Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:
- UA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ua-Uk.
- UL.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Ul-Um.
- UNA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Una-Und.
- UNE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Une-Unh.
- UNI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Uni-Unz.
- UO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Uo-Uz.
Although this older “U.htm” file still exists (in case there are still links to its contents),
all new entries and revisions to old entries are being made to the above files.
See: UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PREVENTION ACT
UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)
A common term used by the U.S. military to refer to military drones.
UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST PARTY [UKAPISTS]
An opposition party to the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine from 1920 to 1925. The nickname “Ukapists” comes from the Anglicized Ukrainian initials of this party, UKP. The Ukapists were a split-off from the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labor Party in January 1919, and initially called themselves the Socialists-Sovereignists. They had a strong nationalistic orientation, though they did favor some type of an alliance with other Soviet republics in a sort of European socialist federation. In its newspaper Chervony Prapor the UCP strongly criticized the Ukrainian Bolsheviks as being subservient to the Russian Bolsheviks in Moscow.
Besides their initial Sovereignist core the Ukapists included many former left-Socialist Revolutionary Borotbists, and some people, such as Yuri Lapchinsky, who had left the CP(B)U for nationalist reasons. In 1923 a faction of the UCP requested unification with the Bolshevik party. In 1920 and again in 1924 the UCP asked the Communist International for affiliation as the representative of Ukraine. The Comintern rejected this application and said that since Ukraine was already a sovereign state within the USSR, the UCP should dissolve itself and merge into the CP(B)U. At its Fourth Congress the UCP did formally dissolve itself, and some members, including its leader Andri Richitsky, did join the CP(B)U. During the early 1930s at least some of the former Ukapists were purged from the Bolsheviks, and some were apparently exiled to Siberia or else executed.
[Sometimes without the hyphen.] The theory that capitalist-imperialism will, has, or at least might, develop into a stage where there is a single, unified imperialist system under the cooperative control of all the imperialist countries, and where there is no serious contention among these imperialist countries that can lead to inter-imperialist war. This theory was promoted by Karl Kautsky in the period which, ironically, led up to World War I—the first of the two disastrous inter-imperialist world wars of the 20th century. The theory was ferociously opposed by Lenin, who argued that the idea of ultra-imperialism was “ultra-nonsense” [LCW 22:271]. However, while Lenin was certainly correct to condemn the theory of ultra-imperialism at that time, and—moreover—the theory really is essentially both undialectical and ultimately downright wrong in general, there needs to be further discussion of the topic in light of the developments within world imperialism following World War II. (See next entry below.)
The idea of “ultra-imperialism” is connected to the more general revisionist notion that capitalism was developing into a less anarchic and more organized and stable form, both within individual countries and on a world scale. Supposedly this meant that capitalist economic crises would soon be a thing of the past, as would imperialist wars. Needless to say, this is not at all how things have worked out for capitalist-imperialism over the past century!
This picture of “organized capitalism” was especially promoted by the Austrian semi-Marxist economist, Rudolf Hilferding. There were inklings of this view in his famous 1910 book Finance Capital which were then elaborated by him in 1915. Part of the germ of the idea of both “organized capitalism” and “ultra-imperialism” lies in Hilferding’s notion of a universal or “general cartel”, a stable international cartel of capitalist companies which organizes the production and sale of more or less all commodities over the entire world. (Though, in that book, Hilferding says that such a universal cartel must soon collapse.) [See: Hilferding’s Finance Capital, English translation ed. by Tom Bottomore, 1981, pp. 234-5 & 296-7.] Soon after writing that book, however, Hilferding became convinced by his own flights of fancy that organized capitalism was in fact possible and developing. He generalized way too much on the situation in Germany and Europe before World War I, and grossly underestimated the contradictions between the imperialist powers that led to world war and to the breaking down of international cartels.
The roots of the notion of ultra-imperialism lie in Hilferding and other earlier revisionists. And, as Lenin points out [LCW 22:293-4] even the non-Marxist writer John Hobson broached the same idea, though he called it “inter-imperialism” rather than ultra-imperialism. However, Karl Kautsky was the individual who most directly promoted the theory. After arguing that imperialism is merely an optional “policy” that contemporary capitalists had adopted (and not at all something that was inherent to modern capitalism), he went on to say:
“From the purely economic standpoint it is therefore not excluded that
capitalism may yet experience a new phase, namely the transposition of the policy of the
cartels to the realm of foreign policy—in other words, a phase of ultra-imperialism,
which naturally we would have to combat as energetically as we combated imperialism, but
the danger of which would take a different form, not a world arms race and threat to world
—Karl Kautsky, “Wirkungen des Krieges” [“Results of the War”], Die Neue Zeit, XXXII, 1913-1914, vol. II, p. 921; English translation in: Massimo Salvadori, Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Revolution: 1880-1938 (Verso: 1990), p. 189. [This article was written before the start of World War I, but revised slightly before publication after the start of that war.]
In 1915, nine months after writing the above, Kautsky recognized that for the present the world war was blocking the development of ultra-imperialism, but still hoped and supposed that it might yet develop after the end of the war:
“The retreat of the movement for protective tariffs in England, the reduction
of tariffs in America, the efforts at disarmament, the quick reduction of capital exports from
France and Germany in the last few years before the War, and finally the growing international
interpenetration of the various cliques of finance capital caused me to consider whether it
might not be possible for the present imperialist policy to be pushed aside by a new
ultra-imperialist one, which replaces the struggle of national finance capitals against each
other by the joint exploitation of the world through internationally allied finance capital.
Such a new phase of capitalism is, in any case, imaginable. The necessary preconditions are
still lacking to decide whether it is also realizable.... The present war ... can totally
stamp out the weak sprouts of ultra-imperialism by greatly increasing the national hatred
also of the finance capitalists, by spurring on the armaments race, by making a second world
war inevitable.... But the war can also ... strengthen the weak sprouts of ultra-imperialism....
Temporarily, ... ultra-imperialism could bring an era of new hope and expectations within
—Karl Kautsky, “Zwei Schriften”, Die Neue Zeit 33 (April 30, 1915), pp. 144-45. English translation in: John H. Kautsky [Karl’s grandson], Karl Kautsky: Marxism, Revolution & Democracy (1994), pp. 11-12. [Some of the sentences also appear, in slightly different translation, in LCW 22:293.]
Lenin ridiculed the theory of ultra-imperialism in a variety of ways: For example, in response to Kautsky’s remarks about looking at the issue from the purely economic standpoint, he wrote:
“If the purely economic point of view is meant to be a ‘pure’ abstraction,
then all that can be said reduces itself to the following proposition: development is
proceeding towards monopolies, hence, towards a single world monopoly, towards a single world
trust. This is indisputable, but it is also as completely meaningless as is the statement
that ‘development is proceeding’ towards the manufacture of foodstuffs in laboratories. In
this sense the ‘theory’ of ultra-imperialism is no less absurd than a ‘theory of
ultra-agriculture’ would be.
“If, however, we are discussing the ‘purely economic’ conditions of the epoch of finance capital as a historically concrete epoch which began at the turn of the twentieth century, then the best reply that one can make to the lifeless abstractions of ‘ultra-imperialism’ (which serve exclusively a most reactionary aim: that of diverting attention from the depth of existing antagonisms) is to contrast them with the concrete economic realities of the present-day world economy. Kautsky’s utterly meaningless talk about ultra-imperialism encourages, among other things, that profoundly mistaken idea which only brings grist to the mill to the apologists of imperialism, i.e., that the rule of finance capital lessens the unevenness and contradictions inherent in the world economy, whereas in reality it increases them.”
—Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, (January-June 1916), LCW 22:271-2.
Later in that same work Lenin says:
“[T]he only objective, i.e., real, social significance of Kautsky’s ‘theory’ is this: it is a most reactionary method of consoling the masses with hopes of permanent peace being possible under capitalism, by distracting their attention from the sharp antagonisms and acute problems of the present times, and directing it towards illusory prospects of an imaginary ‘ultra-imperialism’ of the future. Deception of the masses—that is all there is in Kautsky’s ‘Marxist’ theory.” —Lenin, ibid., LCW 22:294.
There is much additional criticism of Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism in
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism and other works by Lenin. Nikolai
Bukharin also strongly criticized the theory of ultra-imperialism in Chapter 12 of his 1915
book Imperialism and World Economy, as did Lenin in the introduction to that work.
[Bukharin’s book with Lenin’s introduction is available at:
See also below, and: WORLD IMPERIALIST SYSTEM
Although the theory of ultra-imperialism was obviously totally ridiculous in Lenin’s era and at least until after World War II, what about all the major changes and developments in world imperialism which occured after that war? Didn’t the change from old-style colonial imperialism to the new neocolonialism and the advent of the present-day single World Imperialist System, with its major organizational agencies including the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, show that Kautsky was right after all, even if he was way too premature in his expectations in 1914?
There are those who claim so. The anti-communist intellectual, George Lichtheim, who nevertheless called himself a “socialist”, wrote that Kautsky’s “gloomy vision” of ultra-imperialism, “of a global cartel linking all the industrially advanced centers of the world ... first formulated in 1914 by the principal theorist of the Second International, looks remarkably modern today: more so than the productions of the rival Leninist school.” [Lichtheim, Imperialism (1971), p. 12.] Another writer claimed that “From a present-day perspective it seems that Kautsky was right: Capitalism has in fact survived two great wars and has reached the phase of ‘ultra-imperialism’.” [Narihiko Ito, “Karl Kautsky und Rosa Luxemburg,” in Jürgen Rojahn, et al., Marxismus und Demokratie: Karl Kautskys Bedeutung in der sozialistischen Arbeiterbewegung (1992), p. 161.]
What is missing here is a dialectical approach, a longer viewpoint and an ability to look at major social processes as they develop over a prolonged period. For the two or so decades before World War I it also looked to many that an international social stability had arrived and that wars, at least major wars between advanced countries, would no longer occur. Civilization had (supposedly) triumphed once and for all! And even to some on the Left, such as Hilferding and Kautsky, it looked as though the economic roots of inter-imperialist contention were rapidly disappearing, and they pointed to the rise of international cartels as “proof” of that. And yet World War I came along almost before they got these words out of their mouths, and those international cartels crumbled. The apparent and temporary stability and era of peace collapsed and turned into its opposite.
