[From the Russian word subbota, meaning “Saturday”.] Voluntary unpaid collective labor performed for the public good by communist-spirited workers on their own time (often Saturdays). Although “subbotnik” is the more common and more general term, sometimes similar events performed on Sundays were called “voskresniks”. The practice was initiated by Bolshevik railroad workers on the Moscow-Kazan Railway in April 1919. It was then popularized by the Communist Party, and the first nationwide subbotnik in Russia was held on May 1, 1920. Subbotniks were most commonly organized for cleaning public streets of refuse, maintaining parks and other public facilities, gathering recyclable materials, and performing numerous other public services.
Lenin was pleased and excited by the development of subbotniks, and regarded them as early seeds of a future communist society based on free voluntary labor rather than on wage labor which must necessarily continue to characterize production overall during most of the socialist transition period from capitalism to communism. In the picture at the right, Lenin is one of the subbotnik volunteers carrying away a heavy log during the Kremlin area clean-up on May Day, 1920.
Subbotniks continued during the Stalin period, and even during the revisionist state-capitalist period after Stalin’s death. (For example, “Lenin Subbotniks” were held annually around the time of the anniversary of Lenin’s death.) Unfortunately, subbotniks soon lost their voluntary character and became virtually obligatory for worker participation. This is another aspect of how Soviet society came to be governed by orders from the top, rather than through the ideological education of the masses, and the use of the democratic mass line method of leadership. But perhaps the tradition of subbotniks still did encourage some small degree of public-spiritedness, even during the revisionist period.
“The first communist subbotnik was held on April 12, 1919, by railwaymen
of the Sortirovochnaya marshalling yards of the Moscow-Kazan Railway. Subbotniks were soon
being held at many other enterprises in various cities. The experience of the first communist
subbotniks was summed up by V. I. Lenin in A Great Beginning (Heroism of the Workers in
the Rear. ‘Communist Subbotniks’) [LCW 29:409-34.]
“An all-Russia subbotnik was held on May 1, 1920, with over 425,000 people in Moscow alone participating, including V. I. Lenin, who, together with Kremlin army cadets, worked on clearing away rubble on the territory of the Kremlin.
“Lenin’s article ‘From the First Subbotnik on the Moscow-Kazan Railway to the All-Russia May Day Subbotnik’ was brought out on May 2, 1920, in a specially published handbill Per vomaisky Subbotnik, which was drawn up, set and printed during the May Day subbotnik by the staff of the newspapers Pravda, Izvestia, Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn, Bednota, the ROSTA Telegraph Agency, and by the workers at the printing-house of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.” —Note 42, LCW 31.
1. The mental activities just below the threshold of consciousness. Or, those active mental processes (i.e., the overall characterizations of brain processes) which, though not fully conscious at the time, could have been so, and which serve to influence further conscious ideas and processes. This is the everyday, innocuous conception of the subconscious.
2. [In Freudian and similar psychoanalytic theories:] A hypothesized borderland area between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. According to Freud, the “psyche” has three layers—the unconscious, the subconscious, and the conscious. The unconscious is the underlying foundation of the psyche that ultimately determines the whole conscious life of the individual and of society as a whole. He viewed the subconscious as a frontier battle zone which is invaded by non-reformable unconscious desires, which are in turn “censored” by the individual’s so-called “super-ego” (or social conscience). There is little or no scientific evidence to support this precise theory, and it has largely fallen into disrepute even in bourgeois circles.
The extreme form of philosophical idealism which claims that everything, including material objects, exists only because they are collections of sensations or “ideas” in someone’s mind, or else in the mind of God. A prominent champion of this bizarre view was Bishop Berkeley.
See also: SENSATIONALISM
In a dialectical process, the negation or elimination of an element or aspect (of a dialectical contradiction) which is however preserved in a transformed or partial way in the resulting synthesis. In other words, a simultaneous cancelling and preservation of something. This term was frequently used by Hegel (as in his idealist philosophy about the historical movement of the “absolute idea”), and is occasionally used by Marxists speaking in Hegelian language (especially academics!).
