A Letter To Intellectuals Who Deride Revolutions In The Name Of Purity

| Strategize!

Above Photo: In this Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 photo, a supporter of former President Evo Morales holds a Bolivian flag during clashes with police in La Paz, Bolivia., AP Photo // MR Online

Revolutions do not happen suddenly, nor do they immediately transform a society. A revolution is a process, which moves at different speeds whose tempo can change rapidly if the motor of history is accelerated by intensified class conflict.

But, most of the time, the building of the revolutionary momentum is glacial, and the attempt to transform a state and society can be even more slow.

Leon Trotsky, sitting in his Turkish exile in 1930, wrote the most remarkable study of the Russian Revolution. Thirteen years had elapsed since the Tsarist empire had been overthrown. But the revolution was already being derided, even by people on the Left. ‘Capitalism’, Trotsky wrote in the conclusion to that book, ‘required a hundred years to elevate science and technique to the heights and plunge humanity into the hell of war and crisis. To socialism its enemies allow only fifteen years to create and furnish a terrestrial paradise. We took no such obligation upon ourselves. We never set these dates. The process of vast transformation must be measured by an adequate scale’.

When Hugo Chavez won an election in Venezuela (December 1998) and when Evo Morales Ayma won an election in Bolivia (December 2005), their critics on the left in North America and in Europe gave their governments no time to breathe. Some professors with a leftist orientation immediately began to criticise these governments for their limitations, and even their failures. This attitude was limited politically—there was no solidarity given to these experiments; it was also limited intellectually — there was no sense of the deep difficulties for a socialist experiment in Third World countries calcified in social hierarchies and depleted of financial resources.

Pace of Revolution

Two years into the Russian Revolution, Lenin wrote that the newly created USSR is not a ‘miracle-working talisman’, nor does it ‘pave the way to socialism. It gives those who were formerly oppressed the chance to straighten their backs and to an ever-increasing degree to take the whole government of the country, the whole administration of the economy, the whole management of production, into their own hands’.

But even that—that whole this, and whole that—was not going to be easy. It is, Lenin wrote, ‘a long, difficult, and stubborn class struggle, which, after the overthrow of capitalist rule, after the destruction of the bourgeois state…. does not disappear…. but merely changes its forms and in many respects becomes fiercer’. This was Lenin’s judgment after the Tsarist state had been taken over, and after the socialist government had begun to consolidate power. Alexandra Kollantai wrote (such as in Love in the Time of Worker Bees) about the struggles to build socialism, the conflicts within socialism to attain its objectives. Nothing is automatic; everything is a struggle.

Lenin and Kollantai argued that the class struggle is not suspended when a revolutionary government takes over the state; it is in fact, ‘fiercer’, the opposition to it intense because the stakes are high, and the moment dangerous because the opposition—namely the bourgeoisie and the old aristocracy—had imperialism on its side. Winston Churchill said, ‘Bolshevism must be strangled in its cradle’, and so the Western armies joined the White Army in an almost fatal military attack on the Soviet Republic. This attack went from the last days of 1917 to 1923—a full six years of sustained military assault.

Neither in Venezuela nor in Bolivia, nor in any of the countries that turned to the Left over the past twenty years, has the bourgeois state been totally transcended nor has capitalist rule been overthrown. The revolutionary processes in these countries had to gradually create institutions of and for the working-class alongside the continuation of capitalist rule. These institutions reflect the emergence of a unique state-form based on participatory democracy; expressions of this are the Misiones Sociales among others. Any attempt to fully transcend capitalism was constrained by the power of the bourgeoisie—which was not undone by repeated elections, and which is now the source of counter-revolution; and it was constrained by the power of imperialism—which has succeeded, for now, in a coup in Bolivia, and which threatens daily a coup in Venezuela. No-one, in 1998 or 2005, suggested that what happened in Venezuela or Bolivia was a ‘revolution’ like the Russian Revolution; the election victories were part of a revolutionary process. As the first act of his government Chavéz announced a constituent process for the re-foundation of the Republic. Similarly, Evo affirmed in 2006 that the Movement to Socialism (MAS) had been elected into the government but had not taken power; it was later that a constituent process was launched, which was itself a long journey. Venezuela entered an extended ‘revolutionary process’, while Bolivia entered a ‘process of change’ or—as they called it—simply the ‘process’, which even now—after the coup—is ongoing. Nonetheless, both Venezuela and Bolivia experienced the full thrust of a ‘hybrid war’—from sabotage of physical infrastructure to sabotage of the ability to raise funds from capital markets.

