Fighting Words
cyberRed's Dictionary of the Language of War

The bourgeoisie (and its apologists and flunkies)
seek to control the language so that
they can control the ability of the proletariat
to think and reason politically.

Language (as an instrument of consciousness)
is both a passive target and an active weapon
in the sphere of information war.

The definitions of key terms are themselves objects
of struggle and represent contested terrain.

Here are definitions worth fighting for.

All definitions here subject to a constant process
of improvement and refinement !
Send in your comments or suggestions today !

contents: contents: contents:
economic and political systems:

dictatorship of the proletariat

information war and cyber concepts:

transparencyinformation warconsciousnesstheory

competitioncooperationcompetition and cooperation

denial"human technology""emotional bank account"

To be defined (eventually):

social democracy • liberalism • state capitalism
fascism • market socialism • commodity production
parallelity • "information wants to be free"

Coming (eventually): good examples of all of the above


Communism is the economic and political system based on the principle:
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".

Under communism, there will be no money, wages, commodities or capital. Under communism, there will be no the rule of the market, elected representatives or all-powerful central planners. Under communism, there will be no exploitation or classes based on the ownership or control of the means of production.

Under communism the prime want in life will be interesting and useful work which fully taps the immense creative potential of the human mind, body and spirit and which serves the collective interests of all humanity.

(for a much more detailed description of the functioning of a
communist economic and political system in the modern world, check out:
The Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy (S.O.M.E.) Hypothesis)

Capitalism is the economic and political system based on the production of goods and services for exchange rather than use. Anything produced for exchange is called a "commodity" and the universal commodity which facilitates exchange is called "money". Capitalism corresponds to the class rule of the bourgeoisie, which runs and dominates all spheres of society and controls (to a very large extent anyhow) the ideology and culture that dominates the mass media and the thinking of the masses.

Socialism is the scientific name for the economic and political system of a society in which the working class has become the ruling class and which is in the process of making a step-by-step transformation to a communist economic and political system.

I am holding this word "hostage". I refuse to use it at the present because many misinformed people insist that socialism can be defined as if it were a fixed system or set of principles rather than a series of transition steps between the stages of capitalist and communist organization of society. Therefore, instead of using the word "socialism", I will use the term "transition period".

dictatorship of the proletariat

The "D of P" represents the rule of the working class during the transition period, in which it has not yet been learned how to organize the economy and political life along fully communist principles.

During this period, a great number of the former capitalists will still enjoy immense privileges because they will have knowledge of how to run the economy--and the workers' state will find it necessary to bribe them (coercion alone will not suffice) into cooperation. For this reason, and because of all the resources (assets, know-how, networks of connections and the persistence everywhere of huge pockets of bourgeois ideology) which the former bourgeoisie will be able to command--the workers state will find it necessary to impose restrictions on the former bourgeoisie to thwart their inevitable attempts to organize the disruption of society and the restoration of their class rule and former "paradise".

This system of restrictions imposed on the former bourgeoisie by the workers' state will be determined by what is necessary at the time. The 1917 revolution imposed restrictions on the former bourgeoisie--but the harshness of the conditions at that time made it difficult to do this without also imposing extremely dangerous restrictions on the proletariat also--and this led to the eventual suffocation of the revolution in the 1920's and the creation of a new privileged class.

In a modern society (with a developed communications infrastructure) the dictatorship of the proletariat will find methods of suppressing the resistance (and attempts at restoration) of the bourgeoisie without restricting the political activity of workers (and their independent organizations) to criticize, harass or openly oppose whatsoever they consider to be corruption, hypocrisy or misuse of power by any or all institutions of the workers' state.

