Marxist Dictionary

Click on the term to read the whole article.

  • Absolute surplus value

    Total amount of value extracted from the workforce. The increase in value in absolute terms occurs through a reduction in the hourly wage or an unpaid increase in working time. Read more.

  • Academic Marxism

    An academic current that defines Marxism as a "method of analysis" that can be developed outside of the class struggle. Read more.

  • Accumulation

    Cycle in which 1) labor power is exploited producing surplus value, 2) surplus value is realized in the goods and services market; 3) the capital market redistributes the results of exploitation in the form of profits that finally 4) get reincorporated into production as expanded capital restarting the cycle. Read more.

  • Alienation

    A fracture, due to historically specific social relations, between the self-consciousness of the species and its own needs and nature. Alienation is a product of the division of humanity into classes which makes humanity appear to be opposed to the result of its work and therefore opposed both to itself and to Nature as a whole. Read more.

  • Anti-fascism

    Stalinist policy that conceals the defense of the capitalist order and the alliance with a part of the bourgeoisie under the supposed need to defeat "first" the counterrevolution under its fascist form. Read more.

  • Anti-parliamentarianism

    A tactic defending the counterproductive character of attempting today an electoral participation similar to that of the social democratic parties during the rising phase of capitalism. Read more.

  • Asiatic mode of production Asiatic Mode of Production

    Asiatic mode of production: mode of production based on the collective exploitation of the peasantry articulated around a bureaucratic state by means of a system of tribute charged on production and labor time. The peasantry kept remnants of tribal organization and communal ownership of land, but local and tribal particularities tended to be blurred by the impact of large public works which increased productivity and homogenized the organization of social work. Read more.

  • Bourgeoisie

    The exploiting class of the capitalist mode of production that organizes and directs the process of surplus value production and capital accumulation. Read more.

  • Bureaucracy

    Bourgeois layer dedicated to the management of the state apparatus. Read more.

  • Capital

    Capital is an accumulative right of exploitation that guarantees its holder the use of a certain amount of social resources and working hours. Its system of circulation and accumulation ensures that those applications that contribute most to the increase in unpaid work overall dispose of a greater proportion of resources and work to be exploited in every cycle. Read more.

  • Capitalism

    A mode of production based on the commodification of human labor and its products, whose specific objective is the production of surplus value, that is, the extraction of surplus labor that is turned into an increase in the mass of money in constant terms returning to the balance sheet of the owners of capital at the end of each production cycle. Read more.

  • Centralism

    Tendency towards an organizational unification which expresses the character of the proletariat as a universal class. Read more.

  • Centrism

    A political position that despite being flawless in its wording, which is consciously ambiguous, allows a slide in practice towards positions that, without requiring a new statement, nevertheless remain outside the class borders (internationalism, centralism). Read more.

  • Class

    Each of the social groups defined by the productive relations prevailing in a given society. Read more.

  • Class boundaries

    Basic political positions that express the nature of the proletariat as a universal class and whose negation means the passage from one tendency or method of analysis to the opposite class terrain. Read more.

  • Class consciousness

    Knowledge and affirmation of the ultimate needs and possibilities historically open to the revolutionary class and the means necessary to realize them. Read more.

  • Class struggle

    Conflict that develops within every mode of production based on exploitation and therefore on class division. It informs all the ideological expressions of an era, shaping the state and driving its transformation or collapse. Read more.

  • Collectivities collectivities

    Collectivities was the name given in Spanish, until the Spanish Revolution, to cooperatives -both of work and consumption- and communal exploitations set up by workers. During the Revolution the term was extended to the organizations that spontaneously organized the production and distribution of goods in an attempt to supply the militias but, above all, to abolish wage labor from the bottom up and to test a productive metabolism centered on the direct satisfaction of human needs. Read more.

  • Commodification

    Historical process of market expansion through the transformation of social relations and the production of goods into commodities. Read more.

