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26 May 97
(notes for this file:) this document is part of "How to Build the Party of the Future"

Boddhisatva takes on Moore's Law

Moore's Law will lead
to the collapse of bourgeois rule

 Contents:       TIP: Clicking on any of the paragraph numbers
 ---------            along the left margin
                      will take you back and forth
                      between the body of the article
                      and the table of contents.
number           chapters sections subheads
  11         The "blender" hypothesis 
  13  Boddhisatva takes on Moore's Law 
  21     1. The significance of Moore's Law 
  24     2. The significance of Moore's Law today:
              We need to start working to create on the web
              an "open standard" text-based news service
  32     3. The significance of Moore's Law tomorrow:
               An explosion of stellar magnitude 
  39     4. Periods of revolutionary change are disorienting
  49     5. The two big questions: speed and impact 
  51         1) How long before these things become dirt-cheap,
               easy to use and in everyone's hands ? 
  53         2) Will all hell really break loose ? 
  58     6. Moore's Law and bad assumptions 
  66     7. The power of Moore's Law 
  70     8. Other factors leading to a drop
               in the cost of computing power 
  80     9. Another shameless plug
               for a text based news service: 
  82     10. Is the internet a bourgeois phenomena? 
  87     11. The bourgeoisie is split over
               what to do about "internet doom" 
  94     12. Will all hell really break loose ? 
 101         Censorship ? 
 104         Will the masses be able to actually use
               the weapon of many-to-many communications ? 

Hi folks,
Apologies for taking so long to respond to the comments, by boddhisatva, about Moore's Law.
Having been following this list for a while, I am aware that boddhisatva frequently makes posts that are not worth responding to and which most people usually ignore.
This case, however, is exceptional.
Boddhisatva has taken it upon himself to challenge the central role which the communications revolution will play in the class struggle in the next half century. Boddhisatva's two posts are short. However the arguments and methods he employs are worth examining because, in the period ahead, we will have many occasions to run into these identical arguments and methods in the hands of people who are far more skilled and slick in their presentations. Hence, it is useful to take a look at the arguments and methods (used in their raw form by boddhisatva) to prepare for future encounters with them in more slick and polished form.
Boddhisatva begins by taking on Moore's Law itself. It is not actually a law at all, he informs us, and those of us who believe we can use Moore's Law to understand the period ahead are "dumb" believers in "hokum" and "arcane formulas" who might as well be tuning into "Kenny Kingston's Psychic Friends Network".
In his second post, boddhisatva tells us that the internet is merely a "bourgeois phenomena", at least for "the foreseeable future", and that "the arguments of internet doom are arguments among elements of the bourgeoisie".
Like any skilled argument in favor of views that are wrong, boddhisatva's arguments contain elements of truth. And before we can understand what is wrong and misleading about boddhisatva's arguments and methods, we must first strive to understand what is correct and accurate about them--we must first take a look at what is positive in boddhisatva's arguments--we must examine their strengths.
Before doing so, however, I want to contrast to boddhisatva's view of Moore's Law another view--my own:
The "blender" hypothesis
  • Picture a goldfish swimming peacefully around.

    The goldfish represents bourgeois rule.

  • Now note that the environment in which the goldfish is swimming--turns out to be a blender, plugged in and ready to go.

    The blender represents the power of Moore's Law.

  • Now picture a hand moving over and pressing a button
    on which a label says: "liquefy"

    The hand represents the action of the proletariat as it learns to use the communications revolution as a weapon to wage "information war" for the consciousness of the masses.

  • Now imagine an instant in which we hear a high-pitched whine, followed by a complete absence of any goldfish in the water which now has a slight pink coloring.

    That instant, more or less, is the next 50 years.

  • Any questions ?