A workers' state in the modern world would resemble the dictatorship led by Lenin about as much as conditions of 1921 Russia resemble conditions in a modern society. One concrete example of this would be the attitude of the workers' state towards the mass media and the internet (which is rapidly evolving into a mass medium). The workers' state would not need or want to prohibit or censor use of the internet by either individuals or volunteer organizations without financial ties to the bourgeoisie. (On the contrary, it would take the most energetic and practical steps to bring the great bulk of the population online as rapidly as possible.) But the workers' state would most certainly find ways to smash up the inevitable attempts by bourgeois formations to buy and assemble their armies of flacks and slick propaganda machines that would advertize greasy food and greasier politics.

(See The Digital Fire for more discussion of this.)


(soon to have its very own home page)

Opportunism usually refers to a person or group betraying the fundamental principles necessary for the long-term success of the working-class and popular movement. Often this is done out of a perception that the short term interests of the movement will be served, or that some immediate gain will be achieved. But opportunism generally hurts the short term interest of movement as well and undermines the struggle for various reforms.

Opportunism often is conducted "out in the open" but just as often consists of manuevers conducted in a hidden or disguised way. Often the primary damage caused by opportunism consists of the arrangement of events such that the consciousness of the masses is not given an opportunity to grasp the essential laws of motion which push things forward.

The term "opportunism" is also used to indicate the practice of selling out the movement or its principles for either personal gain or the gain of one's favored group, trend, objective or hidden agenda.

Sectarianism and reformism are the principal forms of opportunism and they can be considered to represent vicious, aggressive and debilitating diseases which attack the workers' movement like cancer.


Sectarianism is the refusal to engage in principled cooperation with other political trends in ways that would benefit the struggle of the masses.

Sectarianism can also be regarded as unprincipled (as opposed to principled) competition between political trends. Sectarianism involves the promotion of the interest of a particular organization in such a way that the fundamental interests of the working class movement are "forgotten". Under the influence of sectarianism, some activists may consider their own organization to be "white hats" (ie: 100% correct on all issues) while rival organizations are "black hats" (ie: the "bad guys") worthy only of being spit on.

Sectarianism can be a manifestation of denial but usually has a more well-defined material basis than this, such as the competition between trends for the "warm, living bodies" of activists whose allegiance and financial support is required for the survival and growth of each trend as well as the maintenance of a paid staff (for a newspaper or other supposedly "indispensable" features of an organization).


Reformism is the belief that the domination of society by the bourgeosie can be broken, and the rule of the working class can be established, via a series of achievable reforms.

Reformism is NOT the struggle for reforms or partial demands. To the contrary, historical experience shows that revolutionary methods of struggle are more effective in achieving reforms than reformist methods of struggle. Revolutionary methods of struggle center around working to mobilize the masses into action and raising the consciousness of the masses about the class nature of society. Reformist methods of struggle involve restricting activity to methods which do not directly threaten (or raise the consciousness of the masses about) the fundamental underpinings of bourgeois class rule.

The bourgeoisie, particularly in periods of mass revolutionary upsurge, give decisive support to the political trends which preach reformism and carries out a defacto alliance with such trends in order to divert the masses from the path of revolutionary struggle.

Reformism often results from unprincipled (as opposed to principled) cooperation with political trends such that violations of fundamental principle are not openly confronted and openly opposed. Such practice, in modern society, inevitably leads to the domination of bourgeois politics and ideology in the workers movement and reduces the movement to a plaything in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

Reformism does NOT refer to the struggle for worthwhile reforms. Reformism represents an ideology in which all struggles for reforms and progress must be conducted according to what is acceptable (ie: "responsible" and "respectable") to the bourgeoisie. Inevitably this means within the limits of what will not directly threaten fundamental bourgeois class interests.

Most fundamentally, reformism is a struggle for political progress that confines itself to what is possible within the confines of the capitalist system and the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Reformism in particular tends to avoid forms of struggle oriented around raising the consciousness of the masses (something generally unacceptable to the bourgeoisie) such as mass actions and mass struggle. Reformism will sometimes use mass sentiment and the threat of mass actions as a "bargaining chip" in negotiations over reforms with bourgeois representatives--but will view and use such mass actions as a last resort in the face of bourgeois intransigence instead of as the pivot of all development.

