Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Z   —

[In India: ] Landowners; the dominant class group in rural villages.

ZARYA   (“Dawn”)

Zarya (Dawn)—a Marxist scientific and political journal published by the Iskra editorial board in Stuttgart in 1901 and 1902. Four numbers appeared in three issues: No. 1 in April 1901 (it actually appeared on March 23, New Style), No. 2-3 in December 1901 and No. 4 in August 1902.
         “Zarya criticized international and Russian revisionism and defended the theoretical postulates of Marxism. The journal published articles by Lenin on this problem: ‘The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism’, ‘Messrs. the “Critics” on the Agrarian Qeustion’ (the first four chapters of ‘The Agrarian Question and “Critics of Marx”’), ‘The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy’, and also Plekhanov’s articles: ‘Critique of Our Critics. Part I. Mr. P. Struve in the Role of a Critic of the Marxist Theory of Social Development’ and ‘Cant against Kant, or the Testament of Herr Bernstein’.” —Note 95, Lenin SW I (1967).

The local self-government bodies in rural districts of tsarist Russia, which were set up in the central gubernias (“provinces”) of the country in 1864. The Zemstvos were dominated by the local nobility and were restricted to handling only local economic and welfare issues, such as hospitals, road building, insurance, gathering statistics, etc. They were under the control of the governors of the gubernias and the Ministry of the Interior which could veto any decisions they found to be undesirable.

[To be added...]

ZENO of Elea   (fl. c. 450 BCE)
[To be added...]
        See also:
Philosophical doggerel about Zeno.

ZERO-SUM (Game or Situation)
Game Theory:] A situation where a gain for one participant necessarily involves an equivalent loss for one or more other participants. (I.e., where the total gains and losses for all participants sum to zero.) Chess or poker are zero-sum games because if one player wins, the other(s) must lose.
        Bourgeois economists claim that capitalism is “not” a zero-sum economic system, because even the workers come out of it with something (generally enough to at least scrape by on). However, all the wealth that any society produces ultimately comes from the labor of workers acting on the natural products of the world. Under socialism or communism, all that wealth would belong to the workers, either individually or collectively. Capitalism modifies this situation in a zero-sum way; whatever the capitalists take from the workers in the form of open or concealed profits, the workers lose completely. And this is the very definition of a zero-sum situation.

ZETKIN, Clara   (1857-1933)
An important and influential German revolutionary socialist and then Communist leader, who also helped to further develop and strengthen the struggle for women’s rights and equality, including within the socialist and Communist movement itself. She was the leading organizer of the first
International Women’s Day in March 1911.
        Zetkin joined the Socialist Workers’ Party in 1878, which was renamed the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1890. With Bismarck’s ban on socialist activity in 1878 Zetkin went into exile in Zurich and then Paris. (The Anti-Socialist Law lapsed in 1890.) Zetkin, along with her friend Rosa Luxemburg, soon became one of the most prominent representatives of the revolutionary Left-wing of the SPD, and she strongly criticized the revisionist ideas of Eduard Bernstein.
        Zetkin played a leading role in fighting for equality for women including the right to vote, and was the leader in developing the socialist women’s movement in Germany. From 1891 to 1917 she edited the SPD women’s publication Die Gleichheit [“Equality”].
        During World War I the SPD took on a social chauvinist (pro-war) stance, voting for war spending and the policy of Burgfrieden (truce with the bourgeoisie and promising not to lead any labor strikes during the war). Zetkin, along with Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and other prominent Left-wing members of the SPD very strongly opposed this pro-imperialist war position. Among other anti-war efforts, Zetkin organized an international socialist women’s anti-war conference in Berlin in 1915. She was arrested several times during the war because of such activity.
        In 1917 Zetkin, and many others who opposed the dominant national chauvinist stance of the SPD during World War I, left to join the new Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), and also its most Left-wing faction, the Spartacus League which she co-founded. In 1919 the Spartacus League broke with the centrist USPD to form the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and Zetkin became an important leader of that new revolutionary party. From 1920 to 1933 when the Nazis took over, she represented the KPD in the Reichstag (German parliament). She was also a member of the Central Committee of the KPD from 1927 to 1929.
        Zetkin also played a significant role in international revolutionary politics. In 1920 she interviewed Lenin on “The Women’s Question”. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Comintern) from 1921 until her death. In 1933 after Hitler took power and staged the Reichstag fire (falsely blamed on the Communists), Zetkin was forced into exile once again, this time to the Soviet Union. Unfortunately she died later that same year at the age of 76, and was buried near the wall of the Kremlin in Moscow.
        [Much of the materal in this entry is taken from the Wikipedia article on Clara Zetkin.]