Boddhisatva takes on Moore's Law
Anyone who is bright and who follows the business news understands that we are in a period which represents the beginning of a revolution in digital communications. The scope, the magnitude, the significance of this revolution is the subject, today, of much debate. Only a few years ago, the coming revolution in communications was being compared, in its significance, to Gutenberg's invention of movable type. But such comparisons, today, seem fairly tame.
By 1994 the Wall Street Journal was talking about the "information superHYPEway". At the same time, hundreds of corporations, involved in thousands of sometimes flimsy alliances, were gambling billions of dollars on positioning themselves for the coming "digital convergence".
Writers, of various backgrounds and political persuasions, are describing the coming revolution in communications in glowing, sometimes grandiose, terms. George Gilder (on the political right) describes the communications revolution as something that will revolutionize the world (althou, being a conservative, he believes that "fundamental" things such as "family values" and capitalism--are eternal and will be with us until the end of time). Others, such as John Perry Barlow or "Wired" magazine owner Lou Rossetto (closer to liberal-anarcho-capitalist libertarianism) talk of the coming revolution in communications as being comparable in importance to the discovery of fire.
Is the coming revolution in communications just a bunch of hype ? Or is it destined to become an invincible weapon in the hands of the working class--which will use this weapon to liberate itself and all humanity ?
This question will not go away but is destined to pose itself again and again, with greater and greater insistence, as the communications revolution itself unfolds, decade after decade.
Such a question will not be definitively answered by anything I write. I have my own views which, by now, should be fairly obvious to all readers. But the question of the relationship of the coming revolution in communications--to the proletariat's ability to organize itself and rid the world forever of bourgeois domination--will be definitively answered only in practice. The final "proof" of the power of the communications revolution will be the final overthrow of the bourgeoisie.
Those who wish to wait for such final proof rather than take steps, today, to prepare ourselves to harness the power of the communications revolution--are welcome to sit on the sidelines and wait. Others, however, have decided not to wait. The immense power of the communications revolution to allow the proletariat to organize itself--and wrest from the bourgeoisie's hands the power to shape the political thinking of the masses--will increasingly show itself in the period ahead. Those who have made up their minds to learn to use this weapon well--will find that their connection to the working class will grow in strength year after year and decade after decade. We will not be alone.
1. The significance of Moore's Law
   My view is that no one can understand
   the application of Marxism in the 21st century
   without understanding the significance
   of Moore's Law to the struggle of the proletariat.
What is this significance ?
2. The significance of Moore's Law today:
We need to start working to create on the web
an "open standard" text-based news service
Moore's Law helps us to understand the tendency of digital communications devices to approach the price of sand. In the short term (ie: the next five to ten years) this has many consequences for the development of communist work.
This is why I am trying to develop discussion of a text-based news service on a web database that would be copyright-free (ie: controllable by no single trend or group of trends) and to which all progressive, working and oppressed people could contribute by using agreed-upon uniform formats which would encourage indexing, summarization, public annotation, cross-linking, "collaborative filtering" and "collaborative rating".
Creating such a service would be a big step forward for linking the progressive movement to the masses and, in particular, for rebuilding a communist movement worthy of the name.
Creating such a service would also not necessarily be simple. But it is simple to figure out the first step necessary to create such a service:
The first step:
   We need to begin talking about it.
  • If readers want to get some preliminary ideas of how this might be organized, check out There is not much there yet, so you will need to use a bit of your imagination.
3. The significance of Moore's Law tomorrow:
An explosion of stellar magnitude
But I am digressing. The short term significance of Moore's Law is only the beginning. The long-term significance of Moore's Law is even more interesting.
The long-term practical consequence of Moore's Law is the inevitable development, within the next 50 years or thereabouts (if not sooner), of many-to-many digital communications devices that are as cheap as a digital watch and about as easy to use. Such devices would likely be completely portable and able to understand and translate to other languages (somewhat imperfectly) human speech. If such devices also contained miniature video cameras that could transmit in real time--things would be even more interesting--but such would not be necessary for the "blender" hypothesis above.
These are the most important things we need to know about Moore's Law.
The impact of such many-to-many communications devices is almost impossible to overestimate. There is not, for example, a single government on this planet that would be able to withstand the widespread (or universal) introduction of such a weapon in the hands of the masses.
