with the local police station and asked the police chief to send a number of policemen with real rifles to lay in ambush in front of the students. At dusk, as the Northern Warlord soldiers began to probe their way northward along the Guangzhou-Hankou Railway at the foot of Miaogao Hill, Mao told the policemen to open fire and the students on the hill top to set off firecrackers. They then shouted together, ‘Fu Liangzuo is gone. The Gangxi army is in the city. Hand over your arms and live!’ The defeated army did not dare to resist. A representative was sent over to negotiate and the entire unit was disarmed. The students in the whole school then came out and took the rifles and other weapons to the school.... The disarmed soldiers were told to sleep in the open on the school’s playground. The following day, the city’s commercial chamber distributed some money to the soldiers and sent all of them home. Mao Zedong’s daring exploit became the talk of the whole school, all saying that he was ‘a man of extraordinary valor.’”
         —Liu Jikun, Mao Zedong’s Art of War (1993), pp. 6-7. [This entire book is available at:
http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/PW/MaoZedong'sArtOfWar-LiuJikun-1993.pdf" Though the author is an opponent of the GPCR and is not a Maoist, there is a lot of similar interesting material in it.]

DEFINITIONS
[To be added... ]

“Philosophy is often diverted by the definition of words, etc. Everything all categories are affected.” —Lenin, “Conspectus on Aristotle’s Book Metaphysics” (1915), LCW 38:367. [I take it that Lenin is saying or implying here that much (but not all!) philosophical confusion, disagreement and error is the result of differing or confused definitions of terms among those disagreeing. It seems to me that this is certainly true. On the other hand, some people—especially many bourgeois analytic or “linguistic” philosophers—have claimed that positively all philosophical disagreement can be traced back to confusion or differences about definitions, which is certainly false. —S.H.]

DEFLATION   (Economics)
A contraction in the amount of money and/or credit available in an economy (relative to the mass of commodities available for sale) which leads to a general fall in prices. Although there were long deflationary periods in capitalist economies in the 19th century, during both boom periods and recessions, most contemporary bourgeois economists believe that deflation is very dangerous and self-reinforcing. For this reason they try to prevent it by moderately inflating the currency (or what they sometimes call “
reflation”).
        See also: INFLATION

“DEFLATIONARY GAP” (In Capitalist Production)
This is a term sometimes used by bourgeois economists and journalists to describe the situation where total
effective demand falls short of what an economy produces. (Of course we Marxists understand that this would always be the case if it were not for the constant expansion of consumer and government debt!) But the idea here is that when there is an excess of goods on the market, the capitalists will be forced to lower their prices in order to try to sell the excess production, and will also lay off workers or cut wages in an effort to keep their profits up. Fewer employed workers, and workers with less income, in turn means a further drop in demand in sort of a vicious circle, which leads to further deflationary pressures. The so-called “deflationary gap” itself is the shortfall in effective demand which leads to this deflationary spiral.

DEINDUSTRIALIZATION
A significant decline in the level of industrialization of some region or country, and/or the shift from manufacturing to producing services. Some bourgeois economists claim this is actually a good thing, and that the transformation of an economy toward more services, especially financial services, shows its “maturity”. In reality, it shows the parasitic nature of
finance capitalism, and foreshadows an extremely serious economic crisis.
        See also: MANUFACTURING—U.S.

DELEVERAGING
[Capitalist finance:] The repayment (often forced) of debt which has been acquired in order to expand the amount of money invested, or to directly expand the amount employed in the continuation or expansion of capitalist production.
Leveraging means using borrowed money to speculate (“invest”) or in order for a capitalist to continue or expand production beyond what is possible through the use of his own profits. Sometimes when a loan comes due it is impossible to “roll it over” (extend it for an additional period), or to obtain an alternative loan. This is especially apt to occur during a financial crisis. In such a situation there is a forced deleveraging, or in other words a forced reduction in credit that itself has an additional negative impact on the economy. Just as leveraging can promote the more rapid expansion of the economy during a boom, deleveraging can develop into a vicious cycle which serves to more rapidly unwind an economy and bring it to its knees during and following a financial crisis.

“Deleveraging is an ugly word for a painful process. But few things matter more for the world economy than whether, and how fast, the rich world’s borrowing is cut back. History suggests that severe financial crises are usually followed by long periods of debt reduction—in which credit falls relative to the size of the economy. This time, too, that process is under way. Banks have been furiously reducing leverage. Consumer credit in America has fallen for ten consecutive months, the largest and longest drop on record....
        “[In an extensive study of numerous past cases of deleveraging] the deleveraging came through a prolonged period of belt-tightening, where credit grew more slowly than output. The message from these episodes is sobering. Typically deleveraging began about two years after the beginning of the financial crisis and lasted for six to seven years. In almost every case output shrank for the first two or three years of the process...
        “Worse, there are several reasons why today’s mess could be more protracted than previous episodes. First, the scale of the indebtedness is higher.... Second, the number of countries afflicted simultaneously means that rapid expansions of exports, which have supported output in the past, are harder to achieve. Third, big increases in public debt, while cushioning demand in the short term, increase the overall debt reduction that will eventually be needed.... Investors may worry about the sustainability of public debt long before private-debt reduction is over, forcing a lot of belts to be tightened at once. The most painful bits of deleveraging could well lie ahead.” —“Economic Focus: Digging Out of Debt”, The Economist, Jan. 16, 2010, p. 76.

