Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Lo - Lt   —

CONGRESS [McChesney/Nichols quote]

LOCKE, John   (1632-1704)
English empiricist philosopher. He was a proponent of the idealist notion of
“natural rights” in ethics and politics, and was a major influence on those who founded the United States.
        Locke also wrote on political economy, and as Marx said, “championed the new bourgeoisie in every way, taking the side of the industrialists against the working class and against the paupers, the merchants against the old-fashioned usurers, the financial aristocracy against the governments that were in debt, and he even demonstrated in one of his books that the bourgeois way of thinking was the normal one for human beings.” [Marx, quoted in an appendix to TSV, 3:592.]
        See also: Philosophical doggerel about Locke.

        1. [In prisons:] Confinement of prisoners to their cells, and not allowing them to have meals in the cafeteria or to get exercise in the prison yard, etc.
        2. [In epidemics:] Stay-at-home orders requiring non-essential people to remain at home in order to keep an epidemic from spreading. (See also:

A giant American corporation, and the nation’s largest defense contractor. This is one of the best illustrations of what is known as the
Pentagon System, wherein the U.S. government promotes the welfare of supposedly private corporations. Lockheed Martin is at the centre of the grotesquely bloated miltary trough.
        The F-22, a military plane manufactured by the company and that has been in development since the 1980s, has now become so horribly overpriced that not even the world’s premier imperialist power can afford to maintain a fleet of very many of them, and the Obama administration has terminated production, citing the ridiculous cost involved. This was something that the company tried hard to prevent, by spreading the manufacturing of the plane around the country and in many different Congressional districts, and tying employment in these areas with the plane’s procurement by the Air Force, thereby deliberately making itself “too big to fail” (in the lingo of the so-called financial crisis). Some military experts even complain that the aircraft will diminish US power because it is too complex and prone to unforeseen problems, which requires more maintenance time, fewer flight hours for pilots, etc, and will not even be deployed in sufficient numbers to provide very much of a strategic advantage to US imperialism.
        Likewise, Lockheed Martin’s other fighter jet, the F-35, has been harshly criticized as being too compromised due, ironically, to its promise of being a cost cutting aircraft. (The Marine version is capable of vertical/short take-off and landing, but this imposes design constraints on the Air Force and Navy versions, which require ad-hoc modifications to make them competent in their assigned roles. To fix the inevitable problems emanating from a fundamentally unsound design, its costs have also ballooned wildly). This entire fiasco shows quite clearly what Marx said of the bourgeoisie being a “hostile band of brothers”: the capitalist class has overall interests that bring it together, but each capitalist tries to gain a short-term advantage over its rivals, even if this might jeopardize the system as a whole (in this case, the vitality of American military power). —L.C.

“At some point before the summer of 2018, an arms deal from the US to Saudi Arabia was sealed and delivered. A 227kg laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of many thousands, was part of that sale. On August 9th, 2018 one of those Lockheed Martin bombs was dropped on a school bus full of Yemeni children. They were on their way to a field trip when their lives came to a sudden end. Amidst shock and grief, their loved ones would learn that Lockheed Martin was responsible for creating the bomb that murdered their children.
         “What they might not know is that the United States government (the President and the State Department) approved the sale of the bomb that killed their children, in the process enriching Lockheed Martin, which makes millions in profits from arms sales every year.
         “While Lockheed Martin profited from the death of forty Yemeni children that day, top United States weapons companies continue to sell weapons to repressive regimes around the world, killing countless more people in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more. And in many cases, the United States public has no idea this is being done in our name to benefit the largest private companies in the world.”
         —Danaka Katovich, “Arms Sales: What We Know About Bombs Being Dropped in Our Name”, CounterPunch, June 11, 2021, online at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/06/11/arms-sales-what-we-know-about-bombs-being-dropped-in-our-name/

Logic is usually defined to be the rules of valid inference or the rules and nature of reasoning. However, if you look at the dominant areas of discussion in books of logic, you will find that they usually only discuss the rules and nature of reasoning insofar as these are related to
deduction. Actually deductive logic (or “formal logic”) is only one small part of what should “logically” be called logic. Other important areas of logic in the broad sense that usually receive scant attention include analogic logic (the logic of making analogies), and most important of all, dialectical logic.

