Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Pu - Pz   —


PUBLIC HEALTH — In China
See also:
BAREFOOT DOCTORS

“Tell the Ministry of Public Health that it only works for fifteen per cent of the total population of the country and that this fifteen per cent is mainly composed of gentlemen, while the broad masses of the peasants do not get any medical treatment. First they don’t have any doctors; second they don’t have any medicine. The Ministry of Public Health is not a Ministry of Public Health for the people, so why not change its name to the Ministry of Urban Health, the Ministry of Gentlemen’s Health, or even to Ministry of Urban Gentlemen’s Health?...
        “They work divorced from the masses, using a great deal of manpower and materials in the study of rare, profound and difficult diseases at the so-called pinnacle of science, yet they either ignore or make little effort to study how to prevent and improve the treatment of commonly seen, frequently occurring and widespread diseases. I am not saying that we should ignore the advanced problems, but only a small quantity of manpower and material should be expended on them, while a great deal of manpower and material should be spent on the problems to which the masses most need solutions....
        “In medical and health work put the emphasis on the countryside!”
         —Mao, “Directive on Public Health” (June 26, 1965), SW 9:216-217. [It was the widespread trends of this sort, with the government forgetting who it existed to serve, that made it clear that a cultural revolution was indeed urgently required in China! —Ed.]

PUBLIC OPINION
        See:
AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS—Public Support For,   CONGRESS (U.S.)

PUBLIC PROPERTY
Property which (supposedly) belongs to the public, rather than to some private individual. In reality, in bourgeois society, public property is not really owned by the public! It is instead owned by the ruling bourgeoisie, and managed by them as they see fit. In some cases it is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the use of the property is made freely available to the public (as with most roads). In some cases the property is made available to the public only for fees, which are often substantial, as with certain parks. And in other cases, so-called “public property” is restricted entirely from public use (as with the vast military bases and other government operations).

PUBLIC RELATIONS
Public relations is the “art” of making bad seem good or wrong seem right. It is mostly employed by the rich (who can afford to hire professional specialists to do this) in order to try to hide their misdeeds and crimes against the people, or at least to put a “positive spin” on them.
        Since the bourgeoisie owns and controls the media, most of the time they are at least partially successful in covering up their crimes. Fortunately, at least once in a while, they are so inept in attempting this that their efforts to hide or justify their crimes actually backfire. An example of this is the attempt by the University of California—Davis to cover up their outrageous police attacks on peaceful Occupy demonstrations by students in November 2011. (See photo and then quote below.)

“Here’s Rule No. 1 in public relations: If you do something stupid, don’t do somthing stupider to try to airbrush it. UC Davis is providing a case study in what not to do for communications classes everywhere.
        “The university spent at least $175,000 for consultants to try to steer online searches away from the disgraceful 2011 incident in which campus police
pepper-sprayed student protesters, the Sacramento Bee disclosed this week. The intent was to ‘clean up the negative attention’ on the university and its chancellor, Linda Katehi, according to the proposal from the Maryland firm that was given a $15,000-a-month contract....
        “A Google search offers a less glowing account. On Thursday, the keywords ‘UC Davis’ popped up links to stories about this ham-handed cover-up—with the chancellor’s picture. If UC Davis is thinking about rehiring the reputation consultants to undo this [latest] debacle, we offer this free advice: Don’t do it.” —Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2016, p. A13.
         [Note that this bourgeois newspaper is not against public relations or “communications”, as it is euphemistically called in business schools, but only desires that such efforts be less embarrassing to the ruling class. —Ed.]

“PUMP-PRIMING”
See: “PRIMING THE PUMP”

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM
[To be added...]
        See also:
GOULD, Stephen Jay

PUPPET TROOPS
Nominally independent soldiers raised and controlled by an imperialist country from the population within the oppressed country it is exploiting. All imperialist powers have done this when they’ve been able to, so as to put only the foreign population at risk instead of their own soldiers. During the 1930s and 1940s, for example, the Japanese imperialists had the slogan of “using Chinese to subdue Chinese”, a policy which included the use of puppet troops as well as other measures to divide the Chinese people.
        During the colonial era, puppet troops were more easily seen for what they are. But under
neocolonialism the situtation is in essence the same. Local military forces under the control of the comprador bourgeoisie or other agents of foreign imperialism are directed to suppress any rebellions or revolutions, thus making it easier for the foreign imperialists to maintain real control.

