Dialectics, the ruling of conscious revolutionary action

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Fri Sep 22 07:16:00 MDT 1995

Jerry writes:

>Marx rejected a perspective that attempted to understand the world
>entirely through logical means because such a perspective, prior to Marx,
>abstracted from material reality and the ways in which social and
>historical forces enter into the process of human understanding. He did
>not reject dialectical logic per se (show me one quote from the mature
>Marx where he ever said he rejected the dialectical method in its
>entirety?). Logic was indeed viewed as "alienated thought" and "idealist"
>when it fails to account for the contradictory ways in which social
>reality (and the forces that affect that reality) affect history and one's
>By viewing Marxism narrowly as a "science" and by abstracting from Marx's
>other purposes in writing _Capital_, Juan has fallen into the trap of
>expressing Marx's thought and human understanding in abstract form --
>which is a inversion of Marx's materialist method.

Jerry's identification between dialectical _logic_ and dialectical _method_
condenses the whole question of the development of science as a necessary
concrete form of the proletariat's conscious revolutionary action. I will
summarize here again, even in a more concise way that what I did before,
what I find concerning it.

a) Marx's developments concerning scientific method

In the 1844 Manuscripts, Marx points out how Hegel's philosophy subsumes in
itself philosophy as such by placing logic, the "alienated thought that
abstracts from real forms," as its essence. In his Theses on Feuerbach
(1845), Marx opposes the interpretation of the world to the transformation
of the world. In The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Marx develops the
specific critique of dialectical logic, not Hegel's or Proudhon's _use_ of
it, but dialectical logic as such. In Grundrisse (1857-8), Marx points out
the specificity of this new scientific method and presents it as opposed to
representation: "the reproduction of the concrete through the path of
thought." In Capital (1867), Marx accomplishes the original development of
the ideal reproduction of the specificity of the present-day process of
social metabolism, of capitalism, until discovering its necessity to
annihilate itself in the conscious regulation of the process of social
metabolism, through the conscious revolutionary action of the proletariat.
In his Afterword to the second edition of Capital (1873), Marx presents his
method as _dialectics placed right side up after Hegel's inversion." In his
Notes on Wagner (1880), one of his latest writings, Marx rejects he has
resorted to a logic in Capital, in the same terms he has used in his
critique to dialectical logic in The Poverty of Philosophy. Conversely,
there is not a single reference in Marx about his mature dialectical method
being based on a logic.

I have presented all the corresponding quotations in previous posts (and,
of course, I can post them again on request). In none of them, Marx
critique points to a supposed misuse by the criticized author of logic in
general or of dialectical logic, or Marx demands that logic should be given
a materialistic base. On the contrary, Marx presents Hegel's idealism as
the coherent result of taking logic to its higher expression and Proudhon's
self-contradictions as the unavoidable result of the attempt to introduce
historical material reality into dialectical logic.

Marx starts by pointing out that logic is the essence of Hegel's
dialectics, to arrive at the conclusion that Hegel has inverted dialectics:
logic itself is the concrete form taken by this inversion. What Marx
actually does is to criticize logic in general and dialectical logic for
being systems of ideal necessity that take the place of the real
determinations when these are represented in thought, thus turning all real
forms into abstractions. Malgre Jerry's unfounded assertion on the contrary
(give concrete references from Marx himself Jerry, not Marxists
commonplaces), Marx does criticize dialectical logic per se.

Could Marx have developed this explicit and unconditioned critic of logic
in general and specifically of dialectical logic, just to produce another
dialectical logic? Or is the true fact that Marx has developed a
revolutionarily new form of scientific cognition, "dialectics," that
overcomes the externality inherent in logic with respect to the real
necessity it _represents_, to _reproduce_ this real necessity by following
its real development in thought?

Jerry, and Marxists in general, are convinced of the former. I develop the
latter. But, is it all about an intellectual subtlety?

b) The scope of the logical representation of reality

Any scientific theory is, above all, a _representation_ of reality in
thought. As such representation, all scientific theories result from a
constructive process carried out in thought, following a necessity inherent
to this process itself, i.e., a _logic_.

Given the externality of this ideal necessity with respect to the real
necessity it represents, scientific theories cannot go beyond being the
formulation of hypothesis about the reality that exists in potency. And as
scientific theory itself has already shown, there is no logical way of
reaching the certitude about the content of reality of theoretical
hypothesis previously to the action based upon them. So this action is
always ruled through an _interpretation_ of reality, a cognition that is
logically conscious of its incapacity for going beyond certain appearance
concerning its own necessity. As far as an interpretation of reality comes
in, the corresponding real necessity remains beyond cognition's scope.

