Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

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Because of its growing size, this file has been split into these separate files:

  • DA.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Da-Dd.
  • DE.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters De-Dh.
  • DI.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Di-Dn.
  • DO.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Do-Dq.
  • DR.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Dr-Dt.
  • DU.htm — Words and phrases starting with the letters Du-Dz.

Although this older “D.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.

[From Hindi and related languages, ‘dakaiti’:] A term often used in English in India for armed robbery or banditry. More fully: the criminal activity of gangs of armed bandits, including not only armed robbery but also often murder and other crimes. Dacoit is the word for an individual bandit.

An armed squad. This is a term frequently used in India for small revolutionary guerrilla squads.

[Sometimes not capitalized.] The newer name in India and South Asia for what were once called the “Untouchables” or the “Scheduled Castes”. Unlike those terms, Dalit is the name used by these people to refer to themselves, and means “the crushed” or “the oppressed”. Traditionally they have been landless and restricted to the worst and poorest paying jobs. Because these people have been so victimized by the Hindu caste system, many of them in modern times have converted to Buddhism or Christianity.
        See also:

DALTON, John   (1766-1844)
The developer of the modern atomic theory in science, and thus one of the founders of the science of chemistry. He also made contributions to meteorology and the physics of gases.

DARWIN, Charles   (1809-1882)
English naturalist and primary creator of the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. He was one of the most important and most influential of all scientists in history. Marxism, of course, enthusiastically embraces evolutionary science, and sees in its materialist explanations for the origin of species some important additional verification of its whole philosophical outlook.
        See also:

DAVIS, Angela   (1944-   )
Prominent African-American revisionist who was a long-time member of the so-called
Communist Party USA, and then later split off with a CPUSA faction to form the Committees of Correspondence.

A violent demonstration, or riot, organized and led by the “Weathermen” (later
Weather Underground Organization) faction of the Students for a Democratic Society in Chicago on October 8, 1969, and two days later. This demonstration was against the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam and was timed to coincide with the Chicago Seven trial. The organizing slogan was “Bring the war home!”, and the organizers hoped to create massive chaos in Chicago with many thousands of protesters causing widespread havoc. They expected this to start to “wake up” the American population to the vicious imperialist war going on, and to be the first step in a growing series of destructive and chaotic demostrations by students and others which would eventually force the U.S. to withdraw from Vietnam. One of the organizers, Bill Ayers, said much later that

“The Days of Rage was an attempt to break from the norms of kind of acceptable theatre of ‘here are the anti-war people: containable, marginal, predictable, and here’s the little path they’re going to march down, and here’s where they can make their little statement.’ We wanted to say, ‘No, what we’re going to do is whatever we had to do to stop the violence in Vietnam.’” [From the documentary The Weather Underground, produced by Carrie Lozano and directed by Bill Siegel and Sam Green, 2003.]

The organizers expected many thousands of protesters to come, but only two or three hundred actually showed up. Nevertheless they went ahead, first by rampaging through the afluent Gold Coast neighborhood, smashing the windows of a bank and many cars. After a few blocks they ran into a police barracade which they charged. More than a thousand police counter-attacked, and at least twice the cops purposefully ran squad cars directly into groups of protestors. The whole riot lasted only about half an hour, during which 6 Weathermen were shot by the police and a large number were injured. 68 rioters were arrested and 28 police were injured.
        Shortly before that demonstration/riot, the Weathermen had blown up a statue honoring the police. Two days later, they staged another violent demonstration of about 300 people which broke through police lines and smashed the windows of cars and stores in the downtown Chicago Loop area. Within 15 minutes more than half of the crowd had been arrested, including most of the leaders of the Weathermen.
        While the motives of the protesters (opposing the imperialist war and attempting to stop it) were admirable, this sort of “propaganda by the deed” turned out to be highly counter-productive. It did not serve to turn the American masses against the war; on the contrary, it served more to turn many of them against the students and the anti-war movement. It is not that violence is necessarily wrong, but people should be smart enough to only use it when there is good reason to believe it will advance a good cause. The Weathermen were so out of touch with the masses that they could not understand this. They were even quite out of touch with the thinking of most of the members of SDS itself, which is why they expected so many more members to show up at the demonstration. And, finally, this sort of pointless hooliganism, along with the destructive penetration of the Progressive Labor Party into SDS, ended up destroying that important organization, and seriously harming the student, anti-war, and revolutionary movements as a whole.


A false or merely temporary recovery in the stock market or in some other form of bourgeois financial speculation. Typically in a major crisis there is a huge stock market crash fairly early in the process, and then a long period of further, more gradual decline. But some speculators (“investors”) will have money on hand from earlier stock sales or from other sources and will assume that the crisis is not really as bad as it is. They will want to buy stocks near their low prices in order to “make a killing” as the market recovers. Often they are so anxious not to miss this “golden opportunity” for a speculator that they will jump in at the first glimmer of hope that there is a stock market turn around, and will thus promote a short-term, false recovery. When it becomes clear that the crisis is continuing and is much more serious than these particular speculators imagined, the market will resume its fall and they will lose additional money. The more serious the economic crisis, the more “dead cat bounces” there will be until the stock market more or less stabilizes for a long period at a quite low level.

DEATH SPIRAL (In Insurance Industry)

An irregular armed group, normally composed of elements either in the direct pay of the military or “security” establishment, or else having close ties with them, that is tasked with eliminating people that the ruling class of a particular state (usually a “Third World” dictatorship) finds bothersome. Death squads became a hallmark of the Latin American regimes—particularly in El Salvador and Guatemala—that were backed and armed by the United States government during the 1970s and 1980s.
        The “unofficial” nature of death squads is designed to afford the regime that employs them a degree of “plausible deniability”. Thus these regimes can exact violence on their opponents while claiming that the killings and other atrocities are perpetrated by elements that are “out of control”. The
Salwa Judum in India currently acts much like a death squad for the Indian state and its landlord backers against the Naxalites (Maoist guerrillas) and their supporters. Death squads also continue to operate in Colombia under the guise of right-wing paramilitary groups linked to the official military, who are fighting a war against nominally Marxist guerrillas called the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The use of death squads is one example of terrorism that is employed by the bourgeoisie to intimidate and suppress proletarian and peasant movements fighting for justice. —L.C.

DEBORIN, Abram [Abram Moiseyevich Ioffe]   (1881-1963)
Influential Soviet philosopher whose views led to considerable ideological debate and criticism in the 1920s and 1930s.
        Deborin became a Bolshevik in 1903, but in 1907 joined the Mensheviks as one of
Plekhanov’s followers in both politics and philosophy. He received a degree from the philosophy department of Bern University in Switzerland in 1908. After the October Revolution in 1917, Deborin left the Mensheviks and began lecturing in philosophy at Sverdlov University, the Institute of Red Professors and the Institute of Philosophy. He was soon given some editorial responsibilities at the philosophy journal Under the Banner of Marxism, and was the editor in chief from 1926 to 1931. One of the major campaigns of the journal during this period was the ideological struggle against religion and idealism in Soviet life. In 1928 Deborin was admitted into the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
        Deborin was one of the early promoters of the term dialectical materialism (first used by Plekhanov in 1891 and by Lenin in 1894) as the designation for Marxist philosophy, and published an article with this title in 1909. Lenin read this article and was evidently quite unimpressed with its contents, though he did not make extensive comments on it. [See LCW 38:477-485]
        In 1923 Deborin published one of the few serious studies of Ludwig Feuerbach that was written in the Soviet Union. He greatly overstated his case that Feuerbach was an important philosopher by saying at the end of the first edition that Marxism itself is a variety of “Feuerbachism” (a claim dropped in subsequent editions).
        Deborin led one of the two main trends in Marxist philosophy in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s, the trend that was called the “dialecticians” (or, later when it was criticized, the “Deborinists”). This trend promoted Hegelian-style dialectics, which often had an idealist flavor to it. The other trend, called the “mechanists”, was led by Lyubov Axelrod who used the pen name “Orthodox”. Nikolai Bukharin was viewed as an ally of the “mechanists”, though he had some differences with them. The “dialecticians” emphasized the role of dialectics in dialectical materialism, whereas the “mechanists” tended to downplay dialectics and emphasized the role of materialism in Marxist philosophy. Some of the mechanists went so far as to deny the existence of any separate and distinctive Marxist philosophy; they, instead, simply viewed natural science as the worldview of Marxism. Thus it appears that Deborin was overall more correct in this dispute than were his opponents, though there seems to have been one-sidedness and error on his part as well. In particular, though Deborin championed dialectics, it seems that there were some serious idealist aspects to his conception of dialectics. [See for example the Mao quotations below.]
        Deborin and his followers demanded that Marxist philosophy should guide scientific research, which is actually a correct stance in a Marxist-led society. However, there are serious dangers associated with this policy if it is applied simplistically and dogmatically. This later became all too apparent in the form of Lysenkoism.
        On January 25, 1931, Stalin and the Central Committee of the CPSU issued a statement establishing an orthodoxy in the Soviet Union as to how dialectical materialism was to be viewed, and criticizing Deborin as a “Menshevizing idealist”. (This official doctrine was later further codified in Stalin’s 1938 article “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”.) One of the specific criticisms of Deborin was that he had distorted the relationship of Marx and Marxism to Feuerbach.
        After this criticism Deborin wrote and published fewer and fewer works, and then almost nothing between 1935 and 1956. From 1935 to 1945, however, he was a member of the prestigious Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. During the Khrushchev period his articles began to reappear, and in 1961 a major collection of his articles was published.

“The criticism to which the idealism of the Deborin school has been subjected in Soviet philosophical circles in recent years has aroused great interest among us. Deborin’s idealism has exerted a very bad influence in the Chinese Communist Party, and it cannot be said that the dogmatist thinking in our Party is unrelated to the approach of that school. Our present study of philosophy should therefore have the eradication of dogmatist thinking as its main objective.” —Mao, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW 1:311.

