Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ia - Il   —

[American business press abbreviation:] A vehicle powered by an Internal Combustion Engine, in contrast to an EV (an electric vehicle).

The International Communist Movement. This is understood by revolutionaries to include only revolutionary communists, and to exclude
revisionists and revisionist parties even if they call themselves “communists”.

ICMLPO (International Newsletter) or ICMLPO (Maoist)

ICMLPO (Unity & Struggle) or ICMLPO (Hoxhaist)


        See also:
SOCIETY—Dominant Ideas In

IDEALISM   [In Philosophy]
The view that the “spiritual”, or mental, or non-material reality is primary, and that material reality (if it exists at all) is secondary. One of the two great trends in the history of philosophy, the other being its opposite,
        The graphic at the right shows the main forms of idealism, with reference to adherents of particular forms. [From: Marxist-Leninist Philosophy: Diagrams, tables, illustrations for students of Marxist-Leninist theory, (Moscow: Progress, 1987, p. 18.]
        See also sub-topics below and: MATERIALISM VS. IDEALISM,   SUBJECTIVE IDEALISM,   and Philosophical doggerel about idealism.

“Disagreement with ‘common sense’ is the foul quirk of an idealist.” —Lenin, criticizing Hegel for his slander against the materialism of Epicurus, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:283. [Of course for us materialists the existence of the physical world is the foundation of common sense, and those who deny that the material world exists must of necessity be disagreeing with basic common sense. —S.H.]

IDEALISM — Disagreements Within

“When one idealist criticizes the foundations of idealism of another idealist, materialism is always the gainer thereby. Cf. Aristotle versus Plato, etc., Hegel versus Kant, etc.” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures on the History of Philosophy” (1915), LCW 38:283.

IDEALISM — Origin Of
If you go far enough back into pre-history, there will be a time when human beings—or our recent hominid ancestors—were not at all capable of abstract symbolic thought. And, even today, the subtleties of
abstraction are often a difficult thing for many people to fully comprehend. If we can conceive of the concept of “God”, must a God therefore actually exist? Some people still think so! And in churches, movies and literature there is still a constant stream of indoctrination which succeeds in getting millions of people to believe that “incantations” or “prayers” can magically change the world.
        Young children, in particular, are often very confused by the difference between an object in the world and a picture of it, or a model of it, or the name of that object in contrast to the object itself. As the American psychologist Judy S. DeLoache and her colleagues have found in their experiments, “young children often conflate the item and its symbol”. Moreover the full appreciation of the difference between an abstract symbol for a thing, and the thing itself, is something that develops by stages over time. By the age of around 18 months babies generally begin to understand the difference between an object and a picture of that object, but it still “takes several years for the nature of pictures to be completely understood”. The relation of models of the world to the world itself is a still more difficult thing for children to grasp. They show that young “children cannot maintain the distinction between a symbol and its referent”. DeLoache concludes that “As these various studies show, infants and young children are confused by many aspects of symbols that seem intuitively obvious to adults.” [Cf. Judy S. DeLoache, “Mindful of Symbols”, Scientific American, Aug. 2005.]
        But adults, too, often have difficulties in fully comprehending various types of more sophisticated abstractions. This is true even among highly-educated people in bourgeois society. To this very day, there is tremendous confusion and disagreement within bourgeois philosophy over the nature of universals (such as the concept of “chairs”) as opposed to individual physical things (such as some particular chair). These sorts of confusions about the nature of abstraction are the intellectual source of philosophical idealism. The more practical source, of course, is the desire of the ruling classes to maintain their rule by promoting religion, in either primitive traditional forms or idealized metaphysical forms.
        See also: PYTHAGOREANS

