Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Po - Pq   —

An organized massacre of defenseless people, usually for racist reasons. More specifically, this often referred to such an attack on Jews in Russia, Poland, or other European countries during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There is a surprising amount of truly pointless tasks being done in modern capitalist workplaces. Anyone who has worked for a large American corporation can confirm this. Whole armies of workers are focused on trying to trick people into buying products, most of which they don’t want or need, and which in any case are grossly overpriced and of low quality. Whole areas of work, such as lawyers, most bankers, most police, most levels of management of production in factories, and so forth could simply be done away with in a rational society (socialism). Under capitalism so much of the “work” that actually exists is indeed truly pointless—or even worse than that—actually harmful to the people’s interests! The reason for this is obvious: under capitalism production is for profits for the rich, and not in order to satisfy the real needs or interests of working people.

“Sisyphus, king of Corinth, was condemned for all eternity to push a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again. David Graeber, an anthropologist, thinks that many modern workers face the same fate today, forced to perform pointless tasks, or ‘bullshit jobs’, as his new book calls them. [Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018)]
        “Mr Graeber defines a bullshit job as one ‘that is so completely pointless, unnecessary or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence’, though they may have to pretend that they believe in it. This definition, and indeed much of the book, combines two categories of roles. In the first are jobs that Mr Graeber tends to think are socially worthless, such as corporate lawyers or investment bankers. (Some of those workers may take an equally dim view of the utility of anthropologists.) In the second group are jobs where employees find themselves with little or nothing to do and, worse, must still look as if they are frantically busy.
        “What is his evidence? The author places a lot of faith in anecdotes and a couple of opinion surveys which found that only 37-40% of workers in Britain and the Netherlands felt they ‘made a meaningful contribution to the world.’...
        “In any case, the contention that many of us are wasting much of our time at work is hardly a new one. C. Northcote Parkinson coined the idea that ‘work expands to fill the time available’ in an essay in The Economist in 1955, adding that ‘there need be little or no relationship between the work to be done and the size of the staff to which it may be assigned.’ The futility of many middle-class jobs is also an old theme, being the plot driver of the 1970s British sitcom ‘The Good Life’....
        “Both meaningless job titles and mindless tasks seem to have proliferated. A study by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, two management theorists, estimated that there are nearly 24 million corporate ‘bureaucrats’ in America, or about one for every 4.7 workers. Reassigning them to more productive tasks could give the American economy a $3 trillion boost, they reckon.
        “Mr Graeber constructs some elaborate theories as to why this problem has arisen. He suggests that automation in recent decades did cause mass unemployment but that society conspired to create a bunch of illusory jobs to disguise the fact. He also argues that while executives in the Reagan/Thatcher era prided themselves on how many low-level workers they could lay off, they then hired lots of management flunkies to enhance their status. And he postulates that it is all part of a system of social control, in which young people are loaded up with debt and then pushed into meaningless jobs in order to pay it off, thereby keeping them docile.... [The Economist, however, discounts these theories, which offend bourgeois sensibilities. —Ed.]
        “Instead, the problem lies in the nature of a services company. In a factory, you can count the widgets made each day, which limits the the scope for bullshit. In a service business, it is harder to monitor the quality and quantity of output. Like the old quip about advertising, executives may know that half of their workers’ time is wasted, but not which half.
        “In response to this lack of knowledge, executives create a host of targets, and hold a lot of meetings to try to understand what is going on. As Messrs Hamel and Zanini put it, ‘A growing percentage of employee time gets consumed in efforts to keep the organization from collapsing under the weight of tis own complexity.’ ... Parkinson nailed the issue six decades ago: ‘Officials make work for each other.’” —“Bartleby: Not working properly”, The Economist, June 2, 2018, p. 56.
         [The bourgeoisie, including its ideologists such as The Economist magazine, try to discount a lot of what is obvious to workers at their corporations, about the wastefulness and absurdity of much of the “work” being done there. But they still have to admit that there is a lot of truth to all this. And indeed, under socialism or communism, where the workers themselves run enterprises in the interests of the people, vast amounts of bullshit work could simply be entirely eliminated, including most or all of many “professions”, such as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, not to mention the enormous hoards of sales people and other liars and confidence men in the field of “marketing”. More generally, if the workers run industry and if all production is for the purpose of serving the interests of the people, then those doing “pointless work” will themselves finally have every reason to make this known and to help get rid of that useless and wasted effort. —Ed.]

POL POT REGIME [in Cambodia]
A brutal peasant nationalist regime which came to power in Cambodia in April 1975 and was overthrown by invading Vietnamese troops in January 1979. Although often quite erroneously called a “Maoist” movement and regime, it was nothing of the kind, and never claimed to be.
        Far from seeking to build an urban proletariat and put the working class in power, the Pol Pot regime emptied out the cities and attempted (with little success) to create a rural peasant socialist utopia. It used the harshest methods, and killed a very large number of people (though claims by anti-communist ideologists in the West of the number of deaths were grossly exaggerated and included hundreds of thousands of people who were actually killed by the massive U.S. bombing of the country during the Vietnam War, and the accompanying starvation and chaos).
        For an extensive summation of the Pol Pot regime from a Maoist point of view see: “Condescending Saviors: What Went Wrong with the Pol Pot Regime”, by F.G., A World to Win, #25 (1999), online at:

POLAND — German Imperialist Invasion Of (1939)

[Notes of Hitler’s remarks:]
        “A life and death struggle... The destruction of Poland has priority. The aim is to eliminate active forces, not to reach a definite line.... I shall give a propagandist reason for starting the war, no matter whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked afterwards whether he told the truth or not. When starting or waging a war, it is not right that matters, but victory. Close your hearts to pity. Act brutally. Eighty million people [Germans] must obtain what is their right. Their existence must be made secure. The stronger man is right. The greatest harshness.” —Notes taken in Berchtesgaden of Hitler’s speech to military commanders on Aug. 22, 1939, just before the Nazi attack on Poland. Quoted in J. Noakes & G. Pridham, eds., Nazism, 1919-1941: A Documentary Reader, vol. 3 (1991), p. 743.


“[W]e find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an antithesis, positive and negative, e.g., are as inseparable as they are opposed, and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878), MECW 25:23.

This is a famous, and extremely important, collection of criticisms of Soviet revisionism in the Khrushchev era that was published in early 1965 by the People’s Publishing House in Peking (Beijing). Its major contents were:
“A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement”, issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on June 14, 1963; and 10 major articles written by the editorial departments of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily] and the CCP theoretical journal Hongqi [Red Flag]:
        1. “The Origin and Development of the Differences Between the Leadership of the C.P.S.U. and Ourselves”
        2. “On the Question of Stalin”
        3. “Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country?”
        4. “Apologists of Neo-Colonialism”
        5. “Two Different Lines on the Question of War and Peace”
        6. “Peaceful Coexistence—Two Diametrically Opposed Policies”
        7. “The Leaders of the C.P.S.U. Are the Greatest Splitters of Our Times”
        8. “The Proletarian Revolution and Khrushchev’s Revisionism”
        9. “On Khrushchev’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World”;
        10. “Why Khrushchov Fell”
        These polemics had a major impact on revolutionaries all around the world, and helped people understand the true nature of Khrushchev and Soviet revisionism. All the separate sections of this book are available online on the “From Marx to Mao” site at: http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/PGLtc.html and in the Marxist Internet Archive at: http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sino-soviet-split/index.htm

POLICE — Attitudes of the Masses Towards
In all capitalist countries a considerable part of the people fear and hate the police. Why? Because the police exist to protect the rich and their property, and to lord it over and harass the lower classes. Of course, in some countries the hatred of the police is much more widespread than others. Generally the poorer and more exploited and oppressed the people are, the worse the police are, and the more the people justifably hate them. The police also tend to concentrate the racism, sexism, anti-immigrant, and other reactionary attitudes typical of the ruling class. Only in rich imperialist countries do large sections of the population look upon the police favorably. Even then, there is also plenty of fear and hatred only slightly below the surface. And the police everywhere know this quite well—which further intensifies their anti-people attitude.

Gag law: Police are trying to use Spain’s public security law to fine a woman for carrying a bag in Madrid bearing the initials A.C.A.B., which they interpreted to stand for ‘All Cops Are Bastards’ and not ‘All Cats Are Beautiful,’ as was written on the bag. A spokesman said [that] the type and coloring of the lettering are traditionally associated with the insult to police. The fine was proposed under 2015 legislation that was nicknamed the ‘gag law’ and criticized by journalists and rights groups.” —San Francisco Chronicle, May 25, 2016, p. A2.

POLICE — Origin of in the United States
In high school civics classes they may lie to you and tell you that the origin of police forces in the United States was merely a rational response by an enlightened citizenry to the universal requirements of people living together. But what’s the real story? Actually police forces have not always existed. They pretty much came into existence for the purpose of intimidating slaves and the poor, and for protecting the private property of the rich. Therefore the police only came into existence once there already were slaves and poor and exploited people who the rich needed to suppress! Even so, it may be surprising to some to learn a few of the particulars about the actual ugly story of how the police came to be, from their early days as patrols intimidating slaves and recapturing runaway slaves; for protecting the business property of the rich in the cities; and for suppressing strikes by workers. Amazingly enough, even the following brief article from the very bourgeois magazine, Time, hints at the gist of this real story:

“When President John F. Kennedy named the week of May 15 as National Police Week, he noted that law enforcement had been protecting Americans since the nation’s birth. But in fact, the U.S. police force is not so old.
        “In colonial times, the closest analog was usually a volunteer night watch. Watchmen got a bad rap for drinking on duty, so when towns tried mandatory service, citizens would often pay someone else to serve instead—‘ironically, a criminal or a community thug,’ says Gary Potter, a crime historian at Eastern Kentucky University. The best early example of organized policing is one today’s officers might prefer not to see as a comparison point: slave patrols, the first of which was formed in the Carolina colonies in 1704.
        “Police forces as we would recognize them now date to the mid-19th century, the first having been created in 1836 in Boston. As the city’s commerce boomed, businesses campaigned to transfer the cost of a permanent property-protecting force to the citizenry, arguing that it was for the collective good. Other major U.S. cities followed suit, prompted in part by the rise of organized labor and the arrival of waves of immigrants. Those made anxious by such changes called for law and order. But the rise of political machines and then Prohibition opened police forces up to new kinds of corruption.
        “It was later, in Kennedy’s lifetime, that a movement took hold to professionalize the U.S. police force, which ultimately enabled the system we have in place today.” —Olivia B. Waxman, Time magazine, May 29, 2017, p. 19. [One thing this summary leaves out is that this growing “professionalization” of the police has also come to mean its ever-increasing militarization. —Ed.]

