The AWL basic education programme. Glossary.

Submitted by martin on 10 January, 2008 - 4:53


Wages, Price and Profit
Adam Smith (1723-1790):Founder of theoretical economics. Hailed as a hero by the Thatcherites, though in fact his ideas were by no means in tune with theirs. He recognised that between employers and workers, the "interests are by no means the same", denounced the conspiracies of businessmen, and argued for higher wages. Physiocrats:18th century French writers who started to develop an economic theory. They regarded only farm labour as productive. Anti-Jacobin war: Britain's war against France after the French revolution. The Jacobins were the revolutionary party in France.
Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, section III
Joint-stock companies:Companies owned by a number of shareholders, rather by a single individual. Trust:An alliance of companies in a particular line of industry. These were common in the late 19th and early 20th century. Bismarck:Prime Minister of Prussia and then Chancellor of Germany from 1862 to 1890. Used state ownership to develop German industry, and social insurance to try to bind the workers to the state.
Communist Manifesto, sections I and II
Metternich:Reactionary politician, who dominated the Austrian Empire (then a great power) from 1809 to 1848. Guizot:Leading politician under the constitutional monarchy in France from 1840 to 1848. Rounding of the Cape: The Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa, i.e. the opening-up of the sea route from Europe to India (by Vasco da Gama, 1498). Absolute monarchy:The regime of transition from feudalism to capitalism in which the king had established his supremacy over the lords and barons and held dictatorial power, balancing between the bourgeoisie and the nobility. (In England, the Tudors and Stuarts, approx.1485-1642). The Ten Hours Bill:Of 1847, limiting the work hours of women and workers under 18 to ten per day. "Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties":What Marx and Engels chiefly wanted to emphasise here was that their organisation, the Communist League, did not counterpose itself to the existing mass working-class party in England, the Chartists. Bare existence:This was the common view of socialists of the day (and some orthodox economists, too), that wages must be forced down to near-starvation level. After his economic studies, as he explains in Wages, Price and Profit, Marx vehemently opposed this dogma. The ancient world:In this context, the Roman Empire.
Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, section II
The French philosophy of the eighteenth century: Writers like Diderot and Rousseau who were atheists (they did not believe in God) or deists (they believed in a God as a philosophical concept, but not as a person issuing instructions from burning bushes, dictating books, etc., in the usual manner of the God of Christian and other religions). Hegel:German philosopher of the early 19th century. He rejected the scheme, common among earlier thinkers, that spirit existed alongside and above matter; he argued that all reality was made up of developments and manifestations of the Absolute Spirit (i.e. God). Dialectics: See the article by E. Conze in Workers Liberty 28ff for a simple explanation. To think dialectically is to study things in their interrelations (not in isolation); in movement and development (not statically); in both opposition and unity (rather than just either opposition or unity); and through their internal contradictions. Metaphysical: The word has many different meanings. Here, as he explains in the next few pages, Engels uses in the same way that Hegel used it, to mean the opposite of dialectics - i.e. studying things in isolation, statically, without looking at their internal contradictions, etc. Darwin: Author of "The Origin of Species (1859), in which he argued that different species of plants and animals - including the human species - emerge through evolution on the basis of natural selection, mutations favourable to survival being reinforced and those unfavourable dying out. Hegel was an idealist: This does not mean that Hegel was someone who devoted himself to ideals, as opposed to a materialist who would care more about a comfortable life. (In fact, he did have a comfortable life, as a university professor, and seems to have trimmed his ideals somewhat to secure his career). "Idealist" here means someone who thinks that spirit or mind or the soul exist over and above material reality (or, in Hegel's case, that material reality is just an expression of spirit). "Materialist" means someone who believes that mind is a part and a function of material reality (and thus that the idea of God, a "spirit" existing before and beyond material reality, and creating that material reality, is a nonsense). For more on materialism and idealism, see the Introduction to "Socialism, Utopian and Scientific". Nominalism: Roughly speaking, the theory that "universals" (e.g. "white") are just names, not entities as real as matter. Agnosticism: The view that we do not, or cannot, know whether God exists.
Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, part I
"The great men, who in France prepared men's minds for the coming revolution": The materialist, or semi-materialist, writers like Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, etc. Babeuf: Leader of a communist movement (1795-7) during the French Revolution. Babeuf and his comrades demanded real equality, instead of the formal equality before the law of the bourgeois revolutionaries which still left some in luxury and others starving. They rejected the idea (fairly popular at the time) of dividing up property to give everyone a little patch of land or a little workshop because, they said, it was naive: inequality would immediately re-emerge. They demanded common ownership of wealth. Under the regime of the Directory (the first stage in the bourgeois consolidation of the revolution, from the overthrow of Robespierre in 1794 to when Napoleon took power in 1799), they agitated through newspapers and meetings and then organised for an uprising to restore the radical democratic constitution of 1793, believing that this would open the way to communism. The leaders were betrayed and arrested in May 1796, before they could launch their uprising, and subsequent attempted uprisings by their comrades remaining at liberty were easily crushed. This was, however, the beginning of communism as an activist political movement. Ascetic, Spartan: Engels means that the early communists, like Babeuf, saw a communist society as guaranteeing basic minimum rations of food, clothing, and housing to all, but nothing extra to anyone. The Babeuf movement's Manifesto Of The Equals declared: "Perish, if it must be, all the arts, provided real equality be left us!" Utopians: People who proceeded by working out a blueprint for a perfect future society.
Communist Manifesto, part IV
The French revolution of July 1830: When the king who had been restored to power after the British-led coalition finally defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 was overthrown and replaced by a different king who was willing to rule more constitutionally, in collaboration with the bourgeoisie. The English reform agitation: For the Reform Act of 1832 which gave the middle class the vote. The Restoration period:1815 to 1830 in France, a period of reactionary dominance. French Legitimists: Supporters of the 1815-1830 regime in France. Young England: A section of the Tory party in the 1840s. Guilds: In the cities of the Middle Ages, each trade would have its guild, regulating all the workshops in that trade. Feudal absolutism: An "absolute" (i.e. dictatorial) monarchy closely linked to a feudal landlord class. Proudhon: Advocated a sort of socialism based on worker cooperatives with "fair exchange" between them. Opposed strikes and trade unions.