“Thus it is already clear that contradiction exists universally and in all processes, whether in the simple or in the complex forms of motion, whether in objective phenomena or ideological phenomena. But does contradiction also exist at the initial stage of each process? Is there a movement of opposites from beginning to end in the process of development of every single thing?
         “As can be seen from the articles written by Soviet philosophers criticizing it, the Deborin school maintains that contradiction appears not at the inception of a process but only when it has developed to a certain stage. If this were the case, then the cause of the development of the process before that stage would be external and not internal. Deborin thus reverts to the metaphysical theories of external causality and of mechanism. Applying this view in the analysis of concrete problems, the Deborin school sees only differences but not contradictions between the kulaks and the peasants in general under existing conditions in the Soviet Union, thus entirely agreeing with Bukharin. In analyzing the French Revolution, it holds that before the Revolution there were likewise only differences but not contradictions within the Third Estate, which was composed of the workers, the peasants and the bourgeoisie. These views of the Deborin school are anti-Marxist. This school does not understand that each and every difference already contains contradiction and that difference itself is contradiction. Labor and capital have been in contradiction ever since the two classes came into being, only at first the contradiction had not yet become intense. Even under the social conditions existing in the Soviet Union, there is a difference between workers and peasants and this very difference is a contradiction, although, unlike the contradiction between labor and capital, it will not become intensified into antagonism or assume the form of class struggle; the workers and the peasants have established a firm alliance in the course of socialist construction and are gradually resolving the contradiction in the course of the advance from socialism to communism. The question is one of different kinds of contradiction, not of the presence or absence of contradiction. Contradiction is universal and absolute, it is present in the process of development of all things and permeates every process from beginning to end. —Mao, “On Contradiction” (Aug. 1937), SW 1:317-318.

DEBS, Eugene Victor   (1855-1926)
Originally a conservative American labor leader who became quite radicalized by his experiences seeking fairness and justice for railroad workers. He resigned from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and in 1893 founded the American Railway Union, an industrial-style union along the lines of the later CIO. While in jail for 6 months in 1895 for leading a strike, he read the Communist Manifesto for the first time and his thinking began gradually shifting toward socialism. As the new Socialist Party of America took shape Debs became a prominent leader, and then a leader of the left wing of the Party. He ran for President on behalf of the Socialist Party five times. In 1912 he won amost a million votes, about 6% of the total cast. In 1905 Debs also took part in organizing the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
        When World War I started in Europe Debs took a strong stand against American participation, and this firm opposition to the war continued after the U.S. entered it. In one of his speeches he said:

“I am not a capitalist soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war with heart and soul, and that is the world wide war of the social revolution. In that war, I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary, even to the barricades.” [Quoted in the Encyclopedia of the American Left (1990), p. 186.]

The bourgeoisie could not tolerate that sort of firm opposition, and Debs was arrested for sedition in June 1918 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. While in prison Debs was once again the Socialist Party candidate for President. His followers wore buttons which proclaimed “Vote for Prisoner 9653”. And many people did vote for him. He received more than 900,000 votes, almost as many as in 1912.
        When the Bolshevik Revolution occurred in Russia in 1917, Debs came out as an enthusiastic supporter of it. He was a great American revolutionary socialist leader.

[Intro to be added...]
        The graph at the right shows the ratio of all forms of debt in the United States to the size of the economy (GDP). This includes mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and all other types of consumer debt; business debt; and government debt.
        See also:

“The ‘crack cocaine’ of our generation appears to be debt. We just can’t seem to get enough of it. And, every time it looks like the U.S. consumer may be approaching his maximum tolerance level, somebody figures out how to lever on even more debt using some new and more complex financing. For years, I have watched this levering up process, often noting that it was taking an ever increasing amount of debt to produce a dollar’s worth of GDP growth.” —Jeff Saut, capitalist financier, Sept. 2007. From Kevin Phillips, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008).
         [Note that in fact the debt bubble could not really keep expanding for ever, even though it appeared for a time to some boosters of debt that it might! And the problem was not the tolerance level of consumers for ever expanding debt, but rather the tolerance level for the capitalists who were loaning ever more money to consumers. It eventually became clear to them that much of this debt was never going to be paid back. That’s when the bubble began to burst. —S.H.]

A term coined by the early 20th century bourgeois economist Irving Fisher to refer to the situation where the price of commodities is falling faster than debts are being reduced, which thus has the effect of increasing the effective debt burden (because existing debts must be repaid with money that is gaining in value relative to commodities). This is a common phenomenon in severe capitalist overproduction crises and their accompanying financial crises.

The ratio of the all the debt in a country to its annual
Gross Domestic Product. This is one of the key indicators of whether or not a country’s debt has become dangerously large. [See graph to the above right for the history of this ratio in the U.S.]
        The ratio of just government debt to GDP is another important indicator of the economic stability of a country. As of the spring of 2010 the highest governmental debt to GDP ratio in the advanced capitalist countries is that of Japan which has surpassed 190% and is still rapidly growing. That ratio would be totally disastrous in most countries, but since most of Japan’s government debt is owed to Japanese citizens and corporations, it is somewhat less dangerous than it would otherwise be. Nevertheless it is has become quite alarming and is probably not sustainable for much longer.
        The debt to GDP ratio has become dangerously high in many countries but is still growing fast almost everywhere. A new phase in the developing world economic crisis will occur when it becomes impossible for one or more major countries to continue to expand their government debt. The Greek debt crisis of May 2010 was just a forewarning of what is to come on a much grander scale.

The comparative ratios of debt to GDP and goods production to GDP, as they develop over time. In the graph at the right we see that in the U.S. economy debt has been climbing ever faster in relation to GDP, while the production of goods (as opposed to financial and other services) has been falling as a percentage of GDP. [From: John Bellamy Foster & Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis (2009), p. 20.] This was a sure sign of impending financial crisis.

Revolutionaries of the Russian nobility who opposed the autocratic monarchy and serfdom. They organized an unsuccessful revolt in December 1825.

DECENTRALIZATION — In a Socialist Economy
[To be added... ]

A skeptical and often anti-intellectual movement in contemporary bourgeois philosophy, founded by the French philosopher
Jacques Derrida, and one of the trends within what is called postmodernism. The goal seems to be to disprove the possibility of any coherent meaning or theory in any sphere. There is claimed to be no privileged position—not even the scientific contact with reality!—that makes any “text” (written work) significant or true.
        The approach is to “interpret” all philosophical or other intellectual “texts” by trying to “deconstruct” (dissect) them to bring out their incoherence, inconsistencies, false assumptions, prejudices, hidden agendas and false conclusions. While critical examinations of any work are of course necessary and justified, at the hands of the deconstructionists they are almost entirely negative procedures. They rarely put forward any positive views or try to defend correct views against unjustified attacks. This is why deconstructionism is mostly a cynical, nihilist method. The tacit assumption is that nothing is really correct or valid!
        Moreover, in practice, the “texts” chosen for examination, and the deconstructionist examination of them, are both generally esoteric and extremely obscure. Strange terms and coinages are used, and it is often the case that neither the text itself nor the deconstruction of it is very intelligible. On top of this, often snide comments, puns and jokes are put forward as if they were serious, thoughtful arguments. As a result, deconstructionism itself does not deserve to be taken seriously.

A mode of argument, or reasoning, which starts from a set of premises and seeks to draw a conclusion from them. If the conclusion is drawn in accordance with the laws of formal logic, the argument is said to be valid. If, in addition, the premises are known to be true, the argument is said to be sound.
        See also:

[To be added... ]

“Philosophy is often diverted by the definition of words, etc. Everything all categories are affected.” —Lenin, “Conspectus on Aristotle’s Book Metaphysics” (1915), LCW 38:367. [I take it that Lenin is saying or implying here that much (but not all!) philosophical confusion, disagreement and error is the result of differing or confused definitions of terms among those disagreeing. It seems to me that this is certainly true. On the other hand, some people—especially many bourgeois analytic or “linguistic” philosophers—have claimed that positively all philosophical disagreement can be traced back to confusion or differences about definitions, which is certainly false. —S.H.]

DEFLATION   (Economics)
A contraction in the amount of money and/or credit available in an economy (relative to the mass of commodities available for sale) which leads to a general fall in prices. Although there were long deflationary periods in capitalist economies in the 19th century, during both boom periods and recessions, most contemporary bourgeois economists believe that deflation is very dangerous and self-reinforcing. For this reason they try to prevent it by moderately inflating the currency (or what they sometimes call “
        See also: INFLATION

“DEFLATIONARY GAP” (In Capitalist Production)
This is a term sometimes used by bourgeois economists and journalists to describe the situation where total
effective demand falls short of what an economy produces. (Of course we Marxists understand that this would always be the case if it were not for the constant expansion of consumer and government debt!) But the idea here is that when there is an excess of goods on the market, the capitalists will be forced to lower their prices in order to try to sell the excess production, and will also lay off workers or cut wages in an effort to keep their profits up. Fewer employed workers, and workers with less income, in turn means a further drop in demand in sort of a vicious circle, which leads to further deflationary pressures. The so-called “deflationary gap” itself is the shortfall in effective demand which leads to this deflationary spiral.

A significant decline in the level of industrialization of some region or country, and/or the shift from manufacturing to producing services. Some bourgeois economists claim this is actually a good thing, and that the transformation of an economy toward more services, especially financial services, shows its “maturity”. In reality, it shows the parasitic nature of
finance capitalism, and foreshadows an extremely serious economic crisis.