POLICE — Racism of in the U.S.
Anybody with any social awareness and sense whatsoever knows that the police departments in the United States are, with few if any exceptions, extremely
racist. There have even been, just in the past few years, a very large number of killings of unarmed African-Americans in particular by racist white cops. Nobody knows for sure just how many such racist murders by cops there have been, because the ruling class has been systematically hiding this information. Only now is a database being created to gather this data for just some of the police departments in the U.S. (See: Erika Hayasaki, “Police Racism: A Search for Answers”, Spring 2015, online at: http://blueprint.ucla.edu/feature/police-racism-search-for-answers/.)
        Whatever the exact number of racist police murders, studies have consistently shown that police departments practice routine racism in their extremely common stops and frisks of Blacks and other minorities, and in their grossly disproportionate numbers of arrests and beatings of them. America remains racist to the core, and its brutal racist police departments are the worst of all.
        See also: STOP AND FRISK

“He was just black in the wrong place.” —Valerie Castile, after her son Philando was fatally shot by a police officer during a routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota in July 2016, Time magazine, Dec. 19, 2016, p. 17. [Philando Castile was carrying a weapon (for which he had a valid permit) and told the cop that he was armed. He was shot when he attempted to reach for his identification papers to show the cop. Philando’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young daughter were also in the car when the cop began firing into it, but fortunately he missed them. Ms. Reynolds filmed the event and explained why she did so: “Because I know that the people are not protected against the police. I wanted to make sure if I died in front of my daughter that people would know the truth.” Because there was this irrefutable evidence of what occurred from both Ms. Reynolds’ filming and that of the cop’s own dashboard camera, the cop was then charged with manslaughter. Nevertheless, as is usual with such cases in the so-called justice system in the U.S., in the trial he was still found “innocent”. (The cop was, however, fired after the trial—which in itself is highly unusual.) In response to that outrageous verdict Valerie Castile stated “The fact in this matter is that my son was murdered, and I’ll continue to say murdered.” This police murder sparked a national outrage in the U.S., but racist murders by police in this country have gone on ever since police departments came into existence, and still continue, with little indication that the ruling class will ever voluntarily stop committing them. (The information here is taken from AP press reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, 5/31/17, p. A6; 6/7/17, p. A12; and 6/17/17, p. A7. —Ed.)]
         An African-American journalist, Otis Taylor, Jr., wrote about this same case: “It keeps happening.
        “A black or brown person gets killed by police, and there are no consequences. There is no justice.
        “Allow me to point to this week’s Exhibit A. Watch the video of Philando Castile being shot and killed by Jeronimo Yanez, a police officer in Minnesota.
        “After Yanez approached his car, Castile, a black man, informed Yanez that he had a firearm, a gun he was lawfully registered to carry. Yanez told Castile not to reach for the gun, and Castile said he wasn’t.
        “Yanez yelled, ‘Don’t pull it out!’
        “The gun Castile had remained in his pocket, but Yanez still fired seven—seven—shots. As Castile moaned and as his white T-shirt began turning crimson, Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who along with her 4-year-old dauther were passengers in the car, live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.
        “On June 16 [2017], Yanez, who said he had feared for his life, was acquitted of manslaughter and two counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter.
        “To recap, a man who politely disclosed that he was licensed to carry a gun and who was complying with orders was killed in front of his family because a police officer became frightened out of his wits. By black skin.”
         —Otis R. Taylor, Jr., “Police fears of black skin grant virtual license to kill”, S.F. Chronicle, June 23, 2017, p. D1.

POLICE — Role of in Capitalist Society
A police department or agency is an organization in any political
state (or “government”), at any organizational level—national, regional or local—whose primary purpose is to protect the ruling class and their continued rule, through the means of whatever violence on their part is “necessary”. They are either always armed, or occasionally (in a few countries) unarmed, but who can quickly become armed if need arises. They may have, on occasion, other auxilliary duties, such as traffic control, but by far their most important and central purpose is to protect the rule of one social class or another. In capitalist society this means that their primary and most essential task is to safeguard the rich, their property, and their exploitative system of capitalist class rule.
        Not all police agencies are actually called “police”. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for example is one of a many national police forces that the ruling class in the United States has.
        See also: “Are Cops Really That Bad?”, a letter by S. H. (Nov. 24, 2001), online at: https://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/copsbad.htm

Chases of “suspects” by the police, often at very high speeds and in a dangerously reckless manner, who are presumably attempting to capture someone who they think may have committed a crime, though often only a very minor one. Such pursuits are often viewed by individual police officers in bourgeois society as exciting opportunities in which all their usual partial restraints can be cast aside, regardless of the serious dangers this creates for the public.

“A record number of people are dying in police chases throughout the United States, data released by the federal government this month shows. The 577 deaths resulting from vehicle pursuits made 2022 the deadliest year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, began tracking these fatalities more than four decades ago. The number represent an increase of 8% from 2021, and a nearly 40% jump since 2019.
        “Yet the 2022 data — the most recent the agency has made available — is still an undercount. “Fast and Fatal,” a Chronicle investigation published in February, found that the federal government has failed to accurately track or curb pursuit fatalities despite the mounting death toll from these chases, the majority of which begin over nonviolent crimes, traffic violations or no crime at all.”   —Susie Neilson and Jennifer Gollan, “Police Chases Led to Record Fatalities”, San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 2024, p. A1.

[To be added...]
        See also: COINTELPRO: FBI’s War on Black America (1989) [high quality 50 min. documentary video by Denis Mueller & Deb Ellis, apparently no longer available online].


Short for “political bureau”; the leading body within the Central Committee in the organizational structure of many large communist parties. Within the politburo there is sometimes a sub-group known as the Standing Committee of the Politburo, which has even higher authority.

A common term in contemporary bourgeois
“political science” (so-called!) and in the ruling class media for those people who are actively involved in electoral politics and associated activity (such as lobbying and pro-bourgeois political indoctrination) within a bourgeois democracy, and who therefore also follow bourgeois political developments closely. Thus, the political class in the United States mostly consists of those people who strongly side with one of the dominant ruling class political parties (the Republicans or the Democrats) and imagine that it is desperately important that the party they support defeat the other one. In other words, the “political class” is that group of people who take bourgeois politics seriously. A large part of the masses are not really part of the “political class”, even if many of them are occasionally tricked into voting for a bourgeois candidate. Similarly, genuine Marxists and the more proletarian class conscious people on the left, who understand the inherent deceit of the bourgeois democratic system and know that society cannot be significantly changed by “working within the system”, have consciously excluded themselves from the bourgeois “political class”. Social democrats and revisionists, however, are definitely part of the bourgeois “political class”.

The subject which is more commonly known as just “economics” in bourgeois society. We Marxists follow Marx and Engels in calling this subject political economy because we wish to stress the actual political nature of economics. The fact is that under capitalism (and also under all earlier forms of class society) the socioeconomic system inherently involves both the economic exploitation and the political oppression of one social class by another.
        In the days before Marx, even bourgeois economists (such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo) typically called their subject political economy; they did not try to hide its political nature (though they did ignore or hide its exploitative nature—to the degree that they were even capable of understanding this themselves). However, for a century or more now, modern bourgeois economists have sought to also deny or hide even the essential political nature of the whole subject of economics! Some of them still do talk about “political economy”, but usually only as a very specialized peripheral aspect of economics, namely that sector of it which is devoted to “the art of managing public finances”, the establishment of government policies related to the economy, and so forth.
        Therefore, most of what is called “political economy” today is actually very different from, and opposed to, Marxist political economy.

“Political economy, in the widest sense, is the science of the laws governing the production and exchange of the material means of subsistence in human society.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877), Part II, chapter I, first sentence, MECW 25:135. Online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch13.htm

“I still stick to my old idea that after Marx you can drag in non-Marxian political economy only for the purpose of fooling philistines, even if they are ‘highly civilized’ philistines.” —Lenin, “Interview with Arthur Ransome, Manchester Guardian Correspondent”, Second Version (circa Nov. 1, 1922), LCW 33:408.