DELINQUENCY RATE   [Capitalist Finance]
The number of loans on which borrowers fail to make timely loan payments divided by the total number of loans under consideration.

DEMAGOGUES

“... I will never tire of repeating that demagogues are the worst enemies of the working class. The worst enemies, because they arouse base instincts in the masses, because the unenlightened worker is unable to recognize his enemies in men who represent themselves, and sometimes sincerely so, as his friends. The worst enemies, because in the period of disunity and vacillation, when our movement is just beginning to take shape, nothing is easier than to employ demagogic methods to mislead the masses, who can realize their error only later by bitter experience.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:463.

DEMIURGE
[Greek: demiurgos, meaning “craftsman”. Usually capitalized when used as the name of a god.]
        1. [In Plato’s idealist philosophy as presented in his dialogue Timaeus:] The subordinate deity who fashions the world of the senses on the basis of the eternal Forms or Ideas.
        2. [In Gnostic religious philosophy:] The subordinate deity who is the creator of the world and the originator of imperfection and evil (thus supposedly letting God off the hook!).
        3. An autonomous creative force or decisive power who fashions something into its eventual form.

DEMOCRACY
[To be added... ]
        See also:
WILL OF THE PEOPLE

“It is natural for a liberal to speak of ‘democracy’ in general; but a Marxist will never forget to ask: ‘for what class?’” —Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918), (Peking: FLP, 1975), p. 9.

DEMOCRACY — Original Idea Of

“Prior to the emergence of modern capitalism, politics and economics were interchangeable; whoever controlled the government controlled the economy, and vice versa. The most politically powerful nobles were the wealthiest people. The idea of democracy prior to capitalism was the radical notion of politics controlled by the propertyless citizens, which would give them command over property. ‘Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers,’ Aristotle noted at its birth. It is why democracy was regarded as being synonymous with ‘communism’ or some sort of one-class society; when poor people gained political power they would understandably reshuffle the property distribution and rules to eliminate wide disparities in property ownership and class privilege. It is why the very notion of democracy was widely, even universally, detested by the wealthy and the privileged throughout history. As recently as the founding of the United States, for example, nearly all of those who wrote the Constitution or are considered founders, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, thought voting should be limited to property-holding white males. It wasn’t even an issue for debate.” —Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), pp. 24-25.

DEMOCRACY — As a Means to an End
“Democracy sometimes seems to be an end, but it is in fact only a means.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, vol. 10, #1, Jan. 1, 1967, p. 13. But what ends then is it a means to? Widespread and genuine democracy is one of the primary means by which the proletariat and the broad masses become able to satisfy their own material and non-material interests, including their highest political interest, to further revolutionize society, to overthrow the capitalist system, and to create first socialism, and then communism. Democracy is valuable first of all, and above all, because it is an indispensable means to this end.

DEMOCRACY — BOURGEOIS
See:
BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY

DEMOCRACY — DIRECT
See: DIRECT DEMOCRACY

DEMOCRACY — PROLETARIAN
See:
PROLETARIAN DEMOCRACY

DEMOCRACY — Within Revolutionary Parties
[To be added...]

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM
Democratic centralism is the central organizational principle in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties. Within socialist society democratic centralism is also implemented among the people as a whole—though of necessity in a somewhat looser fashion.
        The core centralist elements of democratic centralism within the Party were summed up by Mao this way:

“We must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely:
          (1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;
          (2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;
          (3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and
          (4) the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee.
       “Whoever violates these articles of discipline disrupts Party unity.”
        —Mao, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, section “XXVI. Discipline”, 1st ed. (1966), p. 255. Edited wording from the original source in “The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War” (Oct. 1938), SW2:203-4.

However, those who seem to believe that these are the only basic elements of democratic centralism are ignoring or rejecting the equally important core democratic elements within this organizational principle (in addition to majority rule). Both among the masses and within the Party people do have the right and even the obligation to form their own ideas, raise suggestions and criticisms, and to reserve their views even if they cannot be convinced through argument that they are wrong about something.