“Primitive idealism: the universal (concept, idea) is a particular being. This appears wild, monstrously (more accurately, childishly) stupid. But is not modern idealism, Kant, Hegel, the idea of God, of the same nature (absolutely of the same nature)? Tables, chairs and the ideas of table and chair; the world and the idea of the world (God); thing and ‘noumen,’ the unknowable ‘Thing-in-itself’; the connection of the earth and the sun, nature in general—and law, logos, God. The dichotomy of human knowledge and the possibility of idealism (=religion) are given already in the first, elementary abstraction:

‘house’ in general and particular houses

“The approach of the (human) mind to a particular thing, the taking of a copy (= a concept) of it is not a simple, immediate act, a dead mirroring, but one which is complex, split into two, zig-zag-like, which includes in it the possibility of the flight of fantasy from life; more than that: the possibility of the transformation (moreover, an unnoticeable transformation, of which man is unaware) of the abstract concept, idea, into a fantasy (in the final analysis = God).” —Lenin, “Conspectus of Aristotle’s Book Metaphysics” (1915), LCW 38:372.

“The philosophy of antiquity was primitive, spontaneously evolved materialism. As such, it was incapable of clearing up the relation between mind and matter. But the need to get clarity on this question led to the docrtine of a soul separable from the body, then to the assertion of the immortality of this soul, and finally to monotheism. The old materialism was therefore negated by idealism. But in the course of the further development of philosophy, idealism, too, became untenable and was negated by modern materialism. This modern materialism, the negation of the negation, is not the mere re-establishment of the old, but adds to the permanent foundations of this old materialism the whole thought-content of two thousand years of development of philosophy and natural science, as well as of the history of these two thousand years. It is no longer a philosophy at all, but simply a world outlook which has to establish its validity and be applied not in a science of sciences standing apart, but to the real sciences. Philosophy is therefore ‘sublated’ here, that is, ‘both overcome and preserved’; overcome as regards its form, and preserved as regards its real content.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring, Chapter XIII. [MECW 25:128-9].

        The view (or theory) that the best way to go about struggling against the discrimination and oppression of various groups of people (because of their
“race”, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, religion, etc.) is for each of them to organize themselves independently to fight for their own group interests as a separate identity.
        There are two basic flaws with this approach: First, instead of building a united people’s movement against all forms of discrimination and oppression, it tends to keep individual struggles isolated and less effective. And second, it ignores the fact that all these separate forms of discrimination and oppression are closely connected to one central and much deeper problem: the continued existence of the capitalist system. The biggest flaw in identity politics is therefore that it springs from reformist notions, that separate forms of oppression within current society can be dealt with and overcome separately and without the need for social revolution.
        Of course this does not mean that specific groups of oppressed people should not have their own organizations to struggle against that oppression and to educate the rest of the masses about this problem. It is certainly good and correct for women to have organizations to fight for equality for women, for example. But such separate organizations must focus most of all upon making the struggle for women’s rights an integral part of the overall social and revolutionary movement. For any one of these separate struggles to be truly and completely successful, it must be united with the rest into one powerful general struggle of the people for social revolution.
        There are many evils in present capitalist society and many forms and types of discrimination and oppression. But the central problem is the class oppression of the working class, and only if the bourgeoisie can be removed from all power can both the class contradiction and all other social contradictions (which are at the very least enormously intensified by the capitalist system) be fully resolved.

Identity politics as anti-labor politics
        “A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.
        “The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one’s interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, or better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.”
         —Michael Hudson, “Trump is Obama’s legacy. Will this break up the Democratic Party?”, Real-World Economics Review, #78 (March 22, 2017), online at: http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue78/whole78.pdf. [Hudson is a radical-liberal, non-mainstream bourgeois economist, who promotes a reformist type of politics. His comments here are interesting in that they bring out that “identity politics” is not only opposed to a Marxist revolutionary program based most centrally on class struggle, but has even been made use of by the section of the bourgeoisie associated with the Democratic Party in a more or less conscious scheme to weaken the reformist economic struggle against Wall Street and the big banks within the current capitalist system! In effect it has been an attempt to divert class struggle (reformist or not) into separate and isolated concerns over secondary social issues. —Ed.]