POLITICAL ECONOMY — and Mathematics
Mathematics is of considerable use in political economy as it is in most areas of science. However, many laws and principles of scientific (Marxist) political economy are not really mathematical in the sense that F=ma is in physics, even if mathematical examples and considerations help establish them. Consider, for example, the inevitability of
overproduction crises under the capitalist mode of production. How do we know that this law of Marxist political economy is true? Of course the endless recurrence of such crises under capitalism is empirical evidence that it is true (despite the regular claims by benighted bourgeois economists that previous crises were simply due to government mistakes and that therefore “they need never happen again”). But we know that this law is true theoretically because we understand that human labor working on the products of nature is the source of value; that workers are not (and cannot be) paid wages which equal the value they produce through their labor; that the workers, therefore, cannot possibly buy back all that they produce; that allowing workers and other consumers to go into ever deeper debt to buy the things they otherwise cannot afford will only work until the debt bubble grows too big and collapses in a financial crisis; and that the capitalists, who abscond with the remaining value produced by the workers (surplus value), though they live luxuriously and wildly build up their productive capital way beyond what is required to meet all possible market demand, themselves must ultimately run out of things to do with all their mountains of profits! This elementary and straight-forward argument, based on a correct understanding of how capitalism actually works, is what leads to the scientific conclusion that capitalist overproduction crises are inevitable. Is there any mathematics involved in this argument? Not much, beyond the simplest arithmetic.
        Of course more math may be required to establish or illustrate some other laws and principles in scientific political economy. But it remains true that most such laws and principles come from logical argument based on the understanding of how capitalism actually works.
        It is only in bourgeois economics where mathematization has really run wild and taken over the subject, even to the point of replacing observation and common sense with mathematical obfuscation. This began with the marginalist revolution of the late 1800s, which tried to redefine value and/or prices based—not on the socially necessary labor times expended to produce a commodity—but rather on the cost of producing one more commodity of the given kind (i.e., production at the “margin”). When mathematized, this concept talks about the current rate of costs to produce commodities, and therefore uses the differential calculus. While this mathematics is still rather simple, at least in concept, calculus is neverthelss at a higher level of mathematics than arithmetic and algebra. Does this make marginalist economics more “scientific”? No it does not! The mathematics is at a higher level, but its use does not reflect reality. Mathematics is only of use in science when it helps describe the real world. Employing more mathematics when it is not needed, or is even entirely inappropriate, only distorts reality. When mathematics is used to do this it is actually anti-scientific. Since the advent of marginalist theory, bourgeois economics has gradually, but continually, become ever more mathematical and ever less relevent to understanding capitalism as it actually works. Over time, bourgeois economics has become ever more extremely mathematical and at the same time (and partly because of this inappropriate mathematics) ever more ridiculous. —S.H.
        See also: Alfred MARSHALL

“Even though nothing in economics follows strict mathematical rules, there are notable tendencies which are produced by the inner springs of capitalism.” —Harry Magdoff, “A Note on the Communist Manifesto”, in Monthly Review, vol. 50, #1, May 1998; reprinted in vol. 71, #3, p. 117.
         [This is a fascinating comment! The first part is profoundly true: virtually “nothing in economics follows strict mathematical rules”. It is important to bring out exactly why this is the case, something which has not so far been adequately done. However, the second part of Magdoff’s comment, and especially the broader implication that Marxist political economy merely discusses “tendencies” and never inevitable and completely valid scientific laws, is incorrect. It goes way too far. There are many absolutely true principles of the political economy of capitalism which are not mere “tendencies”, including the fact of exploitation through the extraction of surplus value and the inevitability of overproduction crises. “Tendencies” is the wrong word here. Most laws and principles of genuinely scientific political economy are not mere “tendencies”. —S.H. (See also: SCIENTIFIC LAWS—As Mere Tendencies)

POLITICAL EDUCATION (Of the Working Class)

“The question arises, what should political education consist in? Can it be confined to the propaganda of working-class hostility to the autocracy? Of course not. It is not enough to explain to the workers that they are politically oppressed (any more than it is to explain to them that their interests are antagonistic to the interests of the employers). Agitation must be conducted with regard to every concrete example of this oppression (as we have begun to carry on agitation round concrete examples of economic oppression). Inasmuch as this oppression affects the most diverse classes of society, inasmuch as it manifests itself in the most varied spherese of life and activity—vocational, civic, personal, family, religious, scientific, etc., etc.,—is it not evident that we shall not be fulfilling our task of developing the political consciousness of the workers if we do not undertake the organization of the political exposure of the autocracy in all its aspects? In order to carry on agitation round concrete instances of oppression, these instances must be exposed (as it is necessary to expose factory abuses in order to carry on economic agitation).” —Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902), LCW 5:400-401.

Islamic movements which are in name religious but which in reality have mostly come into being for political purposes, and specifically for the central political purpose of struggling against foreign imperialist intervention in their own countries and in the rest of the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden’s organization, al Qaeda, for example, “is an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization whose central purpose is to end the American occupation of the Arabian Peninsula”, as the conservative bourgeois American political scientist Robert Pape noted in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005), p. 51.
        The basic reason why Political Islam has arisen is that the established governments in Islamic countries (even if they were led by Muslims), and the reformist secular movements against imperialism in those countries, have been failures in their very weak opposition to foreign intervention. Neither
comprador governments nor reformist secular organizations and parties (even if they falsely called themselves “Communist”) have led effective struggles against imperialism. And the smaller and more genuinely revolutionary and militant Communist organizations that have come into existence in some countries have, so far, either failed to connect up with the broad masses, or else have been suppressed by reactionary governments. In this situation many nationalists, especially those of a petty-bourgeois background, in Middle Eastern and other Islamic countries have begun building anti-imperialist political organizations under the protective cover of Islam.
        The model for this approach was actually fostered, if not outright created, by the American CIA with its campaign to arm and support al Qaeda and other Islamic political forces in Afghanistan in their successful struggle to force out the social-imperialist Soviet forces in the 1980s. Once that was accomplished al Qaeda and other groups (which continue to come into existence) turned their attention to the biggest foreign imperialist monster operating in Islamic countries, the United States itself.
        It is interesting that so many of the huge problems that American and other imperialist powers face in the world today are examples of “blowback” from their own inept efforts to maintain control of the world and its resources. However, in general, we revolutionary Marxists cannot support political Islam because, in addition to attacking U.S. and other imperialist forces, most of these groups also attack and frequently murder many individuals among the masses. So the task of genuine Marxists in these countries is to try to organize the masses there to fight for their own interests and to struggle against all their enemies—foreign or domestic. How they do that, and what temporary truces or alliances they may need to make, will depend on their specific situations.


A term used by one small segment of contemporary American academic Marxism to describe their views on historical materialism, and their general point of view and approach. The founders of this school of thought are Robert Brenner and Ellen Meiksins Wood. They are described as focusing on the “social history of political theory”, and spend a lot of space talking about topics such as globalization, precapitalist societies, liberalism, civil society, and such, with little connection to any active revolutionary movements in the world. It is hard to point to any new, significant or genuinely Marxist ideas that this trend has come up with.


“Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’” —Mao, “Problems of War and Strategy” (Nov. 6, 1938), SW2:224.

“The basic problem of a revolution is the problem of political power. The possession of political power means the possession of everything; the loss of it means the loss of everything.” —Mao, Aug. 13, 1967, SW 9:417.

“All proletarian revolutionaries unite and fight for political power against the handful of capitalist roaders in authority.” —Mao, Aug. 17, 1967, SW 9:417.

POLITICAL PROTEST — Bourgeois “Cure” For

“In 1970, neuroscience research showing that the amygdala, a deep region of the brain, was associated with emotion lay behind a proposal of neurosurgeon Vernon Mark and psychiatrist Frank Ervin. They proposed to ‘cure’ ghetto rioters and revolutionary black prisoners by removing the offending brain region. [V.H. Mark & F.R. Ervin, Violence and the Brain (Harper and Row, 1970)] According to these advocates some 5-10 per cent of Americans (that is, African Americans) would ‘benefit’ from such psychosurgical procedures. Yet the racist infamy of Tuskegee [where the U.S. Public Health Service purposely did not treat hundreds of African American men infected with syphilis in order to watch the course of the developing disease as it step-by-step destroyed these human beings] and even this latest gross promise of psychosurgery as a means of pacifying the ghettos were met with silence from the custodians of the ethics of biomedical research and patient care, the American Medical Association.” —Hilary & Steven Rose, Genes, Cells and Brains (2014), p. 104. [Their description of the horrifying and utterly despicable racist medical experiments by the U.S. government at Tuskegee is on the previous page.]

Ideally, the scientific study of governments, who creates and controls them, who they serve; and of political behavior, activities, processes, organizations, views, goals, and such. From the MLM point of view, none of this can possibly be done in a scientific manner unless it is done from a proletarian class perspective. If it is done from the perspective of any exploiting class (such as the capitalist class) it must of necessity constantly distort, lie and be essentially dishonest, in order to hide, or else try to justify, the ongoing exploitation and oppression by that social class. Since 98% of what is called “political science” at American universities is written and taught from this bourgeois perspective, and thus amounts to pro-capitalist-imperialist indoctrination, it is not just anti-scientific—it is downright sinister.
        See also:

“Until someone has read, studied, understood and/or at least come to basically agree with Lenin’s great work State and Revolution, it has to be said that they know virtually nothing about any genuine political science of the present era.” —Scott’s painfully obvious conclusion, #12.

[To be added... ]
        See also:

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE,   WORK (Political Work by Revolutionaries)

POLITICS — Bourgeois
In the Bizarro cartoon at the right, a father attempts to explain the current bourgeois political system to his young daughter.

“I believe in the division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under which you make money ... and out of your profits, you further contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money.” —U.S. Senator Boies Penrose (Republican-Pennsylvania), 1896. Quoted in The Nation, July 21/28, 2003, p. 3.


“It is strange that we should have to return to such elementary questions, but we are unfortunately forced to do so by Trotsky and Bukharin. They have both reproached me for ‘switching’ the issue, or for taking a ‘political’ approach, while theirs is an ‘economic’ one. Bukharin even put that in his theses and tried to ‘rise above’ either side, as if to say that he was combining the two.
        “This is a glaring theoretical error. I said again in my speech that politics is a concentrated expression of economics, because I had earlier heard my ‘political’ approach rebuked in a manner which is inconsistent and inadmissible for a Marxist. Politics must take precedence over economics. To argue otherwise is to forget the ABC of Marxism.” —Lenin, “Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin” (Jan. 25, 1921), LCW 32:83.