Moore's Law helps us to understand the rate of technological development of the communications revolution. But it says nothing about the political consequences of such developments. This is where we must look at matters as Marxists and see how well we understand society and the nature of the class struggle.
It is already becoming clear that, for a variety of economic and practical (not to mention political) reasons, governments will not have the ability to control or censor the use of such devices by the masses--who will set up their own information networks for the purpose of developing and exercizing their common will. I have stated my view of the inevitable result many times. As decade rolls after decade, the digital communications revolution will pour ever-increasing amounts of oxygen onto the fires of the class struggle--setting the stage for an eventual explosion of stellar magnitude.
4. Periods of revolutionary change are disorienting
We are entering a period of immense change and such periods are frequently accompanied by disorientation. The coming revolution in communications will require that in many ways we adjust our thinking. This is often a slow process. Many of those who consider themselves to be communists will find it necessary to rethink their methods of relating to one another and to the masses.
Boddhisatva has raised the question of "hype".
Boddhisatva notes that there has been hype (ie: grandiose exagerations of a type that sometimes cause people to suspend their normal and healthy skepticism) around the issue of Moore's Law and that one company did very well for itself--because its would-be competition made assumptions about Moore's Law that were not true.
I believe we must recognize that Boddhisatva is raising a very valid point--the existence of large amounts of hype in news reports and articles about the information revolution. The existence of the hype does not, however, disprove the contention that the information revolution will impact humanity in an immense way.
Such "hype" invariably accompanies any profound revolution, whether technological or political. The hype is a result of the disorientation which goes along with any period of immense change. Writers, reporters, columnists, public relations flacks and so on--all have their own agendas and their own partial understandings--of a phenomena that very few understand very well. Waves of hype and anti-hype (ie: "backlash" books like "Silicon Snake-Oil") are inevitable in any period in which analysts are struggling to cope with huge changes.
Considering ourselves Marxists, none of us is a stranger to hype in regard to political events. We encounter it every day. All the time we run into people who take some idea of Marx or Lenin out of context and proceed to build castles in the air out of concepts that, in reality, they have no understanding of whatsoever.
But the existence of vast amounts of hype (and distortions) concerning Marxism does not mean that Marxism is not a powerful body of theory that we can use as a weapon to change the world. Similarly the existence of vast amounts of hype concerning the information revolution proves nothing whatsoever: only that we should be calm and cautious in coming to conclusions--because there are a lot of slippery slopes around.
The most important thing in such a period of disorientation is to remain calm. Being calm is not the same as being complacent. Being calm is realizing that it often takes a period of time, as a new situation is developing, before the real priorities (the real obstacles and the real tasks) become clear. Being calm means, in a period of immense change, to avoid jumping to conclusions about issues which are not yet well understood. For some this is more difficult than others. There is a feeling of security and comfort in believing that we understand a complex situation, and a feeling of anxiety and discomfort when we do not understand something and all we can see is a mass of questions and seemingly contradictory phenomena which do not appear to follow any predictable pattern.
The coming revolution in communications introduces a series of major questions that will likely leave many who would like to understand it confused. I would like to help organize the discussion so that a number of these questions can be considered in a calm and systematic way.
5. The two big questions: speed and impact
A number of questions come up in connection with Moore's Law and the tendency of transistor-based digital communications devices to approach the price of sand. These questions can, more or less, be divided into two general categories: (1) speed and (2) impact.
1) How long before these things become dirt-cheap,
easy to use and in everyone's hands ?
  • Or--how quickly will digital communications devices be cheap enough and easy-to-use enough to achieve widespread or universal penetration within the proletariat ?
2) Will all hell really break loose ?
  • Or--what are the political consequences of all this? Will governments really be unable to censor or control the use of communications technology by the masses? Will the masses really be able to use this technology to organize themselves and overthrow bourgeois rule?
The first question is a "technological-economic" question and the second question is "economic-cultural-political". While both questions are interesting, it will be very useful, for purposes of discussion, if we can maintain clarity about the fact that these two fundamental questions are very different.
A short essay like this can only scratch the surface--as far as answering questions like this. I will do as best I can here to illustrate a few points, mainly pertaining to the first question above. (The first question above is the more important of the two--in the sense that if the hardware does not become cheap enough for the working class to get it in their hands--then the second question becomes somewhat irrelevant.)
