Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ho - Ht   —

The practice of accumulating and storing raw materials and other items needed for production considerably beyond what is actually required as far as current production plans are concerned. And also the purposeful production of substantially more output goods than are required at present by either the state production plan or because of the level of market demand.
        The stockpiling of raw materials is usually only done when there is reason to believe that they could be hard to quickly obtain at some later date when they might be needed. The stockpiling of output by the factory producing it is normally only done where it is thought that it might be difficult to produce goods later in a timely fashion.
        Because the tendency toward
overproduction under monopoly capitalism is so powerful, in general it is not difficult to obtain the raw materials a factory needs for its own production. Therefore the hoarding of raw materials is not only uncommon, but is actually viewed very negatively by corporations and is considered harmful to profits (because the money which could be invested elsewhere is tied up buying and storing excess raw materials in warehouses). For this reason, the mantra in modern capitalism is “just in time” production—i.e., obtaining raw materials and supplies at the last possible minute. (Sometimes this is indeed carried to unreasonable extremes, of course.)
        However, under state capitalism in the former Soviet Union (and similar revisionist countries), the overall system of production became so unreliable and chaotic, that many plant managers found it necessary to hoard both raw materials and excess production (much of which was then kept secret), so that they could more easily meet the demands of future state production plans. (Under genuine socialism there should be small and reasonable excess production built into the economic plans, but only in order to guarantee that all of society’s genuine needs can be met. The proper management of socialist enterprises should never lead to factories hiding resources and production from the economic planners or the socialist state! And the universal and honest participation of the workers in the management of enterprises should in any case make this sort of cheating both unnecessary and impossible.)

“[H]oarding production was a standard subterfuge in Soviet industry, where benefits and promotion depended on fulfilling and overfulfilling quotas set annually by central planners. If production problems reduced output below quotas, the prudent manager could add the hoarded material to current output to make up the difference.” —Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 147.

HOBBES, Thomas   (1588-1679)
mechanical-materialist philosopher. He held the view that morality and law represented a precondition of civilization and the emergence of human beings from the natural, animal state (“the war of all against all”). Hobbes said that humans are selfish by nature, and therefore must be ruled by an absolute monarch. He claimed that people agree to this by accepting a “social contract”. His ethical theory was essentially one of crass expedience, and failed to recognize or explain altruism and kindness.
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Hobbes.

HOBSON, John A.   (1858-1940)
An English bourgeois social reformer, liberal-pacifist, economist and prolific author, best known for his important book Imperialism.
        In his earlier books Hobson favored an
underconsumptionist explanation for capitalist economic crises and denied the truth of “Say’s Law” (long after Marx did so, but also long before Keynes). This made his views anathema to the bourgeois economics establishment which forced him out of his university position. He was then hired by the Manchester Guardian to be their South-African correspondent. While covering the Second Boer War, Hobson formed the idea that political imperialism is the direct result of the expansive forces of modern capitalism. When he returned to England he strongly condemned the Boer War and English imperialism in general in a series of articles and books. In 1902 he published his magnum opus, Imperialism, which made him world famous. Lenin made extensive use of this book when preparing his own very important work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916).

“This author ... gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism.” —Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, LCW 22:195.

HOKUSAI   [Hokusai Katsushika]   (1760-1849)
A great Japanese artist best known for his popular series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. He is also famous for his modesty and self-effacement. His motto was: “I regret last year, I am ashamed of yesterday.” Should we all feel this way? Perhaps so, unless during those time frames we have truly accomplished everything in our power on behalf of the people!

HOLBACH, Paul Henri Dietrich d’   (1723-1789)
French materialist philosopher and atheist.

        1. A sacrifice consumed by fire. [Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (1993)].
        2. A thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire (as in “a nuclear holocaust”). [Ibid.]
        3. [Often capitalized, and used with “The”.] The mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II. [Ibid.]
        4. A mass slaughter of people; genocide. [Ibid.]
        The common use of the term The Holocaust to refer to the Nazi genocide of Jews alone is not actually appropriate. (The Hebrew-derived word
Shoah is better for that purpose, though in Hebrew it is itself a general word, meaning “catastrophe”.) There have been very large numbers of holocausts throughout history, many of comparable or even bigger size, and it is therefore wrong to restrict the name to just one event, no matter how horrendous. Even during World War II itself there were many other holocausts, including the Nazi genocide via warfare of tens of millions of Slavic peoples; the Japanese genocide against millions of Chinese people; the British-caused famine in West Bengal which killed at least a million people there [see: Famines—Imperialist Caused]; the fire-bombing of civilian areas in cities in Germany and Japan by the U.S.; and of course the completely unjustified atomic bomb attacks by the U.S. on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
        The United States, in particular, has engaged in holocausts throughout its history. A recent book detailing a lot of this is Endless Holocausts: Mass Death in the History of the United States Empire, by David Michael Smith, (NY: Monthly Review Press, 2023).
        It is also very depressing to see that the Israeli Zionists have engaged in a series of holocausts against Palestinians, including the Nakba in 1948 and the terrible genocide they are currently implementing in Gaza in the aftermath of the Palestinian uprising in October 2023. It is worth noting that all these holocausts in the modern world are being carried out by capitalist or capitalist-imperialist nation states. If we really want to get rid of holocausts we must get rid of capitalism.   —S.H. [March 20, 2024]

A bourgeois media euphemism for the fact that the working class in the U.S. (and many other countries) is being driven down in a major way, with real wages declining (especially for new jobs); health, retirement, and other benefits being slashed, or even entirely eliminated for many workers; more and more part-time work instead of full-time jobs with some limited security; the elimination of unions, and the decided weakening of those few which remain; and a generally continuing decline in the percentage of the population which even has a job at all.
        See also:

HOLY FAMILY   [Book by Marx & Engels]
[Full title in English: The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruo Bauer and Co.] This was the first joint work by Marx and Engels, and was written in the fall of 1844 and published (in German of course) in February 1845 in Frankfurt-am-Main.