[To be added... ]

A tax which must be paid in order to vote in an election. The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was formally ratified on January 23, 1964, abolished poll taxes in the United States.
        In an earlier era the ruling class had not yet perfected its near complete control of the outcome of elections via its ownership of both the media and virtually all the prominent politicians (through large “campaign donations” and in other ways). In that older situation it was more important to keep the poorest people from voting at all. The poll tax was one method of doing that. But
bourgeois democracies have become much more sophisticated in how they control society and elections in the modern era. Crude methods such as poll taxes are not generally “necessary” any more in order to keep the rich in power, nor even in order to keep the white racists in power in the American Southeast.

        See also topics below.

“On average, an American man puts 85 man-made chemicals into his body every day, while an American woman takes in nearly twice that amount.”
         —“Unintended Consequences”, New York Times, June 13, 2021, p. 3. [The sources of these chemicals include foods and beverages, cosmetics, drugs (legal and illegal), the air we inhale, the water we drink or wash ourselves with, and even just the various solid things in the environment that we come in incidental contact with, such as our clothing and our furniture. —Ed.]

POLLUTION — Of the Air

POLLUTION — Of the Oceans
Among the many divers kinds of pollution that the capitalist system has been inflicting on the world is the ever worsening pollution of the oceans. This takes many forms, such as frequent oil spills; purposeful discharge of vast amounts of untreated sewage into the oceans; enormous amounts of agricultural runoff which is very harmful to the oceans; and the ever greater accumulation of floating pieces of plastic in the oceans (including the Mid-Pacific Gyre of plastic and other debris which is now larger than the state of Texas). Since corporations make greater profits by hiding or ignoring ocean and other sorts of pollution, there is little incentive under the capitalist system to do anything about this continually worsening problem. Bourgeois economists even tacitly admit this, by terming such very negative consequences to the environment as mere
“externalities” to capitalist production.
        See also: PLASTIC POLLUTION

“The 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst oil spill in United States history, killed 11 people and released an estimated 4.9 million barrels into the sea.” —“Oil Leak Far Worse than Owner Says, New Study Shows” (about yet another oil spill), New York Times, June 26, 2019.

A conception of how
bourgeois “democracy” actually works. This term was introduced by the prominent American bourgeois “political scientist” Robert Dahl in his book Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition (1971). Dahl claimed that polyarchy is the only “realistic” form of democracy possible in modern society. Under this reactionary conception it is actually impossible to have genuine rule by the people (which was the original Greek meaning of the word ‘democracy’); instead, bourgeois democracy is reduced almost entirely to having competitive elections where the “serious” candidates virtually always represent one or another group of “elites” (i.e., sections of the ruling class). Candidates are deemed “serious” when they receive large campaign donations and (in large part because of these huge donations from the rich) serious attention and promotion by the bourgeois media sufficient to win significant voter interest and support.
        While ideological representatives of the bourgeoisie put forward polyarchy as the way that “modern democracy must work”, there are also strong critics of polyarchy on the left. One prominent Marxist-influenced critic is William I. Robinson, especially in his book Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US intervention, and hegemony (1996). (See quotations below.) Robinson emphasizes that the “democracy promotion” which the U.S. supposedly engages in around the world (especially in the “Third World”) is essentially phony because what the U.S. rulers mean by “democracy” is merely polyarchy. Morever, the polyarchic regimes that the U.S. promotes, and often helps set up in other countries, make it easy for U.S. imperialism to control those countries (through the promotion of local compradors, for example) and thus easier for the imperialists to extract wealth from those countries—all while maintaining the pretence that they really do support genuine democracy around the world!
        Marxist-Leninists view bourgeois democracy as actually being one of the two primary forms that the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie takes (the other form being fascism). We follow Mao in viewing genuine democracy as meaning the people having real collective control over their own lives. Bourgeois democracy for us is clearly essentially fraudulent, with the real control of people’s lives and society as a whole, including via their phony elections, virtually entirely in the hands of the capitalist ruling class or else local representatives of foreign imperialism. For us polyarchy is a travesty of true democracy.

“What US policymakers mean by ‘democracy promotion’ is the promotion of polyarchy, a concept which developed in US academic circles closely tied to policymaking community in the United States in the post-World War II years (the word was first coined by Robert Dahl). Polyarchy refers to a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation in decision-making is confined to leadership choice in elections carefully managed by competing elites. The pluralist assumption is that elites will respond to the general interests of majorities, through polyarchy’s ‘twin dimensions’ of ‘political contestation’ and ‘political inclusiveness,’ as a result of the need of those who govern to win a majority of votes. It is theoretically grounded in structural-functionalism—and behind it, the positivist focus on the separate aspects and the external relations of things—in which the different spheres of the social totality are independent, each performing systems maintenance functions and externally related to each other in a larger Parsonian ‘social system.’ Democracy is limited to the political sphere, and revolves around process, method and procedure in the selection of ‘leaders.’ This is an institutional definition of democracy....
        “The concept of polyarchy is an outgrowth of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century elite theories developed by Italian social scientists Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto. ...[T]hese theories were developed to legitimize the rapid increase in the concentration of wealth and political power among dominant elites, and their ever-greater control over social life, with the rise of corporate capitalism.... In the later part of their careers, Mosca went on to argue that ‘democratic’ rather than fascist methods are best suited to defend the ruling class and preserve the social order, whereas Pareto went on to embrace fascism as the best method....
        “The institutional definition embodied in polyarchy came to substitute, at the level of mainstream Western social science, the classic definition of democracy....
        “In its Parsonian-Schumpeterian version, the polyarchic definition of democracy is equated with the stability of the capitalist social order.” —William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US intervention, and hegemony (1996), pp. 49-51.

“As an essentially contested concept, polyarchy competes with concepts of popular democracy....
        “In sharp contrast to polyarchy, popular democracy is concerned with both process and outcome.... Popular democracy is thus distinguished from the polyarchic focus on process only, and from the focus of the statist models of the former Soviet bloc on outcome only (and the concept of popular democracy should not be confused with the types of political system that developed under the former Soviet bloc).... Popular democracy... posits democracy as both a process and a means to an end—a tool for change, for the resolution of such material problems as housing, health, education, access to land, cultural development and so forth. This entails a dispersal of political power formerly concentrated in the hands of elite minorities, the redistribution of wealth, the breaking down of the structures of highly concentrated property ownership, and the democratizing of access to social and cultural opportunities by severing the link between access and the possession of wealth.” —William I. Robinson, ibid., pp. 56-58.

A term which refers to multiple different mutually reinforcing crises collectively; i.e., multi-crisis. The implication is that many separate crises in different spheres (such as in the economy, in society, the environment, international relations, in health care because of pandemics, etc., are intertwined and compounding each other into a far greater and perhaps intractable overall problem.
        It is in fact now quite plausible that the United States and the whole world, including the global capitalist-imperialist system, are already in a permanent state of hopeless polycrisis. Instead of resolving old crises one by one and then moving on, the basic situation now is for most old crises to continue and worsen, and for additional serious new crises to arise and to further compound existing problems. It is for reasons like this that people are more and more talking about “late capitalism”, and the growing recognition that fundamental changes in society and the world are becoming desperately necessary.
        Among the great many separate major crises affecting the U.S. and the world today are:
        •   The current long-developing world capitalist
overproduction crisis that first began in a limited way back around 1973. At that time the post-World War II world capitalist boom ended, and the annual growth rate of GDP dropped in half, and has never recovered. Instead, the world economy has gradually gotten even worse over the decades.
        •   The gradual disappearance of more and more jobs because of ever-more sophisticated automation and advances in computers and artificial intelligence. This crisis started to become really significant in the U.S. around 1987, and since then it has continued to pick up speed and intensity, especially in this new 21st century.
        •   Global climate change, including major warming and the resultant rapid increases in extremes in drought in some areas, more frequent big floods in other areas, and more violent storms all over the world. All of this brought on by the mismanagement of the world by the ruling capitalists and their profit motive. Again, this crisis—though early signs of it appeared in the late 20th century—is really starting to get very serious in the early 21st century.
        •   The growing pollution crisis of the land, the sea and rivers, and the air—and even of our own human bodies (which now have many cancer-causing chemicals and other poisons in them and also vast numbers of microscopic and highly dangerous bits of plastic inside us)—all resulting from the refusal of the ruling class to stop producing these profitable dangers, or to do anything effective about cleaning them up.
        •   The Covid-19 pandemic, which has already killed well over 15 million people around the world, and more than a million in the U.S. alone, and which has also been very disruptive economically and socially. It is still far from truly being over, though fortunately as of early 2023 it at least appears to be declining in severity. (In part because of vaccines, and in part because so many people have already had the disease—and survived it—and have built up some partial immunity that way.) However, new similar pandemics are likely to arise in coming years, which the world’s capitalist governments are also failing to prepare for; nor will they likely be able to effectively deal with.
        •   Some current crises are really an aspect or further development arising out of the earlier crises mentioned above. Inflation is one example. It has developed in a dangerous way because of rather extreme efforts by the U.S. and other governments to rescue the economy from the stagnation and recession effects of the overproduction crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic in particular. Even if inflation is brought under control for a while, it is bound to arise again and again as the ruling class desperately tries to use Keynesian deficit financing to supposedly “prime the pump” in ultimately futile attempts to get things moving again on their own.
        •   The perpetually growing debt crisis, including consumer and personal debt, business debt, and—most massive of all—government debt. This again is a direct consequence of the overproduction crisis (since only debt expansion can keep a capitalist economy from sinking into a serious financial collapse), along with some of the other crises mentioned here such as the government’s frantic attempt to keep the economy from totally collapsing during the first couple years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
        •   Financial crises and recessions, such as the very serious events of 2007-2009 and the Great Recession, which came quite close to turning into an outright depression. More such events will inevitably occur as further developments of the overproduction crisis and other crises mentioned here. Eventually this will indeed result in a major, very prolonged, depression.
        •   The growing social crisis in the United States (and within most other countries), with more and more disgruntlement and anger by the population, directed in part against the government and those who run society, but also much of it diverted by ruling class ideologists to be directed against other sections of the people, such as immigrants, other “races”, and to focus instead on more-or-less religious issues (such as anti-abortion dogmas).
        •   This last mentioned growing social crisis is connected with, and to some extent is leading to, the rise of fascism around the world. When capitalist countries are in economic and social crisis the rulers very often need to dump their bourgeois democratic form of rule and turn instead to the open dictatorship of fascism. This is what happened in a great many countries in the 1930s, and what is now starting to happen once again. Many countries, such as Russia and China are already fascist countries, and many other countries—most especiallly the U.S.—are clearly moving in that direction.
        •   Most of the above-mentioned crises, are either economic crises or else have very negative economic consequences within an individual country. This leads to the necessity of that country’s rulers to try to take out their problems on other countries. This explains why globalization itself is now in growing crisis and more and more trade wars are developing. Even beyond that, the current single global economy is now showing the initial signs of splitting in two, into two separate blocs one dominated by the declining U.S. and the other likely to be dominated by the rising imperialist power, China.
        •   However, international contention does not remain restricted to economics and trade, especially in the capitalist-imperialist era. Actual wars, including the current Russia-Ukraine War, which in reality is a “proxy war” of United States imperialism against Russian imperialism. There are also many other, currently smaller wars in progress, including many U.S. imperialist wars in multiple “Third World” countries. As global economic problems intensify, and world tensions futher increase, there will be many more wars breaking out.
        •   And, probably worst of all these many world crises, there is the new Cold War now launched and underway by the U.S. against China. The U.S. is rather openly and blatantly preparing for an outright military showdown with China sometime over the next decade or two. It is doubtful if this can be kept at the level of mere proxy wars. The very real danger here is that this will bring a horrible inter-imperialist war as bad or perhaps even far worse than has ever occurred before: Namely, World War III involving nuclear weapons. Even the continuation of humanity for more than a couple more decades is now an open question.
        There are many more crises, already existing or showing signs of soon arising which we could add and explain with a sentence or two; but most of them are either consequences of the above listed crises, or at least are closely related to them. These include: the dangerous illegal drug problem (from fentanyl, etc.) which is presently causing about 200 deaths per day in the U.S., and is ruining countless more lives; the serious and increasing level of racial and ethnic hatred and crimes, including anti-Semitism and anti-Asian attitudes and actions; the outrageous and increasing level of police brutality and the steady stream of police murders of people, especially Blacks and other minorities; the large and increasing number of random mass murders by individuals of other people including children, and other types of totally unjust and reactionary violence and viciousness; the still-rampant discrimination against, and mistreatment of, LGBT+ people; the high level and apparent rapid increase in irrationality and anti-science ignorance, in part because of the disinformation crisis on Internet social media; the general crisis in education in the U.S., now that the ruling class has apparently returned to the view that most people do not need to be well-educated (and even that it is dangerous to the rich if they are!); the supply-chain disruptions that were so severe during the first years of the Covid-19 pandemic (but which still continue to some degree), and which are additional factors promoting inflation; and on and on.
        Even in just glancing over this list of major crises in the U.S. and world today, it becomes very obvious that the central or core problem here is the continued existence of the capitalist-imperialist system. Virtually all these many specific crises, and especially the very worst of them, are actually part of the overall and ongoing crisis of the world capitalist-imperialist system. This polycrisis is in fact the polycrisis of capitalism. And the only real way of ending this polycrisis is for the working people of the world to overthrow capitalism everywhere through socialist revolution. —S.H. [Feb. 8, 2023]
        See also: ECONOMIC CRISES—Simultaneous Multiple Crises