  • Commodity

    Any result of human work that is produced to be exchanged in the market. Read more.

  • Commodity fetishism

    "Spontaneous" representation of the social relations of production, which bind people and classes, in the form of relations between equivalent commodities, i.e. relations between social objects equal in their exchange value. Read more.

  • Communism

    Mode of production of a decommodified society where abundance is a reality, the state does not exist, and social production is oriented as a direct objective to the satisfaction of needs. In it work and its products have already lost the condition of commodities, social classes have disappeared and with them the difference between leisure time and work, country and city, the division of work and in general all the social divisions that reflect the fracture of exploitative societies. Read more.

  • Communist left

    Movement of the internationalists against the stalinist degeneration of the Third International and against the defensive degeneration of the Fourth International from 1942 Read more.

  • Communist morality Communist morality

    Communist morality: specific forms of political and interpersonal relations and behavior of communists that results from living with the perspective and conviction that the abolition of scarcity, commodities and wage labor by the working class' own struggle is as necessary as it is possible in the present time. Read more.

  • Culture

    A set of modes of behavior and attribution of social meaning, including forms of representation and communication that begins to be understood as a unit from the birth of the national market. It is an ideological phenomenon that, encouraged by the bourgeoisie, will allow it to "nationalize ", that is, to absorb and lead under its program, social classes with local interests -petty bourgeoisie, peasantry, craftsmen- or universal ones -and therefore non-national ones- such as the proletariat, within the political subject called "nation". For this purpose the revolutionary bourgeoisie will not only create the concept of culture but will also homogenize languages, invent traditions from feudal remains and constitute models of behavior according to the needs of the national market. To this end, it will provide itself with artistic expressions, means of communication and even modes of representation. Read more.

  • Decadence

    A mode of production enters a phase of historical decadence when the relations of production that characterize it cease to be forms of development of the productive forces and become obstacles to the free development of those same forces. Consequently, development and economic growth are dissociated. Read more.

  • Defensism

    Invocation of the "right to national defense" to support the recruitment and slaughter of workers in defense of one national state - or aspiring state - against another. Read more.

  • Democracy

    Form of organization of the political apparatus of the bourgeois state legitimized through the representation of the social conflict as a market -the Parliament- in which the major tendencies of opinion -substantiated in the parties- exchange interests under a set of rules that guarantees the survival and development of the state itself and the nation it forms. Read more.

  • Dialectics

    Conception of reality as a dynamic and complex system of densely interrelated parts. Read more.

  • Dictatorship

    Rule of a particular interest over the whole political apparatus and through it over the social whole. Read more.

  • Discrimination

    Exclusion or differentiated treatment that is suffered by individuals for presenting a series of arbitrary characteristics, unrelated to the group from which they are excluded, or which, not being so, are attributed to them by association with a demographic profile as arbitrary as any other. Read more.

  • Empiricism

    Theory that bases scientific knowledge on the separation of "objective" facts -presumably external to thought - and "subjective" analysis, presumably proper to the individual mind. As the subjective is individual, the universalization of results requires either a metaphysical confusion between the facts themselves and the concepts or categories with which they are described or in which they are grouped, or else to accept the impossibility of a theoretical universalization of the empirical results without a prior approximation to the totality. Read more.

  • Environmentalism

    Ideology stating that the main historical contradiction is Humanity-Nature, or in certain versions, capitalism-Nature; proposing as an alternative a range of "reforms" that go from "green capitalism" to "degrowth". Read more.

  • Exploitation

    Appropriation of the product of the work of one social class by another. Read more.

  • Fascism

    Revolutionist movement of the petty bourgeoisie spearheading the counterrevolution and with the historical mission of destroying the network of class organizations inherited from the Second International, replacing them with the forced insertion of the workers in state capitalism through trade unions and institutions derived from or integrated into the political apparatus of the state. Read more.

