See: RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
RABOCHEYE DYELO [Workers’ Cause]
“Rabocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause) was an Economist journal, organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, published at irregular intervals in Geneva from April 1899 to February 1902 under the editorship of B. N. Krichevsky, P. F. Teplov (Sibiryak), V. P. Ivanshin, and later A. S. Martynov. Nine issues (three of them double ones, thus making twelve) appeared in all. The editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo was the Economists’ center abroad. It supported Bernstein’s slogan of ‘freedom of criticism’ of Marxism, took an opportunist stand on the tactical and organizational problems of the Russian Social-Democratic movement, and denied the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry. The journal propagated the opportunist idea of the subordinating the workers’ political struggle to the economic and glorified spontaneity in the working-class movement, denying the leading role of the Party. One of its editors, V. P. Ivanshin, also took part in editing Rabochaya Mysl, organ of the avowed Economists, which Rabocheye Dyelo supported. At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., the Rabocheye Dyelo-ists represented the extreme Right, opportunist wing of the Party.” —Note 4, LCW 7.
From a biological (or genetic) perspective, there are really no such things as “races”, at least as anything along the lines in which the term is popularly understood. However, there are the very important socially constructed categories of race, which divide people into different “racial” categories based mostly on very superficial differences in appearence (such as skin color) and secondarily on the basis of generally minor cultural differences (such as forms of speech) and family traditions.
In many countries, and especially in the United States, these biologically artificial racial designations become extremely important socially, and typically serve as the basis for widespread discrimination and mistreatment of non-white races and minority ethnic groups. The ruling class in the U.S. is overwhelmingly white, and this society strongly promotes the fostering of totally absurd racist attitudes of white superiority. Unfortunately, this ruling class attitude has also been widely promoted and adopted even within the working class, and this is a major obstacle to building class consciousness and class unity within the proletariat.
See also the sub-topics below.
RACE — As a Supposed “Biological” Category
“For a long time, people have tried to use the physical differences among groups to divide human beings into discrete categories or ‘races.’ They have sorted humans into three races, five races, thirty races, even thousands of ‘microraces.’ Many schemes have been proposed; none has worked. There are too many exceptions, too much overlap among groups. Humans just don’t sort neatly into biological categories, despite all the attempts of human societies to create and enforce such distinctions. Meanwhile, the word ‘race’ has become so burdened with misconceptions, so weighed down by social baggage, that it serves no useful purpose. The sooner its use can be eliminated, the better.” —Steve Olson, Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins (Boston/New York: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin, 2003), pp. 33-34.
“Race is purely circumstantial. It establishes a social hierarchy that people can use to exploit others. But that hierarchy has no basis in biology.” —Himla Soodyall, a human geneticist in South Africa; quoted in Steve Olson, ibid., p. 39.
RACIAL WEALTH GAP
The differences in average net wealth of different groups of people identified on the basis of their socially defined “race” [see entry above]. In a deeply racist country like the United States, with its extremely long, vicious and continuing history of discrimination against Blacks, Hispanics and other “non-white” or ethnic sections of the population, these differences in wealth are now huge, and continuing to grow. Moreover, during periods of economic crisis (such as the U.S. and world have now entered into for what is certain to be a very prolonged period), this “racial wealth gap” is growing faster than ever.
“Millions of Americans suffered a loss of wealth during the
recession and the sluggish recovery that followed. But the last half-decade has
proved far worse for black and Hispanic families than for white families, starkly
widening the already large gulf in wealth between non-Hispanic white Americans
and most minority groups, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.
“‘It was already dismal,’ Darrick Hamilton, a professor at the New School in New York, said of the wealth gap between black and white households. ‘It got even worse.’
“Given the dynamics of the housing recovery and the rebound in the stock market, the wealth gap might still be growing, experts said, further dimming the prospects for economic advancement for current and future generations of Americans from minority groups.