[To be added.... ]

“It has been said that the relationship of formal logic to dialectics is like the relationship between elementary mathematics and higher mathematics. This is a formulation which should be studied further. Formal logic is concerned with the form of thought, and is concerned to ensure that there is no contradiction between successive stages in an argument. It is a specialized science. Any kind of writing must make use of formal logic.
         “Formal logic does not concern itself with major premises: it is incapable of so doing. The Kuomintang call us ‘bandits’. ‘Communists are bandits’, ‘Chang San is a communist’, therefore ‘Chang San is a bandit’. We say ‘The Kuomintang are bandits’, ‘Chiang Kai-shek is Kuomintang’, therefore we say ‘Chiang Kai-shek is a bandit’. Both of these syllogisms are in accordance with formal logic.
         “One cannot acquire much fresh knowledge through formal logic. Naturally one can draw inferences, but the conclusion is still enshrined in the major premise. At present some people confuse formal logic and dialectics. This is incorrect.” —Mao, “Speech at Hangchow” (Dec. 21, 1965), in Stuart Schram, ed., Chairman Mao Talks to the People (1974), pp. 240-241. Also in Mao, SW 9:229.

“Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and end in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether.” —Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, Part V. (We believe these particular comments date from 1933. —Ed.)

“[T]he many books which have been and are still being written on logic provide abundant proof that here, too, final and ultimate truths are much more sparsely sown than some people believe.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:84.

An extreme form of
empiricism, which began as an avowedly neo-Kantian movement, and which held that only statements that can be verified empirically have meaning, from which they assumed that it follows that all metaphysics, religion, and even ethical principles, along with other abstract philosophical and social principles and even most poetry, are “meaningless” and therefore neither true nor false. (They failed to notice that their very statement of this verifiability principle was also meaningless according to the principle itself!) The Vienna Circle of logical positivists was established in the mid-1920s by Moritz Schlick, Otto Neurath, and others, and was inspired by the views of Ernst Mach and the early philosophical musings of Ludwig Wittgenstein (who, however, kept his distance from them). Later on, Rudolf Carnap became the most widely known representative of this group.
        Logical positivism was extremely influential in the 20th century among scientists, and that negative influence still continues. There is also still a quite strong current of empiricism within bourgeois philosophy which has logical positivism among its ancestral roots even if, today, it is rarely promoted by that name.
        See also: A.J. AYER,   Karl POPPER,   W. V. O. QUINE,   Charles STEVENSON

“The intellectual project of the Vienna Circle—the drawing of a sharp distinction between meaningful discourse (mainly science) and ‘nonsense’ (theology, metaphysics, ethics, poetry...)—has long been regarded as having expired from its internal contradictions. Even [A.J.] Ayer, its onetime evangelist, came to concede this, telling a BBC television interviewer in 1978 that the most important defect of logical positivism is that ‘nearly all of it was false’.” —Jim Holt, “Positive Thinking”, The New York Review of Books, Dec. 21, 2017, p. 74.

A phrase now used in the manufacturing and shipping industries to refer to a set of innovations and new procedures introduced over the past half century which have made the globalized production and distribution of goods easier, cheaper, and thus more profitable to multinational corporations.
        Central among these changes has been the near universal adoption of large shipping containers to ship goods, one big “truck load” at a time. These containers are loaded at a source factory, shipped by rail or truck to a port, loaded on ships by giant cranes, moved by sea to another port, unloaded by other cranes, and then shipped by rail or truck again to other factories or to distributors of the final goods. This method of shipping is sort of a wholesale approach, as against the earlier more piecemeal method of shipping individual items, small irregular boxes, individual sacks, and so forth, and is much cheaper and more reliable.
        Other aspects of the “logistics revolution” include more automation in the loading of containers onto ships and off of them later; faster and more reliable shipping schedules facilitating “just-in-time” arrival of parts and raw materials (cutting down on warehousing expenses); the better integration of parts production in far flung factories, often in several different countries each with the best blend of low wages and worker skills for that particular item; and easier possibilities for shifting production of particular parts or for final assembly to a different location if there should be political or labor “trouble” at a particular plant.
        However, where there are militant labor movements (especially by longshoremen) or even political or revolutionary movements in key locations, this whole globalized production system can still become quite vulnerable to massive disruption.

