EAGLETON, Terry (1943- )
Well-known academic “Marxist” literary critic and professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster. The author of over 40 books, none of which seem to have any true relevance to promoting social revolution. Eagleton was raised as a Roman Catholic and still apparently views himself as both a Christian and a “Marxist”. Obviously whatever Marxism means to him, it is an anti-materialist perversion of the real thing.
EAST IS RED, The
[In Chinese: Dong Fang Hong] One of the best known revolutionary songs in China during the Maoist period. It was written in 1942 in praise of Mao and the Communist Party of China by Li Yu-yuan, a folk singer from northern Shensi province, who himself had once been a hired farmhand of the landlords. After Liberation in 1949, the song was popularized throughout China, and may be viewed as part of the personality cult that was constructed around Mao. The musical score and lyrics in Chinese and English was printed in Peking Review in issue #41, Oct. 6, 1967, and is available online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1967/PR1967-41-EastIsRed.pdf [PDF: 119 KB]
The East Is Red [Literal translation of the lyrics.]
The east is red, the sun rises.
China has brought forth a Mao Tse-tung.
He works for the people’s happiness,
(hu er hai yao!)
He is the people’s great savior.
Chairman Mao loves the people,
He is our guide.
He leads us onward,
(hu er hai yao!)
To build the new China.
The Communist Party is like the sun,
Wherever it shines, there is light.
Where there’s the Communist Party,
(hu er hai yao!)
There the people will win liberation.
ECCARIUS, Johann Georg [John George] (1818-1889)
A prominent figure in the German and international working-class movement, and tailor by trade. He was a member of the League of the Just, and later the Communist League, and a founder of the German Workers’ Educational Society in London. He participated in the inaugural meeting of the (First) International (1864-72), was the Council’s General Secretary (1867-71), Corresponding Secretary for America (1870-72), a delegate to all the International’s congresses and conferences, and a close associate of Marx. Unfortunately, late in life he spoiled this fine history by joining up with the reformist leaders of the British trade unions. [Info from MECW 20:523-4.]
Executive Committee of the Communist International. This was the central governing committee of the Communist International, or Comintern.
A confused blending of diverse, inherently conflicting ideas, opposed political views, incompatible philosophical conceptions, incoherent combinations of theoretical premises, and the like.
In philosophy this often takes the form of attempts to combine materialism with philosophical idealism, as with the frequent attempts of bourgeois-influenced semi-Marxists to incorporate Kantian epistemological agnosticism or positivistic empiricism into their theories. (Lenin had to strongly combat this tendency among some of the Bolsheviks in his 1908 book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.) In ethics, too, there have been frequent attempts to shoehorn Kantian absolutism (such as the notion of the categorical imperative) into the fundamental Marxian ethical theory based on collective interests of social classes.
In political economy one of the most common forms of eclecticism is the attempted merger of Keynesian theory with Marxism, as for example with the Monthly Review School.
And of course in politics itself there have been endless attempts by revisionists to combine bourgeois political theory in its many forms with Marxism, leading to things like the notion that revolution can be achieved “through the ballot box”; that socialism just means nationalization; that the dictatorship of the proletariat is no longer necessary under socialism; and on and on.
Eclecticism in its many forms within Marxism is a reflection of the fact that bourgeois ideas dominate our current society, and are even still part of the thinking of people as they turn toward revolution. As Lenin remarked, a person cannot live in a society and at the same time be totally free of it! An important way to combat eclecticism in our own thinking is to work to explore Marxist theory more deeply, to engage in serious and careful investigations of past theoretical struggles within Marxism, and to really focus on what the central dialectical contradictions are in any particular sphere of revolutionary Marxist theory. Combatting eclecticism and non-Marxist ideas within Marxism does not mean that Marxist theory can never be changed; but it does mean that we owe it to our revolutionary predecessors to only change the theory when there are very good and very well considered reasons for doing so. We must strive to maintain revolutionary Marxism (or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) as the coherent overall social theory it has become through long and hard struggle.
A current within the world socialist movement that seeks to align ecological concerns about environmental destruction and resource depletion with socialism in order to build an ecologically sustainable society that is also equitable and provides for the material needs and wants of the masses. Eco-socialism has often emphasized the need to eliminate economic growth and to instead redistribute society’s existing resources and technologies so that they meet the needs of the masses rather than the needs of capitalist profit. While this may be a feasible route for any revolution that occurs in the First World, a revolution that occurs in the Third World will certainly need a period of economic growth to secure the conditions for building socialism. Indeed, it may even be necessary for a while to enter into a New Democratic phase in which certain segments of the national bourgeoisie are allowed to engage in capitalism (though under the strict direction and limitations set down by the dictatorship of the proletariat). However, there is no reason why such growth cannot be done in a way that minimizes waste and pollution, and that at the same time the state and the masses are devising and already starting to implement new technologies, industrial and consumption practises, and educational campaigns that make environmental protection and the eventual elimination of material growth a serious goal. Certainly, with the environmental crisis today being perhaps the primary contradiction in the world, any socialism that emerges must necessarily and urgently address this crisis. Also related to this, the environmental hardships inflicted on oppressed nations as a result of capitalist accumulation in the First World provide an opportunity for socialists to crystallize in the minds of the world’s proletariat and peasantry that capitalism is leading humanity to catastrophe unless drastic action by the working class and its allies is taken.
Eco-socialism has been championed and elaborated on by such writers as John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, who have written extensively about the unsustainability of capitalism as a result of its basic imperative to accumulate. Such analyses place the environmental crisis in its proper context, instead of focusing upon the particular practices of certain enterprises or groups (which is the tact often chosen by commentators who see the problem not as being capitalism per se but as a particular variant of it, namely ‘consumerism’, which they think they can ameliorate with moralistic and individualistic pleas and appeals).
Eco-socialism has expressed one of its forms in the policies of President Evo Morales in Bolivia, where the government has sought to adopt programs that benefit the environment and that respect the interests and culture of its indigenous peoples, many of whom live a life much more in tune with direct reliance upon and respect for the environment. However, even in Bolivia, the difficulties of operating in an environment dominated by imperialist capital have become apparent, with the government being compelled to make many key concessions to imperialist capital (particularly with respect to mining operations that seek to extract the country’s vast lithium resources, ironically in order, among other things, to allow multinational corporations to build electric cars) and breaking several promises to its indigenous support base. This shows the limitations of a program that is not through-and-through revolutionary but is instead really reformist and remains tethered to and dependent upon the world capitalist market for its development (as well as, domestically, remaining within the realm of bourgeois parliamentary democracy). So long as capitalism remains the predominant economic system in the world, there can be no authentic solution to the environmental destruction that it wreaks. —L.C.
The application of statistical methods to the study of economic data and problems. Thus econometrics is more within the empirical tradition of classical political economy than is most of modern bourgeois economics.
See: CRISES—ECONOMIC, CRISIS THEORIES, DEPRESSIONS, FINANCIAL CRISES, GREAT DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s, OVERPRODUCTION CRISES, PANICS, RECESSIONS
Any of a number of different cycles in a capitalist economy which either actually exist, or which are postulated by one or another economist to exist.
One that certainly exists is the standard industrial cycle that Marx talked so much about, with a period of 5 to 10 years. Marx explained how these cycles occur in terms of the overproduction of capital which builds up and must in one way or another be destroyed in order to clear the ground for the next cycle. At the time when (according to Marx) these cycles first appeared, i.e., in the early 19th century, they lasted on average about 5 years. During the last part of the 19th century they seemed to have changed to closer to a 10-year period, according to Engels. Over the past 110 years in the U.S., however, there have been about 25 such cycles (though some have been quite mild), which implies a period of a little less than 5 years again. Some bourgeois economists, not wanting to give any credit to Marx, call this the “Juglar Cycle”, after the French physician and statistican, Clément Juglar, who superficially discussed them in 1860 (long after Marx first talked about them!).
A quite questionable cycle (or “wave”) is Kondratiev’s Long Wave, which the semi-Marxist Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev could not plausibly explain, but which he identified empirically from historical economic records from the 19th century. He variously said this cycle had a period of 45, 50 or 60 years. There were indeed long-term ups and downs in the European economies during the 19th century, but it is doubtful if this was due to some actual economic cycle at that time. (For more on this point, see: Chapter 4 of my work in progress, An Introductory Explanation of Capitalist Economic Crises. —S.H.) However I have argued that beginning in the imperialist era there is in fact a longer economic cycle which led first to the Great Depression of the 1930s, and now to the beginnings of a new depression. This cycle does not, however, have any definite period to it. (See Chapter 5 of the same work mentioned for more on this point.) See also: split-cycle theory.
In addition to the standard 5-to-10 year cycle, and the possible long-term cycle of non-regular duration, the following economic cycles have also been postulated (on very weak evidence) by bourgeois economists:
The “Kitchin Cycle”, named after Joseph Kitchin. This is supposed to be a cycle with a period a little over 3 years long, based on inventory fluctuations. According to the bourgeois economist Joseph Shumpeter there are exactly 3 “Kitchin” cycles in one “Juglar Cycle”, and exactly 6 “Juglar Cycles” in one “Kondratiev Cycle”! (This is a kind of economic numerology and pseudo-science!)
The “Kuznets Cycle”, postulated by Simon Kuznets, which is supposed to be an intermediate cycle between the standard industrial cycle and Kondratiev waves, and lasting around 20 years. Kuznets thought that demographic changes (due to changing birth rates, immigration, etc.) explained these cycles. Why such demographic changes should be imagined to be so “cyclical” is the big mystery here!
ECONOMIC FORECASTING (Bourgeois)
[Intro to be added...]
See also: ECONOMIC PREDICTIONS
“Virtually nobody foresaw the Great Depression of the 1930s, or the
crisis which affected Japan and southeast Asia in the early and late 1990s. In fact,
each downturn was preceded by a period of non-inflationary growth exuberant enough
to lead many commentators to suggest that a ‘new era’ had arrived.” —Bank for
International Settlements, June 2007, quoted in Kevin Phillips, Bad Money: Reckless
Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008).