“The Urban Institute study found that the racial wealth gap yawned during the recession, even as the income gap between white Americans and nonwhite Americans remained stable. As of 2010, white families, on average, earned about $2 for every $1 that black and Hispanic families earned, a ratio that has remained roughly constant for the last 30 years. But when it comes to wealth—as measured by assets, like cash savings, homes and retirement accounts, minus debts, like mortgages and credit card balances—white families have far outpaced black and Hispanic ones. Before the recession, non-Hispanic white families, on average, were about four times as wealthy as nonwhite families, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of Federal Reserve data. By 2010, whites were about six times as wealthy.
“The dollar value of that gap has grown, as well. By the most recent data, the average white family had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families. [It should be remembered that such statistics include the very rich (capitalists) as well as ordinary working class people. This explains why the averages are as high as they are! —S.H.]
“‘The racial wealth gap is deeply rooted in our society,’ said Caroline Ratcliffe, one of the authors of the Urban Institute study. ‘It’s here, it’s not going away, and we need to care about it.’
“... All in all, Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, the Urban Institute estimates, and black families lost 31 percent. White families, by comparison, lost 11 percent of their wealth. The economic turbulence worsened a gap that has persisted for as long as social scientists have measured it, and has its roots in institutional racism, they said...” —“Wealth Gap Among Races Widened Since Recession”, New York Times, April 28, 2013.
RACIAL WEALTH GAP — Bourgeois Excuses For
“There has always been an attempt at justifying and explaining
wealth inequality in the United States. The economic oppression of slavery was
justified in the eighteenth century by a corrupted version of Christian dogma that
held that the white race had a divine right to subject the black one. Then science
was conscripted to do the dirty work of white supremacy as social Darwinism held
that race hierarchy was nature’s will. Evolutionary theory and a sham science of
eugenics and phrenology justified the wealth gap in the nineteenth century. In the
twentieth century, economic theory was used to justify the wealth gap. Market
fundamentalists such as Barry Goldwater, Milton Friedman, and Alan Greenspan held
that the wealth gap was a natural result of market forces and that any government
remedy was an inefficient market intervention. Black capitalism and its subsequent
iterations became the modern era’s justification for wealth inequality. The theory
held that the invisible hand had set the price of black credit, the value of black
homes, and the cost of black labor.” —Mehrsa Baradaran, The Color of Money:
Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap (2017), p. 6.
[Ms. Baradaran is only a liberal, so instead of blaming capitalism and the racism of the capitalist system in the U.S. she only condemns one trend of current capitalist ideology—that of the conservative economists. She fails to notice that her own long list of excuses for the racial wealth gap, which goes back centuries, shows a persistent and absolutely relentless effort by apologists for capitalism in every era to deflect the blame for this social outrage in any or all directions rather than towards the capitalist social system itself. —Ed.]
The oppression or mistreatment of, or discrimination against, people based on their skin color or socially perceived “race”. [Much more to be added...]
See also entries above and below, and: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM, POLICE—Racism Of, RACIAL WEALTH GAP
RACISM — And Capitalism
Capitalist nations were, in almost every case, formed by the rising bourgeois class in some central region, and based in that region’s dominant language, culture, ethnic makeup, and so forth. In other words, from the very beginning of almost every capitalist nation there are already in the central founding region strong biases in favor of the dominant ethnicity and/or “race”, and either indifference or else hostility toward other ethnic groups, “races”, cultures, and so forth. And while each capitalist country of course needs to exploit and oppress its working class, its rulers automatically feel willing and able to much more strongly exploit and oppress sections within that working class from other regions, ethnic groups or “races”, or those of different cultures or languages than themselves. Those who seek to exploit and oppress obviously have a freer hand to do so for people somewhat different than themselves, whether within their own country or outside it. Thus the capitalist economic need to exploit arises along with circumstances that lead to greater exploitation and oppression of some sections of the people more than others. In effect racism either develops with capitalism, or—where some racism may have existed before—greatly intensifies with the rise of capitalism.
Moreover, it is absolutely necessary for the continued existence of capitalism—just as with any other exploitative class society—to keep the exploited class divided and hostile towards each other, and to find ways to super-exploit some parts of the exploited class. Racism and sexism (male chauvinism) are the two most important ways of doing this in most capitalist countries. In effect, therefore, racism (as well as other forms of ethnic discrimination and chauvinism) remains virtually inevitable in capitalist society.