Hand-wringing in Davos [At the World Economic Forum]
         “Davos is normally full of hand-wringing over the state of the world, but it feels especially pronounced this year. (That isn’t necessarily reflected in the crowd of corporate pop-ups on the Promenade, one of the town’s main thoroughfares, nor in the cocktail party schedule.)
         “The word of the event is ‘polycrisis,’ a term we’ve been hearing in countless meetings and gatherings. The word—apparently coined in the 1990s, then used in 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president at the time—now refers to the swirl of global emergencies that include economic slowdowns and rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and more.
         “The World Economic Forum itself has embraced the term in its annual report, citing the challenges that globalization, the beating heart of the conference, was meant to solve. Among them is climate change, a topic whose relevance is perhaps best reinforced by the barely snow-touched streets of Davos itself. [Although it is a famous ski resort that really needs snow! —Ed.] Executives here told DealBook that they were frustrated with a lack of progress on issues like a global framework to tackle things like climate-risk disclosures.”
         —Dealbook Newsletter, “Davos Worries About a ‘Polycrisis’: So many global troubles have arisen that the political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland have adopted a buzzword to capture the moment”, by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ravi Mattu, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni, New York Times website, Jan. 17, 2023.

        1.   [Strictly speaking:] “An investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.” [Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (1993)]
        2.   [More loosely:] An often somewhat semi-spontaneous investment bubble in financial securities of one kind or another, in which their rising market prices (and apparent paper profits for early investors) attracts many more investments and new investors [i.e., speculators], thus driving the market price for the securities higher and higher... until the bubble eventually crashes. For the promoters of such bubbles the goal is to time their own exit so that they make the maximum profit from the greater gullability and greed of the other speculators. Thus the smartest (or luckiest) participants in the bubble make their profits by in effect cheating the rest. If there are any real inherent
values behind these financial securities, such as actual real estate or other valuable commodities, then when the bubble crashes the security’s price may fall all the way back down to around that actual value. However, in some cases, there is no actual value at all underlying the financial security, as for example in the recent Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency booms. Though there may be further ups-and-downs for a while (because of investor ignorance of the real situation or their desperate desires to still make some quick profits or at least cover more of their losses), eventually the price of Bitcoins, etc., will fall to their actual value—namely, zero. [See also: PRICE OF A THING WHICH HAS NO VALUE ]
        There are many other schemes and scams somewhat along these same lines, which may not always be referred to as Ponzi schemes. For example, stock and securities brokers sometimes engage in the practice known as “pump and dump”. That is, they “pump up” the price of some particular stock or other security, some shares of which they already personally own, by spreading false positive information about the company issuing it, and its prospects; and then sell their own shares, making a profit. Afterwards, when the price falls again, many of the suckers who believed the broker’s claims may end up having to sell their own shares at a loss.   [Feb. 10, 2023]

        See also:

“You cannot sift out the poor from the community. The poor are indispensable to the rich.” —Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a Protestant preacher, in his book Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit.
         [Indeed! However, what Beecher could not understand is that the necessity of having the poor to serve the rich is only true in an exploitative class society, such as the capitalist society in which he lived. But in socialist, and then communist society, there is another way for humanity. —Ed.]

1. [In China before collectivization in the 1950s:] A peasant (farmer) who owned only a very small amount of land, and few (if any) work animals and pieces of farm equipment, and who consequently had to work part of the time for
landlords or rich peasants, in addition to working his own land.
2. Someone in a similar situation at other times and places.
        See also: CHINA—Class Analysis Before 1949

The more or less socially spontaneous ideas about
psychology, the mind, or the imagined soul, and behavior, which are held by people in the contemporary bourgeois society who have not studied the science of psychology, or related topics such as the philosophy of mind. I.e., largely uninformed ideas about psychology, the mind, the exact relationship between the mind and the brain, etc.
        “Pop” [or “popular”] psychology is not all nonsense, however! Modern people, at least, have some considerable knowledge about the mind and mentalistic terminology, and how the organ responsible for all that is the brain (something that was once not known at all). You cannot live in society without knowing a whole lot about human behavior. Still, much “pop” psychology does strongly tend toward idealist philosophical notions, such as that “mind” and “brain” are somehow very independent things; or that supposed incorporeal beings such as gods and ghosts might somehow actually have minds even though they possess no physical bodies. For reasons such as this, the reference to “pop psychology” is often a term of derision.

“Psychological information drawn from personal and social experience constitutes prescientific psychological knowledge. It may be rather broad in scope helping to a certain extent understand the behavior of the surrounding people and providing a correct reflection of reality within certain limits. On the whole, however, such knowledge lacks system, depth, conclusiveness and for that reason cannot provide a solid foundation for pedagogical, medical, organizational and other humanistic activites that should be based on scientific, i.e., objective and authentic knowledge of the human mind making it possible to prognosticate an individual’s behavior under expected conditions.”   —Psychology: Student’s Library, (Moscow: Progress, 1989), p. 8.

POPPER, Karl   (1902-1994)
Austrian-British bourgeois philosopher strongly influenced by
logical positivism. [More to be added...]
        See also: FALSIFICATION PRINCIPLE,   and Philosophical doggerel about Popper.

        1. Belief in the rights, wisdom, virtues, and/or final authority of the masses of ordinary people.
        2. A political trend or movement which claims or appears to represent the interests of the masses of ordinary people and which uncritically adopts the views and policies which are currently most favored by its adherents.
        Notice that these definitions, while referring to the “masses” or the “people”, do not explicitly mention the working class or proletariat. And this is appropriate because populism typically refers to naïve mass movements which do not have a class perspective, or at least not much of one. Populist movements or parties therefore express the immediate, often spontaneous, and ideologically undeveloped and unsophisticated views and wishes of the people involved. They generally do not incorporate the wisdom and hard lessons learned by the masses in other times and places, in other countries and throughout history. For this reason, revolutionary Marxism (or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism), which does seriously and deeply incorporate this world history of mass struggle, and the lessons learned from all that into its theory and perspective, is not properly viewed as a form of populism. And this is true even though genuine Marxist revolutionary parties do in fact recognize that there is tremendous wisdom and virtues in the masses (albeit along with some shortcomings) and do believe that the masses must themselves change the world in their own real interests (though in part by also bringing forth from their midst a more enlightened leadership core).
        In bourgeois society pundits refer to both “leftwing” populist movements, such as the original prairie populist movement in America in the late 19th century and the more recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement; and also to “rightwing” populist movements such as the “Tea Party” movement and even outright fascist mass movements like those which developed in Italy and Germany in the 1920s-1930s. What is called “populism” can indeed vary all over the political map. However, all populist movements, whether “left” or “right” are still well within the contemporary spectrum of bourgeois political activity. Even the very best of them, such as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and even with their glimmer of class consciousness (as when they condemn the “one percent” who rule the country), are still quite naïve in what they think can be accomplished in the limited way they are attempting. It is also true, however, that Marxist revolutionaries need to join up with the outraged masses involved in the best of these populist movements and strive to bring more light and clarity to them about how to really go about making social revolution.

