Traditional Chinese measure of distance, equal to about one-half of a kilometer, or about one-third of a mile. Thus the “25,000 li Long March” was about 8,000 miles long!
LI Da (1890-1966)
One of the earliest and most important Marxist philosophers and disseminators of Marxist theory more generally in China. He was a founding member of the Communist Party of China and played an important role in the Marxist education of Party members, including Mao Zedong. From their already existing Japanese translations, Li Da retranslated many Russian and German works on philosophy and Marxist theory into Chinese. Li’s own most important work was his Elements of Sociology (1st ed., 1935), which is said to have had a great influence on Mao. In the young Soviet Union there were some major struggles in philosophy, and by the 1930s a standard “New Philosophy” became dominant there. Li Da helped popularize that standardized version of Marxist philosophy and theory in China.
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Li Da was heavily criticized for having failed to proclaim the absolute and total originality of Mao’s contributions to Marxist philosophy and theory. However, Mao—like everyone else—had to learn a lot of his theoretical views from his predecessors. Mao did make great contributions to Marxism, but he was able to do so in part because of the earlier great ideas he learned from Marx, Engels, Lenin and others.
An important book about Li Da is: Li Da and Marxist Philosophy in China (1996), by Nick Knight.
In March 1966, Li Da responded to Lin Biao’s theory that Mao Zedong
Thought was the pinnacle of Marxist-Leninist theory in characteristically forthright
manner. On being informed—possibly rather nervously—by one of his research assistants
that this theory originated from Vice Chairman Lin, Li responded:
“I realize that, and I don’t agree! This notion of a ‘pinnacle’ is unscientific, and does not conform to dialectics. Marxism-Leninism is developmental, and so is Mao Zedong Thought. If you compare them to a pinnacle, then there is no direction in which they can develop from there. How can Marxism-Leninism have a ‘pinnacle’? I can’t agree with violations of dialectics, regardless of who utters it.”
—From Nick Knight, Li Da and Marxist Philosophy in China (1996), p. 23. [While strictly speaking Li Da was correct here, he might better have recognized that revolutionary theory can very well reach temporary “pinnacles” as of a given time, which later can and should be surpassed. Revolutionary theory, too, advances by periodic leaps which must be recognized and defended. —S.H.]
LI De [Old style: Li Te]
See: OTTO BRAUN
LI Tso-p’eng (1916-?)
A General and high ranking political cadre in the People’s Liberation Army of China, who is known both as the author of an influential article summing up one aspect of Mao’s military concepts “Strategy: One Against Ten, Tactics: Ten Against One” (1964), and also later for his conspiratorial involvement in the failed coup attempt by Lin Biao.
The Strategy and Tactics article appeared in an abridged English translation in Peking Review, 1965, issues #15 & #16, and was also issued as a 43-page pamphlet in English in 1966. Excerpts from it were published in the RIM magazine, A World to Win, #16 in 1991, online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/International/RIM/AWTW/1991-16/strategy_One_Against_Ten_Tactics.htm (The AWTW editors seemed not to be aware of Li’s role in the conspiracy to overthrow and even murder Mao!)
From 1967 until his downfall immediately following the attempted military coup by Lin Biao, General Li Tso-p’eng was the 1st political commissar of the Navy. He had authority over the naval air base at Shanhaikuan and aided Lin and his family and closest circle in their escape by air from that base. (However, the plane crashed in Mongolia, and all aboard it were killed.) Li himself was soon arrested and then brought to trial for his substantial role in the conspiracy.
“Seeing that his scheme had been exposed and that his last day was coming, Lin Piao hurriedly took his wife and son and a few diehard cohorts to escape to the enemy, betraying the Party and the state. In the early morning of 2:30, September 13, 1971, the Trident jet No. 256 carrying them crashed in the vicinity of Ondor Han in Mongolia. Lin Piao, Yeh Chun, Lin Li-kuo [Lin Biao’s son], and all other renegades and aboard were burned to death. Their death, however, could not expiate all their crimes. After Lin Piao’s unsuccessful betrayal and defection, Huang Yung-sheng, Wu Fa-hsien, Li Tso-p’eng, and Ch’iu Hui-tso destroyed many evidences to cover up their own criminal acts.” —“Document No. 24 of the CCP Central Committee,” a Party document about the whole Lin Biao conspiracy, June 1972. [Emphasis added.]