“In our modern global trading system, ‘moving goods around costs next to nothing,’ said Rachel Slade. Shipping companies have achieved ‘mind-boggling economies of scale,’ with megavessels carrying 20,000 containers constantly crisscrossing the oceans, and automated cranes in every port loading and unloading ships ‘in record time.’ The maritime industry brings Americans bottled water from France, shoes from Cambodia, and phones from China—all at affordable prices; cheap shipping truly is ‘the backbone of the global economy.’ Yet shipping companies face ‘the same relentless downward pressure on prices’ as global manufacturing does, and firms are ‘creaking under the strain.’ Many developing countries have bankrolled new ports and vessels and subsidized shipping in order to ‘tip the trade scales in their favor.’ As a result, shipping rates on some key global trade lanes have fallen below cost. China has been particularly aggressive with subsidies; it now costs more for a U.S. firm to ship goods ‘within the U.S. than for a product to get from Guangzhou to Boston.’ It’s possible that global supply chains ‘will get leaner and more efficient year after year.’ But a cheap shirt—made of Indian cotton that’s processed in China and sewn in Vietnam—already makes it to Americans ‘for pennies.’” —Rachel Slade, Boston Globe, as summarized in The Week, May 25, 2018, p. 34.

The lower (and more powerful) house of the parliament in India. It has around 545 members who are mostly elected, and have a term of 5 years. Most revolutionaries and progressives in India view the Lok Sabha as consisting largely of wealthy political careerists and opportunists, and in some cases outright thieves or other criminals.

[Nepali:] “Democratic republic”. This is usually a shortened version of the current formal name of the country of Nepal, Sanghiya Loktantrik Ganatrantra Nepal (Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal), or else a reference to the current political system or regime in Nepal.

[Intro to be added...]

“After roaming the streets of the capital a day or two, making headway with difficulty through the human turmoil and the endless lines of vehicles, after visiting the slums of the metropolis, one realises for the first time that these Londoners have been forced to sacrifice the best qualities of their human nature, to bring to pass all the marvels of civilisation which crowd their city; that a hundred powers which slumbered within them have remained inactive, have been suppressed in order that a few might be developed more fully and multiply through union with those of others. The very turmoil of the streets has something repulsive, something against which human nature rebels. The hundreds of thousands of all classes and ranks crowding past each other, are they not all human beings with the same qualities and powers, and with the same interest in being happy? And have they not, in the end, to seek happiness in the same way, by the same means? And still they crowd by one another as though they had nothing in common, nothing to do with one another, and their only agreement is the tacit one, that each keep to his own side of the pavement, so as not to delay the opposing streams of the crowd, while it occurs to no man to honour another with so much as a glance. The brutal indifference, the unfeeling isolation of each in his private interest, becomes the more repellent and offensive, the more these individuals are crowded together, within a limited space. And, however much one may be aware that this isolation of the individual, this narrow self-seeking, is the fundamental principle of our society everywhere, it is nowhere so shamelessly barefaced, so self-conscious as just here in the crowding of the great city. The dissolution of mankind into monads, of which each one has a separate principle, the world of atoms, is here carried out to its utmost extreme.”
         —Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), “The Great Towns”, MECW 4:328-329. Online at:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Engles_Condition_of_the_Working_Class_in_England.pdf. [This description of the streets of London in 1845 more or less applies to the streets of any great city at any time during the capitalist era. —Ed.]

A lingering or longer-term form of the
Covid-19 disease, whose significance and dangers are still often unduly downplayed. [09/13/22]

