Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Sa - Sb   —

[To be added... ]

SAINT-JUST, Louis Antoine Léon de   (1767-1794)
A Jacobin and prominent leader of the great
French Revolution.

SAINT-SIMON, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de   (1760-1825)
utopian socialist who had strong sympathies for the poor, but who opposed working-class revolution. He once appealed to the very reactionary king, Louis XVIII, to implement his utopian socialist ideas, thus showing just how silly utopians can be when it comes to their imagined path to a better world!

Originally an anti-Naxalite (counter-revolutionary) vigilante organization in Chhattisgarh state, India. It was first set up in 2005 primarily by local reactionaries, but with hidden and then massively growing and more open state support, participation and direction. The name Salwa Judum means “purification hunt” in the local Gondhi dialect (though it is sometimes translated as “peace march” in bourgeois publications), which demonstrates its intent to exterminate all revolutionary resistance to the ruling capitalists and landlords. The Salwa Judum has often functioned as an unofficial government para-military death squad. One of the methods used by the Chhattisgarh government to train and support the Salwa Judum is to select and train many of its members as SPOs or “Special Police Officers”. This allows the state to pretend that the Salwa Judum is gradually disappearing when in fact it is merely being partially incorporated into the official government suppression apparatus.
        See also:
“Salwa Judum: A ‘New Front’ of ‘Hidden War’: The Inside Story”, a 16-page pamphlet by the CPI(Maoist) Chattisgarh State Committee, Nov. 30, 2006 (PDF: 486 KB).

“… his [Raman Singh’s] government unleashed Salwa Judum, a controversial, brutal system of vigilantism that exposed hundreds of thousands of innocents to two-way violence—state-led as well as Maoist-inflicted—and uprooted more than 50,000 to be deposited in slum-like ‘concentration’ camps and rehab shelters. Several Maoist-affected states have steadfastly refused to adopt Salwa Judum-like approaches. Several senior police officers have told me on the record as to what a disaster Salwa Judum has turned out. …
         “In February 2007, I heard [Chhattisgarh] chief minister [Raman] Singh boast in Hindi to a room full of incredulous security analysts and police officers from Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, ‘Salwa Judum cannot be defeated.’ He carried on: ‘It will be written a hundred years from now. Salwa Judum is showing Gandhi is alive, showing non-violence is alive… Salwa Judum is like the fragrance of the forest in summer.’
         “Thinking folk resist the temptation to participate in the theatre of the absurd on account of propriety.” —Sudeep Chakravarti, a bourgeois analyst, Livemint.com, April 15, 2010.

“Chhattisgarh’s most notable counterinsurgency ploy, arming an anti-Maoist tribal militia known as Salwa Judum or Peace March, was predictably a violent failure. It displaced over 50,000 villagers and acted as a recruiting sergeant for the Maoists.” —The Economist, April 10, 2010, p. 45.

SAMUELSON, Paul   (1915-2009)
The most famous and influential American bourgeois economist of the second half of the 20th century. He took the lead in the construction of the so-called
“neoclassical synthesis”, the slight revision of bourgeois economics that incorporated a taste of Keynes’ views, without making any fundamental changes to it. He described himself as a “cafeteria Keynesian”, who just picked out the parts of Keynes’ views that he liked. (The genuine follower of Keynes, Joan Robinson, used the more apt term for Samuelson and his like, “bastard Keynesians”!)
        Samuelson wrote a famous textbook, Economics, which was first pulished in 1948 and updated periodically for decades afterwards. It became the most popular textbook of modern bourgeois economics during that era. Early editions had nothing about socialism in them, but in response to the New Left upsurge of the 1960s, Samuelson added a chapter about socialism to show that he was hip. His comments there (and elsewhere) about socialism and socialist economics are totally worthless, as are his occasional comments on and criticisms of Marx. But he was a hero to the bourgeois economics world and in 1970 was awarded the so-called “Nobel Prize” in Economics issued by the Bank of Sweden.
        According to The Economist [Dec. 19, 2009, p. 130] Samuelson felt “some responsibility” for the outbreak of the current major economic crisis, since he had helped develop the financial derivatives that served to intensify the crisis. But all he could say by way of excuse is that this proved once again that “free markets do not stabilize themselves”, which falsely implied that the proper regulation of the capitalist economy could prevent crises.

