MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People



Skinner, B. F. (1904-1990)

U.S. psychologist; the leader of the Behaviourist School of psychology throughout the Post World-War Two period; aimed to develop psychology as a practical science for the modification of human behaviour.

Associated with Harvard University for most of his life, Skinner set off from Pavlov's famous work with dogs who salivated when they expected food, but Skinner's interest was not in examining the physiology underlying consciousness, but rather the techniques by which the dog's behaviour was conditioned. His technique is built around the simple stick-and-carrot method, which he refers to as “negative reinforcement” and “positive reinforcement”.

The epistemology of this kind of behaviourism is the assertion that consciousness is not observable (except by introspection, which is unscientific since it cannot be objective) and consequently, according to the doctrines of Pragmatism, the only meaning that can be attached to consciousness is as a kind of input-output relationship. It is with this kind of conception that many psychologists prefer to call themselves “Behavioural Scientists”, as the psyche is, after all, an unobservable, metaphysical entity, whereas behaviour is observable and may be studied scientifically.


Skobelev, Matvei Ivanovich (1885-1937)

Menshevik. Member 4th Duma Vice-President Petrograd Soviet and member of Executive Committee. During the First World War Skobelev was a social-chauvinist. In 1917 he became Minister of Labour in the second (April) provisional government. Joined the Communist Party 1922.


Skoglund, Carl (1884-1960)

American Trotskyist and central figure in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike along with Farrell Dobbs and Vincent Dunne. Skoglund was one of the editors of Alarm, a Scandinavian-language periodical published by the Scandinavian Propaganda League of the IWW, 1915-1918. Expelled from the CP in 1928 for his Trotskyist beliefs, he became a Teamsters official and founder of the SWP in 1928. Convicted under the Smith act of 1941. He was under threat of deportation in a case, 1949-51. See his article, "The Story of Minneapolis".