“It seems that some of our comrades still don’t understand democratic centralism....
       “There should be full democracy both inside and outside the Party, that is, democratic centralism should be practised in earnest in both spheres. Problems should be brought out into the open frankly and masses allowed to speak out, speak out even if we are going to be abused.” —Mao, “Talk at an Enlarged Working Conference Convened by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” (Jan. 30, 1962), which appeared in Peking Review, #27 (July 7, 1978) [online at:
http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1978/PR1978-27-MaoTalk.pdf]

Those who understand only the centralist elements of democratic centralism don’t really understand what democratic centralism is for! To sum it up in a single sentence: Democratic centralism is the organizational principle that allows people to work together in a unified fashion toward a common goal, even when they have different individual ideas about what should be done! Intelligent people consciously and willingly put themselves under the centralist or disciplinary aspects of democratic centralism even knowing that some mistakes will be made because they understand that this will overall and in general tremendously help the Party and the working class as a whole work in a united way and make revolution. This makes perfect sense as long as we have confidence in the masses, and confidence in that specific Party, to eventually correct any mistakes they do make along the way.
        The profound idea behind democratic centralism is that only the working class and the Party working together in a (more-or-less) unified fashion have the power to change the world, and that if we are serious about changing the world we have to often subordinate our own individual or small group ideas about what to do to those of the majority and the Party leadership. Even in those occasional cases where we have good reason to think they are wrong and we as individuals or the minority have better ideas, it is still better to follow the majority and the leadership in order to preserve our overall unity of action.
        It must be said, however, that what has historically been called “democratic centralism” by many parties has actually been far more centralist than democratic. The democratic aspect of democratic centralism has all too often been downplayed, if not entirely eliminated. This has especially been the case in revisionist parties and in cult-like parties on the “left” (such as the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA), neither of which values any independence of mind among its members or among the masses. Unfortunately, the same was largely true in Stalin’s Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
        However, Lenin and Mao understood very well that the independence of mind among the membership of a revolutionary party is not a negative thing, but actually a very good thing—providing it can be arranged so that these different ideas do not disrupt the Party’s ability to lead the masses in struggle against the enemy. And that is the purpose of true democratic centralism.

“An individual sometimes wins over the majority. This is because truth is sometimes in one person’s hands only. Truth is sometimes in the hands of a minority, as when Marxism was in Marx’s hands alone. Lenin said that you have to have the spirit of going against the current. Party committees at every level ought to consider views from many quarters; they ought to listen to the opinion of the majority and also those of the minority and others. There ought to be created within the Party an atmosphere of speaking out and of correcting shortcomings.” —Mao, “Talk at the Seventh Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee”, April 1959, Miscellany of Mao Tsetung Thought, (Arlington, VA: Joint Publications Research Service, 1974), p. 176.

Only those who favor both independence of mind on the part of individual Party members and the masses and also unified action on the part of the Party and the masses as a whole (and which is not impaired by this widespread independence of thought), understand the real reason why genuine democratic centralism is so important and so absolutely necessary.
        See also: UNITE—Don’t Split

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM — Bourgeois Conceptions Of
        1. The preservation of orthodoxy: An organizational principle designed to secure and preserve the virtually absolute acceptance of, and genuine agreement with, all the ideas and positions of the top leaders of a political party.
        In reality the purpose of genuine democratic centralism (D-C) is not to secure total agreement and total unity of ideas of the membership of the party with those of the leadership, but rather to allow (and even encourage!) differences of opinion while nevertheless securing the genuine willingness and determination of the members to try their best to implement the political line among the masses which was determined by the leadership of the party. (Critics of D-C completely fail to understand this important difference.)
        2. The absence of any real democracy: The total despotism of the leadership of a party over the membership, with no genuine democratic input from the masses and the membership to the leaders, and no obligation whatsoever of the leadership to listen to the ideas and desires of the masses and the membership.
        As noted in the main entry on democratic centralism above, there have been parties which have actually operated in somewhat this way, and which have totally distorted D-C in this way. We Marxist-Leninist-Maoists reject and denounce this total negation of democratic centralism.
        3. To enforce party discipline: The principles of democratic centralism summarized by Mao in the entry above do definitely state that the minority is subordinate to the majority, that the lower bodies of the party are subordinate to the higher bodies, and that the whole party is subordinate to the Central Committee. This does of course present a system of party discipline.
        However this party discipline exists for a definite political purpose: To allow the party to act in a unified collective way even though its members will have their own individual ideas about the best way to proceed in any situation. To say that the point of D-C is to enforce party discipline is to disingenuously ignore the real political point of it.
        4. Existing for security purposes: Another eroneous conception of democratic centralism, which is actually more often put forward by young revolutionaries who haven’t yet grasped the basic political reason for D-C rather than by academic bourgeois critics of Leninism, is that its central purpose is to help keep the leadership, membership, and organizational structure of the party protected from ruling class spying and attacks.
        Of course any revolutionary party does have to seriously concern itself with security issues, since the enemy seeks to disrupt our work among the masses, and even—at times—to arrest or kill us. The party will need to have secure channels of communications between its members and between its leaders and membership. It will likely need to operate on a “need to know” basis, with regard to organizational structure, who precisely are members in other areas of work, and so forth. Lenin remarked that the first reason for the existence of the party is so that revolutionaries will know who they can fully trust in helping them to carry out their work. [July 1, 1921; LCW 32:474] Having genuine D-C and a firm discipline within a party can of course greatly help promote better security. However, this is not the primary purpose of D-C. To repeat once again, the revolutionary party requires democratic centralism so that different people, who inevitably have somewhat different ideas about what to do, can settle on a unified plan of action (while reserving their own individual opinions) and work together in the most effective way to advance the revolution.
        If the primary purpose of democratic centralism within some party is for security, then it will almost inevitably be a false D-C, with a downplaying of its political purpose, and most likely the negation of the democratic aspect of genuine D-C. This is what happened in the RU/RCP, for example, as the following quote brings out. (And moreover, in the RU/RCP even the security focus was a dismal failure.):