“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.” —Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Chapter 31.
“It’s impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. You can’t have capitalism without racism.” —Malcolm X, from a speech on May 29, 1964. (As quoted at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Malcolm_X.)
RACISM — In Hiring
“In 2001 and 2002, before the expansion of automatic résumé
readers, researchers from the University of Chicago and MIT sent out five thousand phony
résumés for job openings advertised in the Boston Globe and the Chicago
Tribute. The jobs ranged from clerical work to customer service and sales. Each of the
résumés was modeled for race. Half featured typically white names like Emily Walsh
and Brendan Baker, while the others with similar qualifications carried names like Lakisha
Washington and Jamaal Jones, which would sound African American. The researchers found that
the white names got 50 percent more callbacks than the black ones. But a secondary finding was
perhaps even more striking. The white applicants with strong résumés got much
more attention than whites with weaker ones; when it came to white applicants, it seemed, the
hiring managers were paying attention. But among blacks, the stronger résumés
barely made a difference. The hiring market, clearly, was still poisoned by prejudice.”
—Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, (NY: Broadway Books, 2017), pp. 112-113. The main point of her book is that the new automated systems incorporate and maintain these same racial and gender biases.
RACIST VIEWS OF IMPERIALISTS
See: IMPERIALISTS—Racist Attitudes Of
[To be added...]
See also: EMPIRICISM, SENSATIONALISM
RADICAL PHILOSOPHY [Magazine]
A journal of “radical” academic philosophy published in Britain since 1972. Although it claims to be a journal of “socialist and feminist philosophy” it has little connection with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or with revolution. As this summary from its website demonstrates, it is mostly focused on pseudo-“Marxist” Continental Philosophy:
“The journal is run by an Editorial Collective and appears 6 times a year. It features major academic articles by some of the most famous writers in contemporary left-wing and feminist philosophical, political and cultural thought, including Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Homi K. Bhabha, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Michèle Le Dœuff, Paul Feyerabend, Michel Foucault, Axel Honneth, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean Laplanche, Michael Löwy, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Richard Rorty, Peter Sloterdijk, Gayatri Spivak, Rick Turner, Paul Virilio and Slavoj Žižek. Each issue also has a large and diverse reviews section (reviewers have included Daniel Bensaïd, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson and Christopher Norris) as well as commentaries, obituaries, interviews (including Cornelius Castoriadis, Drucilla Cornel, Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Stuart Hall, Rem Koolhaas, Edward Said, Jeff Wall and Cornell West), news and conference reports. Radical Philosophy also organises regular conferences.”
Radical Philosophy’s website, which contains all its content from back issues
(though most of it in bourgeois fashion is available only for sale or for subscribers), is at:
Addendum: In May 2017, the editorial collective sent out a letter to “left” academics which more or less admitted that Radical Philosophy was in danger of “becoming part of an establishment”, and that therefore they intended to re-launch the magazine with a second series of issues. Moreover, they promised that as of January 2018 the back issues of the magazine will be available free on the Internet. It remains be seen if this new series of issues will be any more useful to the revolutionary movement than the academic drivel which characterized the old series in recent decades.
Radio, like virtually all means of communication in bourgeois society is totally dominated by capitalist ideology. In the period before television (let alone the Internet) the bourgeois ruling class quickly mastered the art of mass indoctrination via the radio. As one commentator remarked, the Mussolini fascist regime used the radio “with great skill”. And writer Iris Origo, writing about her upbringing in fascist Italy and the unceasing propaganda all around her, remembers one man saying, “The radio has made fools of us all.” [A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 (2018).]
“In 1927 ... the US Congress passed a bill intended, as the media
historian Mark Goodman argues, to guard against the possibility that radio could be
used to stoke social upheaval or to ‘monopolize opinions’.” —Neima Jahromi, The
Nation, Dec. 7, 2015, p. 31.