  • Feminism

    An ideology defending the existence of an interclassist historical and political subject, "women", which transcends social classes with its own, differentiated interests and located well above the class struggle. Read more.

  • Feudalism Feudalism

    Feudalism or manorial regime: mode of production based on a "feudal bond". The ruling class takes charge on a family basis of the exploitation of a territory and its inhabitants by virtue of a bond or vow of vassalage which also orders and hierarchizes the relations between the different layers and groups of the exploiting class. Read more.

  • Fictitious capital

    Monetary capital that is not applied to production (of surplus value) but is reproduced parasitically in the form of a bet on the results of productive capital, a bet that will only give a positive overall result as long as the flow of fictitious capital towards speculative markets keeps growing. Read more.

  • Finance capital

    Fusion of banking and industrial capital. Read more.

  • Financialization

    Cyclical metastasis of fictitious capital that multiplies the capitalist chaos in the allocation of productive resources, exponentially scaling up the "financial bubbles" and precedes the bursting of the "financial crashes". Read more.

  • Formal and real subsumption of labor under capital

    Phases through which capital passes first to direct and then to transform the labor process by absorbing a pre-capitalist productive structure, going from focusing its growth on the increase of absolute surplus value to the growth of relative surplus value, revolutionizing for this purpose the processes of labor and the means of production. Read more.

  • Historical materialism

    Set of premises for the analysis of social reality that explains historical phenomena on the basis of the social, material structure, the social organization of production and the social relations that derive from it, that is, the mode of production in which they develop; these modes of production are defined by certain social relations that in turn reflect and promote a certain development of the productive forces of society. These modes of production are defined by certain social relations which, in turn, reflect and promote a certain development of the productive forces in society. These conflicting relations and development are embodied in struggles among the social classes, as defined by them, in the form of ideologies, parties, and political clashes, which express those contradictory interests and which, in turn, when the productive forces in society develop to a certain degree, transform the whole social structure. Read more.

  • Ideology

    Awareness of social and historical reality distorted and constrained by class interest. It exists therefore since the fracture of society in classes. Only the appearance of a universal, exploited and revolutionary class generates the conditions that make possible its theoretical - in its political expressions - and practical demolition, in its revolutionary practice. Read more.

  • Imperialism

    Stage of capitalism as a global system that completes its progressive development and immerses it in its historical phase of decadence, from which capitalism goes from being an incentive to being an obstacle to the free development of the productive forces it has created. Read more.

  • Internationalism

    Affirmation of the proletariat as a single global class in the face of global capitalism, with a single set of interests, tactics and strategy and with a project, socialism, which can only be realized globally. Read more.

  • Labor power

    Set of physical and intellectual capacities that a person applies when generating use values in a productive process. Its sale for a certain time in the market as a commodity by those who cannot produce by themselves and have no other commodity to sell -the proletariat-, is the basic condition and institution of capitalism. Read more.

  • Lumpenproletariat

    A mass of declassed and excluded individuals separated from the proletariat, which feeds economically on illegal trafficking, the criminal economy, begging, state or private patronage, or a combination of all these. Read more.

  • Mass strike

    A form of workers' struggle characteristic of decadent capitalism. It solves the problems of the organization and massive self-affirmation of workers by spreading spontaneously across a territory, incorporating all workers without taking into account trade, nationality, sex or any other division imposed by the organization of production or the state. Read more.

  • Maximalism

    A set of trends originating from different sources that identify with and give priority to what the Second International called "the maximum program": the abolition of the state and wage labor Read more.

  • Militarism

    Tendency to increase military spending parallel to the development of the authoritarian character of the state and the militarization of social life. Although it appears recurrently in different historical periods and modes of production, it emerges as a permanent trend in capitalism with the entry into its imperialist phase. Read more.

  • Mode of production

    Set of social relations that shape production, form the economic structure of society and correspond to a given degree of development of the productive forces. Read more.

  • Nation

    Name of the social body generated by the bourgeoisie when it effectively leads the whole of society in a given territory. Read more.

