The killing of officers by the soldiers in their own army. Since soldiers in capitalist countries are mostly from poor or working class families while the officers are usually from higher social strata, and since the officers in these armies constantly lord their authority over the ordinary soldiers in a most severe way, there are inevitable conflicts between the two at all times. However, during wartime the situation can be more extreme; it is the job of the officer corp to order soldiers into battle in the service of the ruling class, which puts the lives of these soldiers at serious risk for no good purpose. The soldiers sometimes take violent exception to this! And one form of that is to simply turn their guns around against their own officers.
Although there are occasional fraggings in virtually all wars, this became particularly common in the U.S. imperialist war of aggression against Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. There were an officially reported 209 cases of fragging of U.S. officers in that war, but the number was probably far larger. (It was much less embarrassing for the military to report deaths due to “enemy fire” than it was deaths at the hands of their own soldiers!) The rebelliousness of their own army was one of several important factors that led to the defeat of the U.S. imperialists in that war. The name “fragging” comes from the common use of fragmentation grenades for this purpose. The very last thing a number of U.S. imperialist officers saw in their lives was a fragmentation grenade rolling toward them on the floor of their tent.
See also: VIETNAM WAR—Near Collapse Of U.S. Military
“[In Vietnam] the targets of the attacks were mostly junior field
officers. The men who tossed grenades at or shot their officers in many cases were
African Americans. They were pushed over the top by what they considered the brutal,
racist and dehumanizing treatment by white officers. Their hatred was fed by
resentment of being drafted and forced to fight in what they considered a racist,
senseless war against oppressed people.
“The growing problem of ‘fraggings’ leaped to public attention in the trial of Billy Dean Smith in 1971. Smith ... was an African American. He was accused of killing two white officers. Though Smith was eventually acquitted, the trial quickly turned into as much a debate over Army racism and the waging of an unjust war as Smith’s personal guilt or innocence.” —Earl Ofari Hutchinson, “Echoes of ‘fragging’”, San Francisco Chronicle, March 27, 2003.
“One of us (Bob) was teaching a class at the University of Illinois when the subject of fragging in Vietnam came up while discussing ... [a book]. Many of the students understandably found it difficult to believe. Then a student raised his hand and mentioned that his father had gone to West Point, graduating in 1970, and went on to a career in the military. The student said his father had three roommates at West Point, and that two of them had been fragged in Vietnam within a year of their graduation.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready (2016), p. 329 note 146.
FRANCE — Marx and Engels On
“Marx: The Class Struggles in France 1848-50; The Eighteenth
Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; The Civil War in France
“These three works by Marx, each of which consists of a collection of articles or addresses, form a series in which he analyzes the revolutionary events in France from the Revolution of 1848 to the Paris Commune in 1871.
“In his introduction to both The Eighteenth Brumaire and The Civil War in France, Engels points out that thanks to historical materialism Marx could grasp the character and consequences of great historical events at the time they were still in progress. These works are classical models of how Marxism analyzes complicated class relations and class battles at the very time of their occurrence, so as to show the working class the correct policy.
“They make not only very instructive, but very exciting reading. Each can be read separately, but they are best read as a series. Thus, The Eighteenth Brumaire opens with a summary of the whole series of events from 1848 to 1871. What were these events?
“In February, 1848, the regime of Louis Phillippe, the ‘Bourgeois King,’ set up when the Bourbons were overthrown in July 1830, was itself overthrown by a mass uprising. The regime of Louis Phillipe had represented the ‘rule of the bankers,’ of the ‘aristocracy of finance.’ [See Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Part 5, especially chapters 27 and 36.] After its overthrow, as a result of mass pressure from the workers, a Republic was declared and, to begin with, all the propertied classes shared power. It was the workers who made the February 1848 Revolution, but the first act of the bourgeoisie was to disarm them. The workers resisted and were defeated in the June uprising of 1848. One by one, the classes which had made the revolution lost power: first the industrialists beat the petty-bourgeoisie in June 1849, then they themselves lost to the ‘aristocracy of finance’ who came back in power again.
“Meanwhile, taking advantage of these dissensions among the ‘propertied classes,’ an adventurer, Louis Bonaparte, a descendant of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, relying on the support of the masses of the oppressed peasantry, had got himself elected President of the Republic, and by a coup d’état in 1851 (known as the ‘Eighteenth Brumaire’) made himself absolute ruler. Shortly afterwards, he established himself as the Emperor Napoleon III. Thus, after disarming the workers who made the 1848 revolution, the the bourgeoisie, torn by dissensions, proved unable to rule. Louis Bonaparte and a gang of adventurers seized power. But with Bonaparte’s regime, a big industrial development took place in France.
