Marxist Dialectics Today

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B 809.8 .M379







"Social Sciences Today" Editorial Board USSR Academy of Sciences

Moscow, 1979

EDITORIAL COUNCIL FEDOSEYEV P.V., Academician, Chairman GRIGULEVICH I.R., D.Sc.(Hist.), Deputy Chairman MASLOVA N·.I., Executive Secretary . Members AFANASYEV V.G., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

KAPUSTIN E.I., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

ARBATOV G.A., Academician

KHACHATUROV T.S., Academician

BOGOMOLOV 0. T., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of �ciences

KHRAPCHENKO M.B., Academician

BROMLEY Yu.V., Academician FROLOV I .T., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences GAPOCHKA M.P., Cand.Sc.(Pb.ilos.)

KOVAL B.I., D.Sc.(Hist.)

KRIVTSOV V.A., D.Sc.(Hist.)

GURYEV I.E., Cand.Sc.(Econ.) GVISHI.ANI J.M. , Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences INOZEMTSEV N. N., Academician



KUZNETSOV D.V. � Cand.Sc.(Hist. J MARKOV D.F., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

.Social Sciences Today, 2nd edition,


KOVALCHENKO I.D., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

GROMYKO An.A., D.Sc.(Hist.)


KOMKOV G.D. t D.Sc.(Hist. J



The collection is reprinted at the request of our readers and distributors Reprints authorised with written permission from the Editorial Board

MCHEDLOV .M.P. D.Sc. (Pb.ilos.


SHIRYAEV Yu.s. D.Sc. (Econ.)

MOMDJAN Kh.N. D.Sc. (Pb.ilos.


TIKHVINSKY S. L. , Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

NAROCHNITSKY A .L., Academician


Tll40FEYEV T. T. , Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

OKLADNIKOV A.P., Academician PIOTROVSKY B.B., Academician

TRUKHANOVSKY V.G. Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

PRIMAKOV E.M., Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

VINOGRADOV V.A • , Corresponding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences

SEMYONOV V.S. D.Sc . (Pb.ilos.

VOISKY V. V. � D.Sc. (Econ. J


ZHILIN P.A., Cor:1:·es.l:)Onding Member, USSR Academy of Sciences


ZHUKOV E.M., Academician


-------- ··· -------

Execut i ve Se cre t ary o f


"Problems of t he

C ont emporary World" series M.Goncharuk

Editorial Office:

33/12 Arbat,

Moscow 121002, USSR


Present-Day Problems of tb.e Theory of Materialist Dialectics • • • • • • • • • P. Fedoseyev

Leninism Versus Subjectivism and Objectivism • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


• • •


Lenin's Plans for Elaborating the Tb.eory of Materialist Dialectics •

B. Kedrov

The Marxist-Leninist View of Dia­ lectics as the Tb.eory of Knowledge and Logic • • • • . • . • • . • • . • • . . • • . • . • • •

P. Kopnin

M. Rozental

How Philosopb.ical Categories Develop • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •



• • • • • • •


I. Frolov

Organic Determinism, Teleology and the Purposive Approach in Research

E. Ilyenkov

Lenin and the Hegelian Conception of Tb.inking • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

D. Gorsky

• •

Advance Reflection of Reality at the L evel of Human Cognition • • • •

Editors: v. L orentson, Cand.Sc.(Pedagogy) B. Yudin, Cand.Sc.(Pb.ilosopby) Published in English, French and Spanish

131 • •


• • •



There is need for ever greater attention to various aspects of the further development of Marxist-Leninist theory in view of the grand processes taking place in the world: the involvement of the peoples in the active making of history, the progress of the world socialist system in building a new society, the consol�dation of the peace­ loving forces in the struggle for international detente, and the unfolding of scientific and technical revolution. It was stressed at the 24th Congress of the CPSU that a for­ ward-looking revolutionary theory was the only basis for

forecasting the course of complex processes in our day and

formulating in scientific terms the strategy and tactics of the Communist Parties in the struggle for socialism and communism. The Marxist-Leninist doctrine, with materialist dialectics as its integral part, being developed by the col­ lective efforts of the Communist Parties and the Marxists of all countries, provides


invaluable instrument for the

scientific solution of the new problems arising from social development and the advance of modern scientific knowledge. The exceptional importance attached by the founders of Marxism-Leninism to meterialist dialectics as the central element of Marxist scientific views is well known. At every stage of their activity, Marx, Engels and Lenin constantly •

Editorial article in the journal Voprosy filosofii (Problems of Philosophy), No.6, 1972.

- 5 -

looked to.materialist dialectics, which they regarded as a theoretical instrument t�t is to make human thought flexible and mobile. They believed Marxist science was crea­ tive because of its method, "restless" element

and regarded dialectics as that

in Marx'ism whi�h kept advancing it and

maintaining the link-up between theory and social and scientific practice. Lenin said dialectics was the soul of Marxism, the most profound and comprehensive theory of the development of natural and social reality,

the taproot

which gives Marxist theory its creative and critical revolu­ tionary spirit,

the spirit of indomitable and ceaseless

advance. He regarded it as the earnest of successful solu­ tion of the most complicated political and socio-economic problems arising in the historical process. It is quite natural that just before and as he was formulating the theory of imperialism, which equipped the Communist Party with a clear understanding of the specifics of the new epoch and which helped it to formulate the correct political line that .led to the triumph of the October Revolution, Lenin made a special study of the problems of dialectics. The organic connection between the creative character of Marxism-Leninism and its method,

and the l atter's tremen­

dous role in creating Marxism's integrated and coherent system of views on the development of natural and social reality and on the regularities of its cognition explain


the Marxist-Leninist parties and Marxist philosophers have always concentrated on the problems of materialist dialec­ tics. The-present historical epoch shows most clearly the intricate dialectical nature of the historical process and the development of scientific cognition, enhancing the role and importance of materialist dialectics in social life and in every sphere of science and culture. A beneficial effect has been exerted on the development of materialist dialectics, as on the whole of Marxist-Leni­ nist philosophical science,

by the historic decisions of

the CPSU and the policy documents of the international com­ munist and workers• movement. The resolution of the CPSU

- 6 -

Central Committee "On Measures for Further Developing the Social Sciences and Enh


Their Role in Communist Con­

struction" and the decisions of the 24th Congress of the


CPSU have outlined the prospects for the further conso ida­ tion of the ties between Marxist-Leninist theory and socio­ historical practice. These documents forcefully emphasise the role played by Marxist-Leninist theory in the solution of the vital tasks of the world revolutionary process, the construction of socialism and communism, and the develop­ ment of present-day scientific knowledge. Orientation upon the tackling of urgent problems of historical practice and scientific cognition, with a simultaneous overcoming of the elements of the scholastic and commentatory approach to the formulation and elaboration of fundamental problems in Marxist philosophical science, and consistent implementation of the principle of

Party commitment in the sphere of phi­

losophical thought and resolute struggle against every type of ideological adversary of Marxism have raised research in the field of dialectical materialism to the level of the requirements made on us by modern scientific and social practice. The level of research in the sphere of di alectical materialism has risen substantially,

with successful efforts

being made to enrich and extend the range of problems and the system of categories in materialist dial�ctics. Soviet

philosophers have published a number of imp ortant works

analysing many fundamental problems of di alectics as a philo­ sophical science

(the method of ascent from the abstract to

the concrete, the relationship historical mode of research, theoretical systems,

between the logical and the

the dialectic of structuring

etc .). Almost ffVery one of the funda­

mental categories of materialist dialectics has become the subject of monographic studies . Special mention should be made of the important results achieved in studying catego­ ries like "dialectical contradiction," "quantity-quality," "form-content, " "part-whole," "thing-property-relation." There was intensive discussion of the principles for struc-