[Capitalist finance:] The repayment (often forced) of debt which has been acquired in order to expand the amount of money invested, or to directly expand the amount employed in the continuation or expansion of capitalist production.
Leveraging means using borrowed money to speculate (“invest”) or in order for a capitalist to continue or expand production beyond what is possible through the use of his own profits. Sometimes when a loan comes due it is impossible to “roll it over” (extend it for an additional period), or to obtain an alternative loan. This is especially apt to occur during a financial crisis. In such a situation there is a forced deleveraging, or in other words a forced reduction in credit that itself has an additional negative impact on the economy. Just as leveraging can promote the more rapid expansion of the economy during a boom, deleveraging can develop into a vicious cycle which serves to more rapidly unwind an economy and bring it to its knees during and following a financial crisis.

“Deleveraging is an ugly word for a painful process. But few things matter more for the world economy than whether, and how fast, the rich world’s borrowing is cut back. History suggests that severe financial crises are usually followed by long periods of debt reduction—in which credit falls relative to the size of the economy. This time, too, that process is under way. Banks have been furiously reducing leverage. Consumer credit in America has fallen for ten consecutive months, the largest and longest drop on record....
         “[In an extensive study of numerous past cases of deleveraging] the deleveraging came through a prolonged period of belt-tightening, where credit grew more slowly than output. The message from these episodes is sobering. Typically deleveraging began about two years after the beginning of the financial crisis and lasted for six to seven years. In almost every case output shrank for the first two or three years of the process...
         “Worse, there are several reasons why today’s mess could be more protracted than previous episodes. First, the scale of the indebtedness is higher.... Second, the number of countries afflicted simultaneously means that rapid expansions of exports, which have supported output in the past, are harder to achieve. Third, big increases in public debt, while cushioning demand in the short term, increase the overall debt reduction that will eventually be needed.... Investors may worry about the sustainability of public debt long before private-debt reduction is over, forcing a lot of belts to be tightened at once. The most painful bits of deleveraging could well lie ahead.” —“Economic Focus: Digging Out of Debt”, The Economist, Jan. 16, 2010, p. 76.

DELINQUENCY RATE   [Capitalist Finance]
The number of loans on which borrowers fail to make timely loan payments divided by the total number of loans under consideration.


“... I will never tire of repeating that demagogues are the worst enemies of the working class. The worst enemies, because they arouse base instincts in the masses, because the unenlightened worker is unable to recognize his enemies in men who represent themselves, and sometimes sincerely so, as his friends. The worst enemies, because in the period of disunity and vacillation, when our movement is just beginning to take shape, nothing is easier than to employ demagogic methods to mislead the masses, who can realize their error only later by bitter experience.” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:463.

[Greek: demiurgos, meaning “craftsman”. Usually capitalized when used as the name of a god.]
        1. [In Plato’s idealist philosophy as presented in his dialogue Timaeus:] The subordinate deity who fashions the world of the senses on the basis of the eternal Forms or Ideas.
        2. [In Gnostic religious philosophy:] The subordinate deity who is the creator of the world and the originator of imperfection and evil (thus supposedly letting God off the hook!).
        3. An autonomous creative force or decisive power who fashions something into its eventual form.

[To be added... ]
        See also:

DEMOCRACY — As a Means to an End
“Democracy sometimes seems to be an end, but it is in fact only a means.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, vol. 10, #1, Jan. 1, 1967, p. 13. But what ends then is it a means to? Widespread and genuine democracy is one of the primary means by which the proletariat and the broad masses become able to satisfy their own material and non-material interests, including their highest political interest, to further revolutionize society, to overthrow the capitalist system, and to create first socialism, and then communism. Democracy is valuable first of all, and above all, because it is an indispensable means to this end.




DEMOCRACY — Within Revolutionary Parties
[To be added...]

Democratic centralism is the central organizational principle in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties. Within socialist society democratic centralism is also implemented among the people as a whole—though of necessity in a somewhat looser fashion.
        The core centralist elements of democratic centralism within the Party were summed up by Mao this way:

“We must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely:
          (1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;
          (2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;
          (3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and
          (4) the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee.
       “Whoever violates these articles of discipline disrupts Party unity.”
        —Mao, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, section “XXVI. Discipline”, 1st ed. (1966), p. 255. Edited wording from the original source in “The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War” (Oct. 1938), SW2:203-4.

However, those who seem to believe that these are the only basic elements of democratic centralism are ignoring or rejecting the equally important core democratic elements within this organizational principle (in addition to majority rule). Both among the masses and within the Party people do have the right and even the obligation to form their own ideas, raise suggestions and criticisms, and to reserve their views even if they cannot be convinced through argument that they are wrong about something.

“It seems that some of our comrades still don’t understand democratic centralism....
       “There should be full democracy both inside and outside the Party, that is, democratic centralism should be practised in earnest in both spheres. Problems should be brought out into the open frankly and masses allowed to speak out, speak out even if we are going to be abused.” —Mao, “Talk at an Enlarged Working Conference Convened by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” (Jan. 30, 1962), which appeared in Peking Review, #27 (July 7, 1978) [online at:

Those who understand only the centralist elements of democratic centralism don’t really understand what democratic centralism is for! To sum it up in a single sentence: Democratic centralism is the organizational principle that allows people to work together in a unified fashion toward a common goal, even when they have different individual ideas about what should be done! Intelligent people consciously and willingly put themselves under the centralist or disciplinary aspects of democratic centralism even knowing that some mistakes will be made because they understand that this will overall and in general tremendously help the Party and the working class as a whole work in a united way and make revolution. This makes perfect sense as long as we have confidence in the masses, and confidence in that specific Party, to eventually correct any mistakes they do make along the way.
        The profound idea behind democratic centralism is that only the working class and the Party working together in a (more-or-less) unified fashion have the power to change the world, and that if we are serious about changing the world we have to often subordinate our own individual or small group ideas about what to do to those of the majority and the Party leadership. Even in those occasional cases where we have good reason to think they are wrong and we as individuals or the minority have better ideas, it is still better to follow the majority and the leadership in order to preserve our overall unity of action.
        It must be said, however, that what has historically been called “democratic centralism” by many parties has actually been far more centralist than democratic. The democratic aspect of democratic centralism has all too often been downplayed, if not entirely eliminated. This has especially been the case in revisionist parties and in cult-like parties on the “left” (such as the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA), neither of which values any independence of mind among its members or among the masses. Unfortunately, the same was largely true in Stalin’s Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
        However, Lenin and Mao understood very well that the independence of mind among the membership of a revolutionary party is not a negative thing, but actually a very good thing—providing it can be arranged so that these different ideas do not disrupt the Party’s ability to lead the masses in struggle against the enemy. And that is the purpose of true democratic centralism.

“An individual sometimes wins over the majority. This is because truth is sometimes in one person’s hands only. Truth is sometimes in the hands of a minority, as when Marxism was in Marx’s hands alone. Lenin said that you have to have the spirit of going against the current. Party committees at every level ought to consider views from many quarters; they ought to listen to the opinion of the majority and also those of the minority and others. There ought to be created within the Party an atmosphere of speaking out and of correcting shortcomings.” —Mao, “Talk at the Seventh Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee”, April 1959, Miscellany of Mao Tsetung Thought, (Arlington, VA: Joint Publications Research Service, 1974), p. 176.

Only those who favor both independence of mind on the part of individual Party members and the masses and also unified action on the part of the Party and the masses as a whole (and which is not impaired by this widespread independence of thought), understand the real reason why genuine democratic centralism is so important and so absolutely necessary.
        See also: UNITE—Don’t Split

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM — Bourgeois Conceptions Of
        1. The preservation of orthodoxy: An organizational principle designed to secure and preserve the virtually absolute acceptance of, and genuine agreement with, all the ideas and positions of the top leaders of a political party.
        In reality the purpose of genuine democratic centralism (D-C) is not to secure total agreement and total unity of ideas of the membership of the party with those of the leadership, but rather to allow (and even encourage!) differences of opinion while nevertheless securing the genuine willingness and determination of the members to try their best to implement the political line among the masses which was determined by the leadership of the party. (Critics of D-C completely fail to understand this important difference.)
        2. The absence of any real democracy: The total despotism of the leadership of a party over the membership, with no genuine democratic input from the masses and the membership to the leaders, and no obligation whatsoever of the leadership to listen to the ideas and desires of the masses and the membership.
        As noted in the main entry on democratic centralism above, there have been parties which have actually operated in somewhat this way, and which have totally distorted D-C in this way. We Marxist-Leninist-Maoists reject and denounce this total negation of democratic centralism.
        3. To enforce party discipline: The principles of democratic centralism summarized by Mao in the entry above do definitely state that the minority is subordinate to the majority, that the lower bodies of the party are subordinate to the higher bodies, and that the whole party is subordinate to the Central Committee. This does of course present a system of party discipline.
        However this party discipline exists for a definite political purpose: To allow the party to act in a unified collective way even though its members will have their own individual ideas about the best way to proceed in any situation. To say that the point of D-C is to enforce party discipline is to disingenuously ignore the real political point of it.
        4. Existing for security purposes: Another eroneous conception of democratic centralism, which is actually more often put forward by young revolutionaries who haven’t yet grasped the basic political reason for D-C rather than by academic bourgeois critics of Leninism, is that its central purpose is to help keep the leadership, membership, and organizational structure of the party protected from ruling class spying and attacks.
        Of course any revolutionary party does have to seriously concern itself with security issues, since the enemy seeks to disrupt our work among the masses, and even—at times—to arrest or kill us. The party will need to have secure channels of communications between its members and between its leaders and membership. In will likely need to operate on a “need to know” basis, with regard to organizational structure, who precisely are members in other areas of work, and so forth. Lenin remarked that the first reason for the existence of the party is so that revolutionaries will know who they can fully trust in helping them to carry out their work. [July 1, 1921; LCW 32:474] Having genuine D-C and a firm discipline within a party can of course greatly help promote better security. However, this is not the primary purpose of D-C. To repeat once again, the revolutionary party requires democratic centralism so that different people, who inevitably have somewhat different ideas about what to do, can settle on a unified plan of action (while reserving their own individual opinions) and work together in the most effective way to advance the revolution.
        If the primary purpose of democratic centralism within some party is for security, then it will almost inevitably be a false D-C, with a downplaying of its political purpose, and most likely the negation of the democratic aspect of genuine D-C. This is what happened in the RU/RCP, for example, as the following quote brings out. (And moreover, in the RU/RCP even the security focus was a dismal failure.):