In a multi-stage process (involving a series of sub-contradictions) each of the intermediate stages is sublated by a later or superior stage, which accounts for both the change in and the continuity of the process as a whole. One concrete example, in historical materialism, is the development of the exploitation contradiction in human history. The first stage in the overall development of this contradiction was slavery, which involved the sub-contradiction between slaves and slaveowners and the exploitation of the slaves by the slaveowners. This was eventually transformed (or “sublated”) into the stage of feudalism, which was characterized by the new sub-contradiction between serfs (or peasants) and feudal landlords, but with still the exploitation of the former by the latter. Feudalism in turn was later transformed or sublated into capitalism, where another new sub-contradiction arose, this time between the workers and the capitalists, but still with the same exploitation of one social class by another class. Note that the term “sublation” is by no means necessary in describing this overall process; in fact, if the goal is to clearly explain (rather than to intimidate with esoteric language), the ordinary word “transformation” seems far preferable here! Note also that the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism (and then communism) will not involve the further sublation (or transformation) of the overall exploitation contradiction, but rather its complete abolition. Society as a whole will be much more profoundly transformed, but economic exploitation itself will be eliminated and not just transformed.
See also: NEGATION OF THE NEGATION
A mortgage issued to someone with a fairly poor credit rating.
Why would a bank or other financial institution make such a loan which stands a high likelihood of default? First of all, they usually charge a higher interest rate and a larger up-front fee. However, one of the main reasons that sub-prime mortgages became so common in the first decade of the 21st century is that the issuers of the mortgage (the banks, etc.) found ways to “securitize” it, i.e. to repackage the mortgage with others and sell bonds based on them to other investors in a form where their stupidity was not obvious. (See Collateralized Debt Obligation.) Thus the bank issuing the mortgage would not suffer even if the mortgage did go into default; that would only harm the suckers who bought the “sliced-and-diced” securities. Ironically, many of the issuers of CDOs seem to have got caught up in the marketing hype they generated to sell these wonderful new investments, forgot just what they were up to, and often kept or invested in these securitized bad mortgages themselves! Thus they also got caught in this trap of their own making.
“I don’t think it poses any threat to the overall economy.” —U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, pooh-poohing the dangers in the developing subprime mortgage meltdown, quoted in a Bloomberg.com news report, July 26, 2007. [What became known as the “Great Recession” began that following December, and over the course of the next year or so a major financial crisis broke out! —S.H.]
“Despite all the talk about people moving back to big cities, more than 91 percent of population growth in the U.S. metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2010 occurred in suburbs rather than in city cores. Today, more than 60 percent of Americans live in suburbs, and non-whites constitute 27 percent of suburbs’ population.” —The Week, June 24, 2011, p. 20, reporting information from the New York Times.
“For more than half a century, Americans have fled the cities in their
millions, heading away from crime and poverty towards better schools and safer neighborhoods
in the suburbs. Now poverty is catching up with them. According to two new reports from the
Brookings Institution, over the past decade the number of poor people in the suburbs has
jumped by a whopping 37.4% to 13.7 million, compared with some 12.1 million people below the
poverty line in cities. Although poverty rates remain higher in the inner cities, the gap is
“Suburban areas largely escaped during earlier downturns, but not this time. Support groups say people are using safety-net programs, such as food stamps or unemployment insurance, who have never applied for them before. They are often making tough choices. ‘It’s mortgage or food,’ observes [one person]...
“The reports paint a grim picture. Poverty rates are expected to continue to increase. Non-profit organizations are having to do more with less staff and less funding. Almost a third of them have had to lay off staff because of lost grants, and one in five has had to reduce services. And with state and local governments lacking cash, more funding cuts are expected.” —The Economist, “Mortgage or Food”, Oct. 16, 2010, p. 39.
SUCCESSORS — Revolutionary
See: REVOLUTIONARY SUCCESSORS
SUCHTING, Wal (1931-1997)
An Australian Marxist-influenced philosopher who taught at the University of Sydney until his his retirement in 1990. His two major areas of interest were Marxism and the philosophy of science. He was more influenced by academic “Western Marxism”, and especially by Althusser, than by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy. Best known for his book Marx and Philosophy (1986) which in three short chapters discusses Marx and epistemology, Marx and materialism, and the meaning of “the dialectic”.
See: CHANGE—Sudden, QUALITATIVE LEAP
An economically extremely important canal in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. This canal was dug by the Egyptian people themselves from 1859 to 1869. However, the Suez Canal Company which managed it was under the control of the French and British imperialists, especially the latter. Even before the discovery of oil in the Middle East, and the eventual huge importance of oil in the world economy, this canal was very important in facilitating the imperialist plunder of India and other countries in Asia and Africa.
In July 1956 the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal, which the British and French imperialists viewed as unacceptable. They first put pressure on Egypt to “internationalize” the canal. When that scheme failed, Britain and France, together with Israel, waged a war of aggression against Egypt and attempted to control the canal by military force. However, the United States imperialists, the hegemonic overlords of the region, and for reasons of their own inter-imperialist contention with Britain and France, refused to acquiesce in this British-French-Israeli invasion. In the face of Egyptian military resistance and U.S. opposition, Britain, France and Israel were forced to withdraw. The last batch of invaders were pushed out on December 22, 1956.