Hopefully in the next year or two we can develop some very good discussion that will help us to understand both of these questions better. I have been studying these issues with a fair amount of intensity. It is not possible for me to pour out all my observations, thinking and reasoning here. But if anyone wishes to ask my opinion on something or request a response from me to a short statement, let me know and I will attempt to show that I am serious about being responsive and "accountable" for my views.
6. Moore's Law and bad assumptions
It is useful for Boddhisatva to raise the question of hype and of the incorrect assumptions which are often made even by very intelligent people who are professionals in their fields. One factor at play here is that in periods of revolutionary change (whether political or technological) decisions must often be made on the basis of incomplete knowledge or educated guesswork. It is a bit like in war, where it is not necessarily possible to know what we would like. As political revolutionaries, however, we want to minimize the costly mistakes that are made on the basis of incorrect assumptions. Therefore we examine examples where costly mistakes were made--and see what we can learn from them.
Boddhisatva brings up the example of a company in southern California called Cymer which, he tells us, did well because its competition misunderstood the implications of Moore's law. There are also other, more well known, examples of companies, and even nations, which ran into trouble because things did not work out as would be expected from Moore's law.
Perhaps the most well known example is how the prices of random access memory (RAM) chips defied Moore's law for years. This was not expected in many quarters of the computer industry--where defying Moore's law in this manner was viewed as akin to defying gravity. This had big repercussions for Microsoft, which had designed the "Windows NT" operating system on the assumption that by the time it was released, memory prices would be low enough that corporate users would not mind upgrading their machines to between 16 and 32 megabytes of memory. One result of this was that Microsoft was forced to come out with an intermediate operating system that performed better with less memory (ie: "Windows 95").
Memory prices defied Moore's law for several reasons. I am not familar with the details but (if my memory is correct) I believe one factor was the earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Key components of the next generation of RAM production--for the entire world--would never be produced in a single factory controlled by a single company. They were produced by several competing factories. Unfortunately all these factories were in Kobe. And they were all wiped out.
By the time a new generation of memory chips were being manufactured, the opposite effect took place: in 1996 memory prices fell thru the floor. The price decreases that would have been expected (per a "strict reading" of Moore's law) over a period of years--all took place in six to nine months. Among other things, this has had a devasting effect on the economy of south Korea, which depends on memory chips to earn a significant portion of its foriegn exchange.
Of course there are complicating factors in all this. The rise and fall of various component prices is greatly affected and magnified by comparatively small discrepencies between supply and demand. Superimposed on the declining cost curve of Moore's law can be large fluctuations due to the action of nature or the market.
In spite of such fluctuations, which can be devastating over the short term, the action of Moore's law has been a steady and reliable guide to the long-term tendency for a given amount of hardware power to approach the price of sand. The real losers have been the companies that have ignored or underestimated the power of Moore's law.
7. The power of Moore's Law
Here, for example, is how the price would fall for computing power that initially cost $100,000:
   	time			cost
   	--------		------
   	0			$100,000
   	1 year, six months	$ 50,000
   	3 years			$ 25,000
   	4 years, six months	$ 12,000
   	6 years			$  6,000
   	7 years, six months	$  3,000
   	9 years			$  1,500
   	10 years, six months	$    750
   	12 years		$    400
   	13 years, six months	$    200
   	15 years		$    100
   	16 years, six months	$     50
   	18 years		$     25
   	19 years, six months	$     12
   	21 years		$      6
   	22 years, six months	$      3
   	24 years		$      1.50
   	27 years		(given away in box
   				 of "Cracker Jacks")
Details will vary of course, and some of this will be approximate. But anyone who has been following the high-tech industry for any length of time can verify that the chart above is more or less the way it goes--even if they do not remember the days of $ 800 calculators and $ 400 digital watches. This chart helps us to understand that the day is coming when even the poorest people in the poorest countries on earth--who can barely afford the daily food needed to keep alive--will be able to strap on their wrist a device that costs essentially nothing--and be connected to all the other workers of the world. And the implications of this are something that we, as Marxists, cannot ignore.
8. Other factors leading to a drop
in the cost of computing power
Moore's law seems to be coming to an end. I have some info about this in Appendix 1 and an interview (Appendix 3) where Moore speculates that within a decade the fall in the cost of computing power may only be half as fast (ie: taking 3 years to drop in half--instead of 18 months). No one knows for certain how fast the cost of computing will continue to drop but some seem to have strong hunches:
"Over the last 20 years the cost of computing has dropped by a factor of a million, and that's taken it from a device that only large organizations can use to something that individuals can work with. In the next 20 years we can say for sure that the cost of computing will drop again by a factor of a million. So everyone will own, for very little expense, computers hundreds of times more powerful than the most powerful computers we have today."
(B.Gates Remarks: Newspaper Association of America 4-29-97)
Now the first thing I wondered about when I saw this remark--is why does Bill Gates believe that the cost of computing will drop by a factor of a million over a mere 20 years ? Moore's law (even if it held up for another 20 years) would only predict a drop by a factor of ten thousand. Gates is predicting a drop in the cost of computing power 100 times greater than we could expect from Moore's law alone. Bill Gates is unquestionably a very sharp man. Did he have too much to drink for lunch?
It turns out that there are a number of factors which help the cost of computing to drop. Things like economies of scale and mass production. The great bulk of the cost of manufacturing a computer chip is involved in creating the first one. The actual amount of raw materials and labor in each chip that follows is not all that much. (It is kind of like printing a book. Most of the cost is in researching, writing and setting up the book. It costs no more to print a book by Lenin than a trashy romance novel.) Prices are high (a microprocessor is worth more than its weight in gold) because the chip plants need to recoup their investment in R&D and in building a $2 billion dollar plant. And the chip companies need to make their money back quickly--before their chips are made obsolete by the next generation.
So economies of scale play a powerful role here too. If Moore's law slows down--then the chip plants will have more time to print more chips before they become obsolete--which means the fixed cost of R&D and building the plant can be spread over more chips--so the prices will still continue to fall.
And there are other factors also. Writers such as George Gilder are talking about a revolution in the transmission of data via fiber optic cables. Advances such as this hold vast potential to cheapen the cost of computer power. And then there are things like better design--making better use of the number of transistors that are already possible.
But all this is getting a bit away from what should be our point. Bill Gates may think he knows how fast the cost of computing will drop. I don't. I don't know if over the next 20 years--the cost of computing will drop by a factor of a million (as he says) or a factor of 10 thousand (as we might expect from Moore's law alone--if it does not slow down) or if it will merely drop by a factor of a thousand.
As revolutionaries, we want the cost of computing to drop as fast as possible--because this will speed the day when the power of the mass media will fall into the hands of the masses--and all hell will break loose.
But it is not our job to make the cost of computing fall faster. The capitalists themselves are doing that for us. Our job is to MAKE USE of all of the possibilities of the communications revolution as rapidly and as well as we possibly can.
9. Another shameless plug for
a text based news service:
Our job is to make use of the communications revolution as it unfolds. It now appears that we are already behind in terms of making use of what is already available. If the talent and resources represented on M-I alone cooperated to help put together a public domain web-based news site--we could most likely be getting between one thousand and ten thousand hits a day today. And, assuming we did this right (and could get such a project going in a way that did not require either much trust between ourselves or much centralized control) and made the right decisions--this would continue to grow. This would help to create an environment where we could both strengthen our ties to the masses (at least as they came online in the period ahead) and conduct our "internal warfare" with one another in a way that would be comprehensible to a larger audience.
10. Is the internet a bourgeois phenomena?
Boddhisatva has argued that the internet is only a "bourgeois phenomenon". He doesn't say, however, that it will be this way forever, only for "the foreseeable future". What this shows is that, for Boddhisatva, the "foreseeable future" is not past the end of his nose. In the appendices that follow I have collected a few stats. According to one survey, more than 50 million Americans or Canadians have been online in the past month. I think this alone proves that the internet is more than a "bourgeois phenomenon" today.
More importantly, Boddhisatva has left out the most important and relevant fact of all--that according to all surveys the internet is in the midst of a period of explosive growth. While estimates of the timeframe will differ, most anyone who seriously studies the matter will agree that the many-to-many digital communications infrastructure will eventually reach even the most oppressed sections.
More than a century ago, in Russia, revolutionaries were arguing over whether to base their efforts on a class which, at the time, was numerically small--the proletariat. The Marxists in Russia argued that althou the proletariat was small, that it was rapidly growing and that for this and for other (more important) reasons--it was the future.
We are not Marxists if we do not keep ourselves aware of what is new and developing.
11. The bourgeoisie is split over
what to do about "internet doom"
