Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Tu - Tz   —

A very serious and pernicious bacterial infection of the lungs, which after a long and slow decline in the world is now on the increase again. In part this seems to be due to the false “lessons” learned during the
Covid-19 pandemic by both governments and the masses about how to properly deal with infectious diseases in general. And in part it is due to the continuing increased inequality and declining economic condition of the world’s people. [July 9, 2023]

“During the [Covid-19] pandemic, it at first appeared that, as with many other common illnesses like the flu, COVID-19 prevention efforts reduced tuberculosis cases, too. But tuberculosis numbers have quickly climbed back up to pre-pandemic levels, marking the first time in decades that cases and deaths have risen globally.
        “The pandemic not only interrupted important health interventions for tuberculosis, it also caused a decrease in social and economic opportunities for marginalized people around the globe. Together, these effects appear to have put a serious dent in the fight against tuberculosis.”
         —Carlos Franco-Paredes, “Tuberculosis on the rise for first time in decades after COVID-19 interrupted public health interventions and increased inequality”, The Conversation, July 7, 2023.
         [It is only just now starting to become clearer how extremely serious the outrageous mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the world’s capitalist rulers might turn out to be for the increase in both government and mass irrationality and indifference with regard to the prevention and treatment of a great many other dangerous diseases. —Ed.]

TUITION — College — U.S.
College tuition in the U.S. has been zooming up very rapidly for many years. But this rate of increase has accelerated even more since the U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis took a turn for the worse in 2008. The chart at the right is from the report
“Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come”, by Phil Oliff, et al., of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (March 19, 2013).
        The graph at the left, from that same report, shows how more and more of the burden of higher education is being shifted onto the backs of the students and their families. In effect public higher education in the United States is in the process of being converted into another form of private education, making it harder and harder for anyone but the children of the rich to get a college education at all.

“62% of Americans support making tuition free at public colleges and universities, while 35% are opposed. Support is highest among people ages 18 to 29—77%—and drops to 49% among people older than 50.” —From the publication Bankrate, as reported in The Week magazine, Aug. 12, 2016, p. 19. [The 62% figure is a large majority, but of course the U.S. is not really a democracy, and what the majority want is mostly irrelevant. —Ed.]

A wild speculative
asset bubble that developed in Holland from 1636-37 with regard to rare tulip bulbs. At the peak of the madness, one single rare “Viceroy” tulip bulb was sold for two very large measures of wheat and four of rye, eight pigs, a dozen sheep, two oxheads of wine, four tons of butter, a thousand pounds of cheese, a bed, some clothing, and a silver beaker! [Charles Kindleberger, Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, 3rd ed. (1996), p. 101.]

TUNG Chung-shu   (179-104 BCE)
DONG Zhongshu

SHAKUR, Tupac Amaru

TURATI, Filippo   (1857-1932)
Reformist leader of the Italian working-class movement. He was one of the organizers of the Italian Socialist Party in 1892, and the leader of its Right wing. He put forth a policy of class collaboration between the proletariat and bourgeoisie, and supported the Italian bourgeoisie during World War I.

TURING, Alan   (1912-1954)
English mathematician and computer scientist.

A mathematical model (not a physical machine!) which describes at an abstract level the functioning of any possible digital computer system. This model was put forward in Alan Turing’s famous 1937 mathematics paper On Computable Numbers.

A behaviorist sort of test of artificial intelligence proposed by Alan Turing in 1950, in which a computer is deemed to have achieved a high level of intelligence if humans, when putting questions to it, cannot tell if the answers are coming from a computer or from a human being. This sort of test is now considered rather naïve and much less profound than it was originally assumed to be.


Bad things often have aspects or characteristics which allow them to be transformed into something which is overall positive rather than negative, good rather than bad. A classic example in MLM thought and action is the possibility that a newly developing revolutionary-minded people may be able to transform an imperialist war being carried out by their capitalist rulers into a proletarian revolutionary war against those rulers—such as happened in Russia in 1917.
        Not only can people consciously turn some bad things into good things, this can also happen even spontaneously in nature, as for example through the processes of evolution. (See the second quotation below.)