SUN SPOT THEORY (Of Economic Crises)
A theory originated by the bourgeois economist William Stanley Jevons (1835-82) which claims that the periodic prominence of dark spots on the surface of the sun is responsible for economic cycles in the capitalist economies on earth. Though erroneous, this is not quite as ridiculous as it initally sounds! The sun goes through a 11-year cycle of varying numbers of sun spots, from almost none, to a great many, and back to almost none. These spots are actually plasma storms, and when they are abundant large quantities of charged particles are spewed off into space, some of which reach the earth and cause effects here, including the auroras and interruptions to radio communications. Moreover, the sun’s energy output varies during this 11-year cycle by about 0.1%, which causes the surface temperature of the ocean to fluctuate by a slightly larger amount. It is likely, therefore, that there are at least small changes to crop yields because of atmospheric and weather changes, and this was the basis for Jevons’ theory. (The astronomer William Hershel noted as early as 1801 that when sunspots were rare, the price of wheat in England increased.) However, such crop changes are probably fairly small, and this is only one small aspect of the overall economy. Moreover, neither the peaks nor valleys of the 11-year cycle of sun spots correlate with the varying periods of 5 to 10 years in the standard industrial cycle.
Clearly bourgeois economists come up with rather silly theories like this, which try to explain economic crises by “exogenous” factors (i.e., factors external to the capitalist system), because they simply cannot accept that capitalism itself has any internal flaw which leads to such crises, despite the fact that Marx long ago explained in detail how this occurs.
SUN Yat-sen (1866-1925)
Important early Chinese nationalist leader. [More to be added...]
See also: PREDECESSORS (Mao quote)
[From Bengali: Shundorbôn] A very large area of tidal mangrove forest in the Ganges River delta area of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.
See: FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS
See: BASE and SUPERSTRUCTURE
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
[To be added...]
SUPREME COURT (U.S.)
See: CORPORATION—As a ‘Person’
“The action of labor-power ... not only reproduces its own value, but produces value over and above it. This surplus-value is the difference between the value of the product and the value of the elements consumed in the formation of that product, in other words, of the means of production and the labour-power.” —Marx, Capital, vol. I, ch. VIII: (International, p. 208; Penguin, p. 317.) Or, roughly equivalent, surplus value is the value of the commodities produced by the workers after deducting their wages, the cost of raw materials and the overhead.
See also below, and: Value, Price and Profit
“There is not one single atom of [surplus] value that does not owe its existence to unpaid labor.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, ch. 24, sect. 1. (Penguin ed., p. 728.)
[To lay bare the essential character of capitalist production:] “This was done by the discovery of surplus-value. It was shown that the appropriation of unpaid labor is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it; that even if the capitalist buys the labor-power of his laborer at its full value as a commodity on the market, he yet extracts more value from it than he paid for; and that in the ultimate analysis this surplus-value forms those sums of value from which are heaped up the constantly increasing masses of capital in the hands of the possessing classes. The genesis of capitalist production and the production of capital were both explained.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:27.
SURPLUS VALUE — Absolute and Relative
“The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the surplus-value arising from the curtailment of the necessary labour-time, and from the corresponding alteration in the respective lengths of the two components of the working day, I call relative surplus-value. —Marx, Capital, Vol. I, ch. 12. (International ed., ...; Penguin ed., p. 432.)
SVERDLOV COMMUNIST UNIVERSITY
A higher educational institution originally set up in revolutionary Russia for the further political education and training of members of the Bolshevik Party.
“The Sverdlov Communist University was formed from courses for
agitators and instructors organized in 1918 under the All-Russia Central Executive Committee
and later converted into a school of Soviet work. After the decision of the Eighth Congress
of the R.C.P.(B.) on the organization of a higher school under the C.C. for training Party
cadres, the school was reorganized into the Central School for Soviet and Party Work; in the
second half of 1919, by decision of the Organizing Bureau of the C.C. of the R.C.P.(B.) it
changed its name to the Sverdlov Communist University.
“This was the first Party higher educational institution. Lenin showed great interest in the organization of the University and took part in working out its first syllabus and curriculum.
“On July 11 and August 29, 1919, Lenin delivered lectures on the state in the University. The text of the second lecture has not been preserved. On October 24 of the same year, Lenin made a speech to students of the Sverdlov University leaving for the front.” —Note 106, Lenin, SW 3 (1967).
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