- 7 -

turing a system of dialectical categories,

and different

variants of such a system have been produced. In some books an attempt has been made at giving a systematic exposition

of the problems of dialectical logic. An important role in el� the problems of the theory of materialist dialectics has been played by the study of the theoretical legacy of the founders of dialecti­ cal materialism. The study of the problems of dialectics in the works by the Marxist classics (above all Capital, l4ate­ rialism and Empiric-Criticism, and Philosophical Notebooks), and the writing of works dealing specially with the history of Marxist dialectics were not only an advance in the study of the history and development of the philosophy of Marxism but also helped to bring out the present-day problems of dialectics. In fulfilment of Lenin's precept,

philosophers made a

comprehensive analysis of the dialectical methodology of Marx's Capital. An especially great contribution to this analysis has been made by Soviet scientists. Their analysis of the dialectical structure of Capital

has enabled them to

produce a full-scale formulation of the problems which have a direct bearing on the requirements of modern science, like the elaboration of the methodology of research into integral formations, the problem of the relationship between the •

diachronic and the syn.chronic in theoretical research, and the specifics of mastering reality by means of scientific theory. The study by Soviet philosophers of Lenin's classical worka--Materialism and Empiric-Criticism and Pbilo­ .§.Qlij�ical Notebooks--and especially their comprehension of Lenin's proposition concerning the identity of d ialectics, logics and the theory of knowledge in the philosophy of Marxism have proved to be exceptionally fruitful. There has been intensive and fruitful work, light of materialist dialectics,

in the

on theoretico-epi.atemolo­

gical and methodological problems in present-day scientific knowledge:

the structure and typology of scientific theories,

- 8 -

the relationship between the theoretical and empirical


levels of scientific re earch,

the logic of the formation

and development of scientific concepts,

the nature and

structure of various methods in scientific research,


Considerable research has been done into the prerequisites

and mechanisms of the formation of new knowledge in science, into the establishment of the regularities in process of cor­ relating theory with objective reality, and into the role of practice in knowledge. In studying the specific features of the development of scientific knowledge and analysing the logical structure of scientific research and the ways of its display in the contest of scientific discoveries, Soviet philosophers proceed from Lenin's idea of the fundamental unity of the characteristics of being,


objective reali­

ty and the process of cognition of this reality. In view of this specific feature of Marxist philosophy,

Soviet scien­

tists have devoted considerable attention to developing and concretising,

on the strength of data from modern science,

the dialectico-materialist theory of the structure and pro­ perties of matter. There has been detailed consideration of such general principles of materialist dialectics as the principle of the inexhaustibility of matter, unity of the world,

the material

and the principles of development and

determinism. Positive changes are also in evidence in the elaboration of dialectics as the methodological basis of the social sciences. A number of works have been published to show the dialectic of the historical process,

the objective

logic of social development and the methodological questions of social cognition. These achievements of Soviet philosophers provide the basis which makes possible further progress



dialectics as a philosophical science.




Let us now turn to the elaboration of the theory of materialist dialectics as a coherent philosophical system with the unity of its ideological and methodological aspects.

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This implies, in particular, the production of generalising works summing' up what has been done by Soviet philosophers in elaborating the whole complex of problems in materialist dialectics. The task of producing a generalised picture characterising the categorial syst�m of present-day scienti­ fic thought, the dialectic o:t: present-day social change is pressing and important, and the state of .research in this . field makes it possible to raise the task. The effort to structure materialist dialectics in the form of a coherent philosophical and methodological system can be of scientific importance only if the generalisation and systematisa�ion of what has been done.. go hand in hand with meaningful research into problems and analysis of pres­ sing philosophical and methodological problems. Science and social practice ch · ange constantly, giving rise to new problems, and the categories of dialectics reflecting them cannot but change and be enriched with new content as well. Materialist dialectics, being the most comprehensive and profound theory of development, is itself in a state of constant development because it is most closely connected with reality, with the activity of mankind's progressive '

forces in the cognition and transformation of the world. Therein lies the earnest of its fruitfulness and scientific nature. Naturally the production of Marxist works summing up advances in theory of dialectics implies not only synthesis, not only generalisation· and systematisation of what has been done out also analytical research, creative elaboration of a whole series·of fundamental problems and spheres in the

theory of dialectics. The specific development of modern natural science, the socio-political transformations, the scientific and technological revolution and the present state of Soviet philosophical science require discussion, on a new level, of some fundamental questions bearing on this

field of Marxist philosophical knowledge, and a more pro­ found analysis of the methods which make research into the

- 10 -

theory of dialectics truly fruitful. Let us look at some of these questions. Of fwidamental importance in understanding the speci­ fics of the Marxist mode of research and interpretation of dialectics is Lenin's famous thesis on the identity of dia­ lectics, logic and the theory of knowledge. This thesis is of decisive importance for a correct understanding of the content and structure of materialist dialectics, its rela­ tionship with the natural and the social sciences, and for determining the direction and means of its further elabora­ tion. It stresses the specific feature of materialist dia­ lectics as a fundamentally new type of philosophical know­ ledge in which the study of the ob jective laws of develop� ment and that of the laws of reflection of ob jective reality in cognition are indissolubly connected. From this thesis it follows that in Marxist philosophy there can be no "pure epistemology" or "pure ontology". "Pure epistemology", that is,


analysis of cognition

that ignores the ontological prerequisites of knowledge, its ob jective determination, and the fact that cognition is included in the ob jectively real practical and social acti­ vity of cognising man, would correspond to the Kantian and neo-Kantian interpretation of the theory of knowledge rather than to the

.Marxist-Leninist interpretation of it. The

history of philosophy tells us that the "purely epistemolo­ gical" approach inevitably produces insoluble difficulties of philosophical order, the difficulties which become especially tangible in the attempts to apply it to the analysis of cognition. The point is that in the framework of this conception it turns out to be impossible to indicate any precise criterion to differentiate the philosophical and the specially scientific (notably psychological) analysis of cogn�tion. A "purely ontological" interpretation of Marxist dia­ lectics would be equally false. Interpretation of the cate­ gories of materialist dialectics as "purely ontological" substances could in practice lead, first, to a situation in - 11 -

whic h the elaboration of the t heory of t he Marxist materia­ list dialec tics c ould be reduc ed to a p eculiar "labelling" of philo sop hical c at eg ories on t he ready-made c ontent of spec ial scient ific knowledge c haracterising t he present level of c ognition of obj ectiv e reality,



analysis of the role of the categories of dialectics have

to play in obtaining, pro ducing scient ific knowl edge; '

sec ond, to a s ituation


whic h the crit erion allowing a

distinct ion b etween general p hilosophical cat egori es , the categories of dialectics , from the most gen eral c onc epts of natural s cienc es, would b e lost . The truly s c i entific approa c h t o t he elaboration of t h e cat egories of dial ectic s flows from Engels'

propo s it i on

that materialist dialectics mak es a study o f t he mo st g ene­ ral laws in the development of nature , s o c i ety , and t ho ug ht, and also from Lenin's above-menti oned t hesis on t he identi­ ty