“The RU/RCP prided itself, and had among the wider left, a certain reputation for a solid security culture. Certainly the remarks of people like Larry Goff, on its rigorous discipline are telling. The paradox, of course, is that this came from Goff, the informant [to the FBI]. Indeed for all its extolling of discipline and adhering to democratic centralism, it was too often the case—and this from the very beginning—that the two entities with the fullest understanding of the group were the small number of leaders at the top of the organization and the FBI. While such principles of discipline could be effective, in potential, in keeping certain matters secret, the fact of informants at the top of the organization meant that such practices were too often nothing more than an exercise. Worse it created the perilous situation where RU/RCP cadre and supporters knew far less about the group than the Bureau did.” —Aaron Leonard & Connor Gallagher, Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists (2014), p. 248.
        [For our purposes here, what is most noteworthy is not the incompentence of the RU/RCP in selecting their leadership and in keeping government spies out, but rather the implicit conception of democratic centralism as being for the purpose of security. In my opinion this not only reflects the view of the authors of this book, but also of the leaders of the RU/RCP itself. That organization never understood and promoted the essential role of democracy in true democratic centralism, and—indeed—never really understood the basic political purpose of democratic centralism at all. —S.H.]

DEMOCRATIC PARTY (U.S. Bourgeois Party) — Rightward Shift Of
Nothing demonstrates quite so clearly that the (so-called) Democratic Party in the U.S. is just one head of a two-headed monster, the
“two party system”, than the fact that as the requirements of the capitalist ruling class have demanded a political shift to the right, the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party have both shifted quite noticeably in that direction. Policies that were once opposed by Democrats when Republicans proposed them decades ago are now embraced by the Democrats (though Republicans now reject them as being “too far left”). One example of this is the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) which in its basic outline was proposed by the Nixon Administration decades ago, but rejected by Ted Kennedy and other Democrats as being basically just a massive government handout to the private health industry (which it turned out to be). One version of this plan was even implemented on the state level by the Republican governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. By the time the Obama Administration came to power in 2009, the Democrats had given up any effort to try to implement any sort of reasonable national health care plan, and therefore adopted the old Republican idea as their own in the form of the ACA. (But now the Republicans fought that program tooth and nail, and it is currently in the process of being further weakened or eliminated by the Trump Administration.)
        This shift to the right by the Democrats is reflected in virtually every other area as well. For example, the Obama policies of essentially unrestricted spying on American citizens would probably have been labelled as the fascist ones they actually are by Democrats in previous generations.
        The Democrats have moved to the right in almost every one of the administrations they have led since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the necessities for some social-democratic programs (of sorts) during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Truman, for example, moved to the right as compared with Roosevelt. But there was a further qualitative leap to the right with Bill Clinton who adopted many policies previously identified with Republicans, such as loosening banking regulations and demolishing the federal welfare system. Obama continued that course, as undoubtedly would have Hillary Clinton if she had been elected in 2016.
        Certainly the Democrats have always been a capitalist ruling class party. And of course they have only offered very feeble resistance to conservatives and reactionaries in the past. But it is hard to see that they should even count as a reformist party anymore. It is not for nothing that many of us now refer to the Democrats as “the Other Republicans”.

“The Republican Party has moved steadily to the right since the 1970s, purging its entire liberal and moderate wings....
        “The Democratic Party has moved rightward as well. The Democratic Leadership Council was founded by people like Bill Clinton and it successfully remade the party into a far more pro-business party—a champion of deregulation, lower taxes on business and the rich, cutbacks in social services, and secretive trade deals that benefit large corporations and investors but have dubious value for everyone else. The concerns of organized labor and social movements, now reclassified as ‘special interest groups,’ were marginalized.”
         —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready (2016), p. 203. [As social-democrats, these authors believe that somehow this rightward shift of the Democratic Party can be reversed and some reforms can be won within this system. Don’t hold your breath! And even if all that could bizarrely actually occur, it would still leave us with the horrendous capitalist-imperialist system to contend with and its ever worsening economic crisis, the continual disappearance of jobs, expanding environmental destruction, and endless genocidal wars. It is safe to say that there is no possibility whatsoever that any reformist movement, based in the Democratic Party or not, is going to lead us out of this growing human crisis of the capitalist system. —S.H.]

“DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM”
So-called “democratic socialism” is in fact neither
socialism nor truly democratic. It is another name for what in Europe is called “social democracy”, or in other words, capitalism with some superficial (and temporary) welfare reforms. Originally, “democratic socialism” or “social democracy” also meant that the capitalist state nationalized some major industries such as steel and railroads; in other words, the term originally referred to a mixed form of capitalism with both private industry and a sphere of state capitalism. Both spheres, private corporations and state-owned industries, were nevertheless under the total control of the capitalist ruling class, and functioned primarily for their individual or collective benefit. Over time, state capitalism proved to be even less useful (and less profitable) to the ruling class than private monopoly capitalism, so in recent decades those who still call themselves “democratic socialists” no longer even support the partial bourgeois nationalization of industry. The only mystery is why they still want to call themselves “socialists” at all! Perhaps it is part of their continuing need to fool the masses about what socialism really is.

“I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.” —Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a “democratic socialist”, in a speech a Georgetown University, Nov. 19, 2015, online at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/11/20/how-bernie-sanders-is-mainstreaming-democratic-socialism/?tid=a_inl

DEMOCRITUS of Abdera [in Thrace]   (c. 460-c. 370 BCE)
Early Greek materialist philosopher who championed the view that the world consists ultimately of minute indivisible atoms whose movement and combination required no supernational forces.
        The germ of this idea goes back to his teacher Leucippus, and before him to Anaxagoras. But Democritus worked the idea out further and gave some strong philosophical arguments in support of the atomic theory. It was more than 2 millennia later that the early chemist John Dalton began to provide experimental evidence in support of the existence of atoms, and it was not until the early 20th century that Einstein’s explanation for Brownian motion finally overcame the remaining scientific and philosophical arguments against the existence of molecules and atoms. Of course it is now also known that ordinary atoms, which are indeed ordinarily indivisible, can themselves be split in two under very special conditions.

DEMOGRAPHIC CRISIS
[To be added...]
        See also:
RETIREMENT—Early

DENG Xiaoping   (Old style: Teng Hsiao-p’ing)   (1904-1997)
Capitalist-roader within the Chinese Communist Party, who after Mao’s death led the revisionist dismantling of socialism in China and the return to capitalism.
        [More to be added.]

“This person does not grasp class struggle; he has never referred to this key link. Still his theme of ‘white cat, black cat,’ making no distinction between imperialism and Marxism.” —Mao, speaking of Deng Xiaoping, quoted in Chin Chih-po, “Denial of the Difference Between Socialism and Capitalism is Not Allowed: Repudiate the Theme about ‘White Cat, Black Cat’”, Peking Review, #16, April 16, 1976), p. 18. Online at http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-16e.htm (single article in HTML format) or http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-16.pdf (full issue in PDF image format).

DEONTOLOGY
1. The branch of ethics (especially bourgeois ethics) concerned with duty or moral obligation, as opposed to
axiology, the branch concerned with “value”. The splitting of ethics into these two major categories (by the intuitionists, for example) is based on the idea that value and moral obligation are somehow difficult or impossible to connect, a view not shared by Marxist-Leninist ethics.
2. The ethical theory (held by Kant and many other bourgeois philosophers) that duty is the basis of all morality. Kant went so far as to claim that many acts (such as telling the truth and keeping promises) are your moral duty regardless of the consequences!
        See also: CONSEQUENTIALISM

DEPENDENCY THEORY
The social theory that maintains that the “core” countries of the world exploit the raw materials, cheap labor and other resources of the “periphery” (the
“Third World”), and that the net flow of wealth is from the periphery to the core. There are both Marxist and non-Marxist versions of this theory, though the non-Marxist or only semi-Marxist versions have been the most prominent over the past few decades.
        We Marxists understand that the impoverishment of Third World countries is simply one major aspect of capitalist imperialism at work, and that the central key to understanding how imperialist countries extract wealth from the countries they control or dominate has to start with a clear understanding of how capitalism itself functions (through the extraction of surplus value at the work place). Of course we also understand that there are additional mechanisms whereby the bourgeoisies of imperialist countries exploit the people of Third World countries, such as through manipulating the terms of trade to their own advantage.
        But the currently most prominent versions of dependency theory, especially those associated with what is known as “world-systems theory”, downplay or ignore the existence of social classes, and the inherent nature of capitalism as an exploitative economic system, and focus almost entirely on secondary issues such as unfavorable terms of trade. Moreover they think mostly in terms of rich countries exploiting poor countries, rather than the capitalist ruling classes exploiting people both at home and abroad. The central view of this version of dependency theory is that the “peripheral countries” are impoverished and the “core countries” are enriched virtually entirely by the way that these countries are integrated with each other through the world market. Thus the explicit or implicit “solution” that many of these theorists put forward is more along the lines of setting up high tariffs and promoting the growth of local industries (and thus the local bourgeoisie), rather than promoting anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle through means such as people’s war and/or revolutionary insurrection.
        See also: PREBISCH THESIS

