Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Coa - Col   —

The sharing of a living unit by non-relatives, and more specifically by people who are initially strangers, in order to share the rent and thus reduce the cost of housing per person. Although co-living has been quite common among university students for a long time, as a result of the continually worsening economic crisis in the United States and around the world, it is now becoming more common among the rest of the population. While the cost of housing per person is reduced by co-living, it also has the effect of allowing landlords to raise the total rent being charged for the unit, and thus to rent apartments at the higher prices they could not otherwise get.

“Apartments carved up for co-living—a housing model that brings strangers together in a dormitory-like arrangement—can reap rents that are up to 50 percent higher than those involving typical layouts.” —New York Times, “As Rents Rise, Co-Living Makes a Comeback”, Nov. 2, 2022.

COBDEN, Richard   (1804-1865)
English capitalist manufacturer, economist and politician, who became well-known for his strong opposition to the “Corn Laws” (which taxed the importation of wheat into Britain, and thus raised the price of wheat in order to benefit British producers). “Cobdenism”, then, promoted international free trade, opposed British interference in other countries, and favored peace. The further development of British capitalist imperialism led to the growing acceptance of only the first part of this—free trade—but, at the same time, also led to the growing interference by British imperialism in other countries and ever stronger tendencies toward war.

Short for Combat Battalion for Resolute Action. This is yet another Indian government paramilitary force attempting to suppress the
Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries).


“The state is a sphere of coercion. It would be madness to renounce coercion, especially in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat...” —Lenin, “Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin” (Jan. 25, 1921), LCW 32:97-98.

CODE SWITCHING   [Linguistics]
Varying your use of language when speaking to different types of people, or in different situations, or on different topics, etc.

Internal psychological conflict which arises from incongruous ideas and beliefs held simultaneously. Thus the confusion which results from holding incompatible or incoherent ideas.
        Cognitive dissonance often develops for a period after someone initially changes their mind about some one important idea. For example, if a religious person abandons their irrational belief in God, they might for a time be confused about morality (assuming they previously thought that God’s word was the source of moral principles). Making one change in a person’s ideas often leads to a necessary cascade of further related changes, as the person switches from one general outlook to another, and tries to develop a new coherent overall worldview. Anybody who learns to seriously think at all has to go through this sort of thing. Thinking necessarily involves periods of confusion that take time and further thought and/or investigation to clear up.
        See also:

        1. [Original limited sense:] A method of work in the science of psychology which recognizes that behavior typically cannot be reasonably studied, explained and understood without reference to mental states and processes. Thus, a rejection of the naïve approach of
behaviorism in psychology.
        2. [More recent sense:] A further development of the basic idea in the first sense, which especially connects up psychology with conceptions and developments in recent work in the philosophy of mind, neurophysiology, and especially in computer science and artificial intelligence research. To a considerable degree, cognitive psychology today is in fact a partial merger of all these spheres of investigation, and is therefore now often referred to with the broader term cognitive science.
        The more recent conceptions of cognitive psychology, at least, tend to be strongly materialist; that is, while they recognize full well that in psychology we must refer to ideas, memories, intentions, attitudes, and many other mentalistic characteristics of humans and other animals, nevertheless all such mentalistic terms are themselves understood to be high-level references to states, operations, and processes within a physical brain. Therefore, despite the insistence of cognitive psychology on talking about the mind, mental states, and so forth, there is no longer any remaining tendency toward philosophical dualism in scientific psychology.

[In ethics:] The first big division among all the various ethical theories that have been developed over the centuries is between cognitivism and
non-cognitivism. Cognitivism holds that moral judgments are meaningful, and that they are either true or false. Non-cognitivism, incredibly, denies these facts! MLM Class Interest Ethics is of course a cognitive ethical theory. Thus we say a sentence such as “The U.S. imperialist war against Iraq is wrong!” is both clearly meaningful, and definitely true!

A secret program within the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the U.S. federal government to frame revolutionaries for crimes they didn’t commit, foment suspicions and conflict within revolutionary and radical groups, and blacken the reputations of revolutionaries with all sorts of false accusations and rumors. Although this sort of thing has gone on at one level or another within the government for well over a century and continues to happen today, the official COINTELPRO program ran from 1956 to 1971.