Yes, a cooperative organization of imperialist powers did start to come into existence at the end of World War II. At first it consisted only of the victorious imperialist powers in that war, dominated—of course—by the United States, but also including Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Canada and a few other advanced capitalist countries. But very soon the defeated Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) were also brought into it. Once capitalism was restored in the USSR, and for a period of 35 years, there were then two competing imperialist systems, the “West” and the social-imperialist Soviet Union and its sphere of control (the so-called “Socialist Bloc”). After the USSR collapsed in 1991, Russia and the other countries in the Soviet bloc also merged (with varying degrees of success) into what was then the single remaining imperialist system. After Mao’s death in 1976 China also took the fast road back to capitalism, and with its admission to the WTO in 2001, and its mushrooming export of capital thereafter, became a full participant in the World Imperialist System itself. [See: N.B. Turner, et al., Is China an Imperialist Country? Considerations and Evidence (2014), available online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/International/Red-Path/01/RP-8.5x11-IsChinaAnImperialistCountry-140320.pdf ]
So it is true that at least by the year 2001 (if not a decade earlier) there had arisen a single World Imperialist System which has operated in something like the way that Kautsky and the other proponents of the existence of ultra-imperialism envisioned. (One of the big differences from his conception, however, is the absence of any universal cartel in the contemporary world today, and its replacement by numerous multinational corporations generally headquartered in their own mother countries, along with the international imperialist regulatory agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO.)
If (contrary to the actual situation) this were a permanent new stage for world imperialism then we might indeed have to say that Kautsky was more or less right in the long run, even if his musings were grossly premature and served a reactionary purpose back in 1914. But in point of fact this period of unified and cooperative imperialist exploitation of the world is quite temporary and is already showing very serious signs of breaking down. In the decades since World War II U.S. imperialism has been slowly but steadily losing ground relative to the other imperialist countries. And the advent of China as a new and much more vibrant and rapidly growing capitalist-imperialist country has really thrown a monkey wrench into the existing mechanisms of world imperialism. Since the U.S. has refused to give up its dominance of the IMF, WB and WTO, China—with the support of growing numbers of other countries in the BRICS grouping and beyond—has been moving to establish alternative institutions which it and its partners, and especially Russia, dominate. We see before us in the world today the beginning split of the existing World Imperialist System into two hostile and competing imperialist blocs once again! And accompanying this split we see once again the rising potential for yet another inter-imperialist world war at some point in the not-so-distant future, or at the very least, a series of proxy wars between these two competing imperialist systems.
Of course there have been periods in the history of the development of capitalist-imperialism in which growing cooperation among the imperialist powers appears as not only the dominant but also the permanent trend. These periods are often referred to as eras of growing globalization. One such period was the several decades before World War I, which Lenin was well aware of and which so misled Hilferding and Kautsky. Lenin knew from the start that this period of globalization and apparently developing “ultra-imperialism” was a mirage. The second great era of globalization and of apparently developing “ultra-imperialism” has been in the last few decades and especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But close observers are already recognizing this as a mirage as well, since it is already in the process of breaking down once again, as the world enters a new period of intensified economic crisis and growing inter-imperialist antagonisms.
Mere interludes of inter-imperialist cooperation, globalization and peace do not change the essential nature of capitalist-imperialism and definitely do not change the essential dangerous nature of the beast.
Thus, in the final analysis, the claim that the period since the establishment of a single “unified” World Imperialist System in 1991 constitutes a genuine new “ultra-imperialist” stage of capitalism is a completely erroneous misreading of contemporary social reality. It is erroneous because that present very temporary existence of just a single World Imperialist System cannot possibly continue for long.
“Let us assume that all the imperialist countries conclude an
alliance for the ‘peaceful’ division of these parts of Asia [China, India and Indo-China];
this alliance would be an alliance of ‘internationally united finance capital.’ There are
actual examples of alliances of this kind in the history of the twentieth century, for
instance, the attitude of the powers to China. We ask, is it ‘conceivable,’ ... that such
alliances would be more than temporary, that they would eliminate friction, conflicts and
struggle in every possible form?
“It is sufficient to state this question clearly to make it impossible for any reply to be given other than in the negative; for any other basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants in the division, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc., is inconceivable. And the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism. Half a century ago Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, as far as her capitalist strength was concerned, compared with the strength of England at that time; Japan was the same compared with Russia. Is it ‘conceivable’ that in ten or twenty years’ time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will have remained unchanged? Absolutely inconceivable.
“Therefore, in the realities of the capitalist system, and not in the banal philistine fantasies of ... the German ‘Marxist,’ Kautsky, ‘inter-imperialist’ or ‘ultra-imperialist’ alliances, no matter what form they may assume, whether of one imperialist coalition against another, or of a general alliance embracing all the imperialist powers, are inevitably nothing more than a ‘truce' in periods between wars. Peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars; the one conditions the other, giving rise to alternating forms of peaceful and non-peaceful struggle out of one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics.”
—Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, (January-June 1916), (Peking: FLP, 1975), pp. 143-5; and in a slightly different translation in LCW 22:295. [Lenin is being proven correct on this important point, even after the transformation of old-style colonial imperialism into neocolonialism and the temporary development of a single World Imperialist System over the past few decades. It is precisely the uneven development of capitalism following the overthrow of socialism in China which has now led to the rise of Chinese imperialism (in alliance with Russia and other powers) as a major challenger to the supposed peaceful era of “ultra-imperialism” under the leadership of the United States. —Ed.]
UNCERTAINTY [Philosophy of Science]
Some things are certain; that is, some beliefs are certainly true, and have been established beyond any reasonable doubt—such as that the earth revolves around the sun. But many beliefs, even some which are ordinarily assumed to have been well-established by scientific investigation and experiment, are still somewhat uncertain to varying degrees. Having a balanced perspective on this matter is an important issue in having a genuinely scientific approach to the world. In the past, especially when religious dogmas were far more pervasive, way too much was thought to be known for certain. This included many beliefs which are now known for certain to be false—such as that the earth is flat or that it is the center of the universe. On the other hand, in the modern period since World War I, when so much doubt about the very future of humanity has arisen in the minds of those who dominate society (the capitalist ruling class), ideologies which grossly exaggerate the degree of uncertainty in the world have become quite pervasive. Postmodernism in academia is one clear example of this, as are other forms of epistemological agnosticism.
As Mao put it, “Doubting is correct; doubting everything is not.” [Note in the margin of Mao’s copy of the book by Marxist philosopher Ai Siqi, Philosophy and Life. In Nick Knight, ed., Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism (1990), p. 237.] Some considerable degree of skepticism is indeed appropriate in science, in politics and in life in general. But total skepticism is never justified and is totally absurd. In science we must train ourselves to be more skeptical of ideas which are less-well tested, less-well supported by evidence, and less-well thought out (i.e., less fully raised to the level of coherent scientific theory). As has been well said: Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge. But we must also acknowledge that many things about the world and human society are now known beyond any rational doubt. Within Marxist theory too there is room for, and a need for, some caution and skepticism, even though we know for certain that a great many principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism have been proven to be certainly true.
See also the essay: “Do We Know For Certain that the Earth Goes Around the Sun?”, by S.H. (Nov. 14, 1997), online at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/certain.htm
See: HEISENBERG UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE
1. The active mental processes (or high-level characterizations of the functioning of the brain) which are outside the range of the subject’s awareness. This includes the brain processes that occur when a person performs routine tasks “without thinking about them”, such as walking, or driving a car while thinking about something else. But it may also be said to include similar sorts of characterizations of brain processing which people are normally incapable of being consciously aware of. Thus we may be aware that we have recognized somebody’s face, but we are not aware of the precise complex processing in the brain that allows us to actually do this. In this sense, most of the processing that the brain does is unconscious.
2. [In Freudian and similar types of psychoanalysis:] The part of the mind (or “psychic apparatus”) that does not ordinarily enter the individual’s awareness, and which is repressed, but which may be manifested indirectly by slips of the tongue, otherwise inexplicable actions, or in dreams, and which can supposedly be brought into conscious awareness through psychotherapy. The unconscious, in such theories, refers to “psychic activity” which concentrates eternal and immutable motives and desires, including taboo sexual and domination wishes. However, there is little or no scientific evidence that the “unconscious” actually exists in this Freudian sense. It is just a wild hypothesis of pseudoscientific psychoanalytical theory.
See also: SUBCONSCIOUS
One of a number of basic theories in the Marxist milieu for what causes capitalist economic crises. Marx called these events “overproduction crises”, though he actually put forward at least three different explanations for them—overproduction (or underconsumption), the anarchy of capitalist production, and the falling rate of profit theory). (And the followers of Marx have constructed even more crisis theories besides those three.)
Underconsumption is just another way of looking at overproduction; they are two sides of the same coin. Underconsumption is in relation to what the masses of the people actually need and want, and results from their not having enough money to buy those commodities. Overproduction is in relation to the real market demand (and not in relation to what people need and want!), but likewise results from people not having the money to buy all the things that are produced which they do in fact need and want.
Some of the early bourgeois theorists of underconsumption (such as Rodbertus, but including even Sismondi, the best of them) put forward undeveloped and often quite naive theories that tended to discredit this type of explanation for capitalist economic crises. In particular, many of them thought that simply raising wages would prevent such crises. (It is actually impossible for the capitalists to raise wages to that degree; they would go broke! In any case, they are definitely unwilling to even give it a try!) Furthermore, because of the multifaceted explanations which Marx himself gave for crises, even many Marxists do not understand that his central, and most essential, explanation was in fact a much more sophisticated form of underconsumption/overproduction theory than bourgeois economists like Rodbertus put forward. Hence the name he used for the phenomenon! Most of us defenders of the “underconsumption” theory of crises follow Marx and instead refer to them as “overproduction crises”. Consequently the term “underconsumptionism” is used mostly by opponents of overproduction theories of capitalist economic crises.