Lenin suggested that after capturing the state and dismantling capitalist ownership, the revolutionary process in the new Soviet republic was difficult, the stubborn class struggle alive and well; imagine then how much more difficult is the stubborn struggle in Venezuela and Bolivia.

Revolutions in the Realm of Necessity

Imagine, again, how hard it is to build a socialist society in a country, in which—despite its wealth of natural resources—there remains great poverty, and great inequality. Deeper yet, there is the cultural reality that large parts of the population have suffered from and struggled against centuries of social humiliation. Little surprise that in these countries, the most oppressed agricultural workers, miners, and the urban working class are either from indigenous communities or from communities that descend from Africans. The crushing burdens of indignity combined with the lack of easy to access resources makes revolutionary processes in the ‘realm of necessity’ all the harder.

In his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844), Marx makes a distinction between the ‘realm of freedom’—where ‘labour which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases’—and the ‘realm of necessity’—where physical needs are not met at all. A long history of colonial subjugation and then imperialist theft has drained large parts of the planet of its wealth and made these regions—mainly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—appear to be permanently in the ‘realm of necessity’. When Chavez won the first election in Venezuela, the poverty rate was an incredible 23.4%; in Bolivia, when Morales won his first election, the poverty rate was a staggering 38.2%. What these figures show is not just the absolute poverty of large sections of the population, but they carry inside them stories of social humiliation and indignity that cannot be made into a simple statistic.

Revolutions and revolutionary processes seem to have been rooted more in the realm of necessity—in Tsarist Russia, in China, in Cuba, in Vietnam—than in the realm of freedom—in Europe and the United States. These revolutions and these revolutionary processes—such as in Venezuela and Bolivia—are made in places that simply do not have accumulations of wealth that can be socialised. The bourgeoisie in these societies either absconds with its money at the moment of revolution or revolutionary change, or it remains in place but keeps its money in tax havens or in places such as New York and London. This money, the fruit of the people’s labour, cannot be accessed by the new government without incurring the wrath of imperialism. See how quickly the United States organised for Venezuela’s gold to be seized by the Bank of London, and for the US to freeze the bank accounts of the governments of Iran and Venezuela, and see how swiftly investment dried up when Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia refused to abide by the World Bank’s investor-State settlement mechanism.

Both Chavez and Morales tried to take charge of the resources in their countries, an act treated as an abomination by imperialism. Both of them faced rebuke, with the accusation that they are ‘dictators’ because they want to renegotiate the deals cut by previous governments for the removal of raw materials. They needed this capital not for personal aggrandizement—no one can accuse them of personal corruption—but to build up the social, economic, and cultural capacity of their peoples.

Every day remains a struggle for revolutionary processes in the ‘realm of necessity’. The best example of this is Cuba, whose revolutionary government has had to struggle against a crushing embargo and against threats of assassinations and coups from the very beginning.

Revolutions of Women

It is admitted—because it would be foolish to deny it—that women are at the centre of the protests in Bolivia against the coup and for the restoration of the Morales government; in Venezuela as well, the majority of people who take to the streets to defend the Bolivarian revolution are women. Most of these women might not be Masistas or Chavistas, but they certainly understand that these revolutionary processes are feminist, socialist, and against the indignity visited upon the indigenous and the Afro-descendants.

Countries like Venezuela and Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, faced immense pressure from the International Monetary Fund through the 1980s and 1990s to make deep cuts in state support for health care, education, and elder care. The breakdown of these crucial social support systems put a burden on the ‘care economy’, which is largely maintained—for patriarchal reasons—by women. If the ‘invisible hand’ failed to take care of people, the ‘invisible heart’ had to do so. It was the experience of the cuts in the care economy, that deepened the radicalisation of women in our societies. Their feminism emerged from their experience of patriarchy and structural adjustment policies; capitalism’s tendency to harness violence and deprivation hastened the journey of working-class and indigenous feminism directly into the socialist projects of Chávez and Morales. As the tide of neoliberalism continues to wash over the world, and as it engulfs societies in anxiety and heartache, it is women who have been the most active in the fight for a different world.

