See: UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND
The Old Stone Age, or the period from when human beings and our immediate ancestors first started making crude stone tools until about 10,000 BCE, and the advent of agriculture. Generally in reference to the social and cultural developments of Europe and the Mediterranean area. The Upper (or Late) Paleolithic is the period from 35,000 to 10,000 BCE. The last 2,000 years of the Paleolithic (the “Epipaleolithic”) and the first 2,000 years of the Neolithic (the “Proto-Neolithic”) are collectively known as the Mesolithic Age (i.e. 12,000 to 8,000 BCE).
See also: NEOLITHIC AGE
A country in the Middle East whose territory has been gradually stolen over the past century by Zionists, with the support of first British and later American imperialism. [More to be added...]
In Hindi and related languages, literally “Assembly (yat) of Five (panch)”, where the “five” are supposed to be wise and respected elders selected by the local community. This is a common traditional form of local governance in India, Pakistan and Nepal. These local assemblies settled disputes between individuals and between villages. In modern India the gram panchayats at the village level are formal bodies which are elected every five years.
Other types of panchayats include: khap panchayats (or caste panchayats), which are not elected; panchayat samiti (“block” or tehsil panchayats) at the level between the village and district); and zilla panchayats (district level panchayats). The system of panchayat governance as a whole is called panchayat raj.
PANCHAYAT REGIME (In Nepal)
A period of monarchic autocratic rule in Nepal from 1960 to 1990, which pretended to be based on local and regional panchayats (see entry above).
In Nepal the autocratic dynasty of the Rana family was formally overthrown in the 1950s but the regime continued as a nominally constitutional monarchy. In 1959 King Mahendra reluctantly announced a new constitution, which set up a representative parliamentary-style government based on the British model. The bourgeois reformist Nepali Congress Party won the first election and set up an ineffective government led by B. P. Koirala which continued its long-running squabbles with the King. In 1960, after 18 months of nominal constitutional rule, Mahendra carried out a royal coup and dismissed the government (later arresting many hundreds of politicians and democratic activists from various political parties, arrests which continued throughout the entire 30-year panchayat period). In an attempt to hide his resumed autocratic rule, Mahendra declared that henceforth Nepal would be ruled by a “partyless” panchayat system, under a new constitution he promulgated on December 16, 1960.
This panchayat system had a pyramidal structure, from village panchayats up to a Rastriya Panchayat (“National Parliament”). But the King retained absolute power, with sole authority over all government bodies including the “Council of Ministers” at the national level and the supposed “Parliament”. This regime was also strongly nationalist and, among other things, tried to bring about the exclusive use of the Nepalese language in the country.
King Mahendra was succeeded by his son, King Birendra in 1972. After a long period of growing ferment against the panchayat system an alliance of political parties (including both the Nepali Congress and the leftist parties—including the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists) launched what came to be known as the first Jana Andolan, or People’s Movement, in 1990. This once again forced the King to switch over to a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. However, not much had really changed in Nepali society, and the masses were as oppressed and exploited as ever. This led to the necessity of a People’s War in Nepal, which began in 1996.
An older name for capitalist crises, especially the financial aspects of such crises.
See also below, and: FINANCIAL CRISES, CRASH OF 1929
PANIC OF 1825
One of the first significant periodic industrial crises in the capitalist system.
“By contrast [to earlier panics], the panic of 1825 reverberated around the world. It began in Britain and had all the hallmarks of a classic crisis: easy money (courtesy of the Bank of England), an asset bubble (stocks and bonds linked to investments in the emerging market of newly independent Peru), and even widespread fraud (feverish selling of the bonds of a fictitious nation called the Republic of Poyais to credulous investors).” —Nouriel Roubini & Stephen Mihm, Crisis Economics (2010), p. 21. [Note, however, that these bourgeois economists mention only the financial aspects of the crisis, which is typical of the bourgeois analyses of crises. —S.H.]
PANIC OF 1857
[To be added...]