LIBERALISM [Classical sense]
One of the primary and still widely dominant political ideologies of the ruling bourgeoisie in capitalist society. The basic ideas arose with the development of capitalism, were further refined in the 17th and 18th century (as for example in the very influential writings on political philosophy by John Locke), and became fully elaborated in the 19th century (especially in the works of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill). Only as capitalism entered periods of intensified crisis—such as during the 20th century with its Great Depression in the 1930s and two ultra-destructive inter-imperialist world wars—did classical liberalism come under major challenge by fascism as the best way to ideologically manage capitalist society and maintain the class rule of the bourgeoisie.
In this broad classical sense of the term, liberalism includes both those who call themselves “liberals” in the U.S. (in the social-welfare sense) and also those who call themselves “conservatives”. Liberals in this classical sense favor private (non-state) capitalism, generally with minimal levels of government regulation, and ideally laissez-faire capitalism (though many admit there needs to be some limited degree of government intervention or regulation at times).
In politics classical liberals support “pluralism” and multiple political parties as opposed to authoritarian or fascist trends which call for more uniformity, centralism and rigid political organization of the bourgeois ruling class, and for the total suppression of political parties and organizations of other classes—especially the working class. However, there is much less difference between liberals and fascists on these issues than is often supposed. The “multiple” bourgeois parties under classical liberalism almost always agree on the most important issues for the capitalist class and virtually always unite as one party when their class rule is threatened by a rebellious working class or by another capitalist power. The plethora of separate “interest groups” generally set their petty differences aside when confronted by the issue of their continued class rule. And, most essentially of all, even when the ruling class is operating under classical liberal ideology and institutions such as bourgeois democracy, it will certainly ignore those ideas and institutions when it becomes “necessary” to forcibly suppress any serious challenge to their continued control of society.
Classical liberalism is also contrasted with social democracy (or so-called democratic socialism), though these blend into each other. In recent decades, in particular, social democracy has moved toward classical liberalism to such a degree (by abandoning any call for bourgeois nationalization, for example), that there is scarcely any difference at all between them any more.
LIBERALISM [Maoist sense]
Liberalism, in the Maoist sense, means individualist or self-centered or petty-bourgeois behavior in contrast to the appropriate standards of political behavior for a communist. Its basic tenets are elaborated in a famous essay by Mao himself, “Combat Liberalism” (Sept. 7, 1937), SW 2:31-33, which is available in full at that link and also at other locations on the Internet, including: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm This article, though short, is a very important essay for Maoists to re-read periodically as a personal reminder of the standards of political behavior which we expect of our comrades and of ourselves.
Although this Maoist sense of the term ‘liberalism’ is somewhat different and much more specific than classical liberalism (see entry above) or liberalism in the social welfare sense (see entry below), they all share the common focus on bourgeois individualism and at least a partial indifference to the welfare and fate of other people. Most of the characteristics of a person within our own ranks who we Maoists criticise for liberalism are also characteristics of liberals in the other two senses as well, but in even more extreme form in those other senses.
Some of the things which Mao calls liberalism may be viewed as violations of the requirements of democratic centralism, such as disobeying orders or flouting party discipline.
Other types of liberalism demonstrate a laziness reflecting an indifference to the welfare of the masses. Such as letting things slide, working half-heartedly, or with an “employee mentality”.
Many types of liberalism are ways of behaving as if one were only a liberal and not a communist at all. Such as ignoring or papering over serious differences and errors which are harmful and should be criticized.