Your questions, answered: Covid long haulers pose a serious worldwide challenge that doesn’t get much news coverage. Is there any hope for those living with it? How is research going on discovering and treating this affliction?
         “‘There is certainly hope for those living with long covid, but there is no magic bullet treatment right now,’ said Kristin Englund, an infectious-disease physician at the Cleveland Clinic. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 adults and children — including healthy people who had mild or no symptoms during their initial infection — experience new, returning or ongoing symptoms that last for weeks, months or even years.
         “This poorly understood post-covid response, referred to as long covid, affects people in varying ways and to varying degrees: Some experience such severe respiratory, cardiac and neurological symptoms that they are hospitalized. Others have less disabling symptoms, such as lingering fatigue and headaches. Englund described the number of patients suffering from debilitating symptoms as ‘staggering’ and referred to long covid as ‘the pandemic after the pandemic.’ Her research at the Cleveland Clinic found that of the 2,000 patients seen there with lingering covid symptoms, 30 percent were hospitalized, while 70 percent had milder symptoms. She said age isn’t a factor — long covid sufferers in their research ranged from 18 to 100 years old. Treatments depend on the symptoms patients present with and can include care under medical specialties such as pulmonary, cardiology and neurology.
         “Still, Englund said she was hopeful that researchers will be able to provide better treatment approaches and options within the next year or two. She also encouraged everyone to stay up to date with coronavirus booster shots because every time a person is infected with the coronavirus, the body could respond differently. At least one study found an increased risk of adverse health outcomes with reinfections. ‘Some people will say to me, “I don’t need the covid vaccine; it won’t be that bad for me,” but I’ve seen the exact opposite,’ Englund said.”
         —Sabrina Malhi, Washington Post, “Coronavirus Updates”, Sept. 12, 2022.

“A new study of tens of thousands of people in Scotland has found that nearly half of Covid patients haven’t fully recovered many months after their infections, The Times (U.K.) reports. The study followed 33,281 people with laboratory-confirmed Covid infections and 62,957 never-infected individuals. Both groups submitted 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up questionaires as well as hospitalization records. Of the Covid patients, 1 in 20 people reported not recovering at all over 18 months, while another 4 in 10 said they had not fully recovered. Those patients reported breathlessness, palpitations, and confusion or difficulty concentrating at rates three times that of uninfected people, and they showed a higher risk of more than 20 other conditions, many relating to the heart and to mental health. ‘It’s one more well-conducted, population-level study showing that we should be extremely concerned,’ David Putrino of Mount Sinai Health System told The Washington Post. ‘We are in trouble.’ The good news, though, was that vaccinated patients were far less likely than unvaccinated to exhibit long-Covid symptoms.... ‘We know that being fully vaccinated can reduce the likelihood of developing long Covid,’ said Dr. Andrew McAuley, a scientist at Public Health Scotland.”   —“Long Covid Common among Unvaccinated”, The Week magazine, Oct. 28, 2022, p. 21.

This refers to hypothesized long-term economic cycles or waves, substantially longer than the length of the standard
industrial cycle that Marx described. The most well-known of these theories is Kondratiev Waves, but there is now a more plausible split-cycle theory for the imperialist era.
        See also: ECONOMIC CYCLES

The mostly long-forgotten period of serious economic weakness in the United States and other countries which began with the financial
Panic of 1873, had a moderate respite in the 1880s, then reached its nadir in 1893 (in another Panic), and was largely over by around 1896 (though aspects lingered for yet another decade). This entire period was characterized by relative economic stagnation, high unemployment and violent labor struggles, large numbers of farm foreclosures, and considerable political unrest. In 1892 both the housing market and railroad construction faltered, which in turn led to a major slowdown in steel production and other industries. In other words this was a classic overproduction crisis.
        This Long Depression was actually called the “Great Depression” until the new and qualitatively worse Great Depression of the 1930s came along. This led to the renaming of the earlier historical episode in order to avoid confusion. Although the Long Depression had some similarities to the Great Depression of the 1930s, in some respects it was merely the worst of the old-style recessions/depressions of the pre-monopoly era of capitalism. Capitalism had not yet commandeered the State in the same way it has done in the capitalist-imperialist era to help manage the economy and try to resolve crises for it. And although this crisis was serious and prolonged, it was not nearly as severe as that of the 1930s.

An epic escape of the revolutionary army led by the Communist Party of China from southeast China to the
Yan’an (Yenan) area of northern China in the years 1934-1935. During this 6,000 to 8,000 mile Long March across China the Communists underwent tremendous hardship and were pursued and attacked most of the way by the army and airplanes of the reactionary Chiang Kai-shek regime. Only about 10% of the revolutionary army survived the extremely arduous journey. At a temporary stop along the way Mao was named the top leader of the CCP. The Long March, the selection of Mao as the top leader, and the safe arrival of the much diminished revolutionary forces in Yan’an marked the turning point in the Chinese Revolution.