A word in Bengali and related languages which means “solidarity” or “support”. There is a fine website by the name of
SANHATI.COM which focuses on the support of various people’s struggles in India, especially those of the adivasis (tribal peoples) in the Jangalmahal area of West Bengal.

Literally, “those without pants”. This was originally a derisive term used by the intellectual elite in France in the period just before the great
French Revolution to refer to those writers who were not under the patronage of the salonnières (those in the ruling class who sponsored intellectual or cultural meeting places, the “salons”, at their homes). During the French Revolution, however, this term which was originally meant as an insult was transformed into a badge of honor, and became the name used for the staunchest radical republican revolutionaries. Reactionary intellectuals today, though, sometimes still use the term sans-culottes as a supposed insult for the revolutionary or violent masses.

SANWAN REORGANIZATION   [Of the Chinese Revolutionary Army]
A turning point in the Chinese Revolution wherein Mao transformed the small army which emerged from the “Autumn Harvest Uprising” of peasants in 1927 into a permanent peasant-based revolutionary army, led by the CCP, with democratic political equality between officers and soldiers, and with the strategy of establishing rural base areas and gradually encircling the cities from the countryside.

“In October 1927, Chairman Mao led the ‘Autumn Harvest Uprising’ forces in their march to the Chingkiang Mountains. On the way, in Sanwan Village of Yunghsin [Yongxing] County, Kiangsi [Jiangxi] Province, he reorganized the forces and founded the First Regiment of the First Division of the First Army of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolutionary Army. Party organizations were built up at various levels in the army and Party representatives were incorporated at company level and above. The Front Committee, with Chairman Mao as secretary, was established. In the army, the soldiers’ committees were set up to practise democratic management. The rules of revolutionary discipline for the people’s army were formulated. It was precisely from that time on that the absolute leadership of the Party over the army was affirmed and this laid the foundation for building a new-type revolutionary army.
        “After the ‘Sanwan Reorganization,’ Chairman Mao led the forces to Kucheng, Ningkang County, Kiangsi Province. In Kucheng, Chairman Mao presided over an enlarged meeting of the Party organization of the army, summed up the experiences of the Autumn Harvest Uprising and drew lessons from them. There he continued the reorganization and consolidation of the armed forces. In late October, Chairman Mao led the forces to the Chingkang Mountains and founded China’s first rural revolutionary base area—the Chingkang Mountains base area.
        “The Autumn Harvest Uprising, Sanwan Reorganization and march to the Chingkang Mountains, all of which were led by Chairman Mao, were an important turning point in China’s revolutionary history. It opened up the road for the victorious advance of China’s revolution, the road of marching to the rural areas to establish revolutionary base areas there and, using them to accumulate and develop revolutionary forces in order gradually to encircle the cities from the countryside and finally take them.” —Note in
Peking Review, #48, Nov. 28, 1969, p. 4.

The idea, put forward by linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf (Sapir’s student), that our conceptualization of the world is partly determined by the categories and structure of our native language. The extreme form of this hypothesis, sometimes called linguistic determinism, is that our conceptualization of the world is largely or even entirely determined in this way. However, this view is rejected by almost all linguists and philosophers. Of course it also goes against historical materialism and even ordinary common sense, which put forth all sorts of other reasons why we have the various concepts we do in different spheres. (In politics, for example, we Marxists hold that the dominant ideas and concepts in society are those of the ruling class, and are certainly not primarily a result of the specific language we happen to speak!)
        But there may be some very partial or limited validity to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. For example, in 2009 it was suggested by Stanford University psychologist Lera Boroditsky that speakers of languages in which nouns have a grammatical gender tend to transfer connotations of human gender to inanimate objects. Thus, according to Boroditsky, Germans tend to describe keys (Schlüssel) in terms like hard, heavy, jagged and metal, while Spaniards describe keys (llaves) in terms like golden, intricate, little, and lovely. Schlüssel is grammatically masculine, while llaves is grammatically feminine. There are many more small hints of this sort, including many not related to grammatical gender, which may similarly suggest that our languages do in fact constrain and direct the way we tend to think to some small extent. Still some skepticism is in order here, and we must firmly reject the idealist notion that language categories and forms are the primary determiner of our conceptualization of the world.

“One of the most difficult tasks confronting philosophers is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm.” —Marx & Engels, The German Ideology (1846), MECW 5:446.

