Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ci - Ck   —


Most commonly, a legal form for the distribution of the dangerous drug nicotine. Nicotine is a poisonous alkaloid C10H14N2 which is the principle active component in tobacco, and is also used in a more concentrated form as an insecticide. Nicotine is highly addictive, and giant capitalist tobacco companies make vast profits by selling their drug to addicted users.

“Cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” —New York Times, January 13, 2022. [From which we could reasonably conclude that tobacco companies are run by mass murderers. —Ed.]

[Intro material to be added... ]

“All the differentiations in capital arising from the circulation process—in fact the circulation process itself—are actually nothing but the metamorphosis of commodities (determined by their relationship to wage-labor as capital) as an aspect of the reproduction process.” —Marx, TSV, 3:268.

A recent term developed in the field of gender sociology referring primarily to people whose view of their own gender (male or female) is the same as that which they were assigned at birth. In other words, a person who does not view themselves as transgender (i.e., as having changed their self-identification from being male to female, or from being female to male). Thus as the term was originally used, a “cis man” was a person who was called a male at birth, and who always viewed himself as a male, while a “cis woman” was a person who was called a female at birth and who always viewed herself as a female. However, it appears that not everyone uses this term in precisely the same way, and its general usage may have further evolved. It now seems more correct to say that a “cis man” is a person who was called a male at birth and who currently views themself as male (whether or not they have always done so), while a “cis woman” is a person who was called a female at birth and who currently views themself as a female. Part of the complexity in the development and varying use of the term cis comes from the fact that people can change their gender self-identification more than once and because there are also individuals who find the male/female dichotomy itself to be too constraining. This includes (but is not limited to) intersexual individuals who have a genetic or physical makeup composed of both male and female elements.
        For further information, see the Cisgender entry in the Wikipedia at:

        See also:

CITIZENS — In American Bourgeois Democracy

“The United States retains the façade of democracy. It remains a democracy on paper and in our hearts. But ours is, increasingly, a citizenless democracy. In the interregnum between the Progressive Era and the New Deal, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis would write without irony that ‘the most important political office is that of the private citizen.’ Ninety years on, no one who is serious about the American scheme of things today would suggest, except for purposes of comedy, that the private citizen holds any position of importance. Oligarchs and their servants call the shots for the feudal serfs of corporate capital.”
         —Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready (2016), p. 116. [There is no doubt that ordinary people, especially from the working class, have essentially no influence or importance in the political system of
bourgeois democracies like the United States today. However, it is actually a romantic fantasy to think that they did back in the 1920s either! Social-democrats like McChesney and Nichols just do not grasp the essential nature of the capitalist state as the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. —Ed.]

The modern, massive social struggle in the United States striving to achieve equality of rights for people of all
“races” and nationalities. While focused especially on the struggle for equality and against all discrimination against Blacks, this movement has broadened over time to include struggle for social equality for many other categories of people who have been oppressed and discriminated against, including other nationalities such as Latinos and Native Americans, women, recent imigrants, people of LGBT+ sexual orientations, etc.
        This struggle has always existed in the U.S. since the beginning of the country—for the very good reason that oppression and discrimination against Blacks and other groups has existed from the beginning. But the modern Civil Rights Movement may be said to have begun in the 1960s. Through virtually contant struggle, though with times of massive surges and other times of reduced struggle, some gains have been made. But the overall struggle for social equality in America still continues. And Marxist-Leninist-Maoists understand very well that it cannot possibly be fully achieved while the capitalist-imperialist system still exists. Why? Because it is in the interests of the bourgeoisie to keep people divided, and to have categories of people who they can exploit to greater degrees than average.

“A Lexington, Kentucky, newspaper published a front-page clarification this week on the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. ‘It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement,’ the note said. ‘We regret the omission.’ The newspaper confessed that historic marches and sit-ins were usually ignored completely or buried in a column called ‘Colored Notes’.”   —“Only In America”, The Week, July 16, 2004, p. 6. [The ruling class has indeed tried to ignore or downplay struggles for justice at every step of the way. Even calling the great Black Liberation Struggle of the past half century the “Civil Rights Movement” is one way of doing this. —Ed.]