“‘The Holy Family’ is a mocking reference to the Bauer brothers and their followers grouped around the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (General Literary Gazette). While attacking the Bauers and the other Young Hegelians (or Left Hegelians), Marx and Engels at the same time criticized the idealist philosophy of Hegel.
         “Marx sharply disagreed with the Young Hegelians as early as the summer of 1842, when the club of ‘The Free’ was formed in Berlin. Upon becoming editor of the Rheinische Zeitung (Rhine Gazette) in October 1842, Marx opposed the efforts of several Young Hegelian staff members from Berlin to publish inane and pretentious articles emanating from the club of ‘The Free,’ which had lost touch with reality and was absorbed in abstract philosophical disputes. During the two years following Marx’s break with ‘The Free,’ the theoretical and political differences between Marx and Engels on the one hand and the Young Hegelians on the other became deep-rooted and irreconcilable. This was not only due to the fact that Marx and Engels had gone over from idealism to materialism and from revolutionary democratism to communism, but also due to the evolution undergone by the Bauer brothers and persons of like mind during this time. In the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Bauer and his group denounced ‘1842 radicalicalism’ and its most outstanding proponent—the Rheinishe Zeitung. They slithered into vulgar subjective idealism of the vilest kind—propagation of a ‘theory’ according to which only select individuals, bearers of the ‘spirit,’ of ‘pure criticism,’ are the makers of history, while the masses, the people, serve as inert material or ballast in the historical process.
         “Marx and Engels decided to devote their first joint work to the exposure of these pernicious, reactionary ideas and to the defense of their new materialist and communist outlook.
         “During a ten-day stay of Engels in Paris the plan of the book (at first entitled Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and Co.) was drafted, responsibility for the various chapters apportioned between the authors, and the ‘Preface’ written. Engels wrote his chapters while still in Paris. Marx, who was responsible for a larger part of the book, continued to work on it until the end of November 1844. Moreover, he considerably increased the initially conceived size of the book by incorporating in his chapters parts of his economic and philosophical manuscripts on which he had worked during the spring and summer of 1844, his historical studies of the bourgeois French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, and a number of his excerpts and conspectuses. While the book was in the process of being printed, Marx added the words The Holy Family to the title. By using a small format, the book exceed 20 printer’s sheets and was thus exempted from preliminary censorship according to the prevailing regulations in a number of German states.” —Note 2, LCW 38:563-4.


HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT (HELOC)   [In Contemporary American Financial Capitalism]
A loan (or series of loans) received from a bank or mortgage company backed by the borrowers’ equity (the part of the value of the home which actually belongs to them and not the bank). Thus HELOCs, like Home Equity Loans (see entry below) are a type of second (or additional) mortgage. However, HELOCs differ from ordinary Home Equity Loans in that:
        •   Home Loans are usually for one large lump sum, while HELOCs are more like a credit card, which can be drawn down on “as needed”;
        •   Home loans are usually made at a fixed rate of interest and with fixed monthly payments, while the interest rates charged for HELOCs vary with the prevailing interest rates in the economy. (And which are presently going up significantly.)
        So HELOCs are generally more risky than Home Loans (which are often ill-advised themselves), and require more self-discipline on the part of borrowers. At present (2022) some banks will make HELOC loans up to 85% of the nominal “home owner’s” equity. At that point, if the market price of the house declines by just 15%, their remaining equity will have fallen to zero, and in reality they no longer own any part of “their” home at all. In the next major recession (or depression) many people will lose their homes because of mortgages and HELOCs which they cannot maintain payments on, especially if they lose their jobs. This is what has already happened before, including in the several years after the start of the
Great Recession in 2007-8. But predatory capitalist lenders are once again talking people into taking on excessive debt in various forms, including HELOCs, which they reallly cannot afford.

A loan received from a bank or other financial institution either through taking out a second mortgage on your home, or else through “refinancing” (renewing the terms of your existing mortgage so that the bank owns more of your home and you own less of it). Often this also entails substantially higher mortgage payments.
        During the housing bubble of the mid-2000s, the value of homes was rapidly rising, so many American “home owners”—at the predatory urging of the banks—foolishly took out home equity loans. Home equity loans peaked in the 4th quarter of 2005 at an annualized rate of one trillion dollars! This was a major boost to consumer spending and the economy. But when the bubble began to burst in 2007, and then developed into the “
Great Recession”, many of these people lost their jobs, or were otherwise unable to meet their enlarged mortgage payments, and ended up losing their homes.


“Until the early 1980s, homes in the US were mostly owned by the families living in them. By 2008, all that changed. Now US homes are actually owned—about 60 percent of the average home—by mortgage lenders. The families in them own the other 40 percent of the home’s value. The average US home ‘owner’ actually owns less of his or her home than the mortgage lenders do. Home ‘owners’ have become more like renters: owning ever less of their homes, they can remain only so long as they pay monthly to the lenders who own ever more.” —Richard D. Wolff, Capitalism Hits the Fan (2010), p. 145. [In the 1960s and 1970s Americans on average owned about two thirds of the market value of their homes. In the aftermath of the collapse of house prices in the Great Recession, many “home owners” then owed more on their home than it was even worth! —Ed.]

HOME OWNERSHIP — Racial Disparities

“Forty-six percent of Black Americans lived in homes they owned in 2021, compared with 75 percent of white Americans. That gap is wider than it was in 1960s.” —Washington Post report, quoted in The Week, Nov. 11, 2022, p. 36. [Of course, as the entry above notes, for all “races” it is actually the bank or mortgage company that owns a large fraction of the house, not the official owner/occupants. It would be interesting to know if Black American “homeowners”, on average, actually own even less of “their” homes than whites do on average. In a racist and oppressive country like the U.S. it would be surprising if this were not the case. —Ed.]