  • National and democratic tasks of the bourgeois revolution

    Basic milestones enabling the development of national capital and the consolidation of its dominance through a national state of its own. Read more.

  • National liberation

    Bourgeois revolution taking the form of a state splitting into two or several states. Historically it occurred as a segregation of regions with characteristic bourgeois development from empires and feudal states or as a bourgeois reaction against the domination of its territory by an occupier or colonizer. Read more.

  • Nationalism

    Political ideology that defines the nation as a historical and political subject above the social classes, which would be reduced to components of the nation with specific national interests and tasks, that is, with their own interests and duties in the "common goal" of the prosperity of national capital. Read more.

  • Opportunism

    A slide within the working class political camp toward positions that, while in their formulation and literalness do not call into question the communist program, in practice weaken it in the name of short-term needs or opportunities, of tactical opportunities, of the difficulty of the program to be understood or of potential contingent advances. Read more.

  • Oppression

    Pressure, force or violence exercised to avoid the political expression of a collective subject. Read more.

  • Organic composition of capital

    Relationship between fixed and variable capital advanced by the capitalists. It measures the relative weight of what the capitalists advance in machinery with respect to what they advance in wages. Read more.

  • Pacifism

    An ideology that defines "peace" as a totalizing social objective above the interests of the classes that make up society. Read more.

  • Party

    The most politically conscious and organized fraction of the working class, which exercises over the working class an effective task of political guidance and direction. Read more.

  • Pauperization

    Tendency towards the massive impoverishment of the non-bourgeois layers of society and in particular of the workers through the increase of exploitation in absolute terms, unemployment, the general precarization of living and working conditions and war. Read more.

  • People

    The name given to the social body formed by the oppressed classes of bourgeois society when it is effectively led by the petty bourgeoisie. Read more.

  • Permanent revolution

    Revolution in which the proletariat achieves political power under the programme of the bourgeois democratic revolution, establishing from then on its own objectives and transforming the bourgeois democratic revolution into a socialist one. Read more.

  • Petty bourgeoisie

    Intermediate strata of capitalist society that participate in the exploitation of labor but permanently face the effects of capital concentration, trying to avoid its own proletarianization. Read more.

  • Popular front

    Stalinist tactic proclaimed at the 6th Congress of the Comintern. It presented the formation of electoral alliances with the democratic parties and, eventually, the formation of a government by these, as a way to defeat the counterrevolution in its fascist form. Read more.

  • Precarization

    Global trend towards the development of exploitation in absolute terms by reshaping and restructuring the organization of work, thus decoupling the worker from workplaces and equipment, basic services, recruitment expectations and stable income. Read more.

  • Primitive communism

    Primitive Communism. Mode of production under which Humanity lived for more than half a million years prior to the splitting of society into classes. Although for most of this period human communities were sustained by hunting, fishing and gathering, primitive Communism discovered agriculture, led the first sedentary life and sustained large cities for centuries. Read more.

  • Productive forces

    Set of material forces that allow the transformation of Nature by the human species within the framework of a certain mode of production. The main productive forces are always human work and knowledge substantiated in means of production through technology. Read more.

  • Progress

    Progress is everything that contributes on a historical level to the development of the productive forces, consolidating the material possibility of the overcoming of class society by a society of abundance, without classes and therefore without a state, transforming the "economy" into a conscious and collective metabolism between Nature and the human species. Read more.

  • Proletarianization

    Originally this was the process of transforming independent producers into wage-earning producers of surplus value. It was later expanded to include the integration into the proletariat of the middle strata of bourgeois society. Read more.

  • Proletariat

    The proletariat is the characteristic working class of the capitalist mode of production. Because of its place in it - producing surplus value through its collective work - it is at the same time an exploited, universal and revolutionary class. Read more.

  • Rate of profit

    Relationship between the surplus value produced and the total capital advanced by the capitalist. Read more.