DEPENDENT COUNTRIES
The term “dependent countries” is frequently used, and is usually intended by those on the Left to mean those countries which—because of imperialist domination or interference—have little ability to act or develop their economies independently. However, “dependent countries” might instead be misconstrued to imply that these countries are somehow dependent on the largesse or economic “support” of the imperialist countries, when in fact the situation is just the other way around, and the imperialist countries are to a considerable degree actually dependent upon the exploitation of economically less developed countries! Furthermore, in some respects, even various second-tier imperialist countries are “dependent” on the top-dog imperialists (the U.S.). Thus Germany and Japan, which are certainly imperialist countries, are currently dependent on U.S. military domination of the world for their ability to join in with the U.S. in its economic exploitation of many other countries. Similarly, the terms “dominated” or “subordinate” countries are not entirely satisfactory in all contexts since the top-dog U.S. imperialists also dominate and subordinate other imperialist countries, at least to a degree.
        See also:
DEPENDENCY THEORY,   “THIRD WORLD”

DEPRESSION   (Economics)
Up until the
Great Depression of the 1930s, the term ‘depression’ just meant the low phase of any industrial cycle. (Marx called the four phases of such a cycle the boom, crisis, depression, and recovery stages.) However, the Great Depression of the 1930s was so severe that bourgeois economists have not wanted to use the term ‘depression’ for the milder economic crises that have occurred since then. Instead, they came up with the word ‘recession’. The term ‘depression’ is now mostly avoided by bourgeois commentators, but when pressed they define it in rather crude and unscientific terms as “something comparable to the Great Depression”, that is, an economic crisis which lasts for at least several years, in which the unemployment rate approaches 25% at its peak (as it did in the U.S. in 1933), and so forth. Sometimes their definitions are even more arbitrary and vague, such as: “A recession is a widespread decline in GDP, employment, and trade lasting from six months to a year; a depression is a sustained, multi-year contraction in economic activity.”
        In a more scientific approach, from a Marxist standpoint, a depression is simply a capitalist overproduction crisis in which all the major contradictions come to a head, while a recession is a “short-circuited” economic crisis, in which the government is able to intervene and stop the collapse, with only some of the more surface contradictions actually coming to a head. For more on this see: “Chapter 5: The Industrial Cycle has Split In Two!” of my work in progress An Introductory Explanation of Capitalist Economic Cycles at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/crises/Crises05.htm, and my letter “Is it a ‘Depression’?”, at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/CurrentCrisis/IsItADepression.htm (Feb. 2009) in which I predict that within a relatively short period the current economic crisis will develop into the Second Great Depression. —S.H.
        See also: LONG DEPRESSION (1873-1896)

DERIVATIVE   (Capitalist Finance)
A tradable financial security whose current exchange price derives from the actual or expected price of some underlying real asset such as a commodity, ownership shares of a company, other securities (such as mortgages or corporate bonds), or a currency (such as the dollar). Examples of derivatives are: futures contracts for shares of stocks, currency exchange futures, futures on stock market indexes,
options, swaps, warrants, and CDOs.
        In general, derivatives are ways of gambling over the future price of some real asset. For example, a speculator entering into a contract to buy 100 shares of stock in a company six months from now at $50/each, is betting that in six months the going price will be above $50/share, so that he will then be able to buy the stock at the $50 price and immediately sell it at the higher price, thus making a profit. (Of course if the price of the stock goes down in that six month period he will end up taking a loss.)
        Bourgeois economic theory says that it is reasonable and justified to allow this sort of gambling on the grounds that a judicious use of derivatives can serve as a form of insurance to safeguard those who currently own, or who in the future will need to buy commodities and other real assets, from unexpected price fluctuations and so forth. However, the flaw in this argument is that while this sort of thing can indeed decrease the dangers of market risk for that company, it is only possible because of the increased risks transmitted to the other speculators. Moreover, since the stock market, at least, is itself in effect a giant Ponzi scheme, allowing derivatives based on stock prices is a means which serves to amplify this Ponzi aspect. For reasons like this, derivatives serve to hugely increase the speculative and precarious nature of modern financial capitalism. There are, however, enormous profits to be made in the meanwhile, so derivatives will never be eliminated or even be completely brought under control. They will exist as long as capitalism does.
        According to the New York Times, as of July 15, 2009, the “derivatives market now represents transactions with a face value of $600 trillion”. It is not clear, however, that even this colossal sum includes all the securities which should properly be counted as derivatives!

