Lenin & Hegel, again

Alex Trotter uburoi at panix.com
Wed Nov 29 20:06:56 MST 1995


It still seems to me that Lenin was upholding a theory of merely
contemplative materialism in MAEC of the sort that Marx criticized
Feuerbach and Buechner for in his Paris days. The reason that Korsch
accused Lenin of returning to Kant pure and simple seems to involve the
idea that Lenin was resurrecting an almost kantian subject-object
dualism, with absolute separation of mind (consciouness) and matter (being),
the former being only a reflection of the latter. The truly dialectical
(and revolutionary) view upholds, according to Lukacs, *identity* of
subject and object (totality). Consciousness then becomes an active
agent, a co-creator of social reality, and not just a passive reflection
of purely *objective* processes. The view that Lenin adopted seems to
have had political consequences, linked with the ideology of
'consciousness-from-outside': the proletariat in Leninist theory is no
longer a true subject, but once again an object under the tutelage of the
Party (i.e., intellectuals, "professional revolutionaries"). Pannekoek,
who cleaved to a "state-capitalist" theory about the USSR, had this to
say in *Lenin as Philosopher*:

"...a combination of middle-class materialism and the marxian doctrine of
social development, adorned with some dialectic terminology--was, under
the name 'Leninism,' proclaimed the official State-philosophy. It was the
right doctrine for the Russian intellectuals who, now that natural
science and technics formed the basis of a rapidly developing production
system under their direction, saw the future open up before them as the
ruling class of an immense empire."

What did Marx say about this? He seems to have been of two minds about
it, at different times: "Natural science will in time subsume the science
of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science: there
will be one science" (1844 MAnuscripts). This sounds as if it would be
consonant with diamat. But he also said, in a more hegelian mode, that
the sciences "would be superfluous if the form in which they appear
coincided directly with their reality" (subject-object identity, and even
the sublation [*Aufhebung*] of science!).

I wonder then how Ralph can say that he sees no conflict between the
different phases of Lenin's thinking represented by MAEC on the one hand,
and the *Hegel Notebooks* on the other. If not, then why would Lenin have
remarked in the latter work that none of the Marxists for the last
half-century (preceding 1915) truly understood Marx and dialectics
(presumably including himself)?

One more thought concerning Ralph's defense of diamat: If Ralph is willing
to say that Althusser can be judged just by the kind of people who admire
him, what can he say about the kind of people who admire diamat?--after
all, 99% of them (with the exception of certain iconoclasts such as
C.L.R. James and Mr. Dumain himself) have been stalinoids of various stripes.
Is it because Ralph feels that, in order to combat the influence of the
porkchop preachers, the masses first have to be won over to a simple
materialism, and only later can they understand dialectics?

--AT





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