[Actually, there were some Marxist economists who predicted the Great Depression of the 1930s (such as Eugen Varga), and there were likewise some Marxist economists or writers (including myself) who predicted the current crisis—and who also predict that it will eventually worsen into a new great depression. But of course bourgeois economists pay no attention whatsoever to what we predict, no matter how right we turn out to be. —S.H.]
“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” —John Kenneth Galbraith, quoted in The Economist: The World in 2010, p. 74. [This is certainly true as far as long-term forecasting by bougeois economists goes! —S.H.]
ECONOMIC INTERESTS (Of the Proletariat)
“The fact that economic interests play a decisive role [in history] does not in the least imply that the economic (i.e., trade-union) struggle is of prime importance; for the most essential, the ‘decisive’ interests of classes can be satisfied only by radical political changes in general. In particular the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat can be satisfied only by a political revolution that will replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie by the dictatorship of the proletariat.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:390-1 (footnote).
See: PLANNING (Economic)
Any science, insofar as it actually is a science!, must be able to make at least some predictions about future events and developments, at least given the presumption of certain specific conditions. We do not demand that all predictions made by economists turn out to be correct. But we do say that events as they develop test the correctness of economic theories, and when explicit or implicit predictions turn out to be incorrect this should lead to modifications, or in some cases, complete rejection of the theories that gave rise to those erroneous predictions.
In the 1840s Marx was already able to predict that periodic economic crises of overproduction were inherent in capitalism and would continue as long as capitalism existed. Bourgeois economists denied this (as many of them still do!), and asserted that the previous panics and “market gluts” were caused by special external factors (such as government missteps) that could be avoided in the future. The bourgeois economists have been proven wrong in their prediction, and Marx’s prediction has been proven correct. Marx made other important economic predictions as well, such as that capitalist economies would become more and more monopolistic—which likewise has been proven quite correct.
Some of Marx’s economic predictions have been somewhat more problematic, such as his prediction of the further immiseration of the proletariat over time. Actually, on a world scale he has been proven correct here too as the many billions of people who are forced to live on less than two or three dollars a day amply demonstrate! However, it is true that within capitalist-imperialist countries the ruling bourgeoisie has been able to raise the wages of many workers because of the huge wealth they have stolen from the rest of the world. Followers of Marx, and Lenin specifically, have somewhat modified or extended Marx by developing the theory of capitalist-imperialism to account for this.
There are also a few very important socio-economic predictions made by Marx that have not yet come true, but very well still might. The most central of these is that capitalism will lead to such crisis and misery that the workers and masses will eventually be forced to rise up and completely overthrow it. If humanity is to have a future, we had best do everthing we can to help make that prediction come true too!
Compare the widespread and general success of Marx’s economic predictions to the almost complete failure of bourgeois economists to make any successful predictions! It is easy to see which is the real science here!
See also: ECONOMIC FORECASTING (Bourgeois), RECESSIONS—Predicting
“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.” —Frédéric Bastiat, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen”, in Selected Essays of Political Economy, translated by Seymour Cain (Foundation for Economic Education, 1995). [Although Bastiat was a bourgeois economist, and a minor one at that, he is right here in suggesting that the real test of the theories of any economist lies in what successful predictions he or she is able to make. —S.H.]
“Central bankers still debate whether it’s possible to recognize asset
bubbles when they occur and whether they can or should be deflated....
“This failure left the world unprepared for the most recent financial crisis [2008-9], and the economics profession has been far too complacent about it. Economists can’t be expected to predict the future. [sic!] But they should be able to identify threatening trends and to better understand the conditions that can turn a change in prices into a financial tsunami.” —“The Enduring Mystery of Financial Markets”, Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 21-27, 2013, p. 14. Emphasis added.
ECONOMIC STATISTICS — Sources
These are links to a number of sources for economic statistics of the United States and other countries:
FED STATS, links to U.S. statistics:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:
— STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES [This important annual volume is being cancelled for budget reasons;
this 2012 edition will be the last one.] http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/
— ECONOMICS & STATISTICAL DIVISION: http://www.esa.doc.gov/about-economic-indicators
— BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS (BEA): http://www.bea.gov/
— U.S.CENSUS BUREAU—Business & Industry Page: http://www.census.gov/econ/
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor:
— Home Page: http://www.bls.gov/
— Economy at a Glance: http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.us.htm
U.S. DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE, Economics Statistics & Market Information System:
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM [U.S.]:
— Statistics & Historical Data: http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/releases/statisticsdata.htm
— FRED Database maintained by the St. Louis branch: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/
— Research Papers of the San Francisco branch: http://www.frbsf.org/economics/
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH (NBER): http://www.nber.org/data/
SHADOW GOVERNMENT STATISTICS (John Williams), exposes, analyzes and corrects flawed U.S. economic statistics: http://www.shadowstats.com/
UNITED NATIONS STATISTICAL DIVISION: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/economic_main.htm
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC STATISTICS (IES) Database, maintained by the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve: http://liber8.stlouisfed.org/iesd/
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND—Data and Statistics: http://www.imf.org/external/data.htm
WORLD BANK—Data: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/
CIA WORLD FACTBOOK: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
— Alphabetized Statistical Index: http://www.oecd.org/document/39/0,3746,en_2649_201185_46462759_1_1_1_1,00.html
— List of OECD Databases: http://www.oecd.org/document/3/0,3746,en_2649_201185_47636163_1_1_1_1,00.html
EUROSTAT—EUROPEAN COMMISSION STATISTICAL WEBSITE: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home
EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK—Statistics: http://www.ecb.int/stats/html/index.en.html
ECONOMIST (magazine) — Markets/Data: http://www.economist.com/markets-data
ECONOMICS NETWORK (U.K.) focusing on Britain: http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/links/data_free
NATIONAL BUREAU OF STATISTICS OF CHINA: http://www.stats.gov.cn/english/
CHINA ECONOMIC STATISTICS from the U.S.-China Business Council: https://www.uschina.org/info/ and https://www.uschina.org/statistics/economy.html
CHINA AGRICULTURAL & ECONOMIC DATA (from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture): http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/China/
INDIASTAT.COM, statistics about India: http://www.indiastat.com/default.aspx
ECONSTATS—U.S. & International: http://www.econstats.com/
INFOPLEASE—Economic Statistics: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0873847.html
ECONOMIC STATISTICS — Distortion of by Capitalist Governments
Bourgeois governments, such as that of the U.S., collect and publish a large diversity of economic statistics. However, it is clearly in their interests to distort these statistics, and it is easily shown that they regularly do so. Statistics that make the government and the ruling class look better, such as a higher GDP growth rate or a higher capacity utilization rate, are routinely exaggerated. And statistics which make the capitalist system and the goverment look bad, such as the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, or a big increase in the consumer price index, are routinely falsified downward, often hugely so.
One method the govenment (and the compliant ruling class media) uses to accomplish this is to have multiple statistical series, and to only publicize in a major way the particular series which makes things look relatively better. Thus the U.S. goverment has six different versions of the unemployment rate. The one that is widely publicized (U-3) does not include all the millions of people who have given up looking for work after many months of trying and finding nothing, nor all the people who are forced to work only part time when they actually want and need to work full time. The U-6 series, which is seldom mentioned in the press, includes many of those people, but still does not count many other unemployed people. [For a good discussion of how the government distorts the unemployment rate, see “The Actual U.S. Unemployment Rate as of Early 2009”, from John Bellamy Foster’s “Editor’s Notes” in Monthly Review, April 2009, at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/MR/ActualUnemploymentEarly2009.htm.]
A similar technique is to talk about a seasonally adjusted set of statistics when that looks better, and to talk about the non-seasonally-adjusted figures when they look better.
Of course the most basic technique of all is just to lie about the real statistics or to consciously distort them. In the case of the consumer price index (CPI), for example, the ruling class has a strong vested interest in shaving the true value. They have been forced to increase Social Security benefits if the cost of living goes up, and some multi-year union contracts also include “escalator” clauses, increasing pay each year to compensate for cost of living rises. So the capitalists minimize the impact of this to their profits by rigging the statistics. (The CPI is determined by the cost of a weighted basket of different commodities that an average person supposedly buys. But this makes it easy to rig the statistics by changing just what commodities are included in the basket, and the precise economic weight given to each.)
See also: CHAINED CPI
[Speaking in reference to a table of indices of industrial output in different years for the U.S., Britain and France:] “Every time the methods for computing indices are changed, the results exceed those obtained before. The inclusion in U.S. indices of the rapidly growing servicing sphere has a particular distorting effect.” —Eugen Varga, Politico-Economic Problems of Capitalism (1968), p. 168.
ECONOMIC STRUGGLE [Struggle Around Economic Issues]
“Social-Democracy [Communism] represents the working class, not in its relation to a given group of employers alone, but in its relation to all classes of modern society and to the state as an organized political force. Hence, it follows that not only must Social-Democrats [Communists] not confine themselves exclusively to the economic struggle, but that they must not allow the organization of economic exposures [of factory conditions, etc.] to become the predominant part of their activities. We must take up actively the political education of the working class and the development of its political consciousness.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:400.
ECONOMIES OF SCALE
Lowering the unit costs of producing products because of the more efficient methods possible in larger scale production. There are many reasons why this is possible; for example, in a larger operation it is often possible to have more division of labor than in smaller scale production. A relatively smaller proportion of capital might be necessary for development costs and research and development. Similarly, a larger capitalist producer might be able to better bargain down the price of raw materials and buy politicians to gain special benefits from the capitalist government.
ECONOMISM [Often capitalized.]
1. An opportunist trend in the Russian Social-Democratic movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century, which focused almost exclusively on promoting the workers’ economic struggle and neglected or even opposed political struggle by the working class against Tsarist absolutism.
2. Similar trends in other countries, such as those which focus almost entirely on trade union and economic struggles and avoid participation in revolutionary political education and struggle.
Ordinary Economism has little or no real interest in revolution, even as an ultimate goal, and seldom (if ever) talks about it. What is sometimes known as “Left” Economism is a trend which does desire social revolution, but which imagines that the path toward eventual revolution lies through focusing entirely (or almost entirely) on current mass economic struggles and other reforms. The idea here is often that the masses are “not yet ready” to be exposed to revolutionary ideas, and that this will have to come “later”. (Always indefinitely far into the future.) Sometimes it is even supposed that the workers and masses will spontaneously develop revolutionary ideas after engaging in prolonged struggles over reforms!