Reformism (as a struggle for progress limited by those methods and goals which are acceptable to--and do not challenge the class interests of--the bourgeoisie) is also, for historical reasons, often called social-democracy. Reformism is maintained thru a vast system of carrots and sticks maintained at one end (of a highly complex system of tranmission belts)--by the bourgeoisie, which doles out favors (ie: support, assistance, cooperation and media attention) to those political trends which it regards as behaving in a "responsible" or "respectable" manner or which promote ideologies or conceptions which urge the masses to rely on the "powers that be" and remain passive.

The reformist ideology is extremely widespread (in fact nearly universal) in capitalist society because reformism presents itself (and is seen) as the alternative to the misery, injustice, racism, militarism, etc. that exist nearly everywhere.

Communist tactics towards reformist trends often may involve common work towards clearly defined objectives but also involve a complex struggle to raise the consciousness of activists about the necessity for tactics oriented around drawing the masses into struggle and fighting for independence from bourgeois tactics, ideology and politics.

Communist tactics towards individuals under the influence of reformist ideology involve working to win such people to break with reformism. In periods of ebb in the class struggle (such as currently) the bankruptcy of reformist tactics often does not make itself very clear except over an extended period of time. Communists, being materialists, also recognize that certain individuals have a materialist basis (ie: a job or social position) that locks them into permanent orbit around bourgeois politics.

When the influence of reformist politics and ideology are broken, the bourgeoisie will be left standing, naked and defenseless, before the power and the determination of a united working class.


Revisionism represents the distortion of Marxist theory such that it becomes harmless to bourgeois class interests. Usually this involves converting Marxism to reformism. Revisionism also refers to the distortions of Marxism practiced by the ruling class in the Soviet Union as the 1917 revolution of comrade Lenin was suffocated.


The term "transparency" originated in financial markets to describe conditions whereby investors had access to fundamental financial information about the performance of companies in whose stock they were investing. Transparency, in more modern terms, represents the conditions, brought on by the revolution in many-to-many communications, whereby all the fundamental principles governing what really goes on in society can no longer be hidden from the workers and the masses. The most fundamental of all the hidden "secrets" is the nature of the class rule of the bourgeoisie and how it is that the capitalist system of production has become the main restraining force holding back the development of a high-synergy society.

information war

  The bourgeosie defines "information war" as being oriented
  around the sabotage and destruction of computer-based
  communications systems.  According to the bourgeoisie--the
  use of digital communications as part of a struggle to
  bring the truth to the masses--is a minor component of
  "information war"--a component called "psychological
  warfare".  The proletariat defines "information war"
  differently.  The proletariat defines "information war"--
  --not as being aimed at breaking down computer systems so
  that they are not working--but as what happens when all
  systems are fully functioning--and are being used to
  bring consciousness to the masses:
Information war is the struggle for consciousness and the struggle for the recognition of key political principles--waged in cyberspace and in the real world.

Consciousness in information war is both active and passive, subject and object. Bourgeois conceptions of information war tend to concentrate more on the passive aspect of consciousness while proletarian conceptions focus more on the active aspect.

Consciousness is contested terrain (to be captured as an object) and resource (to be mobilized as the subject) in information war. Victory in information war consists of the capture and mobilization of consciousness by principles.

(Click here for the cyberLeninist perspective on information war.)

The most undefinable of all phenomena to be found in nature, consciousness represents the only means by which the future can affect the present. We can define it, for our purposes, as the recognition and grasp of principles with the power to transform. Or, in other words, consciousness is the process of collecting, concentrating and refining information for the purpose of transforming it into a guide to action.


Theory is the concentrated expression of experience--a set of principles which embody and explain the lessons of practical experience and scientific experiment. Theory is created by practice and in turn guides practice.

Genuine communist theory represents the principles by which proletarian organizations can conduct their work in such a way as to maintain their independence from bourgeois politics.