It should also be noted that Marx’s theory of overproduction focuses primarily not on the excess consumer commodities themselves (which are produced relative to the market demand), but rather the excess capital that is created which in turn can be used to produce so many “excess” commodities. In other words Marx is focusing on the overproduction of capital, rather than the overproduction of consumer commodities. This also explains why the term “overproduction” is superior to “underconsumption” in his theory.
See also below and: OVERPRODUCTION CRISES
UNDERCONSUMPTIONISM — Marx’s Supposed Rejection Of
There are a great many statements in Marx’s Capital, and in his other writings (including Theories of Surplus Value), in which he makes clear that his basic theory of capitalist economic crises is the Overproduction Theory. And, indeed, Marx even calls these crises by the name overproduction crises. However, as the introductory entry on UNDERCONSUMPTIONISM above notes, there are two competing crisis theories in Marx’s writings: the anarchy theory and the falling rate of profit theory. Those who favor one or the other of these theories instead of the overproduction theory prefer to call that theory “underconsumptionism”. And they have scoured Marx’s writings looking for the slightest clue that he also rejected “underconsumptionism”. They’ve found very few such statements, and even those are totally misconstrued. The specific passage from Marx which has been cited most often is the following from volume II of Capital:
“It is sheer tautology to say that crises are caused by the scarcity of effective consumption, or of effective consumers. The capitalist system does not know any other modes of consumption than effective ones, except that of sub forma pauperis [in the form of the pauper] or of the swindler. That commodities are unsaleable means only that no effective purchasers have been found for them, i.e., consumers (since commodities are bought in the final analysis for productive or individual consumption). But if one were to attempt to give this tautology the semblance of a profounder justification by saying that the working-class receives too small a portion of its own product and the evil would be remedied as soon as it receives a larger share of it and its wages increase in consequence, one could only remark that crises are always prepared by precisely a period in which wages rise generally and the working-class actually gets a larger share of that part of the annual product which is intended for consumption. From the point of view of these advocates of sound and ‘simple’ (!) common sense, such a period should rather remove the crisis. It appears, then, that capitalist production comprises conditions independent of good or bad will, conditions which permit the working-class to enjoy that relative prosperity only momentarily, and at that always only as the harbinger of a coming crisis.” —Marx, Capital, Vol. II, chapter 20, part 4, (International ed., pp. 410-411; Penguin ed., pp. 486-487.)
First of all, just who is Marx criticizing here? Engels, who edited volume II, comments in a
footnote to this paragraph that “possible followers of the Rodbertian theory of crises” should
take note of this passage. So we immediately see that Marx’s comments were directed against naïve
underconsumptionists such as Rodbertus, and not at all against the whole notion that
underconsumption by the masses is a central aspect of capitalist crises.
In fact, Marx makes it absolutely clear that underconsumption is indeed central to crises in the first sentence in the above passage where he says that “It is a sheer tautology to say that crises are caused by the scarcity of effective consumption, or of effective consumers.” Several times over the years I’ve heard people quote that sentence as part of their attacks on “underconsumptionism”. I’ve often wondered—do these people even know what a tautology is? To say that something is a tautology is definitely not to say that it is false, as some of these people seem to think! But it is true that Marx wanted to emphasize here that the forced underconsumption by the masses is by no means the whole story—that though it is certainly true, there are also other contradictions involved in crises.
There is another critical sentence in the above passage which I’ll repeat, but this time with the key part of it—the part that is unaccountably neglected by many—put in bold type: “But if one were to attempt to give this tautology the semblance of an profounder justification by saying that the working-class receives too small a portion of its own product and the evil would be remedied as soon as it receives a larger share of it and its wages increase in consequence, one could only remark that crises are always prepared by precisely a period in which wages rise generally and the working-class actually gets a larger share of that part of the annual product which is intended for consumption.”
It should be clear once again here that Marx is by no means denying that crises are in fact ultimately caused by the fact that the working class receives wages which cover only a part of the value which they create. But his point is that the complexities of the contradictions involved in crises, and the complicated way they develop, means that simply raising wages cannot possibly prevent crises from breaking out. This is true for any number of reasons. It is true because even if wages are raised, workers will still be exploited (though to a lesser degree). Capitalism cannot continue without the continuous extraction of surplus value from the workers. But more to the immediate point, it is also true because crises are postponed by means of the expansion of credit—consumer credit, government deficits, and so forth. So when these financial bubbles pop we have a crisis—even though wages are typically increasing at the time. To imagine that crises can be prevented by simply raising workers wages—even by raising them substantially—is in large part to fail to understand all the many additional contradictions at work on top of the most basic contradictions.
Marx’s point—in emphasizing that wages usually rise in the period just before crises break out—is that simple-minded crisis theories which recognize only that the consumption of the masses is forcibly restricted are completely inadequate. It’s not that Rodbertus was wrong about this basic point; on the contrary he was entirely correct about it. But this much is totally obvious; it is a “mere tautology.” What Rodbertus and others like him could not do was work out the full story, and explain all the additional mechanisms at work which both prevent crises for a time, but then inevitably lead to their sudden outbreak just when it seems the capitalist economy will fly forward unimpeded forever.
I should also add here that while what Marx says in the above passage is certainly true, it is a bit misleading in another way. A substantial increase in the real wages of the workers—either through actual wage raises, or a fall in consumer prices, or a cut in workers’ taxes—can in fact help to postpone or possibly somewhat mitigate the severity of a crisis. But just as extending the workers more credit can only ward off the crisis to some degree and/or for a limited period of time, the same is true of any real increase in wages. Eventually a crisis will break out in any case because none of these things truly resolves the underlying contradiction—that the workers are still being paid for only part of what they produce and therefore cannot possibly buy back all of it. No increase in wages—no matter how great—can permanently prevent a new crisis from developing. If the capitalists were suddenly to all go crazy and to actually try to pay the workers enough to buy an equivalent amount to what they produce then the capitalists themselves would soon go broke and the entire system would collapse. —S.H. [From a section of my work in progress, An Introductory Explanation of Capitalist Economic Crises].
UNEMPLOYMENT — U.S.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has many statistical series for unemployment rates. The “U-3” series, is the official unemployment rate, and the series that the government is willing to let the public see. It is therefore the series which the bourgeois media gives almost exclusive attention to. But this official unemployment rate does not include the millions of unemployed people who have gotten so discouraged by the job situation that they have not looked for work in the last few weeks. Nor does it include people who want to work full time but can only find part-time work. The “U-6” series does include many of the people in these two categories, but still excludes many other people who are actually unemployed, and who would get a job if work was available for them.
The BLS uses these official definitions:
U-3 Series: “Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor
force (official unemployment rate).”
U-6 Series: “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.”
Marginally attached to the labor force: “are those who currently are neither working nor [currently] looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months.”
Discouraged workers are “a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.”
Persons employed part time for economic reasons “are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.” —From the notes to each month’s BLS Unemployment Report.
[Note that every one of these “definitions” distorts the truth. U-3 is not at all the “total unemployed” (as they go on to tacitly admit themselves!); U-6 does not include all those who would work if jobs were actually available; “discouraged workers” actually excludes a large number of those who really are discouraged about finding work; and so forth. Even the BLS’s definition of the size of the labor force itself seriously distorts things (and tries to make the unemployment situation look much better than it is) by simply not counting millions of unemployed people as being in the labor force at all! —S.H.]
[Refer to the graph at the right.] “The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.” —John Williams, on his Shadow Government Statistics website at http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts
See also: COMPUTERS—and Unemployment
UNEMPLOYMENT — African-American
“The unemployment rate for blacks has always been at least 60 percent higher than for whites.” —Philip Bump, “The Unemployment Rate for Blacks Has Always Been at Least 60 Percent Higher Than for Whites”, Atlantic (The Wire), March 7, 2014.
UNEMPLOYMENT — “Falling”
In recent decades the United States government has been lying more and more outrageously about the unemployment rate (and other economic statistics too). They claim that the unemployment rate is “falling” because they are simply not counting growing numbers of able people wanting work as being in the “labor force” at all!
See also the entry above for some of the details, and: LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
“If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently
given up on finding a job—if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped
looking over the past four weeks—the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed.
That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never
find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the
news—currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work
or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to
toast ‘falling’ unemployment.
“There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager. If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least twenty dollars—maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn—you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
“Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working ten hours part time because it is all you can find—in other words, you are severely underemployed—the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.” —Jim Clifton, head of the Gallup polling organization, “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment”, Gallup.com, Feb. 3, 2015.
[Auxiliary question: Just why does the media cooperate in spreading government lies such as this? The answer is simple: The media, like the government, represent the ruling capitalist class and therefore it is in their interests to lie about things like this. —Ed.]
UNEMPLOYMENT — Men vs. Women
See also: LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE—Men vs. Women
UNEMPLOYMENT — Social Impact Of
“We turn now to the 1930s and 1940s, a period of great relevance for Americans today, perhaps more than any other. Then, even more so than today, unemployment was extremely high by historical standards. In such an environment traditional policies fail and are discredited, and the center collapses. Unemployment has a way of getting a person’s attention more than almost any other issue and has inspired new social forces demanding reform or revolution.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), p. 173.
UNEMPLOYMENT — Young People
“For young people it is arguable that the employment picture is as dismal as it has been at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and for college graduates it may be worse. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2014 determined that 46 percent of recent college graduates were working at jobs that did not require a BA. That is bad news not only for college graduates but for high school graduates, ‘who find themselves competing with college graduates for basic jobs in service businesses.’ Even before the Great Recession of 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that two-thirds of the jobs available between 2008 and 2018 would not require any post-secondary education. As the journalist Derek Thomson concludes, ‘The job market appears to be requiring more and more preparation for a lower and lower starting wage.’ The Economist [magazine] announces that young people are experiencing an ‘epidemic of joblessness.’ Newsweek characterizes young Americans as constituting ‘Generation Screwed.’ There are nowhere near enough jobs, and the jobs that do exist, to employ the vernacular, suck.” —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (2016), pp. 69-71.