ZHANG Chunqiao   (1917-2005)
[To be added...]

ZHANG Guotao   (Old style: CHANG Kuo-t’ao)   (1897-1979)
One of the founders and early leaders of the Communist Party of China who became a renegade from the CCP and a traitor to and enemy of the Chinese revolution. During one period in 1937 he and the section of the revolutionary army he led refused to obey the orders of the Central Committee and then he even set himself up as the head of a separate and competing “Central Committee” of the CCP. His renegade leadership of the Fourth Front Army led to disastrous defeats and the loss of thousands of Red Army soldiers. At one point he plotted to arrest, and if necessary kill, Mao and the legitimate Central Committee members. When he abandoned the CCP completely in 1938 he even worked with the head of Chiang Kai-shek’s secret police, Dai Li (often called “China’s Himmler”), in an effort to destroy the Communist Party. In 1949 he fled to Hong Kong, and then in 1968 moved to Canada. He became a Christian the year before his death.

“Chang Kuo-tao was a renegade from the Chinese revolution. In early life, speculating on the revolution, he joined the Chinese Communist Party. In the Party he made many mistakes resulting in serious crimes. The most notorious of these was his opposition, in 1935, to the Red Army’s northward march [the Long March] and his defeatism and liquidationism in advocating withdrawal by the Red Army to the minority-nationality areas on the Szechuan-Sikang borders; what is more, he openly carried out traitorous activities against the Party and the Central Committee, established his own bogus central committee, disrupted the unity of the Party and the Red Army, and caused heavy losses to the Fourth Front Army of the Red Army. But thanks to patient education by Comrade Mao Tse-tung and the Central Committee, the Fourth Front Army and its numerous cadres soon returned to the correct leadership of the Central Committee of the Party and played a glorious role in subsequent struggles. Chang Kuo-tao, however, proved incorrigible and in the spring of 1938 he slipped out of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region and joined the Kuomintang secret police.” —Editorial note 5 to Mao’s article “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (Feb. 1, 1942), SW 3:51.

ZHOU Enlai   (Old style: CHOU En-lai)   (1898-1976)
A top leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Vice-Chairman of the CCP (1956-1976), and Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (1949-1976). In the earliest period of the 1920s and early 1930s Zhou followed the line of the
Comintern and its advisors in China and as Mao’s superior in the Party originally opposed Mao’s innovative and developing political line of People’s War in the countryside. However, at the desperate and crucial point of the Tsunyi Conference in January 1935, during the Long March, Zhou changed his position and sided with Mao. For the rest of his life Zhou never wavered in his support for Mao and his leadership, though his own actions and policies were not always in full accord with those of Mao. Zhou supported the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (see the entry below), but during it he primarily served as a moderating or foot-dragging force. This did have some positive aspects (such as saving a number of people from unduly violent and extreme attacks by Red Guards), but also some very negative results—such as his role in rehabilitating Deng Xiaoping and bringing him back to power in 1973.
        [More to be added.]