“Leftwing populism is historically different from socialist or social democratic movements. It is not a politics of class conflict, and it doesn’t necessarily seek the abolition of capitalism. It is also different from a progressive or liberal politics that seeks to reconcile the interests of opposing classes and groups. It assumes a basic antagonism between the people and an elite at the heart of its politics.” —John B. Judis, a liberal writer, The Populist Explosion (2016), p. 15.

Most things or situations have both a positive aspect to them and a negative aspect to them—though, of course, one or other might be quite dominant in some particular situation. Even in those cases it is important to note the opposing aspect; to fail to do so is what we call one-sidedness.

“One-sidedness means thinking in terms of absolutes, that is, a metaphysical approach to problems. In the appraisal of our work, it is one-sided to regard everything either as all positive or as all negative.... To regard everything as positive is to see only the good and not the bad, and to tolerate only praise and no criticism. To talk as though our work is good in every respect is at variance with the facts. It is not true that everything is good; there are still short-comings and mistakes. But neither is it true that everything is bad, and that, too, is at variance with the facts. Here analysis is necessary. To negate everything is to think, without having made any analysis, that nothing has been done well and that the great work of socialist construction, the great struggle in which hundreds of millions of people are participating, is a complete mess with nothing in it worth commending. Although there is a difference between the many people who hold such views and those who are hostile to the socialist system, these views are very mistaken and harmful and can only dishearten people. It is wrong to appraise our work from the viewpoint that everything is positive, or from the viewpoint that everything is negative.” —Mao, “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work” (March 12, 1957), as it appears in Quotations of Chairman Mao Tsetung, 1st ed. (1966), pp. 219-221.

A way of looking at dialectical development (and the mode of expression used sometimes by Hegel) in which the lasting or developing aspect of a dialectical contradiction is considered to be the positive aspect, while the aspect being overcome is considered to be the negative aspect. In Marxist discussion of dialectics it is more usual to talk about opposition than it is positive vs. negative.

“It is in this dialectic as it is here understood, that is, in the grasping of opposites in their unity or of the positive in the negative, that speculative thought consists.” —Hegel, Science of Logic, Introduction, section 69.

One of several related bourgeois idealist empiricist philosophies, especially these two:
1. The theory founded by the French philosopher
Auguste Comte (1798-1857), which denies the possibility of ever coming to know the inner connections and relations of things in the world, and denies the capability of philosophy as a means of knowing and changing the objective world. Philosophy is instead reduced to merely summarizing the data obtained by the sciences and a superficial description of direct observation, or—in other words—to what they call “positive” facts. These Comtean positivists view themselves as being “above” idealism and materialism, but in fact their doctrine is merely a variety of subjective idealism.

        1. Having control of or in hand, without regard to the question of ownership; or the thing which is under control or in hand.
        2. Something owned or which belongs to a person (or other legal entity such as a corporation); i.e., property.
        3. Domination by something (such as an evil spirit, a passion or an idea).
        In each of these three main senses there are of course further sub-senses. In Marxist theory we are mostly concerned to keep clear the basic distinction between the first two senses. Sometimes this can be rather subtle. For example, a thief may be apprehended with a necklace in his pocket, in which case we can very reasonably and intelligibly say (though somewhat jarringly), “He was found in possession of a necklace which was not actually his possession.” In this case the first use of the word ‘possession’ is in sense 1 above, while the second use of the word is in sense 2. The context implies the appropriate sense to understand. One problem, however, is that sometimes the context does not provide sufficient reason to distinguish between senses 1 and 2. At other times, it is fairly clear which of the two senses is intended, but the potential ambiguity between the two possible senses still makes the choice of the word highly problematical. For a case in point see the discussion in the entry

POSSIBILISTS (Or: Broussists)
Political opportunists always like to chant that “politics is the art of the possible”. They often use this argument to justify the abandonment of matters of principle and their accomodation to the policies and views of the bourgeois ruling class. One particular group in France in the late 19th century that did this was even called the “Possibilists”:

Possibilists (Broussists)—an opportunist trend in the French working-class movement of the 1880s led by Benoît Malon and Paul Brousse that repudiated the idea of a revolutionary proletarian party and renounced revolutionary struggle, believing that the muncipalities alone could ensure gradual transition to socialism. This was the opportunist policy of the ‘possible’, and hence the ironic name Possibilists, coined by Guesde. Towards the end of the eighties, with the support of opportunist elelments in other countries, notably Hyndman of the British Social-Democratic Federation, the Possibilists tried to capture the leadership of the international working-class movement. However, most of the socialist organizations refused to follow their lead and sent delegates to the Marxist congress in Paris (July 14-20, 1889), at which the Second International was inaugurated. Engels systematically exposed their [the Possibilists’] splitting activities. In 1902, in conjunction with the other reformist groups, the Possibilists founded the French Socialist Party, which in 1905 merged with the Socialist Party of France [which had been founded in 1901]. In the imperialist war of 1914-18 Guesde and the other French socialist leaders became social-chauvinists.” —Note 46, Lenin: SW I (1967).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and its revisionist bloc in 1991, there was a moment of great triumphalism for U.S. imperialism. And their ideologists (especially the so-called “neocons”—neoconservatives) immediately began to think about what crimes and adventures they could now get away with doing, given their new unchallenged status as the sole superpower in the world. This led to a greatly increased arrogance on their part, including the undertaking of foolish wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that proved to be quagmires and very serious mistakes for them. On the one hand the new circumstances led them to celebrate what they viewed as the
“End of History” and their supposed permanent possession of the whole world. But on the other hand it was another false dawn, which soon became apparent as they got bogged down in endless regional imperialist wars and their own long-developing overproduction crisis soon resumed its development. Even their confident assumption, that it would be simple and easy to prevent a new challenger to their imperial supremacy from soon emerging, turned out to be a pipe dream.

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.... [The Vice-President Dick Cheney] wanted the United States to remain the preeminent world power by keeping others at bay and bending the world to its wishes.” —A draft of the 1992 U.S. government Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) document prepared by two aides to Cheney, Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier. Quoted in Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 213.
         [The interesting thing here is how short a time it took for a new imposing challenger to U.S. imperial hegemony to appear on the scene. Within 15 years it was already apparent to everyone with any sagacity whatsoever, that a new inter-imperial struggle was brewing between the U.S. and China. In other words, the “first objective” of U.S. world strategy identified in 1992—preventing a new rival from developing—turned out to be a complete failure. —S.H.]

The term “post-colonialism” (often without the hyphen) is not as straight forward as it might initially seem. The first part of the modern capitalist-imperialist era was the period of open colonialism of most of the world by the dominant imperialist powers. And it seems that “post-colonialism” might then reasonably refer to the subsequent period of
neo-colonialism which has prevailed in the imperialist world system since World War II and the formal independence of most colonies achieved in the late 1940s through the 1960s. No doubt the term is sometimes used in that way.
        However, there is in academia—and specifically in the notorious field of “cultural studies”—also the non-Marxist or only pseudo-Marxist sociological doctrine which goes by the name of “post-colonialism”, and to which the term more commonly refers. This is a variety of post-modernist thinking, and often of the specific type known as “post-structuralism”.
        The roots of “post-colonialism” in this academic sense lay in the writings of Frantz Fanon and especially in Edward Said’s book Orientalism (1978). There have also been similar or related ideas which have developed elsewhere, including within some strands of Black nationalist thought in the U.S. But the subject was then re-focused by the writings of Indian academics in the so-called “Subaltern Studies Group”. They claimed to be presenting the history of modern India from the perspective of the post-colonial Indians themselves, as opposed to the perspective of the British colonialists. And to the limited extent they were actually doing this, it was no doubt a somewhat positive thing. (But note that this is not necessarily the same thing as presenting history from the point of view of the revolutionary proletariat as opposed to the point of view of the imperialist bourgeoisie!) Two example volumes of this material are: Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (1983), and Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World (1986). As the use of esoteric and pretentious terms such as “subaltern” already demonstrates, academics such as these were not even writing for the masses, but only for each other.
        However, more recently things have only gotten worse. The influence of insidious bourgeois French or Continental philosophy in this sphere, and especially of deconstructionism, has been further intensified as in the writings of Gayatri Spivak (such as In Other Worlds, 1988) and Homi Bhabha (The Location of Culture, 1994).
        The writings of the “post-colonialist” school are infamously obscurantist and are virtually totally incomprehensible to not only ordinary educated people in India, but also to people with reasonably good educations anywhere in the world! If there is any positive contribution whatsoever to revolutionary theory from this “post-colonial” sphere, it still remains to be re-stated in coherent and intelligible form.

“Postcolonialism is an academic language largely unspoken outside a few hundred universities, and one sometimes as unintelligible to the average Westerner as Swahili.
        “As a theory, postcolonialism sprang into existence in the late twentieth century, around the time when the struggles for national liberation had more or less run their course. The founding work of the current, Edward Said’s Orientalism, appeared in the mid-1970s, just as a severe crisis of capitalism was rolling back the revolutionary spirit in the West. It is perhaps significant in this respect that Said’s book is quite strongly anti-Marxist. Postcolonialism, while preserving that revolutionary legacy in one sense, represents a displacement of it in another. It is a postrevolutionary discourse suitable to a postrevolutionary world.” —Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right (2011), p. 222.