And most types of liberalism in the Maoist sense demonstrate a reluctance to fully engage in the absolutely necessary political struggle in class society, not only directly against the enemy, but also against bourgeois ideas and activities of the masses, of our comrades and also of our own selves and within each of us. Communists must be people who are always willing to struggle against what goes against the interests of the people and against what is therefore very wrong.
LIBERALISM [U.S. or “social welfare” sense]
A variety of liberalism in the classical sense, which sees that capitalism does have some quite “unpleasant features” which—it absurdly believes—can be reformed or regulated away. Liberals completely fail to understand that there is a capitalist ruling class running society, and that little or no significant or lasting measures of reform are possible under this system. In the U.S. bourgeois political system there has been little electoral success since World War I for reformist movements calling themselves “socialist”. So instead, U.S.-style liberalism is sort of a watered-down version of European social democracy, which normally strongly avoids the word ‘socialism’. (Which is just as well since it is not genuine socialism anyway!)
Just as social democracy has moved to the right in Britain and Europe, so liberalism has moved to the right in the U.S. as the world capitalist economic crisis has continued to develop. While the conservatives pioneered the wave of neoliberalist domestic policies under Reagan, the liberal Democratic party under presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama has mostly continued those very same policies, including the destruction of the welfare system and the continuing destruction of the labor union movement. Internationally, liberals are as promotive of U.S. imperialist wars as are conservatives—and sometimes even more so. The recent liberal president, Barack Obama, was at war with much of the world, just as the liberals John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson launched and hughly extended the Vietnam War and Southeast Asia.
No matter what they may claim, liberal politicians promote the interests of the capitalist ruling class—both domestically and in foreign affairs—just the same as the conservatives do, and perhaps even more determinedly.
“Though it is difficult to recall, there was a time when liberalism was identified with cheerfulness.... At the high-water mark of its recent political influence, liberalism is depressed, disappointed, deflated.” —Michael Gerson, a bourgeois commentator, in the Washington Post; quoted in The Week, Oct. 8, 2010, p. 16. [Although Gerson himself seems to be a “moderate”, even most political liberals themselves today show little confidence in their own perspective, and very little enthusiasm or hope that a significantly better world will come about through the implimentation of the policies of their elected leaders. They are suffering a crisis of faith because of the long-term failure of their own program, and the obvious fact that it has arrived at a dead end. —S.H.]
A movement that developed primarily in Roman Catholic countries during the world political radicalizations of the 1960s, and is sometimes considered to be a form of Christian socialism. It seeks to reinterpret Christian doctrine and activities from the perspective of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed, and thus has a pro lower class political character as well as a religious character. Theologians of this school view poverty itself as the result of sin, the sin of exploitation by the capitalists and the sin of the class war that the rich wage against the poor. Liberation theology was especially popular for a time in Latin American countries which had formerly been colonies, and which it viewed as still suffering from “post-colonial deprivation”.
One of the founders of liberation theology was the Peruvian Dominican theologian, Gustavo Gutiérrez Merina (1928- ), who sought to blend Marxism with Catholic social thought. His book, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation (1971), was very influential among liberal Latin American Catholics. Another influential work in this sphere was Liberation Theology, by the Brazilians Leonardo and Clodovis Boff.
While basically just a Catholic reformist movement there were a few cases of guerrilla warfare engaged in by renegade Catholic priests and their associates. From the 1970s on liberation theology spread to some African countries, where it focused on condemning apartheid and other forms of racism. Liberation theology also inspired similar reformist trends such as Black theology, gay theology, etc. While liberation theology still exists, especially in Brazil, it seems to have lost much of its original radical force. In part this is due to the ferocious crackdown on this trend by ultra-reactionary popes and the Catholic hierarchy.
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” —Dom Hélder Câmara, a Brazilian Archbishop.
[To be added...]
