Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Do - Dq   —


“DOCTRINAIRES”

“Members of a bourgeois political grouping in France during the period of the Restoration (1815-30). As constitutional monarchists and rabid enemies of the democratic and revolutionary movement, they aimed to create in France a bloc of the bourgeoisie and landed aristocracy after the English fashion. The most celebrated of the Doctrinaires were Guizot, a historian, and Royer-Collard, a philosopher. Their views constituted a reaction in the field of philosophy against the French materialism of the 18th century and the democratic ideas of the French bourgeois revolution.” —Note 11, LCW 38:565.

DOCTRINE
The body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief. Note that the word ‘doctrine’ is not in itself pejorative in most contexts; all systems of knowledge or belief have doctrines, including Marxism. (Compare this with the word ‘doctrinaire’ which means dogmatic, and is definitely pejorative!)

“Our doctrine—said Engels, referring to himself and his famous friend—is not a dogma, but a guide to action. This classical statement stresses with remarkable force and expressiveness that aspect of Marxism which is very often lost sight of. And by losing sight of it, we turn Marxism into something one-sided, distorted and lifeless; we deprive it of its life blood; we undermine its basic theoretical foundations—dialectics, the doctrine of historical development, all-embracing and full of contradictions; we undermine its connection with the definite practical tasks of the epoch, which may change with every new turn of history.” —Lenin, “Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism” (Dec. 23, 1910), LCW 17:39.

“DOCTRINE OF THE TWO BOOKS”
The view, originating with
Galileo, that there are “two books” which should guide our thinking—the book of Scripture (the Bible) and the book of Nature (the study of the natural world).
        Christina of Lorraine, the mother of the Grand Duke of Tuscany who ruled that realm, had expressed her worries that Galileo’s views (such as that the Earth and the planets went around the Sun) conflicted with the revealed word of God. Galileo responded to her by letter in 1615, and argued that the book of nature and the book of Scripture can never truly disagree since they both come from the same source—God Himself. Therefore, if there is an apparent conflict between the two it can only be because we do not properly understand the one book or the other. Galileo went on to agree that where there is no scientific proof to the contrary we should accept the authority of the Scriptures, understood in their most simple and direct way. However, if we do possess scientific proof of something which the Bible seems to disagree with, we must reinterpret the Bible. Otherwise the Church would end up discrediting itself by contradicting manifest truth.
        This sort of argument was necessary in the face of the theocratic rule that dominated Europe at the time, and which had already burned people at the stake for disagreeing with it about whether the Bible expresses the full and complete truth about the world (such as Giordano Bruno in the year 1600). But Galileo was being disingenuous here by presenting science as the final authority when science and religion disagree. And, indeed, that point of view ultimately leads to the total rejection of the Bible and religion, since even the most central dogma of religion—that God, a spiritual entity without material form, exists—itself conflicts with more modern science (specifically cognitive psychology). If you argue that science trumps religion, as indeed it does, then you must end up dumping religion entirely.
        While Galileo was forced to argue in this way about the supposed validity of the two books, a similar point of view has been argued in more recent times without even the expedient necessity that Galileo faced. Stephen Jay Gould, for example, disgraced himself by arguing that there are two independent “magisteria”, as he called them, the scientific and the religious, which supposedly have no “right” to poach on each other’s territory. A ridiculous assertion in this day and age, and a disgusting concession to ancient superstition!
        See also: RELIGION—Versus Science

DOGMATISM
The blind, totally uncritical acceptance and promotion of a doctrine or set of principles without any consideration of new evidence or changed circumstances and actual conditions. It is the approach of those who refuse to think about what they are saying and doing, let alone to really try to improve upon it, and who are instead determined to merely slavishly follow some previously estabished system of dogma as they understand it, come what may. Dogmatism is very common in religion, especially of the
fundamentalist varieties. When it appears within politics, and even within Marxism, it is religious approach to politics, and is totally out of keeping with the scientific method of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao, and the other creators of our revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
        It is true, however, that the experience of the world proletarian revolutionary movement has amply demonstrated, over and over, that the even bigger danger than dogmatism is revisionism—the totally invalid revision of revolutionary Marxism in the direction of pro-capitalism and bourgeois ideology. Thus the scientific approach to revolutionary Marxism is the rather narrow path between these two kinds of serious errors. If we keep the revolutionary interests of the working class and masses firmly in mind at all times we should be able to stay on this path, and to soon correct any errors we ourselves might make along the way.