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States. The FBI used covert operations from its inception, however formal COINTELPRO operations took place between 1956 and 1971. The FBI’s stated motivation at the time was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”
         According to FBI records, 85% of COINTELPRO resources were expended on infiltrating, disrupting, marginalizing, and/or subverting groups suspected of being subversive, such as communist and socialist organizations; the women’s rights movement; militant black nationalist groups, and the non-violent civil rights movement, including individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, the American Indian Movement, and other civil rights groups; a broad range of organizations labeled “New Left”, including Students for a Democratic Society, the National Lawyers Guild, the Weathermen, almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, and even individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; and nationalist groups such as those “seeking independence for Puerto Rico.” The other 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert “white hate groups,” including the Ku Klux Klan and National States’ Rights Party.
         The directives governing COINTELPRO were issued by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who ordered FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. [From the Wikipedia entry on COINTELPRO.]

See also: GERONIMO PRATT,   RAINBOW COALITION,   and COINTELPRO: FBI’s War on Black America (1989) [high quality 50 min. documentary video by Denis Mueller & Deb Ellis (no longer available on the Internet as far as we know)].

The long post-World War II contention between United States imperialism (and its bloc) and the Soviet Union (and its bloc). This contention came very close to becoming an inter-imperialist nuclear war at several points, most notably during the
Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. But fortunately (and rather surprisingly!), all-out war did not happen. The contention was fierce, however, and involved a number of “proxy wars” by each side against the other, an enormous military arms race, major economic struggle, and so forth. During the first period (up until the mid-1950s), the Soviet Union was still a socialist country—though one with many serious defects—and from then on the Soviet Union was a social-imperialist country (i.e., socialist in name only, but capitalist-imperialist in actual fact). Thus most of the Cold War was an inter-imperialist contention between the two capitalist superpowers armed to the teeth. Humanity is lucky to have survived it!
        See also: NATIONAL SECURITY ACT OF 1947

COLE, G. D. H.   (1889-1959)
A self-described “guild socialist” or “libertarian socialist” best known as a historian of the various socialist and communist movements with his multi-volume work, A History of Socialist Thought.

As used by imperialist military machines, such as that of the United States: The killing of civilians in the course of military strikes against “enemy combatants”. This is extremely common, though its wide extent must of course be covered up to the maximum degree possible.
        There are two factors that especially lead to “collateral damage” being so vast: 1) The imperialists don’t give much of damn about the lives of other people, “innocent” or not. And 2) To the great extent that struggles against foreign imperialist military forces are
people’s wars, the masses of the people of a country (with the exception of a small number of traitors to the people) actually do become the enemy of the imperialists. And the imperialists quickly come to recognize this and begin purposefully attacking civilians as well as combatants. In a people’s war against the imperialists, the imperialist military forces virtually always become genocidal to one degree or another. And in that case, the occasional admission of “collateral damage” on their part is merely a cover for what is actually part of the ongoing genocide.
        In the event of an all-out inter-imperialist nuclear war, the “collateral damage” might easily amount to billions of people all around the world, especially within both of the imperialist nations at war. It is even possible now that the “collateral damage” could be the destruction of humanity in its entirety.

A type of financial security often composed of the riskier portions of mortgage-backed securities; i.e., a share in a package of bonds or mortgages which is most often created in order to hide the high-risk nature of these particular bonds or mortgages. Since the risks of the underlying debt are hidden from view, both credit rating agencies and investors can be fooled into treating these CDOs as more conservative and valuable investments than they really are. The financial institutions issuing the CDOs can therefore trick unsuspecting (but greedy) investors into buying very risky debt by promising high interest rates. Thus even in their actual purpose, CDOs are yet another form of capitalist financial fraud.
        See also:

Another type of
securitized financial derivative very similar to CDOs (see entry above), except that the securities are backed not by risky home mortgages but rather by risky loans taken out by over-extended corporations. Whereas the crash of CDOs starred in the 2008 financial crisis, the crash of CLOs is likely to star in the next financial crisis—which as of the autumn of 2018 is probably not very far in the future.

“A financial assembly line that went haywire a decade ago and contributed to an economic crisis is gearing up again on Wall Street.
        “Back then, one of the products the banks churned out—bondlike investments based on thousands of mortgages—proved far riskier than most banks, investors and regulators had expected when many borrowers couldn’t pay. The banking system froze, a financial panic ensued and the country experienced its worst recession in decades.
        “This time around, a similar kind of investment, called C.L.O.s, for collateralized loan obligations, are at the heart of the boom. And that’s not the only parallel: The loans are being made to risky borrowers, lending standards are dropping fast, and regulators are easing the rules....
        “C.L.O.s, which have been around since the mid-1990s, are a type of asset-backed security, which is, essentially, a kind of bond. But unlike a regular bond, in which a single company repays interest and principal to bondholders, they combine multiple repayment streams—thousands of monthly credit card, auto loan or mortgage payments, for example—and funnel them to investors.” —Matt Phillips, “Three Letters Wall Street Loves and We Should Fear”, New York Times, Oct. 21, 2018, p. BU-1.

“COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY” (In the Russian Village Commune)
VILLAGE COMMUNE—Collective Responsibility In

1. Living and working together as a group (as opposed to
individualism). (See also: JANTELOVEN)
2. An ethical theory based on the collective interests of groups of people (such as classes), rather than on the separate interests of individuals.


Colonialism, or the colonial system of imperialism, is the original and traditional form of
capitalist-imperialism, under which each imperialist power forcibly controls, governs and exploits other countries and regions as their own formal (or sometimes informal) colonial possessions. In the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century, the old and new imperialist powers—including Britain, France, Spain, the United States, Italy, Germany and Japan—carved up much of the world into their own colonies. This included most of Africa and large parts of Latin America and Asia. This was the dominant form of capitalist-imperialism up until the first two decades after World War II, during which period most colonies won at least their nominal independence. At that time a more camouflaged version of colonialism, called neocolonialism, became the dominant form of modern imperialism.
        Colonialism is to the advantage of the imperialist ruling class in the variety of ways in which it enables and promotes the extraction of superprofits from the colonial people. Within the home imperialist power, the capitalist system of exploitation is either the only system of exploitation existing, or at least by far the dominant method. That is, workers are hired and the commodities they produce then belong to the capitalist companies, which sell them for a profit. Within a colony this same capitalist system of exploitation can be used, but with much more forcible means of keeping wages low, banning or interfering with labor unions, lengthening the work day and intensifying labor in other ways, and so forth. Thus the rate of capitalist exploitation (the ratio of surplus value to variable capital [wages]), or s/v, can become substanially larger than in the home imperialist country itself. In the past, outright slavery or semi-feudal relations of production were also fairly common in colonies, even after they were long-since made illegal in the imperialist homeland. (And in some ways this has become even easier to get away with in more recent times because of the shift to neocolonialism, in which there is no single imperialist master to blame for such conditions).
        In addition to intensifying capitalist exploitation, other forms of exploitation are also easier to get away with in imperialist colonies, including outright theft—which is far more common than you might imagine. Often the lands and the biological and mineral wealth on or beneath them are simply stolen from the local people by powerful corporations. Then too, a colony can become a captive market for goods produced in the home country, thus enabling higher monopoly prices (and yet more superprofits). Colonies can also become the source for imperial troops, either to be used against the people of that colony or elsewhere in the world. There are indeed a great many ways for an imperialist power to exploit a colony or neo-colony!
        There are, however, some serious disadvantages and drawbacks for an imperialist power to own colonies outright. The biggest of these is the need to constantly try to keep the people under control. Imperial wars to hang on to colonies can become very expensive in terms of money and the lives of imperial soldiers (which leads to political dangers for the ruling imperialists in their home country). For reasons like these, as well as the need to allow other imperialists “a piece of the action” (as an alternative to inter-imperialist war), world imperialism has mostly switched over to neocolonialism rather than open colonial possessions exclusively owned by individual imperialist countries.

COLONY [Imperialist]
A country or territory owned, controlled and economically exploited by the ruling class of another (
imperialist) country. In the early period of capitalist-imperialism (from the late 19th century up until World War II), the possession and exploitation of outright colonies was the dominant form of modern imperialism. However, after World War II a variation of capitalist-imperialism, known as neocolonialism, became the dominant form. Unlike colonies, neocolonies are not typically controlled and exploited by just a single imperialist country, but rather in a somewhat more hidden and indirect fashion by multiple imperialist predators, and hence by the imperialist system as a whole.

“Europe needs colonies. She does not even have enough. Without colonies, from an economic point of view, we shall sink to the level of China.” —Eduard David, a German Social-Democrat, during the colonial period of imperialism, and illustrating the strong support for imperialism by revisionists. Quoted in Robert Clough, Labour: A Party Fit for Imperialism (London: 1992), p. 41.

Coltan is an ore which is a blend of minerals (columbite and tantalite) which are rich in the valuable elements niobium and tantalum. These elements are now in wide demand for the construction of cell phones and other electronic equipment.
        Although coltan exists in many places in the world, and China is the largest producer, much of it now also comes from Africa (especially the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda), and other countries victimized by imperialism in Latin America and Asia. There are many outrageous cases of child labor, forced labor, super-exploitation, extremely dangerous working conditions, and other atrocious situations in these mining regions, including militias backed by different imperialist powers fighting over this wealth. On top of this, there are many serious and growing environmental problems related to this mining. Coltan mining is a clear example of the horrors of modern capitalist-imperialism at large in the world today.

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index