“The Bonapartist ‘Second Empire’ lasted until the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. This war was provoked by the territorial ambitions of Bonaparte, who wanted to establish the French frontiers on the Rhine. He was defeated by the Prussians in 1870, his Empire fell, and a ‘Government of National Defense’ was set up.
“Meanwhile, the Parisian workers were armed for the defense of Paris. But the Government of ‘National Defense’ was primarily concerned not to defend Paris but to disarm the workers. In January 1871, it capitulated to the Prussians. The Government retired to Versailles. Thereafter, war ensued between the Parisian workers and the Government at Versailles. In March 1871, the Paris workers set up the Paris Commune. It was eventually crushed and the workers massacred by the bourgeois government in Versailles, aided and abetted by the foreign invaders, the Prussians.
“Such was the sequence of events analyzed by Marx in these writings.
“Of particular importance in these three books are:
“1. The analysis of the progress of the revolution from 1848. The driving force of the revolution was the working class, but the revolution put the bourgeoisie in power. The bourgeoisie then turned against the workers, who were isolated and defeated. But in this action the bourgeoisie turned against the revolution itself, deserted the revolution, and themselves proved unable to rule.
“2. The biting exposure of petty-bourgeois ‘social democracy’ contained in The Eighteenth Brumaire. Marx shows that these ‘democrats’ were under the illusion that their own speeches and declamations in parliament decided events, ignoring the realities of the class struggle. This he called ‘parliamentary imbecility’ or ‘parliamentary cretinism.’ Marx shows concretely how the outlooks and ideas current in society reflect the position of different classes.
“3. The exposure in The Eighteenth Brumaire of the nature of the bourgeois state, as the organ of the capitalist class rule. The triumph of the bourgeois republic, said Marx, led in fact to ‘unlimited despotism.’ He shows that all revolutions had ‘perfected the state power,’ but that the task of the proletarian revolution must be to break it up.
“4. The analysis of the position of the French peasantry. The peasantry, he shows in The Eighteenth Brumaire, provided the chief social support on which Louis Bonaparte founded his personal dictatorship. Nevertheless he points out in The Civil War in France that the only hope for the mass of the peasantry lay through a workers’ government. Thus Marx and Engels began to deduce the key importance of the workers winning the masses of peasants as allies.
“5. Marx’s treatment of the Franco-Prussian War in The Civil War in France. He shows that, to begin with, it was a just war on the side of the Prussians. But he gives a lead to the German workers to oppose the war as soon as Bismarck turned it into a war of aggression.
“6. The analysis of the Paris Commune as ‘the political form at last discovered to work out the economic emancipation of labor.’
“The Commune was the dictatorship of the proletariat. ‘Do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune, that was the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ So wrote Engels in his Introduction.
“The Commune proved that the working class cannot ‘lay hold of the existing state machinery,’ but must ‘smash it’ and set up its own power.
“Marx and Engels analyzed the measures taken by the Commune, and at the same time pointed out its weaknesses and mistakes.”
—Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics, prepared and edited by Maurice Cornforth, (London: 1953), pp. 58-59.
This was centered around what was officially known as the Institute for Social Research, which was founded and affiliated with the University of Frankfurt in 1923 under the direction of Carl Grünberg. During the Nazi era it was forced to relocate to New York, but returned home in 1949. Among its leading lights were Max Horkheimer, who was the Director from 1931 to 1958, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, who had a considerable influence on some of the leaders of the New Left in the U.S. during the 1960s. Its leading later representative is Jürgen Habermas. The programme of the school was supposedly to construct a “critical theory” of Marxism, which they characteristically tried to do in academia and in a way completely divorced from the mass revolutionary movement!
In other words, the Frankfurt School in actual practice has been primarily a loose association of intellectual revisionists who were influenced by Marxism to some degree, but who sought to reconstruct it along the much more idealist and bourgeois lines which were acceptable to them. They found a great deal to criticize in Marx and Engels, and even more to criticize in Lenin. Later they added Mao to their list of Marxist-Leninists they didn’t much care for.
One of their most consistent themes was to oppose materialism. They used this sneaky approach: they identified materialism and its defense with Stalin and his USSR in order to discredit it with their target audience. As much as possible they tried to ignore or deny the plain fact that all the great developers of the science of revolutionary Marxism have been staunch and extremely consistent materialists. In particular they tried to distort Marx’s early writings to make him out to be some sort of Hegelian idealist! Their second sneaky trick was to absurdly claim that dialectical materialism as it has been understood within Marxism-Leninism was actually a form of “positivism”! And in general the Frankfurt School has focused almost entirely on the superstructure of society, with a determination to put an idealist slant on their interpretation of it. Like most idealists, they found Kant attractive when it comes to epistemology. They were also enthusiastic about psychoanalysis, despite the fact that it is mostly a pseudoscience. The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm was one of those associated with the Frankfurt School.
