Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Mad - Mam   —

[From Arabic, but also a common loan word in many other languages:] A school or academy. Any type of school, whether secular or religious, and from the elementary level through the university level, may be called a madrasah. However, as the term is commonly used in the West, the implication is that these are Islamic religious schools.

MAGDOFF, “Harry” [Henry Samuel]   (1913-2006)
Long-time co-editor (with
Paul Sweezy) of the important socialist magazine Monthly Review, and author or co-author of a number of books. He was trained as an economist and held several positions in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Truman administrations, before being blackballed for his radical ideas. He was also accused by Richard Nixon of spying for the Soviet Union.
        Magdoff wrote several books on U.S. imperialism, including The Age of Imperialism (1969) which was very influential within the developing new revolutionary movement in the U.S. at the time. Along with Sweezy he also wrote a number of essays and books putting forward the blend of Marxism and Keynesianism which was characteristic of the Monthly Review School of political economy.

The use of charms, spells, incantations, etc., in the belief that these things will invoke supernatural forces and will in that way allow someone (the magician) to control nature and other human beings. Magic is of course rank

“Bronislaw Malinowski’s famous studies of superstitions among the Trobriand Islanders in the South Pacific demonstrated that as the level of uncertainty in the environment increases so, too, does the level of superstitious behavior. Malinowski noted this in particular among the Trobriand fishermen—the farther out to sea they sailed the more uncertain the conditions grew, along with the uncertainty of success at a catch. Their levels of superstitious rituals rose with their levels of uncertainty. ‘We find magic wherever the elements of chance and accident, and the emotional play between hope and fear have a wide and extensive range,’ Malinowski explained. ‘We do not find magic wherever the pursuit is certain, reliable, and well under the control of rational methods and technological processes. Further, we find magic where the element of danger is conspicuous.’” —Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain (2011), p. 77. The Malinowski quotes are from his book Magic, Science, and Religion (1954), pp. 139-40.



“Trust the majority of the cadres and the masses. This is essential.” —Mao, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (June 29, 1967), SW 9:416.

“The meaning of democracy is to protect the interests of the majority.” —William Hinton, Fanshen (1966), p. 526.
        [When you think about it, it is really quite amazing how much attention is paid to protecting the interests of the minority in American politics, and the purposeful and almost complete neglect which is paid to protecting the interests of the majority. The Constitution is designed to ignore majorities in many ways, such as by having two senators from each state, whether they have large populations or small ones. Or by having an Electoral College system under which the President is more and more frequently determined by a minority vote. Add to this the ever more extreme forms of gerrymandering, which make it easier for the minority to rule. But far more important than any of these sorts of additional pro-minority rigging schemes, the basic electoral system in general, by requiring enormous piles of money to get anyone nominated and elected, automatically gives the richest tiny minority—the capitalist ruling class—virtually complete control of the country. If democracy means protecting the interests of the majority, then the United States is anything but a true democracy. —Ed.]

MAJUMDAR, Charu   (1918-72)

MAKHNO, Nestor   (1888-1934)
The most prominent leader of the anarchist movement and army in southern Ukraine during the period of the Russian Civil War. Makhno was a commander of the peasant-based Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, more popularly known as the Anarchist Black Army, which engaged in fairly large scale guerrilla warfare during 1918-21. Makhno and the anarchists were opposed to all forms of government, even one imposing the rule of the working class and peasantry. At different times Makhno supported the Bolsheviks against the Tsarist White armies, then the Ukrainian Directorate [a provisional peasant nationalist regime formed in 1918], the Bolsheviks again against the Whites, and then fought against the Bolsheviks in an attempt to organize a utopian anarchist society called the Free Territory of Ukraine. When the Bolsheviks gained the upper hand Machno fled into exile in France.