[This curious event demonstrates the fear that the ruling class had and continues to have about the possibility of the working class escaping the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie. More recently their fear in this regard has centered on the Internet, rather than radio, and although they dominate the information and views on the Internet too, they are still uneasy about it. They seem to instinctively know—even better than the working class itself most of the time—that because of their tiny numbers, the rule of the richest capitalists, the “1%”, is historically precarious. —Ed.]
“RADIO FREE EUROPE”
An anti-Communist broadcast propaganda agency of the United States government in Europe, secretly established and funded by the CIA.
See also: NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR A FREE EUROPE
A bomb or other device which, though it is neither an atomic bomb nor a hydrogen bomb, disperses dangerous radioactive materials, and thus can seriously harm and potentially kill many people. Although such a weapon does not undergo nuclear fission or fusion, and therefore causes little if any physical destruction, it is much easier for a terrorist group to create and employ. The radiological weapons created by governments generally use radioactive isotopes with a very short half-life, which means that while the radiation will be severe at first most of it will be gone within days or weeks, and thus allow their own troops to soon occupy the target area with little danger. However, a terrorist version of a radiological weapon would likely prefer to use isotopes which contaminate the target area over a much longer period.
“In another historical parallel with the early American atomic-bomb
program, Iraq in 1987 designed and tested a radiological weapon—a ‘dirty’ bomb. In 1943,
shortly after the secret Manhattan Project bomb-design laboratory at Los Alamos, in
northern New Mexico, opened its doors, concerned that Nazi Germany might be ahead in
the race to build the atomic bomb, the Italian physicist and Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi
had proposed to Los Alamos’s director, Robert Oppenheimer, that the pioneering nuclear
reactor Fermi had recently started up at the University of Chicago might be used to make
radioactive material to poison the German food supply. Responding to Fermi’s proposal,
Oppenheimer had commented, ‘In this connection I think that we should not attempt a plan
unless we can poison food sufficient to kill a half a million men, since there is no
doubt that the actual number affected will, because of non-uniform distribution, be much
smaller than this.’ As bomb development advanced, Fermi’s project lapsed, although U.S.
experiments with radiological weapons continued after the war. [Note that this 1943 plan,
rejected only because it did not promise to kill enough people, was another example of
the routine genocidal thinking of all the imperialist powers during World War II. —Ed.]
“Iraq developed its dirty bomb to use against Iranian troop concentrations and human wave attacks and to contaminate contested building complexes and territory. [This was during the long and vicious Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988.] ... Zirconium, the metal selected for irradiation, with a half-life in its irradiated form of only 75.5 days, would lose most of its radioactivity in a matter of weeks, allowing Iraqi forces to secure contaminated areas after radiation levels declined.
“But the 1987 Iraqi tests proved to be both incompetent and ineffective. The bombs tested ... ‘produced only minimal levels of radiation’... For the third and most successful test, the Iraqi Air Force dropped two bombs from a plane. They generated large radioactive clouds, but most of the radiation dispersed with the clouds. ‘The maximum level of radiation was only 3 millirem per hour at a distance of 10 meters from the point of impact’...” —Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), pp. 17-18.
A coalition of different political groups or forces from multiple nationalities, colors (“races”) and ethnic groups.
This term was coined by the brilliant young Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton (who was assassinated by the Chicago police and FBI in December 1969). Hampton had been leading a successful effort to broker a nonaggresssion pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs, and at the same time attempting to unite all the forces possible into a class-conscious unified revolutionary movement, not only Blacks but also Latinos, whites, other working-class nationalities and radical students. In May 1969 Hampton called a press conference and announced that this truce had been declared among this “rainbow coalition”, which also looked forward to future unified action by them all. This turn of events especially alarmed the FBI and U.S. government, which stepped up the aspects of its secret COINTELPRO program designed to divide the Panthers from other radical groups, unfortunately with some success (such as the split the FBI fomented between the Panthers and SNCC).
Later on the term “rainbow coalition” was adopted by Rev. Jesse Jackson and other reformists and distorted into a bourgeois movement in support of the Democratic Party. Since that time the somewhat discredited term “rainbow coalition” has been mostly used by reformists of one sort or another.