X. Can Bad Things be Turned into Good Things?
        “In our society, as I have said, disturbances by the masses are bad, and we do not approve of them. But when disturbances do occur, they enable us to learn lessons, to overcome bureaucracy and to educate the cadres and the masses. In this sense, bad things can be turned into good things. Disturbances thus have a dual charcter. Every disturbance can be regarded in this way....
        “To sum up, we must learn to look at problems all-sidedly, seeing the reverse as well as the obverse side of things. In given conditions, a bad thing can lead to good results and a good thing to bad results. More than two thousand years ago Lao Tzu said: ‘Good fortune lieth within bad, bad fortune lurketh within good.’” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW5:416.

[Plants, when they first evolved, were very low to the ground and were restricted to that low level because that is where the water and nutrients existed. When they evolved to rise slightly off the ground, and to form leaves, this allowed them to disperse their spores (or in later, more advanced plants, their seeds) via the wind. —Ed.]
        “Stalks that raised themselves above the boundary layer so as to release their spores into wind were favored by evolution, and over time they came to be equipped with various protections against the arid air, such as waxy cuticles to keep their watery insides moist. Cuticles that keep water in, though, keep carbon dioxide out. If the stems [and leaves on them] were to be used for photosynthesis, they needed a way to make a trade-off between letting in carbon dioxide and losing water. That trade-off is made by the little orifices called stomata, which sense the amount of photosynthesis going on in green tissue and open or close themselves accordingly. These stomata are, from the point of view of the environment as a whole, one of the most crucial features of plant physiology....
        “Though the stomata limit the loss, opening your tissues up to the air still means losing water, and this is a problem; plants rely on the pressure of water in their cells to keep themselves rigid. But water loss turned out to be something that the plants could use to their advantage. A thin column of water in a tube has a surprising tensile strength; if you pull hard on the water at the top, you will draw up the water from below as surely as if you were pulling on a steel wire. Vascular plants—plants with internal plumbing—learned [i.e., evolved! —Ed.] to use this strength. The loss of water through the stomata, a process called transpiration, provided them with tubes of water pulled up from the soil that reinforced their structure as impressively as cabling would. What was more, the ascending water could be pressed into service to provide the airborne tissue with inorganic nutrients—such as nitrates and phosphates and iron—that the air alone cannot supply. Water loss was an irreversible fact of life for any plants headed skywards. By using that water loss to give strength to their tissues and to pull up a steady stream of nutrients from below, the vascular plants turned the water-loss bug into a feature.” —Oliver Morton, Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet (NY: Harper Perennial, 2009), pp. 223-4.


TWITTER (Social Media)
A “microblogging” social media website famous for its use of the “hashtag” (#) and the limitation of 140 characters for individual messages (which was raised to a still paltry 280 characters in 2017). Many people who describe themselves as socialists or communists spend an inordinate amount of time on such media, “tweeting” whatever they happen to be thinking about (even when it has no actual significance to socialism or revolutionary struggle). This is akin to a type of drug addiction and voyeurism and is a manifestation of one of the many unhealthy and compulsive behaviors engendered by capitalist society, even among progressive and revolutionary-minded people.
        It is quite understandable (though from a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist perspective, nevertheless quite unacceptable) for communists to engage in incessant “tweeting” given the shattering alienation of capitalist society, where many people (and perhaps especially communists and other progressives) see few other outlets to vent their frustrations at the innumerable injustices and stupidities of this society. To the extent that social media outlets like Twitter can help to spread information about revolutionary and popular struggles or help coordinate such struggles, they can serve a progressive role and communists should not be averse to using them (albeit with a view to circumventing the increasing electronic surveillance capabilities of the bourgeois state). But given the absurd amount of time that many progressives spend on Twitter, as well as the limitation built into Twitter that makes it so famous (messages being tightly limited in size, thus forcing everyone who uses it to engage in an arms race of snazzy “sound-bites” [see, however:
SLOGANS]) it is undoubtedly serving an overall negative role, not least because the use of such media allows people to engage in posturing and role-playing.
        Bourgeois commentators often focus on “the wonders” of websites such as Twitter and how much they serve as a “force for social change”. For example, during the national-democratic “Arab Spring” protests in Egypt and other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, CNN obsessively focused on the “important” role played by Twitter and Facebook. As it turned out, such outlets played only a very minor role. Of course, the bourgeoisie would love for the masses to confine their revolutionary fervor to Twitter and the like, largely because these are actually such ineffective avenues.
        The protest sign in Egypt shown at the above-right, which was unfortunately not meant as satire, perfectly captures the absolutely ridiculous petty-bourgeois delusions of pacifism. The bourgeoisie wholeheartedly agrees with the “humane” assessment of this protestor, and does its best to promote the notion that “only” though reformist paths can the workers genuinely improve their conditions of life, while the same bourgeoisie continues to pillage the world and hold all the means of violence at its disposal should the workers get too uppity and look beyond things such as Twitter to emancipate themselves from capitalist-imperialism. —L.C.