“Most of the measured declines in employment participation have been coming from younger men, not early retirees.... Adult males are seceding from the workforce—or being kicked out—in frightening numbers.” —Tyler Cowen, a bourgeois economist, Average Is Over: Powering America Past the Age of the Great Stagnation (2013), p. 51. [Thus, not only are the employment rates of young adults extremely high, they are actually much worse than the statistics show because more and more young adults are not being counted as being in the labor force at all! In the late 1960s 5% of men aged from 25-54 were not working; by 2014 it had climbed to 16% according to the New York Times (Dec. 15, 2014). —Ed.]
UNEMPLOYMENT — World
The total unemployment in the entire world, from data before the severe world economic crisis struck in a major way at the end of 2008, was said to be more than 1 billion workers! (One-sixth of the entire population of the world, and a much higher than that percentage of the world’s total work force!) This includes both the totally unemployed, and also those who are drastically underemployed (working only a few hours a week, whenever they can find it). [This estimate comes from Charges McMillion, chief economist at MBG Information Services, a Washington D.C. consulting firm. Quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 21, 2010, p. 23.]
“Globally, 2.5 billion people are unemployed, underemployed, economically inactive, or engaged in subsistence labor (constituting a global reserve army almost twice the size of the world’s employed labor force). The result is abysmally low wages—with 39 percent of the world’s workers earning less that $2 a day. Meanwhile, multinational corporations are enjoying record profit margins from the super-exploitation of this cheap labor and the robbing of everything under the sun, thereby endangering the planet itself.” —John Bellamy Foster, in a letter to supporters of Monthly Review, Sept. 2011.
UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT OF CAPITALISM AND CAPITALIST-IMPERIALISM
A law of capitalism, which is greatly intensified in the modern imperialist era of capitalism, is that different enterprises, different industries, different sectors of the economy, and production in different capitalist countries as a whole, develops very unevenly. Moreover, in different time periods there is also uneven development, including among different capitalist countries. A country which zooms ahead of others during one period may well fall behind at a later period. And it is with regard to countries, and especially countries in the imperialist era that this uneven development becomes especially significant, for it is one of the underlying factors which lead to terrible wars between imperialist countries (including World War I and World War II).
There are a wide variety of reasons which explain this uneven development among countries. Some imperialist countries may possess colonies or have rights in their neo-colonies that others do not. Some may be better prepared to export capital to other countries. Other countries which were once more victimized by outside imperialism may break free to some extent and become better able to develop their own national economy. Some countries may already be deep in debt, while others have more freedom to expand production by promoting further debt growth. Even differences in the superstructure of society may be significant, as when one country has a better developed legal system which promotes the sanctity of business contracts. Similarly, one country may have a superior educational system to another. These are just a few of the great many reasons why one capitalist country, during some given period, may be able to far outstrip the economic development of another capitalist country.
Historically, capitalism first developed in a really intensive way in Britain. This led to Britain becoming more powerful and dominant than countries like Holland and France. In 1850 the U.S. share of world industrial production was only 15%, while Britain’s was 39%. Germany’s share was also far below Britain’s. As capitalism developed into its imperialist form in the last part of the 19th century, other capitalist countries began to catch up, especially Germany and the U.S. From 1870 to 1913 British output expanded only 2.25 times, while Germany’s increased almost 6 times and the U.S. by 9 times! Britain lost its status as the sole “superpower” of that age, and World War I developed among the two contending groups of imperialist countries to see which would dominate the world. World War II was really “round two” of that contest. The U.S. emerged as by far the most powerful imperialist country, both militarily and economically. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of World War II many other capitalist countries, including defeated Germany and Japan, began developing faster than the U.S. (in large part because of the greater destruction of productive capital in those countries during the War).
Then, too, in the mid-1950s the Soviet Union was captured from within by a rising new bourgeoisie. At first, based on its tremendous economic advances during its socialist period, the Soviet Union, even as a capitalist country, continued developing faster than the U.S. But then, because of its destruction of socialism, the masses turned against the Soviet system. And the greater degree of monopoly, bureaucracy, and the growing corruption in the U.S.S.R. led to a great fall in its rate of GDP expansion. It was hopelessly losing out to the U.S. and the “Western World”, and it knew it. For a while it looked very much like there would be a new world war, involving nuclear weapons, to settle the issue. (The world is very fortunate that this did not happen, because we certainly came close to it!) But then Gorbachev and the other new rulers of the Soviet Union recognized that they could not prevail that way either. The only path left to them (within the overall framework of capitalism, which is all they could comprehend or aprove of) was to switch over to Western-style monopoly capitalism. This final destruction of the Soviet Union led to an unprecedented further collapse of the economy, and even a quarter century later it has not fully recovered.
Meanwhile, the other great socialist country, China, was also captured from within by capitalist-roaders. In the socialist era China had overall been expanding its economy much faster than that of the U.S. and the “West” generally. This continued during the transition period, and then over the past couple decades has possibly even further speeded up. The Chinese revisionists have proven to be much more successful than the revisionists in the Soviet Union were in switching over to Western-style monopoly capitalism (for reasons we won’t get into here). So the world today, even in the midst of a growing overall world capitalist economic crisis, is still made up of one rapidly rising imperialist power—China. This strongly suggests that there are some real dangers of a major war between China and the current top-dog imperialist country, the U.S., at some point over the next few decades.
See also: RISE AND FALL OF KEY MODERN ECONOMIES, “ULTRA-IMPERIALISM TODAY”
“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism.” —Lenin, “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” (Aug. 23, 1915), LCW 21:342.
“The uneven distribution of the railways, their uneven development—sums up, as it were, modern monoplist capitalism on a world-wide scale.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, Preface to the French and German Editions, (July 6, 1920), LCW 22:190.
“It goes without saying that if capitalism could develop agriculture, which today is everywhere lagging terribly behind industry, if it could raise the living standards of the masses, who in spite of the amazing technical progress are everywhere still half-starved and poverty-stricken, there could be no question of a surplus of capital. This ‘argument’ is very often advanced by the petty-bourgeois critics of capitalism. But if capitalism did these things it would not be capitalism; for both uneven development and a semi-starvation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and constitute premises of this mode of production.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, Ch. IV, (1916), LCW 22:241. [Although capitalism has now finally “developed agriculture” in the form of giant agribusiness, it has not done so for the benefit of the people, vast numbers of whom still starve to death every year around the world. —S.H.]
UNICORN [Contemporary Capitalist Finance]
An apparently quite successful or at least promising new company, especially in a high-tech industry, which is well along in first getting established (i.e., which is deemed “late stage” in its creation), and which has yet to “go public” (sell stock to the public in its Initial Public Offering). Such companies are carefully monitored by Wall Street bankers and speculators because there might very well be huge fortunes to be made, especially by insiders, when they do issue public stock. The recent frenzy about “unicorns” in the financial press shows once again how wild financial speculation has become in U.S. business circles.
UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND [U.S. Military]
The vast U.S. imperialist military forces have divided the whole world into six regions, with separate military command operations for each. These are the six area Unified Combatant Commands. (There are, in addition, four more “functional” UCCs in charge of special military functions, such as strategic bombers and ICBMs.). The six area commands are:
NORTHCOM — U.S. North Command: North America, including Mexico & Cuba.
SOUTHCOM — U.S. South Command: All of Latin America except for Mexico & Cuba.
EUCOM — U.S. European Command, including Turkey.
CENTCOM — U.S. Central Command: The Middle East, including Egypt and Central Asia.
AFRICOM — U.S. Africa Command: All of Africa except Egypt.
PACOM — U.S. Pacific Command.
UNIFIED FIELD THEORY
A proposed unified theory of gravity and the other forces of nature which Albert Einstein worked on unsuccessfully during the last years of his life. But something similar to it is still being worked on by particle physics theorists under the new name of the “THEORY OF EVERYTHING”.
The continuation of the revolutionary process into another stage after the completion of an earlier stage. This term is especially common in reference to proceeding with a socialist revolution after the success of a democratic revolution (as occurred in Russia following the February Revolution and leading up to the October Revolution) or similarly after the success of a New Democratic revolution (as occurred in China after the revolutionary seizure of power in 1949 and leading up to the transformation of both the industrial and agricultural economies into socialism by the end of the 1950s). However, the term uninterrupted revolution can also refer to a continuing series of revolutionary struggles within a particular revolutionary process, such as the continuing stages in the development of rural collectivization in Maoist China from early forms of cooperatives, to advanced cooperatives, and eventually all the way to the People’s Communes.
See also: PERMANENT REVOLUTION
“The domestic situation is the issue of the relationship with the 500 million peasants. The peasants are our allies. If they are not rallied, there will be no politics; if no attention is given to their problems, mistakes will occur. With them as our allies, we will win. Lenin also stressed the workers’ and peasants’ democratic dictatorship — arousing the consciousness of the rural semi-proletariat to take part in uninterrupted revolution. Some people felt that, since it took 80 years to develop capitalism, socialism could only be introduced when the workers became more numerous and the peasants conscious of themselves. But practice proved that it did not require several decades to advance from democratic revolution to socialism. The Soviet Union’s February Revolution proved Lenin was correct.” —Mao, “Speech at the Conference of Heads Of Delegations to the Second Session of the 8th Party Congress” (May 18, 1958), SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_11.htm
“Uninterrupted revolution. Our revolutions come one after another. Starting from the seizure of power in the whole country in 1949, there followed in quick succession the anti-feudal land reform, the agricultural co-operativization, and the socialist reconstruction of private industries, commerce and handicrafts. The three great socialist reforms — i.e. the socialist revolution in the ownership of means of production — were basically completed in 1956 and there came the socialist revolution on the ideological and political front last year. This revolution may draw to the end of one stage by 1 July this year, but the problems [involved] are not yet solved. For a considerable period of time to come they will continue to be solved by annual bloom-contend-rectify-reform campaigns. [But] now we must start a technological revolution so that we may overtake Britain in fifteen or more years. Chinese economy is backward and China is materially weak. This is why we have been unable to take much initiative; we are spiritually restricted. We are not yet liberated in this sense. We must make a spurt [forward in production]. We may have more initiative in five years, and more still in ten. After fifteen years, when our foodstuffs and iron and steel become plentiful, we shall take a much greater initiative. Our revolutions are like battles. After a victory, we must at once put forward a new task. In this way, cadres and the masses will forever be filled with revolutionary fervour, instead of conceit. Indeed, they will have no time for conceit, even if they like to feel conceited. With new tasks on their shoulders, they are totally preoccupied with the problems for their fulfilment.” —Mao, “Sixty Points On Working Methods – A Draft Resolution From The Office Of The Centre Of The CPC” (February 2, 1958), SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_05.htm
“22. Theory of Uninterrupted Revolution and Theory of Revolution by Stages
“The development of cooperatives requires that progress be made in wave-like fashion — one wave succeeding another with a trough in between, like a valley between two peaks.
