Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Lu - Lz   —

LU Dingyi   [Old style: LU Ting-yi]   (1906-1996)
A long-term member of the Communist Party of China who became one of the first targets of the Cultural Revolution. He was the second most prominent individual in the rightist clique led by Peng Zhen (the mayor of Beijing), and displayed various other rightist tendencies at various times in relation to ideology, education and culture.
        Lu Dingyi joined the CCP in 1925 when he was a college student in Shanghai. In 1945 he was elected to the Central Committee and became the head of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Party where he reported to
Liu Shaoqi. In 1959 he also became a deputy premier and an alternate member of the Politburo, and retained all these positions until his downfall in May 1966.
        In 1956 Lu gave a speech “Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom, a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend!” which seemed at the time to support that slogan of Mao’s. However, during the Cultural Revolution this speech was criticized as a distortion of Mao’s line. [Whether it really was a distortion of Mao’s line at that time has been disputed by the sinologist Roderick MacFarquhar in his book The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, Vol. 1.] In any case it did become quite clear later on that rightists were perverting this slogan to enable revisionist criticism of Mao and socialism.
        In 1964 a five-person “Cultural Revolution Small Group” (CRSG) was formed at Mao’s urging to lead the criticism of revisionist and bourgeois works in the cultural sphere. [This was before the GPCR, properly speaking, got underway.] Beijing mayor Peng Zhen was the director of this group, and Lu Dingyi the deputy director. In 1961 a vice-mayor of Beijing, the non-Marxist, non-Party member Wu Han, reissued a play he had written earlier, Hai Rui Dismissed from Office, whose real target at this point was Mao for dismissing Peng Dehuai as Minister of Defense of the PRC (because he was a rightist). This is just the sort of thing that the Cultural Revolution Small Group (CRSG) was supposed to be on the lookout for and criticize; but they did nothing even though it took place right under their very noses. Worse yet, when Yao Wenyuan issued a revolutionary critique of Wu Han’s allegorical play in Shanghai in 1965, this CRSG suppressed Yao’s critique in Beijing—just the opposite of what they were commissioned to do! For reasons like this Mao condemned the CRSG and called the Propaganda Department of the CCP a “palace of the King of Hell”. And Lu Dingyi’s fate was thus sealed.
        Lu Dingyi was removed from office because he was a rightist and in cahoots with other rightists. However, there was some strange secondary conniving going on as well. Apparently Lu’s wife, who it seems was mentally unbalanced, spread the rumor that Lin Biao’s wife (Ye Qun) engaged in loose sexual behavior both before and after her marriage to Lin. This outraged Lin, and Lu Dingyi denied he had anything to do with his wife’s rumor-mongering. It has also been alleged (in at least one bourgeois source) that Lu Dingyi himself directly criticized Lin Biao for “simplifing” and “vulgarizing” Mao’s ideas, something which was in fact often true of Lin. These things have raised suspicions in some quarters about Lin Biao’s real motives when after the charges of rightism were leveled against Peng Zhen and Lu Dingyi, Lin claimed (apparently without any good evidence) that this group was planning a coup d’etat! This is the sort of messiness that abounds in the history of the GPCR and which confuses the central issues. Regardless of the personal squabbles, and regardless of whether Lin Biao’s charges were true or not, it is clear that the Lu Dingyi and his cohorts did in fact deserve to be replaced.
        In 1979, after the capitalist-roaders seized power following Mao’s death, Lu Dingyi was rehabilitated and was given high ceremonial positions. He died on May 9, 1996, unlamented by Maoist revolutionaries.
        A few of Lu Dingyi’s writings are available at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/Individuals/index.htm#LuDingyi

LU Xun   [Old style: LU Hsun]   (1881-1936)
A great Chinese writer, probably the greatest of the Twentieth Century, and also a firm and very influential revolutionary. He is widely viewed as the most prominent individual in modern Chinese literature.
        Lu Xun was the pen name of Zhou Shuren [or Chou Shu-jen in the older Wade-Giles transliteration]. He wrote in baihua (the vernacular) as well as in classical Chinese, and seems to have been the very first serious writer to do so. Lu Xun wrote short stories, essays and poetry and was an editor, translator and critic. He also led the important Chinese League of Left-Wing Writers in Shanghai during the 1930s.
        While not himself a member of the Chinese Communist Party, Lu Xun strongly sympathized and cooperated with the Party and supported its revolutionary struggle. Mao Zedong and the CCP always very much appreciated his writing and political work, and after the liberation of China in 1949 the revolutionary government published and strongly promoted his works.
        Lu Xun’s fictional works are now easily available in English, as with the 2009 anthology, The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, which the scholar Jeffrey Wasserstrom said “could be considered the most significant Penguin Classic ever published.” However, perhaps even more interesting for revolutionaries is the Selected Works of Lu Hsun in 4 volumes (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1960), and other volumes from China, which include many of his political essays, articles and letters. These volumes are available online at:
http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/index.htm, in the Art and Literature section.
        See also: “For Your Reference: Lu Hsun: Brief Biographical Notes”, Peking Review, October 19, 1976, online at: http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-44-LuHsunBiography.pdf