On the other hand, the term “Left” Economism is sometimes misused by “left” sectarians. These are people (such as the RCP in the U.S.) who do talk about revolution, but who refuse to participate with the masses in most of their day-to-day struggles over reforms. The revolutionary Marxist approach, in contrast, is to definitely participate in struggles around reforms, but to do so most of all for the purpose of being better able to bring revolutionary ideas to the masses. Strangely, neither “left” Economists nor “left” sectarians are able to understand this basic political method of Marx and Lenin.
See also: SOCIALIST ECONOMISM
“The Economists [in Russia] limited the tasks of the working class to an
economic struggle for higher wages and better working conditions, etc., asserting that the
political struggle was the business of the liberal bourgeoisie. They denied the leading
role of the party of the working class, considering that the party should merely observe
the spontaneous process of the movement and register events. In their deference to
spontaneity in the working-class movement, the Economists
belittled the significance of revolutionary theory and class-consciousness, asserted that
socialist ideology could emerge from the spontaneous movement, denied the need for a
Marxist party to instil socialist consciousness into the working-class movement, and
thereby cleared the way for bourgeois ideology. The Economists, who opposed the need to
create a centralized working-class party, stood for the sporadic and amateurish character
of individual circles [or collectives]. Economism threatened to divert the working
class from the class revolutionary path and turn it into a political appendage of the
“Lenin’s Iskra played a major part in the struggle against Economism. By his book, What Is To Be Done?, Lenin brought about the final ideological rout of the trend.” —Footnote 76, Lenin: SW 3 (1967).
[To be added...]
See also: HIGHER EDUCATION
Demand for goods and services along with the ability to pay for those goods and services. A destitute starving person may strongly desire food, and may even demand it from passers-by or from the government; but this is not effective demand because the person has no money to actually go out and buy food. This term is especially common in Keynesian economics, but is also used by other economists including sometimes by Marxists.
EFFICIENT MARKET HYPOTHESIS [Bourgeois Economics]
1. The absurd bourgeois theory that capitalist “free markets” are maximally efficient from an economic point of view (i.e., with respect to the appropriate allocation of goods and services) since those who buy and sell are totally rational agents, and since the market incorporates all the relevent information about both supply & demand and relevant risks which goes to determine the appropriate prices.
2. The application of this theory to the stock market and similar sorts of gambling, where it claims that the prices of shares on the stock market are the best available estimates of their real value in light of their real levels of risk. Obviously this theory (at least in its strong form) discounts the possibility of widespread inside information; the possibility that some gamblers may have a better general sense than others of the real general direction of the economy at a given moment; and so forth.
“By the 1970s the Efficient Market Hypothesis had become conventional
wisdom, preached from academic pulpits at the University of Chicago and elsewhere.
“However, not everyone bought into it. A popular joke among economists neatly captures its logical absurdities. An economist and his friend are walking down the street when they come across a hundred-dollar bill lying on the ground. The friend bends down to pick it up, but the economist stops him, saying, ‘Don’t bother—if it were a real hundred-dollar bill, someone would have already picked it up.’” —Nouriel Roubini & Stephen Mihm, Crisis Economics (2010), p. 41.
“I’d be a bum on the street with a tin cup if markets were always efficient.” —Warren Buffett, billionaire stock market investor. Quoted in the Wikipedia entry on the “Efficient Market Hypothesis”.
EGO [In Freudian Theory]
See: FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS
1. The view that an individual’s self-interest is (or should be) the only determiner of one’s actions.
2. The ethical theory that morality is (or should be) based on individual self-interest. Ayn Rand was one of the foremost proponents of this quintessentially bourgeois theory of ethics.
See also: SUEZ CANAL
The “Eight Immortals” (or in a more literal translation, the “Eight Great Eminent Officials”) were the leading Chinese capitalist-roaders, or revisionists, who from 1977 into the 1990s completed the transformation of China from a socialist country back into a capitalist country. (The phrase “Eight Immortals” is actually an allusion to a group of Taoist deities known by that name, and is sometimes viewed as being sarcastic in this context.) These despicable individuals are all now dead, and good riddance to the lot of them! The members of what to us Maoist revolutionaries were a very notorious group of traitors to the proletariat were:
Deng Xiaoping (1904–1997), the ring-leader, or “Paramount Leader”, Politburo Standing Committee member 1977–1987, Political Consultative Conference chairman 1978–1983, Central Military Commission Chairman 1980–1989, and Central Advisory Commission chairman 1982–1987;
Chen Yun (1905–1995), Politburo Standing Committee member 1977–1987, Central Advisory Committee Chairman 1987–1992, Central Discipline Inspection Commission first secretary 1979-1987;
Li Xiannian (1909–1992), Politburo Standing Committee member 1977–1987, President of the PRC 1983–1988, then Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman;
Peng Zhen (1902–1997), National People’s Congress Chairman 1983–1988;
Yang Shangkun (1907–1998), President of the PRC 1988–1993;
Bo Yibo (1908–2007), Central Advisory Committee Vice Chairman;
Wang Zhen (1908–1993), Central Advisory Committee Vice Chairman;
Song Renqiong (1909–2005), CAC Vice Chairman.
It is said that under Deng Xiaoping’s “paramount leadership” all important Chinese government and CPP decisions were made in Deng’s own home by this group of eight leading revisionists.
In today’s capitalist-imperialist regime in China those known as privileged and powerful “Princelings” are primarily descendants of these “Eight Immortals”. In the fashion of any feudal/bourgeois nobility, they are presumed to outrank other individuals within the now bourgeois “Communist” Party of China and have amassed huge family fortunes (as has been reported in detail by news sources such as the New York Times and Bloomberg). The families of the “Eight Immortals” are now the core of the capitalist class dictatorship in China.
See: PARETO’S LAW
EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)
A very important German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist who was probably the most famous scientist of the 20th century. In physics he is usually ranked in importance with Galileo and Newton, and is best known for his creation of the theories of special and general relativity. With his 1905 theory explaining Brownian Motion he finally established the correctness of the theory of atoms and molecules beyond any further rational doubt. He was also one of the early pioneers of quantum mechanics. Einstein strongly resisted the growing trend by bourgeois scientists to interpret quantum mechanics in a philosophical idealist manner, and was perhaps the most materialist in his views of all the major physicists of his era.
Politically Einstein was a socialist and it is said that he was an admirer of Lenin. He did not, however, play an active role in the world revolutionary movement.
EINSTEIN-PODOLSKY-ROSEN THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
A famous thought experiment in physics originated in 1935 in an article in Physical Review by Albert Einstein and two co-authors, entitled “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?”. According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle quantum states of particles (e.g., their precise momentum or position) are supposed to be indeterminate until they are measured. At the same time, it is postulated in quantum mechanics that two particles can be “entangled” so that when one is measured the status of the other in the relevant respect will also be determined. But suppose, the EPR thought experiment proposes, we separate the two entangled particles so that in measuring the property of one there is no time for communication from that particle to its complement to occur even at the speed of light! In that case, the only way to make sense of the situation is to assume that both particles did in fact have determinate complementary states before the measurement, even though we had no way of knowing what those states were before the measurement. In short, the initial premise of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, of indeterminate states until measurement must be wrong.
This conclusion, though pretty straight forward, has caused endless consternation among idealist physicists like Heisenberg, and a huge literature has developed to try to show that the EPR thought experiment does not prove what it appears to prove. However, it seems pretty clear that the “indeterminateness” of particles is not really an aspect of reality itself, but only a limitation on what can be known according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics before measurements are made.
Members of the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany, founded in 1869 at the Eisenach Congress.
“The leaders of the Eisenachers were August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebnecht, who were under the ideological influence of Marx and Engels. The Eisenach programme stated that the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany consdered itself ‘a section of the International Working Men’s Association and shared its aspirations’. Thanks to the regular advice and criticism of Marx and Engels, the Eisenachers pursued a more consistent revolutionary policy than did Lassalle’s General Association of German Workers; in particular, on the question of German reunification, they followed ‘the democratic and proletarian road, struggling against the slightest concession to Prussianism, Bismarckism, and nationalism’ [Lenin, “August Bebel”, LCW 19:298]. Under the influence of the growing working-class movement and of increased government repressions, the two parties united at the Gotha Congress in 1875 to form the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany, of which the Lassalleans formed the opportunist wing.” —Note 140, LCW 5:559.
The mystical concept of “the life force” in idealist philosophy. [More to be added.]
See also: Henri BERGSON, VITALISM
A loose school of ancient Greek idealist philosophical thought which was most likely founded by Parmenides of Elea in the 6th century BCE, and included his followers Zeno of Elea (who was also Parmenides’s lover) and the lesser-known Melissus of Samos. However, Xenophanes of Collophon, who may have influenced Parmenides, is called the founder of the Eleatic School by Plato.
The fundamental doctrine of this school was that (despite all appearances) the world consists of one indivisible and unchanging reality. They even thought that movement was “impossible”! Strangely, Hegel said that the origin of dialectics was with the Eleatics, though he really just had Zeno’s famous paradoxes in mind as he said this. In effect Zeno may have been using some early idealist dialectical thinking to (absurdly) argue against the possibility of movement, change or development in the physical world itself.
“The Eleatic school (end of 6th-5th century B.C.) was named after the town of Elea in Southern Italy. In contradistinction to the natural dialectic teachings of the Miletian [or Ionian] school, and of Heraclitus, regarding the changeable nature of things, the Eleatic school believed in their individisible, immovable, unchangeable, homogeneous, continuous, eternal essence. At the same time, some of the propositions of representatives of the Eleatic school, and particularly the proofs advanced by Zeno concerning the contradictoriness of motion (the so-called paradoxes of Zeno), despite their metaphysical conclusions, played a positive role in the development of ancient dialectics, having raised the problem of expressing in logical concept the contadictory character of the processes of motion.” —Note 77, LCW 38:572-3.