“It is no longer safe to drink rainwater anywhere on the planet, even in the most remote areas around the poles and high on the Tibetan Plateau, according to a Stockholm University and ETH Zurich study. Researchers found rainwater is adulterated with flourine-based PFAS, which accumulate in the body and are very slow to degrade. They are used in nonstick pans, firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and other products. The contamination of rainwater ‘greatly exceeds’ safety levels virtually everywhere on Earth, they found.” —Steve Newman, “Earthweek: a diary of the planet”, San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 14, 2022. [One way or another, the capitalist system will eventually kill us all, if we don’t get rid of it first. —Ed.]
Islamic fundamentalists who collaborated with the Pakistani army during the independence war of Bangladesh in 1971.
RAND, Ayn [Born: Alissa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia] (1905-1982)
A quintessential bourgeois philosopher and novelist who actually sought to construct a philosophy (which she called “Objectivism”) based on the open glorification of capitalism and selfishness! Her best known novel on this reactionary theme was Atlas Shrugged (1957).
See also: Philosophical doggerel about her.
A notorious U.S. ruling class THINK TANK initially set up by the U.S. Air Force, and then given corporate semi-independence but with the U.S. government as its primary customer. Its acronym name, “RAND”, comes from “Research AND Development”; cute, huh? At first it focused almost entirely on military matters, including how best to wage nuclear warfare. But later it expanded into all sorts of other theoretical areas of interest to the American imperialist government and its ruling bourgeoisie, including even into studying “mind control” and other pseudo-sciences.
“One of the first assignments the air force gave the Rand Corporation in the late
1940s was to figure out the best way to blow up the Soviet Union. Rand’s experts carefully considered
the problem and advised the air force to send wave after wave of cheap, slow bombers into the teeth of
the Soviet defenses. They had put a price on the bombs and the airplanes, but not on the pilots.
“The endorsement of kamikaze tactics did not amuse the air force, which is run by pilots, and Rand found itself scrambling to salvage its credibility with its only major client. Some Rand economists argued for the necessity of a radical step: assigning a price to human life. ‘In many respects lives and dollars are incommensurable,’ one wrote, ‘but unfortunately, the planners must compare them.’” —Binyamin Appelbaum, The Economists’ Hour (2019), pp. 195-6.
A private reactionary army of the landlord Bhumihar caste in the state of Bihar in India. Its primary purpose is to keep the peasant masses down through terrorist attacks and to attack and kill revolutionaries.
RAPE — Tacit Acceptance of by the Bourgeois Legal System
Although rape is nominally “illegal” in bourgeois society, for the most part it is not taken to be a serious problem which the legal system should try to put a real stop to. The basic proof of this assertion comes from the fact that women are generally not believed when they bring accusations of rape against someone. It is true, of course, that in extremely rare cases the woman bringing these charges may herself be lying. But everyone with any sense at all, and with any knowledge of American society at least, should know that in almost every case these accusations are genuine.
But since the police, and this entire system, do not treat these accusations of rape as very likely to be genuine, and consider rape as “not all that serious” of a crime in any case, they carry out only the most perfunctory “investigations”. If a rape kit (physical evidence) is even prepared, it is most likely that it won’t actually be processed in a laboratory. And even if it is, it is unlikely that the accused rapist will be charged and found guilty—because rapists generally claim the sex was consensual. Again, it is the rapist who is usually believed by the bourgeois authorities, not the woman.
In effect, rape is only rarely truly illegal in male-chauvinist capitalist society. There are a great many ways in which bourgeois society is tremendously harmful to the interests of women, but this is no doubt one of the most outrageous of them all.
See also: WOMEN—Sexual Crimes Against Under Capitalism
“The U.S. government estimates that police departments in the U.S. have warehoused more than 200,000 untested sexual assault kits, although some estimates are far higher. About 125,000 rapes are reported in the U.S. annually—with the alleged assailant going free 49 out of 50 times.” —Report from The Atlantic magazine, summarized in The Week news magazine, July 26, 2019, p. 16. [Note that this absurdly low conviction rate of only 1 out of 50 cases does not even take into account that probably a much larger number of rapes occur which women do not report—because of feelings of shame and because they know they are unlikely to be believed in any case. —Ed.]