“The RU/RCP prided itself, and had among the wider left, a certain reputation for a solid security culture. Certainly the remarks of people like Larry Goff, on its rigorous discipline are telling. The paradox, of course, is that this came from Goff, the informant [to the FBI]. Indeed for all its extolling of discipline and adhering to democratic centralism, it was too often the case—and this from the very beginning—that the two entities with the fullest understanding of the group were the small number of leaders at the top of the organization and the FBI. While such principles of discipline could be effective, in potential, in keeping certain matters secret, the fact of informants at the top of the organization meant that such practices were too often nothing more than an exercise. Worse it created the perilous situation where RU/RCP cadre and supporters knew far less about the group than the Bureau did.” —Aaron Leonard & Connor Gallagher, Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists (2014), p. 248.
        [For our purposes here, what is most noteworthy is not the incompentence of the RU/RCP in selecting their leadership and in keeping government spies out, but rather the implicit conception of democratic centralism as being for the purpose of security. In my opinion this not only reflects the view of the authors of this book, it also of the leaders of the RU/RCP itself. That organization never understood and promoted the essential role of democracy in true democratic centralism, and—indeed—never really understood the basic political purpose of democratic centralism at all. —S.H.]

So-called “democratic socialism” is in fact neither
socialism nor truly democratic. It is another name for what in Europe is called “social democracy”, or in other words, capitalism with some superficial (and temporary) welfare reforms. Originally, “democratic socialism” or “social democracy” also meant that the capitalist state nationalized some major industries such as steel and railroads; in other words, the term originally referred to a mixed form of capitalism with both private industry and a sphere of state capitalism. Both spheres, private corporations and state-owned industries, were nevertheless under the total control of the capitalist ruling class, and functioned primarily for their individual or collective benefit. Over time, state capitalism proved to be even less useful (and less profitable) to the ruling class than private monopoly capitalism, so in recent decades those who still call themselves “democratic socialists” no longer even support the partial bourgeois nationalization of industry. The only mystery is why they still want to call themselves “socialists” at all! Perhaps it is part of their continuing need to fool the masses about what socialism really is.

“I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.” —Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a “democratic socialist”, in a speech a Georgetown University, Nov. 19, 2015, online at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/11/20/how-bernie-sanders-is-mainstreaming-democratic-socialism/?tid=a_inl

DEMOCRITUS of Abdera [in Thrace]   (c. 460-c. 370 BCE)
Early Greek materialist philosopher who championed the view that the world consists ultimately of minute indivisible atoms whose movement and combination required no supernational forces.
        The germ of this idea goes back to his teacher Leucippus, and before him to Anaxagoras. But Democritus worked the idea out further and gave some strong philosophical arguments in support of the atomic theory. It was more than 2 millennia later that the early chemist John Dalton began to provide experimental evidence in support of the existence of atoms, and it was not until the early 20th century that Einstein’s explanation for Brownian motion finally overcame the remaining scientific and philosophical arguments against the existence of molecules and atoms. Of course it is now also known that ordinary atoms, which are indeed ordinarily indivisible, can themselves be split in two under very special conditions.

[To be added...]
        See also:

DENG Xiaoping   (Old style: Teng Hsiao-p’ing)   (1904-1997)
Capitalist-roader within the Chinese Communist Party, who after Mao’s death led the revisionist dismantling of socialism in China and the return to capitalism.
        [More to be added.]

“This person does not grasp class struggle; he has never referred to this key link. Still his theme of ‘white cat, black cat,’ making no distinction between imperialism and Marxism.” —Mao, speaking of Deng Xiaoping, quoted in Chin Chih-po, “Denial of the Difference Between Socialism and Capitalism is Not Allowed: Repudiate the Theme about ‘White Cat, Black Cat’”, Peking Review, #16, April 16, 1976), p. 18. Online at http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-16e.htm (single article in HTML format) or http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/PR1976/PR1976-16.pdf (full issue in PDF image format).

1. The branch of ethics (especially bourgeois ethics) concerned with duty or moral obligation, as opposed to
axiology, the branch concerned with “value”. The splitting of ethics into these two major categories (by the intuitionists, for example) is based on the idea that value and moral obligation are somehow difficult or impossible to connect, a view not shared by Marxist-Leninist ethics.
2. The ethical theory (held by Kant and many other bourgeois philosophers) that duty is the basis of all morality. Kant went so far as to claim that many acts (such as telling the truth and keeping promises) are your moral duty regardless of the consequences!
        See also: CONSEQUENTIALISM

The social theory that maintains that the “core” countries of the world exploit the raw materials, cheap labor and other resources of the “periphery” (the
“Third World”), and that the net flow of wealth is from the periphery to the core. There are both Marxist and non-Marxist versions of this theory, though the non-Marxist or only semi-Marxist versions have been the most prominent over the past few decades.
        We Marxists understand that the impoverishment of Third World countries is simply one major aspect of capitalist imperialism at work, and that the central key to understanding how imperialist countries extract wealth from the countries they control or dominate has to start with a clear understanding of how capitalism itself functions (through the extraction of surplus value at the work place). Of course we also understand that there are additional mechanisms whereby the bourgeoisies of imperialist countries exploit the people of Third World countries, such as through manipulating the terms of trade to their own advantage.
        But the currently most prominent versions of dependency theory, especially those associated with what is known as “world-systems theory”, downplay or ignore the existence of social classes, and the inherent nature of capitalism as an exploitative economic system, and focus almost entirely on secondary issues such as unfavorable terms of trade. Moreover they think mostly in terms of rich countries exploiting poor countries, rather than the capitalist ruling classes exploiting people both at home and abroad. The central view of this version of dependency theory is that the “peripheral countries” are impoverished and the “core countries” are enriched virtually entirely by the way that these countries are integrated with each other through the world market. Thus the explicit or implicit “solution” that many of these theorists put forward is more along the lines of setting up high tariffs and promoting the growth of local industries (and thus the local bourgeoisie), rather than promoting anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle through means such as people’s war and/or revolutionary insurrection.
        See also: PREBISCH THESIS

The term “dependent countries” is frequently used, and is usually intended by those on the Left to mean those countries which—because of imperialist domination or interference—have little ability to act or develop their economies independently. However, “dependent countries” might instead be misconstrued to imply that these countries are somehow dependent on the largesse or economic “support” of the imperialist countries, when in fact the situation is just the other way around, and the imperialist countries are to a considerable degree actually dependent upon the exploitation of economically less developed countries! Furthermore, in some respects, even various second-tier imperialist countries are “dependent” on the top-dog imperialists (the U.S.). Thus Germany and Japan, which are certainly imperialist countries, are currently dependent on U.S. military domination of the world for their ability to join in with the U.S. in its economic exploitation of many other countries. Similarly, the terms “dominated” or “subordinate” countries are not entirely satisfactory in all contexts since the top-dog U.S. imperialists also dominate and subordinate other imperialist countries, at least to a degree.
        See also:

DEPRESSION   (Economics)
Up until the
Great Depression of the 1930s, the term ‘depression’ just meant the low phase of any industrial cycle. (Marx called the four phases of such a cycle the boom, crisis, depression, and recovery stages.) However, the Great Depression of the 1930s was so severe that bourgeois economists have not wanted to use the term ‘depression’ for the milder economic crises that have occurred since then. Instead, they came up with the word ‘recession’. The term ‘depression’ is now mostly avoided by bourgeois commentators, but when pressed they define it in rather crude and unscientific terms as “something comparable to the Great Depression”, that is, an economic crisis which lasts for at least several years, in which the unemployment rate approaches 25% at its peak (as it did in the U.S. in 1933), and so forth. Sometimes their definitions are even more arbitrary and vague, such as: “A recession is a widespread decline in GDP, employment, and trade lasting from six months to a year; a depression is a sustained, multi-year contraction in economic activity.”
        In a more scientific approach, from a Marxist standpoint, a depression is simply a capitalist overproduction crisis in which all the major contradictions come to a head, while a recession is a “short-circuited” economic crisis, in which the government is able to intervene and stop the collapse, with only some of the more surface contradictions actually coming to a head. For more on this see: “Chapter 5: The Industrial Cycle has Split In Two!” of my work in progress An Introductory Explanation of Capitalist Economic Cycles at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/crises/Crises05.htm, and my letter “Is it a ‘Depression’?”, at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/CurrentCrisis/IsItADepression.htm (Feb. 2009) in which I predict that within a relatively short period the current economic crisis will develop into the Second Great Depression. —S.H.
        See also: LONG DEPRESSION (1873-1896)

DERIVATIVE   (Capitalist Finance)
A tradable financial security whose current exchange price derives from the actual or expected price of some underlying real asset such as a commodity, ownership shares of a company, other securities (such as mortgages or corporate bonds), or a currency (such as the dollar). Examples of derivatives are: futures contracts for shares of stocks, currency exchange futures, futures on stock market indexes,
options, swaps, warrants, and CDOs.
        In general, derivatives are ways of gambling over the future price of some real asset. For example, a speculator entering into a contract to buy 100 shares of stock in a company six months from now at $50/each, is betting that in six months the going price will be above $50/share, so that he will then be able to buy the stock at the $50 price and immediately sell it at the higher price, thus making a profit. (Of course if the price of the stock goes down in that six month period he will end up taking a loss.)
        Bourgeois economic theory says that it is reasonable and justified to allow this sort of gambling on the grounds that a judicious use of derivatives can serve as a form of insurance to safeguard those who currently own, or who in the future will need to buy commodities and other real assets, from unexpected price fluctuations and so forth. However, the flaw in this argument is that while this sort of thing can indeed decrease the dangers of market risk for that company, it is only possible because of the increased risks transmitted to the other speculators. Moreover, since the stock market, at least, is itself in effect a giant Ponzi scheme, allowing derivatives based on stock prices is a means which serves to amplify this Ponzi aspect. For reasons like this, derivatives serve to hugely increase the speculative and precarious nature of modern financial capitalism. There are, however, enormous profits to be made in the meanwhile, so derivatives will never be eliminated or even be completely brought under control. They will exist as long as capitalism does.
        According to the New York Times, as of July 15, 2009, the “derivatives market now represents transactions with a face value of $600 trillion”. It is not clear, however, that even this colossal sum includes all the securities which should properly be counted as derivatives!