An important philosophical work by Engels, first published in 1886. This work is available online in several places, including:

“In Ludwig Feuerbach (the full title is Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy) Engels shows how the advance was made from Hegelian idealist dialectics to materialist dialectics, and from mechanical to dialectical materialism.
       “Feuerbach was a German philosopher of the mid-19th Century who turned from Hegelian idealism to materialism, and whose work had a big influence on Marx and Engels. This book by Engels, published in 1888, was originally written as a review article on a book on Feuerbach by C. N. Starke.
       “The following are its principal contents.
       “1. Engels explains the basic difference between materialism and idealism. It arises from the question—which is prior, spirit or nature? Idealism says that spirit is prior to nature. Materialism says that nature is prior to spirit. Material being is prior to mind and ideas.
       “Modern idealism has been specially concerned with the question whether we can gain reliable knowledge of material things, of the external world, and concludes that such knowledge is impossible. Engels refutes this view, and shows that practice demonstrates that our ideas can and do constitute a true reflection of external material reality.
       “2. He shows that the materialism of the past was mechanical materialism. Its great limitations were
           (a) that it conceived of the motion of matter as exclusively mechanical motion, and could not grasp other forms of motion of matter, such as chemical or living processes;
           (b) that it could give no account of development and evolution, either in nature or, still less, in history and human society.
       “3. He explains the essence of Hegel’s philosophy and of the advance from Hegel to dialectical materialism. Hegel considered every process of change and development as being a mere reflection of the self-development of the ‘Absolute Idea,’ which ‘does not only exist, where unknown, from eternity, but is also the actual living soul of the whole existing world.’ Marxism threw over such ‘idealist fancies’ and ‘resolved to comprehend the real world, nature and history, just as it presents itself to everyone who approaches it free from preconceived idealist fancies.’
       “Engels shows that dialectical materialism regards the world as a complex of processes, not as a collection of ‘ready-made things.’ Dialectics is ‘the science of the general laws of motion both of the external world and of human thought.’
       “4. He discusses the essential ideas of historical materialism, as the application of dialectical materialism to the sphere of human society. He shows that the driving force of history is the class struggle, and that classes and class struggles are rooted in economic conditions. He goes on to discuss the economic foundations of the development of the state and of law, and then of political and social ideology, of religion, philosophy, etc.
       “In criticising Feuerbach’s ‘philosophy of religion and ethics,’ Engels attacks the approach which deals with abstractions such as ‘humanity,’ instead of with ‘real living men as participants of history.’
       “As appendix are added Marx’s eleven Theses on Feuerbach, notes by Marx in 1845 in which he summarized his own ideas as opposed to mechanical materialism.” —Maurice Cornforth, ed., Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (1952), pp. 25-26.

LUKÁCS, Georg [György] [Family name pronounced roughly: loo-kawch]   (1885-1971)
Lukács was a Hungarian revisionist philosopher and literary critic. His best known work was History and Class Consciousness, published in German in 1923 and in English in 1971. He himself denounced this work after it received strong criticism from many Marxist-Leninists including the leaders of the Comintern. In that book Lukács rejected the Marxist
base/superstructure analysis of society, a rejection that has found favor with a number of other academic “Marxists” who focus mostly on literary criticism. Lukács put forward a Hegelianized version of Marxism which also emphasized the topics of reification and alienation, somewhat along the lines of the earliest writings of Marx, and which is sometimes called “Marxist humanism”. He was, however, a strong defender of realism in literature and art.
      Lukács’s books and ideas have mostly been of interest to various groups of Academic revisionists, including the Frankfurt School and the diverse revisionist trends going by the general name of “Western Marxism”.