ELECTRICITY and LIGHTING — Availability per Capita
This map is based on satellite photos of the light produced in various regions of the earth adjusted to show how much light (and by implication how much electricity and economic development in general) is produced per capita in different countries and areas. It is thus one indication of the relative wealth and development in some countries and areas compared to the relative poverty and under-development in other areas, and an indication of the overall gross inequality of wealth and modern amenities in the world today. (Of course some large areas like Greenland show up as “highly developed per capita” only because the population is so extremely sparse there.)
“Satellite photos of Earth’s artificial lights at night form a
luminescent landscape. But researcher Chris Elvidge of NOAA and colleagues from the
University of Colorado and the University of Denver realized that they could also
illuminate something much darker: the magnitude of human poverty. By comparing the
amount of light in a particular area and its known population, they realized that they
could infer the percentage of people who are able to afford electricity and the level
of government spending on infrastructure development. This allowed them to extrapolate
levels of human development—a measure of well-being that includes such factors as
income, life expectancy and literacy.
“Their Night Light Development Index (NLDI) uses a composite of cloudless night images taken by Air Force satellites. They found that the NLDI (see map) measured human development with uncanny accuracy. The results closely correlated with conventional indices and in some cases even surpassed them. ‘The NLDI helps us get at the spatial patterns that you can’t see with traditional economic indices,’ Elvidge says. ‘For instance, most nations report their GDP at the country or province level, but the NLDI can reveal subregional patterns, down to the one-kilometer scale.’ The index also provides information on some countries, mostly in Northern Africa and the Middle East, for which reliable economic data are simply unavailable.” —Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian magazine, March 2013, pp. 18-19.
One of the primary components of atoms and matter in general.
“The ‘essence’ of things, or ‘substance’, is also relative; it expresses only the degree of profundity of man’s knowledge of objects; and while yesterday the profundity of this knowledge did not go beyond the atom, and today does not go beyond the electron and ether, dialectical materialism insists on the temporary, relative, approximate character of all these milestones in the knowledge of nature gained by the progressing science of man. The electron is as inexhaustible as the atom, nature is infinite, but it infinitely exists. And it is this sole categorical, this sole unconditional recognition of nature’s existence outside the mind and perception of man that distinguishes dialectical materialism from relativist agnosticism and idealism.” —Lenin, “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism” (1908), LCW 14:262.
The “elite theory”, or “elites theory”, is the bourgeois sociological doctrine that the state, particular governments, and the political world in general, should be analyzed in terms of elites, or the powerful people who run the world versus those who they govern. This theory was consciously developed, and is most often consciously still promoted, in opposition to the Marxist analysis of society in terms of socioeconomic classes, and the actual dominance and rule in class society of one or another of these social classes over all the others. Bourgeois sociologists have not been able to deny that some people in society are in a powerful privileged position which allows them to rule the others. So they are all the more concerned to at least hide the fact that this ruling group of people is the capitalist class and their chosen representatives. Thus these bourgeois ideologists are willing to talk about “ruling elites”, but virtually never the ruling capitalist class.
The theory of “elites” was developed at around the beginning of the 20th century in Italy by Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto. Mosca wrote a book called The Ruling Class in 1896 (English translation 1939) in which he championed this theory. He was careful to define what he meant by “class” in elite power and organizational terms, as opposed to economic terms of the relationship of differing groups of people to the means of production. He did talk about the rulers and the ruled, and recognized that the ruling class was a rather stable privileged group which had both wealth and power, which he attributed primarily to their much better organization. Mosca viewed liberal democracy as basically a sham, which it in fact is. Mosca is therefore both the founding figure and a transitional figure in the development of the theory of “elites” away from Marxism.
Although Mosca developed this basic “elites” theory of how a privileged powerful few rule the many, it was the bourgeois economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto who apparently first used the precise term “elites” in a huge 1916 book on sociology (translated into English in 1935). Pareto switched the explanation for how elites are able to rule from their superior organization to various psychological factors. After World War II, liberal bourgeois sociology and “political science” around the world quickly adopted the concept of “elites” as the basis of their thinking about society. Strangely, they nearly always fail to draw Mosca’s own conclusion that this clearly shows that liberal bourgeois democracy is a fraud! One prominent bourgeois sociologist in the U.S. who promoted the adoption of the theory of “elites” was C. Wright Mills, with his book The Power Elite (1956).
While bourgeois ideologists cannot deny that powerful groups of people run society in their own interests, this admission actually serves the interests of the ruling capitalists in one important way. They argue that this rule by “elites” is inevitable in every society, and that no social revolution will ever be able to institute genuine rule by the people. The message to the working class is, “So why even try?!”
We Marxists should not only cringe when we hear the word “elites” but also clearly recognize that the speaker is looking at society from a bourgeois perspective which rejects any Marxist class analysis. People who talk in terms of “elites” are distorting social reality, and—consciously or not—hiding the actual dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
EMANCIPATION OF LABOR GROUP
“The Emancipation of Labor group was the first Russian Marxist
group. It was founded in Geneva by G.V. Plekhanov in 1883; the group included P.B.
Axelrod, L.G. Deutsch, V.I. Zasulich, and V.N. Ignatov.
“The group did much to spread Marxism in Russia. It translated such Marxist works as the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels; Wage-Labor and Capital by Marx; Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels; it published them abroad and organized their distribution in Russia. Plekhanov and his group dealt a serious blow at Narodism. In 1883 Plekhanov drafted a programme for the Russian Social-Democrats and in 1885 drew up another. The two drafts were published by the Emancipation of Labor group and marked an important step towards the establishment of a Social-Democratic Party in Russia. Plekhanov’s Socialism and the Political Strugle (1883), Our Differences (1885), and The Development of the Monist View of History (1895) played an important role in disseminating Marxist views. The group, however, made some serious mistakes; it clung to remnants of Narodnik views, overestimated the role of the liberal bourgeoisie, while underestimating the revolutionary capacity of the peasantry. These errors were the first projections of the future Menshevik views held by Plekhanov and other members of the group. The group had no practical ties with the working-class movement. Lenin pointed out that the Emancipation of Labor group ‘only laid the theoretical foundations for the Social-Democratic movement and took the first step towards the working-class movement’. [LCW 20:278] At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., in August 1903, the Emancipation of Labor group announced its dissolution.” —Note 102, LCW 5:552-553. [The internal Lenin quote has been corrected to the form it appears as in LCW vol. 20.]
Acquiring the characteristics of the bourgeoisie, and especially large parts of their ideology. Sometimes those classes, strata or individuals which are embourgeoised, or made more bourgeois, also acquire some objective characteristics of the bourgeoisie, such as partial bourgeois relationships towards the means of production. (For example, a relatively well-paid worker might buy some shares of stock or make other investments, even though he or she must still continue to hold down a job.)
A fundamental principle of historical materialism is that the prevailing ideas of any age are ordinarily those of the ruling class. And thus, in bourgeois society, most of the members of other classes are also indoctrinated to one degree or another with aspects of the ideology of the bourgeoisie. In other words, in bourgeois society most of the petty-bourgeoisie and even most of the proletarians are embourgeoised to some degree. However, the term embourgeoisment usually refers to situations beyond this mere superficial indoctrination, and where the members of other classes more deeply internalize bourgeois ideology and habits.
Embourgeoisment of the working class is more common in imperialist countries like the U.S. wherein a labor aristocracy arises which to some limited degree shares in the spoils the imperialists rip off from other countries. The ruling class has sometimes allowed this to happen in order to keep the workers quiet at home while they exploit the rest of the world. Interestingly enough, however, as economic problems and eventually a major economic crisis develops, the ruling class is forced to drive these relatively well off workers down again. The capitalist necessity becomes that of reproletarianizing the partially embourgeoised working class. This has been happening in the U.S. in recent decades, and as of 2009 is now tremendously speeding up as the intensifying crisis develops in the direction of a new great depression.
“EMBRACES BUT CANNOT REPLACE”
A phrase and concept used by Mao in his Talks at the Yenan Forum which describes the relationship between Marxism and other spheres such as art or natural science. This concept was later borrowed by Bob Avakian, and has apparently become one of the main points in Avakian’s claimed “New Synthesis” of communist theory. Here is what Mao wrote:
“To study Marxism means to apply the dialectical materialist and historical materialist viewpoint in our observation of the world, of society and of literature and art; it does not mean writing philosophical lectures into our works of literature and art. Marxism embraces but cannot replace realism in literary and artistic creation, just as it embraces but cannot replace the atomic and electronic theories in physics.” —Mao, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1941), SW 3:94.
Mao seems to mean here that there are many things of value in the world in addition to Marxism,
things such as aesthetic values in art and scientific theories of nature, which Marxism by no
means rejects or replaces. But ‘embraces’ means not just “accepts” or “welcomes”, but also “to
take in or include as a part ... or element of a more inclusive whole” [Merriam Webster’s
Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.]. Thus while Marxism does indeed accept or welcome
aesthetic values and scientific theories of nature, it also seeks to unite them with Marxist
principles into an overall coherent world outlook and expression. In art and literature,
for example, we by no means identify aesthetic merit with the exposition of or agreement
with Marxist ideas and principles; but we do judge works of art based not only on
their aesthetic merit, but also on the basis of whether or not they serve revolutionary
proletarian interests, both morally and politically.
Similarly, in natural science, we do use Marxist principles to help arrive at and evaluate scientific theories. Our philosophy, dialectical materialism, is simply the most abstract conceptions which we have derived from all the sciences, and therefore it is not surprising that it is of considerable value in determining and evaluatating new scientific theories even in other spheres besides social science. Even in the natural sciences there are sometimes put forward theories which purport to be scientific, but which can be almost immediately ruled out based on the principles of dialectical materialism. (Two recent examples are “creationism” and “intelligent design”, which have been promoted by Christian fundamentalists within biology and the educational system.) In other cases, certain aspects of a natural science theory must be revised in light of Marxist philosophy or principles. (For instance, we reject “Social Darwinism” even though this was a very secondary aspect of Darwin’s theory of evolution (and was promoted even more by bourgeois reactionaries after Darwin). Similarly, in evaluating the “Big Bang” theory in cosmology, by no means must we accept the religious dogma usually included in it that the universe and “time itself” were “created” in the Big Bang.) Of course, some dogmatists (e.g., Stalin and Lysenko) have gone too far with this evaluation of theories in natural science and rejected some valid and correct theories (such as basic genetics). We must of course carefully guard against that sort of thing happening again!