“The rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a ‘mega-catastrophic risk.’ ...[F]or the economy, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system.” —Warren Buffett, billionaire capitalist investor, in the 2002 Annual Report of his company Berkshire Hathaway.

DERRIDA, Jacques   (Pronounced in English: der-ree-DAH)   (1930-2004)
A French bourgeois philosopher of the
postmodern school, and founder of the deconstructionist movement within it. Those into contemporary bourgeois Continental philosophy sometimes claim that Derrida was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. But none of them have been able to state (in intelligible words) just what his supposed “great contributions” were.
        One of the most characteristic traits of intellectual phonies like Derrida is that they try to hide their triviality or vacuity by being purposefully obscure. Michel Foucault, whose lectures Derrida once attended, (and who himself had little of value to contribute to philosophy) described Derrida’s method as “terrorist obscurantism” and explained it this way:

“He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” —Michel Foucault, comment to John Searle, “Reality Principles: An Interview with John R. Searle”, Reason magazine, February 2000, online at: http://www.reason.com/news/show/27599.html.

Many others have similarly criticized Derrida and modern French bourgeois philosophy in general for such obscurantism. Noam Chomsky, for example, said that Derrida used “pretentious rhetoric” to obscure the simplicity of his ideas and that doing so was characteristic of a broad group of people within the Parisian intellectual community.
        Some academic “leftists” consider Derrida to have been a man of the left. It is true that he was strongly criticized by various conservative bourgeois philosophers (like Searle and Quine), but Derrida himself was merely a liberal bourgeois intellectual. He opposed the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, and he initially supported the student uprising in France in 1968 (but then backed away). But he was not a revolutionary and certainly not a Marxist. The infatuation in “left” academia for phonies like Derrida only serves to discredit them!

DESCARTES, René   (1596-1650)
Usually considered to be the first “modern” philosopher, because he broke with the sterile dogmatism of the
Scholastics, and introduced the “method of doubt”. Although he himself was a dualist, he played a major role in helping to inspire a materialist trend of thought.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel on Descartes.

“...Descartes’s monumental decision [was] that the body and the immortal soul should be considered separately. This allowed the bodies of both humans and beasts to be examined in wholly physical terms for the first time. Descartes saw the human body as a machine, much like a child’s mechanical toy. It was from this perspective that he proposed that all living things, their soulful nature excepted, are made of ordinary matter. In his view, living bodies were the same as inanimate objects except in the details of their incarnations. As a consequence, they obeyed the same laws.” —Stephen Rothman, a prominent (non-Marxist) American biologist, Lessons From the Living Cell (2002), pp. 22-23.

[From Sanskrit ‘desh’ (“country”); in Hindi and other modern South Asian languages, “a person from South Asia”:]
        A term for a person or culture of the countries of South Asia, including especially India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Most frequently today, and especially in countries outside that region, Desis refers to those people in the diaspora, i.e., those from South Asia now living in other countries around the world. There are large numbers of Desis in the U.S., Britain, Canada, South Africa, and many other countries in Asia and the Middle East.

The materialist view that all phenomena have definite natural causes. Often confused with
fatalism. The opposite of determinism is indeterminism.
        See also: FREE WILL,   COMPATIBILISM

“The point is that this is one of the favorite hobby-horses of the subjective philosopher—the idea of the conflict between determinism and morality, between historical necessity and the significance of the individual. He [the Narodnik Mikhailovsky] has filled reams of paper on the subject and has uttered an infinite amount of sentimental, philistine nonsense in order to settle this conflict in favor of morality and the role of the individual. Actually, there is no conflict here at all: it has been invented by Mr. Mikhailovsky, who feared (not without reason) that determinism would cut the ground from under the philistine morality he loves so dearly. The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys man’s reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real question that arises in appraising the social activity of an individual is: what conditions ensure the success of his actions, what guarantee is there that these actions will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter of contrary acts?” —Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are” (1894), LCW 1:159. [Note that Lenin is criticizing “free will” only in the sense of anti-determinism, and not in the sense of humans being able to make choices. —S.H.]

“Far from assuming fatalism, determinism in fact provides a basis for reasonable action.” —Lenin, “The Economic Content of Narodism” (1894), LCW 1:420.


“A magazine published in German in Paris and edited by Karl Marx and Arnold Ruge. The only issue to appear was a double number published in February 1844. It included Marx’s articles ‘A Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Law (Introduction)’ and ‘On the Jewish Question,’ and also Engels’ articles ‘Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy’ and ‘The Position of England. Thomas Carlyle. “Past and Present”.’ These works mark the final transition of Marx and Engels to materialism and communism. Publication of the magazine was discontinued chiefly as a result of the basic differences between Marx’s views and the bourgeois-radical views of Ruge.” —Note 5, LCW 38:564.

Bourgeois euphemisms for the poor countries of the world, which are largely kept poor because of the predations of the rich imperialist countries.
        See also:

DEVELOPMENT   [Philosophical Concept]
[Intro to be added...]

“Many people confuse dialectics with the doctrine of development; dialectics is, in fact, such a doctrine. However, it differs substantially from the vulgar ‘theory of evolution’, which is based completely on the principle that neither Nature nor history proceeds in leaps and that all changes in the world take place by degrees. Hegel had already shown that, understood in such a way, the doctrine of development was unsound and ridiculous.” —G. V. Plekhanov, “Fundamental Problems of Marxism” (1907), Int’l Publishers ed. (1971), p. 45; SPW 3:139.

“The identity [or unity] of opposites is the recognition (discovery) of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and process of nature (including mind and society). The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their ‘self-movement,’ in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the ‘struggle’ of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).” —Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics” (1915), LCW 38:359-360.

“With the ‘principle of development’ in the twentieth century (indeed, at the end of the nineteenth century also) ‘all are agreed.’ Yes, but this superficial, not thought out, accidental, philistine ‘agreement’ is an agreement of such a kind as stifles and vulgarizes the truth. — If everything develops, then everything passes from one into another, for development as is well known is not a simple, universal and eternal growth, enlargement (respective diminution), etc. — If that is so, then, in the first place, evolution has to be understood more exactly, as the arising and passing away of everything, as mutual transitions. — And, in the second place, if everything develops, does not that apply also to the most general concepts and categories of thought? If not, it means that thinking is not connected with being. If it does, it means that there is a dialectics of concepts and a dialectics of cognition which has objective significance.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:255-6.


DEWEY, John   (1859-1952)
American idealist philosopher, one of the main proponents of
pragmatism, his version of which he prefered to call instrumentalism.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel on Dewey.


“In the absence of ... physical measures [for the diagnosis of mental diseases], the American Psychiatric Association (APA) developed a psychiatrists’ ‘bible’—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)—from the sales of which the APA makes a handsome profit. First published in 1952 and currently going through its fifth revision, it is essentially a catalogue of reported signs and symptoms which form the basis of the classification of mental and nervous system diseases, categories often influenced by the raced [racial] and gendered values of the psychiatrists themselves. Not infrequently this resulted in inappropriate diagnosis and prescription. One conspicuous example was the classification of women experiencing the menopause as pathologically anxious and depressed, leading to the widespread over-prescription of diazepam, an addictive drug. Homosexuality, originally listed by DSM as a disorder, was only declassified in 1973 with the rise of the gay and lesbian movements, and removed from subsequent DSM editions. Old disorders disappear or are renamed. Minimal Brain Dysfunction becomes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Multiple Personality Disorder becomes Dissociative Identity Disorder; Manic-Depression becomes Bipolar Disorder. New diagnoses such as Panic Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder appear. Depending on which boxes are ticked, a diagnosis is made and a drug prescribed. The US origins of the manual lie not only in the expanding categories developed through psychiatric research but in the requirements of an intensely marketized medical system in which clinicians can only provide treatment if the symptoms presented to them are classified as fundable by medical insurance.” —Hilary & Steven Rose, Genes, Cells and Brains: The Promethean Promises of the New Biology (2014), pp. 256-7.

An important statement of what dialectical and historical materialism are, which unfortunately became absolutely rigid dogma within the Soviet Union and the world communist movement for several decades.
        This work was originally part of Chapter 4 of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)—Short Course, written under Stalin’s close direction, and published in Russian in 1938 and then in English in 1939. Afterwards, it was issued as a separate pamphlet and has long remained in print in that form.
        [A discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of this work to be added later.]

DIALECTICAL LEAPS — Popular Terms For and Conceptions Of
Here are some of the terms often heard which seem to be grasping at one or more aspects of what we Marxists mean by dialectical leaps:
        Qualitative leap
        Sea change
        Tipping point
        Tectonic shift
        Inflection point
        What all these (and sometimes other) terms seem to be most centrally getting at is that in nature and all spheres of human life, we often find relatively sudden, and relatively large, changes in some process or situation. The term qualitative leap emphasizes that this often entails a fundamental change in the nature of the thing. The term sea change is more limited in that it seems only to emphasize a change in magnitude. The term tipping point once again seems to suggest some qualitative change, or else some major change in the direction of a process. The term tectonic shift invokes the image of a sudden massive earthquake. An inflection point, in popular discourse, is similar to a tipping point. [In mathematics an inflection point is a point on a curve which separates an arc with a concave curve upward from an arc with a concave curve downward (or, in other words, the isolated points where the second derivative of the function equals zero.)]
        Other terms which sometimes have similar connotations are: crisis, coming to a head, snapping, bursting, explosion, etc. Many of these terms emphasize the suddenness of the change, as well as the magnitude.
        See also:

The logic of dialectical reasoning, as opposed to formal logic (see
LOGIC—FORMAL). [More to be added...]