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LUNACHARSKY, Anatoly   (1875-1933)
Russian revolutionary and the first Soviet People’s Commissar of Enlightenment (Minister of Culture and Education), continuing in that position until 1929. He led major campaigns for literacy and cultural education. He was also a prominent art and literary critic and journalist specializing in cultural matters.
      Lunacharsky sided with the Bolsheviks at the time of the split with the Mensheviks in 1903, but in 1908 a faction of the Bolsheviks infatuated with idealist philosophy, and led by Lunacharsky’s brother-in-law
Alexander Bogdanov, split away from the Leninist core. Lunacharsky went with them, but rejoined the Bolsheviks in 1917. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the rather dubious Proletkult movement in the early years of the Soviet Union.
      See also: GOD-BUILDING

LURIA, Alexander Romanovich   (1902-1977)
Russian psychologist and one of the founders of neuropsychology. He carried out extensive research into the effects of brain injuries among people during World War II, and made especially important advances in our understanding of the function of the frontal lobes of the brain, and of those regions of the left hemisphere related to language.

LUTHER, Martin   (1483-1546)
German church reformer, founder of Protestantism (and Lutheranism specifically) in Germany. He strongly supported the wealthy burghers (“middle class” citizens), noblemen and princes against the peasants and poor townspeople during the Peasant War of 1524-25.

“As the Reformation spread, it soon became clear that religious truth was far from the only thing at stake. With the Pope denounced, the [Holy Roman] emperor ignored, and all the established authorities questioned and ridiculed, the entire social order came under scrutiny, and the threat of revolution hung in the air. Respectable reformers such as Luther and Calvin, and the conservative kings and princes who backed them, struggled mightily to contain the revolutionary passions set loose by the Reformation, but not always successfully. As early as 1524 the peasants of southern Germany rose in revolt against their princes, demanding greater freedoms and a greater say in the rule of the land. They declared themselves followers of Luther, believing that his overthrow of the spiritual authority of the Roman Church was but a prelude to the overthrow of the social and political order it supported. The socially conservative Luther, however, was horrified at what he saw as a profound misunderstanding and misuse of his doctrines and fiercely denounced the uprising in a tract, Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of the Peasants. Though the uprising was crushed within the year by the combined forces of Catholic and Protestant princes, the fear that religious reformation might spell social revolution had already taken root.” —Amir Alexander, Infinitesimal (2014), pp. 27-28.

LUXEMBURG, Rosa   (1871-1919)
Outstanding revolutionary Marxist who participated in the Polish, German and international proletarian movements. She was a prominent left-wing leader of the Second International, and one of the founders of the Communist Party of Germany. In 1919 she was murdered by counter-revolutionary agents associated with the revisionist Social-Democratic government of Germany.
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Acronym commonly used in bourgeois publications in India to refer to what the government considers to be “Left-Wing Extremism”. According to the fascist or semi-fascist government of India this term applies to all the parties on the left who are actually serious about social revolution and/or are already engaged in revolutionary struggle. The most important of these parties is the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which the government has been unsuccessfully attempting to destroy since its foundation in 2004.

LYELL, Charles   (1797-1875)
Scottish scientist, whose two textbooks Principles of Geology (1830) and Elements of Geology (1838) established the modern foundation of the science of geology. Lyell was also a major influence on
Charles Darwin.

To make a false statement with the intent to deceive, or to purposely mislead someone into believing a falsehood. Most of the time, and in most circumstances, this is not a good thing, of course. And we revolutionaries should specifically make it a general principle not to lie to either our comrades or to the masses. However, there are times when lying is both necessary and completely moral, as when lying to the enemies of the people prevents the occurrence of some serious harm. Amazingly enough, there have been some idealist philosophers (especially
Kant) who have not been able to understand this elementary truth!

“I would not break my word even to save humanity.” —Johann Gottlieb Fichte, quoted in Raymond Smullyan, The Tao is Silent (1977), p. 126. [Fichte was a disciple of Kant, and this quote is a great example of how fantastically stupid Kantians and others who think in terms of absolute moral maxims can be! —S.H.]

“One ought always to lie when one can do good by it.” —Mark Twain, “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” (1882). [Expressing a much more sensible point of view! —S.H.]

LYNCHINGS — Political

“On the night of April 4, 1918, nearly a year to the day that the United States entered World War I, Robert Paul Prager, a 30-year-old German immigrant, and by some accounts a radical socialist, was lynched by a mob of ‘patriots’ outside Collinsville, Ill., a small market center and coal-mining town of 4,000, located 12 miles across the river from St. Louis.
        “Prager was a sacrificial lamb, a casualty of the wartime madness. His lynching was an extreme case, but it was not an aberration. In the months leading up to America’s entry into the war and during the year and a half that the nation was an active participant, the federal government whipped the American public into a superpatriotic froth with a calculated program of propaganda, and attacks on German aliens and German Americans were all too common.” —Jay Feldman, “U.S. government has long history of whipping up fears and repression”, Sacramento Bee, Aug. 21, 2011, p. E3. This article was adapted from Feldman’s book, Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America (2011).