See also: ANARCHISM—LIBERTARIAN
The London Interbank Offered Rate, usually referred to just as LIBOR, is a benchmark short-term interest rate for loans between banks overseas (especially in Europe) which are made in U.S. dollars. The interest rates for Eurodollar loans made to corporations is then based on (and normally higher than) the LIBOR rate, which means that the LIBOR rate is similar in function to the prime rate within the U.S.
There was a recent scandal about the LIBOR rate when it was found that English and European banks were rigging the rate in order to fraudulently increase their profits.
LIEBKNECHT, Karl (1871-1919)
A prominent and important leader of the left-wing of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, and later one of the founders of the Communist Party of Germany. In January 1919 he was assassinated by counter-revolutionary agents associated with the revisionist Social-Democratic government then in power.
LIFE — Origin Of
Specific details surrounding the origin of life are appropriate to the sciences of chemistry and biology, and not revolutionary science. But, as materialists we view the origin of life as having been of necessity a natural process, based originally on natural chemical and physical processes.
“With regard to the origin of life, therefore, up to the present, natural science is only able to say with certainty that it must have been the result of chemical action.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:68.
“If life and death cannot be transformed into each other, then please tell me where living things come from. Originally there was only non-living matter on earth, and living things did not come into existence until later, when they were transformed from non-living matter, that is, dead matter.” —Mao, “Talks at a Conference of Secretaries of Provincial, Municipal and Autonomous Region Party Committees” (Talk of January 27, 1957), SW 5:368.
“LIFE OF WU HSUN, The”
See: “THE LIFE OF WU HSUN”
The amount of money earned by a worker over his or her entire life. Because of the existence of inflation in capitalist countries, to be of any practical use the value of lifetime income must be stated as the sum of the constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars for each year’s income. Unfortunately, the government-reported inflation rates understate the actual level of inflation, especially for the lower sections of the working class. (See: CONSUMER PRICE INDEX) This means that calculations of lifetime income by bourgeois economists are actually somewhat invalid, since not all of the actual inflation over the years is properly adjusted for.
Of more interest than the value of any individual person’s lifetime income are the changes that occur in the average lifetime incomes over time. The study below, though by bourgeois economists and summarized in rather formal academic language, shows that the average lifetime incomes of American male workers today has fallen considerably as compared to the similarly inflation-adjusted lifetime incomes of workers in the past couple generations. This reflects both the growing exploitation of the working class and the long-developing capitalist overproduction crisis (which began around 1973) which is leading the bourgeoisie to do their utmost to take out their growing problems on the backs of the working class.
“Using panel data on individual labor income histories from 1957 to 2013, we document two empirical facts about the distribution of lifetime income in the United States. First, from the cohort that entered the labor market in 1967 [1957?] to the cohort that entered in 1983, median lifetime income of men declined by 10%-19%. We find little-to-no rise in the lower three-quarters of the percentiles of the male lifetime income during this period. Accounting for rising employer-provided health and pension benefits partly mitigates these findings but does not alter the substantive conclusions. [Moreover, in recent decades it is health and pension plans which are being cut back or eliminated in the most rapid way. So, far from ‘mitigating’ the real income decline, this is now worsening it! —Ed.] For women, median lifetime income increased by 22%-33% from the 1957 to the 1983 cohort, but these gains were relative to very low liftime differences in income during the early years in the labor market. Partial life-cycle profiles of income observed for cohorts that are currently in the labor market indicate that the stagnation of lifetime incomes is unlikely to reverse. Second, we find that inequality in lifetime incomes has increased significantly within each gender group. However, the [partially] closing lifetime gender gap has kept overall lifetime inequality virtually flat. The increase within gender groups is largely attributed to an increase in inequality at young ages, and partial life-cycle income data for younger cohorts indicate that the increase in inequality is likely to continue. Overall, our findings point to the substantial changes in labor market outcomes for younger workers as a critical driver of trends in both the level and inequality of lifetime income over the past 50 years.” —Fatih Guvenen, Greg Kaplan, Jae Song, Justin Weidner, “Lifetime Incomes in the United States over Six Decades” (summary), April 2017, online at: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23371?ulm_campaign=ntw&ulm_medium=email&ulm_source=ntw [Because of the inadequate inflation adjustment mentioned in the introduction to this entry, the situation is actually worse than these authors state; the real average lifetime income for men has been falling even faster than they say, and the real average lifetime income for the American working class as a whole is not just “stagnating”, but has actually been significantly declining, and at a faster pace. They are correct, however, in identifying the youngest workers as the greatest victims of this process. —Ed.]