The Frankfurt School rejected orthodox Marxism as a “dogma”. It seems only fair, therefore, that we revolutionary Marxists should reject the Frankfurt School as silly idealist revisionism!
FRATERNIZATION (Of Opposing Armies During a War)
Refusing to continue fighting, and associating on friendly terms with the soldiers of an opposing army, even though the officers on both sides order the fighting to continue.
See also below.
FRATERNIZATION IN WORLD WAR I
During interimperialist wars, and especially during World War I, revolutionaries often tried—at times with considerable success—to bring an end to the fighting by appealing, in part, to the working class soldiers themselves to stop killing each other. During that war, for example, revolutionaries popularized this bitter definition of a bayonet: “A weapon with a worker on each end.” The Bolsheviks in Russia were especially effective in promoting fraternization between the Tsarist Russian army and opposing armies.
“‘Our Party will particularly support the mass fraternization of
the soldiers of all the belligerent countries that has already begun at the
“... We want fraternization on all fronts, and we are taking pains to encourage it. When we worked in Switzerland, we published an appeal in two languages, with French on one side and German on the other, urging those soldiers to do the same thing we are now urging the Russian soliders to do. We do not confine ourselves to fraternization between German and Russian soliders, we call upon all to fraternize. This then is what we mean by fraternization:
“‘... endeavouring to turn this instinctive expression of solidarity of the oppressed into a politically-conscious movement as well organized as possible for the transfer of all state power in all the belligerent countries to the revolutionary proletariat.’
“Fraternization, so far, is instinctive, and we must not deceive ourselves on this score. We must admit this in order not to delude the people. The fraternizing soldiers are actuated not by a clear-cut political idea but by the instinct of oppressed people, who are tired, exhausted and begin to lose confidence in capitalist promises. They say: ‘While you keep on talking about peace—we have been hering it now for two and a half years—we shall start things moving ourselves.’ This is a true class instinct. Without this instinct the cause of the revolution would be hopeless. As you know, nobody would free the workers if they did not free themselves. But is instinct alone sufficient? You would not get far if you rely on instinct alone. This instinct must be transformed into political awareness.
“In our ‘Appeal to the Soldiers of All the Belligerent Countries’ we explain into what this fraternization should develop—into the passing of political power to the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.” —Lenin, “The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.)”, April 24-29 (May 7-12), 1917, LCW 24:267-268.
“Clearly, fraternization is the revolutionary initiative of the masses, it is the awakening of the conscience, the mind, the courage of the oppressed classes; in other words, it is a rung in the ladder leading up to the socialist proletarian revolution.” —Lenin, “The Significance of Fraternization”, May 11 (April 28), 1917, LCW 24:318.
The widely used nickname for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a government sponsored enterprise (GSE), which in reality is just a part of the U.S. government, and which is one of many govenment agencies which provides financing for the home mortgage market.
“FREE OF SOCIETY”
Lenin wrote that “One cannot live in society and be free from society.” [“Party Organization and Party Literature”, Nov. 13, 1905, LCW 10:48.]
His point here is that no matter how free artists, writers and other people imagine that they are, and no matter what the degree of freedom of expression and freedom of speech, people are still—to one degree or another—the products of the society they live in, and so are their ideas. And since we are all now living in bourgeois society, we all have at least some bourgeois ideas, even if we are doing our best to rebel against them.
This is something important for those of us who want to lead the proletariat and masses in changing and revolutionizing society to keep in mind. It is part of the reason why we must come to understand that even we ourselves must to some degree become the targets of the revolution!
“The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances
and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential
to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into
two parts, one of which is superior to society.
“The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.” —Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, III, 1845, online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm; in a very slightly different translation in MECW 5:4.
The aspect of a capitalist economy wherein commodities are exchanged between buyers and sellers, and the prices for these commodities are determined firstly, by the value in them (the amount of socially necessary labor time incorporated into their production), and secondly, by additional influences and fluctuations around that value center of gravity based on such things as the varying supply and demand.