Homelessness has always been a problem under capitalism, but since the early 1970s, when the first signs of the long-developing major new
overproduction crisis first arose in the United States, the homeless problem even in this richest of all countries has gotten more and more serious. In California, one of the richest states in this richest country, a new report on this crisis in October 2017 showed that there were 135,000 people “living without permanent shelter” in the state. [Darrell Steinberg, mayor of Sacramento, and Thomas Insel, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 19, 2017, p. E7.] As more and more jobs disappear, both because of the worsening economic crisis and because of the even longer-term problem of the automation of jobs entirely out of existence, this homeless crisis is only going to get worse and worse. Capitalism just cannot provide something as essential as basic housing for growing masses of the people.
        See also below, and: TENT CITIES

New Estimates of the US Homeless Population
         “Analysis of restricted-use microdata places the number of homeless between 500,000 and 600,000, and suggests that about two-thirds sleep in shelters.”
         —NBER Digest, September 2022 issue. Issued by the American association of bourgeois economists, the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“Two-thirds of the more than 150,000 homeless people in California are living on the streets.” —New York Times, Feb. 11, 2020. [Not only is the number of homeless people rising steadily, but compounding this, the number of homeless people who don’t even have a temporary shelter at night is also rising rapidly. —Ed.]

HOMELESSNESS — Of Students and Youth

“More than 1.5 million public school students nationwide said they were homeless at some point during the 2017-18 school year, the most recent data available, according to a report from the National Center for Homeless Education released last week.
        “It was the highest number recorded in more than a dozen years, and experts said it reflected a growing problem that could negatively affect children’s academic performance and health....
        “The center, which is based at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is funded by the United States Department of Education, issued the report on Jan. 29 [2020]. Its findings came as a housing affordability crisis sweeps the nation and homelessness continues to rise.
        “The report compared the 2017-18 school year with the 2015-16 school year and found a 15 percent increase in the number of students nationwide who experienced homelessness.
        “The 2017-18 number was more than double the nearly 680,000 homeless students reported in 2004-05, the first school year examined by the center...” —Mihir Zaveri, “1.5 Million U.S. Students are Homeless, Report Says”, New York Times, Feb. 4, 2020.

A major recent hominid ancestor of our species, Homo sapiens, which is believed to have lived from around 1.89 million years ago to as recently as 143,000 years ago. [Smithsonian Institution report, New York Times, April 16, 2019.] This means that H. erectus existed for about 9 times as long as our species has been around. And, given all the threats to the continued existence of humanity under capitalism, including inter-imperialist nuclear war, if we hope to be around much longer, we damned well better get rid of capitalism soon!

HOMOPHILY   [Pronounced: ho-MOFF-uh-lee]
A sociological term, occasionally used in academic studies (and unrelated to homosexuality), referring to the tendency for people to associate with other similar individuals. Thus, the tendency of people to associate with (or spend time with) those who are of the same
“race”, ethnic group, religion, social class, or who have the same political views, are all examples of homophily.


“Globally, 67 countries have laws criminalizing homosexuality, including nearly a dozen that have the death penalty.”   —New York Times, National edition, Jan. 26, 2023, p. 3.

HOMOSEXUALITY — In the United States
        See also:

“At least 1.2 million U.S. households were headed by a same-sex couple in 2021, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey—more than double the number in 2008. Nearly 60 percent of those couples were married.”   —New York Times report, quoted in The Week, Dec. 16, 2022, p. 16.

        1. [In the long-discredited theory known as “preformationism”:] A very tiny adult human being that in past ages was naïvely believed to inhabit a sperm cell and which supposedly became a mature individual merely through merging with an egg cell and then increasing in size.
        2. [In the philosophy of mind:] The equally naïve theory that there is something like an entire “little man” inside a human head who processes incoming information from the senses and comprehends it. This leads to an infinite regress, since presumably that little man would require an even smaller little man in his head, and so forth! This theory arose because people could not yet make sense out of how ideas and other mental phenomena arise in the functioning of a material brain.

“Many of us ... imagine a little person inside the head watching sensory inputs, then telling the muscles what to do. It took a long time for scientists to realize that ascribing thought to a little person inside the head is the equivalent of asking, ‘What makes a car move?’ and answering, ‘Another little car inside’ rather than ‘An engine.’ But to explain thinking, it is all too easy to argue in a circle. And that classic beginner’s mistake is not always innocuous; it sets you up to view a fertilized egg as also containing a little person inside.” —William H. Calvin, “The Fate of the Soul”, Natural History, June 2004, p. 55. [Calvin suggests elsewhere in this article that this naïve conception is one of the reasons that many people oppose abortion and wrongly view it as being a form of “murder”. —S.H.]

HONESTY   [Intellectual Honesty]

“Marxism-Leninism is a science, and science means honest, solid knowledge; there is no room for playing tricks. Let us, then, be honest.” —Mao, “Reform Our Study” (May 1941), SW3:22.

        See also:

“There is no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation.” —Lenin, “The Second Congress of the Communist International” (Aug. 1920), LCW 31:227.
        [Even in a defeat or retreat positive political efforts can and should be made so that eventually the revolutionary movement will be in a better position to renew its advances. “Hopelessness” is in all situations merely a way of giving up the struggle and allowing the bourgeois enemy to attack our movement more harshly than we have any right to permit. —Ed.]

See also the HORIZONTALISM entry below.