Marxism of dialectics , logic and the theory of know­

ledge. This approach is based, on the one hand, on the fact t hat t he categories of dialectics are not s ome kind o f "sub­ jective a id" f or man , but are a reflection of the universal c haracteristic s of obj ective reality , and on t he ot her , on the clarification of the obj ective ( "ontological" ) meaning of t his or that category its elf' , whic h implies



tion of the c o gnit ive c ontent of t his c at eg ory and of its met hodological role A


t he production of kn owledge .

true "ontological p icture" o f the object in whic h

the cat eg ories of dialectics have a definit e role to play can be produc ed only aft er the c ognitiv e function of thes e c at egories has been bro ught out . _On t he other hand, i t is impo s s ible to understand the c ognitive function of the cat egories without c ons idering their obj ective "ontological" meaning . Cons equently, t he p hilosophy of dialectical mate­ rialism overcomes t he absolute counterp osin g of ontology and ep istemol ogy, which is c haracteristic of the most trends in non-Marxist p hilosop hy. Marxism links up the scient ific way of elaborating the c at egories of dial ectics wit h t he fundamental question of p hilos ophy , the relati ons hip b etween - 12 -

consciousness and being , between t he subj ect and the obj ect . This mode of research i� simultaneously methodological and profoundly p hilo sop hical in its very essenc e. A study of the dialect ical pro c esses in reality , of social practice and of the development of scient ific know­ l edge an d reflection of thes e pro cesses in the complex mutual c onnections and relat ions hips of dialect ical categ o­ ries is the main way for developing the t heory of mat eria­ list di al ectics . The art of operating wit h c oncepts , includ­ ing c at eg ories , Lenin said, " always demands a study of t he mov ement of c onc epts of t heir int erc onnection , of their 1 mutual transitions . 11 What modes of elaborating dialectical cat egories are the most promising and s c ientifically imp ortant? It would hardly be right , f or instan c e , to orient ones elf upon the ·" pur ely deductive" derivat ion of some ostens ibly "final" relations hips between the cat egories of dialectics ( say , development and mot ion , t he infinite and f init e , etc . ) . Actually , the categories of dialectics are not a collection of ready-made and in t hems elves c ompleted "abs olut e" bits of knowledg e , whos e relations hips the res earcher allegedly brings o ut wit h t he aid of logical deduction. The cont ent of t he c at egories develops and changes with the development of human cognition and s oc ial

practic e , as fres h aspects

and facets ar e bro ug ht o ut in t he categories , as their rela­

t i ons hips c hang e , forming new meaningful c at egorial struc­ tures. The theory of materialist dialectics is not some " deductive" discipline: it c annot

be abstracted from the

study of development and change of knowledge . The c urrent scientific and t echnological revolution has pos ed most acut ely the problem of analysing t he logical structure of scien c e , notably, the logical function of the c at egories of dialectic s in t he production of sc ientific knowledge. Nor does t his imply alone t hat the c hanged role of science poses bef ore society the management of science


V . I . Lenin , Collected Works , Moscow , Vol. 38 , p . 253. - 13 -


as a practical and primary task,

implies a knowledge of the latter.

for its part,

The especial importance

of analysing the logic of 'science also springs from the fact the scientific and technological revolution includes a fund8Jllental change of the logical structure of science it­ self as a necessary comp.onent


The: difference between modern

and classical science can be characterised by a number of the different role of mathematical formalisms,


the complexified relation­

of abstractions of a high order,

ship between the theoretical and the empirical level of knowledge,

the lesser role of visual models as a means for

interpreting abstract theories,


In the context of the problem being discussed here,


is most important to stress, however, the changing catego­ rial structure of scientific thinking, first,

which is expressed,

in the advance to the fore of categories that would

b.ave been in the b ackground in the period of classical natu­ ral science (for ex8.lllple, reali�y, and,

object-relation ,


necessity-chance, possibility­ whole-part,

subject-object, etc.)

in the change in the logical links between the

categories functioning in cognition. Although we have alrea­ dy many works dealing with the individual categories of dialectics,

virtually the first few steps are being taken

in analysing the categorial structure of modern scientific thinking in the light of the scientific and technological revolution. It is clear that in the analysis of the real practice of development of cognition and social life the elaboration of a coherent system of the categories of mate­ rialist dialectics must necessarily include the study of the impact of the scientific and technological revolution on the system of modern thinking,

the impact of science on

the character and style of philosophical thinking inclusive. It is also necessary to note the following circumstance. The Marxist study of the logical structure of science (in contrast, say,

to the neo-Kantian or neo-positivist) pro­

ceeds from the recognition that science and scientific cognition are not something contrasted to other forms of

- 14 -

c ognition and other types of human activity. In p articular, there is no s harp break �etween sc ientific and everyday c ognition. When making

a distinction between sc ientific and everyday c ognition one should b e clear that sc ience constan­ ly interacts with the latter. Unless thes e links are c onsi­ dered it is impossible to gain a c orrect understanding of

the logical structure of sc ienc e. Sc ience c annot be convert­ ed into a package of artificially c onstructed formalisms becaus e t he clarification of t he obj ective meaning of the latter necessarily implies their meaningful interpretation wit h the aid of c onventional language. Thus, the Marxist approac h to the analysis of cognition and the clarification of the r ole in it of t he c ategories of dialectics implies an analysis of the development of the forms of c o gnition, trans ition from pre-sc ientific to scien­ tific c o gnition, interaction between scientific and everyday c ognition and a historical change in the logical structure of the sc ienc e itse�. Clarification of the categorial structure whic h is sp ec ifically c haracteristic of mod ern scienc e implies analysis of earlier structures.


study of

thr, c ategories of dialectics as the apparatus of modern scientific t hought nec essarily implies a historical approa c h t o t h e analysis of c ognition, the appro ac h who s e importance was r ep eatedly emp ha s is ed by Marx, Engels and Lenin. We still find urgent Lenin's idea that t he Marxist theory of knowledge and dialectics s ho uld be formed from suc h fields of knowledge as the history of p hilosophy, the

history of cognition in general, the history of individual

sciences, the history of the mental development of the c hild and of animals, the bistory of language, p sychology and the 2 p hysiology of the s ens e organs. This do es not mean, of cours e, that the theory of dialectics sho uld rest entirely on the data of the above-mentioned fields of knowledge. Every Marxist accepts that materialist dialectic s must take

2 V.I. Lenin, Collect ed Works, Vol.38, p.353.

- 15 -

account of the data of all the natural and social sciences (including mathematics, physics, political economy, etc.). Lenin stressed another point, namely, the impossibility of a theoretical elaboration of Marxist dialectics without the historical approach to analysing cognition. But this ap­ proach, which implies an analysis :of science above all from the genetic standpoint (which is wby there is special \

mention of the "history of individual sciences" ) cannot be reduced to an analysis of the history of science. It includ­ es within itself " the history of cognition in general,"

notably the history of philosophy, the history of language, and at the same time


analysis of the history of indivi­

dual cognition in the form of " the mental development of the child and of animals," psychology, etc. Tb.ere is need for a "history of thought from the standpoint of the de­ velopment and application of the general concepts and cate­ gories of logic. n3 In other words, this implies a broad

programme of Marxist research into the ontogeny and pbylo­ geny of human cognition in their interaction.