The capitalists like the name “free market”, rather than alternatives such as the “capitalist market”, or the “commodities market”, since it suggests freedom, which is something that people view positively. (In other words the term includes some bourgeois ideological indoctrination.) But behind the “freedom” of this so-called “free market” is the system of production which involves the enormous exploitation of human labor in order to produce the commodities which are then freely sold by their expropriators (capitalist thieves) on this “free market”.
A secondary meaning of the term “free market” is in contrast to any capitalist market which is regulated or “interfered with” in even small ways by the capitalist government. The idea here is that any regulation of the market (even if this is actually being done for the benefit of the capitalist class itself!) necessarily impinges on the “freedom” of that market! (Many bourgeois ideologues, especially those who favor laissez-faire or neoliberal forms of capitalism, are actually too stupid to know that some forms of regulation of the market are actually in their own overall capitalist class interests!)
See also: EFFICIENT MARKET HYPOTHESIS
“It is perhaps no accident that those who argue most vehemently on
behalf of an immutable and rational ‘free market’ and against government ‘intrusion’
are often the same people who exert disproportionate influence over the market
mechanism. They champion ‘free enterprise’ and equate the ‘free market’ with liberty
while quietly altering the rules of the game to their own advantage. They extol
freedom without acknowledging the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s
eroding the freedoms of most people.” —Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor,
Saving Capitalism (2015), p. 11.
[Reich recognizes that the so-called “free market” is not actually free, and that those who profit the most from it are those who dominate the market through their control of government and its supposed “regulatory” agencies. And yet, as a liberal and a dreamer, he thinks that somehow capitalism can be reformed so that this will no longer the case! —Ed.]
FREE MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM
The ideological belief in the absolute virtues of the “free market” (see entry above) in its virtually pure and unregulated form, even to the point of maintaining that any “interference” or regulation of the market whatsoever will cause more problems than it prevents. These adherents of laissez-faire capitalism have what amounts to a religious faith in this “free market” from both the point of view of its supposed economic efficiency and (even more absurdly) from their conception of morality!
Although faith in the capitalist “free market” is something that most contemporary bourgeois thinkers uphold, some of them uphold it in almost absolutely pure form, while others recognize that some regulation of the capitalist market must occur. This latter group sometimes insults the former group by calling their ideology “free market fundamentalism”.
FREE RIDER PROBLEM
The strong tendency in bourgeois society for individuals to not in any way voluntarily pay for goods and services which are available to them for free. Thus if the government builds a road which any person can drive on for free, the only way the government can pay for such a road is through taxes which the “public” (meaning, mostly the working class) is forced to pay. Bourgeois ideologists use this argument to supposedly “prove” that communism cannot work, since all the necessary consumer goods will be available for free in communist society and money will not even exist.
However, we Marxists know that both society and individual people can be gradually changed, and people can eventually be brought up in such a way that they willingly and enthusiastically donate their collective labor to produce all the goods and services that society needs. This will become ever more feasible as the further development of machinery and automation make the amount of labor necessary from each person smaller and smaller, and the nature of that labor less and less onerous—and even something which most often (instead of only rarely in this society) leads to human enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfillment. In the meanwhile, after the proletarian seizure of power, we will have to settle for an ever-improving (gradually more communistic) socialist economy.
See: FREEDOM OF SPEECH
1. Anti-determinism; i.e., the idealist view that cause and effect do not operate in the realm of human action.
2. The ability to act according to one’s inclinations or desires. This is opposed to fatalism, but it is often erroneously imagined to also be opposed to determinism.
Obviously these two senses are completely opposed to each other with regard to the question of determinism. Sense 1 above is the older sense that was most common a century ago, but sense 2 is more widespread today, and reflects a more sophisticated understanding of the role of determinism in the world. When Marxist writers such as Lenin condemn “free will” it is sense 1 that they are referring to.
See also: FREEDOM AND NECESSITY, COMPATIBILISM, and Philosophical doggerel about free will.
“The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys man’s reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will.” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894), LCW 1:159.
[Intro to be added... ]
“By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.” —Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848), MECW 6:499.
“‘Freedom’ is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom for labor, the working people were robbed.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:355. [Lenin’s point is that there are very different conceptions of freedom from the point of view of different social classes. —S.H.]
FREEDOM AND NECESSITY
“Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him, freedom is the insight into necessity. ‘Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood.’ Freedom does not consist in any dreamt-of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends. This holds good in relation both to the laws of external nature and to those which govern the bodily and mental existence of men themselves—two classes of laws which we can separate from each other at most only in thought but not in reality. Freedom of the will therefore means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject. Therefore the freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, a control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:105-106.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
The very important democratic right which allows people to come together to discuss issues, to protest injustices, and to take collective action.