[To be added.]
        See also:

MALINOVSKY, Alexander A.   (1873-1928)
Alexander BOGDANOV

MALINOVSKY, Roman Vatslavovich   (1876-1918)
A prominent trade union organizer, elected Bolshevik member to the Russian Duma [parliament], member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, and the highest paid spy for the Tsarist secret police, the notorious
        Malinovsky had a dubious life right from an early age. Born into a Roman Catholic peasant family in Russian Poland, he was orphaned while quite young and turned to petty crime to survive. According to the Wikipedia, in 1899—at the age of about 23—he was convicted of theft, rape and burglary. We doubt if his lumpen criminal background was known to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) when he began associating with them after his jail term and a 4-year enlistment in the Russian army. (If it was, they definitely should have been much more cautious about him.)
        In 1906 Malinovsky was working as a lathe operator at a factory in St. Petersburg, and also was a talented labor organizer for the Metalworkers Union and joined the RSDLP. He was arrested by the Okhrana in 1909 and expelled from St. Petersburg. He and his family then moved to Moscow where he was arrested again in 1910. This time, he accepted a deal with the Okhrana. For both his freedom and a fairly substantial monthly salary (for the times) he became a agent for the Okhrana, with instructions to further develop his ties with the RSDLP and especially the Bolshevik faction. It is said that using information that Malinovsky provided, the Okhrana not only learned the real names of many party members, the locations of party meetings, locations of storage places for party literature, etc., but “was able to curtail almost all meaningful Social Democratic activity in Moscow during 1910 and 1911.” Malinovsky also provided the information to locate and arrest several important Bolsheviks which led to their exile to Siberia, including Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Joseph Stalin and Yakov Sverdlov.
        In January 1912 Malinovsky showed up at the Sixth Party Conference which Lenin had called in Prague, even though he was not an authorized delegate. Lenin knew of him because of his good reputation in labor organization work and, supposedly, was also impressed by his forceful personality. Lenin therefore proposed that Malinovsky be elected to the Central Committee and also suggested that he would be a good candidate for election to the next Duma as a representative of the Moscow workers. “Backed by both the police and the party, Malinovsky was duly elected in October 1912.” [Carter Elwood] In the Duma Malinovsky was a “surprisingly eloquent” speaker and spokesman for the Bolshevik viewpoint. He also used his immunity as a Duma member to raise funds for the Bolsheviks, to establish and promote its legal newspapers and publishing operation, and so forth. (However, he also served on the party commission set up to find and expose police agents in the party ranks!) Because of Malinovsky’s considerable agitational effectiveness for the Bolsheviks, and his other work for the party, the Okhrana became alarmed by the role he was playing. Consequently they ordered him to resign his Duma seat, which he then did.
        However, this unauthorized resignation—as far as the Bolsheviks were concerned—and the obvious violation of party discipline, immediately raised some serious questions about Malinovsky, and was a major embarrassment for the Bolsheviks. Apparently it was the Menshevik leader Julius Martov who in 1913 first condemned Malinovsky as a Tsarist spy. Lenin refused to believe this at the time, but after his resignation from the Duma Malinovsky was removed from his positions in the party and also expelled as a party member. Malinovsky had been ordered by the Okhrana to help widen the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, which he did. However, this meant that accusations coming from the Mensheviks of spying for the Tsarist regime tended to sound like mere anti-Bolshevik partisanship. Moreover, in Lenin’s view, the harsh line against the Mensheviks that Malinovsky took was more than justified. These things probably account for Lenin’s reluctance to totally condemn Malinovsky at first.
        One source claims that after his exposure Malinovsky fled to Germany, and when World War I broke out he was interned in a POW camp there. Another source says that he was in the Russian army again during the war, and was wounded and captured by the Germans in 1915 and then held in a POW camp. Either way, after the war and the Bolshevik Revolution, Malinovsky returned to Russia, and under a false name even tried to take part in the Petrograd Soviet! But Grigory Zinoviev recognized him, and he was arrested and put on trial as a traitor to the revolution. Lenin is said to have briefly attended the trial but did not testify, and left muttering “What a swine he was!” Malinovsky was found guilty and executed.
        One further note about the Malinovsky affair: It has been claimed by some modern commentators that Malinovsky actually was a double agent, and had been secretly working with Lenin all along. But there is no evidence for this at all, even in the newly available files after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And it makes no sense that Lenin would have participated in the serious disruption of the party work in Moscow that Malinovsky enabled. This theory probably comes about because Malinovsky really did seem to be somewhat politically schizoid, simultaneously and conscientiously working for both the Bolsheviks and for the Okhrana.