The importance of this Leninist programme for a truly scientific elaboration of the theory of dialectics is es­ pecially clear today. x



In the modern epoch, with science exerting such a radi­ cal influence on social life, one of the key conditions for the fruitful development of materialist dialectics is the constant strengthening and improvement of the alliance be­ tween Marxist dialectics and natural science. This alliance is based on a common concern for the development of know­ ledge, a search for the truth. Indeed, it is with the help of materialist dialectics that scientific solutions can be

found for the philosophical problems arising in the course of natural science development. Tb.e development of science and scientific cognitjon is the living soul of the theory of

3 Ibid., p.177. - 16 -


dialectics itse f.

Materialist dialectics,

providing general

solutions for the methodqlogical problems which appear in every science in more concrete and specialised form in the course of its development, riches its own content.

simultaneously develops and en­

In the further elaboration of dia­

lecti?S as a philosophical science and the production of works summing up the theory of dialectics,

it is also impor­

tant to give attention ·to some of the problems connected with the nature of the division of labour in this field. particular,


there arises the question of the place of the

elaboration of philosophical and methodological problems, produced by the natural and the social sciences, velopment of the general theory of dialectics,

in the de­

a question

of the relationship between philosophers specialising in the problems of materialist dialectics in general philosophical form and those who analyse these problems on the strength

of data in this or that special science.

Here we are dealing

only with the different levels of analysis of the same set of problems.

In one instance,

this will be the general

philosophical level implying discussion and analysis of the problems of Marxist dialectics not only in connection with modern natural science data,

but also on the basis of con­

sideration of the data provided by the social sciences, modern social practice,

the long history of philosophy and

the whole history of human thought as a whole. instance,

In another

the general problems of the theory of dialectics

are analysed to the extent this is required by the needs in the development of this or that special natural science. The elaboration of all these problems can be success­ ful only when the two above-mentioned levels of analysis are not contrasted with each other but are harmonised and intere�t with each other,

and when the analysis of the gene­

ral fundamental problems of the tbeory of di alectics rests on the results of the study of particular problems of mate­ rialist dialectics,

logic and tht3 methodology of science�

- 17 -

The development of the theory of dialectics on the strength of data provided by the special sciences implies


of social science. This means analysis of dialectics as a


philosophical study not on�y of natural science but equally

theory of·socio-practical activity and a� the methodological

. al sciences, the sciences and philosophical basis of the soci.

of man. One-sided orientation of �esearch in the field of · dialectics on an analysis of philosophical problems posed by the development of modern natural science, with relatively little attention to the philosophico-methodological problems

in socio-humanitarian knowledge cannot promote the allround elaboration of the theory of Marxist dialectics as a world outlook and methodology fully applicable to any scientific cognition.

The truly scientific analysis of the fundamental

principles of m�terlalist dialectics (the dialectic

of sub­

ject and object, tt3 dialectical character of practical activity, the socio-historical of cognition, etc.) implies analysis of social phenomena. The socio-historical dimensions of human activity are seen by Marxism not merely as a particular form expressive of some extratemporal onto­ logical substances, but as a substantial component of the very content of fundamental concepts of materialist dialec­ tics, like practice, consciousness, cognition, the ideal, etc. Thus, fo� fundamental reasons Marxism rejects the con­ trast characteristic of pre-Marxist philosophy between the universal-metaphysical (ontological and epistemological) problems and philosophical problems in socio-humanitarian knowledge.

Let us recall that Marx, Engels and Lenin elabo­

rated dialectics in their writings precisely in connection with their scientific analysis of social reality. The need for a creative and comprehensive study of the dialectic of social processes, the dialectic of social cognition is dic­ tated by life itself, by the complexity and dynamism of _ social tendencies which run in different directions but

which nevertheless interact with each other, and contradic­ tions characteristic of the epoch of transition from capita-

- 18 -

lism to socialism,

the struggle between the capitalist and

the socialist systems,

the epoch of mature socialist society,

and the scientific and technological revolution. Without a profound understanding of the dialectic of social reality and of the place in it of different types of contradictions, the dialectical connection between the·laws of the function­ ing of social structures and the laws of their development and genesis,

and the relationships between progress and

regress it is impossible to produce a coherent scientific picture of the modern epoch. Nor can one ignore the fact that the complexification and differentiation of social cognition sharply raises the question of its provision with methodological principles. It is pertinent to note the fact that modern revisio­ nism,

which has proposed its own interpretation of Marxist


and has sought,

in particular,

the dialectic of practical human activity,

to reduce it to has tended mostly

to speculate on the difficult problems of the dialectic of social activity and social cognition.

The distortions of

the dialectic of social activity and cognition which are so widespread in present-day bourgeois philosophical writings are frequently presented as being a "precise interpretation" of Marx's dialectics. In this connection research into these problems is not some kind of "side-line" or "applied" field with respect to the elaboration of the general theory of materialist di alectics,

not just one of the "examples"

illustrating the general propositions of Marxist dialectics: outside the context of social analysis there can be no scientific understanding of the fundamental principles of materialist dialectics,

which means the whole of it itself.

Analysis of the dialectic of social processes and social cognition now appears as one of the most important forms of the elaboration of the general theory of Marxist dialectics. x



The regularities of present-day scientific cognition also have a full e ffect on the specific features of the pre-

- 19 -

sent stage in the elaboration of materialist dialectics as the logic and methodology of science. The internal differen­ tiation of methodological analysis itself ·has become a fact, branches of special scientific knowledge directly oriented upon an analysis of various aspect� of man's cognitive acti­ vity have emerged and are developing successfully. Without ceasing to be special sciences,


such modern sciences as

semiotics, the theory of information,

modern formal logic,

the systems and structural approach and others,

seek to

formulate definite methodological approaches and instru­ ments for studying scientific knowledge.

In this situation,

we find the acute question of the very status of the metho­ dology of science,

the question of what this discipline is:

does it have a ten4ency to develop into a special science distinct from philosophy? Should it,

in principle,


within the framework of philosophy in the mode of presen­ tation and analysis of its problems,

or should it be consi­

dered a peculiar synthesis of philosophical and special­ science components?

In tackling this important and complex problem one should apparently start from the assumption that in the methodology of science, as now constituted there exist dif­ ferent levels of study with their inherent methods and modes of analysis of the cognitive process·so that far from all of these could'1or should be directly classed as philosophi­ cal.

A substantial part of methodological experiments,

carried out with the aid of non-philosophical methods and instruments (for instance,

formal logical methods) has all

the essential marks of special-science research and does not in itself lay claim to formulating a general methodology of scientific cognition. This f unction can be assumed only by materialist dialectics as a philosophical science. Indeed, it is materialist dialectics that studies nature and the possibilities of scientific cognition,

the relation between

scientific knowledge and reality, the conditions in which it can be regarded as being true,

its genesis,



oriented upon a search of the universal principles of scien-

- 20 -

tific knowledge, the conditions in which it can be regarded as being true and authentic, the prerequisites and mecha­ nisms for the formation of new knowledge in science, materia­ list dialectics has the function of the universal and funda­ mental methodology of scientific cognition. In contrast to the special-science methods and modes

of analysis of scientific knowledge bearing on individual aspects of the cognitive process, materialist dialectics

considers all methodological problems in the light of the basic characteristics of the human attitude to the world, that is, in the form of the subject-object relation. In