The Long Slowdown is the qualitative slowdown in economic growth rates of world capitalism which began circa 1973, after the 25-year long
post-World War II economic boom. As of 2008 it appears to be coming to an end with the beginning of an even more serious stage to the long-developing world economic crisis. [More to be added... ]

“Initially the troubles of the 1970s [for the world capitalist economy] were seen only as a hopefully, temporary pause in the Great Leap Forward of the world economy, and countries of all economic and political types and patterns looked for temporary solutions. Increasingly it became clear that this was an era of long-term difficulties, for which capitalist countries sought radical solutions, often by following secular theologians of the unrestricted free market who rejected the policies that had served the world economy so well in the Golden Age [of the post-World War II boom], but now seemed to be failing. The ultras of laissez-faire were no more successful than anyone else. In the 1980s and early 1990s the capitalist world found itself once again staggering under the burdens of the inter-war years, which the Golden Age appeared to have removed: mass unemployment, severe cyclical slumps, the ever-more spectacular confrontation of homeless beggars and luxurious plenty, between limited state revenues and limitless state expenditures.”
         —Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991, (NY: Vintage, 1996 (1994)), p. 10. [As a revisionist, Hobsbawm did not understand that the Soviet Union was a state-capitalist country in this era, and that therefore the even more severe economic problems in the USSR and its sphere were also part of the overall growing world capitalist economic crisis. —Ed.]

A rich and powerful super-speculative U.S.
hedge fund that collapsed in 1998 and had to be bailed out by a consortium of giant banks under the supervision by, and pressure from, the U.S. Federal Reserve. It is said that if it had not been bailed out, there would likely have been a chain-reaction failure of many big banks and possibly the entire U.S. financial system.
        Long-Term Capital Management was founded in 1993 and was immediately hailed as the most impressive, and most “brilliantly managed”, hedge fund in history. It was led by the rich Wall Street figure, John Meriwether, and included among its other leading partners two winners of the (phony) “Nobel Prize in Economics”, Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton. These and other bourgeois financial and mathematical geniuses had supposedly discovered some full-proof methods of sophisticated arbitrage that would allow LTCM to extract billions of dollars of profits from the rest of the financial system. It worked for a few years, and had annual profits of more than 40%. But then, when the Asian (and Russian) Financial Crisis of 1997-98 hit, the huge bets made by LTCM on the value of speculative bonds turned out to be wrong guesses. In less than four months in 1998 LTCM lost $4.6 billion. Most of this money was owed to giant U.S. banks. So it took a massive bailout to prevent a general collapse. LTCM was finally closed down for good in early 2000.

LONGUET, Charles   (1839-1903)
A journalist and prominent figure in the French working-class movement and a follower of
Proudhon. He was a member of the General Council of the (First) International (1866-67 and 1871-72), Corresponding Secretary for Belgium (1866), and a delegate to several congresses of the International. He was also a member of the Paris Commune, then emigrated to England and later joined the opportunist group known as the Possibilists. He was married to Marx’s oldest daughter, Jenny.

LONGUET, Jean [Jean-Laurent-Frederick] (Johnny)   (1876-1938)
Son of Charles and Jenny Longuet; a lawyer and a reformist leader of the French Socialist Party and the Second International. He was a “social-chauvinist” during World War I, and though nominally a pacifist, invariably voted for the war expenditures for the French bourgeoisie to carry on their inter-imperialist war—which brought about Lenin’s condemnation. He was the founder and editor of the newspaper Le Populaire. At the Tours Congress of the French Socialist Party in 1920, the communists gained a majority, but Longuet sided with the minority. Afterwards he joined the centrist Two-and-a-half International. All in all, a very disappointing showing for a grandson of Karl Marx!