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LYSENKO, Trofim Denisovich   (1898-1976)
Soviet agronomist, and later the top government official for the genetic sciences in the Soviet Union. During the agricultural crisis of the early 1930s (due to the mishandling of agricultural collectivization by Stalin), he came to prominence for spreading good crop management techniques among the peasants. He borrowed and promoted the discovery that the phases of plant growth can be accelerated via short doses of low temperatures and moisture controls applied to the seeds and young plants. But he went on to claim, without good scientific evidence, that these benefits also became “acquired characteristics” which were then passed on to future plant generations. In this he was applying the erroneous genetic theories of the early French naturalist Jean Lamarck (1744-1829) and the Russian horticulturalist
Ivan Michurin.
        Thereafter Lysenko rapidly rose in the ranks of Soviet agricultural management because he was saying things that the Soviet government wanted to hear—that there were some easy technical ways to drastically improve agricultural production. (See LYSENKOISM entry below.) Lysenko was the director of the Institute of Genetics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences from 1940 to 1965, where he formally denounced Mendelian genetics. In 1948 Stalin’s backing ended virtually all opposition to Lysenko and his theories. After Stalin’s death in 1953 Lysenko’s power fell, but increased again under Khrushchev until both of them were removed from power in 1965.
        There is a telling little story about Lysenko; it is said that he posed the following question on several occasions to the scientific workers at what was later called the Englehardt Institute of Molecular Biology in the Soviet Union: “What is DNA?” (That was indeed a question he sorely needed the answer to!)

This is a term that has come to mean something like letting political wishful thinking triumph over scientific fact, or even letting politics dominate and determine what scientific truth “actually is”.
        In the Soviet Union under Stalin and Khrushchev, the agronomist Trofim Lysenko (see above) propagated a quack theory of genetics based on the supposed inheritance of acquired characteristics. However, even before the discovery of the central role of DNA in inheritance, the science of biology (and genetics specifically) had determined that (at least normally) there is no such thing as the inheritance of acquired characteristics. The giraffe’s neck is long not because its ancestors stretched theirs during their lifetimes, but because the ancestors with naturally longer necks survived, while those with shorter necks died before they could reproduce. (Counterpoint: Recent research seems to show that there really are some exceptional circumstances where there can be some inheritance of acquired characteristics, as with certain bacteria, but the fact remains that even if this is so it is only in highly atypical situations.) There were prominent geneticists in the Soviet Union who knew this full well, such as Nikolai Vavilov, and who were persecuted and sometimes imprisoned for their Mendelian views by Lysenko and the Soviet government. (Vavilov himself was arrested in 1940 and is said to have died of starvation in a Siberian labor camp around 1943.) Lysenko was welcome to his own opinions about genetics, but the persecution of those who disagreed with him was the crime, which was made much worse by the support of Stalin (and later Khrushchev) and the force of the state.
        It is not entirely clear, however, how much direct damage Lysenko and his theories actually did to Soviet agriculture, though certainly there was some significant damage over the long run due to his disruption of genetic research. There were many other problems in agriculture, some of them probably much more important. For example, the brutal “top-down” method of agricultural collectivization carried out by Stalin in the 1930s led to the death of many peasants, the destruction of much of the livestock and to serious crop shortages. The continuing failure to use the
mass line to mobilize the peasants to work in their own collective interests remained a major obstacle to the expansion of agricultural production. And insufficient industrial support was also given to agriculture over a period of decades.
        Unfortunately the Lysenko episode has led to some widespread invalid conclusions, even among some Marxists, such as that any “government interference” in science is unjustified, and that scientists and other experts should be basically unrestricted in their activities. Of course any government will appropriately promote and fund those scientists and those theories which it has confidence in. And any government would be within its rights to restrict certain kinds of experiments or technologies for which there is good reason to believe that there are serious potential dangers for the people. Moreover, a socialist government in particular, will certainly find it necessary to criticize bourgeois ideas that scientists, just as any other segment of society, may still promote.
        However, it is true that socialist society should also allow, especially in the natural sciences, “a hundred flowers to bloom, and a hundred schools of thought to content” (as Mao poetically put it). In looking at the experience of socialism in both the Soviet Union and China it seems clear that overall there was not enough freedom of thought and expression in the sciences, nor was there sufficient allowance (and even encouragement!) of new and minority ideas and views. On the other hand it, it was certainly necessary and correct to strongly criticize views and theories insofar as they had a bourgeois ideological component, and sometimes this was also insufficient! Of course this will generally be much more central and important in the social sciences than in the natural sciences.
        See also: INSTRUMENTALISM

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