Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

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On May 26, 1939, at a time when the Communist Party of China was under heightened attack by reactionaries, Mao Zedong wrote an influential three page article, “To Be Attacked by the Enemy is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing”. This article was later included in the Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung (Peking [Beijing]: 1971), and was also included in Volume 6 of the Selected Works of Mao Tsetung published in India. It is available online at:
        The basic theme of that fine article is summed up in this paragraph:

“I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.” —Mao Zedong, SR, p. 160.


TOBIN, James   (1918-2002)
American bourgeois economist in the Keynesian tradition. In 1981 he was awarded the so-called “Nobel Prize” in economics which is sponsored by the Bank of Sweden.

A tax proposed by James Tobin on foreign exchange transactions (the buying or selling of foreign currencies). The primary purpose of such a tax would be to reduce the level of speculation in international currency markets. Although often talked about, such taxes are virtually non-existent, and even if implemented would most likely be set at too low a rate to significantly reduce currency speculation.

TOKYO FIREBOMBING   [By the U.S. in World War II]
The purposeful murder of vast numbers of civilians in a major fire storm in Tokyo, Japan, caused by incendiary bombs dropped all around the city especially in residential areas, by the United States beginning in the early hours of March 10, 1945. This was a major war crime, though no punishment for it was ever administered or even contemplated. The damage to the city and the number of civilian deaths was comparable to that caused by the American nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki five months later.

“Seventy-five years ago, less than 10 miles from where he now lives alone in a low-lying neighorhood known for its moderate rents, Saotome (pronounced SAH-oh-toe-meh) survived the brutally effective American firebombing of Tokyo. Over the course of nearly three hours, an attack by the United States Army Air Forces killed as many as 100,000 people—more than some estimates of the number killed the day of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. But while the Japanese public—and the world—rightly remember Hiroshima as a living symbol of the horrors of nuclear war, the Tokyo firebombing is generally regarded as a footnote in any accounting of the war in Japan.” —Motoko Rich, “This Survivor of the Firebombing of Tokyo Won’t Let Us Forget”, New York Times, September 6, 2020.
         [When imperialist powers go to war, whether against small “Third World” countries or against each other, they don’t care how many innocent people they murder; in fact, the more the better, they usually think. —Ed.]

“Over several hours, U.S. Army Air Forces warplanes destroyed the shitamachi, or the low-lying section of Tokyo, and killed an estimated 100,000 Japanese citizens in a firestorm. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey later wrote that ‘probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six-hour period than at any time in the history of man.’ The devastating results motivated military leaders to continue incendiary bombing raids on Japan’s other cities—both large and small—in hopes of forcing the Japanese to surrender. Before the war’s end, firebombs dropped by B-29s killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens in more than 60 cities before nuclear bombs leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” —John Ismay, “‘We Hated What We Were Doing’: Memories From the Airmen”, New York Times, September 6, 2020.

Capitalism is an unstable system in many respects, and specifically competitive capitalism is unstable in that there are powerful forces which tend to transform it in the direction of monopoly, as Marx pointed out long ago. When severe economic crises develop, however, this creates additional major problems. It is no longer a question of a number of fairly inconsequential small companies going bankrupt, but now a question of some extremely large banks and other corporations failing. Some of these large corporations are now so important for the economy that their failure would lead to such drastic repercussions that the capitalist class in general has been forced to declare them “too big to fail”. In other words, it is forced to use its control of the state to
bail out these giant banks and other corporations which it deems “too big to fail”.
        In the Panic of 2008-9, which is part of the overall still-developing profound world capitalist economic crisis, the U.S. government has already spent literally trillions of dollars in both temporary and permanent bailouts of banks and corporations which it considered “too big to fail”. This has become a major feature of the crisis and will remain so from now on.

“By dividing the whole circulation [of bank notes] into a greater number of parts, the failure of any one [banking] company, an accident which, in the course of things, must sometimes happen, becomes of less consequence to the public.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book II, Ch. II, (Modern Library, 1937), p. 313. [What Adam Smith did not understand, however, is that the growth of monopoly is in the interests of the most important and influential capitalists, who therefore also normally control the bourgeois state. Thus even if there are nominal laws against monopoly, there will eventually come to be giant monopolistic (or at least oligopolistic) corporations whose failure would indeed be tremendously disruptive to the entire capitalist economy. Therefore it is inevitable that banks and corporations “too big to fail” arise, and that the bourgeois state will then bail them out and prop them up when they get into financial difficulty. It is today a petty-bourgeois pipe dream to think that corporations can be kept small and inconsequential enough so that their individual failures really do not matter.]

TORTURE — By U.S. Government
It has long been known that the
CIA and other branches of the U.S. government routinely use torture in their interrogations of people. This was finally even officially admitted in a Senate report on CIA torture in 2014. The Obama administration then piously condemned the use of torture, while at the same time continuing torture and U.S. imperialist terrorism around the world through the use of drone attacks and in many other ways. (This hypocrisy is ridiculed in the cartoon at the right.)
        See also: WATERBOARDING

        1. [In British history:] A person who defended the King’s supremacy over parliament.
        2. [In modern Britain:] A member or supporter of the Conservative Party, which is a generally more reactionary party than the other leading bourgeois parties in Britain, such as the Labour Party. The Tories more or less correspond to the Republicans in the United States.


The number of children that would be born to a woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and bear children in accordance with the current age-specific fertility rates. Although the TFR is one of the better measures of fertility in different countries at use at the present time, it tends to overstate actual fertility levels during periods when fertility rates are rapidly declining (as is the case at present in most parts of the world).
        The Total Fertility Rates have been declining in almost every country as the people of the world have been more and more squeezed by the world capitalist overproduction crisis that has been developing since the early 1970s. It is more and more economically infeasible for people to have children! For various reasons the U.S. TFR has remained higher than that of most advanced capitalist countries, including Europe and Japan. But the special circumstances that have kept the U.S. TFR rate higher are now less and less effective, and the TFR in the U.S. is now quickly falling towards European levels. (See graph at the right.) Although there are also other social factors at work, just as in the Great Depression of the 1930s a low and/or falling birth rate is still a solid indicator of the worsening economic condition of the people.

“Soon after the great recession hit America, in 2007, the birth rate began to fall. Many people lost their jobs or their homes, which hardly put them in a procreative mood. But in the past few years the economy has bounced back [according to largely phony official statistics! —Ed.]—and births continue to drop. American’s total fertility rate, which can be thought of as the number of children the average woman will bear, has fallen from 2.12 to 1.77. It is now almost exactly the same as England’s rate, and well below that of France.” —“The Birth Rate: Baby Bust”, The Economist, Nov. 24, 2018, p. 23.

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