Morales and Chavez are both men, but in the revolutionary process they have come to symbolise a different reality for all of society. To different degrees, their governments have committed themselves to a platform that addresses both the cultures of patriarchy and the policies of social cuts that burden women with holding society together. The revolutionary processes in Latin America, therefore, must be understood as deeply cognizant of the importance of putting women, the indigenous, and the Afro-descendants at the centre of the struggle. No-one would deny that there are hundreds of errors made by the governments, errors of judgment that set back the fight against patriarchy and racism; but these are errors, which can be rectified, and not structural features of the revolutionary process. That is something that is deeply acknowledged by indigenous and Afro-descendent women in these countries; the proof of this acknowledgement is not in this or that article that they have written, but by their active and energetic presence on the streets.

As part of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, women have been essential in re-building social structures eroded by decades of austerity capitalism. Their work has been central to the development of people’s power and for the creation of participatory democracy. Sixty-four percent of the spokespersons of the 3,186 communes are women, so are a majority of the leaders of the 48,160 communal councils; sixty-five percent of the leaders in the local supply and production committees are women. Women not only demand equality in the workplace, but demand equality in the social domain, where the comunas are the atoms of Bolivarian socialism. Women in the social domain have fought to build the possibility of self-government, building dual-power, and therefore slowly eroding the form of the liberal state. Against austerity capitalism, women have shown their creativity, their strength, and their solidarity not only against neoliberal policies, but also for the socialist experiment and against the hybrid war.

Democracy and Socialism

Left intellectual currents have been badly bruised in the period after the fall of the USSR. Marxism and dialectical materialism lost considerable credibility not only in the West but in large parts of the world; post-colonialism and subaltern studies—variants of post-structuralism and post-modernism—flourished in intellectual and academic circles. One of the main themes of this seam of scholarship was to argue that the ‘State’ was obsolete as a vehicle for social transformation, and that ‘Civil Society’ was the salvation. A combination of post-Marxism and anarchist theory adopted this line of argument to deride any experiments for socialism through state power. The state was seen as merely an instrument of capitalism, rather than as an instrument for the class struggle. But if the people withdraw from the contest over the state, then it will—without challenge—serve the oligarchy, and deepened inequalities and discrimination.

Privileging the idea of ‘social movements’ over political movements reflects the disillusionment with the heroic period of national liberation, including the indigenous peoples’ liberation movements. It also discards the actual history of people’s organisations in relation to political movements that have won state power. In 1977, after considerably struggle indigenous organisations forced the United Nations to open up a project to end discrimination against the indigenous population in the Americas. The La Paz-based South American Indian Council was one of these organisations, which worked closely with the World Peace Council, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as a number of national liberation movements (African National Congress, the South-West Africa People’s Organisation, and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation). It was from this unity and this struggle that the UN established the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1981, and that it declared 1993 as the UN International Year of Indigenous Peoples. In 2007, Evo Morales lead the push for the UN to pass a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was a very clear example of the importance of unity and struggle between people’s movements and fraternal states—if not for both the people’s movements struggles from 1977 to 2007, aided and abetted by fraternal states, and if not for the Bolivian government in 2007, this Declaration—which has immense importance to take the struggle forward—would have been passed.

Indigenous intellectuals from the Americas have understood the complexity of politics from this struggle—that indigenous self-determination comes from a struggle through society and the state to overcome bourgeois and settler-colonial power, as well as to find instruments to prepare the transition to socialism. Amongst those forms—as recognised by Peru’s José Carlos Mariátegui and Ecuador’s Nela Martínez almost a century ago—is the comuna.

