Marxist-Lumpen Dictionary — 2021 Edition V.1.0
Published by Revolutionary Lumpen Radio Podcast & Serve The People, England.
A term used by Marx to denote the separation of workers under Capitalism from the profits & products of their labor, as well as themselves; the worker loses the ability to determine their life and destiny when deprived of the right to think of themselves as the director of their own actions, to determine the character of said actions, to define their relationships with other people, and to own the things produced by their own labor. Although the worker is an individual, self-realized human being, as an economic entity, this worker is directed by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production with which they surrender their freedom as they must work for money to survive. Synonyms: Atomisation
The condition of being an opposing principle, force, or factor. The clashes between the interests of the workers (livable wages) and capitalists (slave wages) drive class antagonisms through friction or clashes that direct history.
The dominant class during the feudal stage of economic development. (Middle-Class snobs, today)
The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.
The idea that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished. It’s an identity and not a method for successful revolution towards socialism/communism.
The direct or exact opposite.
The techniques and equipment used to achieve automatic operation or control.
The power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge
“But the necessity of authority, and of imperious authority at that, will nowhere be found more evident than on board a ship on the high seas. There, in times of danger, the lives of all depend on the instantaneous and absolute obedience of all to the will of one.” — Engles, On Authority
Authoritarianism is a word used to describe all non-capitalist Governments negatively to make Countries NATO doesn’t agree with look bad, when it’s the capitalist countries that are the most dominatory.
Administration or language of institutions use to speak to each other through bureaus or departments staffed with nonelected officials. Often inhibits the efficiency and functions of progress, having to take so many steps.
A person who inhibits the progress and efficiency of information sharing, producing nothing but delays
The social class that came to own the means of production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital (wealth), to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society. Our class enemies.
Buying in order to sell at a higher profit. A system that allows private individuals to own the means of production, with the goal of exploiting a profit from the sale of commodities produced by wage workers.
Capital transforms the simple circulation of commodities. In commodity exchange, one exchanges a commodity for money, which one then exchanges for some other commodity. One sells in order to buy something else of use to the consumer; Marx writes this formula as C-M-C (or Commodity-Money-Commodity). Capital is the value produced within commodities.
This is just capitalism. People use this as an excuse to capitalism forming monopolies, as if capitalism is corrupt, when capitalism is inherently, economically destined to form into monopolies. It’s not corrupted by ‘cronies’, it’s functioning exactly as it’s supposed to.
We live in a class-structured society with different “classes” of people, usually dictated by the persons relation to capital, wealth, means of production or if they were born with land like Lords, Royalty and other parasites.
The logic of capitalism. In this logic, such things as friendship, knowledge, women, etc. are understood only in terms of their monetary value. In this way, they are no longer treated as things with inherent worth but as commodities. (They are valued, that is, only extrinsically in terms of money.) By this logic, a factory worker can be reconceptualized not as a human being with specific needs that, as humans, we are obliged to provide but as a mere wage debit in a businessman’s ledger.
An “external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind” i.e A shoe, TV, Cutlery or anything you may find at a market to be traded and valued by a person for functional, practical, sentimental or survival purposes.
The tendency to attribute to commodities (including money) an imaginary fetishist power that really exists only in the labor expended to create commodities.
Consumption and Production
The act of producing through work, anything that did not previously exist in such a form. Consumption is the process of using the product, often to go in a landfill, the sea or in the air as particles when no longer desired.
The inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order. They want to keep us in the dark ages without ANY form of progress because they’re rich swines and everything works and serves them, so they use their wealth and power to maintain the oppressive, exploitative status quo.
Contradiction is inherent to nature in the universe.
Lenin illustrated the universality of contradiction as follows:
In mathematics: + and — . Differential and integral.
In mechanics: action and reaction.
In physics: positive and negative electricity.
In chemistry: the combination and dissociation of atoms.
In social science: the class struggle.
In war, offence and defence, advance and retreat, victory and defeat are all mutually contradictory phenomena.
One cannot exist without the other. The two aspects are at once in conflict and interdependent on each other, and this constitutes the totality of a war, pushes its development forward and solves its problems. Class antagonisms drive history in the same way.
Culture refers to one of two things: The intellectual production in art, philosophy etc in the social realm. It can also be used to describe everything that concerns people such as ideas, social behaviours and customs of a society/social form.
Dominant ideologies of society that reflect the beliefs and interests of the ruling class.
Consent to be ruled by the dominant group is achieved by the spread of ideologies — beliefs, assumptions, and values — through social institutions such as schools, churches, courts, and the media, among others. These institutions do the work of socializing people into the norms, values, and beliefs of the dominant social group. As such, the group that controls these institutions controls the rest of society. (Our chains are ideological, not physical)
Cultural hegemony is most strongly manifested when those ruled by the dominant group come to believe that the economic and social conditions of their society are natural and inevitable, rather than created by people with a vested interest in particular social, economic, and political orders.
Class Struggle/Conflict Theory
A tension that exists between competing classes, caused by contradictory interests, that can only be resolved through confrontation. The competing classes are determined by the economic mode of society. Under chattel slavery, the master and the slave. Under feudalism, the lord and the serf. Under Capitalism, the Capitalist and the wage worker.
Class struggle is the method of conflict between our class, the proletariat and the ruling class parasites.
In Maoism, this is the idea that Capitalist values/”culture” constantly reappear after a Communist revolution, It is up to the people, who are the real motive force in world history, to call out and denounce Capitalist values and corrupt people in positions of authority, and even “bombard the headquarters” to ensure the elimination of bourgeois values and cement proletarian power.
The power of capitalist realism derives in part from the way that
capitalism subsumes and consumes all of previous history: one
effect of its ‘system of equivalence’ which can assign all cultural
objects, whether they are religious iconography, pornography, or
Das Kapital, a monetary value. Walk around the British Museum,
where you see objects torn from their Iifeworlds and assembled
as if on the deck of some Predator spacecraft, and you have a
powerful image of this process at work. In the conversion of
practices and rituals into merely aesthetic objects, the beliefs of
previous cultures are objectively ironized, transformed into
artifacts. Capitalist realism is therefore not a particular type of
realism; it is more like realism in itself.
As Marx and Engels themselves observed in The Communist Manifesto,
[Capital] has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious
fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism,
in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved
personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the
numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that
single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word,
for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it
has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
Capitalism is what is left when beliefs have collapsed at the level
of ritual or symbolic elaboration, and all that is left is the
consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and the relics, when capitalism is all that there is and all that there ever will be — Capitalist Realism is when the imagination has been so constrained by capitalism that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.
A situation where there are two powers — a democratic one developed by poor and working-class people (defined by direct democracy/mass-line forms), and the other one capitalist (defined by domination) — coexisting and competing for legitimacy during a transition away from Capitalism.
(Bouji Democracy)The name that Socialists use to refer to modern representative liberal “democracies,” criticized as being democracies for the rich only, since representatives and the media in capitalist countries are often the puppets of the Capitalists themselves never representing the masses of people, only the wealthy and land owners.
The evolution of the natural world and the emergence of new qualities of being at new stages of evolution. It recognizes that the mode of production is the main motive force of history, and is driven by contradictions (such as class struggle), whose resolution results in the development of new modes of production and social organization.
“…Every organized being is every moment the same and not the same; every moment, it assimilates matter supplied from without, and gets rid of other matter; every moment, some cells of its body die and others build themselves anew; in a longer or shorter time, the matter of its body is completely renewed, and is replaced by other molecules of matter, so that every organized being is always itself, and yet something other than itself.”
I.e nature is constantly changing and history under the same laws of reality must also, dialectics is the observation and language of this scientific fact. See ‘Contradiction’ for more info
Division of Labor
Division of labor is the concept when a task is divided into many parts. Then all the workers who are responsible for finishing that job are given one part to complete. In this way, the task in hand is accomplished with the help of many workers who are responsible for their specific role.
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
A transitional state, between Capitalism and Communism, in which the working class holds political power, and is in the process of changing the means of production from private to social ownership. “Dictatorship” here simply means the working class “dictates” what happens in society instead of how things are now, with just the ruling class and capitalists dictating the people with no power.