materialist dialectics, knowledge itself is regarded as an aspect of a richer whole, which includes every form of human relation to reality in the context of the whole of social activity itself based on the productive activity of social man. This view of scientific cognition implies an analysis of the social mediation of the cognitLve process, the role of language, and the modes of operating with things worked out by the earlier development of human culture, and analy­ sis of the possibilities of cognition depending on its in­ clusion into different types of social activity, expressive, in

particular, of the practice of different classes. Special-science methods and instruments of analysis of

man's cognitive activity are a different matter. They per­ form the function of specific, ancillary methodological regulators in the advance of science towards the truth. The very possibility of applying this or that special-science apparatus to the analysis of man's cognitive activity and also the evaluation of the results obtained in this way depend on the definite prerequisites and concepts of the substance of man's cognitive activity, whose authenticity is not discussed within the framework of these disciplines themselves and which are in essence philosophical and gene­ rally methodological. All of this shows that the development of special-science instruments of analysis of the problems of methodology does not in any sense do away.with methodolo­

gy as a philosophical discipline or convert it into a branch - 21 -

of spec ial-sc ience knowledge . Any attempt at structuring a more or less c oherent system of methodology must necessarily result in the need for sp ecial analysis of p roblems like the nature of knowledg e , the character of its relation to reali­

ty , the nature of truth and the mo9-es of v erifying it , that is , of all thos e problems w.hose so lution nec es sitates the \

taking of a definite philos ophical stand. The c ol lap s e of the logic o-positivist c onc eptions of the logic of s c ience has visually demonstrated the impossibility of structuring a methodology of s c ienc e as a sp ecial-science discipline s ep arated from or opp os ed to a philosophical analysis of c ognition. Thus , the methodology of science is a c o mprehensive discipline taking shape on the bas�s of materialist dialec­ tic s with its inherent methods and forms of thinking and also from


c ons iderable number of non-philos ophical instru­

ments and methods of analysis . Th e c entral p lace in this complex-differentiated and developing wt?-ole belongs to mate­ rialist dialectics , which has the function of the universa l and fU?damental methodology o f scientific cognition . This overall solution of the problem c onc erning the status of methodo logy of s c ienc e does not imp ly a fac ile so lution for all the problems connec ted with defining the p lace and ro le of materialist dial ectics within the system of the methodo­ logical instruments of modern science. In practice it is

not always easy to draw a distinction b etween the philos ophi­ cal and the c oncrete scientif ic level, esp ec ially in v i ew'of the fact that sp ecial-science methods frequently claim to make a c ontribution of their own to the so lution of general methodological problems. Further int ensified e laboration of mat erialist dialec­ tics in the function of the logic and metho dology of modern s c ience imp lies broad dis cussion of such fundamental prob­ lems as philo sophy and the spec ial s c i ences , methods of obtaining and c onf'irming philosophical knowledge , the c on­ c ept of "s cientific character" in gen eral and its expression in philo s ophical and sp ecial knowledge , the comp os ition of - 22 -

the logical methods and instrum�ts of cognitive operations which in the aggregate make up dialectical logic,the rela­ tion between dialectics and the forms of thinking studied by modern formal logic, the various abstract mathematical and cybernetic methods of simulating the processes of develop­ ment and change, and the various formal methods of systems analysis. A discussion of all these problems will help more fully and concretely to define the specific subject-matter of dialectics in the study of the cognition of the forms and methods of thought.

On the other hand, an analysis of the place held by dialectical materialism as the universal and fundamental methodology of scientific analysis within the system of methods, approaches and modes of analysis and the production of knowledge, worked out by modern special sciences implies intensive analysis of the cognitive and methodological value, conditions and limits within which all the non-philosophical modes of studying various aspects of man's cognitive activi­ ty can be applied.

The mastery of new apparatuses and instru­

ments of methodological analysis,

extension and enrichment

of its store of instruments undoubtedly help to concretise and spell out in detail many important methodological and theoretico-cognitive problems in modern scientific cognition and ultimately to intensify the influence of materialist dialectics on the development of science itself. At the same time,

the tendency towards the ever greater use of non­

philosophical instruments in methodological analysis must necessarily produce--at the early stages, at any rate--defi­ nite difficulties

(absolutisation of the place and role of

special science instruments of methodological analysis, underestimation of the methodological value of general phi­ losophical categories, etc.) This applies to those methodolo­ gical instruments of modern science which have a fairly long way of historical development behind them but which in the

past few decades have gone through a period of tempestuous renovation and enrichment, as for instance,

- 23 -

formal logic.

Let us bear in m ind that formal logic,

which long de­

veloped mainly towards mathematical applications,

has begun

actively to intrude into totally new areas of research. Its ideas and methods have been intensively used in discussing many methodological problems. The iinpa�t of modern formal logic is connected, in partic�lar, .'with the elaboration of new methodological methods (formalisation,


interpretation, etc.), and with deeper analysis of the logi­ cal features of many traditional methods of cognition (defi­ nitions,

explanations and predictions,

various types of

abstraction), with the substantial extension of deductive and inductive patterns of conclusion,

etc. At present,


mal logic is taking its first few steps towards ·working out adequate logical means for expressing some aspects of the development of knowledge. The basis for such an approach has taken shape as a result of the powerful extension of the range of formal-logical instruments of analysis, above all as a result of the elaboration of so-called non-classical logics (multi-value, model,



The growing cognitive value of formal logic makes it necessary, while maintaining the fundamental Marxist stand �with respect to the latter (understanding of its internal limitations, recognition of the qualitative distinctions between dialectical and formal logics,

etc.) to specify

the assessment of the possibilities of formal logic which flowed from the level of its development in a given histori­ cal epoch (for instance, the opinion about the elementary, "school" character of logic,

the notion that formal logic

operates only with the two polar evaluations of "yes" and "no"),

etc. These and certain other assessments with a direct

bearing on a given level of development of formal logic must necessarily be outdated in the course of logic's historical development and the emergence of fundamentally new horizons and prospects for its development. Their uncritical use in the new historical conditions could lead to definite nega­ tive consequences and hamper the working out of the Marxist attitude not only to formal logic but also to all the other

- 24 -

non-p hilo s ophical methods and modes

of analysis of various

asp ects of man ' s t hinking� The new s ituation taking s hap e in the met ho dology of sc ien c e brings out a numb er of fundamental probl ems c onnect­ ed �ith t he c ompr e hension of the structure of methodo logy and t he prosp ects for its dev elopment . doubt ,

Thes e prob lems ,


will attract ever greater attention among Marxist

p hilos op hers as dialectical materialism its elf and t he sp ec ial s c ien c es develop . C on s idering t he question of develop ing mat erialist dia­ lec t ic s at the present lev e l ,

there is need to c o ntinue to

dev e lop t he tradit ional Leninist attitude to t he p hilo s op hi­ c a l legacy of t he p ast ,

to the history of diale c t ic s .