“Twitter’s wonderful for assertion. It’s absolutely useless for argument. You cannot deploy an argument of even the simplest kind in 140 characters.” —Sir Harold Evans, a bourgeois editor and author, interviewed in Time magazine, June 12, 2017, p. 60.

A reference to the most reactionary bourgeois political families in France in the period before World War II. Thus, another way to talk about the ruling French bourgeoisie at that time in general.

“This was what the [French] leaders were like. As regards those circles of the French bourgeoisie which were known as the Two Hundred Families, their mood [in the pre-World War II period] is best of all characterized by the slogan they put forward: ‘Better Hitler than the Popular Front.’
        “As a result France in 1938 was a second-rate power and in the main followed in Britain’s wake.” —Ivan Maisky, “The Munich Drama” (Moscow: 1978), pp. 27-28. [Maisky was the Soviet ambassador to Britain from 1932 to 1943.]

An arrangement in bourgeois society wherein a single social class rules through not just a single political party, but rather through two primary parties which both represent that same class. These two parties work co-operatively in a “bi-partisan” way when their overall class interests are at issue, but divide and contend when it comes to matters on which the ruling capitalist class is itself divided. Ruling in this way also makes it easier for the bourgeoisie to fool the masses into thinking that they actually control society through a democratic process. Actually, however, the “democracy” is real only with regard to questions on which the bourgeoisie is itself split. In the U.S., for example, the masses are still under the complete control of the exploiting capitalist class whether the Democratic or Republican party wins an election.
        See also:

“America’s two major political parties differ rhetorically on plenty of issues, and they are each quick to accuse the other of every manner of atrociousness. Yet the Republicans and Democrats are remarkably collaborative when it comes to gaming the system. ‘Our giving is very equal between parties across the country,’ Walmart’s Brooke Buchanan says of corporate political action committee donations that in 2012 split 51 percent Republican and 49 percent Democratic—and who prove the maxim ‘the rich get richer’ no matter which party is in power.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), p. 142. [This admission, by two social-democrats is rather ironic, given that they still promote the fantasy that the people can “regain” democratic control of the country under the present capitalist system. —Ed.]

“There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.” —W.E.B. Du Bois, on refusing to vote in the 1956 U.S. presidential election, quoted in The Nation, in October 1956 and again in the issue of Feb. 29, 2016, p. 11.