The revolutions in Bolivia and Venezuela have not only politically sharpened the relations between men and women, between indigenous communities and non-indigenous communities, but they have also challenged the understanding of democracy and of socialism itself. These revolutionary processes not only have had to work within the rules of liberal democracy, but they at the same time built a new institutional framework through the comunas and other forms. It was by winning elections and taking charge of state institutions that the Bolivarian revolution was able to turn resources towards increased social expenditure (on health, education, housing) and towards a direct attack on patriarchy and racism. State power, in the hands of the left, was used to build these new institutional frameworks that extend the state and go beyond it. The existence of these two forms—liberal democratic institutions and the socialist-feminist institutions—has led to the bursting of the prejudice of fictitious ‘liberal equality’. Democracy if reduced to the act of voting forces individuals to believe that they are citizens with the same power as other citizens, regardless of their socio-economic, political, and cultural positions. The revolutionary process challenges this liberal myth, but it has not yet succeeded in overcoming it—as can be seen in both Bolivia and Venezuela. It is a struggle to create a new cultural consensus around socialist democracy, a democracy that is rooted not in an ‘equal vote’, but in a tangible experience of building a new society.

One of the textbook dynamics of having a left government is that it takes up the agenda of many social and political movements of the people. At the same time, many of the personnel from these movements—as well as from various NGOs—join the government, bringing their various skills to bear inside the complex institutions of modern government. This has a contradictory impact: it fulfils the demands of the people, and at the same time it has a tendency to weaken independent organisations of various kinds. These developments are part of the process of having a left government in power, whether it be in Asia or in South America. Those who want to remain independent of the government struggle to remain relevant; they often become bitter critics of the government, and their criticisms are frequently weaponised by imperialist forces towards ends that are alien even to those who make such criticisms.

The liberal myth seeks to speak on behalf of the people, to obscure the real interests and aspirations of the people—in particular of women, the indigenous communities, and the afro-descendants. The left inside the experiences of Bolivia and Venezuela has sought to develop the collective mastery of the people in a contentious class struggle. A position that attacks the very idea of the ‘State’ as oppressive does not see how the state in Bolivia and Venezuela attempts to use that authority to build institutions of dual power to create a new political synthesis, with women at the front.

Revolutionary Advice with no Revolutionary Experience

Revolutions are not easy to make. They are filled with retreats and errors, since they are made by people who are flawed and whose political parties must always learn to learn. Their teacher is their experience, and it is those amongst them who have the training and time to elaborate their experiences into lessons. No revolution is without its own mechanisms to correct itself, its own voices of dissent. But that does not mean that a revolutionary process should be deaf to criticisms; it should welcome them.

Criticism is always welcome, but in what form does that criticism come? These are two forms that are typical of the ‘left’ critic who derides revolutions in the name of purity.

  1. If the criticism comes from the standpoint of perfect, then their standard is not only too high, but it fails to understand the nature of class struggle that must contend with congealed power inherited over generations.
  2. If the criticism assumes that all projects that contest the electoral domain will betray the revolution, then there is little understanding of the mass dimension of electoral projects and dual power experiments. Revolutionary pessimism halts the possibility of action. You cannot succeed if you do not allow yourself to fail, and to try again. This standpoint of critique provides only despair.

The ‘stubborn class struggle’ inside the revolutionary process should provide someone who is not part of the revolutionary process itself to be sympathetic not to this or that policy of a government, but to the difficulty—and necessity—of the process itself.

  • Stansfield Smith

    This is one of those articles focused on criticizing unnamed people. It would be much more effective to name who you are criticizing and why. And I would think if criticism and refutation was your point, you would be direct and clear about it.

  • rgaura

    Great analysis. Similar to my gripe with libertarians. I resonate with their social freedoms, but they don’t seem to recognize the power vacuum that their `less governance´ position would create. Corporate actors, non local forces, and all manner of predatory actors will rush in to fill the space vacated by government. This is what we have seen with globalization and privatization, and it does not enhance our liberation, or move forward an agenda of social justice.

