IONIAN SCHOOL [Philosophy: 6th century BCE]
The Ionian School of ancient Greek philosophy (also known as the Ionic or Miletian school), arose in the city of Miletus which was a trading and cultural center of the ancient world located on the coast of Asia Minor. This was the earliest school of naturalistic materialism in the history of Greek philosophy, and is also considered to be the first school of scientific speculation about the nature of the world—i.e., one of the earliest sources of ideas which could be reasonably viewed as early scientific theories. Its most famous individuals were Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes.
Although they were materialists, the Ionians were what we would now view as very naïve materialists, and really had not much of any understanding of how mind and mental phenomena can be viewed as arising from an appropriate complex organization of matter (a brain). Instead, they were called hylozoists (those who “put life into matter”), and they seem to have believed that all matter itself, at least in an elemental way, is actually capable of what we would now call mental processes such as having feelings. In this way the Ionians could also be viewed as early precursors of something like the sort of dualism that Leibniz propounded, as much as true materialists in the modern sense. This, however, is often characteristic of naïve materialism in general.
“Ionian science was an endeavor marked by a strong interest in uncovering
fundamental laws to explain natural phenomena, a tremendous milestone in the history of
human ideas. Their approach was rational and in many cases led to conclusions supprisingly
similar to what our more sophisticated methods have led us to believe today. It
represented a grand beginning. But over the centuries much of Ionian science would be
forgotten—only to be rediscovered or reinvented, sometimes more than once....
“Scholars in ancient Ionia were among the first to explain natural phenomena through laws of nature rather than myth or theology....
“As the Ionian influence spread, there appeared others who saw that the universe possesses an internal order, one that could be understood through observation and reason. Anaximander (ca. 610 BC-ca. 546 BC), a friend and possibly a student of Thales, argued that since human infants are helpless at birth, if the first human had somehow appeared on earth as an infant, it would not have survived. In what may have been humanity’s first inkling of evolution, people, Anaximander reasoned, must therefore have evolved from other animals whose young are hardier.” —Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (2010), pp. 18-20.
IPO (Initial Public Offering)
The first sale to the public of stock in a corporation. The company is thus transformed from one which is “privately held” into a “publicly owned” corporation, where it is supposedly slightly more closely regulated by the government.
Huge fortunes are often made during IPOs, not only by those who previously owned the entire company, but also by the investment banks who arrange the offering, and by stock brokers with inside connections who are allowed to buy the new stock at a low price and then sell it at a much higher price. This is yet another mechanism by which Wall Street financiers rip off small investors.
[To be added...]
See also: MOSADDEGH, Mohammad
IRAQ — U.S. War Against (2003-?)
The U.S. imperialists, together with their junior partners including the British imperialists, have attacked Iraq twice in recent decades, in order to seize better control of its oil resources and to establish a military center for U.S. control of the whole Middle East. The second and larger war and invasion, also known as the Second Gulf War, began on March 20, 2003, and as of late 2011 it still continues, though with a much reduced level of fighting at the present time.
It is estimated that up to 1.2 million people have died as a result of the war, from both the direct results of the invasion and occupation, and from the sectarian conflict that then erupted between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other sections of the population. This figure apparently does not include the previous hundreds of thousands of deaths, especially of Iraqi children, during the severe blockade of Iraq during the 1990s and up until the 2003 invasion. In the photo at the right, 5-year old Samar Hassan screams in terror, and is covered in her innocent parent’s blood, after U.S. troops fired on their car and killed them in Tal Afar, Iraq, on the evening of Jan. 18, 2005. They were merely taking their other child, Samar’s sick brother, to the hospital.
The stated goal of this war by the American and British imperialists was to liquidate the threat to their interests posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction” (chemical, biological and, “potentially” it was claimed, nuclear weapons). Despite exhaustive seaching, no such weapons or weapons programs were found in Iraq after the invasion, and it became obvious that this was a mere pretense, which perhaps the imperialists convinced themselves existed because they needed some excuse to invade Iraq.
The real primary reasons for the attack and invasion were quite obvious. Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in the Mideast in its proven oil reserves. The U.S. State Department, in a memorandum as far back as 1945, termed the Mideast as a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. In addition it was necessary to move the U.S. military forces in the region out of Saudi Arabia (after the violent attacks by Saudi militants in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001). What better place to move them than Iraq, with its huge oil resources, and—as a plus—right next door to Iran, which the imperialists also expect to attack at some point. There were also a number of less important additional reasons, such as their need to slap down Saddam Hussein, a tyrant they had put in power in the first place, but who had grown too big for his britches (too independent) in their eyes.
From the point of view of actually promoting the interests and goals of U.S. and other foreign imperialism, this Iraq war and invasion has been a major and extraordinary expensive failure. Far from quickly seizing control of Iraq and the surrounding area, this imperialist intervention has further destabilized the entire region. The offical figure for the U.S. funds spent or allocated on this war (as of Nov. 2010) was already more than $900 billion. Much of the actual cost, however, has been hidden in the general military and other federal government budgets. The final tally, including all the expenditures for health care for veterans, replacement of war materials used up in this war, etc., will be at least $1.5 trillion, and some estimates run as high as $3 trillion. At a time when the U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis is intensifying as never before, this war has obviously been an extremely foolish one, even from the point of view of the interests of the imperialists themselves!
India Reserve Battalion. This is one of the many government paramilitary forces seeking to destroy Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries) in India.