This freedom, as well as others, is being continuously curtailed and further restricted even in nominal bourgeois democracies, on various pretexts, such as the “unavailability of meeting places”, or that it involves “trespassing on private property”, “blocking access to businesses”, “endangers public security”, and any number of other excuses. But in reality, having the freedoms of assembly and speech are far more important than simply having the “right” to select one or another representative of the ruling class in phony elections—which is about all that the bourgeoisie counts as “democracy” these days.
“Soviet power took thousands upon thousands of these best buildings from the exploiters at one stroke, and in this way made the right of assembly—without which democracy is a fraud—a million times more democratic for the people.” —Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:248.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Freedom of speech means the freedom (lack of any government or other restraint) on a person or group to express their views. However, if this freedom is not to become entirely vacuous and meaningless, implicit and necessary here is the understanding that these views are allowed to be expressed in a way in which their targetted audience can actually hear or read them.
According to the U.S. Constitution every person has the freedom of speech. However, there are more and more restrictions on where and how opponents of the ruling class are allowed to speak. In more and more public places this supposed right of “freedom of speech” is now actually non-existent. If, for example, the public place is a shopping mall that is “private property” a person publicly expressing ideas or distributing literature which the owner of that property disapproves of can be forced by police officers to leave or else be arrested. Even on the public streets there are many excuses for suppressing the freedom of speech (such as that the person speaking is “blocking the sidewalk” or “disturbing the peace”).
Thus the “Constitutional right” of freedom of speech is actually already very highly circumscribed. Even in nominally “democratic” countries such as the U.S., there are ever-more fascist-like restrictions which are making the supposed “freedom of speech” into something which is becoming nearly meaningless in actual practice. This is the new actual “freedom”: You can say just about anything you like—provided that virtually no one can ever hear you.
See also: SECURITY—And Free Speech
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
[Intro to be added...]
“The first freedom of the press consists in it not being a business.” —Marx, “Debates on the Freedom of the Press”, Rheinishche Zeitung, (May 5, 1842). This sentence has also been translated as: “The first freedom of the press must be its emancipation from commerce” and “The primary freedom of the press lies in not being a trade.” [This last version is the one given in MECW 1:175.] In other words there is no true “freedom of the press” if it is only available to those who are rich and who can afford to own one or buy its services.
“We [our party] want to establish, and we shall establish, a free
press, free not simply from the police, but also from capital, from careerism, and
what is more, free from bourgeois-anarchist individualism.
“These last words may sound paradoxical, or an affront to the reader. What! some intellectual, and ardent champion of liberty, may shout. What, you want to impose collective control on such a delicate, individual matter as literary work! You want workmen to decide questions of science, philosophy, or aesthetics by a majority of votes! You deny the absolute freedom of absolutely individual ideological work!
“Calm yourselves, gentlemen! First of all, we are discussing party literature and its subordination to party control. Everyone is free to write and say whatever he likes, without any restrictions. But every voluntary association (including the party) is also free to expel members who use the name of the party to advocate anti-party views. Freedom of speech and the press must be complete. But then freedom of association must be complete too. I am bound to accord you, in the name of free speech, the full right to shout, lie and write to your heart’s content. But you are bound to grant me, in the name of freedom of association, the right to enter into, or withdraw from, association with people advocating this or that view. The party is a voluntary association, which would inevitably break up, first ideologically and then physically, if it did not cleanse itself of people advocating anti-party views.”
—Lenin, “Party Organization and Party Literature” (Nov. 13, 1905), LCW 10:47.
FREEDOM ROAD SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization is a U.S. revolutionary group, or actually, two separate revolutionary groups since it underwent a split in March 1999 and both halves decided to keep the same name. The somewhat larger group, it appears, which is also known as FRSO/OSCL, has a web site at: http://www.freedomroad.org The other group, which has its biggest concentration in the Midwest, and which is sometimes called “FRSO/Fight Back!” (after the name of its newspaper), has a web site at: http://www.frso.org.
The FRSOs have their origin in other revolutionary organizations which were formed during the 1970s. One of these was the Revolutionary Workers’ Headquarters which was a group that split off from the Revolutionary Communist Party in early 1978. Both FRSOs still maintain strong elements of the seriously erroneous political line of the RWH. Both still fail to acknowledge, even after the accumulated evidence of the passing decades, that socialism was overthrown in China after Mao’s death. And while both groups do participate in mass struggle (which the RCP foolishly renounces), in their activities among workers, at least, the FRSOs both seem to strongly shy away from promoting revolutionary ideas. They denigrate this as “red level work” which is supposedly mostly “inappropriate” at this time, at least among the masses in general.