(see also "competition and cooperation")

Unprincipled (as opposed to principled) competition between trends leads to sectarianism, in which the interests of a particular trend are pursued in a way that undermines the movement of the workers and oppressed.

Under capitalism, competition between companies is a powerful force to discover and wipe out inefficency but also leads to cracking the whip on workers and driving them into the ground by forcing them to compete against one another for the lowest wages and worst conditions.

Under communism, competition between economic, cultural and political units will exist at all levels. But this competition will not threaten the survival (or basic conditions of life) of any worker--because all the necessities (and conveniences) will be provided to everyone as a birthright, whether their work unit "wins" or "loses", or whether they decide to work or do nothing at all.


(see also "competition and cooperation")

Unprincipled (as opposed to principled) cooperation leads to reformism--or a struggle for progress limited by those methods and goals which are acceptable to (and do not challenge the class interests of) the bourgeoisie.

competition and cooperation

These two principles, taken together, form, in a manner of speaking, the basis for the development of all complex adaptive systems. Cooperation enables any system of things to exploit "synergy" such that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". Competition weeds out what is weak and inefficient and discovers what is strong and robust.

Principled competition and cooperation between workers' organizations will be the basis for their ability to unite as a single fist when necessary and to criticise and oppose one another when necessary in order to defeat wrong views or opportunism.


"Denial", the old saying goes, "is not a river in Egypt." It represents a system of thought which has developed to protect one or another kind of addiction or unheathy practice. Under the influence of denial an alcoholic can claim (and believe) he has not had a drink in years while he is holding an open can of beer. The term "denial" originated in work with people suffering from substance abuse (alcohol, narcotics, etc) and has been working its way into other realms. In politics, denial comes up to protect opportunist practices such as sectarianism and reformism.

Any political organization of the working class which intends to represent a serious threat to bourgeois rule--must develop the "human technology" to bust denial.

"human technology"

"Human technology" is a term I would like to popularize for sets of specific skills and methods to systematically deal with specific dysfunctions that come up to block healthy change and emotional growth in a way that impacts the development of productive work among revolutionary activists.

Some (not all) of the methods used in "12 step" programs such as "Alcoholics Anonymous" can serve as a useful model for dealing with commonplace problems that block revolutionary work. These methods can be thought of as methods to "debug" the "human software" (ie: "programs") which exist in our thinking and guide our behavior.

One example of "human technology" might be the concept of maintaining a large emotional bank account.

Another example of such a method might be to confront denial in an organized way. My thinking is not very developed in this area but I have attended AA meetings to accompany friends--and I am fairly impressed with the use of systematic and easily-learned principles that can guide individuals who recognize the need to change one or another aspect of their behavior and thinking.

"emotional bank account"

This term is being popularized by Stephen Covey (the "7 Habits" guy) and I believe it could be very useful to anyone who is having difficulty "connecting" to others in cyberspace forums dominated by self-centered behavior and flame wars.

Having healthy "people skills" is no substitute for having healthy politics--but it helps in keeping level heads and in keeping conflicts clearly focused on the political differences at issue.

Here is Stephen Covey on "emotional bank accounts":

Deposits are made in the form of courtesy, respect, kindness, patience, service and honesty. Withdrawals come in the form of overreactions, ego-trips, an absense of apologies for mistakes, and neglect of the human relationship. Our motives for making deposits should be sincere, or others will feel manipulated and grow cynical and distrustful. By maintaining a large Emotional Bank Account, we will operate from a high level of trust with our family, friends and associates.


Note to Readers
Note to Readers
Want to add something to this list ?

Want your hypertext notes to be linked to any of the terms above ?
Have a good example of reformism, sectarianism, or opportunism ?

For now: send me e-mail at: iwar_terms@communism.org

Eventually, I will create nice, standardized forms for all this
similar to the text below in gray.

Just fill out one of the forms below and press the button.

Form to add something to list

blah, blah, blah

Form to make a comment on a term

blah, blah, blah

Form to submit examples of reformism or sectarianism or opportunism

blah, blah, blah