Glossary of Socialism

BOURGEOISIE: The capitalist ruling class, defined by its ownership of the means of production.

CAPITALISM: A political and economic arrangement where private owners control the means of production.

CLASS STRUGGLE: The ongoing struggle between the ruling and subject classes, i.e., the proletariat and bourgeoisie.

COMMUNISM: An arrangement of society that is moneyless, classless, and stateless.

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM: The notion that the decisions of the democratic majority of the working class should be binding on all members of society. A central point of Marxism-Leninism.

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM: An analytical framework viewing the unfolding of history as the result of class struggle, both perpetuated by and leading to changes in material conditions.

LENIN, VLADIMIR: A Russian revolutionary and prolific author and expositor of the philosophy and science of Karl Marx. Led the Bolshevik Revolution along with Leon Trotsky.

LUMPENPROLETARIAT: The segment of exploited workers in society who are not conscious of the class warfare being waged against them.

MARXISM: The philosophy, political economy, and analytical process employed by Marxists. Developed by Karl Marx and further refined by Friedrich Engels.

MARXISM-LENINISM: The Marxist dialectical analysis applied by Vladimir Lenin to the material conditions of Russia in the early twentieth century.

MEANS OF PRODUCTION: The tools used to produce goods and services, such as factories, land, and equipment. In capitalism, generally owned by private business owners. Socialism advocates for the workers to seize the means of production.

PETTY BOURGEOISIE: Essentially the small business owners in capitalist societies. Typically reactionary, but highly sensitive to the inherent instability of capitalism, so may often fluctuate between petty bourgeoisie and proletariat.

PROLETARIAT: The working class, whose only means of survival under capitalism is to sell its labor to the bourgeoisie or petty bourgeoisie.

SOCIAL PRODUCTION: The concept that all value in society is produced socially. Under capitalism,  the excess value of social production is subject to individual accumulation by the bourgeoisie.

SOCIALISM: A political and economic arrangement where the workers own and control the means of production. Also, the transitional phase between capitalism and communism.

SPECIES BEING: The state of a human who has been freed from the shackles of capitalism, and can fully engage in the work that best suits their abilities and passions. Typically unattainable for the proletariat outside of a functioning communist society.

SOLIDARITY: The crystallization of a mass group of proletarians behind a single, cohesive cause.

SURPLUS LABOR: Labor beyond that required for the survival of the worker. Under capitalism, the value produced by this labor is accumulated by the bourgeoisie.

TROTSKY, LEON: A Russian communist revolutionary who worked with Vladimir Lenin to organize and execute the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917. After Lenin’s death in 1924, the ensuing power struggle between Joseph Stalin and Trotsky led to Trotsky’s exile to Mexico, where he was eventually assassinated on Stalin’s orders. Trotsky was an associate of muralist Diego Rivera and artist Frida Kahlo during his exile in Mexico.

TROTSKYISM: A line of Marxist thinking focused on permanent global revolution, among other distinctives. The thinking of communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

VANGUARD PARTY: A group of professional revolutionaries leading organizing efforts in a Marxist-Leninist political organization or government.