(Rightists, or “right opportunists”, always fail to recognize that it is the obligation of communists to put forward revolutionary ideas to the masses at all times! The differences in how we talk to politically unsophisticated people, as opposed to those who already understand something of the true nature of society and know some Marxist concepts, is not in the political line we put forward, but merely in the terminology we use and the assumptions we make about the existing understanding of our audience. With the unsophisticates we talk about the need for workers to rule society; with a more sophisticated audience we talk about the same thing in terms of the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. There is no group of working class people so backward that we should avoid talking to them about the need for workers to rule instead of the capitalists!)
Both FRSO groups have been extremely weak in their discussion and elaboration of revolutionary theory, including their own precise political lines and the principles behind them. Partly this is due to these political lines being extraordinarily diverse among different individuals within each group. Moreover, both FRSOs have been quite flaky in the stands they have taken on various important issues. The FRSO/Fight Back! group, for example, supports a number of Soviet-style revisionist parties and organizations around the world, while the FRSO/OSCL at least tacitly supported Obama in 2008 and has been trying to promote a plan of “Left Refoundation”, which in part looks toward a merger with other “left” organizations with dubious lines (including, for a time, even the right-wing Trotskyites in the Solidarity organization). They seem to be seeking an organizational solution to the political problem of how to go about becoming a serious political force among the masses.
Both FRSO groups say that they champion the “mass line”. But their conception of the mass line is a strongly rightist-populist one, and involves tailing after the masses from a reformist perspective. For more extensive discussion of this topic see the FRSO page on MASSLINE.INFO
FREE-LANCE CONTRACT LABOR
See: CONTINGENT WORKERS, CYBERTARIAT, PRECARIAT
A German-language weekly newspaper of the anarchist group led by Johann Most and Wilhelm Hasselmann which was published in London from 1879 to 1882, then in Belgium in 1882 and in the U.S. from 1882 to 1910.
FRENCH EMPIRES AND REPUBLICS
“A bourgeois revolution broke out in France in 1789 and the First
Republic was established in 1792. Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) made himself emperor
in May 1804, and set up the First Empire.
“When the February revolution took place in 1848, the Second Republic was brought into being. Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon III) established the Second Empire in December 1852.
“In September 1870, the Second Empire was overthrown and the Third Republic was formed.” —Note to an article on the Paris Commune in Peking Review, vol. 14, #13, March 26, 1971.
FRENCH REVOLUTION (of 1789)
The overthrow of the French King and aristocracy by the rising new class, the bourgeoisie (or capitalist class), and one of the most important political events in modern history. This is the great revolution that is meant when the phrase “the French Revolution” is used without reference to any specific date.
After a series of wars the French state of King Louis XVI was in serious financial difficulties, and in 1789 it convened a rare meeting of the weak national assembly (the Estates-Generales) in an attempt to deal with the problem. Within this assembly gathering the bourgeois leaders of the Third Estate (everybody other than the clergy and the nobility) demanded limits on the authority of the King and more power for themselves. This tipped off the first stage of the revolution.
The lower classes, however, especially in Paris itself, soon pushed the revolution in a much more radical direction. This led to the beheading of the King in 1793, along with thousands of the nobility and their supporters, in what is known as “the Terror” or “the Reign of Terror”. There is little doubt, however, that this shedding of the blood of the old ruling class was necessary for the success of the revolution. This radical phase of the revolution ended in 1794.
After several years of weak conservative rule general Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in a coup d’état in 1799, and later made himself Emperor.
The great French Revolution was one of the greatest bourgeois revolutions; it marked the end of feudalism in France and the beginning of bourgeois rule. Though there were periods of restorations of emperors and kings, the bourgeoisie remained largely in control of French society from then until the present time. Moreover the radical ideas from the early days of the revolution, as epitomized in the slogan “liberty, equality and fraternity” had profound influences on Europe as a whole and indeed the entire world.
See also: BASTILLE DAY, JACOBINS, MOUNTAIN AND GIRONDE
“The ever-memorable and blessed [French] Revolution... swept a thousand years of ... villany away in one swift tidal-wave of blood—one: a settlement of that hoary debt in the proportion of half a drop of blood for each hogshead of it that had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary stretch of ten centuries of wrong and shame and misery the like of which was not to be mated but in hell. There were two ‘Reigns of Terror,’ if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the ‘horrors’ of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with life-long death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.” —Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Ch. XIII.