RAPPORTEUR [Pronounced: ra-por-TER]
The term more and more frequently used for an officially designated investigator assigned to look into the facts about some important matter for an organization, and then to make a report back about what was found out. For example, in the spring of 2011 the United Nations used a rapporteur to investigate and prepare a report about how most countries around the world are now restricting freedom of speech on the Internet.
The view that reason is the primary (or even sole) source of knowledge. In other words, the approach to the philosophy of knowledge which exaggerates the role of reason and underplays (or even entirely discounts) the role of sense perception, experience and investigation of the world. The opposite error is empiricism, which exaggerates the role of sense perception and experience while downplaying (or even entirely discounting) the role of rationalization of that raw experience. The dialectical materialist theory of knowledge stakes out a middle ground between these two very one-sided approaches, recognizing that the basic source of knowledge is indeed experience, but that this experience must then be organized and summed up theoretically.
“In regard to basic questions in the theory of knowledge, rationalism
represents a reliance upon ‘reason’ as the source of genuine knowledge. It usually
conceives of reason as something opposed to sense experience, and, contrary to
empiricism, regards it as the ultimate source of all knowledge. Rationalism has also
been opposed to mystical and obscurantist tendencies, and its outstanding representatives
are Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, all of whom conducted a struggle against various
aspects of the dogmatic theological world view characteristic of feudalism. The
progenitor of the rationalism of modern times, Descartes, held that just as the
mathematician solves mathematical problems through abstract reasoning, the philosopher
too can reach truth by the means of ‘pure’ reason. Sense data, according to Descartes,
are a source of possible deception; reason alone allows us to comprehend the nature of
existence. Spinoza, in somewhat similar fashion, held that knowledge based on experience
is untrustworthy and accidental, while reason yields true knowledge characterized by
logical necessity. This position is symptomatic of the fact that Spinoza did not carry
the materialist elements of his philosophy far enough or work them out consistently.
“If, as it is held, empiricism converts experience into an absolute, and underestimates the role of reason in knowledge, it is equally true that rationalism divorces reason from experience and conceives thought to be absolute. The separation of the logical from the sensory inevitably leads to idealism. Dialectical materialism overcomes the onesideness of both rationalism and empiricism by a scientific treatment of sensory and logical elements in knowledge, in which they are considered as connected in an organic unity. The starting point of genuine knowledge is human sensation, what the sense organs can furnish. But direct sense impressions do not of themselves yield knowledge in the proper sense of that word. Knowledge of universal connections and relations is possible only by this help of reason, of systematic theory. Logical concepts (the rational element in knowledge) are constructed on the basis of sensory data. Thus the sensory and the logical are interconnected.” —Handbook of Philosophy, ed. by Howard Selsam, and based on the Short Philosophic Dictionary by M. Rosenthal and P. Yudin, (NY: International, 1949), p. 101.
“Thus it can be seen that the first step in the process of cognition is
contact with the objects of the external world; this belongs to the stage of perception.
The second step is to synthesize the data of perception by arranging and restructuring
them; this belongs to the stage of conception, judgement and inference. It is only when
the data of perception are very rich (not fragmentary) and correspond to reality (are not
illusory) that they can be the basis for forming correct concepts and theories.
“Here two important points must be emphasized. The first, which has been stated before but should be repeated here, is the dependence of rational knowledge upon perceptual knowledge. Anyone who thinks that rational knowledge need not be derived from perceptual knowledge is an idealist. In the history of philosophy there is the ‘rationalist’ school that admits the reality only of reason and not of experience, believing that reason alone is reliable while perceptual experience is not; this school errs by turning things upside down. The rational is reliable precisely because it has its source in sense pereceptions, otherwise it would be like water without a source, a tree without roots, subjective, self-engendered and unreliable. As to the sequence in the process of cognition, perceptual experience comes first; we stress the significance of social practice in the process of cognition precisely because social practice alone can give rise to human knowledge and it alone can start man on the acquisition of perceptual experience from the objective world. For a person who shuts his eyes, stops his ears and totally cuts himself off from the objective world there can be no such thing as knowledge. Knowledge begins with experience—this is the materialism of the theory of knowledge.