Fascist appropriated term used to trick people into voting against their interests to prevent revolution.
In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasizes the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions.
In law and medicine empiricism describes the principle of relying on provable evidence and reproductive demonstrations of fact that everyone can do to test claims and truth.
Exchange-Value VS Use Value
The usefulness of a commodity vs. the exchange equivalent by which the commodity is compared to other objects on the market. Marx distinguishes between the use-value and the exchange value of the commodity. Use-value is inextricably tied to “the physical properties of the commodity”; that is, the material uses to which the object can actually be put, the human needs it fulfills.
In the exchange of goods on the capitalist market, however, exchange-value dominates: two commodities can be exchanged on the open market because they are always being compared to a third term that functions as their “universal equivalent,” a function that is eventually taken over by money.
Exchange-value must always be distinguished from use-value, because “the exchange relation of commodities is characterized precisely by its abstraction from their use-values”. In capital, money takes the form of that equivalence; however, money in fact hides the real equivalent behind the exchange: labor. The more labor it takes to produce a product, the greater its value. Marx therefore concludes that “As exchange-values, all commodities are merely definite quantities of congealed labour-time”.
An editorial opinion expressed about something, as contrasted with a simple factual report or account; editorial writing or commentary
A political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th century, based on the holding of all land as heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, and the resulting relation of lord to vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture. Ie. Knights; Landlords, Kings, living off of the backs of the peasantry, as it is today.
‘The easiest way of defining fascism is “reform”.’ — George Jackson.
Fascism is conservatism of the current status quo; the violence the state uses to repress all forms of ideological, social, intellectual, spiritual and environmental progress.
The process of making an Imperialist world economy dominated by capitalist models to the detriment of all life on planet Earth.
Dominance; specifically, headship or control exercised by one state over another or others, through violent conquest or violent coercion; the processes by which the dominant culture maintains its dominant position: for example, the use of institutions to formalize power; the employment of a bureaucracy to make power seem abstract (and, therefore, not attached to any one individual); the inculcation of the populace in the ideals of the hegemonic group through education, advertising, publication, etc.; the mobilization of a police force as well as military personnel to brutalise opposition.
Interchangeable with the terms “Dialectical Materialism/Scientific Socialism”; the process by which scientific socialists analyse history through a scientific ideological lens regarding history, society and material development.
There is a gap between how the world is and how we perceive it. Ideology fills in that gap.
Ideology is what allows a society to persist, even though the essence of that society may contain contradictions.
Marx states “The role of [bouji] ideology, therefore, is to hide the essence of society as it contradicts the appearance” Liberalism and Marxism are ideologies.
Idealists: Among idealists morality can be an absolute truth. There exists one “right”, one path, one “good”. This is in direct opposition to dialectics which understands that in the real world all things are constantly changing. History shows clearly how much morality has changed over the past millennium! How many moral “truths” have been disbanded, how many absolute, sacred beliefs and practices have been disregarded as myth and folklore? How many times have religions been “revised”? Morality changes, and we can understand and record its changes through a materialist conception of history.
On the other hand, it is sometimes asserted that morality is completely relativistic — which is to say it is based completely within the individual themselves. This fails to take into account the environment in which individuals live and the role of the environment in shaping the consciousness of individuals. While morality is a personal question, no person’s considerations are limited solely within themselves — people take into account their jobs, their family, their lifestyle, etc. A person’s considerations are made by relating themselves to their environment, and cognitively deciding what place they occupy in that environment. The society in which a person lives is based on a certain economic organization, and that influence is the underlying factor in the moral choices of an individual.
When a capitalist and a scientific socialist (Marxist) both view a poor family — the capitalist will perceive them as poor, lazy, stupid people without dignity — however the Marxist will look at the history of economic, legal and social policies that enabled this material reality and would rather see a poor family as a victim of capitalist policy enacted in law.
This difference of perception is purely ideological.
Imperialism is the highest stage of Capitalism.
The essence of Imperialism is monopoly capitalism.
Simply put, the main characteristics of Imperialism is the exportation of capital via the banking oligarchy that enables finance capital as a means of investing in the exploitation of resources and labour in foreign Countries with little to no capitalist rivals for the production of capital for profit.
A tendency of Marxism, attributed to the theoretical works of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks, which were drawn from their experiences in early 20th century Russia. Notable concepts include vanguardism, dictatorship of the proletariat, dual power, the right of nations to self-determination, imperialism, and democratic centralism.
Fascist appropriated the term used to trick people into voting against their interests to prevent revolution.
The abstraction of human labor into something that can be exchanged for money. The relation of labor-power to the actual labor of a private individual is analogous to the relation of exchange-value to use-value.
The system of labor-power relies on the belief that the laborer chooses freely to enter into a contractual relationship with an employer, who purchases that worker’s labor power as a commodity and then owns the goods produced by that worker. However, the worker is exploited insofar as he has no other option: the capitalist owns all the means of production. Also, the capitalist seeks to achieve the highest possible rate of surplus-value, which “depends, in the first place, on the degree of exploitation of labour-power”. The capitalist seeks to provide the laborer only enough money to subsist and to produce more laborers (through child-bearing).
The Lumpen-Prole is a member of the proletariat class. They are those who are unemployed or unemployable.
They own no property or means of production and can become working class upon consenting to sell their labour in order to be exploited by a capitalist.
Their sub-classes are as follows: Chronically unemployed, disabled, homeless and the ‘criminal’ elements who make money ‘illegally’ outside of the capitalist economy such as sex workers, drug dealers, theieves etc.
Liberalism is the ideology of the capitalist and is the reigning hegemony of beliefs/disbeliefs in western, imperialist nations.
It makes people believe in the ‘individual’ and values selfishness above all else. It values “Democracy” (The Ancient Greek Democratic, slave society with masters and their worker slaves)
Naturally, liberalisms dominatory nature aligns much with white supremacy — that ‘our’ philosophies, ideologies and physicalities are superior to non-liberal nations. Liberalism means freedom and political power for the ruling class, and servitude for the proletariat.
During the ancient 1789 French Revolution, a bunch of capitalists defeated Royalists across France then started a Parliament. Those who favoured a capitalist future sat on the left-wing of the building. Those that favoured a royalist past sat on the right-wing. That’s how the ruling class identified and enacted their different interests within their own class.
The term ‘left-wing’ has been used literally for 232 years to describe a left-wing party as progressive.
Progressive is not revolutionary.
The ruling classes politics can indeed be left or right wing. But revolutionary politics does not nor will it ever enter electoral politics, therefore the people do not have a wing.
The people were not represented by the Government 232 years ago, nor are they represented today.
Stop using the term ‘left-wing’ as a reference to socialists. It’s desperately wrong and needs to stop. “Leftists” literally means social democrats, capitalists… Always has, so by referring to yourself or anybody else as a leftist, you’re suggesting fascism and socialism are on the same side.. The same wing…
A socialist tradition attributed to Karl Marx and Frederich Engels that places emphasis on the means of production, your relation to them, and the inherent class struggle involved between those who control production, and those who don’t.
A developing tradition in the U.K.
The latest Marxist class analysis attributed to Comrade Shibby that places emphasis on the violent suffering, eugenocide and butchering of lumpen-proles in the Imperial core as well as the recent successful practices of recent lumpen revolutionary orgs, such as the Black Panther Party to build on strategies like base building, dual power and tacking community alienation as a means to strengthen, prepare and encourage the masses to heighten the contradictions of capitalism so that the people can decide what what direction they want to go in, having regained their freedom from hunger, violence or ostracization. It is the recognition of the lumpen as the revolutionary class, acknowledging that imperial wage slaves no longer produce anything, they only serve, therefore their relation to the means of production largely does not exist in any measurable form and 100 calories of intelligent revolutionary violence is more progressive than 100 years of protest and analysis.
A marxist synthesis and tradition created by Joseph Stalin to refer to the ideology of the USSR, now a universal anti-imperialist method of revolution.
A practice and goal of the proleteriat is to organise the working class to join the lumpen proles in their non-paricipation of wage slavery and capitalist production, imperialist exploitation.