“[Whorf] argued, among other things, that the structure of the Hopi language gave its speakers an understanding of time vastly different from that of Europeans. Although Whorf’s hypothesis continues to inspire research, a good deal of his evidence has been discredited.” —Philip E. Ross, “Math without Words”, Scientific American, June 2005, p. 29.


The elected head of a village government (gram
panchayat) in India and Pakistan. Except in semi-liberated revolutionary areas, these people are almost invariably part of the local ruling class, i.e. jotedars (landlords).

SARTRE, Jean-Paul   (1905-1980)
A prominent French bourgeois philosopher of
existentialism, who was also somewhat influenced by Marxism. [More to be added.]
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Sartre.

Nonviolent action or resistance, as promoted by
Mohandas K. Gandhi. (The philosophy of nonviolence is called by him ahimsa.) Gandhi foolishly taught that nonviolence is an appropriate and effective means for people’s struggles under any and all circumstances. He even preached nonviolence to the Jews in Nazi Germany at a time when they were being shipped off to extermination camps:

“If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest Gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy [...] the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.” —M. K. Gandhi, “The Jews” Harijan 26 November 1938, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 74, p. 240. [Any philosophy this outrageously wrong deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms! —S.H.]

Of course there are times and places when nonviolent resistance is appropriate as a tactic in some of the people’s struggles. But to promote nonviolent resistance when a vicious ruling class will just take advantage of those tactics to crush the people’s struggle, and even to kill them by the thousands or millions, is not only incredibly foolish, but actually downright criminal. Not only is nonviolence morally wrong at times, it is also often totally ineffective. And even Gandhi himself admitted that it was not nonviolent action which was the primary force that had led to independence for India from British imperialism.
        “Satyagraha” was a term coined by Gandhi which means “truth force”. But the actual force of truth is that sometimes the masses must use violence to end the violence directed against them by their oppressors.

SAVINGS — Household

A major financial crisis in the U.S. in the late 1980s and early 1990s which resulted in the failure of 1,043 savings and loan associations (from 1986 to mid-1995). Savings & loan companies are a type of financial institution (technically not “banks”) which accept savings deposits mostly from small investors, and which issue mortgages, car loans, and personal loans. There were many subsidiary causes of the S&L Crisis, including changes to tax law (which made speculation in real estate somewhat less profitable than it had been), neoliberal deregulation of the S&L’s, various financial shenanigans (fraud), exorbitant salaries and looting by top executives, etc. But the fundamental cause was simply that these companies were caught up in the speculative fever of a
housing bubble and issued a great many loans which they should not have. William Seidman, former chairman of both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Resolution Trust Corporation, commented: “The banking problems of the ’80s and ’90s came primarily, but not exclusively, from unsound real estate lending.”
        The crisis is estimated to have led to losses of about $160.1 billion. The U.S. government, in bailing out many of the financial capitalists involved, covered $124.6 billion of that loss. (I.e., the U.S. taxpayers did.) The Resolution Trust Corporation was the name of the government agency set up to close down the failing S&L’s and pay off most of their debts. From 1986 to 1995 the number of federally insured S&L’s dropped almost in half, from 3,234 to 1,645. These figures do not include the large number of failures of state-chartered S&L’s during this period, or their additional large losses. From 1986 to 1991 the number of new homes built in the U.S. dropped from 1.8 million per year to just 1 million. As a consequence of this crisis federal agencies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were given authority to guarantee vast numbers of new mortgages. Commercial mortgage lenders learned that they need not worry about making lots of risky loans, since if there was major trouble the government would likely bail them out. And the stage was set for creation a decade later of the vastly bigger and more serious housing bubble that developed in the years 2003-2007.

“In the aftermath of the thrift crisis of the early 1990s, 1,852 savings-and-loan officials were prosecuted and 1,072 were jailed. By contrast, only a handful of banking excecutives have faced prosecution to date for their parts in the financial crisis that began in 2007.” —Financial Times, quoted in The Week magazine, Sept. 18, 2009, p. 43. [Perhaps this is because financial thievery and crime has become so widespread and so essentially part of the current American financial system that it is no longer possible for the ruling class authorities to prosecute it at all, except in a few of the most egregious cases. —S.H.]

SAVIORS (Political)
[Intro material to be added... ]

[The second stanza of the American translation of the Internationale:]
         We want no condescending saviors
         To rule us from their judgment hall,
         We workers ask not for their favors
         Let us consult for all:
         To make the thief disgorge his booty
         To free the spirit from its cell,
         We must ourselves decide our duty,
         We must decide, and do it well.