Does it really matter?

c) Socialism/Communism

Socialism/Communism is the general conscious regulation of the process of
social metabolism; in other words, the community of the freely associated
individuals, of the individuals that consciously rule their social process
of life by cognizing, each of them, his/her own determinations as a
concrete individual subject of the social subject.

Given its very form, the general conscious regulation of human life needs
that each individual goes beyond any appearance, and therefore, of any
_interpretation_ concerning his/her own necessity. Conversely, as long as
scientific cognition is condemned to operate with the appearances of the
real forms, the direct general conscious regulation of human life, that is,
the community of the freely associated individuals, socialism or communism,
is an utopia!

The question of scientific cognition having the form of a logical
representation of reality by nature or of scientific cognition overcoming
interpretation by taking the revolutionary new form of a reproduction of
reality in thought does matter!

 But, does it matter today?

d) The construction of Socialism/Communism

Since Socialism/Communism presupposes the capacity for a scientific
cognition that overcomes the appearances inherent in the logical
representations of reality, the development of this overcoming necessarily
inheres in the process of revolutionarily overcoming the general autonomous
regulation of social metabolism, of capitalism

By facing a real concrete form, our present-day general social relation,
capital, Marx finds that it is possible to analytically discover the
necessity that determines a real form and to follow thereafter its
development until reproducing it in thought. Moreover, Marx discovers that
this reproduction is not an abstract question that just concerns scientific
method as such. He discovers that this reproduction is the concrete form
that the revolutionary production of the consciously regulated society
necessarily takes: this production needs to materializes itself in the
conscious action that is determined as such for being regulated through the
reproduction in thought of its own necessity as such revolutionary action.
And this is what Capital is about.

Only because it is strictly a product of scientific cognition from the
beginning to the end, Capital gives to the ruling of the proletariat's
conscious revolutionary action the power of being a process of scientific
_recognition_ from the social point of view, in what concerns the specific
concrete forms of capital it reaches. And only because scientific cognition
is determined by its specific form of the ideal reproduction of reality as
a class product, as the proletariat's science, scientific cognition frees
itself from any ideological determination.

But does the materiality itself of real forms allow their necessity to be
reproduced in thought?

d) The forms of scientific cognition (from a previous post)

The subjects of the cognition by means of ideas always starts by facing
their object as something external to themselves as such subjects. Under
its simplest form, this cognition reaches the necessity of the subject's
own action just insofar as this one virtually manifests itself to the
subject's mind as an immediate link between the mutual necessity of subject
and object. Consequently, such form of cognition does not go beyond the
very exteriority of the subject and of its object. It is determined, thus,
as an _immediate_ ideal cognition.

This cognition develops into cognition by means of thought when the subject
goes beyond the immediate concrete forms to discover their necessity as
realizations of their abstract forms. Nevertheless, on performing this
advance, the subject comes up, first of all, against the exteriority of the
abstract forms themselves; that is to say, the subject starts by ideally
facing the abstract forms in what these forms have of realized necessity,
under their appearance as purely concrete forms. From which, the
appropriation of a real necessity in thought takes its most primitive
specific form by ideally placing by itself in a causal relation the real
forms (abstract and concrete ones) starting from the way they present
themselves to it; that is, by mentally conceiving links among the real
forms on the basis of their exteriority; and, therefore, independently from
their necessity. Cognition becomes a mental construction that follows a
causality alien to the real one: the ideal _representation_ of reality.
Logic is the scientific general form of this mental necessity. The analysis
inherent in scientific representation, that is, in scientific theory,
separates the abstract forms according to their degree of repetition, thus
stopping at their externality. The return towards the concrete forms that
comes after this analysis, takes shape in the addition of the
non-repeating, and consequently previously excluded forms, to the
representation. This process has no other necessity to follow than the
purely constructive one dictated by its logic. Hence, the unavoidable
externality of its result with regard to the real necessity that the action
aims at realizing.

The appropriation in thought of the real forms in their virtuality
transcends the exteriority of these forms by ideally accompanying them in
the unfolding of their real necessity. In this way, scientific cognition
mentally reproduces their real concatenations, thus taking the form of an
ideal _reproduction_ of reality. This cognition has no way of proceeding
other than by making each real concrete form account for the necessity that
it carries in itself as already realized, and each abstract real form, for
the development of the necessity to be realized which it is. The analysis
separates the concrete form that we face, from the necessity that it
carries in itself as the other-one whose realization determines it. That
is, it takes shape in the discovering, inside the concrete form (and as
such, realized necessity), of its abstract form (and as such, necessity to
be realized). The reproduction of reality in thought advances by following
the development of the necessity that the simplest abstract form carries in
itself. As soon as this abstract form realizes its necessity, i.e., it
affirms itself as an abstract form, it negates itself as such abstract form
to affirm itself as a realized necessity, i.e., as a concrete form. But
this concrete form immediately negates itself as such, affirming itself as
a form that carries in itself a necessity to be realized, i.e., as a new
abstract form. This reproduction of the development of the real necessity
by means of thought is unable to get to its end before reaching a form
whose necessity exists only as a potency, and this potency has our
transforming action, determined as an action that has needed to follow all
this path to become a conscious action, as its necessary form of realizing
itself. That is, it is unable to get to its end until our action can
discover its own concrete form of conscious action, i.e., can discover
itself, as the necessary concrete form of the realization of the real
potencies at stake. Due to this form of its method, the ideal reproduction
of reality is determined as _dialectical cognition_.