“The general strike, in the Bakuninists’ program, is the lever which will be used for introducing the social revolution. One fine morning all the workers in every industry in a country, or perhaps in every country, will cease work, and thereby compel the ruling class either to submit in about
four weeks, or to launch an attack on the workers so that the latter will have the right to defend themselves, and may use the opportunity to overthrow the old society.”
The mass line is the political, organizational and leadership method developed by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Chinese revolution. The essential element of the mass line is consulting the masses, interpreting their suggestions within the framework of Marxism-Leninism, and then enforcing the resulting policies.
Mao developed it into a coherent organizing methodology that encompasses philosophy, strategy, tactics, leadership and organizational theory that has been applied by many communists subsequent to the Chinese revolution. Chinese communists generally attribute their conquest over western hegemony to the pursuit of effective “mass line” tactics, and a “correct” mass line is supposed to be the essential prerequisite for the full consolidation of people power via this tool that enables the people to be heard and have policies enacted that puts the very best of “democratic participation” under capitalism to shame.
The area of economic activity in which buyers and sellers interact and the forces of supply, distribution and monopolies affect prices.
Materialism, simply put, is the core philosophy of Marxism which interprets the world through historical materialism, an ideology with the understanding that rather than our ideas shaping the material, physical reality around us, it is the physical, material reality that shapes our thoughts, ideas, values, and morals.
Thus, those that own the means of production are able to control where people go, how they get there, what they do and why they do everything.
An easy example is that if you were born on the other side of the planet, you would not speak the language you do natively currently. You would prefer different foods, music, everything! Because the material reality influences your thoughts and not the other way around.
Marx & Engles used historical materialism to understand the development of history, society, culture and human labour production as a scientific method of understanding most things, but primarily the role of class struggle throughout history as the two opposing classes; bouji and proles fight for a future that serves their respective & opposing interests.
Means of Production
The tools (instruments) and the raw material (subject) you use to create something are the means of production. Owned by the capitalists.
The socioeconomic class between the working class and the upper class (capitalist, ruling class/politician), usually including professionals, highly skilled laborers, and lower and middle management. Generally have more job security and/or own means of limited production and do not live paycheck to paycheck.
Mode of Production
The method of producing the necessities of life (whether for health, food, housing or needs such as education, science, nurturing, etc.).
The Mode of Production is the unity of the productive forces and the relations of production. Production begins with the development of its determinative aspect — the productive forces — which, once they have reached a certain level, come into conflict with the relations of production within which they have been developing. This leads to an inevitable change in the relations of production, since in the obsolete form they cease to be an indispensable condition of the production process. In its turn, the change in the relations of production, which means the substitution of the new economic basis for the old one, leads to more less rapid change in the entire society. Therefore, the change in the Mode of Production comes about not through peoples volition, but by virtue of the correspondence between the productive relations to the character and level of development of the productive forces. Due to this, the development of society takes the form of the natural historical change of socio-economic formations. Conflict between the productive forces and the relations of production is the economic basis of social revolution.
Money or the Money-Form
Money is the commodity whose sole use is for storing value and acting as a means of payment. That is to say, money is a commodity, but one which has been singled out to play a special role in relation to all other commodities, as the measure of their values.
Money is in the first place, the “universal equivalent”, the form of value in which value takes on the form of a specific material substance — gold or silver. Further development of the money-form in the late 20th century, however, has created money-forms which have a purely virtual existence rather than as tangible material substance. But in Marx’s day, paper-money was an unreliable and transitory store of value and was not used as a medium of international exchange, for which gold, and sometimes silver, was exclusively relied upon. Paper money in the 19th century was more akin to a form of credit.
To the contemporary reader, Marx’s writing on money may look old-fashioned, even quaint, as he observes:
“The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium of circulation, is money. Gold (or silver) is therefore money.”[Capital, Chapter 3 #S3]
In section 3 of Chapter 1 of Capital, Marx traced the historical evolution of the form of value — the essence of commodity production — from the elementary or “accidental” form of value associated with barter, up to the formation of the money-commodity, gold. Paper-money and coins with conventional, rather than real, values were in common use in the 19th century. However, the actual capacity to convert currency into hard cash was always a reality in the question of the value of paper-money.
To be true to the spirit of Marx’s study of the value-form, we should observe the further development of the money-form in the 20th century. This century saw the substitution of the U.S. dollar for gold as the medium of international settlement as a reserve currency at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, (based on the fact of a large proportion of the world’s gold being stored at Fort Knox), and the breakdown of the Bretton Woods Arrangements in 1968–73 leading to the dynamic and virtual money-form of the postmodern world we live in today.
Though unknown to tribal society or to more developed societies in which trade was still restricted, money has an ancient existence, with coinage coming into use wherever the great empires of the ancient world — ancient Greece, the Islamic world, the Roman Empire,… — concentrated significant social surpluses and allowed for expansion of the scope of trade.
The existence of money is one of the preconditions for the development of capital, but it was not until the class of labourers with nothing to sell but their labour power (i.e., the proletariat) was created, alongside a class who owned the means of production as their private property, could large hoards of money be put into circulation, make a profit and become capital.
As the proportion of the total social labour which must pass though the system of exchange before it can meet a human need increases, and as the market by means of which people express and satisfy their needs extends across the globe, the form of value must of necessity become more “abstract”.
The act of assigning a value to something is an act of abstraction, as it means singling out a single quality from the whole concrete thing. The concentration of value in a single substance, such as gold, is a further, material act of abstraction.
Initially, the commodity first singled out to act as a measure of value would be itself the most useful of local products; later, though still very much a product of labour, the money-commodity is of marginal use, apart that is, from its function as a measure, carrier and store of value. In the course of this development, the aspect of the money-commodity as an abstract symbol of value, and therefore as a social category, expressing the values of the community, predominates over the aspect of the money-commodity as a product of abstract labour.
Nowadays, the development has gone much further. Despite all the uncertainties of modern life, no material substance could be as effective a store, measure or carrier of value as a credit card account. Try buying something with a bag of gold.
This shifting, ethereal, abstract form of value is adequate to the labour process of the postmodern world: every act of production nowadays (if it is part of the mainstream economy) combines the labour of workers from every corner of the world at every stage. Only a form of value such as we have today could facilitate exchange of commodities on this scale.
Money is a necessary part of life not only because it is necessary for the exchange of commodities (i.e., purchase and sale, since every of exchange is mediated by money), but because labour-power itself is a commodity in bourgeois society — one must sell one’s labour power to “earn a living”. Labour-as-exchange is ubiquitous in the world we live in. Very few people in developed societies today neither work for money nor pay other people money for their work.
Consequently, the flow of money is a faithful mirror image of the construction of use-values, and money acts as the life-blood of society, coordinating its separate organs and carrying the life-giving oxygen and nutrients to every cell.
But the money relation not only facilitates labour — it also bans it. Nothing can be done in bourgeois society unless someone can pay for it. Even voluntary organisations must devote a huge proportion of their energies to money-raising and are more often than not dependent on funding and sponsorship.
The abolition of capital is inconceivable without the transcendence of the money relation, but this entails an entirely new means of organisation of social labour.
“It is not money that renders commodities commensurable. Just the contrary. It is because all commodities, as values, are realised human labour, and therefore commensurable, that their values can be measured by one and the same special commodity, and the latter be converted into the common measure of their values, i.e., into money. Money as a measure of value, is the phenomenal form that must of necessity be assumed by that measure of value which is immanent in commodities: labour-time.”
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a 1988 book by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, in which the authors propose that the mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”, by means of the propaganda model of communication.
Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service.
Monopoly of Violence
Exclusive, legal or cultural control by one group over the right to use violence to defend their own interests. Right, wrong or simply a dialectical reality.. Those with all the violence (pigs, military, reaction, defended by the courts) will use all of the power of violence to use that violence to defend their position of power, because we all have a human cage waiting for us and will be violently dragged and thrown in to that prison cell if we are ever not simply being the most submissive slaves for our masters whos whip is economic ruin, starvation, alienation and an early death; whose terms are law and legislation that only punishes those who can’t afford to pay the fines.
How a person acts in relation to their rights and the ethics of the society around them. Morality of individuals is fundamentally based on the kind of society they live and the position in that society that they occupy. When an individual assesses their existing position within society and how they will live in accordance to that position, they establish a moral system for themselves.