“TWO-STATE SOLUTION”   [Palestine]
A scheme by many supporters and defenders of the
Zionist state of Israel, and by some “left” Zionists themselves, to try to resolve the long struggle between Jewish Zionists and Arab Palestinians (who the Zionists have been attempting to forcibly push out of Palestine for more than 75 years), by creating two separate states—one for Jews and one for Palestinians. It is possible that this may have been a somewhat feasible (if only temporary) “solution” early on, when Israel encompassed just a small portion of Palestine. But today, when only the tiny Gaza Strip and ever-more restricted parts of the West Bank still exist as formally being outside of Israel, and there are such very limited areas which are not yet occupied primarily by Jews, the notion of any “two-state solution” to the Palestine problem is simply absurd. There is just not enough left of Palestine outside of Israel to make a separate Palestinian state viable. (See most recent map.)
        Most Zionists have totally opposed the idea of a “two-state solution” from the very start, and have always wanted all of Palestine (and perhaps well beyond) as their future state of “Greater Israel”. As of January 2024 the Israeli government has made it very clear that it will never agree to such a two-state arrangement. The U.S. imperialists, however, are still pushing for such a “solution”, because they view it as a way of keeping to something close to the present status quo, and they don’t know where else the Palestinians being displaced can go. (Israel is trying to force them into refugee camps in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or elsewhere, and doesn’t care what happens to them as long as they are gone.) A major reason why Israel is currently (as of February 2024) attempting to destroy Gaza as a livable place for Palestinians is to force them entirely out of Palestine, and put an end to any ideas of a “two-state solution” being pushed on Israel by the U.S. It seems virtually certain that the Israelis will be able to prevent such a “solution” from even being seriously attempted, and will likewise eventually force the U.S. to finally give up on the whole idea.
        The defenders of the “two-state solution” idea on the “left” include Noam Chomsky. While he knows it is not really a satisfactory “solution” to the basic problem in Palestine, he doesn’t see any other possibility. This is the sort of thing that marks Chomsky as merely someone who wants to somehow modestly reform the present miserable world, and not really a revolutionary who wants to fundamentally transform a bourgeois world into a new socialist, and then communist, world. Chomsky’s stance here also marks him as a defender of the continued existence of the Zionist state of Israel, and thus as a “left” Zionist (though we don’t think he would ever acknowledge that).
        Marxist-Leninist-Maoists completely reject this whole idea of a “two-state solution” in Palestine, and instead demand that there be one single, fully democratic state for all the people there, including the Jews and the Palestinians (and also all the Palestinians returned from their forced ejection into refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere). But is this something that can soon and easily happen? Of course not. It will require revolutionary war, and probably a series of such wars in the midst of continuing more general capitalist-imperialist conflict. It is not a quiet and peaceful world that we presently live in.   —S.H. [Feb. 3, 2024].

Important work by Lenin written during the 1905 Revolution in Russia and contrasting the tactics of the Bolsheviks versus the Mensheviks in that Revolution. (Keep in mind, however, that Lenin used the word ‘tactics’ to include what we now call both strategy and tactics.) This work is in LCW 9:15-140, and is available online at:

“This book, which appeared in July 1905, lays down the tactical line of the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Revolution in opposition to the line of the Mensheviks. It deals with the role of the working class in taking the lead in the bourgeois revolution and passing from the bourgeois revolution to the socialist revolution.
        “In order to understand this book and the tactical line of the Bolsheviks in the 1905 Revolution, the reader should consult the History of the C.P.S.U.(B), Chapter III, Section 3, where the tactical differences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and the revolutionary policy of the Bolsheviks are fully explained.
        “The Revolution of 1905 in Russia was essentially a bourgeois democratic revolution. Its task was not to overthrow capitalist rule and establish socialism, but to smash Tsarist absolutism and establish the fullest democracy. The fulfilment of this democratic task was a necessary stage in the advance to the socialist revolution.
        “On the eve of the 1905 Revolution two opposed lines were put forward in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party:—
        “The Bolsheviks held that the revolution must be led by the workers in alliance with the peasants. They called for an armed rising to overthrow the Tsarist Government and set up a provisional revolutionary government in which the workers would participate. The liberal bourgeoisie, said the Bolsheviks, aimed at a compromise with the Tsar at the expense of the people, and it was necessary to isolate them.
        “The Mensheviks, on the other hand, held that the liberal bourgeoisie must be the leader of the bourgeois revolution; that the workers should establish close relations, not with the peasantry, but with the liberal bourgeoisie; and that if it proved possible to set up a provisional revolutionary government, this must be a government of the Liberals, and the workers should not participate in it.
        “The fundamental tactical principles expounded by Lenin in Two Tactics of Social Democracy are as follows:
        “1.   The main tactical principle which runs through the whole book is that the working class must win the leadership of the bourgeois democratic revolution. In order to carry through the revolution, the working class must find an ally, namely, the peasants, and must isolate the liberal bourgeoisie who did not aim at the overthrow of Tsarism but at a compromise.
        “Here Lenin advanced a new conception of the role of the working class in the bourgeois democratic revolution. In the previous history of bourgeois revolutions, it had been the bourgeoisie which had played the leading part; in the new historical situation, Lenin showed that the working class must become the leading and guiding force of the bourgeois revolution.
        “2.   Lenin showed that the most effective means of overthrowing Tsarism and achieving a democratic republic was a people’s uprising. The aim must be an uprising which would overthrow Tsarism and set up a provisional revolutionary government. This government would be the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants. It would not yet be a socialist government, but the workers should not hesitate to participate in it. Its task would be to crush the counter-revolution and to institute in a revolutionary way such democratic measures as the eight-hour day in the towns and the re-distribution of land in the countryside.
        “3.   Having achieved the democratic republic, the revolutionary movement would not come to a stop but the workers must then carry the revolution forward to the socialist revolution. Having overthrown autocracy and established a democratic republic in alliance with the whole of the peasantry, the working class would go forward with the mass of the poor peasantry to defeat the bourgeoisie and establish the proletarian dictatorship and socialism.”
         —Maurice Cornforth, ed., Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (1953), pp. 61-62.