The scientific philosophy which underlies revolutionary Marxism (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) ... [More to be added...]

Neither Marx nor Engels appears to have actually used the precise term ‘dialectical materialism’, though it is clear that this name appropriately summarizes their philosophical outlook. In their division of labor Engels wrote more about philosophy than Marx (who focused on political economy), but it was quite clear that they had essentially the same views on the subject. They read each other’s work and often helped each other in their writing projects. And no one should have any doubt that their common philosophy emphasized these two main points: dialectics and materialism. It is pathetic to see bourgeois commentators try to deny this or to absurdly attempt to show that Marx and Engels somehow had totally opposed philosophic viewpoints!
        The exact term ‘dialectical materialism’ itself was apparently first used (in German) by
Plekhanov in the article “Hegel’s sechzigsten Todestag”, in Neue Zeit, vol. X, #1, in 1891. He also used the phrase (in Russian) in his introduction to the Russian edition of Engels’s Ludwig Feuerbach in 1892. Lenin seems to have first used the term in 1894 in his pamphlet What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are [Cf. LCW 1:181 & 183], but thereafter used the term routinely, especially in his important philosophical work, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908). Since that time all Marxist-Leninists use ‘dialectical materialism’ as the formal name for Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy.

NEGATION (In Dialectics)

The most abstract or general scientific laws or principles governing the development of nature, society and thought. The most basic and important of these principles is the law of contradiction in things, the conception of things and processes as a unity of opposites. [More to be added...]
        See also nearby related entries, and:

“Dialectics, however, is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:131.

“In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics, but it requires explanations and development.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book The Science of Logic” (1914), LCW 38:223.

“Dialectics in the proper sense [i.e., as opposed to Hegel’s idealist conception] is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects: not only are appearances transitory, mobile, fluid, demarcated only by conventional boundaries, but the essence of things is so as well.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:253-4.

“We want gradually to disseminate dialectics, and to ask everyone gradually to learn the use of the scientific dialectical method.” —Mao, quoted in Peking Review, #47, Nov. 20, 1970, p. 2.

[To be added... ]

“The old Greek philosophers were all born natural dialecticians, and Aristotle, the most encyclopedic intellect of them, had already analyzed the most essential forms of dialectic thought.” —Engels, Anti-Dürhing, MECW 25:21.

“When we consider and reflect upon nature at large or the history of mankind or our own intellectual activity, at first we see the picture of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions in which nothing remains what, where and as it was, but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away. This primitive, naive but intrinsically correct conception of the world is that of ancient Greek philosophy, and was first clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away.” —Engels, ibid.

[To be added... ]

CHANGE—Dialectics Of

NATURE—Dialectics Of, and the entry below for Engels’s book by this name.

[To be added... ]

“The scientific term ‘dictatorship’ means nothing more nor less than authority untrammeled by any laws, absolutely unrestricted by any rules whatsoever, and based directly on force.” —Lenin, LCW 10:246. Under a dictatorship laws and conventions may still exist, and even be respected by the government most of the time; but they are dispensable whenever “necessary” in order to preserve the dictatorship. In Marxist theory, all states are dictatorships of one or another social class.
        The concept of dictatorship is often reduced, in bourgeois discourse, to personal dictatorship, or
absolute rule by one individual. But personal dictatorships are relatively uncommon and fleeting, while class dictatorships are universal in class society. Personal dictatorships are merely one of many forms that class dictatorships may take.

Bourgeois, or capitalist, rule; domination of society by the capitalist class. There are two main forms of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,
bourgeois democracy and fascism. In either case, bourgeois rule is based ultimately on force and violence directed against the lower classes, especially the proletariat, and whatever laws or rules the bourgeoisie may put in place are dispensed with whenever necessary to maintain its rule.

Proletarian rule. “The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is rule won and maintained by the use of violence by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, rule that is unrestricted by any laws.” —Lenin, LCW 28:236.
        See also:
CLASS STRUGGLE—In Socialist Society

“The indispensable characteristic, the necessary condition of dictatorship is the forcible suppression of the exploiters as a class, and, consequently, the infringement of ‘pure democracy’, i.e., of equality and freedom, in regard to that class.” —Lenin, “Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (Oct.-Nov. 1918), LCW 28:256.

“The exploiters and reactionaries are, under any circumstance, the minority while the exploited and revolutionaries are the majority. Therefore the dictatorship of the former is un-justifiable, whereas that of the latter is fully justifiable.” —Mao, directive regarding the Cultural Revolution, June 17, 1966. SW9:405.

DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT — Proletarian Democracy Within
[Intro material to be added... ]

“Chairman Mao teaches us that there should be democracy within the ranks of the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the safeguard for the implementation of extensive proletarian democracy. Extensive proletarian democracy in turn is aimed at consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat. Without extensive proletarian democracy, there is the danger that the dictatorship of the proletariat will turn into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Without the dicatatorship of the proletariat there can be no proletarian democracy. There cannot even be democracy on a small scale, let alone extensive democracy. In the course of the great proletarian cultural revolution, our organs of proletarian dictatorship must resolutely and unswervingly guarantee the democratic rights of the people and guarantee that free airing of views, the posting of big-character posters, great debates, and the large-scale exchange of revolutionary experience proceed in a normal way.” — “Carry the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Through to the End”, a joint New Year’s editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily] and Hongqi [Red Flag], Jan. 1, 1967, Peking Review, vol. 10, #1, Jan. 1, 1967, pp. 13-14.

DIDEROT, Denis   (1713-1784)
French philosopher of the
Enlightenment, prominent atheist, and leader of the Encyclopaedists. He was a prominent ideologist of the French revolutionary bourgeoisie of the 18th century.

A bimonthly socialist magazine issued by the women’s proletarian movement in Germany. It was published from 1890 to 1925, and was edited by
Clara Zetkin from 1892 to 1917.

DIETZGEN, Joseph   (1828-1888)
German tannery worker, Social-Democrat, and self-educated philosopher who arrived at the basic principles of dialectical materialism independently of Marx and Engels.
        For some of Lenin’s comments commending Dietzgen and in defense of him, and also some very secondary criticisms, see sections of his Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908) and his article “Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Joseph Dietzgen” (May 5, 1913) (LCW 19:79-82).

“Dietzgen wrote at a time when simplified, vulgarized materialism was most widespread. Dietzgen, therefore, laid his greatest stress on the historical changes that had taken place in materialism, on the dialectical character of materialism, that is, on the need to support the point of view of development, to understand that all human knowledge is relative, to understand the multilateral connections between, and interdependence of, all phenomena in the universe, and to develop the materialism of natural history to a materialist conception of history.
         “Because he lays so much stress on the relativity of human knowledge, Dietzgen often becomes confused and makes incorrect concessions to idealism and agnosticism....
         “By and large, however, Dietzgen was a materialist. He was an enemy of clericalism and agnosticism.” —Lenin, “Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Joseph Dietzgen” (May 5, 1913) (LCW 19:80). [In my opinion Lenin’s observation about the connection of too great an emphasis on the relativity of human knowledge to idealism and agnosticism is positively brilliant! —S.H.]

The differential theory of rent is that the rent on any piece of land is determined by the relative productivity of that land compared to that of the least fertile land being rented for that purpose. Thus if a plot of land is twice as productive per acre as the worst land being used, then the rent on the better land should tend toward twice as much as for the worst land.
Sir William Petty was the first to put forward this idea.

DILTHEY, Wilhelm   (1833-1911)

“German idealist philosopher and professor at Berlin University. He was a founder of ‘Lebens oder Erlebnis Philosophie’ [life or experience philosophy], a reactionary irrationalist trend in bourgeois philosophy during the epoch of imperialism. His works include a book on the Young Hegelians, Die Jugendgeshichte Hegels.” —From name index to LCW 38.

The most general and comprehensive word in a group of words which have closely related meanings, and which therefore serves as the best key to fully understanding the others once it itself has come to be thoroughly understood. This notion of a dimension word was introduced into linguistic philosophy by
John Austin in his book Sense and Sensibilia (1962). [For an example of its use in Marxist linguistic philosophy, see my work in progress, An Introduction to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics, Chapter 2, section 2.2, at: http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf —S.H.]

(German: Literally, “thing-in-itself”.) In
Kant’s subjective-idealist and empiricist philosophy, the unknown and unknowable “truer essence” of any object which lies beneath or behind the sense data which is all that we supposedly pitiful human beings (as opposed to “God”) can ever have direct contact with. In other words the mysterious “truer reality” that supposedly lies behind what we perceive as reality. This is clearly something akin to Plato’s idealist theory of “forms”, and other religious conceptions of reality.

DIOGENES LAERTIUS   (3rd century CE)
The author of a large work entitled Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. This is one of the major sources of information about the history of ancient philosophy.

Ancient Greek philosopher and one of the founders of the school known as the Cynics. “His views reflected the passive protest of the poorest sections of the population against the rule of the propertied classes.” [Note to LCW 38, p. 610.] Diogenes had a student called Crates, who in turn had a student, Zeno of Citium, who transformed Diogenes’s philosophy of Cynicism into the more important and much longer lasting philosophical school known as
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Diogenes.

