Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Progressive Workers Movement

For An Independent and Socialist Canada: A Marxist-Leninist View


BOURGEOIS: Used originally in reference to a burgess, a free citizen of a burg – a fortified village or town. Applied to the middle-class town merchants in feudal society to distinguish them from the land-owning feudal nobility and the peasants. Collectively known as the BOURGEOISIE, this class gave the leadership in the development of the capitalist economic system. When feudalism was overthrown and capitalism established as the dominant economic system, the bourgeoisie established itself as the new ruling class, replacing the old feudal nobility. In capitalist society, the bourgeoisie owns the means of production; that is, the resources, raw materials, factories, machinery, transportation systems, etc. , by which goods are produced. They also control the political machinery and institutions of the capitalist state; that is, the government, the educational system, the media, the police, the courts, the army, etc., and exercise this political control in order to maintain their economic rule. Hence, in Marxist terminology, BOURGEOIS is used to denote a member of the ruling class in capitalist society. The word is also used as an adjective, as in BOURGEOIS IDEOLOGY, the ideology which serves the economic and social interests of the ruling class. Obviously, a person does not have to be a member of the ruling class to maintain and put forward such ideas.

BOURGEOIS NATIONALISM: Those ideas and concepts of nationalism which (a) recognize the right of self-determination only of some nations, but grant to these nations the right to dominate and exploit others, and/or (b) demand the self-determination of a nation oppressed by a foreign exploiter not so that the people of that nation can be free, but so that the native bourgeoisie can achieve the ruling position. Bourgeois Nationalism accepts the idea of the nation as a base for capitalist exploitation of the working class and for territorial expansion.

BOURGEOIS-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION: Those revolutions which in a number of countries overthrew feudalism, won state power for the bourgeoisie, and cleared the way for the development of capitalism and industrialisation. In order to win the following of the peasants and the workers in the fight against feudalism, the bourgeoisie had to put forward certain democratic demands and upon winning power establish at least the outward forms of democracy. Bourgeois democracy is, however, merely the political means by which the bourgeoisie maintains and disguises its rule. The classical bourgeois-democratic revolutions took place in England (in the seventeenth century) and in France (in the eighteenth century). Under conditions of imperialist rule, such revolutions are directed against the foreign exploiter with the aim of establishing an independent bourgeois state.

CHAUVINISM: A term derived from the name of Nicholas Chauvin, a soldier of the French empire whose exaggerated and demonstrative patriotism was ridiculed by his army comrades. National chauvinism results when the people of a nation are extensively affected by like sentiments, and is particularly evident in times of war and imperialist expansion.

CAPITALISM: Is the social and economic system which replaced feudalism and is based on the private ownership of the means of production (see above, BOURGEOISIE). Whereas feudalism (see below) was an economic system based on agricultural production, capitalism is based on industrial production. The extraction of surplus value; that is, the ability and the right of the capitalist to make a profit on the work performed for him by others, is the basic law of capitalist production, In theory, unhindered competition, so-called “free enterprise”, characterizes capitalist economies, but in practice the development of monopolies has greatly restricted and all but eliminated competition in all important areas of production. Lack of social planning of economic development, periodic crises – recessions, depressions, inflation, etc., – unemployment, poverty, and war are characteristic features of capitalism.

CLASSES: Large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a particular social-economic system, by their relation to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and consequently by their ability to acquire for themselves a share in the wealth produced by society. In Lenin’s words: “Classes are groups of people one of which (the Ruling Class) can appropriate the labour of another (the Working Class) owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.” The existence of classes is associated only with definite periods in the development of social production: classes appear and disappear at specific stages in history, For example, capitalist society does not have a class of slaves such as existed in. say, ancient Rome. The role and social position of a given class varies with each historical period. For example, in feudal society, the bourgeoisie was the middle class but became the ruling class in capitalist society. Similarly, the relationship of one class to another and the degree of antagonism between them varies with each historical and political situation. For example, under feudalism, the bourgeoisie and the working class had antagonistic interests because the former made its wealth off the labour of the latter, but they also shared a unity of interest in the sense that both faced the necessity of overthrowing feudalism.

CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS: The recognition and identification with the interests of one’s own class.

CLASS COLLABORATION: A member of the working class, especially one who is elected to a position of leadership and trust, who co-operates with the ruling class in opposition to the basic interests of his own class is a Class Collaborator.

COLONY: A nation suppressed, occupied and openly ruled by a foreign imperialist power is a colony. A NEO COLONY is also a colony but is characterized by a form of rule whereby the imperialist power no longer openly occupies the colony but relies on a more or less temporarily stable section of native capitalists to rule on their behalf.

COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE: Originally a native house-steward in India and in China a native servant employed as head of the native staff or as an agent of European firms. Now applied to the section of the capitalists in a colony or neo-colony, who serve the interests of the imperialists. The dominant group of Canadian capitalists has always fallen into the category of comprador, serving first the cause of British imperialism and then entering the service of U.S. imperialism when it became the dominant power in the economy of Canada.

COMMUNISM and SOCIALISM: In the early years of the development of Marxist thought, when it was believed that the overthrow of capitalism would be rapidly followed by the building of a socialist society, the two terms were interchangeable. Following the Paris Commune, the Marxists concluded there would be a transition period between capitalism and full communism. This transition period came to be referred to as Socialism to distinguish it from the period of full Communism. The socialist concept is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his labour.” Communism is summed up as: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Some countries, Scandinavia, for example, are often popularly called “socialist,” but they are really capitalist since the main means of production are privately owned by capitalists who operate for profit. These countries operate an advanced welfare system but, ultimately, will be subject to crises of unemployment as capitalism disintegrates on a world scale.

FEUDALISM: Feudalism was the form of social and economic organization that displaced slavery and preceded capitalism. Feudal lords and peasants were the main classes in feudal society. The ruling and exploiting feudal class included the nobility and the clergy. Within this ruling class there was a hierarchic division, the church being one of the largest owners of property. The peasantry were deprived of all political rights. The bulk of the population in the towns consisted of masters, journeymen, apprentices and unskilled workers. The prevailing production relations were based on the feudal lord’s ownership of the means of production – on the land in the first place – and the workers incomplete ownership expressed in different forms of personal dependence of the peasant on the lord.

IMPERIALISM: In general, imperialism is the domination and exploitation of peoples, nations, and countries by a foreign empire, such as the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and so on. Although the imperialism of one historical period bears certain similarities to that of another, the specific nature of imperialism is defined by the economic and historical conditions which give rise to its development. When we speak of imperialism today, we mean the highest, monopolistic stage of capitalism which began shortly before the turn of the century. Lenin presented a detailed exposition of the theory of imperialism in his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, published in 1916. The main features of imperialism are: (1) Production and capital concentrated to a degree that gives rise to monopolies, which play the decisive part in the economic life of capitalist states. (2) Banking capital merges with industrial capital, forming finance capital, the financial oligarchy. (3) Export of capital, as distinct from the export of goods, acquires particularly great importance. (4) The process of monopolization brings about the formation of international monopolies which seek to divide the world between themselves. (5) The transition of capitalism to the monopoly stage turns it into decaying, parasitic capitalism.

PROLETARIAT: In ancient Rome, “proletarius” signified one whose sole wealth consisted of his offspring, otherwise he was propertyless. Subsequently, they became the core of the army and were kept by the state in times of both peace and war. Marx points out “that in classical Rome the class war was carried on within the pale of a privileged minority, between the free rich and the free poor... People have forgotten Sismondiís notable utterance, ’The Roman proletariat lived at the expense of society, whereas modern society lives at the expense of the proletariat.’” In the first half of the 19th century the word “proletariat” came into use to describe the class of propertyless wage workers. Engels writes: “The proletariat is that class of society whose means of livelihood entirely depends on the sale of its labour and not on the profits derived from capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose whole existence, depend upon the demand for labour, depend upon the alternations of good times and bad, upon the fluctuations which are the outcome of unbridled competition. The proletariat, or class of proletarians, is, in a word, the working class of the nineteenth century.”

STATE: The political organization of the class dominant in the economy; its purpose to safeguard the existing order and to suppress the resistance of other classes. The state appeared when society divided into classes, as a tool of the exploiting class for the repression of the exploited population. The emergence of the state consisted in the formation of a special public authority, with an army and police, with prisons and various institutions of coercion. The nation and the state are not always synonymous. For example, Quebec has all the attributes of a nation, but it is incorporated in the Canadian state.

BASE and SUPERSTRUCTURE: Concepts of historical materialism that reveal the connection between economic social relations and all other relations within a given society. The BASE is the totality of production relations that make up the economic structure of society. The SUPERSTRUCTURE includes ideas, organizations and institutions. Superstructural ideas include political, legal, moral, aesthetic, religious, and philosophical views, which are also termed forms of social consciousness. All forms of social consciousness reflect economic relations in one way or another; some of them, e.g., political and legal forms of consciousness, reflect economic relations directly; others are indirect reflections – e.g., art, philosophy. These latter are connected with the economic base through such links as politics. Super-structural relations include ideological relations. Although superstructural phenomena are determined by the basis they are relatively independent in their development. Certain organizations and institutions are connected with each form of social consciousness – political parties are connected with political ideas, state institutions, with political and legal ideas. Each socio-economic formation has definite basis and a corresponding superstructure. Changes in basis and superstructure result from the change of one socio-economic formation into another.