  • Greeley Miklashek

    So, now we have the revolutionary myth versus the democratic myth, is that it? I am a great fan of Marx economic analysis of recent human history, but he never addresses biological facts as set forth in the science of “Ethology”, or comparative animal behavior. Most telling for this Ethological Psychiatrist is the rise of the matriarchal communes in SA. They appear to reconstruct the pre-industrial organization of Hunter-Gatherer clans/bands that we were designed in/for over millions of years. So, what has gone so wrong? How about a 3,000 times increase in the human population worldwide?! When crowded populations form, as they inevitably do, massive dominance hierarchies, an ever larger mass of poor and propertyless folks, most often including the indigenous peoples, is formed and, as Marx accurately predicted, they eventually rebel and demand better lives. So, what drives this inevitable process? Human overpopulation and our gene-based biological tendency to form up into dominance hierarchies? Show me a revolution that replaced patriarchal dominance hierarchies with truly democratic institutions. A new dominance hierarchy simply replaces the old one and lives are lost in the process. What’s the solution? How about actively reducing the human population which currently threatens to eat our children out of house and home by producing 230,0000 new copies of ourselves daily, and through the leadership of free women with ready access to effective contraception, higher education, and meaningful work, doubtless organized in matriarchal communes? If we have learned nothing in the 20th century, it should be that revolutions do not change the structure of society, only the names of the dominant members. Stress R Us