[The opposition between good and evil] manifests itself exclusively in the domain of morals, that is, a domain belonging to the history of mankind, and it is precisely in this field that final and ultimate truths are most sparsely sown… someone may object… if good is confused with evil there is an end to all morality, and everyone can do as he pleases…. But the matter cannot be so simply disposed of. If it were such an easy business there would certainly be no dispute at all over good and evil; everyone would know what was good and what was bad.
Alongside [religious morality] we find the modern-bourgeois morality and beside it also the proletarian morality of the future… Which, then, is the true one? Not one of them, in the sense of absolute finality; but certainly the morality that contains the maximum elements promising permanence which, in the present, represents the overthrow of the present, represents the future, and that is proletarian morality. [With morality based on class] we can only draw the one conclusion: that men, consciously or unconsciously, derive their ethical ideas in the last resort from the practical relations on which their class position is based — from the economic relations in which they carry on production and exchange
But nevertheless there is a great deal which the three moral theories mentioned above have in common — is this not at least a portion of a morality which is fixed once and for all? These moral theories represent different stages of the same historical development, have therefore a common historical background, and for that reason alone they necessarily have much in common. Even more. At similar or approximately similar stages of economic development moral theories must of necessity be more or less in agreement. From the moment when private ownership of movable property developed, all societies in which this private ownership existed had to have this moral injunction in common: Thou shalt not steal. Does this injunction thereby become an eternal moral injunction? By no means. In a society in which all motives for stealing have been done away with, in which therefore at the very most only lunatics would ever steal, how the preacher of morals would be laughed at who tried solemnly to proclaim the eternal truth: Thou shalt not steal!
We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and forever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. That in this process there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge, no one will doubt. But we have not yet passed beyond class morality.
Groups that help each other materially, in the interests of a shared goal, despite potentially different practice ie. People that share things in support of a goal but don’t always agree.
While at first sight it would appear that a nation is a large body of people sharing common genealogy, language, culture, etc., sharing a common territory with a government recognised by other nations and common legal code, it would be more true to say that this is exactly what a nation is not.
A large body of people sharing a common language and culture can be a tribe, with everyone relating to others in extended family relationships which exclude others living within or outside the territory. In order to become a nation as such, it is necessary to transcend the narrow bounds of tribal law and encompass multiple languages, cultures and genealogy, to be multicultural. A nation based on race, like Israel for example, is not yet fully a nation. When Palestinians and Israelis live in the territory of Israel/Palestine with the same rights, then the Israelis will be less of a tribe and more of a nation.
A people may have their common laws, culture and language and yet have not found their homeland, like the Kurds for example, or may live in their homeland under the domination of another, settler nation, like the Australian Aborigines. Surely these are nations nonetheless? But they are not yet fully nations, because a nation does need to have its territory in order to be able to develop. So the Kurds and the Australian Aborigines are nascent or embryonic nations, nations who have not yet actualised.
But a nation that loses connection with its citizens when they leave the borders of the national territory are not yet fully nations either, but simply a territorial administration. A nation must also be a community, that offers protection to its members wherever they are.
Even the national state is a symptom of the incompleteness of the development of the nation, for the state is an indicator of the existence of unresolvable conflicts, usually class conflicts within the community, and the nation is only fully mature when such antagonisms have disappeared and the state withers away. But this is conceivable only when the obsolescence of classes occurs on a world scale. Consequently, the fully mature nation ceases to be a nation at all, dissolving itself in the world community of peoples.
Thus a nation is a process, not an entity.
Nations come into being either:
- by the coming together of disparate tribes or peoples, as was the case in the British Isles which still constitutes itself as a multinational state, or the United States, which Thomas Paine described as an “alliance of independent republics” in 1782, or in Germany or Italy which arose by the coming together of a large number of principalities;
- or by the conquest of a number of peoples by one dominant people, as was the case with Russia;
- This type of process has only been open to a few nations that achieved statehood early enough to avoid colonisation. The majority of nations have come about by the forceful imposition of a colonial government by a foreign power, national consciousness and organisation then being achieved in the struggle for national liberation;
- In a very few cases prior to 1989, nations came into being by peaceful secession.
Communists support the right of nations to self-determination and oppose all forms of colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism or “benevolent interference”. Every people needs to achieve modernity by their own route at their own pace.
The current process of globalisation raises a number of problems for national self-determination. Globalisation has posited an ethical universalism wherein it is held that ethical values, such as “human rights” transcend national and cultural distinctions, and this has led to the legitimation of the carpet bombing of other nations by imperialist states. The road to a world-wide free association of peoples can only pass through the national self-determination of all peoples — whether they have achieved statehood and national autonomy or not.
The fundamental values of the working class are internationalism and solidarity and the ethical problems posed by the suffering of people of other nations is determined by these values.
Globalisation is indeed already undermining national government but nations will wither away only gradually over a long period of time through maturation, not abolition. “Globalisation from below” must respect national differences while transcending national borders.
The Nation-State is the coming together of a nation with a state; the state being an instrument of force which is able to dominate the people of a nation, representing the social interests of the dominant class within that nation.
A National Government is the legitimate administration over a national territory, having responsibility for policing and regulation of civil society, legislative powers and the administration of justice.
In modern society these two social formations are generally identified and legitimate one another.
Neocolonialism is the stage of development of capitalism and imperialism in which colonies are exploited by making them economically dependent on the imperialist power. Armed force is not used to impose a colonial government nor to exclude other imperial powers, though imperialist violence is relied upon to secure the conditions of domination.
The first recorded use of the term was in reference to French policy in Algeria in 1959 (although the word had been used earlier in the context of art history), and in 1961 the term became more widely used: in relation to Indonesia and Malaysia, the Pacific, and US policy in the Caribbean and Latin America; the word was used in The New Statesman in January 1961 and in the New Left Review by Perry Anderson and Stuart Hall in July 1961. Che Guevara used the term in a 1962 speech to the Union of Young Communists, published under the name ‘To be a Young Communist’, and the Ghanaian national liberation leader, Kwame Nkrumah, published a book under the title Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, describing the new imperialist strategy, in 1965, the first extended analysis of the concept.
Fetishizing a nation that exploits you like a beta
“[Humans] can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence [Humans] are indirectly producing their actual material life.”
Marx and Engels
The German Ideology: First Premises of Materialist Method
In Relation to Humans: Human Labour distinguishes and is our own unique relation to nature. “Man with all his specifically human features is from beginning to end the result and product of his own labour. Even walking upright…” (by Ilyenkov) is not a natural, a priori response, but develops from the human labor process — a distinguishing feature of australopithecus (the species of human before homo erectus) was the use of their hands as tools to manipulate their environment. This practice with their hands soon became necessary, so they gradually discontinued walking on all fours to free up of the use of their hands; thus humans began walking upright.
In Consciousness: Humans live in a predominantly human constructed world, the underlining aspect of consciousness which is based on the environment is therefore not a direct reflection of Nature, but rather a human, social product. A product, of course, which was built on nature.
In contrast to the Marxist understanding, Naturalism is a tendency which emphasises the natural over the social aspect of the human condition. Opposing this is Humanism which stresses only the social factor in determining human consciousness. Marxism understands a dialectical unity of humanism and naturalism in determining the origins and aspects of consciousness.
Further Reading: Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General, including Marx on Man and Nature and Capital, Chapter VII, The Labour Process. Also see: Ilyenkov’s The Concrete and the Dialectics of the Universal and the Individual
Hegelian philosophy: Hegel, on understanding things in their own being and movement, that Nature is as much the subject of Philosophy as ideas, that Chance and Necessity exist in Nature, rather than being relevant only to knowledge.
Nature is the last word in Hegel’s Logic — for materialism, it is the first word.
Organic intellectuals are very instrumental in a class’ struggle for hegemony. “One of the most important characteristics of any group that is developing towards dominance is its struggle to assimilate and conquer ’ideologically’ the traditional intellectuals, but their assimilation and conquest is made quicker and more efficacious the more the group in question succeeds in simultaneously elaborating its own organic intellectuals.” Remember that the traditional intellectuals can be supportive agents in the quest for “spontaneous” consent to the social order. Thus, it would also seem that the struggle for assimilating the traditional intellectuals is yet another important requisite for a class’ overall struggle for hegemony.