“When Mao Zedong was asked his assessment of the French Revolution, the chairman replied, ‘It’s too soon to tell.’” —Bill Brazell, Wired magazine, Feb. 1997, p. 52. [Of course for every Marxist, including Mao, indeed for every truly progressive person with any knowledge at all of history, the French Revolution was one of the greatest of all historical events. But Mao here is obviously taking a long philosophical view, one that might reflect on humanity as a whole by saying that the final verdict is not yet in. —S.H.]
FRENCH REVOLUTION (of 1830)
The revolution which overthrew Charles X, the last of the Bourbon kings. Charles had tried to restrict the freedom of the press and curtail the power of the legislature, which led to a popular uprising in Paris which overthrew him. After Charles was deposed, Louis Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, replaced him as the “Citizen King”, a constitutional monarch who repudiated the divine right of kings. But Louis Philippe increasingly supported the interests of the bourgeoisie against those of the working class, whose conditions worsened. He himself was then overthrown in the revolution of February 1848.
FREUD, Sigmund (1856-1939)
Austrian neurologist and primary founder of psychoanalysis (see entry below).
Philosophically, Freud regarded “psychic activity” as something independent of the brain, existing side-by-side with material processes. This means he was a dualist, which from the point of view of Marxism is a form of idealism. (See specifically: psychophysical parallelism)
“Relative to this flurry of neurological and psychological observations [in the period before Freud’s writings], clearly demonstrating that unconscious mechanisms drive much of our lives, Freud’s own contribution appears speculative. It would not be a huge exaggeration to say that in his work, the ideas that are solid are not his own, while those that are his own are not solid. In hindsight, it is particularly disappointing that Freud never tried to put his views to an empirical test. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the birth of experimental psychology. New empirical methods flourished, including the systematic collection of precise response times and errors. But Freud seemed content with proposing metaphorical models of the mind without seriously testing them.” —Stanislas Dehaene, Consciousness and the Brain (2014), p. 52.
“Adamancy is the word for both Sigmund Freud and Frederick Crews.
“In his new biography, Freud: The Making of an Illusion , the UC Berkeley professor emeritus castigates the fraudulent founder of psychoanalysis for a rigid, even authoritarian personality antithetical to science. In fact, Crews points out, others preceded Freud in the development of psychoanalysis, but Freud not only wrote them out of history, but he also formed a secret committee of apostles to excommunicate anyone who dared to challenge his supremacy. Even worse, Crews can find no evidence that Freud ever cured anyone.
“On the contrary, as soon as Freud became renowned, he began to say that psychoanalysis cured no one. He continued to make money (and money was very important to Freud), promising his patients relief while writing that he was more interested in discovering the sources of mental suffering, which most of the time could be traced to some sort of sexual trauma, a view that originated, the biographer explains, in Freud’s own troubled childhood.
“A poor medical student who had a lifelong aversion to blood and to conducting the sort of painstaking clinical studies that might have overturned the dogma he developed, Freud made up much of his evidence, often attributing his own experiences to others. Some of his patients provided him with the repressed memories he wanted to find, others protested his methods and conclusions and were treated as hysterics, a catchall category that has never been satisfactorily defined.” —Carl Rollyson, in a review of Crews’ book, “Sunday Datebook”, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 3, 2017, p. 50.
The pseudoscientific doctrine created and elaborated by Sigmund Freud which claims to explain people’s deepest psychological motivations and disorders, and to provide a therapeutic treatment for such disorders. There is no scientific evidence to support Freudian psychoanalytic theory and practice, nor for any of its numerous variations.
The core doctrine of Freudian psychoanalysis is the theory of the unconscious and that there are three systems of the “psyche” (or, loosely speaking, the mind), namely, the id, the ego, and the superego. The “id” is a Freudian term for the completely unconscious system of personality, and is the supposed source of “psychic energy” derived from instinctual needs and drives. The id supposedly acts on the “pleasure principle” of increasing personal pleasure and reducing pain. “The unconscious” is made up of ideas and feelings which are unacceptable either to society or because they are ultimately dangerous to the existence of the person themselves. Freud claimed these ideas and feelings are sexual in origin, and include the Oedipal desire for sexual intercourse with your mother, and therefore a hostile challenge to your father!
The “ego”, in this doctrine, is said to be that part of the “psyche” where consciousness and perception reside. But it is also the area where mediation is said to occur between reality (or the “reality principle”) and the defense mechanisms of “the unconscious”. Thus the ego is supposedly more extensive than just that which is available to the person’s conscious awareness.