The immediate, direct participation of everybody in a mass assembly to determine what to do, rather than selecting representatives to decide. It is also usually assumed that everyone at this big meeting is on a completely equal basis, with an equal right to speak and be heard. This tacitly implies that there are no formal leaders. It may also sometimes imply that no one person has a right to say too much (thus limiting the role of even informal leaders!).
        This is the original meaning of the word ‘democracy’, as it existed during some periods in some ancient Greek city states, such as Athens. (Of course, in ancient Greece this democracy was not extended to women, let alone to slaves.)
        Because of the practical impossibilities of bringing too large a group of people together in “one big assembly”, direct democracy is only really feasible for relatively small groups. (For example, it would be totally absurd to attempt to bring all the people living in Chicago together in one big assembly to create the laws for that city, let alone all the people in Illinois, or all the people in the U.S.) For this reason, democracy has come to mean representative democracy, where different local groups select their representatives, who then meet together to make decisions and pass laws.
        In class society, however, the representatives soon become not the representatives of all the people in their district or area, but actually only the representatives of the ruling class. In capitalist society, of course, this means that nearly always the supposed “people’s representatives” actually represent the capitalist class (or, as the current euphemism has it, “the 1%”). As is frequently joked (or perhaps only bitterly half joked), America has the best politicians that money can buy. Of course there are many methods by which only representatives are selected who act on behalf of the ruling class, and direct bribery is only one of them. Another way, for example, is to make being elected to office so expensive that only the rich or those strongly backed by the rich stand any chance at all.
        Because representative democracy in the modern capitalist state has become a complete and obvious fraud to so many of us, with little or no real actual democratic content left at all, there have developed strong feelings among anarchists and others that the only form of democracy that can be genuine is direct democracy. This confuses the situation that definitely exists in capitalist society with what could in fact exist in socialist or communist society. Even under socialism it will still be essential for the people to keep a close eye on their chosen representatives (and also other leaders such as those in the leading revolutionary party), but it will no longer be virtually impossible for those representatives to truly represent the interests of the people.

According to a study in 2011 by the World Health Organization, about 15% of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, have one or another disability, including missing limbs, paralysis, blindness, mental retardation, or a serious chronic disease such as cancer or emphysema.


DISCIPLINE — Of the Proletarian Revolutionary Party

“As a current of political thought and as a political party, Bolshevism has existed since 1903. Only the history of Bolshevism during the entire period of its existence can satisfactorily explain why it has been able to build up and maintain, under most difficult conditions, the iron discipline needed for the victory of the proletariat.
         “The first questions to arise are: how is the discipline of the proletariat’s revolutionary party maintained? How is it tested? How is it reinforced? First, by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its tenacity, self-sacrifice and heroism. Second, by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and—if you wish—merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people—primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people. Third, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided the broad masses have seen, from their own experience, that they are correct. Without these conditions, discipline in a revolutionary party really capable of being the party of the advanced class, whose mission it is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform the whole of society, cannot be achieved. Without these conditions, all attempts to establish discipline inevitably fall flat and end up in phrasemongering and clowning. On the other hand, these conditions cannot emerge at once. They are created only by prolonged effort and hard-won experience. Their creation is facilitated by a correct revolutionary theory, which, in its turn, is not a dogma, but assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement.” —Lenin, “‘Left-Wing’ Communism—An Infantile Disorder” (April-May 1920), LCW 31:24-25.

DISCOUNT RATE (Federal Reserve)
The discount rate is the interest rate that the
Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) charges private banks to borrow money from it. The raising or lowering of the discount rate affects the interest rates that the commercial banks in turn charge their customers, including the prime rate. When the economy is weak or in recession, the Fed drastically lowers the discount rate in order to bring all interest rates down, which in turn usually promotes borrowing and economic expansion. Once the discount rate gets very low (not much above zero percent) there is no longer much room for this policy of lowering it to work any further. (See: “liquidity trap”.) Moreover, in a major overproduction crisis, very low interest rates no longer help much at all, since there are no profits to be made from building new factories regardless of the low interest costs of the money borrowed to build them.
        See also: FEDERAL FUNDS RATE

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        See also:

Payments to the owners of stocks or similar investments. This money comes ultimately from the profits of the corporation, which in turn are a portion (usually quite a small portion) of the
surplus value generated by the workers employed (i.e., directly exploited) by that corporation.
        There appears to be a long-term trend in modern capitalism for dividends to fall as a percentage of the company profits. The average percentage payout of officially stated profits (real profits are much higher and hidden in various ways, such as in the form of benefits to top managers), for the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index in the U.S. as of Oct. 4, 2011, was 2.31%. This represented only 27% of stated profits in the 2nd quarter of 2011, which was down from 30% of profits in 2008, and well below the 30-year average of 41%. This is despite the fact that U.S. corporations now have record hoards of undistributed profits, totaling $2.77 trillion, with few good options for new investments. [Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 17-23, 2011, p. 60.]
        In addition, more and more companies do not pay dividends at all, even when they are making huge profits. Google, for example, has $39 billion in cash, and Apple Corporation holds $76 billion (including long-term financial investments). Neither pays a dividend. Why would ordinary investors buy shares in companies that don’t pay dividends? The answer is that the stock market is primarily a gambling house, and “investors” (i.e. speculators) primarily buy shares on the hope that the price of those shares will go up. But the fact is that a declining share of the surplus value extracted by modern corporations actually goes to the official “owners” of them (let alone to the workers who produce that wealth); it is instead more and more appropriated by the top management of the companies, and by banks and financial institutions. Modern capitalism is more and more parasitic, even according to the logic of bourgeois economic theory.

A characteristic feature of industrial production [Cf. Marx, TSV, 3:271.] in which there is specialization in the production process, where the tasks are divided up into simpler and more repetitive smaller tasks, and individual workers are assigned to do just one or a few of these simpler smaller tasks.

Division of labor is, in one sense, nothing but coexisting labor, that is, the coexistence of different kinds of labor which are represented in different kinds of products or rather commodities. The division of labor in the capitalist sense, as the breaking down of the particular labor which produces a definite commodity into a series of simple and co-ordinated operations divided up amongst different workers, presupposes the division of labor within society outside the workshop, as separation of occupations. On the other hand, it [division of labor] increases it [separation of occupations]. The product is increasingly produced as a commodity in the strict sense of the word, its exchange-value becomes the more independent of its immediate existence as use-value—in other words its production becomes more and more independent of its consumption by the producers.... The division of labor within the workshop is one of the methods used in this mass production and consequently in the production of the product [as a commodity]. Thus the division of labor within the workshop is based on the division of occupations in society.” —Marx, TSV, 3:268-9.


“Members of a bourgeois political grouping in France during the period of the Restoration (1815-30). As constitutional monarchists and rabid enemies of the democratic and revolutionary movement, they aimed to create in France a bloc of the bourgeoisie and landed aristocracy after the English fashion. The most celebrated of the Doctrinaires were Guizot, a historian, and Royer-Collard, a philosopher. Their views constituted a reaction in the field of philosophy against the French materialism of the 18th century and the democratic ideas of the French bourgeois revolution.” —Note 11, LCW 38:565.

The body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief. Note that the word ‘doctrine’ is not in itself pejorative in most contexts; all systems of knowledge or belief have doctrines, including Marxism. (Compare this with the word ‘doctrinaire’ which means dogmatic, and is definitely pejorative!)

“Our doctrine—said Engels, referring to himself and his famous friend—is not a dogma, but a guide to action. This classical statement stresses with remarkable force and expressiveness that aspect of Marxism which is very often lost sight of. And by losing sight of it, we turn Marxism into something one-sided, distorted and lifeless; we deprive it of its life blood; we undermine its basic theoretical foundations—dialectics, the doctrine of historical development, all-embracing and full of contradictions; we undermine its connection with the definite practical tasks of the epoch, which may change with every new turn of history.” —Lenin, “Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism” (Dec. 23, 1910), LCW 17:39.

“It is not hard for one to do a bit of good. What is hard is to do good all one’s life and never do anything bad.” —Mao Zedong, quoted in Peking Review, Vol. 10, #2, Jan. 6, 1967, p. 8.

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        See also:

“Doubting is correct; doubting everything is not.” —Mao, note in the margin of his copy of the book by Marxist philosopher Ai Siqi, Philosophy and Life. [Nick Knight, ed., Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism (1990), p. 237.]


“The Dreyfus case—a provocative trial organized in 1894 by the reactionary-monarchist circles of the French militarists. On trial was Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer of the French General Staff, falsely accused of espionage and high treason. Dreyfus’s conviction—he was condemned to life imprisonment—was used by the French reactionaries to rouse anti-Semitism and to attack the republican regime and democratic liberties. When, in 1898, socialists and progressive bourgeois democrats such as Emile Zola, Jean Jaurès, and Anatole France launched a campaign for Dreyfus’s re-trial, the case became a major political issue and split the country into two camps—the republicans and democrats on the one hand, and a bloc of monarchists, clericals, anti-Semites and nationalists, on the other. Under the pressure of public opinion, Dreyfus was released in 1899, and in 1906 was acquitted by the Court of Cassation and reinstated in the Army.” —Note 39, LCW 31.