[Lin T’ung was a representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry who travelled with William Hinton in China in 1971.]
        “Lin T’ung combined reverence for rank, especially her own, with political rigidity. Her appetite for dogmatism rivaled her appetite for fish, and the opinions she held at any given moment tended to be absolute. The fact that they might be in direct contradiction to opinions held earlier or to other opinions held simultaneously did not seem to bother her. What mattered was her interpretation of the Party line at the moment and she held to it tenaciously, as if the slightest adjustment, the slightest doubt, had the capacity to throw her whole world outlook into question. I suspected that her outward certainty concealed an inner uncertainty. The less secure she felt about a position the more dogmatically she asserted it. Others said of Lin T’ung, ‘She is so afraid to be wrong that she is wrong!’ But that, of course, she would not admit, even to herself.” —William Hinton, Shenfan: The Continuing Revolution in a Chinese Village (1984), p. 47.

“In this way, however, the whole dogmatic content of the Hegelian system is declared to be absolute truth, in contradiction to his dialectical method, which dissolves all dogmatism.” —Engels, criticizing Hegel for his dogmatism and inconsistency, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Chapter 1, online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/ludwig-feuerbach/ch01.htm
         [We draw attention here to the marvelous insight by Engels—that a true appreciation for dialectics, and its conscious and continuous employment—is the best way to overcome tendencies toward dogmatism! —Ed.]

DOING GOOD
“It is not hard for one to do a bit of good. What is hard is to do good all one’s life and never do anything bad.” —Mao Zedong, quoted in Peking Review, Vol. 10, #2, Jan. 6, 1967, p. 8.

DONG Zhongshu   [Old style: TUNG Chung-shu]   (179-104 BCE)
Ancient Chinese philosopher of the Han Dynasty, who was a Taoist and well-known exponent of Confucianism.
        See also:
TAOISM [Mao quote]

DOOMSDAY MACHINE
A weapon so horrendously powerful that its use would bring about not only the death of all the enemies it is directed at, but of virtually every human being on Earth, including those within the country that set off the weapon. Why would anyone be so stupid as to create a “Doomsday Machine”, you ask, and to threaten to use it? A very good question, which gets into the inhuman psychology of imperialist powers! But during the
Cold War between U.S. imperialism and Soviet state-capitalist “Social-Imperialism”, both sides actually did create such a weapon and on several occasions came shockingly close to using it.
        This actually-existing Doomsday Machine consisted of the aggragate total of thousands of hydrogen bombs which both Superpowers possessed and were quite ready to use. And—worse yet—both the United States and Russia (the successor imperialist power to the state-capitalist Soviet Union) still possess these doomsday machines—and still threaten to use them “if necessary”. This real continuing possibility remains by far the most serious threat to the continued existence of human beings. It is astounding how few people today really understand the seriousness of this existential threat to humanity on the part of world imperialism.