PANIC OF 1873
A short though severe financial crisis, which however more or less marked the beginning of a long period of economic weakness in the U.S. which is now known as the Long Depression (1873-1896). As is always the case, this capitalist crisis was blamed by bourgeois ideologists on factors external to the capitalist system, including an epidemic of horse flu which harmed the transportation industry. The long period of ensuing economic weakness was also falsely blamed on the Coinage Act of 1873 which switched the U.S. over from a “bimetalic” (gold and silver) money standard to just a gold standard, which somewhat hurt the silver mining industry (but of course gave a further boost to gold mining).
PANIC OF 1893
A severe financial and economic crisis that in many ways was a continuation of the Panic of 1873 after the relatively calm period of the 1880s. Railroad construction had tailed off and many railroad and other companies had financially overextended themselves. Some, such as the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad went bankrupt. As the financial crisis intensified people began cashing in their currency for gold. Foreigners, in particular, demanded gold in payment from Americans. This led to the U.S. Treasury’s gold supply falling to the legally manditory minimum, at which point the government stopped exchanging gold for paper notes. (This was in effect a temporary abandonment of the gold standard.) This, in turn, led to further panic. Banks and other companies began going bankrupt on a large scale.
Unemployment jumped up to between 12% and 14% in the U.S., and in some cities reached 20% to 25%. There was a wave of evictions, and a tightening of vagrancy laws as the well-to-do became frightened of “anarchy” among the poor and unemployed. There were qualitatively intensified labor struggles occurring. This crisis also took on an anti-foreigner aspect, since many of the unemployed were recent immigrants. Similarly, there was a racist component, since large numbers of African-Americans went north in the period after the Civil War and Reconstruction. It wasn’t until around 1896 that the economy began to improve in a major way.
See also: LONG DEPRESSION (1873-1896)
PANIC OF 1907
This was the last of the major financial crises in the U.S. during the transition period from pre-monopoly capitalism to modern “monopoly capitalism” (or capitalist-imperialism). This panic itself mostly occurred in the center of U.S. capitalist finance, New York City. It was tipped off for most of the usual reasons, including undue expansion of credit and debt, considerable financial manipulation (including an attempt by the head of one of New York’s big banks to corner the copper market), and outright fraud and thievery. But the underlying cause lay, as virtually always, in the internal contradictions of the capitalist mode of production and specificially in the fact (as Engels put it) that the expansion of production proceeds faster than the expansion of the market.
Though relatively short, this panic was quite sharp and scared the hell out of both the capitalists and the U.S. government. The financial panic led to a recession in 1908, but it also led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System (the U.S. central bank) in 1913. Since “the Fed” did not yet exist in 1907 it fell to J.P. Morgan, by far the most influential financier of the day, working together with the U.S. Treasury department, to patch together a resolution for this particular financial crisis. Since that time, it has been the government itself that has attempted to overall manage the capitalist economy and deal with its perpetual financial and economic crises.
PANIC OF 1929
See: CRASH OF 1929
PANIC OF 2008
The recent financial crisis, centered in the United States but spreading worldwide, which was developing significantly during the summer of 2008, but then was especially concentrated during the fourth quarter of of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. This Panic is just one episode within the current overall U.S. and world overproduction crisis, and only one of several financial panics which will be occurring as part of that over the next several years.
“PARADOX OF THRIFT”
The supposed “conundrum” in bourgeois economics wherein the tendency of consumers to save money during poor economic times leads to additional falling of effective demand, and thus worsens the economic crisis, leading to more layoffs and cuts in wages, and hence even further reluctance to spend on the part of consumers. This is simply one aspect of the fact that people’s psychology can intensify a boom and also intensify a recession or depression. It is not really a puzzle, though it appears to be so to bourgeois moralists who simultaneously tell people they should save for a rainy day and also “get out there and spend”, even if they have to borrow to do so!
Keynes thought that negative psychological factors such as this might keep an economy operating at only a perpetually weak level, and this is why a burst of government deficit spending could perk up people’s economic spirits, and get them spending freely again. This would supposedly “prime the pump” and restore the economy to a healthy condition. The flaw in this thinking is that problems with a capitalist economy are most fundamentally due to objective factors (such as the fact that the workers simply cannot be paid enough to buy back all the commodities they produce for the capitalists), and not just psychological moods.