It is

hardly p o s s ib l e to gain a prof o und and truly p hi los op hica l c ompre hen s ion o f modern problems in mat erialist dialectic s wit ho ut c ons idering the hist ory of dialectic s , notably, G erman c la s s i c al dialectic s , S o c rates ,

Plato ,

Arist o t l e ,

t he dialec t ic s of t hinkers like Nic ho las of Cus a , Spinoza


ot hers . A longs ide the analys is of various ep isodes in t he hist ory of dialec tical t hinking substantial imp ortanc·e at­ tac hes to t h e work ing out of g en eral p hilosophic al problems in the hi st ory of dia lectics and the analys i s of the bas ic hist oric a l f orms of dialecti c s . An in-dept h study of t he rea l c ont ent o f thes e f orms ,

bo t h from the . standp oint of

mediated ref le ction wit hin t hem of t he obj ec tive dialectic of s oc ia l pro c es s es and from the standp oint of p hilo s op hi c a l r eflect ion of t hought pro c es s es and structures c harac t eris­ . tic of t he various historica l ep oc hs will h e lp to emp has i s e in every way t he qualitative unique nature of materialist dia lec tic s ,

and the f lims in e s s of t he critic ism lev elled

against it by bourg eois and r ev i s i onist fals ifiers ,

t hereby

gain in g a deep er in s ight into the very substanc e of Marxist dia l e ct ic s . The elaboration of a t heory of mat erialist diale ctics

presupp o s es t he fundamental fact t hat at p r e s ent an ideo � o ­ g ic a l strugg l e in the internat ional arena is underway over

- 25 -

the interpretation of Marxist dialectics. Falsification of materialist dialectics has become one of the basic forms of

distorting Marxism both by Right-revisionists and by the Maoists. Today no positive analysis of the problems of

Marxist dialectics is possible wi�hout an allround critique

of these distortions .


Our epo c h abounds in enormous c hang es in all spheres of

human s o c i ety and t he new p henomena and new pro c esses we

witness require a thorough theoretical analys is . In thes e

c onditions an ever greater imp ortance is assumed by dialec­

tic a l and t oric al mat erialism as a metho d of c ognising s o c ia l p henomena . The c onsistent app lication of Marxist-Leninist methodo­ logy is partic ularly s igni:fi c ant in the pres ent-day ideolo­

gical struggl e . Exp erienc e s hows t hat any rev is ion of

Marxism, any departure from its methodology in exp laining s o c ial phenomena u lt imately leads to a renunc iation of the mat erialist t heory of knowledg e . was well understood by Lenin , who up held and dev eloped t he materialist world out­ look and t he mat erialist understanding of history in his t ir eless struggle against the enemies and falsif i ers of 14arxis m . Le n in dis c lo s ed t h e initial metho dological positions of the enemies o f the theory and practic e of revo lutionary Marxism. He s howed t hat the metho dological foundation of the. bourgeois and revisionist c onc eptions of s o c ial develooment was provided either by subj ec t ivism in history to whic h in pra c t ic e v o luntarism corresp onds ,

or by fatalism, whic h

pro c eeds from the mec hanistic , metap hysical interpretation ot t he obj ective laws of s o c ia l development . Throughout his

- 27 -

activity Lenin waged a systematic struggle against thes e trends in soc ial life ,

demonstrating t heir t heoretical in­

solvency in pb.ilosoplcy,

sociology and p olitical ec onomy an d

laying bare t heir r eactionary c las s t endency. Tb.e importanc e of Lenin ' s struggle against objec tivism . and subj ectivism by no means amounts merely to a def ence of tb.e Marxist method of c ognition of s oc ial life . Lenin fur­ nished c lass ical models of t b.e app lication of this metb.od to new historical p henomena and helped to enric h and dev elop it further. He repeatedly noted it was not �ougb. to know well and c herish tb.e theoretical legacy left by tb.e founders of Marxism;

it was nec essary to apply this legac y in c on­

crete soc ial s ituations , events ,

in analysing every new turn of

espec ially when c hanged historical c onditions

dictate a review of some earlier formulas and tb.e elabora­ tion of new t heoretical propos itions . Subjectivism, tb.e Enem:y of Materialism Tb.e bourgeois critics of Marxism and tb.e revisionists often accuse Lenin of subj ec t ivism,

of underestimating

" sp ontaneous , " obj ective proc esses of social development . Suc h interpreters of tb.e history of Marxism c ontrast Lenin and

Marx ,

pres enting tb.e s ituation as t b.ougb. l4arx laid

emp has is on tb.e material,

obj ective basis of tb.e revolutio­

nary proc ess , while Lenin supp osedly disregarded these pro­ c es s es and stak ed everyt hing on subj ective factors in histo­ ry � , tb.e Austrian revis ionist Ernst Fisc her p ub lished in August 1969 an article in tb.e London Times ,


Lenin underestimated tb.e spontaneous processes of tb.e revolu­ tionary movement and reduc ed tb.e wb.ole matter to organising a revolutionary minority . In r eality Lenin r egarded s ubj ectivism as t b.e antipode of Marxism, t b.e antipode of tb.e sc ient ific approa c h to ques­ tions of tb.e revolutionary struggl e . As far back as tb.e end of t b.e last c entury, Lenili,

in suc h works as tb.e

' Friends of t b.e People ' Are and How Tb.ey Fight t b.e S o c ial-

- 28 -

Democrats, The F.c onomic C ont ent of Narodism and the

Crit ic ism of It in Mr . Struve ' s Book and A Characterisation of Ec onomic Romanticism,

demonstrated the methodological

untenability of sub j ectivism and the related s oc ial pro j ect­ mongering by p etty-bourgeois ideologists on the bas is of a critical analysis of t he sub j e ctivist s ociology of tb.e Naro dniks and of the subj ectivist conc eptions in political ec onomy. Tb.e proponents of t he subj ective method in sociology (N. Mikb.ailovsky and others ) tried to prove that Marxism is " limited" by t he allegation that it do es not consider the :role of the individual in history and takes into ac c ount

only n historical n ec essity" and " ec onomic c ateg ories . " In

disproving these allegations Lenin stated in the sp irit of Marxism:

" • • • All history is made up of the actions of indi­

viduals , who are undoubtedly active figures . "


Pointing to the banality of t he .Narodnik arguments abo ut " l iving individuals , " 14arxists supp os edly ignored , Lenin p ointed out t hat tb.e Narodniks in effect rep eated the mistake of the 18th c entury p hilo sophers , wb.o sougb.t to make a c ontrast b etween the individual with bis aims and noti ons of di•.e to exist and the s oc i o-historical environment . The Naro dnik crit icised Marxism from the positions of yest er­ day ' s p hi losop hy . When he regards tb.e environment and s ome kind of an abstract individu al outside history as two in­ dep endent factors of historical development ,

he " simply

strikes out the entire development of s �cial sci enc e since the end of t he last c entury and reverts to naive rationalist­ ic sp ec ulation , whi c h ignores t he existenc e and the develop­ ment of definite s oci al relations hip s . With one stroke of the pen b.e wipes o ut all that t he human mind, to understand s ocial phenomena , . 2 c enturies of s l"

1 2

in its attempt

has ac hieved at the pric e of

V . I . Lenin , C oll ected Works , Vo l . 1 , p . 1 58 . Ibid . , Vol .·2 , p . 224 .

- 29 -

Lenin regarded as the greatest achievement of 1 9th­

c entury s ocial sc ienc e ( ignored by the subj ective school in .


s oc iology) the materialist understanding of history substan-

tiated in the w orks of the founders of Mar.x:ism. It was Marx who suc c eeded in eliminating the counterp osing of the indi­

vidual to the s ocial envir o�en:t , ·· in which authors of ratio­ nalistic c onstructions f oundered in the 18th c entury.