Post-colonialism, especially during its heyday (the mid-1980s to the late 1990s) in the second-generation poststructuralism of Said, Spivak, and Bhabha, should be viewed as a “global” updating and outgrowth of the “left” postmodernist thought initially put forward in the works of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan. Said, Spivak, and Bhabha carried on the immense popularity of these trends within the changing capitalist “postmodern” academy, extending the scope of this “high theory” so as to subsume “other” regions of the world within the peculiar and fashionable logics of poststructuralist thinking “beyond” class struggle. Post-colonialism thus represents in many ways the postmodern attempt to address capitalist imperialism.
        However, if one reads Lenin’s great revolutionary Marxist work, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, side-by-side with the writings of Said, Spivak, and Bhabha, it becomes strikingly evident how their thinking essentially mirrors that of Karl Kautsky, but merely with an array of changes in wording and methods of exposition. What Lenin argued with respect to Kautsky goes quite precisely for the “holy trinity” of Said, Spivak, and Bhabha: “The result,” Lenin writes, “is a slurring-over and a blunting of the most profound contradictions of the latest stage of capitalism, instead of an exposure of their depth; the result is bourgeois reformism instead of Marxism” (Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1993, p. 93).
        Post-colonial ideologies of “reading” – all immersed in anti-conceptual theories as the “toolkits” of poststructuralism – appeal to vague and ephemeral notions of “resistance” against “Western” imperialism while at the same time emptying the Marxist conception of “imperialism” of its essential class content as, in Lenin’s theory, “the highest stage of capitalism.” Post-colonial thought thus becomes very effective at distracting critical attention away from the class structure of so-called “post-colonial” societies (such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, for example) as well as away from the class outlook and orientation of “post-colonial” intellectuals and the masses of working people within the underlying social system of exploitation.
        Thus what Terry Eagleton (above) calls the “postrevolutionary” worldviews of post-colonialism have served the worldwide capitalist-imperialist system very well. In what are represented and celebrated as extraordinarily “subtle” and “complexifying” texts, they have further blocked and diverted attention from one of the core theories of revolutionary Marxism: as Marx and Engels put it in no “indeterminate” nor “playful” terms, the “ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force” which “rule[s] also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate[s] the production and distribution of the ideas of their age” (The German Ideology, Part I, 1989, p. 64).
        In academia, the institutional absorption and elevation of “postrevolutionary” post-colonial thought is hard to ignore, although of course it is knowingly ignored by way of “postmodern” versions of irony and cynicism: Said at Columbia University, Spivak at Columbia University, and Bhabha at Harvard. (See Arif Dirlik, The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism, 1998; Amrohini Sahay, “Transforming Race Matters: Towards a Critique-al Cultural Studies,” Cultural Logic, Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1998, at http://clogic.eserver.org/1-2/sahay.html; Jerry Dean Leonard, Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak (Of Shenhe), 2013.). The super-intellectuals of the “post” regime have taught “postrevolutionary society” to ignore such obvious rewards for their “radicalism” because, in their views, the revolutionism of Marxism has now passed away as a “modernist” mythology. Derrida, for example, “reads” Marx’s texts as a “fantastics” that is “fantastic and anachronistic through and through” (Derrida, Specters of Marx, 1994, p. 112, Derrida’s emphasis).
        Gayatri Spivak’s characteristically suggestive mode of “argument” during a 1985 interview very clearly (if this is ever possible with Spivak) articulates the underlying trend of the dominant postmodern “left” post-colonialism. “I’m committed to saving Marxism from its European provenance,” says Spivak, and “I am suspicious of the great narrative of Marx anyway, the mode of production narrative. It’s so closely tied to all kinds of imperialist notions because” (now get this) “Marx himself was writing in the 19th century” (Spivak and Angela McRobbie, “Strategies of Vigilance: An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” Block, No. 10, 1985, 5-9, pp. 7-8, emphasis added; also in McRobbie, Postmodernism and Popular Culture, 1994; see J.D. Leonard, “Chewing Rags in Her Sleep,” Red Working Papers, No. 2, 2011). Spivak’s “Marx anyway” needs to be translated ideologically: any way of relegitimizing “suspicion” of Marx’s Marxist theory will probably pass muster under the “vigilant” reading strategies of post-colonial reasoning. Again as Lenin says of Kautsky, this is Spivak’s rendition of the “toning down of the deepest contradictions of imperialism,” and this toning down “leaves its traces in this writer’s criticism of the political features of imperialism” (Imperialism, p. 120).
        Spivak’s vigilant interviewer, of course, is not the least bit “suspicious” of Spivak’s foreboding thoughts on “Marx anyway,” not to mention the pompous grandeur of “saving” Marxism while obscuring the class politics of “European” thought and Marxism’s internationalism. McRobbie fails to suggest to professor Spivak that Marx was also under “suspicion” in the 19th century as well. Why is Marx such a “suspicious” writer? Wasn’t Nietzsche also “writing in the 19th century”? Genuinely revolutionary socialist and communist thinking is always “suspicious” in the eyes of the “pious wishes,” as Lenin put it, of the guardians of capital. The “provenance” of post-colonialism lies in its petty-bourgeois “left” reformism with postmodern characteristics.
         —Jerry Dean Leonard, in a contribution to this Dictionary, Oct. 23, 2015.

[Sometimes without the hyphen.] A transitional architectural style in the Soviet Union in the 1930s (especially 1932-36), sometimes called the “early Stalinist” style. It is considered to be a stage of architectural design between the avant-garde
Constructivism of an earlier period and the neoclassical style of the later Stalin era. Most of these buildings had simple rectangular shapes and large glass surfaces (typical of Constructivism), “but with ornate balconies, porticos and columns (usually rectangular and very lightweight)”.
        Prominent architects working in this style included Ilya Golosov, Vladimir Vladimirov, and Igor Fromin. Post-constructivism was often similar to Art Deco, or Soviet architectural adaptations of styles similar to Art Deco.

[Sometimes with a hyphen.] A cynical, even nihilistic, trend in modern bourgeois philosophy (especially Continental philosophy) that denigrates concepts such as objectivity and reality and that denies there is any such thing as scientific truth in any sphere. [More to be added...]
        See also:

The quarter-century economic boom in major capitalist countries which followed World War II. In the U.S. and many other countries there was actually a quite sharp, but very short, recession immediately following the war, during which most war production was rapidly shut down and factories underwent the major process of retooling for production of consumer goods. But then, from the late 1940s to around 1973 there was a world capitalist boom, in which peacetime
GDP growth rates reached levels not seen since the 1920s or even earlier. There were some periodic recessions during this quarter-century period, but they were short and relatively shallow, and the boom soon resumed.
        Many people, both on the left and within the capitalist ruling class itself, did not foresee this boom. Indeed, many people expected that once the artificial stimulus of the massive war production (“Military Keynesianism”) of World War II was ended, the capitalist world would soon fall back into the Great Depression which characterized it as a whole during the 1930s. The revisionist or pseudo-Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, puts it this way:

“Just how and why capitalism after the Second World War found itself, to everyone’s surprise including its own, surging forward into the unprecedented and possibly anomalous Golden Age of 1947-73, is perhaps the major question which faces historians of the twentieth century. There is as yet no agreement on an answer, nor can I claim to provide a persuasive one.” —The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 (NY: Vintage, 1996 (1994)), p. 8.

The strange thing here, given Hobsbawm’s supposedly Marxist background, is that Marx and Engels provided the basic answer to this question in their theory of capitalist crises and how they are resolved which they outlined in the Comunist Manifesto way back in 1848!

“In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity—the epidemic of over-production.... And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.” —Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, (1848), section I.

In short, capitalist economic crises are essentially crises resulting from the overproduction of capital itself. Thus, unless there is some way to expand capitalist production to new areas in a really extensive way, the only way to truly resolve these crises while the capitalist system still exists is through the destruction of this excess capital, and to start over again. And this is exactly what World War II accomplished on a scale unanticipated even by Marx and Engels: The massive destruction of physical capital to an absolutely unprecedented degree. And this is why there could be, and was, a major quarter-century capitalist economic boom in the capitalist world after World War II.
        Note that it is not really possible to resolve the current world capitalist economic crisis, which has slowly developed since 1973 (see Long Slowdown) and has taken a turn for the worse in the new century, in the same sort of way. The reason is that a new world war with sufficient destructive capability to clear the ground once again, which would of necessity involve vast numbers of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, would now be so destructive that humanity itself would most likely not survive at all.
        For more on this topic see: An Introductory Explanation of Capitalist Economic Crises, Chapter 3: How Are Capitalist Economic Crises Overcome?, by S.H., online at: http://www.massline.org/PolitEcon/crises/Crises03.htm