IRON RICE BOWL
A reference to the de facto lifetime guarantee by the revolutionary government of China during the Mao era that every person would have employment at a living wage—and thus be guaranteed of sufficient food. Once conditions in China had settled down after the revolution and transformation of the economy into socialism, and after a few initial missteps (such as during the Great Leap Forward), this “Iron Rice Bowl” guarantee was solidly in place until the revisionists (under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping) seized power after Mao’s death. The new bourgeoisie in power was able to smash even this iron rice bowl.
The theory that scientific investigation and rational thinking are not the correct paths to truth and understanding, but rather that the correct path lies in some inexplicable or mystical means such as intuition (see intuitionism above). Of course it is inconsistent (and rather incoherent) to attempt to provide a rational argument for irrationalism, but many people with religious impulses have nevertheless tried to do so.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about irrationalism.
IS-OUGHT [In Ethics]
ISKRA [“The Spark”]
The first All-Russian illegal Marxist newspaper, founded by Lenin in December 1900. It had to be published outside of Russia and smuggled into the country. It became a rallying center and focus for establishing Marxist revolutionary groups in a number of Russian cities, and facilitated the real establishment of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (at the so-called “Second Party Congress” in July-August 1903). In late 1903, after Plekhanov went over to the side of the Mensheviks, Lenin left the Iskra editorial board. Plekhanov then co-opted a number of Mensheviks onto the editorial board and it became an opportunist Menshevik newspaper.
More details about the formation of Iskra, and the struggle within the RSDLP over it, can be found in footnote 5, LCW 5:533-535.
As Lenin often remarked, due to the complexity of most situations, and modern society as a whole, it is always possible to find isolated facts to “prove” any theory whatsoever. The truth arises not from isolated facts, but from an analysis developed from a comprehensive evaluation of all the most important facts. Those who try to understand complicated situations or structures on the basis of isolated facts and very limited investigation will virtually never succeed.
“In order to depict this objective position one must not take examples or isolated data (in view of the extreme complexity of the phenomena of social life it is always possible to select any number of examples or separate data to prove any proposition), but all the data on the basis of economic life in all the belligerent countries and the whole world.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916), LCW 22:190. [Lenin is explaining here how the true class nature of the inter-imperialist war then in progress had to be determined.]
“To make the picture a graphic one, to obtain a real picture instead of a heap of disconnected, disjointed, and isolated facts and incidents, to put a stop to the endless and senseless arguments over particular votings (who voted for whom and who supported whom?), I have decided to try to depict all the basic types of ‘divisions’ at our Congress in the form of a diagram. This will probably seem strange to a great many people, but I doubt whether any other method can be found that would really generalise and summarise the results in the most complete and accurate manner possible.” —Lenin, One Step Foreward, Two Steps Back: The Crisis in Our Party (1904), LCW vol. 7, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/n.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how a more comprehensive analysis than just “isolated facts” is necessary in order to understand what had really happened at the Second Party Congress of the RSDLP, who the different forces were, and so forth.]
“The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries call themselves socialists, but they are actually abettors of the counter-revolutionaries, abettors of the landowners and capitalists. This was proved in practice not only by isolated facts, but by two big periods in the history of the Russian revolution: (1) the Kerensky period, and (2) the Kolchak period. Both times the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, while professing to be ‘socialists’ and ‘democrats’, actually played the role of abettors of the whiteguards. Are we then going to be so foolish as to believe them now they are suggesting we let them ‘try again’, and call our permission a ‘united socialist (or democratic) front’?” —Lenin, “Apropos of the Victory Over Kolchak” (Aug. 24, 1919), LCW vol. 29, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/aug/24.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how only a comprehensive evaluation of other political forces can allow a correct decision to be made about whether to form an alliance with them.]
The Zionist state which has been built, with the major support of British and U.S. imperialism, through theft of Palestinian lands and “ethnic cleansing” and genocide directed against the Palestinian people. [More to be added...]
See also: PALESTINE, IMMIGRANTS—Deportation Of, SUEZ CANAL
ITALY — 1920 WORKER’S UPRISING
“In September 1920, Italian steelworkers occupied their mills on the
initiative of their trade union, which was in conflict with the association of
industrialists. The movement started in Turin and Milan, then spread through Piedmond
and Northern Italy across the country, from the metallurgical industry to other
industries and to agriculture. In Sicily and in other areas peasants occupied the
land. The scope of the movement jeoparized the capitalist regime, but the reformist
leaders of the Socialist Party and the trade unions, terrified by the political
character of the movement, adopted a decision to confine it to within the trade unions
and prevent it from developing into a revolution. They also decided to start
negotiations with the industrialists.
“This was a hard blow at the Italian workers’ movement and showed the leaders inability to lead the mass forces. Fascism used the confusion within the working class to start its armed offensive in Italy.” —Endnote 131, LCW 32.
“The revolution in Italy will run a different course from that in Russia. It will start in a different way. How? Neither you nor we know. The Italian Communists are not always Communists to a sufficient degree. Did a single Communist show his mettle when the workers seized the factories in Italy? [This refers to the events mentioned in endnote 131 above. —Ed.] No. At that time, there was as yet no communism in Italy; there was a certain amount of anarchism, but no Marxian communism. The latter has still to be created and the masses of the workers must be imbued with it by means of the experience of the revolutionary struggle. And the first step along this road is a final break with the Mensheviks, who for more than twenty years have been collaborating and working with the bourgeois government.” —Lenin, “Speech on the Italian Question” (at the Third Congress of the Communist International, June 28, 1921), LCW 32:465.
See: INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index
MASSLINE.ORG Home Page