ZHOU Enlai — Role in the Cultural Revolution
Zhou’s role during the
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) has been the subject of considerable discussion and contention. Mao seems to have mostly viewed him as a loyal supporter of both Mao himself and the GPCR, and when one college Red Guard group in Beijing (the “May 16 Red Guards Regiment”) attacked Zhou as a “shameful traitor of Mao Zedong Thought” in the summer of 1967, Mao and the Central Cultural Revolution Small Group condemned this particular Red Guard faction as “ultra-left” and suppressed them. Moreover, this led to the suppression of many other individuals as ultra-leftists, including eventually Chen Boda who was himself originally put in charge of dealing with the May 16 Red Guards Regiment but was later accused of being supportive of their views.
        During the GPCR Zhou did intervene from time to time to rescue one or another person who was being persecuted by Red Guard groups. There actually were a great number of excesses by the Red Guards during the GPCR and it was not wrong to stop or correct these excesses when possible. (Mao also did so at times, and the major campaign he authorized against ultra-leftism of the “May 16 Red Guards Regiment” type is an example of this on a large scale.) Stopping excesses is actually a way of supporting a revolution and of trying to prevent it from being discredited.
        However, Zhou’s “moderating” role sometimes seems to have gone well beyond merely stopping violence and unjust treatment of basically good comrades who had made some mistakes. While he apparently agreed with Mao at the beginning of the GPCR that Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping should be criticized for their views and policies, he strenuously opposed putting it as strongly as that they were leaders of a “bourgeois reactionary line”. If Zhou had had his way, it seems that the whole heart would have been cut out of the GPCR, and the whole point of it vitiated. A revolution requires more than mere slaps on the hands of those who really have become the enemies of the people!
        As the GPCR quickly developed, Zhou, as head of the Chinese government, put a lot of emphasis on Mao’s slogan, “grasp revolution and promote production”, and in this he was quite correct. There was in fact a danger that the necessarily disruptive political revolution might lead to a collapse of the economy—which would have discredited the GPCR far more than any mere excesses against particular individuals. (As it was, the Chinese economy did suffer small declines in GDP for three years but then, because of the political enthusiasm and positive changes in the factories, quickly zoomed ahead again at an even faster pace. The trend line for the entire 1966-1976 period shows the initial dip but also an end result that is just the same as if there had been a uniformly fast advance of around 10% a year over that entire period.)
        In early 1967 a number of military marshals and government leaders raged against the GPCR in what became known as the February Adverse Current. Zhou did not openly support this trend, though he let slip his identification with these other veteran leaders when he referred to them and him together as “us”.
        But by far the worst aspect of Zhou’s role in “moderating” the GPCR was his evident attempt to wait it out, and to then reverse at least aspects of it by eventually returning the individuals who were overthrown as “capitalist roaders” to their positions of authority in the party and government. And the very worst example of this turned out to be his rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping and the recall of Deng to again be a vice-premier and Zhou’s designated successor. However, this is something that Mao himself also agreed to, and if Zhou should be blamed for this so should Mao. It seems that the CCP was too easily fooled by confessions and phony self-criticisms. Perhaps this is a perpetual problem for people like Mao who are themselves open and honest about their opinions, when it comes to trying to politically “treat the disease in order to cure the patient”.
        After Zhou’s death a huge memorial gathering in his honor held in Tiananmen Square on April 5, 1976 turned into a reactionary demonstration against the whole GPCR. Was this a just a case of reactionaries making use of the occasion to attack the GPCR, or was it actually the view of Zhou Enlai himself and his friends, which they merely kept mostly silent about while he was alive? Perhaps some of each. Right after Zhou died Maoist groups around the world, including the RCP in the U.S., wrote articles lauding him. (See for example: “Chou Enlai (1898-1976): A Fighter for Our Class All His Life”, Worker for Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Area, February 1976, p. 9, online at: http://www.bannedthought.net/USA/RCP/Worker-Milw/Worker-RCP-Milw-V1N05-Feb1976.pdf) But after the April 5th Tiananmen Incident the view of Zhou by many Maoists turned diametrically around, and Zhou has since then been routinely condemned as a hidden rightist.
        It seems clear that while Zhou publicly supported Mao’s GPCR he was personally opposed to at least many aspects of it; possibly in his heart he did not truly support it at all, though he did nevertheless play a fairly important role in making it possible. Pretty obviously someone like Zhou could not possibly have initiated or led the GPCR. In any revolution there will be people on the revolutionary side who do not fully understand and support all the aims of that revolution. But it is wrong to force such people away and into the enemy camp. That is what was wrong with the ultra-leftists of the type of the May 16 Red Guards Regiment. They did not understand the necessity in any revolution of uniting the vast majority against a much smaller enemy. But was it correct to later on start criticizing Zhou as he more and more seemed to be undermining the GPCR by bringing back capitalist roaders like Deng? The so-called “Gang of Four” appeared to be doing this as a somewhat camouflaged part of the Anti-Lin Biao, Anti-Confucius Campaign. It seems they may have been quite right to do so. —S.H.