For Gramsci, Organic intellectuals, on the other hand, are more directly related to the economic structure of their society simply because of the fact that “every social group that originates in the fulfillment of an essential task of economic production” creates its own organic intellectual. Thus, the organic intellectual “gives his class homogeneity and awareness of its own function, in the economic field and on the social and political levels.” In addition, their interests are “more nearly identical with those of the dominant classes [they identify with] . . . than the traditional intellectuals.” But what was the basis of Gramsci’s classification of intellectuals on “vertical” and “horizontal” dimensions?
A good organic intellectual knows their place in society and then teaches that knowledge onto others, who would then teach that to others and so on and so forth, growing out of conditions and the contradictions of bouji culture and hegemony.
To exclude, by general consent, from society, groups, friendship, conversation, privileges, etc
Protracted Peoples War
In Maoism, this is a strategy for achieving Communism that includes winning the support of the locals (usually the peasantry) in areas away from Capitalist strongholds, and waging unconventional guerrilla warfare, while building institutions of dual power to replace Capitalist ones.
Small business people, sometimes extended to include the professional middle-class and better-off farmers.
Better off, great credit, don’t live paycheck to paycheck but still all get nerfed when something like Covid comes along whenever the real bourgeoisie want to sweep the rug from the petit-bouji’s feet to retain or capitalise more power.
The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labour power and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death,whose sole existence depends on the demand for labour… If you need to sell your labour to a business (capitalist) to survive, you’re a proletarian/prole.
Private property is the right of an individual to exclude others’ use of an object, and predates the rupture of society into classes. In its undeveloped form private property is the simple relation of the individual to the natural world in which their individuality finds objective expression. Private property is essentially the denial of the private property of others and finds its ultimate expression only in the relation of wage-labour and capital.
“The antithesis between lack of property and property, so long as it is not comprehended as the antithesis of labour and capital, still remains an indifferent antithesis, not grasped in its active connection, in its internal relation, not yet grasped as a contradiction. It can find expression in this first form even without the advanced development of private property (as in ancient Rome, Turkey, etc.). It does not yet appear as having been established by private property itself. But labour, the subjective essence of private property as exclusion of property, and capital, objective labour as exclusion of labour, constitute private property as its developed state of contradiction — hence a dynamic relationship driving towards resolution.” [Private Property and Communism]
The abolition of private property constitutes the emancipation of humanity as the relation of person to person is immediate rather than mediated through things.
Privatisation & Nationalisation
Privatisation is the movement of labour out of the public sector into the private sector, usually by the sale of public assets and the associated services.
Nationalisation is the transformation of private companies, assets and natural resources in private hands, into public property.
The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause in an effort to propagate or win support for a theory or method of action.
Is really just another word for practice in the sense in which practice is understood by Marxists, in which neither theory nor practice are intelligible in isolation from the other.
A political position that maintains a conservative response to change, including threats to social institutions and technological advances. Reaction is the reciprocal action to revolutionary movement. Reactionaries clamp down on the differences of the emerging productive forces in society, and attempt to remove those differences, silence them, or segregate them in order to keep the stability of the established order.
Examples of the political position of reactionaries can be seen throughout history: during the US Revolutionary War, the reactionaries were the ruling British aristocracy, who sought to maintain their feudal government over their American colonies, while the US revolutionaries sought to establish a government to represent the interests of capitalist values and practices. Hundreds of years later in Russia, the tables would turn and capitalists became reactionary while the Socialists are revolutionary.
Those who amplify the differences and conflicts caused by technological advances in society. Revolutionaries provoke differences and violently ram together contradictions within a society, overthrowing the government through the rising to power of the class they represent. After destroying the old order, revolutionaries help build a new government that adheres to the emerging social relationships that have been made possible by the advanced productive forces. A real revolutionary has three traits in abundance: patience, an open mind, and “Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love.” — Che Guevara; Man and Socialism in Cuba
Revolutionaries, in contrast to reactionaries, do not look down upon the world, but instead find in the world a source of great inspiration. A revolutionary realizes that the content of the world cannot change, but that she can give it a new form based on new productive forces. Human diversity is a tremendous strength; a revolutionary does not seek to subvert or change human nature, but instead to give it new and greater expression than previously realized.
“The organisation of society in such a manner that any individual, man or woman, finds at birth equal means for the development of their respective faculties and the utilisation of their labour. The organisation of society in such a manner that the exploitation by one person of the labour of his neighbour would be impossible, and where everyone will be allowed to enjoy the social wealth only to the extent of their contribution to the production of that wealth.”
- August Bebel
Die Frau und der Sozialismus
“Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by Modern Industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes.
“The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labor. Wage labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers.
“And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.
(“These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be generally applicable.”)
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
- Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels
“The question then arises: What transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions?
“Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
- Karl Marx
“The dictatorship of a single class is necessary not only for every class society in general, not only for the proletariat which has overthrown the bourgeoisie, but also for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from “classless society”, from communism. Bourgeois states are most varied in form, but their essence is the same: all these states, whatever their form, in the final analysis are inevitably the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The transition from capitalism to communism is certainly bound to yield a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat.
- Vladimir Lenin
“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.
“Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society — after the deductions have been made — exactly what he gives to it…”
“But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement…
“Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard insofar as they are brought under an equal point of view, are taken from one definite side only — for instance… one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labor, and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.”
- Karl Marx
“The first phase of communism, therefore, cannot yet provide justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences in wealth will still persist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production — the factories, machines, land, etc. — and make them private property…. Marx shows the course of development of communist society….which [firstly] consists in the distribution of consumer goods “according to the amount of labor performed” (and not [yet] according to needs).”
“But the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism.” — Lenin
The term “Social-Democracy” has been used by Marxists since the time of the First International of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The term is both an organizational appellation, meaning it describes a particular political affiliation within a political culture and an adjective describing a “kind” of politics within the broader socialist movement. Simply put, a social-democrat was for democratic socialism. That is, the extension of political democracy to the economic level, the elimination of capitalism and the institution of a broad based workers democracy.
Chronologically “Social-Democracy” described both the adherents of the First and Second Internationals through 1914–1919. Everyone in the various socialist movements who were at all affiliated with these internationals were described as being “social-democrats”, whether they represented the staid reformism of US socialist Morris Hilquit to the revolutionary Marxism of V.I. Lenin. They were all “social-democrats.”
With the failure of the Second International to rally the international working class against the onslaught of the First World War the social-democracy split, eventually culminating in the Communist, or 3rd International in 1919, which was based, in large part, of the left wing of the Russian social-democracy, the Bolsheviks, in assuming power in October of 1917, the first successful socialist revolution in the world. At this point, most supporters of the Communist International ceased calling themselves “social-democrats” and simply called themselves “Communists.” Thus, social-democracy became the purview of the remnants of the Second International, who eventually reconstituted themselves into the early 1920s. The term social-democracy therefore became largely synonymous with the pale reformism of these now established socialist parties, such as the German Social-Democrats and the British Labour Party.
Social Democrats are now only fascist Imperialists. Fuck em.
When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such injury that death results, we call thedeed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call thisdeed murder.
But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that theyinevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life,places them under conditions in which they cannot live — forces them, through the strong arm ofthe law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence– knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain,its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder,murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no mansees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is moreone of omission than of commission.
But murder it remains. I have now to prove that society inEngland daily and hourly commits what the working-men’s organs, with perfect correctness,characterise as social murder, that it has placed the workers under conditions in which they canneither retain health nor live long; that it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually,little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time.
I have further to prove that society knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the workers, and yetdoes nothing to improve these conditions. That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its actis, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder. — Engles, Condition Of The Working Class In England
The state is the institution of organised violence which is used by the ruling class of a country to maintain the conditions of its rule. Thus, it is only in a society which is divided between hostile social classes that the state exists. Capitalist states are controlled by the capitalist, ruling class monopoly over violence to maintain the state/power.