In addition to using Marxism to help derive or evaluate theories in natural science, we also insist on using the principles of Marxism (and most fundamentally, the basic interests of the people) as our primary guide in how the discoveries and theories in science are actually made use of in society. For example, the decision of whether or not to build a nuclear power reactor must be made not only on technical grounds, but also in light of the possible severe danger it may have for the people should an accident occur. “While we say that Marxism cannot replace natural science, we do not mean to weaken the guiding role played by Marxism.” [“Repulsing the Right Deviationist Wind in the Scientific and Technological Circles”, Peking Review, v. 19, #18, April 30, 1976, p. 7.]
There are in fact multiple aspects to what it means when we say Marxism embraces but cannot replace the theories of natural science. And while Mao first put it in these precise terms, this entire general approach to the arts and sciences has been a core part of Marxism from the very beginning. It is thus sheer nonsense to imagine that Avakian has added anything new to Marxism by including this principle of “embracing but not replacing” as a central element in his supposed “New Synthesis”!
The development of a new property, based on newly arisen contradictions, of a new entity, thing or process, which was formerly known only by the component parts which went to construct it. [More to be added... ]
“Emerging economies”, “developing economies”—these are the sorts of euphemistic terms used by the bourgeoisie to refer to the poor countries of the world, most of which are neither “developing” nor “emerging”, since they are bled dry under the thumbs of the imperialism countries. Even the bourgeoisie itself sometimes admits these terms are totally phony:
“It makes even less sense to speak of the ‘south’ as shorthand for the planet’s poor countries (what about Australia or Singapore?) or of the ‘West’ as synonymous with industrialization and political freedom—what’s ‘western’ about Japan? ‘Third World’ dates from the Cold War, when the planet had capitalist ‘First’ and communist ‘Second’ compartments. Its most recent replacement, ‘emerging economies’, already seems out of date, as some erstwhile star performers, such as Argentina, submerge. And the term unhelpfully lumps together hardworking manufacturers (Vietnam, say) and service-based economies (Dubai) with those blessed—or perhaps cursed—by natural resources (Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Russia).” —“A menagerie of monikers”, leader (editorial) in The Economist, Jan. 9, 2010, p. 16.
The positivistic ethical theory that moral statements are neither true nor false, but merely express the emotions of the speaker. One exponent of this nonsense was Charles Stevenson.
[To be added...]
See also entry on Lenin’s 1908 book: MATERIALISM AND EMPIRIO-CRITICISM, and PHENOMENALISM
1. The view that the only source of knowledge of the world is the experience of the senses... [More to be added...]
See also: PERSONAL EXPERIENCE (esp. Mao quote)
“Empiricist ideology, which was the collaborator and assistant of dogmatism [within the Communist Party of China] in the period of its domination, is likewise a manifestation of subjectivism and formalism. Empiricism differs from dogmatism in that it starts not from books but from narrow experience. It should be emphasized that all the useful experience gained by vast numbers of comrades in practical work is a most precious asset. It is definitely not empiricism, but Marxism-Leninism, to sum up such experience scientifically as the guide to future action, just as it is definitely not dogmatism, but Marxism-Leninism, to take the theories and principles of Marxism-Leninism as the guide to revolutionary action and not as dogma. But if there are some comrades among all those versed in practical work who remain satisfied with their own limited experience and with that alone, who take it for dogma that can be applied everywhere, who do not understand and moreover do not want to acknowledge the truth that ‘without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement’ [Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?”, LCW 5:369] and that ‘in order to lead, one must foresee’ [Stalin, Works, 11:39], and who consequently belittle the study of Marxism-Leninism which is the summation of world revolutionary experience, and are infatuated with a narrow practicalism which is devoid of principle and with a brainless routinism that leads nowhere; and if they nevertheless sit and give orders from on high ... then indeed these comrades have become empiricists.” —Mao, “Appendix: Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party”, adopted April 20, 1941, SW 3:211-212.
Viewing one’s work within the revolutionary movement, or for a revolutionary party, in the same way an employee of a capitalist corporation might view their work. Naturally, since the corporation exists not to benefit its employees or the public, but only to make profits for its rich owners, few employees will go out of their way to do the very best job that they can. They will most often do only what they are told to do by their supervisor, and often only to the minimum acceptable level. However, when it comes to our revolutionary work, each of us involved in it shares the greatest responsibility for making it as successful as we can. Each of us must continually think about how we can do a better job in our revolutionary work, and about what further tasks we can perform that really need to be accomplished. We must not think like exploited employees, but rather like people who are really dedicating their lives to serving the people.
“3. The ‘employee’ mentality. Some comrades do not understand that the Party and the Red Army, of which they are members, are both instruments for carrying out the tasks of the revolution. They do not realize that they themselves are makers of the revolution, but think that their responsibility is merely to their individual superiors and not to the revolution. This passive mentality of an ‘employee’ of the revolution is also a manifestation of individualism. It explains why there are not very many activists who work unconditionally for the revolution. Unless it is eliminated, the number of activists will not grow and the heavy burden of the revolution will remain on the shoulders of a small number of people, much to the detriment of the struggle.” —Mao, “On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party” (Dec. 1929), SW 1:113.
The percentage of the population that has jobs. In the U.S. this percentage increased for a number of decades following World War II as growing numbers of women had to find jobs outside the home to help maintain family income levels (as real wages of men began to fall). However, in recent years, more and more people (men and women both) have been laid off and have been unable to find new jobs, as the economic crisis continues to develop. And many young adults who look for jobs once they are out of school cannot find them at all. The drop in this employment/population ratio was especially sharp in the “Great Recession” of 2008-9. Note that despite phony claims by the government that the unemployment rate has been falling since then, the employment/population ratio has remained low and essentially unchanged. A new recession will cause it to drop even further.
See also the related concept: LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
A group of philosophers, natural scientists, and other French intellectuals of the Enlightenment, who collaborated to produce the great Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers [Encyclopedia or Explanatory Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Professions] (1751-1780). They believed that people were oppressed by ignorance and superstition, and that the solution to this problem lay in the promotion of rationality and knowledge. The 35-volume Encyclopedia strove to be a compendium of all human knowledge discovered up to that time.
The leader of the Encyclopedists, and editor of the Encyclopedia, was Denis Diderot, and his chief assistant was Jean le Rond d’Alembert. Other contributors and promoters of the project included Paul Henri d’Holbach, Claude Adrien Helvétius, the naturalist George-Louis Buffon, Montesquieu, and Voltaire. Rousseau also contributed to the first volumes.
The Encyclopedists were ideologists of the rising bourgeoisie and played a very important role in the ideological preparation for the great bourgeois revolution in France which broke out in 1789.
“END OF HISTORY”
An absurd notion, briefly entertained by ideologists of the ruling bourgeoisie in the United States, that ideological development, the evolution of society, and all “history” had come to an end, leaving only capitalism, bourgeois democracy and bourgeois ideology to continue to exist until the end of time! (Of course they did not state the notion in quite this way.)
Marx, of course, characterized all of history (since classes first arose in ancient times) as being the story of class struggle, and this “end of history” claim seems to implicitly agree with that as one of its premises. But when the (revisionist) Soviet Union and its dominion collapsed in 1989-1991, the ruling classes in the U.S. and other “Western” capitalist-imperialist countries were overjoyed and thought that their ideology had permanently triumphed over all their enemies. One of these U.S. bourgeois ideologists, Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed that:
“What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” —The End of History and the Last Man (1992), an expanded version of his essay “The End of History?”, which appeared in the ruling class journal, the National Interest, in 1989.
Strangely enough, however, the bourgeois ideologists only had a few years to gloat and “history” soon reasserted itself with a vengeance. Capitalist financial crises broke out leading to the major financial panic in 2008 within an overproduction crisis which is already the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is also renewed and expanding class struggle and other forms of struggle around the world. Many people are now justifiably starting to wonder if capitalism will be able to survive this new crisis at all!
“The end of history? — a 1989 essay by the bourgeois social ‘scientist’
Francis Fukuyama, in which he posits that the world is nearing a period in which armed
conflicts will end and the world will become homogenized into a liberal-democratic order
(preferably with the United States as its guarantor). Fukuyama sees capitalist free
enterprise and market systems as a force for stability, peace and prosperity, and claims
that these are making alternatives (like Islamist theocracy and Marxist-Leninist
socialism) less and less appealing.
“Like all bourgeois analysts, Fukuyama has severe blind spots about capitalism that are crystallised in this infamous essay, and lacks anything approaching authentic dialectical thinking when it comes to the dynamics and characteristics of capitalism as a system. He assumes, for example, that capitalism will reach some optimal equilibrium (once conditions are just right) that will benefit everyone by lifting living standards and that this state of affairs will continue indefinitely. He fails to see that economic crises are not aberrations but rather necessary features of capitalism, and that these crises will continue to get worse, and that in doing so they will continue to engender resistance to capitalism, as well as having various other effects (feeding into ethnic conflicts, inter-imperialist rivalries, and providing the objective basis for wars and so forth). Fukuyama expresses a very typical liberal bias: the assumption of non-ideology. That is, he sees ideology as belonging to the realm of previous economic and socio-political systems, but assumes that capitalist liberalism is a type of natural state devoid of ideological baggage. The radicalization of the proletariat and peasantry across vast swathes of the world will, unfortunately for Fukuyama, continue to provide plenty of fodder for history! The very demonstrable and even grotesque absurdity of Fukuyama’s thesis makes it too much even for many enthusiastic supporters of capitalist-imperialism to stomach, but it does serve as a fine example of the depths of delusion to which capitalist ideologues can sink, and the essay is interesting for that reason alone. Indeed, the very existence of colossal military spending (which is actually increasing every year) demonstrates that there is more than enough turmoil and instability generated by their wonderful system for them to need to keep a lid on.” —L.C.