A rule of thumb in capitalist economics, first suggested by Vilfredo Pareto, which maintains that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the input. Also called the “80-20 law”. This “law” is said to apply in a great many different situations, such as with revenues from a company’s product line, results from advertising efforts, and with regard to management problems. For example, it maintains that 80% of an average company’s “problems with employees” are caused by just 20% of the workers. This doctrine is in turn part of the motivation for companies to try to fire or otherwise get rid of what they assume are the relatively small number of “problem people”. Similarly this sort of thinking leads many companies to drop many of the “under-performing” products and focus on the fewer markets where their profits are greatest. Thus a pharmaceutical company might drop some of its least profitable medicines in an attempt to boost average profit rates—even though that might mean in some cases that the only source of some important medicine (which a relatively small number of people really need) is eliminated.
PARETO OPTIMALITY or PARETO EFFICIENCY
The totally unfounded claim (dogma) among many bourgeois economists that, in principle, the complete commodification of goods and services will allow both the maximization of profits and the establishment of an equilibrium in distribution that will supposedly provide the maximum benefits for everybody.
The so-called “First Theorem of Welfare Economics” states that the equilibrium of a fully competitive economy (exclusively employing commodity exchange) is “Pareto efficient”, or “Pareto optimized”. (Of course, if you start with assumptions that lead to a certain bourgeois conclusion, that is—not surprisingly—the conclusion you will then be led to.) The dogma is that this means that there is no feasible reallocation of economic goods which can raise the welfare of one “economic agent” without lowering the welfare of some other economic agent. Thus according to this quintessential bourgeois theory any trade union bargaining will harm society as a whole; any government welfare payments to the desperately poor will harm the economic welfare of society in general.
Notice from the term “economic agent” that this whole mode of thinking purposely rejects any reference to social classes or social inequality. So according to this theory, in a Pareto-optimized capitalist society even if you have just one multi-billionaire who receives 90% of all the wealth that workers produce, it would be “inefficient” or “non-optimized” to take away any part of that 90% and return it to the working class and the poor, because this other “economic agent”, this poor multi-billionaire, would then have less than he did before. It really breaks your heart.
The first proletarian uprising which achieved state power for a time. The Paris Commune was established in Paris in March 1871, and was brutally suppressed after two months. The Commune provided both positive and negative lessons. The positive lessons included a vivid example of the real democracy for the people possible with proletarian rule. Among the negative lessons were the realization that the proletariat was not sufficiently organized and conscious of its tasks, and did not act with sufficient determination against the bourgeoisie to prevent their comeback (which led Marx to add the principle the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to the list of basic principles of Marxism).
“It seems the Parisians are succumbing. It is their own fault, but a fault which was in fact due to their too great decency. The Central Committee and later the Commune gave Thiers, that mischievous dwarf, time to concentrate the hostile forces, firstly because they rather foolishly did not want to start a civil war—as if Thiers had not already started it by his attempt at the forcible disarming of Paris, as if the National Assembly, summoned for the sole purpose of deciding the question of war or peace with the Prussians, had not immediately declared war on the Republic! Secondly, in order that the appearance of having usurped power should not attach to them they lost precious moments (it was imperative to advance on Versailles immediately after the defeat (Place Vendôme) of the reactionaries in Paris) by the election of the Commune, the organization of which, etc., cost yet more time.” —Marx, Letter to Wilhelm Liebknecht, April 6, 1871, in Marx-Engels Selected Correspondence (1975), p. 246; slightly different translation in MECW 44:128.
PARMENIDES OF ELEA (born c. 515 BCE)
The founder of the Eleatic School of ancient Greek philosophy. (Plato, however, says that the founder of that school was Xenophanes, and it seems Parmenides was influenced by Xenophanes and may have been his pupil.) Parmenides believed and taught that despite all appearances to the contrary, reality must be “One”, that is, an eternal, imperishable, indivisible, motionless and perfect single entity. This may have been one of the earliest arguments for this specific idealist conception, which has frequently reappeared in abstract forms of religion (including Buddhism) and mysticism. Parmenides’s most famous student was Zeno of Elea, the propounder of paradoxes which attempted to “logically prove” Parmenides’s peculiar idea.