The sphere of society which takes up the middle ground between the private sphere of individuals and their families and the official sphere of the state. This includes the large number of voluntary organizations and associations,
NGOs, political parties, trade unions, professional associations, charities, churches and religious organizations, cultural and educational groups, etc. In bourgeois society it would seem that this should also include capitalist companies and corporations (though this is often downplayed or ignored), but it would also definitely include all the many organizations formally or informally representing the capitalists, such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, industry groups, lobbying organizations, numerous reactionary “think tanks”, and so forth.
        The general concept of civil society can be traced back to ancient times, but derives especially from the thinkers of the Enlightenment, and after that especially Hegel and Marx. It was also a prominent theme of Alexis de Tocqueville’s book, Democracy in America (1840). De Tocqueville contrasted the voluntary associations of Americans for private and public purposes with the domination of the state in Europe, and felt that this tended to help form Americans into a distinctive nation.
        However, in more recent times the notion of civil society has a much more pronounced bourgeois air to it. In bourgeois society bourgeois individuals, or at least bourgeois ideas, generally control or pervade most of the organizations and associations that make up civil society, as well as control the state. Despite this, civil society is presented as being somehow and in some way, qualitatively superior to the state. This is generally only really true for those relatively few parts of contemporary civil society that are controlled, or at least very strongly influenced, by the working class.
        The liberal bourgeois tradition treats civil society as in many ways superior to the state, since the state ultimately depends on force, whereas the organizations of civil society are voluntary. However, as Lenin said, the bourgeoisie rules by means of the gendarme and the priest. Both are means of class rule, even if force lies directly behind one method while “mere” ideological indoctrination lies behind the other. Where ideology fails, force begins. If you start from the perspective of the actual needs and interests of the working class and masses, rather than simply focusing on which method of bourgeois domination of society is “best”, then the supposed superiority of the civil society seems far less clear. And curiously, the bourgeoisie itself often rails against civil society—though not in those terms—as when they condemn the pervasive role of “special interest groups” (omitting any mention of course of the groups which represent their own “special interests”!).
        The fact is that both the bourgeois state and bourgeois civil society must be overthrown by the revolutionary proletariat! We will then construct our own revolutionary proletarian state and our own revolutionary proletarian civil society. (Some concessions will have to be made to the old civil society in order to maintain the unity of the masses, such as by allowing the continuance of religious groups provided they do not engage in counter-revolutionary activity.) Eventually, as socialism is transformed into communism and the proletarian state withers away, that proletarian socialist civil society will be itself further transformed into communist civil society.

“Judaism reaches its highest point with the perfection of civil society, but it is only in the Christian world that civil society attains perfection. Only under the dominance of Christianity, which makes all national, natural, moral, and theoretical conditions extrinsic to man, could civil society separate itself completely from the life of the state, sever all the species-ties of man, put egoism and selfish need in the place of these species-ties, and dissolve the human world into a world of atomistic individuals who are inimically opposed to one another.” —Marx, “On the Jewish Question” (Autumn 1843), a very early work by Marx, online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/ [Part of this passage has been elsewhere translated as that capitalist society “has torn up all genuine bonds between men and replaced them by selfishness, selfish need, and dissolved the world of men into a world of atomized individuals, hostile towards each other.”]

“The highest point attained by contemplative materialism, i.e., materialism which does not understand sensuousness as practical activity, is the outlook of single individuals in ‘civil society.’”
         —Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845), Thesis IX. First published by Engels as an appendix to his work Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy (1888). In the International Publishers 1941 edition (reprinted 1974), a footnote to this Thesis remarks: “Here not ‘bourgeois society,’ but ‘civil society’ [bürgerliche Gesellschaft], as in Hegel, in the sense of the totality of social (economic, personal, cultural, etc.) relations, as distinguished from the political organism, the state.”

“There is yet another major misconception–that ‘innocent’ people are being caught in the crossfire between the Naxalites and the police. First, this is not a fact. Secondly, the ‘people’ are not a homogeneous mass; the ruling elite and their hangers-on are with the state, while the masses of the oppressed are with the Naxalites. The former support state terror (as in the Salwa Judum), while the latter act together with the Maoists to resist such terror. The misconception of a homogeneous populace is linked to postmodernist thinking of a so-called ‘civil society’, which conceals class divisions within society. All the same, in conflicts involving state terror and the people’s resistance to it, there will be some sections not allied to either side, but the majority are polarised into two camps–a minority allied with the state, on the one hand, and the masses backing the Naxalites, on the other.” —Azad, spokesperson for the Communist Party of India (Maoist), “Maoists in India: A Rejoinder”, Economic and Political Weekly, October 14, 2006.


“Since the exploitation of one class by another is the basis of civilization, its whole development moves in a continuous contradiction. Every advance in production is at the same time a retrogression in the condition of the oppressed class, that is, of the great majority. What is a boon for the one is necessarily a bane for the other; each new emancipation of one class means a new oppression of another class.” —Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), MECW 26:275.

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index