Base and superstructure are two linked theoretical concepts developed by Karl Marx. Base refers to the production forces, or the materials and resources, that generate the goods society needs. Superstructure describes all other aspects of society: Art, Family, Culture, Religion, Philosophy, Law, Media, Science, Politics & Education all grow out of the material base of a society — that is, the physical word will shape our thoughts, ideas, beliefs.
A Church in every town gives rise to Christians… Go back in time and replace them with Mosques and you have a new dominant religion in people’s minds.
Gramsci elaborated on this theory that those who control the means of production, land and resources will consequently control the very thoughts of a population because of the dialectical nature of the base and superstructure with a human brain as undeveloped as libertarians.
Surplus-value is the social product which is over and above what is required for the producers to live.
The measure of value is labour time, so surplus value is the accumulated product of the unpaid labour time of the producers. In bourgeois society, surplus value is acquired by the capitalist in the form of profit: the capitalist owns the means of production as Private Property, so the workers have no choice but to sell their labour-power to the capitalists in order to live. The capitalist then owns not only the means of production, and the workers’ labour-power which he has bought to use in production, but the product as well. After paying wages, the capitalist then becomes the owner of the surplus value, over and above the value of the workers’ labour-power.
In all societies in which there is a division of labour, there is a social surplus; what is different about bourgeois society is that surplus value takes the form of capital, and surplus value is in fact the essence of production in capitalism.– Only productive work, i.e., work which creates surplus value, is supported. All “unproductive labour” is eliminated.
The capitalists may increase the amount of surplus value extracted from the working class by two means: (1) by absolute surplus value — extending the working day as long as possible, and (2) by relative surplus value — by cutting wages.
Attempts by individual capitalists to increase their profits by introducing machinery or speeding-up production by technique fail as soon as their competitors copy the new technique and restore their market share. The end effect of these improvements in production may be to increase the productivity of labour, but unless the rate of surplus value is increased proportionately, the rate of profit will actually fall.
Having been accumulated as capital, surplus value must then be distributed to landlords, bankers and other parasites, and expended via taxes on the various expenses of maintaining the social fabric.
If a certain quantity of constant capital, c, and variable capital, v, are invested in a productive process, then at the end of a cycle of reproduction these values will have renewed themselves, but in addition, if the labour power of the employees has used to at least the social average of usefulness, there will a surplus-value, s.
Marx expresses this symbolically as: c + v → c + v + s.
On the basis of this conception, the rate of profit for the individual capitalist who got into the game of profiteering by investing (c + v) at the beginning of the cycle of reproduction, and made a profit of s, the rate of profit is s/(c + v). This rate of profit is the ratio which affects the individual unit of capital, as opposed to the rate of surplus value, s/v, which characterises the proportion of value expropriated by the capitalist class as a whole.
The organic composition of capital, c/v, measures the difference between the rate of surplus value, s/v, and the rate of profit, s/(c + v) — the higher the organic composition of capital, i.e., the more capital-intensive the industry, the lower the rate of profit.
The process of combining the parts to form a whole.
Aggressive or fanatical patriotism, particularly during time of war, in support of one’s own nation versus other nation(s). During WWI, nearly every political party took a social-chauvinist stand; with few exceptions. Most Socialists gave up their beliefs in favour of “defense of the fatherland,” and turned to social-chauvinism; most notably the German Social Democratic Party.
Two outstanding examples of Communists who fought against social-chauvinism during WWI were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. They stressed that the only violence that should be used is the violence necessary to overthrow one’s own government. They agitated tirelessly in their nation to show that common social relations united workers across any national boundaries and that the only blood the proletariat should shed is the blood to gain their freedom.
Socially Necessary Labour
The necessary labour time is the time (per day or per week) which workers must work (in the average conditions of the industry of their day), to produce the equivalent of their own livelihood (at the socially and historically determined standard of living of their day).
As wage-workers however, they cannot get paid until they have completed a full working day, and that extra time they work, over and above the necessary labour time, is called surplus labour time.
By “their own livelihood” is understood in the first place the value of the food, clothing, shelter, medicine and so on needed to be able to turn up for work again the next day and work at the required intensity, but in the second place also, the value of everything necessary to raise a new generation of workers and educate them for the future, to replace the worn out workers when the capitalist is finished with them.
In considering the value of a worker’s product, we discount the value of the materials and machinery consumed in the course of their work, and which must also be replaced, and focus just upon the ‘added value’. This ‘added value’ is more or less the same quantity as measured in the determination of liability for consumption taxes like the ‘Value Added Tax’ in Europe.
Since nowadays people do not directly produce the goods they need, but rather produce a surplus of a narrow range of products for their employer, who pays them wages, which are then exchanged to get what they need, we must talk of producing the equivalent of what they need to live. Likewise, the working class produces everything that people need through a division of labour.
“Necessary Labour time” can be calculated in terms of the working day of a single worker by looking at the value of what they produce per hour, and the value of what they need to live, for example. Since conditions vary from one worker to the next, and in any case labour is thoroughly social and not individual, it is impossible to calculate such a figure. It is also not at all clear at the outset, how to calculate the value of a worker’s production.
If looked at socially however the idea is clearer. If we look at the total mass of their products consumed by the working class themselves in a year, for example, as a proportion of what the working class produce in total for however many hours are worked by the whole workforce in the year, then we can see what the average working day is, and what proportion of the day is spent reproducing what the working class needs for its own living, the necessary labour time. The rest of the day is surplus labour time, during which the profits of the capitalist and what is needed to maintain the general mass of hangers on is produced.
As Marx explained it:
“We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power, that is, the value of his means of subsistence. Now since his work forms part of a system, based on the social division of labour, he does not directly produce the actual necessaries which he himself consumes; he produces instead a particular commodity, yarn for example, whose value is equal to the value of those necessaries or of the money with which they can be bought. The portion of his day’s labour devoted to this purpose, will be greater or less, in proportion to the value of the necessaries that he daily requires on an average, or, what amounts to the same thing, in proportion to the labour-time required on an average to produce them. If the value of those necessaries represent on an average the expenditure of six hours’ labour, the workman must on an average work for six hours to produce that value.
“If instead of working for the capitalist, he worked independently on his own account, he would, other things being equal, still be obliged to labour for the same number of hours, in order to produce the value of his labour-power, and thereby to gain the means of subsistence necessary for his conservation or continued reproduction. But as we have seen, during that portion of his day’s labour in which he produces the value of his labour-power, say three shillings, he produces only an equivalent for the value of his labour-power already advanced by the capitalist; the new value created only replaces the variable capital advanced. It is owing to this fact, that the production of the new value of three shillings takes the semblance of a mere reproduction. That portion of the working-day, then, during which this reproduction takes place, I call “necessary” labour-time, and the labour expended during that time I call “necessary” labour. Necessary, as regards the labourer, because independent of the particular social form of his labour; necessary, as regards capital, and the world of capitalists, because the continued existence of the labourer depends on their existence also.” [Capital, Chapter 9]
The concept of necessary labour time is the key to understanding wage labour. After wage labourers have put in the necessary labour time for their own living, they are not paid unless they keep on working to produce all that value used to support the capitalist, the state and everything else — value which the workers never see in their pay packet. This surplus-value includes the worker’s taxes, but more importantly it includes values which never appear on any pay-check or any balance sheet at all.
As Marx says:
“The wage-form thus extinguishes every trace of the division of the working-day into necessary labour and surplus-labour, into paid and unpaid labour. All labour appears as paid labour. All labour appears as paid labour. In the corvée, the labour of the worker for himself, and his compulsory labour for his lord, differ in space and time in the clearest possible way. In slave labour, even that part of the working-day in which the slave is only replacing the value of his own means of existence, in which, therefore, in fact, he works for himself alone, appears as labour for his master. All the slave’s labour appears as unpaid labour. In wage labour, on the contrary, even surplus-labour, or unpaid labour, appears as paid. There the property-relation conceals the labour of the slave for himself; here the money-relation conceals the unrequited labour of the wage labourer.”[Capital, Chapter 19]
The determination of value in any given society is a complex affair. Marx made a thorough study of the process of determination of value in a nineteenth century capitalist society, and demonstrated on this basis just how the workers were being ripped off. Values change from one historical time to another and from one country to another, and so on, and it is not always entirely clear, on the basis of an analysis of values, how exploitation is taking place.