Many self-described communists engage in verbal or ritualistic affirmations of the revolutionary tenets of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but are themselves unwilling to concretely engage with the masses, take part in their struggles or to listen to them and their ideas. Alternatively, they may be willing to engage in these activities, but unwilling to acknowledge that they may be doing it badly. And further: if they have engaged in these activities and have even done them well, they may nevertheless rest upon their laurels and use their “legacy” as a way of brow-beating those who disagree with them on particular issues. These are all examples of posturing: the act of presenting oneself as a revolutionary but doing so in a petty, egotistical way that shows a lack of seriousness in carrying forward the aims of revolution while pushing forward one’s “credentials” or “brand loyalty”.
        Posturing often takes the form of ritualistic displays of the aesthetics of revolutionary communism while at the same time neglecting to engage in self-criticism. Thus, it is often bound up with dogmatism, as when communists engage in dogmatic agreement with everything done by certain historical communist leaders or movements, dismissing all criticisms as “bourgeois” and “counter-revolutionary”. The opposite type of posturing to this is when communists engage in a type of holier-than-thou denunciation of historical communist leaders and movements and pretty much end up adopting the bourgeois narrative about socialism. (The socialist writer Michael Parenti has quipped that these folks have a lot of love for people who have never captured power for the proletariat, and a lot of hatred for those who have.) Both of these stances go against the dialectical materialist method of concretely analyzing the positive aspects of movements and leaders as well as their mistakes and deviations in order to further develop revolutionary science.
        As history has shown, even in a socialist state where the proletariat has seized power and dictatorship has been imposed on the bourgeoisie, some people within the communist party will outwardly go along with the party line while not genuinely and sincerely carrying it out. These people will dogmatically parrot everything the party says but will not be able to engage in criticism or apply theory in a way that will actually raise the consciousness of the masses and move society forward in the direction of communism. Alternatively, they may take the party line to absurd extremes, applying a basically correct line but in a way that is harmful and counterproductive. This phenomenon of “waving the red flag to oppose the red flag” is quite typical of rightist and concealed bourgeois elements who, after the revolutionary party has seized state power and the country is being run along basically socialist lines, will attempt to show how “revolutionary” they themselves are, will push forth certain policies in a way that guarantees that these policies will fail (with the resultant failure then being used as “proof” that the line was “wrong” and that the bourgeois line is “correct”!). Often, these “revolutionaries” then become out-and-out reactionaries who adopt all manner of erroneous and anti-communist practices and theories, albeit under the banner of revolutionary communism, invoking the need to “avoid dogmatism”. This is seen in China today, where the “Communist” Party makes public affirmations of the need to uphold Marxism but adopts policies that have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
        To combat such tendencies and their harmful effects, a revolutionary party must not only assess how enthusiastically its cadre carry out the party’s line, but whether they are able to scientifically grasp and apply it in way that actually advances the consciousness of the masses, strengthens the work of the party, and moves society forward in the direction of socialism (before the revolutionary seizure of power) and communism (during the era of socialism, where many capitalist relations and elements remain and where the danger of capitalist restoration is always present). Those who ride roughshod over the masses, who think that the most important thing as communists is to display their own “credentials” as revolutionaries, and who have no patience for mass work even while they denounce others as bourgeois deviants and counter-revolutionaries, are themselves objectively acting as bourgeois deviants and counter-revolutionaries.
        The habit of affirming MLM through the worship of rituals and aesthetics, or of trying to “advertise” one’s revolutionary “credibility” by promoting adventurist lines and engaging in adventurism and acts of bravado and dogmatic denunciation, is not science but something more akin to religion, and should be resolutely opposed and fought against. —L.C.
        See also:

POTENTIAL OUTPUT   [Bourgeois Economics]
The output (as measured by GDP) of a capitalist economy during a given period when all its capital and technology are fully put to use. In other words, the output if all the machinery in all the factories was put to good use by the appropriately skilled labor force.
        At least that is what potential output is supposed to be in theory! In actuality, bourgeois economists are driven to cheat on this definition in a whole variety of ways. First, they acknowledge that at any given time there are a lot of machines which are not being utilized, and even some entire factories closed down, but say that it would be impossible to put all of them into full use because if all the companies involved tried to do that at the same time there would be shortages of raw materials, fuel, and so forth! Of course that is true, but if all these companies were to gradually crank up all their machines and factories, there would soon be much more raw materials produced. So this type of excuse is really pure baloney. After all, it is these same apologists for capitalism that claim that the market will soon correct for any short-term shortages!
        Another excuse for not counting all the idle machines and factories is the claim that a certain portion of them are not intended to be used full time. Instead, companies keep a certain amount of excess capacity around just to meet occasional bursts in demand.
        Yet another way in which the real potential production of companies (and the economy as a whole) is grossly underestimated is through counting “full production” as being based on “current industry standards”, which—given the steady overproduction of capital—keep getting lowered. If a company were really going all out to produce all it could, for example, it would be operating its production facilities around the clock, in three shifts. But if effective demand has long since been far exceeded by the expansion of capital, the “industry standard” might now be to operate only one or maybe two shifts.
        Through phony methods and excuses like these, the actual estimates by bourgeois economists of what the “potential output” of a capitalist economy is get grossly understated. Nevertheless, even given these maneuvers, these economists still need to admit at times of recession (at least) that the economy is not producing up to its “full potential”. This is embarrassing for them because their own economic theory states that capitalist economies always will produce at full capacity (barring “external forces”). Their adherence to
“Say’s Law” forces them to claim, as Ricardo loved to say, that any amount of capital can and will be put to good use.
        Reality shows otherwise, and even bourgeois economists are forced to admit the existence of “output gaps” between actual production and potential production.

POTTIER, Eugène   (1816-1887)
The author of the superb poem that was later set to music as the proletarian anthem,
The Internationale.

“A poet of the Paris Commune. Born in a Paris worker’s family, he became a worker at the age of 13. He wrote many militant poems calling on the French workers to fight the bourgeoisie. He actively participated in the 1848 revolution in France. He later joined the First International. When the Paris Commune was established in 1871, he was elected a Member of the Commune, and took part in fierce battles during the revolution. A few days after the failure of the revolution, he wrote the poem The Internationale. Seventeen years later worker-composer Pierre Degeyter set Pottier’s verse to music, and the battle song of the proletariat of the whole world was born.” —Note to an article on the Paris Commune, Peking Review, vol. 14, #13, March 26, 1971.

The condition of lacking the usual or socially acceptable minimum amounts of money and material possessions; in other words, being quite poor. This often implies a shortage of food, hunger, deficient nutrition, poor or unavailable health care, poor quality housing or even homelessness, lack of access to educational opportunities, and so forth.
        Capitalism as a socioeconomic system is unable (or unwilling) to prevent a significant portion of the population from living in poverty, even in the richest and most advanced capitalist-imperialist countries which steal enormous amounts of wealth from the rest of the world. The level of poverty in any given country depends on a variety of factors, many of which can vary over time. There is always much higher levels of povery in
“Third World” countries, which are exploited by foreign imperialism. And poverty levels generally fluctuate somewhat with capitalist economic cycles, and increase substantially in periods of economic crisis.
        Most governments rather arbitrarily set what they call a poverty line, or level of income below which a person or family is considered to be “in poverty”. This line is virtually always set absurdly low in order to try to hide the true extent of real poverty that exists. Even so, the poverty levels in the United States today are quite high and expanding rapidly. In 2009, by this government standard, 14.3% of Americans lived in poverty, which is the highest level in 15 years. That’s a total of 44 million people, or 1 in 7. Among children, 1 in 5 lives in poverty. All this in the richest country in the world. [Statistics from a Census Bureau report, quoted in the New York Times, Sept. 16, 2010.]

POVERTY — Extreme
A poverty level which is so outrageously bad that people are living in utter destitution and/or are only barely able to survive at all. According to the figure used until recently by the international capitalist-imperialist gangster agency, the
World Bank, the level above which a person is “not” considered to be living in extreme poverty was an absurdly low income of just $1.25/day! In many countries this is actually well below the level of income on which it is possible to exist at all. Currently (2018) the World Bank provides statistics for three different poverty levels: those living on income below $1.90/day, below $3.20/day and below $5.50/day. Of course anyone making less than $10/day, or even significantly less than $33.50/day (the 2016 official U.S. poverty line), is also living in very serious poverty. This last poverty category probably covers 80% to 90% or more of the entire population of the world (though the World Bank refuses to provide the exact figures).

Extreme Poverty Lines in the World (World Bank Statistics)
Poverty Line Population in Poverty at that Level Percent of World Population
$1.90/day 768.5 million 10.7%
$3.20/day 2,030.9 million 28.3%
$5.50/day 3,478.8 million 48.4%
$10.00/day ?
[World Bank won’t say]
[World Bank won’t say]
[U.S. official poverty line (2016)]
[World Bank won’t say]
[World Bank won’t say]
[Source: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=poverty-and-equity-database, updated as of Oct. 24, 2017.
World Bank statistics are calculated in adjusted uniform buying power (PPP) constant 2011 U.S. dollars.]

It is often falsely claimed by bourgeois ideologists that Marx’s prediction of growing poverty and misery for the masses living in capitalist society has not come true. In a few of the more advanced capitalist and capitalist-imperialist countries that may have been correct for a large part of the population, at least for a time. But on a world scale Marx’s prediction has unquestionably been proven to be completely correct. (See: IMMISERATION OF THE PROLETARIAT)
        See also the excellent 6 minute video presentation on this topic by “Comrade Hakim” entitled “Capitalism hasn’t lifted millions from poverty”, online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6VqV1T4uYs

A dividing line in income levels below which everyone recognizes that a family is living in poverty, and slightly above which is not at all considered as poverty by the rich bourgeois assholes who specify the line and who would squeal like stuck pigs if they were forced to live on even 10 times as much!
        For the year 2016 the official U.S. poverty line was $12,228 for a single adult (which is equivalent to $33.50/day), and $24,563 for a family of four. (See:
https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-thresholds.html )
        See also the entries for POVERTY and POVERTY—Extreme just above.

An early work by Marx, which was written in French in 1847. The full title was The Poverty of Philosophy. Answer to the “Philosophy of Poverty” by M. Proudhon. Marx’s book was thus his critique of the anarchist
Pierre Joseph Proudhon’s political, economic and philosophical system. In this work Marx also gave considerable attention to criticizing Hegel’s idealist dialectics, to working out the basic ideas of materialist dialectics, and to creating the foundations of Marxist political economy.
        In a letter to Marx (on May 12, 1851) commenting on this book Ferdinand Lasalle said that Marx showed himself to be “a Hegel turned economist, a Ricardo turned socialist”. And there is indeed something essential about Marxism ever since, that it combines philosophy, political economy and politics into an integrated and coherent whole.

A bourgeois ephemism for
militarism and imperialist war or threats of war.



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