Why is it that this dialectical cognition is not the general form of
science today?

e) The historical specificity of the logical representation

We have already seen the historical specificity of the development of the
reproduction of real forms in thought as the necessary concrete form in
which the conscious regulation of the proletariat's revolutionary action
takes shape. But what about the historical specificity of the logical
representation of real forms?

Capital's necessity concerning scientific cognition faces a contradiction.
To increase relative surplus-value, capital is compelled to submit all
production and consumption to science. Nevertheless, insofar as scientific
cognition is a concrete form of capital's simple necessity to valorize
itself, science has no way of overcoming the alienation of human
consciousness in capital. _Scientific theory is this contradiction solved_.
Scientific theory represents real concatenations considering the forms
where the necessity is already realized - concrete forms - as if they were
not, at the same time, forms that carry in themselves a necessity to be
realized - abstract forms. It thus puts the real forms as forms unable to
move by themselves. From this point of view, only an external relation fits
between them. It is here that _logic_ comes in.

Placed as being incapable of moving by themselves, the real forms are
represented as forms that affirm themselves through the appearance of being
abstract immediate affirmations. This appearance really corresponds to the
self-affirming by means of the negation of self-negation- i.e., to the real
quantitative determination, abstractly considered. The logic of scientific
theory is, by nature, the logic that genuinely belongs to mathematics. Of
course, to be used to structure the representation of qualitatively
different forms in general, it must be emptied of the specificity it gets
from the specificity of its object, i.e., the specificity of the
quantitative determination. Consequently, scientific theory represents it
as _formal_ logic. Based on this logic, it represents the real abstract
determinations by the relations of measure of their concrete forms. This
representation allows the conscious regulation of action upon real forms:
although the real necessity at stake is not truly known, it is possible to
act upon the magnitude of the real forms, transforming their quantity until
making it correspond to that of a qualitatively different form, thus
transforming their quality itself.

But what about _dialectic materialist_ logic?

Dialectic materialist logic does nothing but to take the same abstract
immediate affirmation as the simplest form of real affirmation. Its only
specificity arises from representing each of these affirmations as
necessarily being united to another one of its same nature, which appears
to be opposed to it. That is to say, the simplest real determination, the
self-affirming by means of self-negation, is represented as an external
abstract relation between opposites. From which, the formulation of
dialectical logic can only get to generically enunciate its specificity.
Beyond this point, it has no substance left other than the one of the
formal logic it carries in itself. So, when it attempts to face any
concrete question it immediately ends up reduced to this logic.

Nevertheless, it suffices with that generic enunciation to represent the
historical necessity of capital to annihilate itself in its own development
and into the conscious regulation of human life, through the conscious
revolutionary action of the proletariat (and therefore, through an action
that needs to cognize itself as what it is, not an abstract expression of
free consciousness, but the alienated consciousness that negates itself as
such, the negation of the negation of free consciousness) as an abstractly
free action that externally opposes itself by itself to capital. As far as
this action stops the cognition of its necessity at its own appearance, it
cannot rule itself by accounting for its own necessity in its integrity,
and therefore, it is actually determined not as the conscious action in
which the construction of communism/socialism needs to take concrete shape,
but as an action impotent in itself to develop the general social relation
beyond the limits of the production and appropriation of surplus-value.

I hope that Jerry (and, of course, anyone else interested in it) will
critically reply this post by following my developments step by step and
pointing out the concrete points in which his own findings disagree with
mine. And I only _hope_ it because, as I said, I face the Marxism list as
_a_ (nb, very far from _the_) proper place for the political struggle in
which the development of science as the concrete form of conscious
revolutionary action can take shape, but contrary to what Jerry supposes I
"must feel," I do not assume "that we all use (or try to use) a scientific
method in our discourse" here. And, yet, since conscious revolutionary
action needs of scientific method to be such, why should we take any
attempt to discuss about scientific method that is not based itself on a
scientific method as something just given by nature ("the nature of the
list"), and not as a form of the present-day alienation of human
consciousness we need to overcome? It happens that I do not use "very
abstract concepts." What I do is to follow the real determinations into
their necessary concrete forms.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar

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