“In our case... the rapid alternation of legal and illegal work, which made it necessary to keep the general staff—the leaders—under cover and to cloak them in the greatest secrecy, sometimes gave rise to extremely dangerous consequences. The worst of these was that in 1912 the agent provocateur Malinovsky got into the Bolshevik Central Committee. He betrayed scores and scores of the best and most loyal comrades, caused them to be sentenced to penal servitude, and hastened the death of many of them. That he did not cause still greater harm was due to the correct balance between legal and illegal work. As member of the Party’s Central Committee and Duma deputy, Malinovsky was forced, in order to gain our confidence, to help us establish legal daily papers, which even under tsarism were able to wage a struggle against the Menshevik opportunism and to spread the fundamentals of Bolshevism in a suitably disguised form. While, on the one hand, Malinovsky sent scores and scores of the finest Bolsheviks to penal servitude and death, he was obliged, with the other, to assist in the education of scores and scores of thousands of new Bolsheviks through the medium of the legal press.” —Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism—An Infantile Disorder (April-May 1920), LCW 31:45-46.

“Malinovsky was a prisoner of war in Germany. On his return to Russia when the Bolsheviks were in power he was instantly put on trial and shot by our workers. The Mensheviks attacked us most bitterly for our mistake—the fact that an agent provocateur had become a member of the Central Committee of our Party. But when, under Kerensky, we demanded the arrest and trial of Rodzyanko, the Chairman of the Duma, because he had known, even before the war, that Malinovsky was an agent provocateur and had not informed the Trudoviks and the workers in the Duma, neither the Mensheviks nor the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the Kerensky government supported our demand, and Rodzyanko remained at large and made off unhindered to join Denikin.” —Lenin, ibid. (footnote on same page).

MALTHUS, Thomas Robert   (1766-1834)
English cleric and inferior political economist. He was an ideologist of the landed aristocracy which had become merged with the bourgeoisie, and an apologist for capitalism. His famous (and totally erroneous) “Malthusian theory”, that the human population would inevitably expand to the point where the masses would be driven down to the bare subsistence level, was put forward to explain away the qualitatively increased misery that the development of capitalism was causing in Britain. In his economic writings he tended to plagiarize others, especially

“In the capitalist society, the widespread existence of a huge army of unemployed is a ‘good’ thing for the capitalist because it is conducive to exploitation. But it is also a shameful thing because it makes the so-called civilized country look very uncivilized. To remedy this situation, some intellectuals in the service of the bourgeoisie racked their brains to produce biased theories for the defense of the capitalist system. In the early nineteenth century, the reactionary [work] An Essay on the Principles of Population cooked up by a vulgar English economist named Malthus was one such biased theory.
       “Malthus advanced a notorious argument. He said that population increases by the geometric progression (1, 2, 4, 8....), while the means of livelihood increases by the arithmetic progression (1, 2, 3, 4....). He argued that this is the basic reason for surplus population, unemployment, and poverty among the masses. This contention was intended to explain that unemployment and poverty are not the evils of the capitalist system, but a result of the law of Nature. According to Malthus’s theory, wars and plagues are a blessing to human society. In wars and plagues, a large number of people die, thus ameliorating the effects of surplus population and rendering the increase in population more compatible with the increase in the means of livelihood.
       “Facts are stronger than arguments. Malthus’s reactionary An Essay on the Principle of Population does not hold water. How did the pseudoscience that purported to show the geometric increase of population and the arithmetical increase of the means of livelihood come into being? What really happened was that Malthus took the increase in population in America in one period as the basis for his rate of population increase. He also took the increase in food production for one period in France as the basis for his rate of increase in the means of livelihood. The rapid increase in the American population at that time was not mainly due to the natural multiplication of population, but to other factors such as immigration. As to the food production of France, if it was compared with the increase of population in France and not with the increase of population in America, then it did not lag behind the increase in population, but exceeded the increase in population. In 1760, the population of France was 2.1 million. The average output of food grain per capita was 450 liters. Eighty years later in 1840, the population of France increased to 3.4 million, an increase of 62 percent. But the increase in food production was even faster. In 1840, the average output of food grain per capita was 832 liters, an increase of 85 percent. The data of many other capitalist countries also showed that the increase in population did not exceed the increase in the means of livelihood. On the contrary, the increase in the means of livelihood exceeded the increase in population. But, even so, the laboring people were very poor, and their lot miserable. Malthus’s defense of the evils of the capitalist system by means of the so-called absolute surplus population was a futile effort.”
        —Fundamentals of Political Economy [the “Shanghai Textbook”], (Shanghai: 1974), as translated into English by George C. Wang (1977), pp. 86-87. Available online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/PoliticalEconomy/FundamentalsOfPoliticalEconomy-Shanghai-1974-English-sm.pdf

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