DRONE [Pilotless Aircraft]
An aircraft which flies itself, or much more commonly at present, an aircraft remotely controlled by a pilot who is not onboard it. The U.S. military has in recent years utilized rapidly increasing numbers of drone warplanes as a major part of its endless imperialist wars, especially in Afghanistan. These drones are most often controlled by U.S. pilots sitting in comfortable air-conditioned buildings at Air Force bases in the United States, including in Nevada, New Mexico and near Syracuse, New York. When these remote killers spot a group of possible “enemies”, they shoot missiles from the drone aircraft down on them. Although they claim to be trying to avoid women and children, this often results in the murder of large numbers of civilians, including women and children. In any case, it is an extremely dehumanized method of mass murder. After their days of slaughter of often a dozen or more people at a time, the U.S. pilots head home for a comfortable evening with their own families.
        See also:
YEMEN — U.S. Imperialist Drone Warfare In, TORTURE — By U.S. Government

“HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. — From his computer console here in the Syracuse suburbs, Col. D. Scott Brenton remotely flies a Reaper drone that beams back hundreds of hours of live video of insurgents, his intended targets, going about their daily lives 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. Sometimes he and his team watch the same family compound for weeks.
        “‘I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,’ Colonel Brenton said.
        “When the call comes for him to fire a missile and kill a militant—and only, Colonel Brenton said, when the women and children are not around—the hair on the back of his neck stands up, just as it did when he used to line up targets in his F-16 fighter jet.
        “Afterward, just like the old days, he compartmentalizes. ‘I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,’ he said. ‘I have a duty, and I execute the duty.’ ...
        “The Air Force now has more than 1,300 drone pilots, about 300 less than it needs, stationed at 13 or more bases across the United States. They fly the unmanned aircraft mostly in Afghanistan. (The numbers do not include the classified program of the C.I.A., which conducts drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) Although the Afghan war is winding down, the military expects drones to help compensate for fewer troops on the ground.
        “By 2015, the Pentagon projects that the Air Force will need more than 2,000 drone pilots for combat air patrols operating 24 hours a day worldwide. The Air Force is already training more drone pilots—350 last year—than fighter and bomber pilots combined.” —Elisabeth Bumiller, “A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away”, New York Times, July 29, 2012.


DRUGS — Illegal


DU BOIS, W[illiam] E[dward] B[urghardt]   [Pronounced: doo-BOYZ]   (1868-1963)
An influential African-American intellectual, sociologist, historian and civil rights activist, who was born in Massachusetts. Du Bois studied with William James at Harvard and at the University of Berlin (where Max Weber was an admirer). He was the first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University in 1895), and then became a professor at Atlanta University. He published the first systematic sociological studies of African-American communities.
        Du Bois was a nationally prominent leader of the civil rights movement. While Booker T. Washington proposed what was known as the “Atlanta Compromise”, that Southern Blacks would work and submit to white political rule in return for basic educational and economic opportunities, Du Bois insisted on full equality with whites. He also worked for increased political represenation by Blacks, which, however, he thought could be best brought about by the African-American intellectual elite, “the talented tenth”. He was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, and served for a long period as the editor of its journal.

“Racism was the main target of Du Bois’s polemics, and he strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment. His cause included colored persons everywhere, particularly Africans and Asians in their struggles against colonialism and imperialism. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. Du Bois made several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. After World War I, he surveyed the experiences of American black soldiers in France and documented widespread bigotry in the United States military.” —From the Wikipedia entry on Du Bois, from which some other information here is also taken.

W. E. B. Du Bois wrote many books and articles. His work The Philadelphia Negro (1899) comprehensively discusses what more recent bourgeois sociologists call the Black urban “underclass”. One of his most famous works was The Souls of Black Folks (1899/1903), a collection of his essays. There he presents the theory of dual consciousness which shows the influence of William James’s ideas about the psychological self. Du Bois remarked that “it is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One feels this twoness—an American, a negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength keeps it from being torn asunder.”
        What is often described as his magum opus, Black Reconstruction in America, was published in 1935. In it he effectively challenged the then prevailing racist theory that Blacks were responsible for the social failures of the Reconstruction period after the Civil War.
        Du Bois did have some serious shortcomings, many of them along the lines of any person who struggles for social equality without fully challenging the basic framework of bourgeois society. For example he supported the participation of American Blacks in World War I as a means of promoting equality for Blacks. He was much criticized on the Left for supporting an inter-imperialist war, and rightly so. Du Bois did believe that capitalism was the primary root cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialism, though it is doubtful if he had a clear idea what that would really mean, let alone how to bring it about. (In his very old age he joined the hopelessly revisionist
Communist Party, U.S.A.) He was also a strong activist for peace and nuclear disarmament. But he was never a revolutionary Marxist.
        In 1961, two years before his death, he moved to Ghana and renounced his U.S. citizenship. He had had enough of racism in the U.S., and perhaps felt too old and weary to effectively continue his long fight against it.

A political situation in certain places and periods of time (always quite short) in which different and antagonistic social
classes each have a share of state power. In such a situation each of the contending classes works to secure total state power for itself, while attempting to deny the enemy class with any share of power whatsoever. This is why dual power is so tremendously unstable and short-lived.
        One example of dual power was the situation in Russia after the “February Revolution” (in March 1917!) overthrowing the Tsar, and lasting until the “October Revolution” (in November 1917!), when the Bolsheviks led by Lenin seized complete power for the working class. During this period of about 8 months, there was official power in the hands of the “Provisional Government”, but very extensive de facto power in the hands of the Soviets (councils) of workers, peasants and soldiers. For example, while the Provisional Government was nominally in charge of the Russian army, in reality most army units would generally only obey government orders if they were also OK’d by their local Soviet.
        It is often said that the current situation in Nepal, since the end of the People’s War in 2006, is also a period of dual power. In this case the Nepal Army is under the control of the feudal-capitalist alliance, but there still exists a separate army, the People’s Liberation Army, which is controlled by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Similarly, the UCPN(M) is the largest party in the Constituent Assembly (which is serving as the interim parliament), though it doesn’t have a majority. Since major decisions require a two-thirds majority, there is in effect stalemate there as well as militarily. This is obviously also a very unstable situation, and one of these class forces will fairly soon overthrow the other. It is so far unclear which will triumph.

The philosophical theory that both
matter and mind exist, but that they are “completely independent” aspects of the world, and that neither depends on the other or is an outgrowth or development of the other. Consequently this is supposed to be a middle position between materialism and idealism. However, from the Marxist, materialist standpoint dualism is itself a type of idealism, since it also denies the primacy of matter.
        One irresolvable conundrum for dualism is the simple question of how someone can raise their arm when they decide to do so. This is a clear case of a mental cause resulting in a physical or material result, and is totally inexplicable if mind and matter are imagined to be “completely independent” things. It can only be explained if we understand mental phenomena such as decisions to be a sort of abstract functional characterization of what at bottom are really ongoing physical, material processes in the brain and body.
        One famous version of dualism was Leibniz’s attempt to explain both mind and matter by means of a single mysterious “substance” he called “monads”.
        Interestingly, despite its philosophical absurdity and fundamental disagreement with materialism, dualism historically played a positive role in the promotion of materialist thought. One of its earliest proponents was René Descartes, who argued that the body and “soul” should be considered independently. This allowed him to discuss the body itself in materialist terms, as a machine, and led others to do the same. Eventually scientifically inclined people came to realize that there was no further need for or even room for any such thing as a soul.
        See also: EPIPHENOMENALISM,   OCCASIONALISM,   PSYCHOPHYSICAL PARALLELISM, and Philosophical doggerel about dualism.

DÜHRING, Eugen Karl   (1833-1921)
Author of an eclectic theory of socialism in opposition to that of Marx and Engels. Engels exhaustively exposed his many theoretical shortcomings in his famous book
Anti-Dühring. Dühring later became an anti-Semite and racist.

The practice of selling commodities for a lower price in foreign markets than in the home market. This is an illegal practice according to most trade agreements, but is nevertheless quite common. The reasons why companies do this include:
        1) They may have more of a monopoly situation in the home market that allows them extra profits there;
        2) They may wish to simply unload excess production in a way that will not adversely impact their main market;
        3) It may allow them to horn in on new markets in the other countries;
        4) It may allow them to drive their competitors in the foreign markets out of business, after which they will be able to raise prices there to the same high levels as in the home market.
        In general there is much more international competition in modern capitalism than there is competition within home markets, and this is one of the basic factors that makes dumping so common, and makes charges of dumping against foreign competitors even more common!

DUNAYEVSKAYA, Raya   (1910-1987)
The founder and leader of a tiny Trotskyist sect in the United States named after its newspaper, News and Letters, and promoting an idealist Hegelian-inspired philosophy she called “Marxist Humanism”. Dunayevskaya had been one of the secretaries for
Leon Trotsky while he was in exile in Mexico, but broke with him in 1939. She was then associated with C. L. R. James in various sectarian organizations in the U.S. Trotskyist movement, but later split with him as well to form her own doctrinaire group.
        In the 1940s one of her major ideological campaigns was directed against Soviet economists for recognizing that the law of value continued to hold during the period of socialism. This demonstrated that she really did not understand the deep nature of socialism as a transition period from capitalism to communism, and that the law of value can only be progressively restricted during this transition.
        Dunayevskaya, along with other Trotskyists, is also known for her outrageous slanders of Mao Zedong and the great Chinese Revolution.

DUNS SCOTUS, John   (c. 1266-1308)
John Duns, the Scot, was an early
scholastic philosopher/theologian of the Roman Catholic Church. He focused mostly on metaphysics, especially in relation to the “nature and reality” of God, and other major “transcendental” categories such as being or existence, the true, the good, causation, and so forth. He was a nominalist, and hence a representative of an early and very partial expression of materialism in the Middle Ages.
        Although called the doctor subtilis (“subtle doctor”) in his own day, in a more enlightened later age his followers were called “Dunsmen”—from which is derived the modern word ‘dunce’!

DURKHEIM, Émile   (1858-1917)
French reactionary sociologist, who was a
Comtean positivist, Malthusian and a racist. He, along with Max Weber, was one of the principle founders of the bourgeois field of sociology as a reaction against Marxism.

DUTY   (Ethics)
In talk about morality ‘duty’ is simply the common word for moral obligation. However, ‘duty’ carries connotations that the more formal term ‘moral obligation’ does not, because of other actual or imagined “duties” we have, such as family duties, religious duties, or patriotic duties, where an extreme sense of shame is conditioned to arise in most people who fail to properly perform such duties.
        See also:

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