See: ELECTRICITY and LIGHTING—Availability per Capita
1. A number whose numerical difference from the value of a mathematical function is arbitrarily small for all values of the independent variables that are sufficiently close to but not equal to given prescribed numbers or that are sufficiently large positively or negatively. [Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (1993)]
2. A number that for an infinite sequence of numbers is such that ultimately each of the remaining terms of the sequence differs from this number by less than any given positive amount. [Ibid.]
A simple example of this second sort of limit is the sequence 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, 15/16, 31/32, ... which, though it never quite reaches the limit value of 1, becomes ever closer to it, with the difference between the value of the terms and 1 becoming ever smaller.
The concept of a limit, though it initally appears quite abstruse, is essential in formulating the differential and integral calculus in a logically coherent manner.
LIN Biao [Old style: LIN Piao] (1908-71)
High-ranking military and political leader in revolutionary China who proved to be the worst sort of careerist, and who betrayed the revolution and even attempted to assassinate Mao.
Lin was born in Wuhan, in Hubei province, and was the son of a factory owner. He was educated at the Wampoa Military Academy where he became radicalized. When he graduated in 1926 he joined up with the Communist Party to fight the Guomindang. He became commander of the Northeast People’s Liberation Army in 1945. In 1959 he was appointed Minister of Defense, and—apparently just for careerist motives—made a very strong show of supporting Mao and opposing the capitalist-roaders during the early years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This led to his appointment as the Vice-Chairman of the Party at the 9th Party Congress in 1969, and Mao’s designated heir. But by 1971, Lin’s health was deteriorating, and there were hints that he might be removed as Mao’s designated successor. Fearing his personal grandiose career hopes were flitting away, and along with his son and a few close supporters, he drew up a plan with the code name “Project 571” to assassinate Mao during a train journey from Shanghai to Beijing, and then seize power in a military coup. This plot was uncovered, and in September 1971 Lin tried to escape by air to the revisionist Soviet Union. However, his plane crashed in Mongolia and he was killed.
In the years after his death a massive political campaign to criticize Lin Biao together with Confucius took place in China. There are indeed many lessons to be learned about how, especially after the seizure of political power, the revolutionary proletariat must be alert for careerists and unprincipled opportunists. Not only must communists be trained to be “honest and above board” in putting forward their own views, but revolutionary parties must carefully avoid awarding and promoting those who are mere opportunist toadies. “Yes men” are far more dangerous to the revolution than those who at times honestly and openly disagree with the party leadership. In reality, we should be highly suspicious of those who never disagree with us! Either such people are just not thinking on their own, or else they have ulterior motives for always agreeing with us. Either way, they should never be promoted to high office in a revolutionary party or government.
See also: ANTI-LIN BIAO, ANTI-CONFUCIUS CAMPAIGN
LINCOLN, Abraham (1809-65)
Sixteenth president of the United States who—because of the exigencies of the Civil War—issued the Emancipation Proclamation which stated that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states or parts of states then in rebellion were free. (Later the U.S. Constitution was amended to make slavery illegal everywhere in the country.) Lincoln’s central goal in the Civil War was to defeat the rebellion of the southern slave states and hold the country together—and not to end slavery. However, in the midst of that desperate war he understood that declaring the slaves free in the South and allowing them to join the federal army would strike a major blow at the Confederacy. Lincoln did oppose slavery, though he (along with most of the white ruling class power structure then and still today) was also a racist himself. It was more the force of events as they developed which led to the Emancipation Proclamation. This is an interesting example of how someone whose own views are still quite backward in many respects can nevertheless sometimes end up playing a quite positive historical role.