  • ANTONIO

    people speak of Marxism and dialectics as if they were choices- they don’t understand the most fundamental thing- they are science, and you don’t have a choice in accepting or rejecting them, ay more than water turning into ice. The only leeway we have is that they can be accelerated or set back, but they are inevitable. Perhaps this will help to clear the obfuscation:dialectical contradictions,
    ABSOLUTE- is independent, complete in itself, unconditioned and immutable. Matter in motion is absolute, eternal and inexhaustible. What is absolute in one sense is relative in another. RELATIVE, -describes the phenomenon in its relations and connections with other things and its dependence on them. Relative is part of a whole and it contains part of the absolute.
    ABSTRACT- the part of a whole. A stage in development of the concrete., isolated from its connections and history. CONCRETE, – is a many-sided complex whole. The universe of sensually perceived phenomena. It is the start and end of an investigation.
    ADDITIVE- the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. NON-ADDITIVE, -the whole is more than the sum of its parts, or the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
    ANALYSIS- the process of mental or factual breaking down of the whole into its parts and the reconstitution of the whole from the parts, using abstraction, generalization, classification. SYNTHESIS- unites isolated parts, properties and relations into a single whole combining what they have in common with how they differ.
    ANTAGONISTIC- irreconcilable material interests of social groups or forces, caused
    by exploitation, becoming more acute until one class is abolished NON-
    NON-ANTAGONISTIC- unity of the basic interests of all classes, although
    contradictions remain: new vs old, aadvanced vs back ward, revolutionary vs
    conservative
    BASIS- the totality of economic relations of production at a given level of productive forces. SUPERSTRUCTURE spiritual assumptions, relations and institutions as shown in the political, legal, moral, religious, esthetic and philosophical spheres, all of which rest on the base.
    COLLECTIVE- unity of individuals doing a common task, engaging in joint action and mutual assistance, with constant contact, under an organization. Man as a social being. INDIVIDUAL -can have all around development and freedom in the collective , but only if members are sincere, competent and impartial, respecting different opinions.
    CRITICISM- method of discovering and correcting errors and shortcomings SELF-CRITICISM, – reveals and resolves the non-antagonistic contradictions through emulation and example.
    DETERMINISM- Doctrine of the objective and universal cause and origin in all phenomena. Not identified with necessity nor fatalism. INDETERMINISM- free will, voluntarism and empiricism.
    DISCRETENESS- in nature, the degree of differentiation of separate stable elements of different systems, in qualitatively defined structures. CONTINUITY- separate, discrete elements in the infinity of their relations through the gradualness of change leading to a smooth transition from one state to another.
    ECONOMICS- relations between people in the process of production, exchange, distribution and consumption of material wealth. Determine all other social relations. POLITICS- the fundamental expression of class interests established to maintain or abolish a particular economic system. At times may be relatively independent of economics.
    ESOTERIC- a theory meant only for initiates, understandable only to experts. Internal connection of phenomena. EXOTERIC- popular, clear even to lay persons external connection of phenomena.
    ESSENCE- the sum total of latent ties, relations and internal laws determining the main features and trends in a material system. APPEARANCE- individual phenomena, properties or processes expressing outward aspects of reality thereby manifesting some of their essence.
    ESTHETIC- man’s purposeful creative activity aimed at transforming nature and society by means of considering the beautiful ugly, sublime, base, dramatic, tragic comic and heroic. ETHICS- the study of morality as originating in historically developing modes of production, according to the progress made by the spiritual and material progress of the society.
    ESTHETICS- the requirements of beauty and expediency most favorable to maintaining health and good spirits and high production at the workplace and in daily life. TECHNOLOGY- the development of technology makes possible new forms of art and exerts influence on the most ancient ones. Also plays a role in disseminating art to the population.
    EVOLUTION- gradual quantitative and qualitative changes in being and consciousness, in a state of transition from one to the other, leading to something new. REVOLUTION- radical qualitative leaps in the transformation of society as a subsequent condition of evolutionary changes.
    EXTERNAL- the superficial aspect of the object perceived by the senses or the reality outside the object. INTERNAL- essential aspect of the object, which cannot be immediately perceived and is known through its external manifestations
    FORMAL-concept used to refer to content and form, rules and methods and logic which study a structure or system. CONCEPTUAL- provides an organic link with the historically shaped sum total of models and abstractions related to the subject, with universal reality expressed through philosophy.
    FREEDOM- freedom is not free will, it cannot exist independent of external causes, although it is also untrue that humans have no control over external circumstances. NECESSITY- is related to freedom. It is objective and primary, while man’s will & consciousness is secondary and derivative. The more natural and societal laws are learned, the freer man is.
    GOOD- what a society or class considers moral and worthy of imitation. Socially conditioned features common to representatives of a group or class, bearing an objective character. EVIL- what a society or class considers immoral and should be destroyed. These ideas are also socially conditioned and are not simply a matter of opinion.
    HELIOCENTRISM- the earth revolves on its axis as one of many planets orbiting around the sun, which is only one of many. GEOCENTRISM- the earth is immobile, is the center of the universe, and the stars revolve around it.
