Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Uo - Uz   —

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

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 who for their own security reasons must of necessity have little or no connection to the masses and their struggles. This has sometimes been an attempt to apply something like
Che Guevara’sfoco” 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: https://www.bannedthought.net/International/RIM/AWTW/1985-4/AWTW-04-UrbanGuerrilla.pdf [PDF: 2,288 KB]

[From ur- (“primitive” or “original”) + science]
Early, original, or foundational science; proto-science. [From en.wiktionary.org]
“Ur-science” is a term of ridiculous academic pomposity.
Proto-science is far more widely understood.

[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:


An erroneous theory in the political economy of capitalism that the value of commodities arises merely from their usefulness. It is also known as the “Utility Theory of Value”. So, in other words, if one thing is more useful to you than another, the first will be of more “value” to you. However, while that may be true in some abstract sense of the word, this is not at all an adequate explanation for why commodities have the
values (and exchange values and prices) that they do. For one thing, several of the very most useful things in the world—such as the air we breath—have no value as a commodity at all! Air, despite its usefulness and even absolute necessity for our lives, is freely available to us all (under normal conditions). Moreover, two different things may be equally useful to us in some situation (such as a coat to keep us from freezing to death, and food to keep us from starving to death), and yet the commodity values and prices for these two very different things will generally be very different. Yes, commodities must be useful to someone in order to be sold, but there is much more to the story than that. And even classical bourgeois economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo have recognized that the real foundation for the value of commodities can only be the quantity of necessary labor required to produce them. See: LABOR THEORY OF VALUE.
        However, bourgeois economists were never happy with the necessity to acknowledge that human labor is the source of commodity values! And so in the late 19th century the erroneous “usefulness theory of value” was smuggled back into bourgeois economics once again; this time in the form of the Marginal Utility Theory, that commodity values are determined by the usefulness to the purchaser of buying just one more commodity of the given sort. So overjoyed were they that this allowed them to use the differential calculus in their theory (and thus make it look oh so profound!) that they failed to notice that all the same objections to the usefulness theory of value that were noted by Adam Smith and other classical economists still apply with equal force!

“But the questions for us are, what is it that constitutes this ‘value’ [of commodities], and how is the respective magnitude of value determined?
         “Long before Marx, economists had concerned themselves with this question and came to two fundamentally different answers. One answer is: the value of something is determined by its usefulness. For something that is of great use to me, I’m prepared to pay a lot, whereas I’ll pay very little, or nothing at all, for something that is of little use to me. This ‘utility theory of value,’ however, faces a great problem that Adam Smith had already formulated very clearly: water is of great use, we couldn’t live without water, but the value of water is very small. Compared to water, the utility of a diamond is infinitesimally small, but its value is huge. Smith therefore drew the conclusion that it would not be the usefulness of a thing that determines its value. Rather, Smith considered the quantity of labor necessity to produce something as constituting its value. This is the second fundamental answer to the question as to what makes up value.
         “This ‘labor theory of value’ was the common understanding within political economy during Marx’s time.” —Michael Heinrich, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital (NY: MR Press, 2004), p. 42.


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.

[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.


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.

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