ENDS AND MEANS
The relationship between “ends and means”, and the general question of what might justify the means to some good end or goal is a major issue of contention and confusion within bourgeois ethical theory. It arises from the fact that often the only means available to achieve a given desirable end are themselves not good or desirable. (For example, to stop a murderer, it might be necessary to kill him.) So how then can these less than desirable means be justified?
The answer is actually quite simple. The means are justified on two conditions:
1) The overall result, including both the means and the end added together, is still on balance good and desirable; and
2) There is not any obviously better (i.e., more moral) means available to achieve that same end.
See also: Philosophical doggerel relevant to this question.
[In Marxist, especially Maoist, usage:] The bourgeoisie, its agents, and strata from other classes which support it, in opposition to “the people”.
See also: TO BE ATTACKED BY THE ENEMY IS A GOOD THING
“Kindness to the enemy is cruelty to the people. If you do not oppress the exploiting classes, they will oppress you. In advocating ‘no oppression’ China’s Khrushchov [Liu Shaoqi] was in fact trying to abolish the dictatorship of the proletariat.” —Proletarian revolutionaries of the Political Academy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is Dictatorship by the Masses”, Peking Review, #44, Nov. 1, 1968, p. 15.
ENGELS, Frederick (1820-95)
Co-founder, with Marx, of scientific social theory (Marxism) including its philosophy, dialectical materialism. Marx and Engels were lifelong friends and comrades. In their conscious division of labor Marx concentrated on political economy while Engels focused on philosophy, science and military questions.
[Much more to be added.]
“So this volume is finished. It was thanks to you alone that this became possible. Without your self-sacrifice for me I could never possibly have done the enormous work for the three volumes. I embrace you, full of thanks!” —Marx, in a letter to Engels upon the completion of volume I of Capital, August 16, 1867, in Marx-Engels Selected Correspondence (Moscow: 1975), p. 180; with very slight differences in MECW 42:405.
ENLIGHTENMENT, The (or the AGE OF REASON)
The period of European thought (esp. French, but also Scottish, English and German) from the early 17th century to the early 19th century. Thinkers of this period put forward the view that reason should govern people’s ideas and human existence, and that this would lead to the liberation of humanity. Prominent individuals of the Enlightenment include Voltaire, Rousseau, D’Alembert, Diderot, d’Holbach, Montesquieu, Francis Bacon, Helvétius, Hobbes, Locke, and Leibniz.
See also: ENCYCLOPEDISTS
“The great men, who in France prepared men’s minds for the coming revolution, were themselves extreme revolutionists. They recognized no external authority of any kind whatever. Religion, natural science, society, political institutions—everything was subjected to the most unsparing criticism; everything must justify its existence before the judgment-seat of reason or give up existence. Reason became the sole measure of everything.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:16.
“Every form of society and government then existing, every old
traditional notion was flung into the lumber-room as irrational; the world had hitherto
allowed itself to be led solely by prejudices; everything in the past deserved only
pity and contempt. Now, for the first time, appeared the light of day, henceforth
superstition, injustice, privilege, oppression, were to be superseded by eternal
truth, eternal Right, equality based on nature and the inalienable rights of man.
“We know today that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie; that this eternal Right found its realization in bourgeois justice; that this equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, the Contrat Social [Social Contract] of Rousseau, came into being, and only could come into being, as a democratic bourgeois republic. The great thinkers of the eighteenth century could, no more than their predecessors, go beyond the limits imposed on them by their epoch.” —Engels, Ibid., MECW 25:16-19.
ENTELECHY [Pronounced: en-TELL-uh-kee]
[Greek: “to have perfection”] A term used in classical idealist philosophy (especially in Aristotle), to refer to the realization of the potential in a thing, or a stage of development in which the essence of a thing is fully realized. Thus the notion tacitly supposes a teleological point of view. Aristotle thought that all things contain within them an inherent goal or condition toward which they “aim”, which is achieved when their actions or development turns their potential into actuality.
It should be noted that Aristotle’s view is in some ways a form of primitive dialectics. According to dialectics, the primary forces determining and driving the change and development of a thing are the opposing forces that lie within it (its internal contradictions). In some cases this internal development will lead to a result that might be close to inevitable (see “inevitableism”), and in those cases it might seem that this end result was foreordained “regardless of what else happened”. This is how the teleological perspective can arise in naïve dialectics. It is of course true that many living things have evolved to develop in a certain way under optimum conditions (as for example a seed germinating in moist, rich soil in good weather). But under other conditions (such as extreme drought or cold) this result will not occur. Although the bases for change and development are the contradictions within a thing, external forces can in many circumstances prevent these internal forces from working in the way they evolved to do. This is one of the reasons why it is incorrect (or at least seriously misleading) to talk about the “aim” or “goal” of the seed being to germinate. (Another reason, of course, is that seeds are simply way too primitive a thing to have a mind or any psychological states such as “aims” or “goals” in the first place!)
The term entelechy has also been used in later idealist philosophy, and virtually always in even worse ways than Aristotle used it. In Leibniz, for example, the “entelechy” is the urge of the monad towards realization of the perfection potentially contained within it. This actually makes no sense at all, since the very concept of a “monad” (as a supposed substance from which both physical and spiritual things arise) is totally incoherent. In general, where the term entelechy appears in later idealist philosophy, it means something like the informing spirit or soul that gives life to something or which leads to movement in material things. (I.e., something like the imaginary élan vital.)
This ever-more-absurd development of the concept of entelechy in idealist philosophy, from something that sort of half made sense in Aristotle into something absolutely nutty in later idealism, is a good illustration of how idealism and its terminology have developed in general.
EPICURUS (c. 341-c. 270 BCE)
Important ancient Greek materialist philosopher and atheist.
“Epicureanism—the doctrine of the ancient Greek philosopher
Epicurus of the 4th to 3rd centuries B.C. and his successors. The aim of philosophy,
according to this doctrine, was man’s happiness; freeing him from suffering and enabling
him to attain a state of bliss. It taught that philosophy was called upon to overcome
obstacles to happiness: the fear of death due to ignorance of the laws of nature and
giving rise therefore to belief in supernatural, divine forces.
“As regards the theory of knowledge, Epicurus was a sensationalist. He supposed that very subtle images proceed from things and penetrate the human soul through the sense-organs. Conceptions of things are formed on the basis of the sensuous perceptions of the soul, in which memory preserves only the general features of images. Epicurus regarded sense-perceptions themselves as the criterion of truth, and he considered that the source of errors lay in the accidental character of individual sensations or in the over-hasty formation of judgments.
“The idealists, who distorted the teaching of this great materialist of ancient Greece, made more attacks on Epicurianism than on the other philosophical theories of antiquity.” —Note 49, LCW 14.
An epiphenomenon is a secondary effect or process that accompanies, or derives from, a more fundamental process. In its most common usage in philosophy, the term epiphenomenalism is the doctrine that mind and mental processes are epiphenomena of the physical operations within the brain. While this way of looking at things is sort of on the right track, it usually tends to still be rather naïve and skewed.
Materialism views matter (including brains) as primary and minds and mental processes and states as outgrowths of the physical operation of brains. So far this sounds like epiphenomenalism. However, epiphenomenalism—in its usual form—has the connotation that the epiphenomena involved are somehow actually “fictitious”, or at least do not play any real role in the actual functioning of the human being. In this view, everything important is really determined by physical processes in the brain, and our minds and mental life are merely sorts of phenomenalistic appendages added on later. Those championing epiphenomenalism have mostly viewed mind and mental states along the lines of “illusions” which people have, and in their theories brains give rise to the epiphenomena of minds, but minds and mental processes do not in turn have any genuine role in what we actually do.
In reality, our minds and mental processes do exist, and can definitely affect what we do. For example, I can decide to raise my arm and do so because of that decision. However, this is possible only because my mental decision itself is merely a sophisticated way of viewing one part of the complex physical process in my brain-body that leads to the raising of my arm.
It is certainly true that our minds and mental processes and states derive from the physical operations within the brain. But what the epiphenomenalists do not clearly understand is that mental phenomena and states are just special high-level, summary ways of looking at the physical operations going on in the brain. Thus mentalistic operations such as deciding, remembering, thinking, etc., are not simply “unnecessary” or “illusory” perceptions, but are themselves special ways of talking about very important aspects of the physical functioning of the brain-body system.
Thus epiphenomenalism, in its usual form, is sort of a naive concession to dualism. Like ordinary dualism, it tacitly understands mind and mental phenomena as something different than, or “beyond”, the physical functioning of the brain. But unlike ordinary dualism, it considers these mental epiphenomena as more or less useless and unnecessary. It recognizes the fundamental physical basis for what is actually going on in brains/minds of human beings, but it doesn’t clearly understand what mental phenomena themselves are. It doesn’t really understand that mental processes and states are just the very convenient (and absolutely necessary) ways we have of monitoring in a summary fashion what is going on in our brains, and that these mental phenomena themselves really do have a physical basis.
In less fancy language, the theory of knowledge; the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge, its nature, how it is acquired and verified, how much human beings can know, etc.
See also: AGNOSTICISM, HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, KNOWLEDGE, REFLECTION THEORY, and Philosophical doggerel about epistemology.
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See also: INEQUALITY, GINI COEFFICIENT, SOCIAL JUSTICE INDEX
“[T]he real content of the proletarian demand for equality is the demand for the abolition of classes. Any demand for equality which goes beyond that, of necessity passes into absurdity.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:99.
EQUILIBRIUM THEORY [Bukharin]
A dubious conception of dialectics put forward by Nikolai Bukharin, which initially does not sound unreasonable until you look into what is only implied and is not usually overtly stated. Here is his basic conception:
“In other words, the world consists of forces, acting in many ways, opposing each other. These forces are balanced for a moment in exceptional cases only. We then have a state of ‘rest,’ i.e., their actual ‘conflict’ is concealed. But if we change only one of these forces, immediately the ‘internal contradictions’ will be revealed, equilibrium will be disturbed, and if a new equilibrium is again established, it will be on a new basis, i.e., with a new combination of forces, etc. It follows that the ‘conflict,’ the ‘contradiction,’ i.e., the antagonism of forces acting in various directions, determines the motion of the system.” —Nikolai Bukharin, Historical Materialism: A System of Sociology (1925: University of Michigan ed., 1969, p. 74.)