The real distinction of the Nar odnik fr om the Marxist, acc ording to Lenin , c onsists by no means in that the f ormer studies " living individuals , " while the latter regards such a study as iness ential , but in the differenc e between the scientific and unsc ientific approac

to the study of s o ciety,

inc luding the actions and behaviour of real individuals , of whom society is c omp osed. Only when it was proved that the motives f or the behaviour of individuals are ultimately determined by ec onomic relations which do n ot dep end on their will did the opp ortunity aris e , f or the first time, t o describe and exp lain these motives . :i;.tmin began t o examine the � ubj ective ·sociol ogy of the Nar odniks with the question , t o what extent does it meet the demands made on sc ientific c ognition . As a result of ilia

analysis he arrived at the c onclusion that subj ective ideo­ logy CB.Illl ot be anything but an ideological f orm of expres­ sing the "thoughts and s entiments" of its authors who , in

turn , represent a definite s oc ial group . In other words ,

the problem of the sc ientific value of a theory inevitably grows over int o a s oc ial problem , the class essenc e of the theory. The logic of this argument is particularly imp ortant bec aus e b ourgeois critics of Leninism c onstantly


on the

p o int that Lenin supp os edly " imp osed" the problem of parti­ sans hip on social the ory , that he "demanded" of social science--supp osedly neutral in its theoretic o-c ognitive ess enc e--a definite class stand. The very opp osit e , however,

is the c as e . Lenin came to ilia c onclusion about the ideolo­

gical function of s oc ial theory sp ec if ically as a result of

- 30 -

analysing its c ognitiv e asp ects . Let us turn to the examina­ tion of Mikhailovsky ' s metho do log ical positions in What the ' Friends of the People Are ' and How They F ight the Soc ial­ Democrats . Mikhailovsky ac c us ed Marx of failing to giv e defini­ tions of the typ e "What is s o c i ety in gen eral" ,

"What is

progress in general" , and so on . On this ground Mikha i lovs­ ky c onc luded t hat t he mat erialist understanding of history whic h l4arx elaborat ed s imp ly did not exist .

Lenin f irst of all noted that the very formulation of the problem by Mik hailovsky ran c o unter to t he criteria of a s c i entific study . The s c i ent ific c oncept of soc iety , pro­ gres s , and the like can be a result , and not a prerequisite of s tudy . S c i enc e has only on e way arriving at t he c onc ept " s o c i ety" : through an analys is and generalisation of emp i­ rical facts , whic h mak e up the c ontent of real historical s o c ial c onditions , by s ingling out from these facts t he mo st ess ential c haracterist ic s , by establis hing t heir rec urrenc e in different social c onditions . On the c ontrary , what Mikhailovsky demanded of s o c i o lo gy " is a mo st obvi ous symptom of metap hys ic s , wit h whic h every sc ienc e began : as long as p eop le did not know how to s et about studying the fac ts , they always inv ent ed a priori general theories whi c h 3 were always steri l e . " Lenin drew attention to the fact that nine-tenths of the s o c i al theories of his day c onsisted precis ely of suc h sp ec ulative arguments . Naturally all this c o uld not be exp lained merely by individual delus ions of sc ientists . If suc h methods , "not advanc ing one hair ' s breadth man ' s under­ standing of ev en a few , but real , soc ial relations" are nev ertheless aga:in and again us ed by sc ient ists , they c on­ s equently dis c harg e not a c o gnitive but some ot her function . Lenin c harac terised it as fo llows : " • • • Suc h metho ds , in­ stead of c ontributing to a study and eluc idation of the problem, only s erve to insinuate into the c onc ept ' s o c iety '


Ibid . , Vo l . 1 , p . 144 . - 31 -

eit her the bourgeois ideas of t he British shopkeep er or the p etty-bourgeo is soc ialist ideals of the Rus sian democrat-­ 4 and not hing more.·" Such a v iew of the problem of the scientific value of soc ial theory leads us to the problem of c lass and partisan nature of this theory. Marxist-Leninist theory merely registers the real state '

of soc ial sc ience in a c lass society, the actual fulfilment by it , alongside a cognitive , also of an ideological func• tion . Thereby the accusation t bat Marxism-Leninism " artifi­ c ially" , "unlawfully" raises the question about t he c lass nature of soc ial knowledge is deprived of all foundation . It s hould be emp basised tbat Lenin criticised Narodnilt theories not only for the fact that , being an ideology , they reflected the interests and asp irations of definite social groups . He critic is ed Narodnik soc iology abov e all because in it ideological and c ognitive functions came into c ontra­ diction and the scientific method of analysis was replaced by sub j ectivist constructions . The meaning of Lenin ' s critique of the Naro dnik c onc ep­ tion , of c ours e , is not tantamount to exp osing some c oncrete soc iological sc hool . Lenin examined the given sc hool as one of the p ossible manifestations of subj ectivism in scienc e and, therefore his critique is of universal sign ificanc e . The root o f subj ec tivism in sociology, a s Lenin point ed out , is t he inability or unwillingness of sociologists to " dis­ ting1lish the important and · unimportant in the c omp lex net­

work of s ocial phenomena " to find an for suc h a delimination.

obj ectiv& criterion

Subj ectivism as a theoretical method is found every­ wqere where there is a denial of the existenc e of objective truth and obj ectiv e criteria of social knowledge , wherever the exploration of sc.ientific truth is replaced by sp ecula­ tion . and sop histry, by historical and sociological relati­ vism . Tile danger of subj ectivism, however, exists not on�

.4· Ibid. , p . 1 45 . 5 Ibid. , p . 140

- 32 -

there where it is f ormalis ed into a c omplete system of prin­ c ip l es . The substitution of the unimportant for the impor­

tant , the mixing up of the essential and inessential , the abs olutisation of theoretical propositions can lead any res earc her to mistakes of a subj ectivist order

at every

sta·ge of his p enetration into the essenc e of social pheno­

mena .

Sub j ectivism by no means a lways op enly breaks with

s c i entific approac h or puts up utopian constructions against

a strictly scient ific study of s o c ial relat ions . Utopianism

and "romanticism, " being typical caus es and simultaneously

the c ons equences of sub j ectivist. deviations from the scien­

tific method of study, nevertheles s often app ear in the form of scientifically-based truths , whic h supp o sedly c ons ider

the achievements of s c i entific thought and draw on these or

tho s e elements of a s c i entific an alysis . It is to this c ir­

cumstanc e that Lenin paid sp ec ial attention criticising , in

particular , romantic c onc eptions in the sp here of ec onomic

doctrines .

T he sub j ectivist theory can rec ord the same phenomena ,

the same proc es s es of social life whic h als o fit into the framework of a s c i entific tneory. In his work A C haracterisa­ tion of Economic Romanticism , Lenin spec ially stressed that

the c onc eption of t he ec onomist-romantic ists and the theory

of Marx p o int to the very �ame c ontradic.t ions of soc ial ec onomy under capitalism. It is als o possible to note suc h

objective phenomena of the ec onomy of c ap italist society as

t he existenc e of cris es , the search for foreign markets , the rise in produc t ivity at a time of decreasing c onsumption ,

the existence of monop olies , the harmful effect of mac hine­ ba� ed industry


the workingman , and so on , without emerg­

ing from the c onfines of a subj ectivist economic theory. In

this c onnection a scientific critique of subj ectivism fac es

two problems : first , where , at level of investigation

and f or what reas on the dep arture of the "romanticist" from · the demands of t he sc ientific method begins ; and sec ond, how sc ientific (Marxist) theory must regard the studies in c on- 33 -

crete social sciences made by scµolars who do not adhere to the position of scientific ( Marxist) philosophy . Concerning the answer to the first question, Lenin