“The second point is that knowledge needs to be deepened, that the perceptual stage of knowledge needs to be developed to the rational stage—this is the dialectics of the theory of knowledge. To think that knowledge can stop at the lower, perceptual stage and that perceptual knowledge alone is reliable while rational knowledge is not, would be to repeat the historical error of ‘empiricism’. This theory errs in failing to understand that, although the data of perception reflect certain realities in the objective world (I am not speaking here of idealist empiricism which confines experience to so-called introspection), they are merely one-sided and superficial, reflecting things incompletely and not reflecting their essence. Fully to reflect a thing in its totality, to reflect its essence, to reflect its inherent laws, it is necessary through the exercise of thought to reconstruct the rich data of sense perception, discarding the dross and selecting the essential, eliminating the false and retaining the true, proceeding from the one to the other and from the outside to the inside, in order to form a system of concepts and theories—it is necessary to make a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge. Such reconstructed knowledge is not more empty or more unreliable; on the contrary, whatever has been scientifically reconstructed in the process of cognition, on the basis of practice, reflects objective reality, as Lenin said, more deeply, more truly, more fully. As against this, vulgar ‘practical men’ respect experience but despise theory, and therefore cannot have a comprehensive view of an entire process, lack clear direction and long-range perspective, and are complacent over occasional successes and glimpses of the truth. If such persons direct a revolution, they will lead it up a blind alley.
“Rational knowledge depends upon perceptual knowledge and perceptual knowledge remains to be developed into rational knowledge—this is the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge. In philosophy, neither ‘rationalism’ nor ‘empiricism’ understands the historical or the dialectical nature of knowledge, and although each of these schools contains one aspect of the truth (here I am referring to materialist, not to idealist, rationalism and empiricism), both are wrong on the theory of knowledge as a whole.” —Mao, “On Practice” (July 1937), SW 1:302-304.
Conforming to reason; reasonableness.
See also: WORLDVIEW
1. [Capitalist economics:] Making production more efficient from the point of view of minimizing the amount of labor necessary, often through the introduction of more or better machinery; organizing the human labor that remains to produce the most commodities, even through the use of longer hours of work, speed-ups and unpleasant and unsafe working conditions; and, in general, doing everything possible to promote greater profits. For the capitalist, more “rational” production means more profitable production, regardless of what that might mean for the workers.
2. [General sense:] Making plans, thoughts and ideas more logical, coherent and sensible.
3. [Pejorative:] To falsely attribute one’s actions or views to reasonable or admirable motives, even though they were actually nothing of the kind.
“‘Rationalization’ is a new word for an old phenomenon. Capitalism has always tried, by improvements in technology, by more refined methods of exploitation, to reduce costs of production and so increase profits. But in the last few years this has occurred systematically and at a more rapid rate.” —Eugen Varga, The Decline of Capitalism (London: CPGB, 1928), p. 24.
Rationing means to distribute food or other goods in a fair and equal way when there are shortages. Of course no one likes the need for rationing, but during times of scarcity it is nevertheless something that plays a very positive social role.
“In Britain and North America during World War II ... every strata
of society was required to make do with less, even the very rich. And in fact,
though overall consumption in the U.K. dropped by 16 percent, caloric intake for
the poor increased during the war, because the rations provided low-income people
with more than they could otherwise afford.
“There was plenty of cheating and black market profiteering, of course, but these programs enjoyed broad-based support because they were, at least in theory, fair.” —Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014), p. 115.
“First, let’s be sure what rationing is not. It is not starvation, long bread lines, shoddy goods. Rather, it is a community plan for dividing fairly the supplies we have among all who need them. Second, it is not ‘un-American.’ The earliest settlers of this country, facing scarcities of food and clothing, pooled their precious supplies and apportioned them out to everyone on an equal basis. It was an American idea then, and it is an American idea now, to share and share alike—to sacrifice, when necessary, but sacrifice together, when the country’s welfare demands it.” —“What is Rationing?”, a U.S. Office of Price Administration pamphlet from 1942. Quoted in Naomi Klein, op. cit., p. 116.