“In the popular imagination, identity politics is the stuff of queer-studies seminars and Hillary Clinton rallies. The excesses of intolerant university students raging against misogyny, racism and homophobia have been rigorously catalogued. Rather less attention has been paid to the appetite for a different kind of identity politics—one centred around whiteness and championed by President Donald Trump. This kind of right-leaning identity politics is more potent than the left-leaning version. There is no single cause which unifies the Democratic Party like the sense among some white voters that their status as top dogs is threatened, which binds the Trumpian Republican Party together.” —“Caravan of Copycats: To excite the base, Republicans fall back on identity politics”, The Economist, Nov. 3, 2018, p. 25.
         [It is in fact true that in the “identity politics” game, the masses are destined to lose out because if all “identities” are on their own, the capitalist establishment white racist identity will inevitably come out on top in this horrendous society. —Ed.]

IDENTITY THEORY (In the Philosophy of Mind)
The view that mental states and processes are identical to the corresponding neural states and processes in the brain that give rise to them. This is a common and prominent type of
naive materialism. Of course there are indeed physical structures and processes in the brain which give rise to mental phenomena such as thoughts, memories, feelings, etc. But while we are well aware of these thoughts, memories, and feelings themselves we ordinarily have no direct knowledge of the precise neural networks, structures and processes which give rise to them. If our thoughts, memories and feelings were actually identical to some physical neural structures and processes, then to be aware of one would be the same as being aware of the other! In reality our awareness of mental phenomena is only a high order internal indication or characterization of what are actually very complex brain states and processes.
        An analogy: For the image of an automobile to appear on a TV screen, an enormously complex series of material processes must occur in the video camera, the transmission equipment, and the TV receiver set. It would be just as foolish to identify that image with all the material structures and processes that allow it to be shown as it is to identify my memory of that image with the complex brain processes which allow me to have that memory. Our description of the specific TV image as “an automobile” is only a high-level characterization of one aspect of the functioning of the TV equipment at that moment, just as my memory of that image is only a high level characterization of one aspect of the functioning of my brain at that moment.

IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE — Within the Revolutionary Movement

“I cannot help recalling ... a conversation I happened to have at the [2nd R.S.D.L.P.] Congress with one of the ‘Center’ delegates. ‘How oppressive the atmosphere is at our Congress!’ he complained. ‘This bitter fighting, this agitation one against the other, this biting controversy, this uncomradely attitude!...’ ‘What a splendid thing our Congress is!’ I replied. ‘A free and open struggle. Opinions have been stated. The shades have been revealed. The groups have taken shape. Hands have been raised. A decision has been taken. A stage has been passed. Forward! That’s the stuff for me! That’s life! That’s not like the endless, tedious word-chopping of your intellectuals, which stops not because the question has been settled, but because they are too tired to talk any more...’
        “The comrade of the ‘Center’ stared at me in perplexity and shrugged his shoulders. We were talking different languages.” —Lenin, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” (May 1904), LCW 7:347.

See: HUMANITY—Ideological Transformation Of,   “NEW MAN”, The

One who defends or promotes a specific ideology. Those who promote and defend the ideologies characteristic of the bourgeoisie are bourgeois ideologists; those who promote and defend the ideology characteristic of the revolutionary proletariat are proletarian or revolutionary ideologists.

The totality of political, legal, philosophical, religious, ethical and aesthetic views of an age, a class, a group, or an individual, considered as a whole. As opposed to vague and isolated ideas and feelings on these topics, ideology is usually considered to be more or less coherent, developed and systematized. In class society there can only be class ideologies; that is, ideologies which represent the views and material interests of specific social classes.
        See also:

“[T]he only choice is—either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a ‘third’ ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or an above class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.” —Lenin, What Is To Be Done? (2002), LCW 5:384.