The “superego” is said to be only partly conscious, and represents the internalization of parental rules and guidance, and the rules of society, partly in the form of moral attitudes. These get reflected in conscious form as feelings of guilt and shame when the rules are violated. (This is one of the more plausible aspects of Freud’s entire doctrine; it notes the role of the conscience in individuals, and how the conscience must first be programmed by the parents and society at an early age.) The superego is thus said to serve as a “censor” of the needs and drives of the “id”.
The doctrine as a whole, therefore, is a theory of internal “psychic” conflict. Individuals who are unable to successfully resolve these conflicts are said to have “neuroses”, and to be in need of psychoanalytic therapy. From the point of view of treating the genuine psychological problems that people sometimes do have, there is no evidence that Freudian psychoanalysis works any better than any of the many other methods of treatment, nor indeed that any form of treatment works any better than merely having people talk their problems over with friends or other sympathetic people.
See also: PSYCHOANALYSIS, OVERDETERMINISM, SUBCONSCIOUS
FRIEDMAN, Milton (1912-2006)
One of the most influential American bourgeois economists of the 20th century, the founder of what is known as the “Chicago School” of bourgeois economics which insists on complete laissez faire or neoliberalism. Friedman was a monetarist, who absurdly thought that most things in the capitalist economy could be explained by the quantity of money in circulation and the prevailing interest rates. Friedman and his colleagues supported various dictatorships such as that of Pinochet in Chile in the name of encouraging “freedom”! He was also presented the phony “Nobel Prize in Economics”, awarded by the Royal Bank of Sweden.
See also: “HELICOPTER MONEY”, MORALITY—and Capitalism, REAGANOMICS
“FROM THE MASSES, TO THE MASSES”
The slogan, originated by Mao Zedong, summarizing the central concept of the MASS LINE method of revolutionary leadership.
FROMM, Erich (1900-80)
German-American sociologist and representative of the neo-Freudian school of “cultural psychoanalysis”. He was a social democrat associated with the Frankfurt School of revisionist academic “Marxists”.
Fromm attempted to synthesize Freud and the “early Marx”. Whereas Freud more strongly stressed the individual biological factors in human development, Fromm put more of the emphasis on social factors. However, he ignored class differences, which is hardly in keeping with the Marxist approach. Instead he looked at the essence of human beings, and of the development of society, from an abstract psychological viewpoint. He did recognize the transformation of humans into mere “things” as the result of their alienation under capitalism, and the resultant irrationality and meaninglessness of existence for many people. Fromm viewed capitalism as a mentally ill, irrational society. But instead of promoting social revolution, he put forward a program of “humanistic psychoanalysis” to supposedly cure individual pathologies.
Fromm joined the liberal reformist “Socialist Party of America” in the 1950s, and viewed himself as a “socialist humanist”. He was also active in liberal anti-war efforts, as with the SANE organization. But over time he became less politally active. One of Fromm’s books, Marx’s Concept of Man (1961) included some of Marx’s early writings on alienation and related topics, which were not widely available in English before that time.
FRONTIER [Leftist magazine in India]
“The Frontier weekly was started with Samar Sen as its editor in 1968, after he was sacked as the editor of Now weekly due to its overtly leftist leanings. In the editor’s own words ‘After discussing with many we were hopeful that we would be able to collect Rs.60,000/- with ease. However, not more than Rs.9,000/- was forthcoming’. Frontier was enthused by the Naxalbari rumblings but in the 1969 State Assembly elections it supported the United Front of which the CPI(M) was the principal constituent. However, Frontier was soon to play its role in the Naxalite movement. Initially the Naxalites maintained an air of disdain towards Samar Sen and therefore Frontier for its criticism of what it perceived as the excesses of the movement like class anhiliation and hyperbole. When Charu Mazumdar professed that very soon the Red Army would march along the banks of the river Bhagirothi, Frontier’s classic repartee was its editorial ‘If faith could move mountains’. Today it might appear just a linguistic twist but in those charged times one may have had to pay with one’s life for such acts of ‘indiscretion’. It was convenience that brought Naxalites and Frontier closer. There came a time when State repression and the collective violence of the political forces (CPI, CPI(M), Congress) made it difficult to continue publishing Deshobroti and Liberation. Most of the leadership and cadres were in police custody and cracks were developing in the movement. Frontier stepped in at this juncture as a means of communication between the scattered and underground/jailed leadership and the cadre. It played this role from 1970 to 1977. Frontier continues to be published today.” —From the Sanhati.com website: http://sanhati.com/frontier_archives/ Some of these early issues of Frontier are archived there.
FRSO, FRSO/OSCL, and FRSO/Fight Back!
See: FREEDOM ROAD SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION
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