RAW [“RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS WING”]
The notorious secret foreign intelligence agency of India that interferes with other countries, particularly in South Asia. Its operations in Nepal over the past few decades have been especially extensive. Many politicians in Nepal and other countries seem to be working for, or with, RAW, sometimes even those of nominally revolutionary parties.
RAWLS, John (1921-2002)
A very influential American bourgeois philosopher in the last half of the 20th century who specialized in moral and political philosophy. He is basically a philosopher of bourgeois liberalism. He spent most of his teaching career at Harvard University, and is best known for what contemporary bourgeois philosophers consider to be his “magnum opus”, A Theory of Justice (1971).
A Theory of Justice is, however, a confused and inconsistent work. Because there are many conflicting and fairly obscure threads in it, it is the sort of work that bourgeois philosophers love to discuss and “interpret”. One would think that a major work on moral philosophy (ethics) and political philosophy would begin by clearly stating what the foundations of morality are. But Rawls does not do that; his obsession is with the higher level principles of moral and political philosophy which depend on the foundations of morality which he never coherently establishes. Thus it often goes unnoticed that Rawls is pretty much just a Kantian when it comes to the foundations of morality. This is brought out more clearly in another of his books, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (2000).
“As in all his writings, he [Rawls] gives pride of place in these
lectures to questions about moral reasoning. He is concerned above all with the logic
of morality, its presuppositions, its principles, and the basic legal and political
institutions that flow from it. Rawls finds inspiration chiefly in the daunting
writings of the great 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He does discuss
other thinkers. David Hume, with whom he begins, raised the question that Kant
attempted to resolve: How can there be universal moral standards untainted by our
passions and interests? Part of Kant’s answer is elaborated in the Critique of
Pure Reason (1781): The very structure of reason, independent of our passions
and interests, provides universal standards. Another part is found in ... his other
works in which Kant develops the idea from a variety of angles that the universal
moral standard takes the form of a law, the
Categorical Imperative, which requires
us to act according to a maxim that we could will to be a universal law. Rawls
concludes with Hegel, who clarified, corrected, and supplemented Kant. But, as in
Rawls’s other writings, Kant is the looming philosophical presence.
“... [Rawls] turns to Kant in order to make sense of the moral life as it truly is. The implication is that the history of moral philosophy culminates in Kant and more or less comes to an end in the Kantian-inspired moral philosophy that Rawls’s own work exemplifies. What Rawls introduces as a circumscribed scholarly effort to understand Kant is actually a bold defense of the Kantian idea that the very essence of morality consists in reasoning correctly on the basis of universal moral laws.” —Peter Berkowitz, “John Rawls and the Liberal Faith”, in the bourgeois journal, the Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2002, pp. 61-62.
From the point of view of revolutionary Marxism, this so-called “bold defense” of
universal moral laws is instead just another tiredsome repetition of Kantian doctrine
that has long been seen through on our part as the idealist nonsense that it is! Since
all of Rawls’s arguments in A Theory of Justice and his other writings are
constructed on this Kantian basis, they are all essentially worthless from our point of
view, and would still be so even if they weren’t so confused and obscure. All his endless
discussions of the nature of “justice as fairness”, distributive justice (how goods should
be fairly distributed in a society), and so forth are found to rest on idealist and
bourgeois foundations. Rawls not only appeals to the quintessentially bourgeois
“Social Contract” idea, but also affirms the “right”
of individuals to own and control private property in the means of production as a basic
principle of “liberty”, which is supposedly justified on the basis of human “moral
capacities” and “self-respect”. Thus this supposed paragon of the defense of moral justice
sees nothing at all wrong in the capitalist exploitation of the workers or the imperialist
economic domination and exploitation of the world.
Rawls’s conception of a “well-ordered society” is that of bourgeois liberalism (meaning “liberalism” in the contemporary social sense in the U.S., as opposed to conservatism and laissez-faire). Thus he favored the liberal’s notion of supposed social justice, the regulation of capitalism and the mere mitigation of some of its worst “excesses”. His whole career was devoted to giving a theoretical excuse for liberal capitalism.
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