In the appendix to chapter one of the POF series I included an article by a representative of bourgeois interests, Cokie Roberts ( "Internet Could Become a Threat To Representative Government") and commentary on this by petty bourgeois commentators Brock Meeks and Jon Katz. The issue at stake is whether the communications revolution will bring an end to bourgeois rule (althou, of course, none of the columnists framed the question in that way).
No one in M-I made a comment about this except for Boddhisatva, who argues that "the arguments of internet doom are arguments among elements of the bourgeoisie". We must note that there is some truth in Boddhisatva's argument and we should take a look at it.
Yes, arguments of internet "doom" are arguments among the bourgeoisie. When the proletariat engage in this same argument--it becomes an argument about internet "liberation" ;-)
But at the same time, Boddhisatva is correct in the sense that the debate--to the extent that it has appeared in the mass media--is a debate among different sections of the bourgeoisie. Meeks and Katz may be petty bourgeois commentators with petty bourgeois prejudices--but they are also serving the interests of a newly rising section of the bourgeoisie, represented by "Wired" magazine and Microsoft.
The bourgeoisie is split on what to do about the communications revolution. This split is permanent. It will not go away. On the one hand the communications revolution will empower the proletariat to do away with bourgeois rule. On the other hand, it will be a long time before that happens and a big section of the bourgeoisie is going to get very rich off of this process before it is all over.
Furthermore, the bourgeoisie of each country faces a dilemma. They have no choice but to create the conditions of their demise. In order to remain competitive in international markets--they must build the infrastructure that will bring knowledge and consciousness to their proletariat and inevitably lead to their extinction as a class. Hence, their dilemma: they must pave the road to their extinction while saying, after Louis XIV, "Apres moi, le deluge."
12. Will all hell really break loose ?
In section 5 (above) I posed the following questions:
   What are the political consequences of all this?
   Will governments really be unable to censor or control
   the use of communications technology by the masses?
   Will the masses really be able to use this technology
   to organize themselves and overthrow bourgeois rule?
Unfortunately, I do not have time or space to explore these very important questions right here and right now (the margin of my paper is too small ;-)
Hopefully this interesting question can be explored further as participants and readers of M-I decide that this topic really is worth discussing.
For now I will note that there seems to be no shortage of would-be revolutionary thinkers who make arguments to the effect that--if this thing really emerges as a threat to bourgeois rule--the bourgeoisie can simply "pull the plug".
What this argument overlooks is that the central role the communications infrastructure will play in the economy--will mean that the bourgeoisie will not be able to "pull the plug" without crippling the economy. Would the bourgeoisie cripple their own economy in order to prolong their class rule ? Yes, they would--but this does not become a viable option in the long run. Any ruling class in the modern world that cripples its own economy tends not to fare very well in the long run. A man can hold his breath also--for a period of time. But he can't do it for very long. Similarly, the bourgeoisie of any country will not be able to "pull the plug" for any length of time--without dire effect and a rapidly escalating crisis.
Censorship ?
Similar arguments apply to the possibility of censorship by the bourgeoisie. Today there is no lack of people (and even governments) that believe that they will be able to censor the internet. There are all sorts of schemes to build national firewalls (ie: the great firewall of China, etc), lock out troublesome foreign news sites and arrest internal troublemakers. Good luck. The problem with all such schemes is that they result in crippling the growth of the communications infrastructure and put the country with such a crippled infrastructure at a major disadvantage in relation to other countries with which it must compete.
There will be some cooperation among the international bourgeoisie to deal with the common threat they all face from the communications revolution (recent diplomatic activity to organize a united bourgeois front--to deal with the "threat" of encryption is an example of this). But this will not alter the fundamental forces at work. The current Chinese government, for example, will be lucky to hold out 10 years against the "spiritual pollution" against which its net censorship is aimed.
Will the masses be able
to actually use the weapon
of many-to-many communications ?
That will be a discussion for another day. I have already drawn my conclusion. Some reformist trends have already drawn theirs. For example, "Monthly Review" came out with a special issue (July-Aug 1996) on "Capitalism and the Information Age" where they ridicule "the extravagances of the technophiles" which "stem from the belief that once the information is available political power will fall, or perhaps drift into the hands of the many" (see the only article in that issue that bothered to deal with this question: "Democracy and the New Technologies" by Ken Hirschkop).
There is a grain of truth in Hirschkop's argument. Hirschkop argues that the masses will not gain power without a struggle requiring courage and political organization. And this is true. What Hirschkop overlooks, however, is a "trifle":
  • the communications revolution
    will connect the masses to one another--
    and this will catalyze their courage
    to create their own political organization
    and overthrow bourgeois rule.
(Please see appendices for charts, stats and additional commentary)