“The leadership should trim the sails according to the wind and adapt to the circumstances. And when conditions are unfavorable, they should immediately apply the brakes. At an opportune moment they should compress the people’s heads, which is a necessary thing to do when heads swell.... We have need of the necessary rest, the necessary pauses, the necessary braking or closing of the gate. The method to be tried when people start wagging their tails in the air is to set forth new tasks for them, like the quality emulation drive we are now putting forward, so that they won’t have time to feel haughty.” —Mao, “Examples Of Dialectics” (Abstracted Compilation, 1959), example 22, SW 8, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_48.htm">
UNION OF IRANIAN COMMUNISTS (SARBEDARAN)
An Iranian Maoist organization formed in 1976, which organized uprisings and guerrilla warfare in Iran, but suffered some serious defeats and setbacks especially during the 1980s. A large part of their membership and leadership was killed in battle or executed by the reactionary Iranian government. After those disasters it struggled to rebuild its organization and the revolutionary movement in Iran. In 2001 the UIC(S) became the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
It is unclear how much influence Sarbedaran had within Iran itself, though it was quite influential in Iranian student groups abroad, including the United States. The UIC(S) always viewed Iran as a semicolonial, semifeudal country, rather than as a fully capitalist country. It also always recognized the absolute need for, and strongly supported, revolutionary violence to overthrow the oppressive regime in Iran, and opposed the revisionists of the Tudeh Party. However, there were some substantial struggles over political line and strategy within the organization which were greatly amplified by their military defeats and government suppression efforts.
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Sarbedaran expanded its work in Iran and tried to prepare for uprisings and guerrilla warfare, while also participating in some working class and peasant struggles. And around 1981 it began some limited actual guerrilla warfare in the Kurdish areas of Iran. On January 25, 1982 the UIC(S) launched an armed uprising against the Islamic Republic in the vicinity of Amol (near the Caspian Sea). This failed and many members and leaders were captured and shot.
The UIC(S) was then in disarray for a fairly long period. However in the spring of 1983 it held its 4th Conference and in the spring of 1984 it participated in the founding of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). Throughout this period some Sarbedaran members and cadre were still being arrested and murdered by the government. In 1985 they tried anew to organize a militant struggle against the Islamic Republic, but it once again failed. A long summation by the UIC(S) of some of these very negative experiences, entitled “Defeated Armies Learn Well”, was published in the RIM magazine, A World to Win, in late 1985. [See: http://www.bannedthought.net/International/RIM/AWTW/1985-4/AWTW-04-Iran-DefeatedArmies.pdf (PDF: 22 pages, 4,329 KB).]
The Wikipedia (from which some of the information in this entry is taken) says that in the late 1980s the UIC(S) dropped some of their old slogans and strategies such as “Peoples’ war in rural areas and uprising in cities”, and instead put forward a new strategy with the slogan “Protracted People’s War: Siege the Cities via Villages”. It is unknown to us how successful the revised strategy has been so far.
On May 1, 2001, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) was formed as the continuation of Sarbedaran. However, there is still a website at http://www.sarbedaran.org/language/index.htm which has some new and old documents posted in various languages.
UNION OF RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS ABROAD
“The Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad was founded in 1894 in Geneva, on the initiative of the Emancipation of Labor group. The latter was at first the leader in it and edited its publications; but afterwards the opportunist elements—the Economist ‘younger group’—secured the upper hand. At the Union’s First Congress in November 1898 the Emancipation of Labor Group refused to edit the Union publications; and at the Second Congress, in April 1900, it broke with the Union finally, withdrawing with its supporters from the Congress to establish an independent organization called Sotsial-Demokrat.” —Note 5, LCW 7.
UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS (USSR, or SOVIET UNION)
See: SOVIET UNION, and sub-topics there, and also: COUNCIL FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC AID
UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS — Economic Collapse Of
See: SOVIET UNION—Collapse Of, SOVIET UNION—Collapse Of [Bourgeois Views]
See: LABOR UNIONS
UNIT LABOR COSTS
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity. Increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs and increases in output per hour (productivity) tend to reduce them.
UNITE, DON’T SPLIT
This is a slogan and principle strongly and continually championed by Mao Zedong, though all too often misunderstood or ignored by those who claim to be his followers.
For many people ‘unity’ seems to mean absolutely complete ideological agreement, and an absolute identity of conceptions about social theory, political line, strategy, tactics, policies and tasks to be done and precisely how to do them. And of course if people completely agree about everything then there will almost automatically be complete unity between them. But Mao was a dialectician, who recognized very well that people do not always agree about everything (nor should they!), even when they are in the same party and hopefully have some very considerable general political agreement. The issue then is whether or not there can be a solid organizational unity even when there is not complete unity about all ideas and issues, and about every detail about what should be done. The answer is yes, there can and must be such organizational unity if a revolution is to be successfully carried out.
The means by which organizational unity can be assured even when there is not an absolutely complete unity of ideas is known as democratic centralism. Individuals who have not come to understand that for the good of the revolution their own ideas have to sometimes be democratically subbordinated to those of others have not grasped the point of democratic centralism at all. Neither have those who imagine that democratic centralism requires everyone to totally change their own ideas and completely agree with the organization about every single thing. Party members must continue to think; they have a right and duty to continue to hold to their beliefs and champion them at the appropriate times; but they also have the absolute obligation to put into practice to the very best of their ability the line and policies that the party has decided on through its democratic centralist procedures. They have the democratic-centralist obligation to unite, and not split.
“It is very bad to whisper behind people’s backs and not to speak out to their faces. We should have general agreement — at least in principle. We should be able to speak either more sharply or more tactfully, but we must speak out. Sometimes we must be sharp and clear-cut. But in any case, if we take our desire for unity as our starting-point and adopt a helpful attitude, then sharp criticism cannot split the Party, it can only unite the Party. It is very dangerous to leave unsaid things which you want to say.” —Mao, “Talks At The Chengtu Conference", Talk of March 22, 1958, SW6 [published in India], online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_06.htm
“I hope that you will practice Marxism and not revisionism; that you will unite and not split; that you will be sincere and open and not resort to plotting and conspiracy.” —Mao, “Talks With Responsible Comrades at Various Places During Provincial Tour”, from the middle of August to 12 September 1971, SW9:441. Online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-9/mswv9_88.htm
1. Either a formal or informal agreement of different political forces (possibly even from different social classes) to work cooperatively with regard to one or a few issues on which they agree, despite their many disagreements on other issues.
2. A government created on the basis of such an agreement, even if unstable over the long term, and probably short-lived. [More to be added.]
See also: ALLIANCES—Temporary
“I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.” —Frederick Douglass, in his lecture “The Anti-Slavery Movement”, 1855.
[To be added.]
UNITED STATES — As World Policeman
See also: UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Perpetual Wars Of
“[Capitalist-imperialism], even more so than capitalism in general,
requires a strong military force to maintain it. The world imperialist system is also
maintained by imperialist invasions and wars, when ‘necessary’. There are nearly
always one or more such imperialist wars in progress.
“However, in contrast to the successes in setting up international economic organizations [such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization] to regulate the world imperialist system, there have been much greater difficulties in trying to establish a fully functional international military force to keep the world imperialist system together. The contradictions between imperialist powers have prevented the U.N. from assuming that role, and U.N. ‘peace keeping’ forces can only be used where all the Security Council members are in full agreement. NATO and similar military alliances also do not represent all the current imperialist powers, and there are contradictions within even NATO which prevents its employment in some cases. This inability to create a central military force to control the world imperialist system is further reason to conclude that this system is not at all the same as ‘ultra-imperialism’ of the sort Kautsky envisioned.
“Thus since World War II the primary ‘world policeman’ in the Western imperialist bloc, and now in the world imperialist system, has been the United States. This is, in a way, an adaptation in the new neocolonial circumstances, of the requirement in the colonial era in which each imperialist power had to maintain political and military control of its own colonies by means of its own military establishment.”
—N. B. Turner, et al., Is China an Imperialist Country? — Considerations and Evidence (2015), summary theses numbers 6-8, p. 145. Also available online at http://www.red-path.net, and in PDF format at http://www.bannedthought.net/International/Red-Path/01/RP-8.5x11-IsChinaAnImperialistCountry-140320.pdf and elsewhere.
UNITED STATES — Constitution
See: CONSTITUTION—United States
UNITED STATES — Decline Of
See: AMERICA IN DECLINE
UNITED STATES ECONOMY — Productive Power Of
Capitalism, as Marx explained, is a a socioeconomic system with vast potential for massive production, and also for very rapid further expansion of the means of that production (i.e. factories and machinery). The problem is that it also contains a fundamental internal contradiction (between the social character of production and the private appropriation of the goods produced) which inevitably leads to economic crises which interrupt, drastically slow down or even completely stop or reverse that growth of production. And all of this is particularly true of the economies of the largest and most developed capitalist countries, such as the United States.
If the complete potential productive power of even the present U.S. economy were put to full use for the benefit of the people (something which is actually impossible under capitalism) not only could all poverty in this country be immediately eliminated, not only could the standard of living for all the masses be vastly and immediately raised, not only could education and public services be hugely expanded, improved and made completely free—but all this could be done while at the same time providing jobs for everyone and lowering the average hours worked by those with jobs! The potential productive power is there to do all this, but the capitalist profit motive and its relations of production prevent it from actually happening.