“At the conclusion of his famous satirical film of 1964, Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick introduced the concept of a ‘Doomsday Machine’—designed to deter nuclear attack on the Soviet Union by destroying all human life as an automatized response to such an attack. His Russian leader had fatefully installed the system before he had revealed it to the world, and it was now subject to being triggered by a single nuclear explosion from an American B-52 sent off by a rogue commander without presidential authorization.
        “Kubrick had borrowed the name and the very concept of such a hypothetical machine from my former colleague Herman Kahn, a RAND physicist with whom he had discussed it. In his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War and in popular articles in 1961, Kahn had said he was sure he could design such a device. It could be produced within ten years and would be relatively cheap, one of its main attractions as a deterrent system. It would cost closer to ten than to a hundred billion dollars, he guessed—only a fraction of the current budget for strategic weapons—since it could be emplaced in one’s own country or in the ocean. It would not depend on sending warheads halfway around the world by expensive planes and missiles that would have to penetrate enemy defenses.
        “But, he said, it was obviously undesirable. It would be too uncontrollable—too inflexible and automatic—and it might fail to deter, and its failure ‘kills too many people’: in fact, everyone, a result that the philosopher John Somerville later termed ‘omnicide.’ Kahn was sure in 1961 that no such system had been built, nor would it be, by either the United States or the Soviet Union.
        “The physicist Edward Teller, known as the ‘father of the H-bomb,’ went further to deny that omnicide—a concept he derided—was remotely feasible. In answer to a question I posed to him as late as 1982, he said emphatically it was ‘impossible’ to kill by any imaginable use of thermonuclear weapons that he had co-invented ‘more than a quarter of the earth’s population.’
        “At the time, I thought of this assurance, ironically, as his perception of ‘the glass being three-quarters full.’ (Teller was, along with Kahn, Henry Kissinger, and the former Nazi missile designer Wernher von Braun, one of Kubrick’s inspirations for the character of Dr. Strangelove.) And Teller’s estimate was closely in line with what the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military] actually planned to do in 1961, though a better estimate (allowing for the direct effects of fire, withich JSC calculations have always omitted) would have been closer to one-third to one-half of total omnicide.
        “But the JCS were mistaken in 1961, and so was Herman Kahn in 1960, and so was Teller in 1982. Nobody’s perfect. Just one year after Teller had made this negative assertion (at a hearing of the California state legislature which we both addressed, on the Bilateral Nuclear Weapons Freeze Initiative), the first papers appeared on the nuclear-winter effects of smoke injected into the stratosphere by firestorms generated by a thousand or more of the fifty thousand existing H-bombs used on cities. Contrary to Kahn and Teller, an American Doomsday Machine already existed in 1961—and had for years—in the form of pre-targeted bombers on alert in the Strategic Air Command (SAC), soon to be joined by Polaris submarine-launched missiles. Although this machine wasn’t likely to kill outright or starve to death literally every last human, its effects, once triggered, would come close enough to that to deserve the name Doomsday.”
         —Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (2017), pp. 18-19.

DOUBT
[Intro to be added...]
        See also:
UNCERTAINTY,   SKEPTICISM

“Doubting is correct; doubting everything is not.” —Mao, note in the margin of his copy of the book by Marxist philosopher Ai Siqi, Philosophy and Life. [Nick Knight, ed., Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism (1990), p. 237.]

DOUGLASS, Frederick   (1818-1895)
[Born: Frederick Bailey; changed his name to Frederick Douglass in 1838 after escaping from slavery, and in order to avoid being recaptured.] A great American fighter against slavery and the oppression of African-Americans, who was also very progressive in his early and determined support for women’s equality. He also worked for full equality for all other people, including Native Americans and recent immigrants to the U.S. Through his powerful speeches and writings, including in his own newspapers such as the Northern Star, Douglass did as much as any one person to end slavery in the United States.
        Although Douglass described himself as being in favor of “reform” rather than revolution, his ideas about what it would take to win the abolition of slavery and the other major reforms he championed recognized full well the probable necessity of the use of violence. He was associated with John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and had to temporarily flee to Canada and then Great Britain. During the Civil War he, along with other Abolitionists, put great pressure on President Lincoln to formally turn the war into a war for the end of slavery—which Lincoln eventually did with his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Douglass also recruited Black troops for the Union army and strongly encouraged Lincoln to make better use of Black soldiers during the war.
        After the Civil War Douglass continued his work in support of civil rights for African-Americans. He was also appointed to several government positions including de facto ambassador to Haiti in 1887. But he later resigned that post after a clash with the Benjamin Harrison administration over its attempt to annex a Haitian port to serve as a U.S. naval base. This was an early example of the resistence within American society to the signs of the development of modern U.S. capitalist-imperialism.
        See also the
extensive article about Frederick Douglass in the Wikipedia and: UNITED FRONT [Douglass quote]

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. [...] Men might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”
         —Frederick Douglass, in a magnificent and profound statement, frequently quoted in shorter extracts, from his speech, “Address on West India Emancipation”, delivered at Canandaigua, New York, on Aug. 3 (or perhaps Aug. 4), 1857; included in Philip S. Foner, ed., The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (1950), vol. 2, p. 437.

DOXING
Maliciously publicly exposing a person’s private information, such as their name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and so forth, so that they can be harassed, attacked or victimized by others. It is a sign of the times (and the contemporary trend toward more fascist actions and laws) that racists, reactionaries, other jerks, and even government agents, are now doing more of this sort of thing against minorities and the Left in particular.
        See also:
COINTELPRO,   “SWATTING”




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