“The rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a ‘mega-catastrophic risk.’ ...[F]or the economy, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system.” —Warren Buffett, billionaire capitalist investor, in the 2002 Annual Report of his company Berkshire Hathaway.

DERIVATIVE   (Mathematics: Calculus)
        1. A function derived from an original function, which in turn generates at each defined point a value which is the limiting value of the rate of change of the original function with respect to a variable. There are fairly simple rules in the calculus for generating many derivative functions from the original functions.
        2. The actual value of that limit at one specific point. This value is the slope of the original function at that point and is also defined as the instantaneous rate of change (or instantaneous velocity in the case of something moving) at that point.
        For example, in the function y = x3 the derivative function dy/dx or y' = 3x2. Thus at the point where x = 2, the slope or instantaneous rate of change of the original function is 3 × 2 × 2 = 12 units.
        See also: INSTANTANEOUS VELOCITY

DERRIDA, Jacques   (Pronounced in English: der-ree-DAH)   (1930-2004)
A French bourgeois philosopher of the
postmodern school, and founder of the deconstructionist movement within it. Those into contemporary bourgeois Continental philosophy sometimes claim that Derrida was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. But none of them have been able to state (in intelligible words) just what his supposed “great contributions” were.
        One of the most characteristic traits of intellectual phonies like Derrida is that they try to hide their triviality or vacuity by being purposefully obscure. Michel Foucault, whose lectures Derrida once attended, (and who himself had little of value to contribute to philosophy) described Derrida’s method as “terrorist obscurantism” and explained it this way:

“He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” —Michel Foucault, comment to John Searle, “Reality Principles: An Interview with John R. Searle”, Reason magazine, February 2000, online at: http://www.reason.com/news/show/27599.html.

Many others have similarly criticized Derrida and modern French bourgeois philosophy in general for such obscurantism. Noam Chomsky, for example, said that Derrida used “pretentious rhetoric” to obscure the simplicity of his ideas and that doing so was characteristic of a broad group of people within the Parisian intellectual community.
        Some academic “leftists” consider Derrida to have been a man of the left. It is true that he was strongly criticized by various conservative bourgeois philosophers (like Searle and Quine), but Derrida himself was merely a liberal bourgeois intellectual. He opposed the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, and he initially supported the student uprising in France in 1968 (but then backed away). But he was not a revolutionary and certainly not a Marxist. The infatuation in “left” academia for phonies like Derrida only serves to discredit them!

DESCARTES, René   (1596-1650)
Usually considered to be the first “modern” philosopher, because he broke with the sterile dogmatism of the
Scholastics, and introduced the “method of doubt”. Although he himself was a dualist, he played a major role in helping to inspire a materialist trend of thought.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel on Descartes.

“...Descartes’s monumental decision [was] that the body and the immortal soul should be considered separately. This allowed the bodies of both humans and beasts to be examined in wholly physical terms for the first time. Descartes saw the human body as a machine, much like a child’s mechanical toy. It was from this perspective that he proposed that all living things, their soulful nature excepted, are made of ordinary matter. In his view, living bodies were the same as inanimate objects except in the details of their incarnations. As a consequence, they obeyed the same laws.” —Stephen Rothman, a prominent (non-Marxist) American biologist, Lessons From the Living Cell (2002), pp. 22-23.

DESI
[From Sanskrit ‘desh’ (“country”); in Hindi and other modern South Asian languages, “a person from South Asia”:]
        A term for a person or culture of the countries of South Asia, including especially India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Most frequently today, and especially in countries outside that region, Desis refers to those people in the diaspora, i.e., those from South Asia now living in other countries around the world. There are large numbers of Desis in the U.S., Britain, Canada, South Africa, and many other countries in Asia and the Middle East.

DE-SKILLED JOBS
Jobs which because of the further division of labor and/or the use of sophisticated machinery require fewer skills on the part of the workers. The introduction of most machinery has the effect of de-skilling the jobs of the workers involved. Moreover, the de-skilling of jobs in this way is generally also a stepping stone toward the complete elimination of those jobs (since it is far easier to automate unskilled labor—something that was recognized even by Adam Smith in Chapter 1 of his book The Wealth of Nations (1776)).
        Modern apologists for capitalism often argue the opposite; that the introduction of machinery, while eliminating much tedious work, opens up the need for new workers with much greater skills to make and operate the machinery. For a very small number of new jobs (in the designing of new machinery for example) this may be true. But for the most part the new jobs opened up are even more tedious and de-skilled than ever. And that is while they continue to exist at all. Just ask any assembly line worker if they think new machinery is making their job more interesting!