Although Bukharin does mention the phrase “internal contradictions” (though in scare quotes, as if to say they are so-called internal contradictions!), it is not at all clear that he really understands the nature of dialectical contradiction as being inherent in, and really internal to specific things. It is not just “the world” that consists of opposed forces, but also all the things in the world; that is what shows the dialectical nature of every single thing. Moreover, though Bukharin starts by focusing on the ubiquity of change, he subtly negates this emphasis when he switches his focus to equilibria. The page before the above quoted passage Bukharin gives some examples of what he is discussing, and then says:
“In all these examples it is clear that we are dealing with one phenomenon, that of equilibrium. This being the case, where do the contradictions come in? For there is no doubt that conflict is a disturbance of equilibrium....”
Note that Bukharin has made equilibrium (not contradiction!) his central concept in dialectics. He then approvingly quotes the German chemist H. von Halban who says:
“The precise conception of equilibrium is about as follows: ‘We say of a system that it is in a state of equilibrium when the system cannot of itself, i.e., without supplying energy to it from without, emerge from this state.’”
This is an explicit rejection of the idea that change is based on development occurring within a system, and emphasizes that it must come from without. (In a simple chemical example this might actually be the case because the “system” is viewed too narrowly. But the use being made of this example by both von Halban and Bukharin is to promote the general view that change must most essentially be caused by external forces.) On the next page Bukharin emphasizes that this is actually his own view:
“Any object, a stone, a living thing, a human society, etc., may be considered as a whole consisting of parts (elements) related with each other; in other words, this whole may be regarded as a system. And no such system exists in empty space; it is surrounded by other natural objects, which, with reference to it, may be called the environment.... Man’s environment is society, in the midst of which he lives; the environment of human society is external nature. There is a constant relationship between environment and system, and the latter, in turn, acts upon the environment. We must first of all investigate the fundamental question as to the nature of the relations between the environment and the system; how are they to be defined; what are their forms; what is their significance for their system.” —Nikolai Bukharin, ibid., pp. 75-76.
So, again, it seems that Bukharin’s conception places the real source of change and development not within the dialectical nature of the thing that changes, but rather in the external environment. This is not in accordance with the perspective of Hegel, Marx, Engels, Lenin or Mao. They all viewed the internal contradictions within things as the fundamental basis for change, while recognizing that external factors are also often of considerable importance. In the situations where “external factors” are truly determining, and truly of central importance, then the process should be reconceived in a larger way so that the governing contradictions at work include those important (and not truly “external”) factors.
“Equilibrium, Theory of. Based on a vulgarized conception of mechanics, this theory attempts to explain evolution in nature and society solely by means of the laws of equilibrium in mechanics. In opposition to dialectics it holds that rest (equilibrium) is the natural and normal condition of things, and that motion or evolution is temporary, transient. The theory of equilibrium denies that motion is ultimately self-motion, self-evolution. The application of this theory to society leads to the conclusion that the evolution of society depends on its interrelations with its surrounding natural environment, that the dynamic of this evolution is not the internal contradictions of society, not the class struggle, but its external contradictions with nature. The theory of equilibrium stems from Comte, Spencer, Dühring, Kautsky, and other idealists and eclectics.” —Handbook of Philosophy (International: 1949), ed. by Howard Selsam, and based on the Russian work Short Philosophic Dictionary, by M. Rosenthal and P. Yudin.
The current market value of a house (or other item) minus the amount of money still owed on it (in the form of a mortgage or other loan). Thus if a family’s home has a market value of $300,000, and after paying mortgage payments for 12 years the nominal “owners” of the house still owe the bank $200,000, the family’s equity is $100,000 and the bank still actually owns two-thirds of “their” house.
The programme adopted by the Social-Democratic Party of Germany in October 1891 at its Congress in Erfurt.
“Underlying the Programme was the Marxist teaching of the inevitable
downfall of the capitalist mode of production and its replacement by the socialist
mode of production. It emphasized the need for the working class to wage a political
struggle, pointed out the role of the party as the organizer of this struggle, and
so on. Lenin remarked that the chief defect of the Erfurt Programme, a cowardly
concession to opportunism, was its silence on the dictatorship of the proletariat.
“A thoroughgoing criticism of the draft Erfurt Programme was given in Engels’s work ‘A Contribution to the Criticism of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891’.” —Note 92, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
[To be added...]
See also: APPEARANCE AND ESSENCE
The ethical theory that there is no objective basis for morality, that different moral views are simply a matter of custom or convention, and therefore vary from one place to another, and from one time to another.
And finally there is the view that nothing really makes
anything “right or wrong”, “good or bad”, that these are merely arbitrary biases that
people have, either in different cultures, or even individually. There seem to be
three main motives for holding this view:
1) The argument from ignorance. (“I can’t figure out what makes human actions right or wrong, so it must be impossible to say.”)
2) Extreme cynicism about humanity. (“Everybody tries to justify what they say and do, but at bottom it is all just excuse making for doing whatever they selfishly want to do.”)
3) Learning about other cultures which have different ideas about right and wrong.
This third reason is why cultural anthropologists have been particularly prone to ethical relativism, and why the theory was first put forward in a systematic way by philosophers such as Edward Westermarck who were strongly influenced by the rise of modern anthropology. A number of cultural anthropologists have at various times gone to live with native peoples in various parts of the world and have found (to their evident surprise) that these peoples have somewhat different conceptions of morality, conceptions which seem to serve them just as well as the differing moralities of other cultures serve those societies. Since these anthropologists had also not thought through the basis for morality in their own society, they tended to jump to the conclusion that no particular morality is really “better” or “more valid” than any other, but rather that all of them are merely somewhat arbitrary conveniences for particular cultures.
More recently, this same sort of thinking has been generalized and spread to other academic departments, especially to English faculties at universities, in the form of “post-modernism”, which goes so far as to claim that the world views of the scientific community are really no better than those of native peoples living in the Amazon, or those of religious communities such as Christian fundamentalists who believe the world was created in 4004 B.C.! (Some people cannot recognize a reductio ad absurdum argument when they see it!)
As with some of the specific traditional explanations of morality surveyed above, there are no doubt some small and secondary aspects of truth to the relativist viewpoint. Different societies, with different ways of living and different levels of social production, do require somewhat different social norms and moral codes in order to function smoothly. But what the central core of the relativist viewpoint fails to understand is that there is a deeper level of analysis which will explain why the moral systems of different societies still have so much in common, and also explain the differences between them in terms of the same underlying analytical concepts. Once we have that explanatory analytical framework in place we will be able to more rationally discuss the differences between moralities in different forms and stages of society. —S.H., An Introduction to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics, Chapter 1, section 1.2E, from the draft of 6/14/07 as posted at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf
The branch of philosophy which deals with the theory behind morality, including its explication and justification, nature and essence, structure and functions, origin and development.
The forcible removal of (and often even genocide against) one group of people by another, usually also implying the theft of land and possessions of the victimized ethnic group. The term “ethnic cleansing” is often used as a euphemism for outright genocide. Such horrible crimes against humanity are often the actions of some rising or expanding bourgeois nationality against “outsiders” whose lands they covet; that is, it is an extreme expression of bourgeois nationalism and/or imperialism.
One of the worst examples of ethnic cleansing in human history is the displacement and extirpation (to a major degree) of the Native Americans by English and other European colonists in North America over the past 500 years. This was looked on with admiration by Adolf Hitler and inspired his own program of expanding to the East against the Slavs for more German “Lebensraum” (living space). This resulted in the Nazi murder of tens of millions of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Serbs, and others in World War II. The mass murder of millions of Chinese by the invading Japanese imperialists in the 1930s and 1940s was also in part a conscious attempt at ethnic cleansing.
However, while not on that same scale, over the past century there have also been many other examples of ethnic cleansing. This includes the genocide by the Turkish government against Armenians around World War I; the mutual attempts at ethnic cleansing by different ethnic groups within the old Yugoslavia when it fell apart (and to a considerable degree fostered by the U.S. and European imperialist countries); and the tribal genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Another example of ethnic cleansing, which is seldom discussed in such terms even though it has been underway for an entire century and still continues, is the forcible ejection of Palestinians from their land, and the genocide against them, by the Zionist state of Israel. Here too, as in so many cases, this is only possible because of outside imperialist support for this ethnic cleansing from the United States and, especially earlier, Britain.
In the modern era, by far the greatest force leading to these terrible crimes of ethnic cleansing and genocide is capitalist-imperialism itself. It is almost always behind these horrendous crimes, either directly or indirectly.
See: UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND
The money used in 17 of the 27 countries which are members of the European Union. The EU agreed to form a monetary union in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. In 1999 the Euro became a legal currency in many of the EU countries, and in 2002 banknotes and coins denominated in Euros were introduced and made the sole legal currency in these countries. Britain and Sweden have decided not to switch to the Euro, and 8 other EU countries have not yet met the financial requirements to begin using the Euro. The symbol for the Euro is: €
With the development of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis starting in 2009, which has been most severe and intractable in the Euro zone, major worries about the long-term success of the Euro are being raised. As has been frequently noted, a successful monetary union by countries most likely requires a fairly high degree of political and governmental budgetary unity.
The portion of the European Union in which the Euro currency has been adopted. As of 2011, that means 17 EU countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
EUROPE — Current Economic Crisis In
The world economic crisis, which took a turn for the worse with the world financial crisis of 2008-2009, is still continuing to develop. This is especially the case in Europe as well as the U.S. and Japan. The chart at the right shows the recent trends for falling GDP and rising unemployment in five of the most seriously afflicted European countries.
[More to be added.]
EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY
A bailout fund set up by European Union governments using the Euro currency (i.e., the Euro Zone) for the purpose of bailing out governments, and the major banks to whom they owe money, and to thus maintain the existence of the Euro monetary union. The goal is to prevent any government using the Euro from going into default on its debts.