    HISTORICAL- the structural and functional process and transition of concrete conditions. The origin and formation of a given object (the process of development) LOGICAL- the relationship, laws, connection and interaction of the aspects of a thing which exist in its developed state (the result)separate elements in the developed whole.
    IDENTITY- the equality of a thing with itself, or the equality of several objects, although since all matter undergoes constant change, their equality is not absolute, but relative. DIFFERENCE- a thing originates from something different, remains for the time being, then turns into something different again. Internally and externally, the old and the new coexist..
    INDUCTIVE- transition from single facts to general propositions, enumeration, empirical evidence, scientific data to reach a limited conclusion for a class. A feature in a class may indicate that all elements of that class probably possess it. Method of disclosing essential connections.
    DEDUCTIVE- method of inference and research. Conclusion inferred from earlier logical premises. From the general to the particular
    INDIVIDUAL- is enslaved by commodity and money relations, dehumanized intellectually, bureaucratically and at leisure. In some cases, the individual serves the interests of society.
    SOCIETY- forms and develops the individual in different degrees of antagonisms, depending on the class of the individual. In some cases, society serves the interests of the individual.
    INFINITE- the world in space, non-exclusiveness of material systems, the world in time, the uncreatability and indestructibility of matter, its inexhaustability and variety. FINITE- every object limited in space and time. It is inexhaustible in its structure and matter, and merely changes from one form to another.
    INTERPRETATION- the assignment of meaning to initial propositions through which they acquire logical and factual truth and analytical and synthetical propositions. MODEL- by replacing all constants by variables of corresponding types, one obtains a class of propositions, any set of which is called a model.
    ISOMORPHISM- mutually correspondent single element and operation between the structures of separate objects and viceversa. eg., a geometrical figure and its math formula. HOMEOMORPHISM- incomplete reflection of original structure, such as a map and terrain, image and object, theory and object, information and transformation, sound and recording.
    MACROCOSM- objective reality, the world where man lives, planets, crystals, terrestrial bodies, large molecules, etc. discernible structure subject to classical mechanics. MICROCOSM- closely linked but qualitatively different, atoms, nuclei, elementary particles, etc. not directly observable, expressed as quantum mechanics in physics, chemistry, biology.
    MATERIAL INCENTIVES- payment and bonuses for work done, representing a totality of social phenomena (economic, moral, ideological etc.) improving skills and raising productivity. MORAL INCENTIVES- recognition, honors, awarding certificates, etc, work without remuneration where personal interest merges with societal interest.
    MATERIALISM- belief in the existence of the external world as primary and knowable. Consciousness is a product of matter. IDEALISM- the spiritual is primary. First there was an idea, then the world was created. Consciousness, which is individual, is isolated from nature and society.
    MENTAL LABOR- managers, physicians, artists, intellectuals, etc. acting purposefully after making conscious plans. PHYSICAL LABOR- under the division of labor, results in classes of workers and peasants, which classes can only be eradicated when mental and manual labor combine.
    NECESSITY-phenomena that are the realization and development of their essence, occur necessarily when they have reached maturity, although they will have developed through chance. CHANCE- solitary and unique phenomena., under the influence of other phenomena which may or may not occur, even though all phenomena are caused by something
    NEGATION- a condition for a qualitative change in circumstances and things. A new proposition is inferred from a given. If it is true, then the other is false, it is negated. AFFIRMATION- recognition of the truth or viability of a phenomenon. that which is known, or can be known, be made more precise or is irrefutable. Tested in practice.
    OBJECTIVE- conditions which are independent of people and determine the direction and boundaries of their activity. eg., nature, production, material political spiritual development. SUBJECTIVE- activities of people, classes, parties, states and individuals, their consciousness, will, ability to act, etc. can play a decisive role if objective conditions are ripe.
    OPTIMISM- the belief in a better social future, the triumph of good over evil and justice over injustice.Some feel the world can be improved through the individual, through enlightenment.
    PESSIMISM- events go inevitably from bad to worse, can irrationally justify evil, misfortune and calamities. Classes that have outlived their time tend to be pessimistic.
    ORGANIC- a way of understanding and reproducing complex objects. regarded as incomplete, only possible by historically ascending from the abstract to the concrete. MECHANICAL- erroneously and ahistorically reducing natural movement to mechanics , man to machine, etc. regarded as complete ( a closed system).
    PART- the relation between a combination of objects or elements and their connections that give new properties untraceable in the objects themselves when taken in isolation. WHOLE- cognition starts with perception of the whole, goes through analysis, is broken down into parts, and is recreated-due to its interaction, cannot be reduced to a mere sum of its parts.
    POSSIBILITY- expresses the tendency inherent in phenomena to develop in the presence of required conditions, and the absence of others, to turn into reality. REALITY- anything objective that exists as a result of possibility, and complies with the laws of development.
    PRIMARY- motion, impenetrability, solidity, cohesion of particles, shape, volume, etc., SECONDARY- color, smell, taste and sound. external properties are realized only when they come into interaction with other things. eg., salt dissolves in water.
    PROGRESS- progressive development of society in an ascending line, its flourishing, determined by the individual, by the degree of productive forces and of social freedom. RETROGRESSION- reversion to the old outlived forms, stagnation and decay, curtailing freedom, as in fascism. cannot be universal because new elements inevitably emerge