“The term ‘horizontalism,’ from the Spanish horizontalidad, was first used in Argentina after the 2001 popular rebellion there. In what we can now see was a dress rehearsal for the current global [Occupy] movements, Argentines, during an economic crisis, went out into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. Banging pots and pans (cacerolado) and serenading officials with ‘Que se vayan todos, que no quede ni uno solo’ (‘They all must go, not even one should remain’), the protesters forced out five consecutive governments. In the process they formed the first neighborhood assemblies grounded in horizontalidad, a word that had not been used previously. Movement participants described horizontalidad as the most natural way to listen and to connect to one another. They rejected representative democracy and the empowerment of leaders that such delegation of authority entailed, for this kind of politics was thought to have caused the crisis in the first place. The spirit of horizontalidad simultaneously emerged in workplaces and movements of the unemployed and then into the fabric of countless social relationships, where it was seen as a tool to create more participatory and freer spaces for all—a process of awakening and empowerment similar to that which Eduardo Galeano portrays as occurring in Utopia. Horizontalidad has since become a word and expression used throughout the world to describe social movements seeking self-management, autonomy and direct democracy.” —Marina Sitrin, “Horizontalism and the Occupy Movements”, Dissent magazine, Spring 2012. (Ms. Sitrin is one of the theorists of the Occupy Movement.)
        [While the absence of genuine democracy in Argentina and the entire world as it exists today is certainly an extremely serious problem, the commentary above misdiagnosed this as the basic “cause" of the Argentine economic crisis. The real fundamental causes are the workings of the capitalist-imperialist system, and the exploitation of many of the lesser developed “Third World” countries by the imperialist powers, currently led by the United States. The lack of genuine democracy in Argentina and the world is itself another consequence of imperialist bourgeois class rule. The economic and social problems in Argentina—including the absence of real democracy—cannot be overcome until Argentina undergoes an anti-imperialist, socialist revolution.
        [While it is true that the spontaneous movement of the masses in Argentina did depose several governments in turn, in the end this movement dissipated and the bourgeoisie reestablished full control. The rebellion collapsed, and no successful revolution proved to be possible in the absence of serious revolutionary organization and leadership. See the entry immediately below on HORIZONTALISM for more on this topic. —S.H.]

An anarchist-like theory that argues that there need not be, or even “cannot be”, any central leaders, leadership bodies, or developed structure to successful people’s movements and social revolutions. Instead, this theory envisions that all decisions will be made via
“direct democracy”, where everyone concerned participates in person, without any representatives or leaders. Something like this theory has often been implicit in traditional anarchist thinking, though the term ‘horizontalism’ itself first arose in Argentina in 2001 [horizontalidad: see above entry], and has mostly been popularized since then by individuals seeking to draw grand theories from the very limited initial euphoric experience of the Occupy Movement in the U.S. and similar spontaneous mass movements in other countries (especially Spain and Greece). Such “horizontalist” practice has never been successful in achieving any major and lasting goal, any place in the world. Instead, it is a phenomenon often associated with spontaneous mass movements, which inevitably fall apart and end in disillusioned failure for the masses who were involved.
        Marina Sitrin, a theorist who developed within the Occupy Movement in the U.S., presents the argument for horizontalism this way:

“The intention of the thousands of assemblies taking place around the United States [in the Occupy Movement], as well as in Greece and Spain, where I have been most recently, is to open spaces for people to voice their concerns and desires—and to do so in a directly democratic way. These movements emerged in response to a growing crisis, the heart of which is a lack of democracy. People do not feel represented by the governments that claim to speak in their name. The Occupy movements are not based on creating either a program or a political party that will put forward a plan for others to follow. Their purpose is not to determine ‘the’ path that a particular country should take but to create the space for a conversation in which all can participate and in which all can determine together what the future should look like. At the same time, these movements are attempting to prefigure that future society in their present social relationships.
        “The Occupy movements throughout the United States, Spain, and Greece all have sought to use direct democracy to create horizontal, nonhierarchical social relationships that would allow participants to openly engage with each other. The term ‘horizontalism,’ from the Spanish horizontalidad, was first used in Argentina after the 2001 popular rebellion there.... [See the entry above for more on Argentina.]
        “In addition to cultivating horizontalidad, Occupy movements have also created new territories in which forms of direct democracy can flourish. The alternative structures and actions of the Occupy movement have emerged in these new geographic spaces of assembly. Here basic necessities, such as food, legal support, and medical care are coordinated. Novel actions have included the occupation of homes in the United States to prevent evictions and of cash offices in hospitals in Greece so people do not have to pay the newly imposed cost of health care. Towns and cities across the United States have created barter networks, generated alternative adjudication processes, and instituted free childcare. I know of one village in Northern California where people are using an alternative currency and another town outside Albany, N.Y., that has set up a free medical clinic. This is all self-organized horizontally.
        “... [T]he Occupy movements will continue to grow. The question for the future is not how to create a plan for what a better country will look like, but how to deepen and broaden the assemblies taking place and how to enhance participatory democracy in the process.
        “... [W]hile there are many challenges ahead, the Occupy movements have been and will continue to be successful.” —Marina Sitrin, “Horizontalism and the Occupy Movements”, Dissent magazine, Spring 2012.