[Comments from a book deeply hostile to the Cultural Revolution:] “Zhou Enlai’s position in the CCP leadership was on the rise during the Cultural Revolution. At the Eleventh Plenum of the CCP Eighth Central Committee (1-12 August 1966), he became the third highest ranking leader of the CCP. After the downfall of Lin Biao in September 1971, he became second, next to Mao. As his status and power increased, however, Zhou was facing greater challenges and provocations from the ultraleftist faction of the CCP leadership who, along with Mao, envisioned Zhou as a formidable anti-Cultural Revolution force after Mao’s death. And, as indispensable as Zhou was, Mao never considered him as his successor; rather, Mao often equated Zhou’s meticulous attention to details and superb skills as an administrator with the neglect of more important matters and the lack of firm ideological and political conviction.
        “From 25 November to 5 December 1973, enlarged Politburo sessions were convened at Mao’s suggestion to criticize Zhou for his ‘right revisionist line’ and ‘capitulationism’ in foreign policy because of his negotiations with the United States on the sensitive issue of miliary exchange. Jiang Qing [Mao’s wife] called the conflict between Zhou and Mao [the] ‘eleventh line struggle within the party.’ A month later, in January 1974, another general offensive against Zhou was launched in the name of an anti-Lin Biao campaign known as Criticize Lin and Criticize Confucius, which was followed by yet another implicitly anti-Zhou movement: that of the Water Margin Appraisal (1975-1976). The attack on Zhou in both of these campaigns took the form of allusory historiography in which Confucius and Song Jiang—a capitulator in the historical romance Water Margin, in Mao’s view—were depicted with considerable resemblance to China’s current premier.
        “Zhou was instrumental in Deng Xiaoping’s reinstatement as vice-premier in 1973. In December 1974, Zhou, gravely ill with cancer and escorted by hospital nurses, flew to Changsha to discuss personnel matters with Mao in preparation for the forthcoming Fourth National People’s Congress. Zhou recommended Deng for the position of the first vice-premier against Zhang Chunqiao, the candidate of the Jiang Qing group.”
         —From the entry on Zhou Enlai in the Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, by Guo Jian, Yongyi Song and Yuan Zhou, (2006).

ZHU Rongji   (Old style: CHU Jung-chi)   (1928-  )
Premier of the capitalist regime in China from 1998 to 2003.
        Zhu joined the CCP in October 1949, and graduated from Tsinghua University in 1951 with a degree in electrical engineering. However, he spent most of his career as a political cadre in the economics and production planning sphere. He was criticized and labelled a Rightist in 1958 for opposing the “irrational high growth” policies during the Great Leap Forward. He was pardoned in 1962, but then criticized again during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and sent to a “May Seventh Cadre School” from 1970-1975 for re-education. Apparently this attempted re-education didn’t have any positive effect on him.
        From 1975 to 1979 Zhu was the deputy chief engineer for a company run by the Petroleum Ministry and director of the Industrial Economics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. When the notorious capitalist-roader
Deng Xiaoping returned to power in 1978 he sought out like-minded people as economic advisors, and Zhu Rongji in particular. Zhu was formally rehabilitated by the now revisionist CCP because of his supposedly forward-thinking and bold economic ideas (i.e., because he too was a capitalist-roader intent on developing China as a capitalist country). Deng said that Zhu “has his own views, dares to make decisions and knows economics.” [Quoted in the article on Zhu Rongji in the Wikipedia, from which some other information here is also taken.]
        Zhu then went to work for the State Economic Commission as the division chief of the Bureau of Fuel and Power Industry and then as deputy director of the Comprehensive Bureau in 1979-1982. He was appointed a member of the State Economic Commission in 1982 and was the vice-minister in charge of the Commission from 1983 to 1987. In that year he was appointed major of Shanghai. As mayor he won the acclaim of the other enthusiasts for the return to capitalism by overseeing the development of Pudong, a large Special Economic Zone situated between the city itself and the ocean. These SEZ’s pioneered in the so-called “reform” and “opening up” of the Chinese economy to full-scale capitalism and foreign investment.
        Zhu became the vice-premier of the PRC State Council in 1991, and moved to Beijing. He was also the director of the State Council Production Office, which focused on industry, agriculture and finance. In late 1992 Zhu became a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee, the highest political body in China, and retained that position for a decade. He was also the governor of the People’s Bank of China, illustrating how the top leaders of the bureaucratic national bourgeois ruling class in China are now financial capitalists. Through this political and financial control, and with the support of President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng, Zhu helped force the closure of many state enterprises and started a large privatization program which led to massive growth of China’s private sector of the economy.
        Zhu was himself Premier of the State Council from March 1998 to March 2003, and continued and extended those same policies. The Chinese economy expanded at a rapid pace during these years, though it must be said that this was not really all that difficult to accomplish. As a new capitalist-imperialist country China did not have the huge load of accumulated government debt, nor massive consumer and corporate debt, that most major capitalist countries did. So they could easily stimulate demand to overcome adverse local and international economic problems, such as the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s. However, the pro-capitalist economic policies of Zhu and the other PRC bosses led to enormous job losses for workers as a great many state factories were closed down. It is true that new jobs were opening up because of foreign investment in China, but these jobs were generally much worse, with far less security and far fewer benefits. Zhu led capitalist China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, and because of the very low wages of most Chinese workers, China soon became the “workplace” of the world, with enormous and fast-rising exports. But as usual, the capitalist “success story” was founded on a major attack on the working class.