    QUALITY- things constantly come into being, change and are destroyed. Inseparable, definite qualities make those things stable, differentiate them, make the world diverse. QUANTITY- magnitude, number, volume, speed, degree of development. The differences between similar parts are quantitative. Transition to quality after reaching development limit.
    REASON- aspect of scientific knowledge, moral and artistic thinking, where notions are transformed into knowledge and values INTELLECT- abstract notions that are made stable, act as yardsticks for empirical material and for constructing results.
    SPONTANEITY- social activity not in accordance with economic and social laws, and which are beyond man’s control, manifested by opportunism, revisionism, voluntarism and subjectivism. CONSCIOUSNESS- activity following laws of social development purposefully toward the achievement of a set of goals, manifested by working class leadership and mass consciousness.
    SUBJECT- active individual or group endowed with consciousness and will. The subject transforms the object through practice, and thereby transforms him/herself. OBJECT- that on which the subject’s activity is directed, but with limits to the subject’s freedom of action, which has to conform to certain laws.
    SUBSTANCE- In physics, an aggregate of mass at rest (atoms, molecules, etc.) At the subatomic level, the distinction between substance and field becomes relative. FIELD- matter characterized by continuity with zero rest mass (electromagnetic and gravitational fields). Explains interaction (changing the state of one body into another).
    SYNTHETIC- All propositions to ascertain truth are either synthetic or analytic. Synthetic truth cannot be established by rules, but requires empirical data. Truth is based on objective facts. ANALYTIC- truth can established by the rules of a system, without empirical data. Analytic truth is more theoretical and logical.
    TACTICS-Realizing that they are not strategy, taking into account the changing ways and means of the correlation of objective and subjective forces and forms of struggle, of immediate tasks, of defeats and victories, the ebb and flow, (quick changes in offense, politics, retreat, defense, gathering of forces, siege, assault), the phases of developmenet, the historical and national specifics, what is needed in an action, learning new legal and illegal forms as well as learning from the experience of others, selecting the time and place, maintaining flexibility, mobilizing alliances, refusing wait,or to jump stages, to trail behind, STRATEGY-Maintaining grounding in constant contact with the leading role of the masses (without falling to their level, but raising them), the total movement, the final transformational objective objective, adapting to new circumstances without becoming lost, maintaining firmness in flexibility, elaborating the correct line, putting it in practice and mobilizing the forces for it.
    THEORY- the result of historically determined social, spiritual, production which forms and achieves the purposes of activity, giving a picture of regularities and ties with reality. PRACTICE- the activity that sustains the objective process of material production, and the transforming social activity which brings about changes in the world.The criterion of truth.
    THESIS- establishes its new existence from something that existed before. . It has internal and external connections in motion which propel it toward change in relation to its opposite. ANTITHESIS- the extreme degree of dissimilarity in which the old and the new negate each other. Although there is some internal connection, there is no external one.
    TIME- irreversible sequence in motion of the existence of matter which replaces itself. Matter, motion, time and space are inseparable. SPACE- space and time change according to the accumulation of substances and the gravitational field to which they give rise.
    UNITY-all things are material, objective reality, various forms of matter in motion, manifesting their properties and interrelationships. Everything is made of the same things. DIVERSITY- from elementary particles to metagalaxies. In every finite phenomenon are elements of the infinite.
    UNITY- elements that are in indissoluble unity, mutually exclusive, and interpenetrate each other. Relative and temporary, making development possible, where dialectics, logic and knowledge coincide. CONFLICT OF OPPOSITES- the solution of contradictions carries the investigation forward and evolves new concepts and their synthesis. No stage is finite, leads to endless multiformity.
    UTOPIA- an imaginary society which embodies an ideal , a metaphor containing direct and indirect criticism of the existing system-regards science as facilitating solutions. ANTI-UTOPIA- expresses the crisis of hope in the future, declares struggle senseless, social evil indestructible, science is alien to culture and a means of enslaving man

  • This is literally the best modern essay on the evolutionary necessity and real-world dynamics of Marxism I have yet read, for which many many thanks and a great deal of gratitude both to its authors and to CD for publishing it.

    Plus one small albeit emphatically supportive criticism.

    Quoth the authors:

    “The revolutionary processes in Latin America, therefore, must be understood as deeply cognizant of the importance of putting women, the indigenous, and the Afro-descendants at the centre of the struggle.”

    Hear, hear!

    A pity too many remain in reflexive denial of this need in the United States — which given the induced ignorance and anit-intellectualism by which the Empire supports its sustaining ChristoNazism, and the murderously patriarchal male supremacy by which it maintains its equally murderous white racism and stealthily escalates its ecogenocidal war-of-reduction against all proletarians and peasants — will undoubtedly kill us all unless we embrace the leadership of those very peoples, women, Afro-descendants and indigenous folk alike, who top our Masters’ extermination lists.

    The urgent magnitude of the need is proven by the extent to which unacknowleged whiteness and maleness contributed to the undoing of Occupy, which I fear will be recorded in history — if indeed there is anyone remaining to record it — as the final dying convulsion of the Great Quest for USian Democracy.