Unfortunately, even as Ms. Sitrin was writing, the Occupy movement was falling apart, and in the year and more since then it has virtually disappeared. Of course the Occupy movement was a very positive thing, and there are many lessons to be learned from it. But one of the most important of these lessons is that organization and leadership must develop from the mass movement if that movement is ever to be successful over the long run. When you look at Ms. Sitrin’s presentation there are many striking aspects to it. First, it is remarkable how much of it is really only liberal utopianism. It posits changing society without really changing it all that much. It doesn’t mention capitalism or socialism! It doesn’t even mention social classes! It tacitly supposes that capitalist society can be reformed into some utopian paradise, and that the rulers of society will allow this to happen without resorting to violence to stop it. It imagines that this can all be accomplished even without mass organization, even without any leadership arising from the masses, even without a revolutionary party, and even without an actual social revolution!
        Well, it is easy to laugh at the total naïvete of this theory of “horizontalism”, and its petty-bourgeois class basis. How a world of billions of people could operate by constant “direct democracy” and without any leadership or organization is absolutely incomprehensible. But there is behind such horizontalist fantasies a valid worry: How can we trust our leaders and our representatives to really represent the interests of the people, and to truly lead us in satisfying those interests over the long term? People like Ms. Sitrin and most of those thousands who were in the Occupy movement have very correctly given up on the establishment Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S. They quite properly do not trust those parties, and their “leadership”, to represent the interests of the working class and ordinary people. They see the rich, “the 1%”, are running things in their own interests, and they also see the failure of revisionist regimes of the Soviet Union and contemporary capitalist China to do things in any fundamentally different way.
        But what they don’t see is that there is another way of generating leaders and organization from the masses and the mass movement. What they don’t see is that there are methods of leadership (especially the mass line) through which such a leadership can lead the mass movement in a truly democratic way. And what they don’t see is that the people can be educated to keep a close eye on their leaders, to rotate them from the masses, and to knock them down again if they even begin to put their own interests above those of the people. They don’t know about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, and what has been learned from that about how to do an even better job of governing our leaders in the future. These are some of the important things we need to explain to the people in the course of demonstrating them in our own revolutionary practice. —S.H.

“Not a single class in history has achieved power without producing its political leaders, its prominent representatives able to organize a movement and lead it.” —Lenin, “Urgent Tasks of Our Movement” (1900), LCW 4:370.

HORN, Joshua S.   (1914-1975)

“Dr. Joshua S. Horn lived and worked in China from 1954 to 1969 as an outstanding surgeon and an involved political person, serving the people through a firm understanding of the unity of politics and medicine.
        “Active in the English workers’ struggles of the 1930s, Dr. Horn visited China in 1937 as a ship’s doctor after giving up a lectureship in anatomy at Cambridge. In 1939 he joined the British Communist Party. While serving as a surgeon during World War II he developed a special interest in traumatology, the treatment of severe injuries.
        “In 1954 he left a secure post as a consultant surgeon in England and went to China with his family to make what he thought would be his ‘best political contribution.’ His book Away With All Pests, which describes the achievements of revolutionary medicine in China, is a fine memorial to his work and the development of his political consciousness. Its publication, like his other writings and his extensive speaking tours throughout the United States and Europe, helped build friendship with China. In word and deed he set an example of internationalism.
        “Dr. Horn died on December 17, 1975, in Peking after a long illness. His friends will remember him for his sense of humor, his liveliness, his enthusiasm, and the revolutionary outlook that inspired his work and service.”
         —D. Sipe, adapted from his obituary about Joshua Horn, in New China magazine, vol. 2, no. 1, June 1976, p. 4.

For many decades the number of hospitals and available hospital beds, along with specialized medical equipment like ventilators (breathing machines), has been declining in the United States, as the corporate-run health care system has sought to both cut costs and increase profits. There have been a large number of mergers of health-care organizations including both HMOs and formerly independent hospitals, which has led to the closing down of many hospitals completely. It was obvious to everyone watching this crazy trend that in some eventually inevitable national health crisis there would thus be an even bigger shortage of hospital facilities and beds than ever before in this country, and many more people would go untreated or die because of it. Still the logic of capitalist profits dictated that this “consolidation” must occur.
        In the graph at the right we see how the total number of hospital beds in the U.S. has declined over the last 40 years. But the situation is actually much worse than it appears here, since the population has hugely increased during this period. According to the World Bank (at
https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.BEDS.ZS?locations=US), the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in the U.S. declined from 9.2 in 1960, to 6.0 in 1980, to 3.5 in 2000, and down to just 2.9 in 2013 (the most recent statistics available). That’s less than one-third of the hospital beds per 1,000 people in 1960! The decline in hospital beds in Britain in recent years has been even sharper. And similar declines have occurred in most countries.
        When the Covid-19 Pandemic arrived in the U.S. in a major way in March 2020 and worsened over the next year and more, it finally did become obvious that the U.S. did not have enough hospital beds, ventilators, and related equipment and supplies (such as N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment for health workers). Because of this, many more people died. The economic “necessities” of the capitalist system, including the profit motive which led to the huge decrease in hospital beds and equipment, led to a much worse pandemic outcome, including a great many more deaths. This horrible result was in fact as much a result of the capitalist system as it was a result of the Covid-19 virus itself.
        See also: EMERGENCY ROOMS

“America’s health-care system could be in for ‘a reckoning,’ said Dan Goldberg and Rachel Roubein in Politico.com. So far, there’s no sign of hospitals ‘cracking under pressure.’ But the industry has undergone ‘long-term consolidation’ and ‘years of cutbacks’ as it emphasized short-patient stays in an effort to arrest runaway health-care spending. That’s left the system vulnerable and means that administrators might have to ration equipment, beds, protective gear, and even oxygen as patients flood ERs [emergency rooms].”
         —“Coronavirus Cases and Deaths Spike Across U.S.”, The Week magazine, March 20, 2020, p. 4.

HOT MONEY   [Contemporary Capitalist Finance]
Large (or “bulk”) deposits of money controlled by investment managers which are shifted rapidly from one bank or financial institution to another in search of the highest short term interest rates. This occurs not only within a single country, but in this age of more globalized finance, also internationally. The existence of trillions of dollars of “hot money” is one of the major factors leading to the intensification of financial crises in individual countries, partly by promoting speculation in various currencies. The flow of hot money into a country for a period can make it seem that its
balance-of-payments situation is good, but also makes it vulnerable to a very sharp change in that regard if the money is suddenly pulled out of the country. Hot money is one of the many “innovations” of modern finance capitalism that tremendously amplifies the instability of the entire world capitalist economy.