  • Rate of surplus value

    Relationship between the surplus value obtained and the variable capital used in the production process. Read more.

  • Reformism

    An opportunist current that developed within the Second International, advocating that through the struggle for lasting improvements and reforms - which were still possible - socialism could be achieved without going through a revolution. Read more.

  • Relative surplus value

    Amount of surplus value extracted from the workforce per unit of time. The increase in surplus value in relative terms, i.e. the rate of surplus value, occurs through increases in labor productivity associated with technical improvements and increases in invested capital. Read more.

  • Religion

    A set of beliefs, rites and ceremonies that through the promotion of a series of values, asserts and maintains the characteristic morality of a given social organization. Read more.

  • Revisionism

    Theoretical position appeared within the Second International that defended that capitalism had overcome or was overcoming its own contradictions, so it was imperative to make a "revision" of the Marxist foundations, renounce the revolutionary perspective and redefine the socialist parties as democratic parties defending social reforms. Read more.

  • Revolutionary defeatism

    A tactic that is the only possible internationalist response to any war or conflict between two bourgeois or bureaucratic factions in the decadence of capitalism. It consists of the denunciation of both parties ("the enemy is in your own country") and the corresponding call to turn the war into revolutionary civil war, that is to say, into class war ("war on war"). Read more.

  • Right to self-determination

    A right that would assist a bourgeoisie or petty bourgeoisie of a territory within a state to submit to a referendum among the whole population or the part considered "connational" of it, the formation of an independent state. Read more.

  • Rising capitalism

    Historical period during which the capitalist relations of production helped the free development of the productive forces of Humanity. This is the period in which the world market and the global systems of communications and transport were born, the productivity of almost all factors multiplied, the global population increased as never before, and a universal class appeared: the proletariat. Read more.

  • Sectarianism

    Organizational tendency that puts the particular interests and achievements of an organization above the general interests of the class movement and its historical perspective. Read more.

  • Semicolonial countries

    Formally and legally independent states whose national capitals are nevertheless revalorized thanks to one or two primary export industries. The state acts as a redistributor of profits within national capital, ensuring demand from the rest of the productive sectors, which necessarily assume a subordinate role. Read more.

  • Slave-owning mode of production slave owning mode of production

    Slave-owning mode of production. Mode of production based on the physical ownership of most of the labor force by the exploiting class within the framework of an economy which is only very partially commodified. Read more.

  • Socialism

    Transitional phase between the seizure of power by the proletariat and the total decommodification of production. In this phase, the economy, managed collectively by the workers themselves, is oriented towards decommodification, direct production according to needs and the increase of factor productivity, especially of labor. It measures its success by the reduction in working hours, the increase in consumption by the working class and the radical transformation of the culture characteristic of a society that has resumed development. Read more.

  • Socialism in one country

    A political doctrine and practice born as a banner of counter-revolution in Russia asserting that a world revolution was not necessary to "build" socialism and that the Russian state itself -whose soviets had already been emptied and the country renamed "socialist motherland"-, was the main conquest of the universal proletariat. Read more.

  • Soviet

    Committees, commissions, workers councils or "soviets" are bodies directly elected by the workers assemblies, responsible exclusively to them and revocable at any time. They are born out of the extension of the mass strike and, in the development of the struggles they tend to become the form of organization of the whole class as a "party" of the bourgeois society, that is, they assert a "dual power" that prepares them to become the organ through which the class will exercise its "dictatorship". They then become a real "transitional state" which, as the revolution becomes globalized, will be able to undertake the decommodification of society. Read more.

  • Spanish Communist Left

    Internationalist organization founded in Liège in 1930 that regrouped the founding current of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE in Spanish) in 1920 and joined the International Left Opposition as a Spanish section. It will inspire the communist left in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. Read more.