Seeing is often thought of as a merely passive action by a person; something that they really have no choice about doing once something “comes into view”. This however is incorrect to a remarkable degree, as many of us do finally discover as we gain more experience in life.
        While out hiking with my wife one day years ago we saw an interesting bird, a pileated woodpecker, and were so impressed that we decided to buy a bird book and take up bird watching as an occasional hobby to do together. As we more regularly turned our attention to the birds all around us I was amazed to find out how much I had been missing. This was a whole aspect of nature that I had been basically oblivious to! Years later, though now attentive to birds when we were outside, we went for a hike with a comrade who was an expert in evolutionary biology, and who especially paid attention to the aphids and other creatures living on the underside of leaves. Once again I was astounded to find another aspect of nature that I had been quite oblivious to. In addition, my continuing general ignorance of plants and vegetation (as opposed to the relative expertise of my wife) is an even more glaring example of how a person really only does a good job of seeing once they train themselves to start carefully looking!
        Does this recognition have any connection to politics and political investigations? It certain does! One time one of my sisters (who is rather bourgeois in her social situation and outlook) and her husband visited San Francisco and were staying in the Hilton Hotel downtown. She was remarking how wonderful the city of San Francisco was. “I guess it depends on whether you are rich or poor,” I said. “Come here and look out the window.” She came over and looked out the hotel window down ten stories or so. “You see that line of people in the next block down there? That’s a line of poor and homeless people waiting to get a meal in a soup kitchen at the Glide Memorial Church.” My sister had been totally oblivious to this whole aspect of society in San Francisco, even though it was clearly visible out the window of her own luxury hotel room!
        When we revolutionaries do investigations of the living conditions of the masses, and their hopes, moods and desires, we have to train ourselves to really get to know them and not to miss the actual reality that exists all around us. Any obliviousness to the actual life and struggles of the people would be a totally unforgivable sin for us. —S.H.


“LOST DECADE”   [Japan]
Originally a translation of the Japanese phrase ushinawareta junen for the decade of the 1990s, which was viewed with remorse in Japan as a period of economic failure after the great hopes raised during the 1980s that Japan’s economy would continue expanding rapidly and perhaps even in time surpass that of the United States! The term has since then become rather pathetic and even inappropriate, since the Japanese economy has now (as of 2017) been stagnating, and in and out of recessions, for more than two and a half decades since the collapse of the property
asset bubble around 1990.
        For the first decade and more, most bourgeois economists in Japan and elsewhere viewed Japan’s malaise as its own peculiar problem, and even today many still think of it that way. But some Marxist analysts were much more alert to its true significance and recognized even before the end of the 1990s that the “Japanese disease” would soon expand throughout most of the capitalist world, and that it indicated the path that the entire world capitalist economy would be taking for quite a considerable period (before things eventually get even worse!)
        See also: “Following the Japanese Economic Path”, by S.H., July 11, 2008, online at: https://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/ScottH/Japan/FollowingJapansPath-080711.pdf

        See also:

“Lotteries, now run by most of our 50 states, are disguised forms of taxation that fall most heavily on those least able to pay. In today’s economic crisis, state leaders face rising resistance to taxation from everyone. Therefore, many of them plan to expand lotteries even more, hoping that no one realizes they represent a kind of masked tax. In the elegant words of conservative South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford, reported by the Associated Press, ‘Gambling ain’t no blight on society.’ To fight them, we need first to expose state lotteries as disguised and very unfair taxation.
        “... Duke University researchers in 1999 found that the more education one has the less one spends on lottery tickets: dropouts averaged $700 annually compared to college graduate’s $178; and that those from households with annual incomes below $25,000 spent an average of nearly $600 per year on lottery tickets, while those from households earning over $100,000 averaged $289; blacks spent an average of $998, while whites spent $210.
        “Put simply, lotteries take the most from those who can least afford them. Thus, still another study of state lotteries concluded: ‘We find that the implicit tax is regressive in virtually all cases.’ Instead of taxing those most able to pay, state leaders use lotteries to disguise a regressive tax that targets the middle and even more the poor. Just as the richest were getting much richer from 2001 to 2006, the middle and poor were getting more heavily taxed by means of lotteries....
        “Lotteries are also powerful ideological and political weapons. They reinforce notions that individual acts—buying lottery tickets—are appropriate responses to society’s economic problems. Lotteries help to distract people from collective action to solve the economic crisis by changing society. Lotteries’ massive advertising shows an audacity of hype: shifting people from hope for the social fruits of collective action to hope for the personal fruits of individual gambling.” —Richard D. Wolff, Capitalism Hits the Fan (2010), pp. 165-167.

Workers in a society whose wages are quite low as compared with the average wages, and sometimes so low that they do not get enough food to eat, and may even be forced to live on the street—despite working full time.