HOT SPOT   [Geology]
A point on the surface of the Earth beneath which there is an isolated column of unusually hot rising mantle rock. The magma produced by these hot spot plumes can cause volcanic activity at the surface. The most widely known hot spot is the one which has over millions of years produced the Hawaiian Islands.


A committee of the U.S. Congress which focused on attacking communists and even liberal reformists. The viciousness of this committee was matched only by its remarkable ignorance.

“Although not as famous as its later McCarthy hearings, the 1938 HUAC testimony had memorable moments. For example, at one point a congressman asked whether Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was a Communist and inquired if ‘Mr. Euripides’ was guilty of teaching class consciousness.” —Michael Edmonds, Wisconsin History magazine, Spring 2011, p. 48; original transcripts in Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Hearings, vol. 4, U.S. Gov. Printing Office, 1938-1944, pp. 2857-8.

[Question from the HUAC Committee:] “Do you have the opportunity to inject into your plays... the beliefs of communism?”
        [Joseph Papp:] “Sir, the plays we do are Shakespeare’s plays... I cannot control the writings of Shakespeare.”
         —Testimony at a HUAC hearing in June 1958; quoted in Newsweek, Nov. 23, 2009, p. 55.

Household debt (also called consumer debt) includes mortgage debt, auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, and various other kinds of loans taken out by private individuals or households. The level of household debt is a major indicator of the health of a capitalist economy; the higher the debt, the more worrisome it is. (This is because it becomes dangerous to further expand this debt bubble as it gradually dawns on banks and other sources of finance that there is already so much debt that it can never be fully paid back.)
        Capitalism can only function by building up ever larger, and ultimately completely unsustainable, levels of debt, including household debt, business debt, and government debt. Household debt and government debt are especially key in the promotion of
effective market demand which would otherwise simply not be sufficient for the working class and masses to buy back all the commodities which their labor produces. (This is because the workers are necessarily paid only a fraction of the value which their labor creates in a capitalist system of production.) In the modern capitalist-imperialist era, with its hugely expanded production capabilities, consumers must be allowed to go ever deeper into debt and the government must itself go into ever greater debt to buy the “excess” production the masses cannot afford to buy—or else the capitalist system will sink into very serious and intractable crisis.
        In the chart at the right, produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2018, note that the amount of household debt in the US is now truly colossal, totaling $13.15 trillion as of the end of 2017. And it is still rising rapidly. In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone it went up another $193 billion (or 1.5%) from the level in the third quarter. This means the annual rate of increase in this consumer debt is greater than 6%, which far surpasses not only the growth of household income, but also the growth of GDP. This sort of thing just cannot continue indefinitely, and in fact it is now approaching its limits. Each quarter now the household debt level sets a new record, higher than it has ever been before.
        There was a previous peak in household debt at the end of 2008, and as the Great Recession took hold and many people lost their jobs and even homes, some old consumer debt was written off (i.e., deemed uncollectable) and new consumer debt was much harder to obtain. Consequently the level of total household debt declined for several years until it reached its most recent low point in the 2nd quarter of 2013. Since then household debt has been on a steady rise again and has surpassed the 2008 peak—the point at which the previous debt bubble began to partially burst. Note also that the housing (mortgage) component has not quite reached the previous high (though it is getting close), but that other forms of debt (especially student loans and auto loans) have already expanded far beyond their 2008 levels. The rate of increase in total household debt, while rapid, is not as fast as it was in the several years leading up to the Great Recession. This is because the previous consumer debt bubble did not fully deflate, and the promotion of new household debt by the capitalists is therefore somewhat less manic than it was in the earlier period. The capitalists and their government need to promote further debt growth, but they are already somewhat nervous about it.

“Aggregate household debt balances increased in the fourth quarter of 2017, for the 14th consecutive quarter, and are now $473 billion higher than the previous (2008-Q3) peak of $12.68 trillion.... Overall household debt is now 17.9% above the 2013-Q2 trough.
        “Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, increased substantially during the fourth quarter. Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports on December 31 [2017] stood at $8.88 trillion, an increase of $139 billion from the third quarter of 2017....
        “About 70,000 individuals had a new foreclosure notation added to their credit reports between October 1 and December 31, roughly unchanged from the previous quarter and the lowest observed in our data....
        “Outstanding student loan debt grew, and stood at $1.38 trillion as of December 31, 2017. 11.0% of aggregate student loan debt was 90+ days delinquent or in default in 2017-Q4, a small decline from the previous quarter.
        “Auto loan balances [debt] increased by $8 billion in the fourth quarter, continuing their 6-year upward trend. Auto loan delinquency rates increased slightly, with 4.1% of auto loan balances 90 or more days delinquent on December 31. Credit card balances [debt] increased by $26 billion.” —Research and Statistics Group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit”, 2017-Q4, released February 2018.

The total income of all the workers in a given household, from all sources (including not only wages, but also interest and investment income). (Gross income is the income before the payment of income taxes; net income is after the payment of income taxes. Usually the unqualified term “household income” means gross household income.)
        The “average household income” is the total of all household income for the country or region divided by the number of households. The “median household income” is the value for which 50% of all households have a greater income and 50% have a smaller income. For most purposes the median income is a much better social indicator since the average income is generally grossly skewed in capitalist society because of the vast incomes of the small number of very rich households (the bourgeoisie).
        The graph at the right shows the percentage change in the median household income in the U.S. since 2000. Note that the rate of decline has been speeding up as the current economic crisis intensifies.
        Household income is not the same as personal income, since there is typically more than one person in a household. The term family income is often used as a synonym for household income, though the U.S. Census Bureau defines household income in a slightly broader way (and including all those who live in the same home even if they are not part of a single family).