“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of
bringing about the social and political equality of the white and black races
[applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of
negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white
“And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” —Abraham Lincoln, campaigning in Illinois against Stephen Douglas in a U.S. Senate race two years before being elected President. Quoted in Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (1995), p. 184.
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.... I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere could be free.” —Abraham Lincoln, letter of Aug. 22, 1862, to Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune; quoted in James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me (1995), p. 174.
“If slavery isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong.” —Abraham Lincoln, letter to Albert Hodges, April 4, 1864; quoted in James W. Loewen, ibid., p. 174.
“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the
fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor
is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has
its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied
that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital
producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community
exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor
themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large
majority belong to neither class—neither work for others nor have others working for
them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are
neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers
nor hired. Men, with their families—wives, sons, and daughters—work for themselves
on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to
themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or
slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle
their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy
or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class.
No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.” —Abraham
Lincoln, “1861 State of the Union Address”, Dec. 3, 1961, online at:
[Many “progressives”, social democrats and revisionists like to quote those first two sentences, but the whole passage here shows that Lincoln was by no means anything like a Marxist. His views were more representative of the outlook of the contemporary petty-bourgeoisie, which—as an independent lawyer—was indeed his own objective class position. —Ed.]
The school of philosophy popular in the English-speaking world in the 20th century that holds that many or most (or even all) philosophical problems derive from confusion about the use of words, and are thus resolved by careful analysis of the real meaning of words and phrases. Since they take this as a given they studiously avoid all discussion of the major philosophical questions which philosophers have argued about throughout history, and which their method seems to have little of relevance to say about. Wittgenstein’s later philosophy was the main impetus for this school.
1. The dissolution, termination or purposeful destruction of a revolutionary party by those who are no longer revolutionaries, or the advocacy of such action. This has sometimes been advocated by revisionists within socialist or communist parties on the supposed grounds that social revolution is no longer necessary, and therefore that revolutionary parties to lead such a revolution are no longer necessary. Obviously this is an extreme form of right opportunism and betrayal of the revolutionary goal.
2. The termination of the revolutionary struggle by those who have become revisionists (whether or not this also involves formally dissolving the revolutionary party that had been leading such a struggle). In many cases the revolutionary party is not actually dissolved, but instead it is transformed into a reformist or other type of bourgeois party.
“Liquidationism—an opportunist trend that spread among the
Menshevik Social-Democrats after the defeat of the 1905-07 Revolution [in Russia].
“The liquidators demanded the dissolution of the illegal party of the working class. Summoning the workers to give up the struggle against tsarism, they intended calling a non-Party ‘labor congress’ to establish an opportunist ‘broad’ labor party which, abandoning revolutionary slogans, would engage only in the legal activity permitted by the tsarist government. Lenin and other Bolsheviks ceaselessly exposed this betrayal of the revolution by the liquidators. The policy of the liquidators was not supported by the workers. The Prague Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. which took place in January 1912 expelled them from the Party.” —Note 7, LCW 17.
LIQUIDITY [Capitalist Finance]
Holding cash and/or other assets which can be quickly sold and turned into cash. A “safe” level of liquidity is to own ample amounts of cash and/or easily liquidated assets to meet any need that may arise, even in an exceptional situation. Speculators often operate far below such a safe level, which makes them vulnerable to financial ruin when a crisis suddenly develops.
A term originated by Keynes and used by Keynesian-influenced bourgeois economists to describe the situation in an economic crisis where it is impossible to lower interest rates so as to increase the demand for loans (and thus expand economic activity). This can occur either because the prevailing interest rates are already as low as they can go (approaching zero), or else because the increase in the money supply by the central bank does not result in a fall in the prevailing interest rates for some other reason, but instead merely an addition to the idle funds of the banks or holders of the money. (Keynes’ explanation for this second possibility within the context of bourgeois economics is vague at best and neoclassical bourgeois economists deny that it can actually happen. But clearly in a crisis the holders of money often do refuse to lend it or invest it because they fear losing it.) Thus describing a situation as a liquidity trap is simply an obscure way of saying that standard “monetary policy” has become ineffective.