“The Economist notes that new technologies also make it possible for firms to ‘reshape’ those jobs that remain, so that they can ‘be done by less skilled contract workers.’ ‘In case after case,’ [Nicholas] Carr writes, ‘we’ve seen as machines become more sophisticated, the work left to people becomes less so.’ This was anticipated first by Harvard Business School professor James R. Bright in his 1958 book Automation and Management. ‘It seems that the more automatic the machine, the less the operator has to do,’ Bright wrote. ‘The progressive effect of automation is first to relieve the operator of manual effort and then to relieve him of the need to apply continuous mental effort.’ [Elsewhere he wrote:] ‘The lesson should be increasingly clear; it is not necessarily true that highly complex equipment requires skilled operators. The ‘skill’ can be built into the machine.’” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), pp. 95-96.
         [The authors go on to point out that if more automation means fewer skill requirements for workers, then the widespread notion that the solution to the problem of automation is “more education” is completely on the wrong track. —Ed.]

DESPAIR
        See also:
“HOPELESS SITUATION”

“Despair is typical of the classes which are perishing, but the class of wage-workers is growing inevitably, developing and becoming strong in every capitalist society, Russia included. Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle.” —Lenin, “L. N. Tolstoy and the Modern Labor Movement” (Nov. 28, 1910), LCW 16:332.

DETERMINISM
The materialist view that all phenomena have definite natural causes. Often confused with
fatalism. The opposite of determinism is indeterminism.
        See also: FREE WILL,   COMPATIBILISM

“The point is that this is one of the favorite hobby-horses of the subjective philosopher—the idea of the conflict between determinism and morality, between historical necessity and the significance of the individual. He [the Narodnik Mikhailovsky] has filled reams of paper on the subject and has uttered an infinite amount of sentimental, philistine nonsense in order to settle this conflict in favor of morality and the role of the individual. Actually, there is no conflict here at all: it has been invented by Mr. Mikhailovsky, who feared (not without reason) that determinism would cut the ground from under the philistine morality he loves so dearly. The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys man’s reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real question that arises in appraising the social activity of an individual is: what conditions ensure the success of his actions, what guarantee is there that these actions will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter of contrary acts?” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894), LCW 1:159. [Note that Lenin is criticizing “free will” only in the sense of anti-determinism, and not in the sense of humans being able to make choices. —S.H.]

“Far from assuming fatalism, determinism in fact provides a basis for reasonable action.” —Lenin, “The Economic Content of Narodism” (1894), LCW 1:420.

DEUTSCH-FRANZÖSISHE JARHBÜCHER [Franco-German Annals]

“A magazine published in German in Paris and edited by Karl Marx and Arnold Ruge. The only issue to appear was a double number published in February 1844. It included Marx’s articles ‘A Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Law (Introduction)’ and ‘On the Jewish Question,’ and also Engels’ articles ‘Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy’ and ‘The Position of England. Thomas Carlyle. “Past and Present”.’ These works mark the final transition of Marx and Engels to materialism and communism. Publication of the magazine was discontinued chiefly as a result of the basic differences between Marx’s views and the bourgeois-radical views of Ruge.” —Note 5, LCW 38:564.

“DEVELOPING COUNTRIES” (or “DEVELOPING ECONOMIES”)
Bourgeois euphemisms for the poor countries of the world, which are largely kept poor because of the predations of the rich imperialist countries.
        See also:
“EMERGING ECONOMIES”

DEVELOPMENT   [Philosophical Concept]
[Intro to be added...]

“Many people confuse dialectics with the doctrine of development; dialectics is, in fact, such a doctrine. However, it differs substantially from the vulgar ‘theory of evolution’, which is based completely on the principle that neither Nature nor history proceeds in leaps and that all changes in the world take place by degrees. Hegel had already shown that, understood in such a way, the doctrine of development was unsound and ridiculous.” —G. V. Plekhanov, “Fundamental Problems of Marxism” (1907), Int’l Publishers ed. (1971), p. 45; SPW 3:139.

“The identity [or unity] of opposites is the recognition (discovery) of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and process of nature (including mind and society). The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their ‘self-movement,’ in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the ‘struggle’ of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:359-360.

“With the ‘principle of development’ in the twentieth century (indeed, at the end of the nineteenth century also) ‘all are agreed.’ Yes, but this superficial, not thought out, accidental, philistine ‘agreement’ is an agreement of such a kind as stifles and vulgarizes the truth. — If everything develops, then everything passes from one into another, for development as is well known is not a simple, universal and eternal growth, enlargement (respective diminution), etc. — If that is so, then, in the first place, evolution has to be understood more exactly, as the arising and passing away of everything, as mutual transitions. — And, in the second place, if everything develops, does not that apply also to the most general concepts and categories of thought? If not, it means that thinking is not connected with being. If it does, it means that there is a dialectics of concepts and a dialectics of cognition which has objective significance.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:255-6.

DEVELOPMENT OF MARXISM-LENINISM-MAOISM
See:
“RUPTURES” IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARXISM

DEWEY, John   (1859-1952)
American idealist philosopher, one of the main proponents of
pragmatism, his version of which he prefered to call instrumentalism.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel on Dewey.




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