“The economic boom that peaked in 2007 represented the first time that median real (that is, inflation-adjusted) incomes did not recover to their previous peak before declining into the next recession. More ominously, family incomes have yet to recover, even though the recession ended three and a half years ago. That has brought the total decline in real incomes to nearly 9 percent since 2000. So where has the economic growth from the recovery gone? Much of it has gone to corporate profits, as companies took advantage of the high unemployment rate and the ability to shift production globally to hold down wages in the United States.” —Steven Rattner, “America in 2012, as Told in Charts”, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2012.

The system of agricultural organization in the Chinese countryside that
Deng Xiaoping and his fellow revisionists instituted to replace the collective form of peasant organization (leading to the People’s Communes) that had been carefully developed step-by-step under Mao’s leadership during the socialist era. Under the Household Responsibility System each family is once again on its own as it was for centuries in the old pre-revolutionary society.

Work performed mostly within the home, usually including cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, sewing, grocery shopping, taking care of children, and a myriad of other necessary activities. Traditionally, and still today even in advanced capitalist countries, this work is mostly performed by women. In the United States, up until about World War II, most women did not have jobs outside the home, but when the
post-World War II economic boom ended, and the economic situation for most working class families began to seriously weaken, it became economically necessary for more and more women to also get jobs. Nevertheless, for both traditional cultural reasons, and for reasons of male chauvinism and the continued second class status of women in capitalist society, most housework is still being done by women despite their full time jobs outside the home. The primary way to end this injustice in a future socialist, then communist, society, is to transform most housework into standard professional labor mostly performed outside the home. Thus, for example, if more and more cooking and dining is done in restaurants and cafeterias, the need for long hours spent preparing elaborate meals will be greatly diminished. If there are good child care facilities, then there will be less of a childcare burden at home. (Technological advances can also help diminish the need for long hours of housework, as in fact has already occurred to some degree.) Of course, in addition to this “industrialization of housework” it will also become absolutely necessary to transform the present culture of the additional oppression of women in the home by making the remaining housework the equal responsibility of both men and women.

“The Soviet government has applied democracy to a greater extent than any other country, even the most advanced, by the fact that in its laws not the slightest hint to any inferiority of women is left. I repeat, not a single state and no democratic legislation has done even half of what the Soviet government did for women in the very first months of its existence.
        “Of course, laws are not enough, and we cannot under any circumstances be satisfied merely with what we say in our laws... But we say to ourselves: Of course this is only a beginning.
        “As long as women are engaged in housework their position is still a restricted one. In order to achieve the complete emancipation of women and to make them really equal with men, we must have social economy, and the participation of women in general productive labor. Then women will occupy the same position as men.
        “... You all know that even with the fullest equality, women are still in an actual position of inferiority because all housework is thrust upon them. Most of this housework is highly unproductive [in the technical Marxist sense —Ed.], most barbarous and most arduous, and it is performed by women. This labor is extremely petty and contains nothing that would in the slightest degree facilitate the development of women.
        “In pursuit of our socialist ideals we want to fight for the complete realization of socialism, and here a wide field of work is opened up for women. We are now seriously preparing to clear the ground for socialist construction; and the construction of socialist society will commence only when we, having achieved the complete equality of women, take up our new work together with women who have been emancipated from petty, stultifying, unproductive work....
        “We are establishing model institutions, dining rooms and crèches, which will liberate women from housework. And it is precisely the women primarily who must undertake the work of building all these institutions. It must be said that at present there are very few such institutions in Russia that could help the women to liberate themselves from their state of domestic slavery.... Nevertheless, it must be said that such institutions, which liberate women from their position of domestic slavery, are springing up wherever there is the slightest possibility for them to do so. We say that the emancipation of the workers must be brought about by the workers themselves, and similarly, the emancipation of women workers must be brought about by the women workers themselves. Women workers themselves should see to the development of such institutions; and their activities in this field will lead to a complete change from the position they formerly occupied in capitalist society.” —Lenin, “The Tasks of the Working Women’s Movement in the Soviet Republic” (1918), in Women and Society, by V. I. Lenin, (NY: International, 1938), pp. 17-19.

asset bubble in the prices of houses. In other words, a tremendous and unjustified rise in the prices of houses due to massive government financial support and/or one form of private speculation or another.
        In the 1997-2007 period in the U.S., for example, and especially in the latter years from 2003-2007, many speculators began buying houses—often not in order to live in them themselves—but in order to sell them again later after the prices rose some more. Even for many of those who did live in these houses in the meantime, this was close to pure speculation, which was promoted by banks and the government through low or non-existent down payments and very low interest rates. This particular housing bubble was also promoted by banks through securitization of mortgages in the form of CDOs. This allowed the banks to escape any risk on the mortgages they had already issued, and continue to issue new risky mortgages to those with “sub-prime” (poor) credit.
        Housing bubbles, like all asset bubbles, always pop eventually, and the 1997-2007 bubble began to pop in late 2007. (House prices actually peaked in 2006, but at first the declines were quite small.) However, even though episodes of bubble popping can be dramatic, it takes time for them to completely deflate. Sometimes they are even partially reinflated for a while. Thus while the recent U.S. housing bubble has considerably deflated from its peak, it is still a substantial bubble. For that reason, the government is going to great lengths (and great expense) to try to “prop up” the housing market, or, in other words to try to reinflate the present housing bubble. “The government is literally plowing trillions of dollars into the U.S. mortgage market to keep it afloat”, said Guy D. Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance in October 2009.
        Housing bubbles are a common development in advanced capitalist countries in the imperialist era. There was a huge housing bubble which popped in the Great Depression of the 1930s and a bigger bubble which popped in the late 1980s-early 1990s with the Savings & Loan Crisis. But by far the biggest housing bubble, especially in the U.S. but also in Britain, Spain and other countries, is the current one which is by no means resolved yet.