At present [Oct. 2011] the fund has available €440 billion ($606 billion). This amount is probably large enough to deal with one or two smaller countries such as Greece or Portugal. However, it has become obvious that this amount is grossly insufficient to bail out all the countries now on the edge of default, especially big countries like Italy. Thus these European governments are now desperately trying to find a way to expand the EFSF to the range of €750 billion to €1.25 trillion. It is far from obvious that this amount can be raised, or that it will be enough to establish more than just a temporary stabilization even if it is raised.
See also: EUROPEAN SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS entry below.
EUROPEAN SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS (2009-?)
A slowly developing but very serious and prolonged financial crisis of the nations of Europe, especially in the Euro zone. It is the result of the enormous and ever-growing debts their governments and banks have accumulated. This crisis first arose in 2009 as one important aspect of the worldwide capitalist financial crisis of 2008-2009 which developed during the “Great Recession”. And all of this, in turn, is but one chapter in the string of financial crises arising out of the current world overproduction crisis. Although proclaimed as over and resolved on numerous occasions, this European sovereign debt crisis keeps arising anew.
A “sovereign debt crisis” is one where a national government has borrowed too much money, risks defaulting on the loans it has already received, and is thus unable to easily borrow more. In most cases in recent times, these loans are in the form of government bonds sold to private banks and the wealthy general public, or else in the form of more direct loans from private banks or from other governments. But in a situation where governments such as Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy (and others) have borrowed so much money from banks, it is not only those countries which are in bad financial shape, but also the banks themselves who may never get their money back. This puts the entire capitalist financial system of Europe at risk of collapse. And this in turn would have extremely serious repercussions for the United States and the whole world capitalist system.
In the spring of 2010 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailed out the Greek government with €110 billion ($150 billion) and set up a further contingency fund of €500 billion ($680 billion). (It should be well understood, however, that the bailout of governments such as Greece really means the bailout of the private banks and investors to whom the governments owe the money.) This bailout only reassured the capitalist bond markets for a short time. The austerity measures (cutbacks in government services and employment) forced on Greece, Ireland and Portugal soon led to further declines in those economies, and to a new round of the debt crisis.
By the spring of 2011 this led to the collapse of governments in Ireland and Portugal, and unrest in Spain. Greece needed a second bailout, and interest rates for government bonds began to rise steeply in Spain and Italy. (Bonds which are perceived as riskier demand higher interest rates.) The European Central Bank [ECB] began buying large amounts of Spanish and Italian bonds, in an attempt to reassure rich investors and to keep interest rates down. In July Greece received its second bailout (of $157 billion) and was allowed a small reduction in the amount of debt it owed. The ECB also expanded the funding and capability of the EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY, the fund which it had set up to prop up governments in danger of default.
In September 2011 a new round of assurances and bailouts was arranged for Greece and other weak European economies, which eased the acuteness of the crisis only for a moment. Everyone knows that this overall debt crisis is by no means over. European politicians have recently been discussing the necessity to create a stronger and more centralized European government, something along the lines of a “United States of Europe”, to stabilize the Euro zone and bring the European sovereign debt crisis to a real end. But first, even such a new political union can not achieve this result, and second, the prospects for building such a stronger political union in Europe are quite dismal at the present time.
[Some of the information here is taken from the Wikipedia.]
See: PROBLEM OF EVIL
The foundation theory of biology, that life has evolved (changed over time) through the means of natural selection acting upon individual organisms which vary somewhat from each other. Those organisms which have inheritable traits which allow them to survive and reproduce more successfully than others of their kind are able to pass those traits on to their descendants. Over time, many such changes lead to the development of new species. Charles Darwin was the primary creator of this theory, which is one of the most important and central ideas in all of science.
Marx and Engels, and all scientific Marxists since them, have accepted and strongly promoted evolutionary science, and have recognized in it a confirmation of dialectical materialist principles. However, some very secondary aspects of traditional conceptions of evolutionary theory have been criticized by Marxists, and especially the false notion that evolutionary change occurs entirely gradually, without any relatively sudden qualitative leaps. (See G.V. Plekhanov’s comments in the entry for DEVELOPMENT. ) Modern evolutionary theory has largely come to agree with Marxism on this point. (See: PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM. )
See also: COOPERATION—In Nature
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[Sometimes with a hyphen.] The value of commodities (goods or services produced for sale) as they are bought and sold in the marketplace; roughly the same as price. Or more precisely, the form that value takes in the act of EXCHANGE. Exchange value is contrasted to use value, which is the capacity of the commodity to satisfy human needs or wants.
[Intro to be added...]
See also: BEING
“The proof that something exists has no other meaning than that something exists not in thought alone.” —Ludwig Feuerbach, quoted in G.V. Plekhanov, “Fundamental Problems of Marxism” (1908), International Publishers ed., 1969, p. 39; Plekhanov—Selected Philosophical Works, 3:134.
A bourgeois philosophy of despair, which holds that there is no objective truth, that there are no universal values, that the human “essence” is a matter of free choice by the individual, and that consequently people are in a permanent state of anxiety because of their realization of this free will. Among the religious existentialists are Kierkegaard, Martin Buber and Gabriel Marcel. Nietzsche and Heidegger were authoritarian or fascist existentialists, and Sartre is often called a “Marxist” existentialist, though genuine Marxism is quite incompatible with any form of existentialism.
See also: ALBERT CAMUS, and Philosophical doggerel about existentialism.
[General, non-pejorative senses:] 1. Behavior or action appropriate to achieving the end in view; fitness, suitability. 2. Behavior or action in accordance with what is advantageous, or with what answers to one’s interests.
[Pejorative senses:] 3. Behavior or action which is opportunistic or temporarily advantageous, as opposed to what is right and just (i.e., as opposed to what is actually appropriate and in the long term interest). 4. Acting for one’s own advantage or to serve one’s own self-interest, as opposed to what is right (i.e., as opposed to what is in the general interest).
[To be added... ]
See also: PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, PRACTICE
1. The unjust or improper use of another person for one’s own profit or advantage.
2. [In the Marxist sense in the context of the political economy of capitalism:] The expropriation (theft) of the labor of a worker (via the extraction of surplus value) by the owners of the means of production (the capitalists).
Countries whose merchandise exports form a very large and/or important part of their entire economy. Not only the absolute size of exports is important, but also the proportion of the total economy of a country that depends on exports. In 2009 the U.S. had $1.056 trillion in exports and a GDP of $14.256 trillion. That means, as big as those exports were, they were only 7.4% of the U.S. economy.
As the chart below shows, China has become the world’s largest exporter. While that remains true, in recent years the proportion of China’s economy that depends on exports has been declining significantly. In 2007 the export of goods made up 38% of Chinese GDP, but that fell to 26% in 2012. [Economist, Aug. 17, 2013, p. 39.] In other words China, while still an export-oriented economy, is less so than it was a few years ago.
|THE 15 LARGEST EXPORT-ORIENTED ECONOMIES|
|Country||Rank in Value
|Value of Exports
|Exports as % of
its GDP (2009)
|China||1||$1.20 trillion||24.1%||Not including Hong Kong. |
Recently eclipsed Germany as world’s largest exporter.
|1||$1.53 trillion||29.4%||See also separate listing below for Hong Kong.|
|Germany||2||$1.13 trillion||33.6%||Largest percentage of economy in exports, among major |
|United States||3||$1.06 trillion||7.41%||As % of GDP, near the bottom of the pack for major economies.|
|Japan||4||$581 billion||11.5%||A major exporter, but with a surprisingly large domestic |
economy. A huge decline in exports in 2009.
|Netherlands||5||$498 billion||62.9%||Because of the existence of the European Common Market |
many smaller European countries have high export rates.
|France||6||$485 billion||18.3%|| |
|Italy||7||$406 billion||19.2%|| |
|Belgium||8||$370 billion||78.9%|| |
|South Korea||9||$364 billion||43.7%|| |
|United Kingdom||10||$352 billion||16.2%|| |
|Hong Kong||11||$329 billion||153%||Note that Hong Kong has a very high export/GDP ratio |
because it re-exports many goods from China.
|Canada||12||$317 billion||23.7%||Canada exports a lot of goods to the U.S. |
|Russian Federation||13||$303 billion||24.6%||Oil and gas exports are a major component.|
|Singapore||14||$270 billion||148.4%||Exports are so amazingly high as % of GDP because it |
imports many commodities which it then re-exports.
|Mexico||15||$230 billion||26.3%|| |
|World Total||—|| $12.49 trillion
||21.5%||World trade declined by 12% in 2009 due to the |
international economic crisis.
Sources: World Trade Organization statistical database at
World Bank database at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf.
The world around us; i.e., the everyday world of objects and things that we perceive, move among, and act upon. In philosophy, to speak of the “external world” is to implicitly adopt a materialist position, that the objective physical world exists outside of the mind of the person contemplating it. For this reason philosophical idealists often object even to the usage of the term external world! For these idealists there is actually no external world outside the mind (or, at least, outside the mind of “God”).
Even for modern dialectical materialists, however, the term “external world” has sort of an early Twentieth Century quaintness about it, since we now take the existence of the objective world outside of any mind as something that is totally obvious, and scarcely necessary of any further argument.
“The external world is not dependent on us, it is a thing absolute in
itself, a thing we must face, and the discovery of the laws governing this absolute
has always seemed to me the most wonderful task in a scientist’s life.” —Max Planck,
Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie [Scientific Autobiography] (Leipzig: 1948),
[This great physicist, though he was a conservative and religious person, nevertheless took a materialist stance on the existence of an objective external world. Note, however, the terminology he still uses, referring to the objective world as the “absolute”, a term previously mostly used by idealists such as Hegel for their very non-materialist conception of the world.]
“The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science.” —Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, (NY: 1954), p. 266.
[In bourgeois economics:] The costs (or very rarely, the benefits) of producing a commodity which are not borne (or received) by either the producer or the purchaser of the commodity. For example, a chemical plant may discharge toxic wastes into the river, which results in severe damage to the environment. But neither the chemical company’s profits nor the price paid by the company’s customers are adversely affected in any way. Instead, the expensive costs of cleanup of the toxic discharge are left to be paid by the taxpayers—or else the mess is not cleaned up at all!
See: MASS EXTINCTIONS
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