See: LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
See: UNIVERSALS vs. PARTICULARS
See: DEMOCRACY—Within Revolutionary Parties
See: DISCIPLINE—Of the Proletarian Revolutionary Party
A pseudonym, or nom de guerre, adopted by a member of a revolutionary party for use within party circles, and often for use more generally in public political work. It can be necessary to adopt such party names when government oppression or fascist-like conditions make the party, or any association with it, illegal. It may be a wise precaution even when a party is still legal, because it is expected that sometime in the future it is likely to be made illegal and its known members will then be arrested.
There is, however, a possible negative aspect to the use of party names which must be taken into consideration. They may intensify tendencies towards viewing revolution as a conspiracy by a small secret society, rather than the work of the broad masses themselves. Furthermore, modern spying techniques and technology (including DNA testing and unobtrusive iris scans) have made it vastly easier for the ruling class to learn people’s true identities.
Some of the most famous names in the history of social revolution have actually been party names, pseudonyms chosen originally to protect the identity of the revolutionary. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov used names such as Tulin and later Lenin. Iosef Dzugashvili used the name Koba and later Stalin. Nguyen That Thanh later became much better known by his party name, Ho Chi Minh.
“PARTY OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE”
During the revisionist era in the Soviet Union (mid-1950s to its collapse in 1991), the so-called “Communist Party of the Soviet Union” (CPSU) described itself as the “party of the whole people”. In reality no political party can truly represent opposed social classes and their conflicting class interests, though of course all bourgeois parties claim that they represent “everyone”. In its famous polemic against the Soviet revisionists, the Communist Party of China commented on this topic:
“Can there be a ‘party of the entire people’? Is it possible to
replace the party which is the vanguard of the proletariat by a ‘party of the entire
“This, too, is not a question about the internal affairs of any particular Party, but a fundamental problem involving the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism.
“In the view of Marxist-Leninists, there is no such thing as a non-class or supra-class political party. All political parties have a class character. Party spirit is the concentrated expression of class character.
“The party of the proletariat is the only party able to represent the interests of the whole people. It can do so precisely because it represents the interests of the proletariat, whose ideas and will it concentrates. It can lead the whole people because the proletariat can finally emanicipate itself only with the emanicpation of all mankind, because the very nature of the proletariat enables its party to approach problems in terms of its present and future interests, because the party is boundlessly loyal to the people and has the spirit of self-sacrifice; hence its democratic centralism and iron discipline. Without such a party, it is impossible to maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat and to represent the interests of the whole people.” —A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement: The letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 42.
In other words, the only way to really represent the ultimate interests of the entire population is to follow a political program now which is based on the class interests of the proletariat, and of that class alone. Talk of a “Party of the whole people” is a renunciation of the class perspective necessary now in order to really satisfied the ultimate interests of the “whole people”.
[Intro to be added... ]
“The mistakes of the past must be exposed without sparing anyone’s sensibilities; it is necessary to analyze and criticize what was bad in the past with a scientific attitude so that work in the future will be done more carefully and done better. This is what is meant by ‘learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones’. But our aim in exposing errors and criticizing shortcomings, like that of a doctor curing a sickness, is solely to save the patient and not to doctor him to death.” —Mao, “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (Feb. 1, 1942), SW 3:50.
[In Marxist usage:] A method of political leadership (or a political system based on this method of leadership) wherein the authorities or leaders run things on behalf of the ordinary people, make decisions for them, and so forth, in the same way that a father might do for his children. Even if these decisions really are for the benefit of the people for a time, this is still a perversion of Marxism, which since its founding by Marx and Engels, has always championed (at least in theory) a truly democratic society where the people make their own decisions and control their own lives.
The democratic, Marxist alternative to paternalism is the mass line method of leadership wherein there are still leaders, but the leaders lead not by themselves deciding things for the masses, but rather by seeking to educate the masses in their own real interests and by helping them to organize themselves to implement and satisfy those interests when they are ready to do so.