However, if I am working for longer than is necessary to sustain my own standard of living, longer than the necessary labour time, I am entitled to ask: why is it necessary for me to work longer than this necessary labour time? Am I not working at the average level of productivity? or is a proportion of what I produce going somewhere else?
From the point of view of the exploiting classes, there is obvious advantage in getting the necessary labour time as low as possible. So the development of enterprises capable of producing cheap food and clothing and other necessary products for the workers is an essential part of the conditions which will allow the idle rich to enjoy the best quality of things.
“Given the length of the working-day, the prolongation of the surplus-labour must of necessity originate in the curtailment of the necessary labour-time; … But this is impossible without an increase in the productiveness of labour. For example, suppose a shoe-maker, with given tools, makes in one working-day of twelve hours, one pair of boots. If he must make two pairs in the same time, the productiveness of his labour must be doubled; and this cannot be done, except by an alteration in his tools or in his mode of working, or in both. Hence, the conditions of production, i.e., his mode of production, and the labour-process itself, must be revolutionised. By increase in the productiveness of labour, we mean, generally, an alteration in the labour-process, of such a kind as to shorten the labour-time socially necessary for the production of a commodity, and to endow a given quantity of labour with the power of producing a greater quantity of use-value. …. The technical and social conditions of the process, and consequently the very mode of production must be revolutionised, before the productiveness of labour can be increased. By that means alone can the value of labour-power be made to sink, and the portion of the working-day necessary for the reproduction of that value, be shortened.” [Capital, Chapter 12]
The other important element for creating a life of luxury for the rich is the extension of the working day: to see that the workers are willing to work all the hours of day and night in order to get enough money to buy those cheap consumer goods they need to live, the equivalent of which they could actually produce before the morning tea break. Consequently, the bourgeoisie have to spend a lot of effort giving the cheapest kind of junk the aura of exotic gemstones.
As Marx says:
“In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.” [Capital, Chapter 17]
In Chapter 10, probably the most readable and enthralling chapter of Capital, Marx documents the unending struggle between capitalists and workers over the length of the working day. This struggle demonstrates clearly how opposed are the interests of the capitalist class and the working class: the workers work as few hours as they can get away with for the highest possible wage; the capitalist class, on the other hand, uses every means to reduce the necessary labour time, by lowering the living standards of the working class, and extending the working day to the limits of endurance.
Marx refers to these two complementary ways of increasing surplus labour time — reducing the necessary labour time and increasing the surplus labour time — as respectively the production of relative and absolute surplus-value:
“The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working-day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the surplus-value arising from the curtailment of the necessary labour-time, and from the corresponding alteration in the respective lengths of the two components of the working-day, I call relative surplus-value.” [Capital, Chapter 12]
Theory and Praxis
Theory and Practice are the ideal and material aspects of human activity. Theory reflects and organises practice; practice manifests and enriches theory. The separation of theory and practice, which has its origins in the rupture of society into classes, means speculation in theory and unconscious activity in practice.
Theory is an ideal image of the material world corresponding to practice.
Marxism understands theory uniquely because while materialism supports the existence of a material world outside consciousness, it neglects the active role of the subject in forming the world into objects. It is because Marxism recognises the importance of the subject (i.e. the human being), that we intertwine theory with practice. As a result of basing theory on practice, we can see that any established theory is always usurped by events in the real world: practice is infinitely rich. The attempt to capture the richness of practice can be managed through a multiplicity of theories, reflecting the complexity of social life, but even still, any multiplicity of theories is but a shadow of the reality of diversity in human life.
By means of theory we mentally organise the material world into what we conceive of as objects. The objects we choose to label, and how we label them, varies tremendously from one era to the next, between classes, cultures, etc. A theory thus defines its own terminology and the relations between them, and tries to remain consistent in the process. But life and language as a whole is full of contradictions, ambiguities and so on, … and it has to be, because it is based on the fullness and infinite diversity of practice! Only the most limited and formal theory can avoid internal contradictions. Since contradictions are a natural part of the real world, Marxists understand that planned contradictions in theory is a strength, while most philosophers see contradictions as the breaking of the system. As Hegel famously pointed out, the contradictions which inevitably arise within a given theory, both within wider bodies of theory and between theory and perception, have their origin in the practical world and constitute the driving force for the development of theory, successively resolving contradictions, and uncovering new ones.
Every human being has and uses theory. Whether or not a person ever reflects on it, the way they understand the world around them is structured by a theoretical framework reflecting their own times and activity in the world. The production of tools, for example, enables human capacities to take on an objective, material existence in the form of commodities, to which human activity may subsequently be oriented, and in general, the production of material means of production lays the foundation for the theory. Production methods and technique can be internalised in the form of theory, so that activity can be imagined independently of its material execution and theory becomes a means of organising and directing practice in specialised ways.
“The objectification of the human essence, both in its theoretical and practical aspects, is required to make man’s sense human, as well as to create the human sense corresponding to the entire wealth of human and natural substance.”
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels,
Private Property and Communism
The development of a social division of labour leads to specific social strata (classes) whose labour is theoretical, both in the direction and planning of the labour process, and in the production of theory itself. [See Marx’s Estranged Labour: “the real, practical attitude of the worker in production and to the product (as a state of mind) appears for the non-worker who confronts him as a theoretical attitude”] The division between mental and manual labour is integral to class society. Further, development of the social division of labour in general is inevitable and progressive, but there should never be a class of supervisors telling a class of operatives what to do. Socialists aim to abolish this division between mental and manual labour, principally by ensuring that all workers have control over their own labour and the time to engage in creative activities.
Theory & Practice Under Marxism
“To make a science of Socialism, it had first to be placed upon a real basis.”
Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian & Scientific
In providing this scientific basis for socialism, Marx and Engels opposed the moralistic and Utopian tenor of the socialism of their day. However, they were not “social scientists,” and avoid the construction of theoretical or speculative theories of history and society. Their theoretical work instead centred on (i) the systematic formulation of the principles expressed in the struggle of the working class itself, and (ii) the critique of bourgeois theory.
The Soviet psychologist A N Leontyev, for example, developed Marx’s ideas on the relation of theory and practice, at the level of cognitive psychology, and elaborated a detailed theory related personality and consciousness to the development of the labour process. See his Activity, Consciousness, and Personality.
After the degeneration of the Russian Revolution after the mid-1920s, there has been a split in the revolutionary workers’ movement and this has been reflected in a separate development of the theory and practice of communism. On the one hand, creative theoretical work within the workers’ movement itself has been stunted by bureaucratism and sectarianism; on the other hand, academics, and others remote from workers’ struggles, have further elaborated Marx’s theoretical work as part of the social division of labour of bourgeois society. Consequently, there are developments of Marxist theory that have developed relatively independently of the struggle of the working class, and communist struggle which has failed to fruitfully develop Marxist theory. This separation of theory and practice, which is inimical to Marxism, needs to be overcome.
“The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents and for the realisation of the measures which that domination would imply. What he can do depends not upon his will but upon the sharpness of the clash of interests between the various classes, and upon the degree of development of the material means of existence, the relations of production and means of communication upon which the clash of interests of the classes is based every time.”
An organization whose members belong to the same trade and that acts collectively to address common issues and often bargain their freedom with their employer for better slave conditions.
Use-Value vs. Exchange-Value
Use-value is the qualitative aspect of value, i.e., the concrete way in which a thing meets human needs:
“The utility of a thing makes it a use-value. But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use-value, something useful. This property of a commodity is independent of the amount of labour required to appropriate its useful qualities. When treating use-value, we always assume to be dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens of watches, yards of linen, or tons of iron. The use-values of commodities furnish the material for a special study, that of the commercial knowledge of commodities. Use-values become a reality only by use or consumption: they also constitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of exchange-value.”
[ou-topos = not-place] Originally the name of Thomas More’s fictional island, the atheistic and communist republic described in his 1515 novel, Utopia. Ever since, the word has denoted any vision of a perfect society which plays the role of an ideal for a social movement advocating changes to existing social conditions. The connotation of Utopia, as in “Utopian socialism”, is that the ideal state of society represented has no real basis in actuality and may be an impossible and unattainable idealisation. Socialism is utopian, but also scientific.