PURCHASING POWER PARITY
The traditional way to calculate the income, standard of living, or gross domestic product (GDP) in a foreign country is to take the values in the local currency and translate them into dollars via the current official exchange rate. However, this does not take into consideration the fact that prices may also be lower in that country than in the U.S. (I.e., a dollar exchanged for the local currency may buy more actual goods there than a dollar buys in the U.S.) Thus a different translation of quantities expressed in local currencies must be made in order to determine the actual equivalent standard of living, GDP, or other quantity, relative to the situation in the U.S. This is called the translation into a purchasing power parity value.
        The PPP conversion factor is the number of units of a country’s currency necessary to buy the same amount of goods and services in that country as a U.S. dollar would buy in the United States. As noted above, this is in general not at all the same as the exchange value of that foreign currency.

PURPOSE
[To be added...]
        See also:
TELEOLOGY

PURPOSE — In the Labor Process
See:
CONSCIOUSNESS—In the Labor Process

PUT or PUT OPTION
See:
OPTION

“PUT POLITICS IN COMMAND”
See: POLITICS IN COMMAND

PYTHAGORAS   (c. 570-c. 495 BCE)
Founder of a mystical religious, philosophical
idealist, and political sect in the Greek city-state of Croton (in what is now Southern Italy). He had many strange ideas, including the notion that it was wicked to eat beans. Pythagoras was also very mystical about numbers. His numerological system identified the number four with justice, and he thought that the number ten was the “most perfect number” (in part because the numbers 1 through 4 add up to 10). He is said to have proclaimed that “all is number”, after supposedly being the first to discover that musical notes are related in a simple fashion to the relative lengths of the vibrating strings that produce them. The Pythagorean Theorem in geometry is also named after him, though it was known long before his time.
        In ancient times Pythagoras was considered a very wise man and eventually an important philosopher (by the followers of Plato, for example). But modern scholarship has pretty much shown that this hugely exaggerates his real role in intellectual history. His followers had the habit of attributing all wisdom, including their own ideas and discoveries, to Pythagoras, in much the same way that Christians do with Jesus, and that dogmatists within what should be the revolutionary science of Marxism occasionally do with Marx, Lenin and Mao.
        See also below, and: Philosophical doggerel about Pythagoras.

PYTHAGOREANS
Members of the sect founded by Pythagoras (see above), and also his later followers. This peculiar sect required self-discipline, silence, and the honoring of numerous taboos—especially the strict avoidance of eating meat and beans. Pythagoras and his followers expanded the concept of the
soul (which had originally only meant the physical breath that leaves the body when a person dies) into a partially mentalistic concept. However, they still also identified this “immortal” soul with gases, and seem to have believed that the eating of beans, which led to farting, allowed part of the soul to prematurely escape the body! (Religion is a very weird thing!) After a person’s death, however, they believed the soul could be reincarnated into a new body, or into other animals or plants, or to “rejoin” the universal “soul”. Politically, the Pythagoreans were a secretive, cultish faction of the slave-owning aristocracy.
        The idealization of mathematics was also an important part of Pythagorean doctrine. When the followers of Pythagoras discovered that the square root of 2 is an irrational number (i.e., one which cannot be expressed as a ratio of two integers), they were so upset that they tried to hide this discovery from the world.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Pythagoras and his followers.

“From the observation of nature, the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians built up a body of mathematical knowledge which they used in making further observations. Thales perhaps introduced deductive methods; certainly the mathematics of the early Pythagoreans was deductive in character. The Pythagoreans and Plato [The Republic, section VII] noted that the conclusions they reached deductively agreed to a remarkable extent with the results of observation and inductive inference. Unable to account otherwise for this agreement, they were led to regard mathematics as the study of the ultimate, eternal reality, immanent in nature and the universe, rather than as a branch of logic or a tool of science and technology. An understanding of mathematical principles, they decided, must precede any valid interpretation of experience. This view is reflected in the Pythagorean dictum that all is number, and in the assertion attributed to Plato that God always plays the geometer.” —Carl B. Boyer, The History of the Calculus and Its Conceptual Development (1949), p. 1.
        [This erroneous idealization of mathematics thus became one of the sources of the more general philosophical idealism that still so negatively influences human conceptions of the world. —Ed.]

“[T]he Pythagorean mathematical concepts, abstracted from sense impressions of nature, were now in turn projected into nature and considered to be the structural elements of the universe. Thus the Pythagoreans attempted to construct the whole heaven out of numbers, the stars being units which were material points. Later they identified the regular geometrical solids, with which they were familiar, with the different sorts of substances in nature. Geometry was regarded by them as immanent in nature, and the idealized concepts of geometry appeared to them to be realized in the material world. This confusion of the abstract and the concrete, of rational conceptions and empirical description, which was characteristic of the whole Pythagorean school and of much later thought, will be found to bear significantly on the development of the concepts of the calculus.” —Carl B. Boyer, ibid., pp. 17-18.




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