  • Stalinism

    The ideological form taken by the consolidation of the counter-revolution in Russia from which it spread through the subjugation and instrumentalization of the Third International since its Fifth Congress and the Russian imperialist expansion from the 1940s onwards. Its main characteristic is the identification as "socialism" of a state capitalism based on a party-state fusion and the affirmation of a state-run, centralized and militarized organization of production. Despite taking particular forms in different countries and generating different currents in the service and according to the origins of different state bourgeoisies (Maoism, Hoxhaism, Castroism, etc.) they all share the exaltation of wage labor and an open nationalism, completed depending on each case by anti-Semitic, xenophobic or openly racist tendencies, an obscurantist culture and a retrograde sexual morality. Read more.

  • State

    The state is a social apparatus which appears with the division into classes in order to keep society constrained within the prevailing social relations and prevent it from collapsing as a result of class struggle. It is therefore fundamentally conservative and will present itself as "neutral", above the classes in conflict, even though it cannot be anything other than a tool of oppression and exploitation of one class by another. Read more.

  • State capitalism

    The form that the organization of capital takes in decadent capitalism. It materializes the concentration of finance capital - the union of banking and industrial capital - and the monopolies within and around the state. Socially it promotes the integration of the remnants of the former exploiting classes with the bourgeoisie and the state bureaucracy. Politically it is based on the end of civil society and the integration of broad layers of the petty bourgeoisie as middle cadre in the state apparatus and big business. Read more.

  • Surplus labor

    Time of use of labor power that exceeds the time needed to produce the value equivalent to its cost of reproduction. Read more.

  • Surplus value

    Difference between the overall value generated by the use of labor power and the value of the labor power itself, i.e., the social cost of its reproduction in quality and quantity similar to that used. Read more.

  • To cupellate

    To define oneself in the critique of the historical class experience until one (or a group) gains the necessary clarity to adopt clear political positions and defend them without compromise. Read more.

  • Trade union

    Wholesaler of the supply of labor power, originally created by the workers themselves to defend their working conditions in a framework of class conciliation and affirmation of their own existence within the institutions of the national state. With the monopolistic development of national capital and the universalization of state capitalism, the trade union is recognized as one more monopolist and absorbed like all of them into the structures of the national state. Read more.

  • Tragedy of the commons

    Neo-Malthusian argument arguing the alleged unsustainable nature of communal property and in general the non-market organization of production. Read more.

  • Trotskyism

    A derogatory name given by stalinism to the Left Opposition in Russia, a current that leads the resistance to the counter-revolutionary drift of the Bolshevik party until 1928 and which, from that date onwards, brings together the great majority of the International Communist Left. Afterwards, stalinism applies it to the whole Communist Left and its consequences, regardless of its political content and whether they are within or outside the class terrain. Read more.

  • United Front

    A tactic affirmed at the 3rd Congress of the Communist International that sought to generate slogans capable of mobilizing the masses that still remained embedded in the trade unions and social democratic political parties – organizations committed to the defense of the state and the capitalist order. Read more.

  • Utopia

    An imaginary plan of social reorganization, outside the dynamics and social forces actually present, which is proposed as a universal solution if imposed on reality. Read more.

  • Value value

    The value of social production is the product of the total amount of labor exploited in the economic system. Although it is impossible to calculate the value of an individual commodity without taking into account the capital market and the existence of an effective demand for it, its value will tend toward the amount of labor socially necessary for its production. Read more.

  • Wage

    Part of total production with which capital buys labor power and which tends to equal the social cost of reproducing it with the necessary skill and knowledge required in production. Read more.

  • Wage labor

    Form taken by the vast majority of social work under capitalism. Read more.

  • Work

    Conscious and deliberate activity of transformation of the environment by the species. Read more.

  • Zinovievism

    Centrist current that between 1924 and 1929, under the leadership of Grigory Zinoviev, paved the way for the destruction of the International and its sections with the organizational policies of "bolshevization" and "proletarianization" in a framework of "class against class" tactics that denied the need for transitional objectives in class struggles. Read more.