IDEOLOGY — Denial Of
It is a notable fact that many of the strongest promoters of capitalist ruling class ideology fail to recognize or admit that they themselves are under the influence of any ideology. Bourgeois ideologists are outraged and react with great hostility when ideological labels are pinned on them. The more bourgeois the ideologist, the more forceful the rejection by him or her of the label “bourgeois ideologist”! Sometimes this circumstance is ascribed to the fact that from within any ideological position the views and principles promoted seem to be mere common sense. However, we advocates of proletarian revolutionary ideology do not try to hide our determined promotion of the class interests of the workers and masses. It is only the supporters of the class interests of a tiny class of exploiters and oppressors who have to try to convince even themselves that their ideas are not at all ideological and do not promote the welfare of the few against that of the many.


Although an idiosyncrasy in a person’s ideas or conceptions can sometimes amount to an eccentricity, most often it is just an “individualizing characteristic or quality” as dictionaries note. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we each have a number of individualizing characteristics in our thoughts and and ideas? It is both! It means that there are some differences among us in our conceptions and therefore there is also error. But it also means that some of these idiosyncrasies might oppose existing errors and currently dominant mistaken ideas. The very existence of diverse ideas among the people (and also within the revolutionary party) is a reason to think that whatever errors now exist can be overcome though further discussion and struggle. From the standpoint of dialectics, some stubborn idiosyncrasies in people’s ideas can indeed help lead everyone to a more correct understanding and to more effective political action.

“Weren’t there some idiosyncrasies in the ideas of Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, and Marx—at least compared to the prevailing conceptions during their times? Idiosyncrasies in ideas are not to be lightly discarded!” —Scott’s painfully obvious conclusion, #6.


“I believe there is no greater hatred in the whole world, than that of ignorance for knowledge.” —Galileo, in a letter to a friend after his first brush with the Inquisition.

“It is to the advantage of despots to keep people ignorant; it is to our advantage to make them intelligent. We must lead all of them gradually away from ignorance.” —Mao, a directive regarding the Cultural Revolution, Feb. 11, 1966, SW9:405.

IGNORANCE — “Permanent”
COMTE, Auguste [quote by Timothy Ferris]

Inspector General of Police, a high-ranking police official in India.

ILLIQUID ASSET   [Capitalist Fianance]
An investment or other asset that cannot be easily or quickly sold (and thus rapidly turned into money).

The proven fact that human beings are more likely to believe statements are true when they read or hear them repeatedly, and regardless of whether those statements are plausible or implausible on the face of things.
        This is one of many scientific findings which sadly show that we human beings are not entirely rational. It also explains, in part, why it is difficult to disabuse people of erroneous or even nonsensical beliefs which they have had drummed into their heads. It may also explain why changing people’s minds about things may often require numerous repetitions of the true situation too, as well as of the various supporting arguments and the rebuttals of the erroneous view. In other words, we need to be patient with people, just as they hopefully are with us!
        See also:

        “Repetition increases the likelihood that a statement will be judged as true. This illusory truth effect is well established; however, it has been argued that repetition will not affect belief in unambiguous statements. When individuals are faced with obviously true or false statements, repetition should have no impact. We report a simulation study and a preregistered experiment that investigate this idea. Contrary to many intuitions, our results suggest that belief in all statements is increased by repetition. The observed illusory truth effect is largest for ambiguous items, but this can be explained by the psychometric properties of the task, rather than an underlying psychological mechanism that blocks the impact of repetition for implausible items. Our results indicate that the illusory truth effect is highly robust and occurs across all levels of plausibility. Therefore, even highly implausible statements will become more plausible with enough repetition.”
         —Lisa K. Fazio, David G. Rand & Gordon Pennycook, “Repetition Increases Perceived Truth Equally for Plausible and Implausible Statements”, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, volume 26, pages 1705–1710 (August 16, 2019), online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13423-019-01651-4

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