This enormous productive potential of American industry is recognized very broadly, by liberals and conservatives and by most capitalists themselves. But what none of them can understand, because of their ideological blinders, is why this capitalist utopia never seems to actually come about. Why is it that all the past predictions of a comfortable future for all, with only very short work weeks required, instead keeps turning into a worsening nightmare, with growing unemployment, poverty and misery? It’s quite a puzzle for those who recognize capitalism’s productive potential but who, for ideological reasons, are completely unable to recognize the inherent internal flaw within capitalism which prevents its full productive potential from ever materializing, and certainly not for the benefit of all the people.
“America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed,
educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction
of us actually working.” —A 2011 CNN TV report, quoted in Robert W. McChesney and
John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a
Citizenless Democracy (2016), p. 21.
[That is certainly true. On the other hand, if there were also more jobs instead of fewer, then the benefits for the entire working class and everyone could be all the greater! But all that is only truly possible if capitalism is first transformed by proletarian revolution into genuine socialism. McChesney & Nichols note that “This gap between potential and reality is a long-term tension in capitalism...” It should be added that this tension is now reaching its extreme limits where something simply has to give! —Ed.]
UNITED STATES ECONOMY — Reliance on Foreign Sales
The U.S. is a large country with a more self-contained economy than many countries. However, it is also a major part of the world economy, and is dependent on the world market for considerable sales of its products, as well as for foreign investment in both directions. The chart at the right shows the varying dependence of particular U.S. industries on foreign sales in general, and also specifically on sales to Europe and the Middle East. (It should be noted that this chart shows the foreign sales only for the biggest corporations which are included in the Standard & Poor’s 500 list. Thus the average foreign sales of about 1/3 of their production is not true of the U.S. economy as a whole.)
[Figures in the chart are estimates for 2011 and 2012. *Excluding telecommunications companies and banks because the index only includes regional banks and companies in those sectors whose business is restricted to the United States. †Excluding sales in Canada and the Carribean. New York Times sources: Company reports; Citigroup Global Markets.]
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
See specific entries below, and: CONGRESS—U.S.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Control Of
[To be added...]
“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking to Colonel Edward M. House, Nov. 21, 1933. [Quoted in: Ronald Wright, What Is America? (2008), p. 169.]
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Expenditures of
[Intro to be added...]
|Some Big Budget Expenditures of the U.S. Government|
|Program||Cost (at the time)||Cost (2009 dollars)|
|Louisiana Purchase (1803)||$15 million||$217 billion|
|The New Deal (1933-1941)||$32 billion (est.)||$500 billion (est.)|
|Marshall Plan (1947-51)||$12.7 million||$115.3 billion|
|Korean War (1950-53)||$54 million||$454 billion|
|Race to the Moon (1960s)||$36.4 million||$237 billion|
|Vietnam War (c. 1961-75)||$111 million||$416.7 billion|
|S&L Crisis (1980s & 90s)||$153 million||$256 billion|
|Gulf War II/Invasion of Iraq (2003-?)||$551 million*||$597 billion*|
|Financial Crisis Bailouts (2008-?)||Many trillions!**||Many trillions!**|
* Full cost including the continuing occupation well over $1 trillion. |
** Final figure not yet known.
Based on: Barry Ritholtz, Bailout Nation (2009), Table 1.1,
from data provided by Bianco Research.
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT — Torture By
See: TORTURE — By U.S. Government
UNITED STATES HISTORY — The Real Story
American history, as it is indoctrinated into students in school and into the entire population via the bourgeois media, is basically one big lie. On rare occasions hints of this even make it into that media, as with the cartoon at the right. But overwhelmingly the almost endless historical crimes committed by the United States are minimized, excused, covered up or outright denied. This includes the massive genocide against the Native American peoples, most of the information about the horrifying history of slavery, the continuing vicious racism and discrimination, the exploitation and victimization of the American working class by the ruling capitalist class, and—of course—the vicious international exploitation, wars and other crimes around the world by U.S. imperialism over the past century and more.
Some general sources which will help to set the actual record straight include:
A People’s History of the United States: 1492—Present, by Howard Zinn, (NY: HarperPerennial, 1995).
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen, (NY: The New Press, 1995).
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, by William Blum, (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2000).
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM
[Introduction to be added...]
“U.S. imperialism, which looks like a huge monster, is in essence a paper
tiger, now in the throes of its death-bed struggle. In the world of today, who actually
fears whom? It is not the Vietnamese people, the Laotian people, the Cambodian people, the
Palestinian people, the Arab people or the people of other countries who fear U.S.
imperialism; it is U.S. imperialism which fears the people of the world. It becomes
panic-stricken at the mere rustle of leaves in the wind. Innumerable facts prove that a
just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little support. A weak
nation can defeat a strong, a small nation can defeat a big. The people of a small country
can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle,
dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hands the destiny of their country. This is a
law of history.
“People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!” —Mao, from his statement of May 20, 1970; Peking Review, Special Issue, May 23, 1970.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Crimes Of
[To be added...]
See also: UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM—Invasions of Other Countries, NUCLEAR WEAPONS—America’s Use of in World War II
“I never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” —George H. W. Bush, while campaigning for President in 1988, speaking soon after the U.S. warship Vincennes “accidently” shot down an Iranian airliner on July 3, 1988, killing all 290 people on board. [Quoted in Harper’s magazine, November 1990.]
“You think our country’s so innocent?” —President Trump, pushing back against Fox News interviewer Bill O’Reilly for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer”, February 4, 2017. [Widely reported, including in Time magazine, Feb. 20, 2017, p. 8. Indeed the American imperialist ruling class is one of the greatest bunch of mass killers in history, though it is startling to hear any of their politicians let even a hint of this pass their lips! —Ed.]
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — and Democracy
“We have 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent
of its population... In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy
and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of
relationships which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity. We
should cease to talk about the raising of the living standards, human rights, and
democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in
straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the
better.” —George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning of the Department of State,
Department of State, Policy Planning Study 23: Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1948, vol. 1 (part 2), Feb. 24, 1948, p. 23.
[Of course later on the U.S. government recognized the need to both employ military force to maintain its empire and at the same time to verbally pretend to be supporting peace, freedom and democracy around the world. They have learned quite well to use the words while rejecting the actual concepts. —S.H.]
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Foreign Military Bases
For many decades U.S. imperialism, as the world’s dominant and most agressive military power, has had hundreds of military bases in other countries all around the world. The map at the right shows the official number of U.S. bases, both in the U.S. and abroad, as of 2002.
It is difficult to say exactly how many foreign U.S. bases there are for several reasons, and especially because the number is constantly changing and because many of them are “hidden” or “unofficial”. A recent serious study of U.S. foreign bases by David Vine, for his book entitled Base Nation (2015), points out that there has been a “temporary” U.S. base in Honduras since 1982, “allowing oficials to claim there’s no U.S. base in Honduras while circumventing the Honduran constitution’s prohibition against a permanent foreign troop presence.” [David Vine, “Where in the World Is the U.S. Military?”, July/August 2015, online at: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321] He points out similar deceptions for bases in Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere. In addition there is the problem of what to count as a “base” in the first place, since they vary in size from small radar installations (often operated in cooperation with the host country) all the way up to moderately sized and virtually American cities located in other countries. Vine resolves that difficulty by referring to the smaller installations as “lily pads”. (See map below.)
Because of the growing U.S. and world economic crisis, the U.S. has had to close down hundreds of foreign bases in recent years. In addition, it prematurely declared “victory” in its last war in Iraq and closed down most of its 505 bases (at its peak) in that one country alone. (An incredible number in just one single country!) Despite all these closures the U.S. still had almost 800 foreign bases in more than 70 countries and territories as of mid-2015. This compared to a total of only about 30 foreign bases for Britain, France and Russia added together. [David Vine, ibid.]
The cost of maintaining all these bases and troops overseas is enormous. Vine estimates that the cost for fiscal 2014 was roughly $85 to $100 billion, and that the total cost, including bases and troops in war zones, was between $160 and $200 billion. (And that still doesn’t even begin to account for the full cost of these current wars.) The U.S. imperialists are more and more worried about this, and that is why they are demanding that other countries pay for more of this cost. This is what lies behind President Trump’s current demands that the other NATO countries pay for maintaining U.S. bases in Europe.
Despite the concentration of U.S. bases in Europe and Asia, where they are clearly most centrally focused on the major imperialist opponents of the U.S., namely Russia and China, there is also a growing focus on Africa which doesn’t show up on the map above. This is because the U.S. military activity in Africa is mostly managed from their AFRICOM facilities located in Sicily.
It is true that U.S. imperialism has been gradually weakening relative to other imperialist powers since the end of World War II, both economically and even militarily. The rapid rise of imperialist China in recent decades is especially changing the overall situation quite rapidly. Nevertheless, as this survey of the massive overseas military presence of the U.S. shows, American imperialism remains a very powerful and practically ubiquitous military force around the world today.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Invasions of Other Countries
SELECTED UNITED STATES INVASIONS, ATTACKS AND INTERVENTIONS |
Including via CIA-armed and trained proxies or at the “invitation” of client regimes.
Does not include the many countries invaded in World War I and World War II.
Major U.S. imperialist war.
Plotted and directed army coup, but was defeated.
Engineered coup by reactionary officers, set up pro-U.S. Guido regime.
|Directed Ballivian’s coup; established military dictatorship. |
|Master-minded military coup, forcing President G. Vargas to commit suicide. |
Plotted coup, but failed.
Stage-managed coup forcing President Quadros to resign; unsuccessful attempt to set up military dictatorship.
Stage-managed military coup & set up pro-U.S. military regime.
|Cambodia||1972-75||Murderous bombing and invasions during Vietnam War.|
Plotted to dissolve parliament and set up military dictatorship, but was defeated.
Multi-imperialist invasion to suppress “Boxer Rebellion”.
|Costa Rica||1955 (Jan.)||Ordered attack by Nicaraguan dictator A. Somoza, but was repulsed.|
|Spanish-American War. |
Instigated coup, installed dictator Batista.
