Glossary


Here are definitions of some key  words used in the pamphlet:

 Apartheid: a system of institutionalized white supremacy, created by European colonial settlers in southern Africa, which lasted from 1948 to 1994. Apartheid means “separateness.” It involved segregation of whites and blacks in all areas of public life, similar to the Jim Crow system in the U.S. South.  Under apartheid, a minority of whites ruled over a black majority.  Whites got the best jobs, housing, education, etc. Black people were brutally controlled by violent police forces. Apartheid was destroyed by a mass movement of revolutionary blacks and whites.

Black Liberation Movement: The struggle of the Black community for freedom and equality.  The  history of the modern Black Liberation Movement begins with the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and ends with the defeat of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Black Panther Party, and the Congress of African Peoples in the 1970s.

Capitalism: An economic system where a new group of people (workers) have only their labor to sell to another group of people (the capitalists / bourgeoisie) who own all the factories, land, transportation, buildings, etc.

Classes: Economic and political groups. Classes in capitalism are defined by which group has to sell its labor power (the workers) and which group owns and controls the wealth of society, especially the wealth which employs workers (capitalists). Other classes include those who are permanently unemployed, and small business owners who work in their own enterprises. But the two most powerful classes are the workers and the wealthy (capitalists).

Cold War: From 1947 to 1991, Russia and the United States were the two main players in a struggle to dominate the world. For many smaller countries, this meant choosing sides, and the U.S. and Russia had proxy wars in these countries. Both sides made it seem like the battle was communism versus capitalism, but Russia was never truly communist, and merely used the label as a way to win over other countries to it’s side.

Communism: A society in which broad masses of people control the conditions of their lives and work. Under communism, every person produces goods, services and ideas according to their abilities, and takes resources from the wealth of society according to their needs.

 Exploitation: Taking advantage of someone else’s labor. Capitalists exploit the labor of workers because they do not pay us the full value of what we produce through our labor. They only pay us enough to reproduce our ability to work. (In other words, our wages just barely cover the food, clothing, shelter, education, etc. that we need in order to go back to work the next day). Meanwhile, our work actually produces a lot more value than what we’re paid. The capitalists keep the difference between the amount of wealth we create and the amount we receive in our paychecks; they call this “profit”. This process of unequal exchange between employers and workers is a the main form of exploitation under capitalism.

 Fascism:  Fascism is a movement of mostly the petit-bourgeois and the bourgeois groups, against the working class. The point of fascism is to crush powerful working class movements. Fascist movements kill workers and destroy their organizations. Fascist movements are racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and highly nationalist. Some fascists rally petit-bourgeois and unemployed folks to rise up against one section of the capitalist class, taking advantage of people’s frustrations with the system. But once the fascists make their “revolution” and take power, they end up building a new, more powerful capitalist dictatorship. Hitler and the Nazis are the most well-known example of fascism.

Globalization: Globalization is a nice name given to capitalism. Capitalism is a system of exploitative social relations, which must constantly grow. “Globalization” refers to the spread of capitalism across the planet, which connects workers in a big interconnected system. Today, miners work to death in South Africa, to produce metals for the iPods that are assembled by factory workers in China, so they can be sold by underpaid Wal-Mart employees in the U.S. Capitalists don’t see globalization as a bad thing: they describe it as the spread of freedom and democracy.

Working Class: The class in capitalist society that owns nothing that can be used to make money. As working class people, all we have is our labor power–our ability to work. We sell this to the capitalist class (bourgeoisie) in return for a wage. The working class includes unemployed people who have to go back to work eventually, or survive off of wages from fellow workers or state assistance. The working class also includes people who do unpaid housework, taking care of relatives or spouses, and who work or raise kids.  By doing this, they are still “working for” the capitalist system, because they ensure the people they take care of can work in the future, when the bosses will profit from their labor.

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7 thoughts on “Glossary

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    • As far as I understand it, it means taking some of our own power, our own self-activity, and turning it against us. So for example, human beings (and other beings) are creative, but capitalism takes that creativity and turns it against us, turning it into labor under capitalism. Our species being, our life force, becomes alienated into a job. And all the things we create become dead labor, in the form of capital – machines, ports, roads, etc. These things are alienated from us, the people who produce them.

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  4. A. Question Not a Comment- Which communist goverment(s) existing today or in the past have accomplished the goals/lifestyle(s) you have described as being ideal?

    • None. Because the communist regimes of the 20th century were actually state capitalist regimes. Communism means the destruction of the state and total freedom; it does not mean dictatorship.

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