By far the worst sin of Stalin (and he was guilty of other very serious crimes as well!) was to rule the Soviet Union in a paternalistic manner. The masses were thus not trained to run things themselves, nor to question or resist their leaders when they seemed to be making changes that went against their interests. Thus when Khrushchev and a new generation of leaders came to power after Stalin’s death—leaders who were now revisionists out for their own welfare and not that of the people—the masses were unprepared to stop them and were lost.
If the masses accept their status as “children” who are being taken care of by others—even a supposed Marxist revolutionary party trying to serve their interests in the way a father might—then eventually they will be re-enslaved by a new bourgeois ruling class developing out of that once paternalistic party. That is the foremost lesson of the triumph of revisionism in the Soviet Union.
See also: WILL OF THE PEOPLE
PATRIOTISM (In General)
Loyalty to and an emotional attachment toward the country one happens to have been born in. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” Modern countries were mostly set up by one or another rising bourgeoisie, and in the modern era are almost always run by and in the interests of one or another bourgeois ruling class. Thus patriotism to the country they own and run is in fact patriotism and subservience toward your own bourgeois masters.
Patriotism is used by the capitalists to help keep the masses under control, and to make them think the country they live in exists for their own benefit. It is used to make them think that the people of their own country are better than those of other countries, and to raise fewer objections when other countries are exploited or attacked. And it is used to get young men (and now also young women) to join the rulers’ military machines and engage in murderous wars against other peoples. Patriotism is therefore more than just a lie and a swindle; it is a vicious bourgeois crime that ordinary people are tricked into going along with!
See also: LYNCHINGS—Political
The revisionist rulers of the old Soviet Union once wrote:
“However, all honest-minded men and women know that the Communist Parties are the true upholders and champions of national interests, that they are staunch patriots who combine love for their country and proletarian internationalism in their struggle for the happiness of the people.” —“The Letter of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. to the Central Committee of the C.P.C.” (March 30, 1963), included in A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement..., (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963), p. 92.
Is this correct? No it is not! This revisionist position denies that there is or can be any contradiction between the national interests of one country (even under socialism!) and those of the people of the world and the world communist revolution, but this is clearly undialectical nonsense. The dedication we genuine communists have is not for our country, but for our international working class and the international communist revolution. Even under socialism, patriotism is dubious at best, and by no means the proper ideological outlook for a Marxist.
PAULING, Linus (1901-94)
American chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for his important work on chemical bonds and molecular structure, and a Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his opposition to the mad U.S. government preparations for war against the Soviet Union, which threatened to bring about a nuclear holocaust. The U.S. capitalist ruling class considered him to be a “Communist” because of his work in favor of disarmament and peace, though he was never anything more than a pacifist-leaning liberal.
In 1952 Pauling was refused permission to travel to London for a scientific conference. He reported that the U.S. State Department decision had been made “because of suspicion that I was a Communist and because my anti-Communist statements had not been sufficiently strong.” The hypocrisy of the U.S. in treating one of their most famous scientists this way while at the same time loudly proclaiming their defense of “freedom” is quite apparent. And certainly ordinary people who hold beliefs the ruling class disapproves of are often treated much worse. Pauling was later forced to appear before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which called him “the number one scientific name in virtually every major activity of the Communist peace offensive in this country.” And in a headline Life magazine called his 1962 Nobel Peace Prize “A Weird Insult from Norway” (because the Norwegian Parliament selects the winners of that prize). [Some information in this article has been taken from the Wikipedia entry on Pauling.]
PAYBACK TIME [Capitalist Finance]
The time it takes to recover the entire cost of an investment in the form of additional profits. Capitalists of course seek to make this period as short as possible, but in this modern period of high financialization of capitalism many corporations are no longer willing to invest in more conservative ways because of the longer payback times involved (of say 7 years or more). Thus many corporations now have internal guidelines that require very short expected payback times (sometimes as low as 18 or 24 months) before proposed investments will even be approved by higher management. Often the only “investment opportunities” with such low expected payback times are financial speculations, rather than investments in new factories.
“PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK”
See: LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
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