The socialist movement prior to Marx and Engels was predominantly utopian in character, and it can be said that it was Marx and Engels’ principal contribution to make a critique of this utopian socialism and place socialism on a scientific basis.
“The Utopians’ mode of thought has for a long time governed the Socialist ideas of the 19th century, and still governs some of them. Until very recently, all French and English Socialists did homage to it. The earlier German Communism, including that of Weitling, was of the same school. To all these, Socialism is the expression of absolute truth, reason and justice, and has only to be discovered to conquer all the world by virtue of its own power. And as an absolute truth is independent of time, space, and of the historical development of man, it is a mere accident when and where it is discovered. With all this, absolute truth, reason, and justice are different with the founder of each different school. And as each one’s special kind of absolute truth, reason, and justice is again conditioned by his subjective understanding, his conditions of existence, the measure of his knowledge and his intellectual training, there is no other ending possible in this conflict of absolute truths than that they shall be mutually exclusive of one another. Hence, from this nothing could come but a kind of eclectic, average Socialism, which, as a matter of fact, has up to the present time dominated the minds of most of the socialist workers in France and England.
Hence, a mish-mash allowing of the most manifold shades of opinion: a mish-mash of such critical statements, economic theories, pictures of future society by the founders of different sects, as excite a minimum of opposition; a mish-mash which is the more easily brewed the more definite sharp edges of the individual constituents are rubbed down in the stream of debate, like rounded pebbles in a brook.
“To make a science of Socialism, it had first to be placed upon a real basis.” [Socialism, Utopian & Scientific, Chapter 1]
“The Socialism of earlier days certainly criticised the existing capitalist mode of production and its consequences. But it could not explain them, and, therefore, could not get the mastery of them. It could only simply reject them as bad. The more strongly this earlier Socialism denounced the exploitations of the working-class, inevitable under Capitalism, the less able it was clearly to show in what this exploitation consisted and how it arose. but for this it was necessary -
to present the capitalist mode of production in its historical connection and its inevitableness during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present its inevitable downfall; and to lay bare its essential character, which was still a secret. This was done by the discovery of surplus-value.” [Socialism, Utopian & Scientific, Chapter 2]
While pre-1848 socialism was utopian, many would say that the socialism of the 20th century was seriously lacking in idealistic vision. The difficulty of imagining an “outside” to postmodern capitalism is as much a problem as the difficulty of finding a road to get there.
The price of Labour Power.
Let us take any worker; for example, a weaver. The capitalist supplies him with the loom and yarn. The weaver applies himself to work, and the yarn is turned into cloth. The capitalist takes possession of the cloth and sells it for 20 shillings, for example. Now are the wages of the weaver a share of the cloth, of the 20 shillings, of the product of the work? By no means. Long before the cloth is sold, perhaps long before it is fully woven, the weaver has received his wages. The capitalist, then, does not pay his wages out of the money which he will obtain from the cloth, but out of money already on hand…..Wages, therefore, are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by himself.
Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labor-power…..
Now, the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general, naturally regulate wages , or the price of labor-power. Wages will now rise, now fall, according to the relation of supply and demand, according as competition shapes itself between the buyers of labor-power, the capitalists, and the sellers of labor-power, the workers. The fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labor-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labor-time necessary for production of this commodity: labor-power.
What, then, is the cost of production of labor-power?
It is the cost required for the maintenance of the laborer as a laborer, and for his education and training as a laborer.
Wage slavery the mode of production in which the labourer sells their capacity to work as a commodity.
The precondition for wage labour is a class of people who have no other way of living, and a class of people who own the means of production as their Private Property. The capitalist who buys the labour power, and pays for it at its value, owns the labour process and the product of labour, and can sell the product in order to realise a profit. The worker, on the other hand, is alienated from her own labour.
Their commodity, labor-power, the workers exchange for the commodity of the capitalist, for money, and, moreover, this exchange takes place at a certain ratio. So much money for so long a use of labor-power. For 12 hours’ weaving, two shillings. And these two shillings, do they not represent all the other commodities which I can buy for two shillings? Therefore, actually, the worker has exchanged his commodity, labor-power, for commodities of all kinds, and, moreover, at a certain ratio. By giving him two shillings, the capitalist has given him so much meat, so much clothing, so much wood, light, etc., in exchange for his day’s work. The two shillings therefore express the relation in which labor-power is exchanged for other commodities, the exchange-value of labor-power….
But the putting of labor-power into action — i.e., the work — is the active expression of the laborer’s own life. And this life activity he sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. His life-activity, therefore, is but a means of securing his own existence. He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another. The product of his activity, therefore, is not the aim of his activity. What he produces for himself is not the silk that he weaves, not the gold that he draws up the mining shaft, not the palace that he builds. What he produces for himself is wages ; and the silk, the gold, and the palace are resolved for him into a certain quantity of necessaries of life, perhaps into a cotton jacket, into copper coins, and into a basement dwelling. And the laborer who for 12 hours long, weaves, spins, bores, turns, builds, shovels, breaks stone, carries hods, and so on — is this 12 hours’ weaving, spinning, boring, turning, building, shovelling, stone-breaking, regarded by him as a manifestation of life, as life? Quite the contrary. Life for him begins where this activity ceases, at the table, at the tavern, in bed. The 12 hours’ work, on the other hand, has no meaning for him as weaving, spinning, boring, and so on, but only as earnings, which enable him to sit down at a table, to take his seat in the tavern, and to lie down in a bed. If the silk-worm’s object in spinning were to prolong its existence as a caterpillar, it would be a perfect example of a wage-worker.
The free laborer , on the other hand, sells his very self, and that by fractions. He auctions off eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his life, one day like the next, to the highest bidder, to the owner of raw materials, tools, and the means of life — i.e., to the capitalist. The laborer belongs neither to an owner nor to the soil, but eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his daily life belong to whomever buys them. The worker leaves the capitalist, to whom he has sold himself, as often as he chooses, and the capitalist discharges him as often as he sees fit, as soon as he no longer gets any use, or not the required use, out of him. But the worker, whose only source of income is the sale of his labor-power, cannot leave the whole class of buyers, i.e., the capitalist class , unless he gives up his own existence. He does not belong to this or that capitalist, but to the capitalist class ; and it is for him to find his man — i.e., to find a buyer in this capitalist class.
- Karl Marx, Wage Labour and Capital
In Capital, Marx treats piece-work, in which the worker is paid by the quantity of product, rather than by labour-time, as a form of wage-labour, not essentially different from wage-labour. This form of payment is simply a means of forcing the worker to work harder, but what the worker is paid is nevertheless determined in the labour market, class struggle/tensions as well as by the costs of production of a day’s labour, i.e., the historically and socially determined standard of living for the working class or whatever the ruling class can get away with not paying us.
The more developed capitalism becomes, the more common it is that workers are obliged to sell their product or bodies by means of social, legal or verbal contract for example. Like piece-work, contract-labour is an instrument used by the capitalists for the purposes of labour discipline, but the difference between the lot of the contract worker and that of the wage-worker is not fundamental. Lacking means of production, the contract worker is forced to sell their product at just such a price that enables them to live — in other words, they earn the going rate of wages.
Welfare is the provision and maintenance of the conditions of life for individuals by the community.
Welfare has a positive and negative aspect. Negative welfare is the provision by the state or other institutions of a “safety net” or the distribution of benefits according to some criteria; so-called positive welfare is the provision of opportunities for people to “help themselves”. This contrast lies behind foreign-aid strategies which concentrate on providing skills or “seed capital” rather than food parcels, for example. The concept of positive and negative welfare is related to the concepts of positive and negative freedom.
Marxists support both positive and negative welfare, but recognise that the market inevitably generates inequality and a class of people inevitably the recipients of welfare, who have nothing to sell but their labour power, alongside a class of people who live off the proceeds of exploitation, invariably the providers of welfare. Only by bringing the means of production under thoroughgoing proletarian democracy can the very need for welfare be abolished.
Patch notes: V1.1
“Dual-Power” to include mass-line as forms of democracic engagement
“Alienation” to include the ‘atomisation’ synonym