“For the bourgeois world, based upon the principles of these philosophers [the utopian socialists], is quite as irrational and unjust, and, therefore, finds its way to the dust-hole quite as readily as feudalism and all the earlier stages of society. If pure reason and justice have not, hitherto, ruled the world, this has been the case only because men have not rightly understood them. What was wanted was the individual man of genius, who has now arisen and who understands the truth. That he has now arisen, that the truth has now been clearly understood, is not an inevitable event, following of necessity in the chain of historical development, but a mere happy accident. He might just as well have been born 500 years earlier, and might then have spared humanity 500 years of error, strife, and suffering.
         “This mode of outlook is essentially that of all English and French and of the first German socialists, including Weitling. Socialism is the expression of absolute truth, reason and justice and has only to be discovered to conquer all the world by virtue of its own power. And as absolute truth is independent of time, space, and of the historical development of man, it is a mere accident when and where it is discovered. With all this, absolute truth, reason, and justice are different with the founder of each different school. And as each one’s special kind of absolute truth, reason, and justice is again conditioned by his subjective understanding, his conditions of existence, the measure of his knowledge and his intellectual training, there is no other ending possible in this conflict of absolute truths than that they shall be mutually exclusive one of the other.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:20.

SAY, Jean-Baptiste   (1767-1832)
French economist who systematized and vulgarized
Adam Smith’s theory. Almost exclusively known today for what later came to be known as his “principle” or “Law” (see below).

The simple-minded (and grossly incorrect) claim that capitalist production creates its own demand (i.e. its own full demand), and consequently that there cannot possibly be any “gluts” or
overproduction. This so-called “law” is one of the fundamental axioms of bourgeois economics, though it often goes unacknowledged.
        Of course capitalist production does create some considerable new demand; raw materials are purchased, overhead is paid for, and workers are paid wages, all of which leads to more people spending money and creating demand for various goods. But the issue is whether or not the value of this new demand will always completely match the total value of the new commodities produced. And it is a fact about capitalism that it does not always and automatically do so.
        There are several reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is that the capitalists themselves eventually accumulate so much surplus value that they do not know what to do with it all. (I.e., they do not have profitable investment opportunities for it all.) The real productive circuit of capital starts with money, produces commodities to be sold, and then ends up with more money (M-C-M’). But if some capitalists don’t see further good investment opportunities and don’t use all this new money in another circuit, then other capitalists will suddenly find that they are unable to sell the commodities that they produce, and a general overproduction crisis will break out.
        See also: “Letter to Frank S. about the Labor Theory of Value” (Dec. 8, 2003), section 6, at http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/Let_LTV.htm, and “Additional Comments on Say’s ‘Law’—and the Consequences of Failing to Recognize its Fallaciousness” (Jan. 15, 2004), at http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/Let_LTV_Say.htm

“It is worth while to remark, that a product is no sooner created, than it from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value. When the producer has put the finishing hand to his product, he is most anxious to sell it immediately, lest its value should vanish in his hands. Nor is he less anxious to dispose of the money he may get for it; for the value of money is also perishable. But the only way of getting rid of money is in the purchase of some product or other. Thus the mere circumstances of the creation of one product immediately opens a vent for other products.” —J.-B. Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, 2 vols., (London: 1821), Vol. I, Bk. 1, Ch. XV, p. 167. Quoted in Guy Routh, The Origin of Economic Ideas (NY: Vintage, 1977), pp. 60-61.

“The conception (which really belongs to [James] Mill), adopted by Ricardo from the tedious Say (and to which we shall return when we discuss that miserable individual), that overproduction is not possible, is based on the proposition that products are exchanged against products, or as Mill put it, on the ‘metaphysical equilibrium of sellers and buyers’, and this led to [the conclusion] that demand is determined only by production, or also that demand and supply are identical. The same proposition exists also in the form, which Ricardo liked particularly, that any amount of capital can be employed in any country.” —Marx, TSV, 2:493.

“Say’s earth-shaking discovery [Marx is being ironic here!] that ‘commodities can only be bought with commodities’ simply means that money is itself the converted form of the commodity. It does not prove by any means that because I can buy only with commodities, I can buy with my commodity, or that my purchasing power is related to the quantity of commodities I produce.” —Marx, TSV, 3:119.

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