“When someone works for less pay than she can live on—when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more more cheaply and conveniently—then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (2001), p. 221.
         [This is a powerful statement. And yet, there are some problems with it. For effect, Ehrenreich is writing as if receiving low wages was a philanthropic choice on the part of the low-wage workers, though of course this is something forced on them against their will. Likewise, working for low-wages is obviously not a voluntary “sacrifice” that the working poor do for the rest of society. And while these exceptionally low wages do often have the effect of somewhat lowering the prices that consumers in general, including other better-paid workers, pay for some foods and other things they buy, by far the biggest benefactors of these forced low wages are the capitalists themselves who inflict them on people. Of course we should work to support the lowest paid workers in winning higher wages from the bastards who are so viciously exploiting them. But our central goal should not be “fair wages” for everybody but rather the overthrow of capitalism. As Marx put it: “Instead of the conservative motto: ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work!’ they [the workers] ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: ‘Abolition of the wages system!’” [From “Value, Price & Profit” (1865)] —Ed.]

In recent years, in the U.S. and many other countries, the new jobs that have opened up pay much lower wages than the jobs which have been lost. Consequently, not only are there fewer jobs, but even those jobs which are created pay substantially lower wages on average. (And this is without even taking into account the much greater decline in, or even total elimination of, health, retirement and other benefits especially in new jobs in recent years.) This strong tendency towards the elimination of the better paying jobs is sometimes called the hollowing out of the work force. More straight-forwardly, it is yet further evidence that in the U.S. and overall in the world as a whole, the working class is being rapidly driven down.

Loyalty, for Kantian-style ideologists in ethics, is a virtue in and of itself, and is viewed as morally praiseworthy regardless of who or what you are loyal to. Thus, absurdly, the loyalty of a German soldier in the Nazi imperialist army to that army and even to Hitler personally in that circumstance is still somehow viewed as morally praiseworthy even by some people who are totally opposed to and horrified by Nazism! In reality, loyalty is only morally justified when the ends or individuals you are loyal to are themselves moral.
        For communist revolutionaries loyalty means only one thing: loyalty to the revolutionary proletariat, the masses, and the proletarian revolution. (This is because true morality means support for the interests of the people, and their central interest in capitalist society is making social revolution.) And therefore loyalty to individual leaders, or even to some particular political party, is only permissible insofar as this is in fact a genuine means of maintaining loyalty to the interests of the proletariat and the revolution. If an individual leader turns against the masses and revolution then it is totally wrong to remain loyal to that person. If a once-revolutionary party becomes revisionist and turns against socialist and communist revolution, then it is absolutely wrong to remain loyal to that party. In these cases we need new leaders and/or a new party.

“Responding to a letter of party member I. Shatunovskii in 1930, Stalin was very careful to distinguish between personal loyalty to the leader and loyalty to the cause he represented. Shatunovskii had questioned some of Stalin’s recent pronouncements, while simultaneously proclaiming his complete personal devotion to him. Stalin recommended that he abandon this ‘un-Bolshevik’ principle of devotion to individuals—‘an empty and unnecessary intelligentsia trinket’—and direct his devotion instead toward the working class, its party and state.” —Sarah Davies & James Harris, Stalin’s World: Dictating the Soviet Order (Yale: 2014), p. 140. (A bourgeois book, but with some points of interest.)
         [Stalin was of course correct in his stance here. It seems, however, that as these authors state later in quoting Mikoyan (p. 144), “veneration of Stalin increasingly came to be equated with loyalty to the party line.” In addition to this criticism of the personality cult around Stalin and his leadership, there is another difficulty here, however. When a party member really believes that the revolutionary party or its leadership is making a serious error which actually goes against the interests of the proletariat and the revolution, then this comrade has not only the democratic right but also the revolutionary obligation to say this, to oppose the perceived error, and thereby to more genuinely defend the revolution (to the extent they are correct). This is the higher loyalty to the revolution that we require of communists. Of course, such an opposition to leadership or the party line must be done within the rules of
democratic centralism, which allows the party to operate in practice as if it has absolutely complete agreement even while it continues to internally struggle over what all the specifics of a correct revolutionary line should be. —S.H.]

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