This is a reference to the popular saying during the late Cultural Revolution and immediately after Mao’s death in September 1976: “We firmly uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and we unswervingly adhere to whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave.” This was a pledge to follow the revolutionary policies and leadership of Mao Zedong.
        However, when
Deng Xiaoping and his capitalist roader associates once again came to full power in the latter half of 1978, they denounced and repudiated the “two-whatevers’s” and by inference the policies and leadership of Mao in general. They tried to justify this by claiming that they were “returning” to the tradition of “integrating theory with practice and seeking truth from facts” which on their interpretation allowed them to readjust, restructure, and redirect the economy along capitalist lines.

A distinction helpful in clarifying the relationship between different kinds of abstractions. Consider, for example, the sentence: “The bourgeoisie is the enemy.” In one sense there are 5 words in this sentence, but in another sense there are only 4 different words, since the word ‘the’ appears twice. In type/token terminology, there are two tokens of the type ‘the’ in that sentence, and just one token each for the other word types. Thinking of things as types and tokens can sometimes clear up confusions that people have, and resolve “philosophical” questions. (See
AESTHETIC OBJECT for one example.)

Most of those who talk about the “tyranny of the majority” are fearful that if true and complete democracy is allowed, the majority may oppress or even (gasp!) appropriate the wealth, of the tiny rich minority. Thus most of those who worry about the “tyranny of the majority” represent the views of the oligarchic ruling class who are deeply fearful of the masses and of any real democracy.
        This was completely obvious for the founding fathers of the United States, as Woodrow Wilson discusses in the quotation below. But it is also completely characteristic even of modern
bourgeois democracies, which are far more concerned to limit and restrict any real democracy than they are to promote it. In centuries past, methods such as requiring property ownership or paying a poll tax were used to restrict voting, and even then only free white males were qualified. Today slavery has (mostly) disappeared and women can now vote, but new more sophisticated methods of restricting bourgeois democracy and making it more or less meaningless have been developed (as far as the key interests of the working class are concerned). These new or intensified methods include much more extensive and intensive ideological conditioning of the masses through bourgeois control of education and the media; making elections extremely expensive, so that it almost impossible for candidates who are neither rich nor backed by the rich to get nominated and elected; more and more restrictions on the rights of free speech and to protest; stronger laws against mass associations and more state efforts to control or destroy labor unions; and so forth. Bourgeois democracy itself is the perfection of mostly polite methods which insure the tyranny of the one percent in place of any feared “tyranny of the majority” which gives the rich nightmares.

“The [U.S.] government was not by intention a democratic government. In plan and structure it was meant to check the sweep and power of popular majorities. The Senate, it was believed, would be a strong-hold of conservativism, if not of aristocracy and wealth. The President, it was expected, would be the choice of representative men acting in the electoral college, and not of the people. The federal Judiciary was looked to, with its virtually permanent membership, to hold the entire structure of national politics in nice balance against all disturbing influences, whether of popular impulse or of official overbearance. Only in the House of Representatives were the people to be accorded an immediate audience and a direct means of making their will effective in affairs. The government had, in fact, been originated and organized upon the initiative and primarily in the interest of the mercantile and wealthy classes. Originally conceived in an effort to resolve commercial disputes between the States, it had been urged to adoption by a minority, under the concerted and aggressive leadership of able men representing a ruling class." —Woodrow Wilson, the historian and future U.S. President, describing how the U.S. Constitution and U.S. government were created right from the start in order to prevent any “tyranny of the majority”, Division and Reunion, 1829-1889 (NY: 1893), pp. 12-13.

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index