Bay of Pigs invasion and fiasco.
2,000 U.S. marines landed to threaten Dominican people.
Landed 4,000 U.S. marines.
Sent 40 warships to Dominican waters and threated invasion to stop possible revolution.
Dispatched warships to Dominican waters to support puppet President Balaguer.
Engineered coup by ultra-Right-wing military & police to set up pro-U.S. dictatorship.
|Conspired with reactionaries in Ecuador to set up dictatorship, but failed. |
Instigated coup by reactionary military clique to set up dictatorial regime.
Engineered coup, set up pro-U.S. dictatorial regime.
Instigated coup; installed Osorio’s one-man rule.
|Guam||1898||Spanish-American War. Annexed as a territory.|
|Sent naval and air forces to Caribbean Sea to threaten Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua. |
Organized invasion from Honduras; overthrew the democratic Arbenz government.
Sent naval forces to Caribbean to interfere in both Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Directed coup to set up a more pro-U.S. military dictatorship.
U.S. supported death-squad regime murdered tens of thousands.
Directed military coup, but failed.
U.S. troops kidnap President Aristide and family.
|Hawaii||1893||Annexed as a territory; became a U.S. State in 1959.|
Stage-managed coup by reactionary army officers to set up dictatorial regime.
U.S. shoots down civilian airliner killing all 290 people aboard.
|Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. |
Over 100,000 more Iraqis killed.
New war launched against ISIS and other radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Syria.
Korean War: Major U.S. imperialist war.
|Laos||1965-75||Murderous bombing and invasions during Vietnam War.|
1954 (Latter half)
|Theft of much of Mexico’s territory in major war. |
Instigated coup, but was defeated by the Mexican people.
San Juan del Sur.
U.S. mined Bluefields, Corinto & Puerto Sandino harbors.
|Pakistan||Recent years||U.S. drone air attacks kill many Pakistani civilians.|
Massacred Panamanian people defending national sovereignty.
Two to six thousand people killed in U.S. invasion.
|Paraguay||1954 (May)||Engineered coup; set up Stroessner dictatorship in July.|
|Engineered military coup; set up Odria dictatorial regime.|
Instigated military coup; set up Perez Godoy dictatorial regime.
Again instigated coup and set up a more pro-U.S. dictatorial regime.
|Philippines||1898-1910||Spanish-American War and suppression of Filipino nationalists.|
|Spanish-American War. Annexed as a territory. |
|Russia (Soviet Union)||1918||Part of a multi-nation invasion against Bolshevik Revolution.|
|Samoa||1899||Annexed as a territory.|
|Somalia||1993||In one attack alone U.S. missiles kill 100 unarmed people.|
|Syria||c. 2014-Present||Ongoing U.S. war against ISIS and other factions.|
|Uruguay||1964 (Jan.)||Instigated right-wing army coup, but failed.|
1958 (July, Sept. & Nov.)
|Stage-managed coup; set up P. Jimenez dictatorship. |
Instigated three coups, which were all defeated.
|Vietnam||1965-75||Major U.S. imperialist war against Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia.|
|Yemen||c. 2015-Present||U.S. participation in reactionary Saudi religious war against the Houthis.|
U.S./NATO bombing of Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
From: “Selected Crimes of a Global Terrorist”, Revolution, #232, published by the RCPUSA, May 15, 2011, p. 10; |
“U.S. Political Intervention and Armed Subversion in Latin America” (Peking Review, #22, May 28, 1965);
and from additional sources including bourgeois newspaper articles and the Wikipedia.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Perpetual Wars Of
See also the entry above and the other entries in this section on U.S. Imperialism.
[U.S. imperialism is now constantly at war with multiple countries,
and is actively dropping bombs on many different countries every year, and otherwise
attacking them militarily. Here are the semi-official statistics for bombs dropped on
other countries for the year 2016 (though it is very likely that these figures are
“The U.S. dropped 26,171 bombs last year, 3,027 more than in 2015, according to an analysis of Defense Department data from the Council on Foreign Relations. Here are the most targeted countries:
[Bombs dropped on other countries: 14]”
—“America’s Biggest Targets”, Time magazine, January 23, 2017, p. 11.
UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM — Rise Of
According to the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint, the United States became an imperialist power near the end of the 19th century, and the Spanish-American War—in which the U.S. stole the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other colonies from Spain—was the formal inauguration of U.S. imperialism on the world stage.
However, as of 1900 the U.S. was not yet the most powerful imperialist country in the world; that was still Britain. But Britain and the other old-line imperialist powers were greatly weakened in World Wars I and II, while U.S. imperialism continued to rise. By the end of World War II the U.S. stood at the apex of its power in the world, though it was then also confronted by the rising socialist country, the Soviet Union.
The U.S. has (so far) remained the single most powerful imperialist country since World War II, though as head of a new imperialist world system in which other imperialist powers also participate. And the other imperialist countries soon regained a lot of economic strength—especially Germany and Japan. Moreover, two new imperialist countries eventually arose: First Soviet social-imperialism, when the socialist U.S.S.R. was captured from within by a newly arisen bourgeois state-capitalist class, and later China. After Mao’s death China was captured by capitalist-roaders led by Deng Xiaoping who soon completely destroyed Chinese socialism. By the year 2000 China was already emerging as an important new imperialist power.
So while the United States is still the most powerful imperialist country, especially militarily, it is now clearly in a period of decline. At first the decline was slow, but it is now speeding up.
“By all these indicators—power, influence, scope of interest,
and role—between 1914 and 1945 the United States became an empire.
“The seed time of the American Empire, to be sure, lay well before the two world wars, roughly in the 1880s and 1890s. In that era the United States went from being a second-rate power at best to a nation recognized by the statesmen of Europe as having joined the ranks of the great powers. The United States led the world in the production of wheat, coal, iron, and steel. J. Pierpont Morgan and John D. Rockefeller personified the stupdendous rise of American riches. The total capital in American banks exceded that of any other country, and the total value of American industrial output equaled that of any two competitors.
“With wealth came might. The same period saw the construction of big-gun steel warships. Although the American fleet by no means was a challenge to Great Britain’s, congressional authorizations brought it abreast of Germany’s and ahead of Austria-Hungary’s and Italy’s.”
“The emergence of American naval power encouraged businessmen to push aggressively into foreign markets. Rockefeller reached out to challenge French, Russian, and Dutch oil firms in the Middle East and Asia, and Andrew Carnegie was beginning to sell steel in Europe itself. Occasional newspaper editors and politicians mused about resuming the old contest with Great Britain and even talked about the conquest of Canada. Nothing came of that, but the United States did acquire its first territory beyond the water’s edge. [E.g., Hawaii, which became a de facto U.S. protectorate in 1893 and then was formally annexed in 1898.]
“... [D]uring the Spanish-American War... [the U.S.] acquired Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines. America now possessed a small seaborne empire. Soon afterward President Theodore Roosevelt bullied, blustered, and bragged his way into the seizure of the Panama Canal Zone, making the United States a power in the Caribbean and the Pacific alike.”
—Robert Smith Thompson, The Eagle Triumphant: How America Took Over the British Empire (2004), pp. 322-323. [Though this is all true, Thompson is not a Marxist, so he speaks in terms of a U.S. colonial “empire” rather than about U.S. imperialism. Similarly, in other sections of his book in talking merely about how the U.S. took over the British empire, he seems to have failed to recognize that something more basic was also going on at the end of World War II. The U.S., even at its peak of individual power, did not merely supplant Britain as the top dog among imperialist powers; it also led in transforming world imperialism into a new world imperialist system by institutionalizing neocolonialism and setting up agencies such as the IMF, World Bank, and what eventually developed into the World Trade Organzation. —S.H.]
UNITED STATES/NATO BOMBING OF CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE (1999)
See: CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING BY U.S./NATO (1999)
“UNITED STATES OF EUROPE” SLOGAN
See: LENIN—On War
UNITY AND STRUGGLE
“The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:360.
UNITY OF OPPOSITES [Dialectics]
See also: CONTRADICTION—Dialectical, DIALECTICS, ONE-INTO-TWO
“Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man’s thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change. Contradictions exist everywhere, but they differ in accordance with the different nature of different things. In any given phenomenon or thing, the unity of opposites is conditional, temporary and transitory, and hence relative, whereas the struggle of opposites is absolute.” —Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (Feb. 27, 1957), SW 5:392.
UNITY OF THE WORLD
The physical universe is a unified system, consisting of myriad separate material parts which nevertheless interact with each other to various degrees. This unity of the world arises from the fact that these parts can and do interact with each other. They do so through the forces which have been discovered, namely gravity, electro-magnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces, and perhaps also through some additional physical forces yet to be discovered.
It is possible to absurdly exaggerate the unity of the world, however, such as via the mystical notion that “all is one”. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, for example, reality is a unified, eternal, indivisible, unchanging and motionless single entity, and all the movement and interaction between people and things that we seem to see are mere illusions! Of course it is difficult for modern scientific people to understand how such a view could ever have been taken seriously.
Obviously a more dialectical perspective is called for here. There is both unity and difference in the world, both connection and distinction, both interaction and effective non-interaction. The unity of the world consists more in the possibility of occasional exceptional interactions between two different things than it does in actual universal, constant, equipollent, mutual interactions. It may well be that every single particle of matter is connected to every other one through gravitational and/or other forces, but in most cases such connections are inconsequential. The gravitational tug of the planet Neptune has no detectable effect on my fingers in the typing of these words, even though science does currently assume that some such ultra-minute tug actually exists.
Any coherent notion of cause and effect requires such a dialectical view of the unity of the world.
The world is a unity in another important way as well: there are not two separate, unconnected aspects to it, the physical and the mental (or “spiritual”); instead, mental phenomena such as ideas, thoughts or memories, are merely special ways of looking at aspects of certainly highly organized complexes of matter (e.g., brains) and their functions and processes. (See: MONISM)
“The real unity of the world consists in its materiality...” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:41.
UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME
See: GUARANTEED BASIC INCOME
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
A social system within a country that provides health care for everyone through one or another form of nonprofit national health insurance. Most advanced capitalist countries developed such systems under pressure from the masses. The U.S. however, being the most backward capitalist country socially, has never had such a system. Even the current so-called Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), being implemented in 2013-2014, is a pitifully inadequate substitute for a true universal health care system.
The lack of universal health care means the poor health of millions upon millions of people, and the outright deaths of tens of thousands every year in the U.S. This is one of the many forms of continuing capitalist murder of the American people.
“‘[T]he uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the
privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and
baseline health,’ said lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper (of the recent study ‘Health
Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults,’ American Journal of Public Health,
“‘Historically, every other developed nation has achieved universal healthcare through some form of nonprofit national health insurance,’ said study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard and a primary care physician in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ‘Our failure to do so means that all Americans pay higher health care costs, and 45,000 pay with their lives [each year].’...
“‘Absent the $400 billion in savings you could get from single payer, universal coverage is unaffordable. Politicians in Washington are protecting insurance profits while sacrificing American lives.’
“‘Now one American dies every 12 minutes,’ said study co-author Dr. David Himmelstein.
“‘California leads the nation with 5,302 deaths due to lack of health insurance per year. Texas follows closely behind with 4,675 deaths due to lack of health insurance per year. Texas also had the highest rate (in 2005) of uninsured citizens—29.7 percent.’” —From Ralph Nader, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism (2011); original source: Corporate Crime Reporter, Sept. 21, 2009.
UNIVERSAL RIGHTS OF MAN, The
The principles in the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen” which was proclaimed during the time of the great French Revolution of 1789-93.
“UNIVERSALITY” OF PEOPLE’S WAR
See: PEOPLE’S WAR—As a “Universal” Revolutionary Strategy
UNIVERSALS (vs. PARTICULARS or INDIVIDUALS) [Philosophy]
Universals are abstractions (abstract concepts), which are usually generalizations derived from particulars (such as individual material things) which have a physical existence in the world.
There is a long tradition in idealist philosophy, going back at least to Plato, in arguing that in addition to the specific material objects in the world there also actually exist (perhaps even in some “deeper” sense!) abstract entities which embody the “idea” or “form” of a given sort of object. For example, according to this idealist conception, in addition to all the actual chairs in the world there also exists the idea of “chair” (or “chairness”) which is just as much a part of reality as are all the specific chairs. But while that idealist conception that ideas are on an existential (or ontological) par with material objects is total nonsense, it is a fact that we do have the abstract concept of a chair, and that abstract concept is different from (and not identical to) any specific chair. (If some particular chair that is extremely similar to our concept of a chair is destroyed, for example, our concept of a chair is still not in any way destroyed.)
Philosophers, therefore, have long discussed the relationship between universals and particulars (or individual things), and idealist and metaphysical philosophers have often been very confused and mystified by this relationship. The central difficulty here comes from an inadequate understanding and analysis of what abstraction is. However, to deeply understand the nature of abstraction itself, one must apply materialist dialectics. It appears to me that Lenin was making an attempt in this direction in the following, though it is not certain that everyone will find this helpful (since the discussion itself is quite abstract):
“To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., with
any proposition: the leaves of a tree are green; John is a man; Fido is
a dog, etc. Here already we have dialectics (as Hegel’s genius recognized): the
individual is the universal...
[Lenin then quotes a passage in German and Greek about the views of Aristotle on this subject. The English translation of that passage is: “For, of course, one cannot hold the opinion that there can be a house (in general) apart from visible houses.”]
“Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual. Every individual is (in one way or another) a universal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect, or the essence of) an individual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual objects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal, etc., etc. Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of individuals (things, phenomena, processes), etc. Here already we have the elements, the germs, the concepts of necessity, of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence...” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:361. [This is from a rough manuscript that Lenin did not have a chance to prepare for publication during his lifetime.]
UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PREVENTION ACT (UAPA)
A fascist law passed by the central government of India in 2008 which gives the police and other authorities almost a completely free hand to suppress ideas and social movements which the ruling class dislikes. It is especially aimed at the revolutionary movement, and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in particular.
For further information see the Indian Fascism page on BANNEDTHOUGHT.NET at: http://www.bannedthought.net/India/Fascism/index.htm
[To be added...]
See also: PRODUCTIVE LABOR
UPPER PALEOLITHIC (LATE PALEOLITHIC)
The European pre-historical period from about 35,000 to 11,000 years ago. The Upper Paleolithic and first part of the Neolithic are generally divided into six principle cultural periods (which overlap somewhat): The Chatelperonian (35,000-30,000 years ago); the Aurignacian (34,000-30,000); the Gravettian (30,000-22,000); the Solutrean (22,000-18,000); the Magdelenian (18,000-11,000); and the Azilian (11,000-9,000). [Roger Lewin, In the Age of Mankind (1988), pp. 145-6.]
See also: PALEOLITHIC
URBAN GUERRILLA WARFARE
The scheme of attempting to bring about social revolution through small scale hit-and-run guerrilla warfare within the cities and urban areas of a country, by forces with little or no connection to the masses and their struggles. This has sometimes been an attempt to apply something like Che Guevara’s “foco” strategy in an urban setting (as by the Tupamaros in Uruguay in the 1960s and early 1970s), and at other times a gross distortion of the Maoist strategy of people’s war, the revolutionary strategy developed by Mao for China in the 1930s and similar Third World countries with huge populations of peasants and weak central governments. In no country have any attempts at urban guerrilla warfare made any significant progress toward actual social revolution and the seizure of power by the revolutionary proletariat.
For an exposure of many of the fallacies involved in the theory of, and attempts at, urban guerrilla warfare, see: “The False Path of the W. European ‘Urban Guerrilla’”, by P. Becker, A World to Win, #4, 1985, 16 pages, posted at: http://www.bannedthought.net/International/RIM/AWTW/1985-4/AWTW-04-UrbanGuerrilla.pdf [PDF: 2,288 KB]
See also: VENCEREMOS ORGANIZATION, WEATHER UNDERGROUND ORGANIZATION
[Sometimes with a hyphen.] 1. An item which is useful or meets a need or satisfies a desire that someone has. (Marx generally uses the term in this sense.)
2. The characteristic(s) of an item that makes it useful or allows it to meet a need.
“Whatever its social form may be, wealth always consists of use-values...” —Marx, CCPE, pp. 27-8. “The use-value of a commodity is the basis of its exchange-value and thus of its value.” —Marx, Capital, vol. III, Part VI, Ch. 37: (International, p. 636; Penguin, p. 774.)
See also: VALUE, EXCHANGE VALUE
See: SOVIET UNION
1. Any of a large number of ethical theories, most of which are now varieties of hedonism, and therefore focus on “happiness” and “pain”.
2. [Originally, and logically:] The ethical theory that goodness and morality derive from utility or usefulness. Marxist-Leninist Class Interest Ethics has developed from these roots. (See next entry below.)
See also: Philosophical Doggerel on utilitarianism.
UTILITARIANISM AND MARXISM
[Intro to be added... ]
“Is this attitude of ours utilitarian? Materialists do not oppose utilitarianism in general but the utilitarianism of the feudal, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois classes; they oppose those hypocrites who attack utilitarianism in words but in deeds embrace the most selfish and short-sighted utilitarianism. There is no ‘ism’ in the world that transcends utilitarian considerations; in class society there can be only the utilitarianism of this or that class. We are proletarian revolutionary utilitarians and take as our point of departure the unity of the present and future interests of the broadest masses, who constitute over 90 per cent of the population; hence we are revolutionary utilitarians aiming for the broadest and most long-range objectives, not narrow utilitarians concerned only with the partial and the immediate. If, for instance, you reproach the masses for their utilitarianism and yet for your own utility, or that of a narrow clique, force on the market and propagandize among the masses a work which pleases only the few but is useless or even harmful to the majority, then you are not only insulting the masses but also revealing your own lack of self-knowledge. A thing is good only when it brings real benefit to the masses of the people.” —Mao, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1942), SW 3:85.
UTOPIAN COMMUNE (or COMMUNITY)
A small community of utopian socialists who come together to equalize their labor and share the wealth that they collectively produce. Some of the most notable of these communities were established by the early 19th century utopian socialists such as Robert Owen. Many utopian communes were set up by various religious sects. In modern times utopian communes are few and far between, and are very small and essentially inconsequential as far as participating in any way in the progressive social transformation of society as a whole.
The most extensive and economically successful (for a time) system of utopian communes has been the kibbutzim in Israel, which were set up from both collectivist impulses and in order to more effectively steal the land away from the Palestinian people. This shows just how terribly reactionary a programme of creating utopian communes can sometimes be.
The belief that the social ownership of the means of production can be achieved by appealing to the rich and powerful who presently own it to voluntarily and peacefully relinquish that ownership and control.
“It is natural that utopian theories, which before the era of materialistic critical socialism contained the rudiments of the latter within itself, can now, coming belatedly, only be silly, stale, and basically reactionary.” —Marx, Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge, Oct. 19, 1877, Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence (Moscow: Progress, 1975), p. 291. [In a slightly different translation in MECW 45:284.]
“Utopian socialists are always trying to persuade the bourgeoisie to be charitable. This won’t work, it is necessary to rely on the class struggle of the proletariat.” —Mao, “Talk on Questions of Philosophy” (Aug. 18, 1964), SW 9:125.
Any of the endless programs, schemes or ideas to change the world for the better which are inherently totally unrealizable, and therefore which amount to foolish fantasies. Although there are still a tiny number of utopians who think they can change the world by setting up utopian communes, and even perhaps one or two utopian socialists left who still want to try appealing to the capitalists to voluntarily and peacefully turn over their factories to the people, in the world today by far the most dominant form of utopianism is liberal reformism: the notion that capitalism can be reformed and regulated into a society that actually works to benefit everybody. Tens or hundreds of millions of people around the world still subscribe to this utterly impossible dream.
“Liberals are hopelessly foolish utopians!” —Scott’s Deep Truth About Capitalist Society, number 1.
Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index
MASSLINE.ORG Home Page