The first of two important international socialist conferences held in Switzerland in the early years of World War I, and which attempted to address the question of what socialists should do about the War.
        See also:

The First International Socialist Conference met in Zimmerwald (September 5-8, 1915), and was the scene of a struggle between the revolutionary internationalists led by Lenin and the Kautsky majority. Lenin united the Left internationalists into a group known as the Zimmerwald Left in which only the Bolshevik Party advocated a correct and fully consistent internationalist anti-war policy.
        “The conference adopted the Manifesto ‘To the European Proletariat’ which declared that the world war was an imperialist war, condemned the conduct of the ‘socialists’ who voted for war credits and were members of bourgeois governments, called upon the workers of Europe to develop the struggle against the war and demand the conclusion of peace without annexations and indemnities.
         “The conference also adopted a resolution expressing sympathy with the victims of the war and elected an International Socialist Committee.
        “The significance of the Zimmerwald Conference is described by Lenin in ‘The First Step’, and ‘Revolutionary Marxists at the International Socialist Conference, September 5-8, 1915’ [LCW 21:383-88, 389-93.]” —Note 333, Lenin SW I (1967).

ZIFF, Paul   (1920-2003)
American bourgeois philosopher of the analytic or
“linguistic” school. Did significant work in the areas of semantics and aesthetics. His most important book was Semantic Analysis (1960). In the last chapter of that work he explains in careful detail why the meaning of the important word ‘good’ should be considered to be “answering to certain interests”.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Ziff.

ZIMBABWE — Hyperinflation In
One of the most extreme examples of hyperinflation in the last 60 years is that which occurred in Zimbabwe. Up to its worse point in 2009 inflation in that country reached an astounding 500 billion percent. The government even issued $100 trillion dollar bank notes. These themselves soon became nearly worthless (except as collectors’ items). At that point in 2009, the Zimbabwean government stopped issuing money entirely, and the country began using only foreign currency (especially the U.S. dollar). It converted bank balances in Zimbabwean dollars into U.S. dollars at the rate of 35 quadrillion to 1! In 2016 the government announced that it would start issuing its own currency again—which almost everyone expects will soon start inflating rapidly.

ZINN, Howard   (1922-2010)
A radical American historian best known for his excellent book, A People’s History of the United States (1980). This volume appropriately focused on the ordinary people of the country and their lives and struggles, and not the politicians, generals and millionaires. Zinn taught for many years at Boston University and inspired many students and readers of his works. He was also an ardent political activist, especially in the civil rights and anti-war movements. On his last day of teaching at Boston University he ended his class 30 minutes early so that he could join a picket line, and urged his students to go along with him. One hundred of them did so.

“From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.” —Howard Zinn, in his autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994).

A term rapidly spreading in use in the U.S. in late 2008 and early 2009 for a company or bank which is one of the “living dead”, i.e., a company which is either already
insolvent, or else which will soon become so, and which will therefore go bankrupt before long. (See also below.)

bank that for the time being appears to be healthy and operating normally, but which is actually insolvent, and which will eventually collapse (and either go bankrupt or be bailed out by the government). ‘Insolvent’ means having liabilities greater than the reasonable market value of the assets held. But the trouble is that 1) the real market value of assets in turbulent economic times is difficult to determine, and 2) the real market value of assets can rapidly drop when the asset bubble of which they are a part suddenly pops. This is what has been happening to banks and other financial institutions since the sub-prime mortgage housing bubble began to pop in late 2007.
        Although only 25 banks failed in the U.S. in 2008, and “only” another 100 had failed by mid-October of 2009, in February 2009 an expert in this sphere estimated that as many as 1,000 more banks may fail over the next 3 to 5 years. (And even that number may prove sanguine!) Thus at present there are a great many, and actually a rapidly growing number of zombie banks in the U.S. and around the world.

An idea, position or claim which has been thoroughly refuted by overwhelming evidence and solid argument, which has been totally demolished in both theory and practice, and which despite this, is still championed by some benighted individual or group. That is, an idea which should be dead but which for a time won’t stay dead; one which keeps popping up again and again. A fine example of such a zombie idea is the notion that capitalism can be made to serve the interests of the people. The bourgeoisie and its ideologists keep arguing for this absurd idea despite capitalism’s severe crises and the unending misery under this system for billions of people.

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