Clear examples of “liquidity traps” or periods when monetary policy has utterly failed include the First Great Depression (of the 1930s), Japan during the 1990s and since then, and the U.S. economy starting in the autumn of 2008 when the Federal Reserve cut the interest rate it charges banks to essentially zero as the initial financial crisis of the developing Second Great Depression began to take hold.
Marxist economists avoid the term “liquidity trap” because it reflects confused Keynesian bourgeois notions and does not really clarify the actual situation. It makes far more sense to simply note that the capitalists stop investing and stop loaning money when they are afraid of losing it — i.e., in a major financial crisis associated with an overproduction crisis — and therefore lowering interest rates, even to near zero, soon loses its effectiveness.
“LITTLE RED BOOK”
See: QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN MAO TSE-TUNG
LIU Shaoqi [Oldstyle: LIU Shao-ch’i] (1898-1969)
High ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party who during the period of socialism was the leader of those in the Party taking the capitalist road toward the restoration of capitalism in China. He was overthrown by the Maoist revolutionaries during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Liu was born in Hunan Province to a moderately rich, land-owning peasant family. He was educated in Changsha and Shanghai (where he learned Russian). In 1921-22 he went to study in Moscow, and while there joined the newly-formed CCP. He returned to China and became a labor organizer in Shanghai. His orientation was always more toward the cities than the countryside. He was elected to the CCP Politburo in 1934 and became its expert on matters of organization and Party structure. In 1939 he wrote his notorious book on “self-cultivation”, How to Be a Good Communist. In 1943 he became Secretary General of the Party, then Vice-Chairman in 1949. While Mao was still Chairman of the CCP, Liu became Chairman of the People’s Republic of China in 1958 (i.e., head of state).
Liu advocated and did his best to institute all sorts of “reforms” tending in the direction of restoring capitalism, such as promoting production above political consciousness; financial incentives and bonuses (as opposed to moral incentives); easing of the restrictions on the market economy (rather than tightening them and steadily restricting the “law of value”); promoting rewards for “loyal cadres” and special treatment for the children of high Party officials; and, in general, promotion of a new privileged strata within the Party and State. As the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution developed in the mid 1960s Liu led the sly and semi-camouflaged resistence to it. This had the effect of more and more turning the GPCR against him and his minions as its primary target. In 1967 Liu was informally removed from power, and in October 1968 he was formally “expelled from the Party forever, and stripped of all his positions in and outside the CCP.” He died in November 1969 while under house-arrest back in Hunan. In 1980 he was “rehabilitated” by Deng Xiaoping’s gang of revisionists who seized control of the CCP after Mao’s death in 1976.
A sympathetic bourgeois biographer, Lowell Dittmer, said of him: “Liu’s life may be viewed as an attempt to combine order with revolution and equality with economic efficiency and technocratic values.” But for Liu “order” meant a turn toward bourgeois rule, “equality” meant an end to class struggle, and “efficiency and technocratic values” meant the capitalist marketplace. Liu Shaoqi was not a personal opportunist; he was quite sincere and dedicated in his advocacy of revisionism. He was all the more insidious and dangerous to the cause of communist revolution because of this.
See also: “BOMBARD THE HEADQUARTERS”
LIU Qing [Old style: LIU Ching] (1916-78)
Chinese revolutionary writer, born in Wubu County, Yulin, northern Shaanxi Province, originally named Liu Yunhua. Liu is the author of numerous writings, including novels, short stories and articles, most of which are still only available in Chinese. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1936, at the age of twenty. Two of his novels have been translated into English. Wall of Bronze, a fairly short book, enjoyed great popularity and was reprinted some thirteen times in China from 1951 to 1976. The Builders, a much longer work, likewise presents a fascinating, inspiring and deeply probing examination of daily life in a northern Shaanxi village. (Both novels give the author’s name as “Ching.”)