“Should we let housing prices fall? Many smart people say we should. It seems increasingly clear that we must. For how long can the government prop them up? Are we never to have a private market in mortgages again? Yet what happens if we let them fall? Arguably many banks would once again be ‘under water.’ Enthusiasm for another set of bailouts is weak, to say the least. Our government would end up nationalizing these banks and it still would be on the hook for their debts. The blow to confidence would be a major one. I increasingly believe there is no easy way out of this dilemma and it is a major reason why the U.S. economy remains stuck. Housing prices must fall, yet ... housing prices must not fall.” —Tyler Cowen, a bourgeois commentator, on the website MarginalRevolution.com, Sept. 8, 2010; as quoted in The Week, Sept. 24, 2010, p. 48.
        [This is one of the many specific contradictions that the U.S. capitalist economy has gotten itself into. About 80% of U.S. bank loans are in the form of mortgages, and for many decades now the heavy government promotion of housing debt is one of the major factors that has been keeping the economy from sinking into a new depression. So they must continue to promote this housing bubble. But it is getting ever more difficult and costly to do so, and the bubble must more completely collapse in the end. That is their current predicament. —S.H.]

“Since 1997, we have lived through the biggest real estate bubble in United States history—followed by the most calamitous decline in housing prices that the country has ever seen.
        “Fundamental factors like inflation and construction costs affect home prices, of course. But the radical shifts in housing prices in recent years were caused mainly by investor-induced speculation....
        “The great housing bubble of the 2000s was diffused widely through the population and didn’t owe its beginnings to any single promotional scheme. The bubble became so big apparently because of a number of kinds of financial promotion—of subprime mortgages, no-down-payment mortgages, securitized mortgages and other innovations.” —Robert J. Shiller, “Before Housing Bubbles, There Was Land Fever”, New York Times, April 20, 2013. [Shiller is a bourgeois economist and a leading expert on housing prices.]

HOUSING QUESTION, The   [Pamphlet by Engels]
A collection of articles, soon also issued as a pamphlet, that Engels wrote in 1872-1873 for the publication Volkstaat about the serious housing shortage for workers in Germany at that time. These articles also examined the various reformist nostrums proposed for dealing with this problem, and criticized and exposed them and their proponents. His central point was that a policy of housing reforms cannot possibly replace the revolutionary program of the proletariat because “it is not that the solution of the housing question simultaneously solves the social question, but that only by the solution of the social question, that is, by the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, is the solution of the housing question made possible.”
        This work by Engels is available online at:

“In this book Engels deals with a secondary consequence of the economic law of development of capitalism—the housing question. He shows how not only bad and unhealthy housing, but a housing shortage and high rents, affecting not only the working class but large sections of the middle class also, result from the rapid development of industrial capitalism. He discusses various schemes proposed for solving the housing problem, and concludes that this problem is integrally connected with capitalism and that only by the ending of capitalism will the housing question be finally solved.
        “It first appeared in the form of three articles in the German socialist press in 1872—when the industrial boom following the end of the Franco-Prussian War, and the rapid growth of cities, had made the housing problem loom large in Germany. The articles are strongly polemical in character—directed against petty-bourgeois socialists (revivers of the discredited ideas of Proudhon) who were pushing the housing question into the forefront and pretending that their quack remedies for it would transform society.
        “What are the principal questions dealt with in the articles?
        “1.   Engels exposes the fallacy of those socialists who fancy they can transform capitalism by a few legal reforms.
        “2.   Engels deals with the proposal to solve the housing problem by ensuring that every worker shall own ‘his own little house.’ He shows that this is a utopia, and moreover not a socialist proposal but a thoroughly reaactionary proposal. And in this connection he explains the true economic relation between landlord and tenant and the nature of house rent. The landlord-tenant relation is not like the relation between capitalist and worker, but is based on an ordinary sale and purchase transaction between two citizens. The landlord sells the use of the house to the tenant.
        “3.   Engels proves that the capitalists, while forced to agree to various steps to alleviate the housing problem, do not want to solve it; and that housing schemes initiated by the capitalist state do not solve it either. He enters in some detail into questions of building societies, state aid for housing, factory housing schemes, town planning.
        “4.   Engels shows how, with the seizure of power by the proletariat, exiting housing can be utilized for the benefit of the working class; and he shows how the eventual solution of the housing question will be bound up with the abolition of the antithesis between town and countryside.”
         —Maurice Cornforth, Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (London: 1952), pp.39-40.

HOXHA, Enver   [Family name pronounced HO-juh]   (1908-1985)
The First Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania, and the leader of that country from the end of World War II until his death. He also held various powerful government positions during most of that time. For both nationalist and ideological reasons Hoxha opposed Tito and Yugoslavia, and thus sided with Stalin and the Soviet Union against them. Hoxha was thus presumed by many to be an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist, though the form of the supposed
dictatorship of the proletariat in Albania was highly undemocratic for the working class as well as the bourgeoisie and society was not truly advanced in the direction of communism.
        Hoxha and Albania sided with China in the Sino-Soviet Split. However, after Mao’s death (and especially from 1978 on) Hoxha began defaming Mao along with the actual capitalist-roaders in China. Both Hoxha’s theorizing and his actual leadership of Albania were quite erroneous, and not many years after his death the regime he led collapsed.
        For a defense of Mao and Maoism against the unfounded attacks of Hoxha, see “Enver Hoxha Refuted”, by N. Sanmugathasan, General Secretary, Ceylon Communist Party, at: https://www.bannedthought.net/SriLanka/Sanmugathasan/HoxhaRefuted.htm

After the death of Mao and the capture of the Chinese state by the revisionists and new bourgeoisie within the CCP, many revolutionaries around the world became somewhat disoriented. When Enver Hoxha (see above) broke with China, but also began criticizing Mao, some of these people really lost their bearings and decided to follow Hoxha as their guru. The so-called
International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle) is one association of such groups. None of these parties or groups has amounted to very much, but some of them still exist in very attenuated form. They are noted for their ultra-dogmatism and formulaic approach to revolution.

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index