“After the land was distributed among the tillers in the Land Reform
of the early fifties, two kinds of ‘builders’ appeared in China’s countryside. One wanted
to go it alone, to build up his family fortunes in the old way, looking out only for his
personal interests. The other wanted to build a society that would benefit all the people,
to form together, helping one another, advancing in stages from mutual-aid teams to
co-operatives, and on to more advanced forms. This novel describes the struggle between
these two trends.
“Liu Ching probes deeply into the characters who populate his fascinating book: Liang Sheng-pao, the determined young peasant who fights to make mutual aid a success; his father, old Liang the Third, who wants only to build the fortunes of his own family; the pretty Kai-hsia, Sheng-pao’s sweetheart, who is confused about her role in the new society; prosperous peasants who connive to wreck the socialistic advance; poor peasants who rally round the standard that is leading them forward ....” (from from the back cover of The Builders)
Both of these works leave no room for doubt that Liu was himself a “builder” of the socialist
road. Yet his life appears to have become deeply troubled during the Cultural Revolution. A
Chinese language wiki-style website provides some information (see
[English translation needed]). Liu’s wife was killed, and he was put in prison from 1967
to 1969. In 1972, Zhou Enlai personally intervened to order that Liu be cared for; by this time,
however, he was already in poor health, and his powerful writing abilities had been disrupted
by emotional and physical strain. Liu died on June 13, 1978. Close to the people, an extremely
formidable observer and critic of bourgeois individualism and capitalistic tendencies, as well
as a champion of collectivism, hard work, self-reliance, initiative, daring, you name it —
virtually all of the social values of the Mao era — it stands to reason that he and his work
would have been thorns in the side of Mao’s opponents. Much remains to be learned from and about
Liu Qing. —JDL/XYJ
See also “A Writer’s Profile: Taking Roots Among the People,” Peking Review, #38, Sept. 22, 1978, 15-17. Online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1978/PR1978-38.pdf
“LIVING FROM PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK”
A pithy phrase that describes the economic situation of huge numbers of workers and families in America and elsewhere in the world. Hundreds of millions of people have so little savings and so little margin of error, that if they lose their jobs they become unable to pay their mortgages or rent, or their car payments, or their credit card bills. Thus they quickly become vulnerable to losing their homes or apartments, and cars and other possessions. And in many cases they are forced to move in with their parents or friends, or of even being forced to live out on the streets.
Bourgeois moralists say that this is the fault of these people themselves, for “not saving for a rainy day”, for getting themselves too deep into debt, and so forth. While it is true that people have not been saving money, who is it that has been telling people that the good life is theirs for the taking and that they should go out and spend all their money? The very same bourgeoisie. And while it is true that people have gone way deeper into debt than they certainly should have, who has told them that this is OK, and bent over backwards in order to make it easy for people to do this? Again, the same bourgeoisie. To keep their system going the bourgeoisie absolutely needs working-class people to spend their money and to go ever deeper into debt. In effect, their economic system requires these things in order to function at all. But, of course, this eventually leads to economic disaster and to real misery for the ordinary people.
See also: AMERICAN DREAM, PRECARIOUSNESS OF THE PROLETARIAT, PRECARIAT
“Even before the crisis hit, 70% of Americans were living from paycheck to paycheck.” —John Hope Bryant, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 25, 2010, p. 68. This article claims, however, that this problem is mostly due to people’s “financial illiteracy”, which is just another way of blaming them for the inherent problem with the capitalist system—that workers are not (and cannot be) paid enough to buy back all that they produce for the capitalists. —S.H.]
“50 percent of American households are so ‘financially fragile’ that they say they certainly could not or probably could not come up with $2,000 to pay an unexpected expense, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.” —Item from the Wall Street Journal, reprinted in The Week, June 24, 2011, p. 20.
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