showed that the deviation of the " r.omanticist" from the de­ mands of the sc ientific method begins where the analysis of an evaluation a real economic state of soci·ety presupposes \

of this state from the viewpoint of the prospects of the

struggle of social forces and tendencies, from the viewpoint of the class struggle, and where the ideological position of the researcher comes into contradiction with his scientific conscientiousness . The reply to the second question is found in the later works of Lenin, specifically in Materialism and Empirio­ where Lenin drew a distinction b etween special


studies in the social sciences and the c onclusions exp res­ sing the Party position of the scienti&t. The task of a Marxist ,

as Lenin emphasised, c onsists in assimilating and

re-working the concrete results achieved within the bounds of these studies and in being able to lop off their reactio­ nary line. Materialism and Empiric-Criticism

demonstrates the

complete insolvency of the sub j ec tive idealist interpreta­ tion of the problem of truth, reveals the importance of the dialectical materialist understanding of ob j ective truth in the theory of knowledge, science and practical activity. One of the maii..n problems examined by Lenin in this work

is that of the obj ectivity of truth. As is well known , at that time, under the influence of the rapid progress of

scientific knowledge, the review of seemingly immutable scientific notions, the collapse of all theories and their repl acement by new ones, and attempts to interpret truth in the spirit of relativism and c onventionalism, became quite fas hionable. Such tendencies

were opposed by the Leninist doctrine

of the dialectic of knowledge, the correlation of absolute and relative truth. A dmitting the relative nature of our

- 34 -

knowledge Lenin came out against dogmatism , against the ossification of thought· and for the creative development of theory. At the same time , asserting the objectivity of human knowledge , demonstrating the dialectic of the conversion of relative into absolute truth, Lenin gave battle to rela­ tivism , which denies the validity of the fundamental propo­ sitions of science , including the Marxist theory of social development. Subjectivists usually try to pose as enemies of dogma. But dogma itself is understood by them as a simple synonym for everything conservative and generally recognised. As a result "they turn the struggle against dogmatism into a nihilistic denial of any values of the past , into a qµest for innovation for the sake of innovation. For Lenin , on the contrary , dogmatism was always the reverse side of subj ectivism , a distortion , a departure from objective truth. Therefore , he emp hasised , "there can be no dogmatism where the supreme and sole criterion of a doctrine is its conformity to the actual process of social and econo­ mic development. 11 6

While exp osing subjectivism and relativism and disclo�­ ing the dialectic of . absolute and relative truth in the process of cognition , Lenin demonstrated the role of prac­ tice as the basis of cognition and as the objective crite­ rion of truth. In contrast to pragmatism, which regards utility and benefit as the criterion of truth , he proved that objective truth does not depend on the aims and intentions of man. Knowledge as such can be useful precisely because it contains objective truth. Lenin clearly formulated the fundamental propositions of the materialist theory of know­ ledge on this question: "Knowledge can be useful biological1:, useful in human practice , useful for the preservation of

life , for the preservation of the sp ec ies , only when it

6 I bid. , p . 298.

- .35 -

reflects obj ective truth, truth whic h is indep endent of 7 man . 11 Objectivism, the Ideological Foundation of Reformism Criticising subj ectivism, Leni:Q. at the same time devot­ ed great attention to the struggle ,against another initial methodological position of the opponents of the theory and '

practice of revolutionary Marxism--bourgeois obj ectivism .

this resp ec t is Lenin ' s work The Economic C ontent of Narodism and the C riticism of It in Particularly important


Mr . Struve ' s Book . Fatalistic distortions of s c ientifi c

socialism bec ame widespread a t the end o f the 1 9th c entury in s o-called legal Marxism in Russ ia and in B ernst ein ism in the West . These trends were marked by a dev i ation from a

c lass analys is of phenomena , an obj ectivist interpretation

of social pro c es s es . In his critical analys is of Struv e ' s book , Lenin c onsistently, layer by layer , stripped the shell of "sc ientific impartiality" from bourgeois obj ectivism and

laid bare its clas s , bourgeois substanc e .

A s f or the methodological s i de o f the matter , obj ecti­

vism is marked by one-sided metaphysical emp hasis on t he historical inevitability of the existing s o c ial system , by

ignoring its intrinsic c ontradictory nature , whic h ultimate­ ly, with similar inevitability, must lead to the emergenc e of a new quality.

In his critic ism of the methodological p o s itions of the

sub j ectivists and " obj ectivists" Lenin was invariably guided

by the dialectical method . "In brief , dialectics can be de­ fined as the doctrine of the unity of oppo s it es . T his embo­

dies the essenc e of dialec tic s , but it requires exp lanations 8 and development . 11 Such " explanations and dev elopment" · were

provided by many of his works in whic h t his was done on the

bas is of an analysis of vast soc io-historical and s c i entific

7 8

Ibid. , Vol . 1 4 , pp . 1 39- 140 . Ibid. , Vol , 38 , p . 223 .

- 36 -

materia l ,

on the basis of so lving fundamenta l problems of

s o c ia l development whic


hav e a g en era l methodologica l ,

p hi l o s op hical s ignificanc e . Lenin ' s Philos ophical Noteb ooks offer an example of a creativ e approac h to t he rev o lut ionary method of Marxism . It s hould b e noted that s ome revisionist theo�etic ians lik e R . Garaudy al lege t hat Lenin , b o oks ,

in his Philosophical Not�

departed from the p o s itions of materialism and re­

cognised the inadequacy of t he theory of reflection , whic h s up p o s edly does not tak e into ac c o unt the ac tive nature of cognition . R eferenc e is made to the we ll-known stat ement in the Philosophical Not eb o oks t hat c onsc iousness not only reflects but also c reates t he world. In reality ,

howev er ,

t he Philo s ophical Not ebooks are a c onsistent c ontinuation and development of Lenin ' s preceding works . As for t he pro­ p os ition t hat c ons c iousness not only reflects but als o creat es t he world ,

every c onscientious reader s e es t hat , in

t he given cas e , Lenin in his own way summed up and int erpret­ ed the t hought of Hegel in j uxtap osition with the mec hanist­ ic notions of pre-Marxi an mat erialism . Interpreting these thoug hts mat eri alistically , Lenin said that , when man is not satisf i ed wit h the worl d , he decides to c hange it by his 9 activity . This in full mea s ur e c orresponds to Marx ' s well­ known t hes is :

" The p hilos op hers hav e only interpret ed the

world in various ways ; 10 it . "

the p o int ,

howev er , i s t o c hange

A n obj ectivist understanding of t he laws o f s o c ial de­ development turns into fatalism,

into hope in t he aut omatic

operation of the historical pro c es s ,

into wors hip of sp onta­

neity in the r evo lutionary transformation of the world . Denial or narrow understanding of the c l ass struggle and its imp ortanc e for s o c ial p rogress l eads to b elittling the role of t he s ub j ective factor .

� ll>id . , p . 2 1 3 . ·to K. Marx and F . Engels , Vo l . 1 , p . 1 5 .

Sele c t ed

- 37 -

Works ,

Mo s c ow ,

1 9 69 ,

In the bo ok What Is to Be Done? and in subs equent works

dedicated to a critique of t he Mens hev iks and West European opp ortunists , Lenin c onsistently exposed the fatalist ic

understanding of the historical pr�cess as the ideology of

adaptati on to existing bourgeois r�lations , as the ideology

of the renunciation of revolution ary methods of struggle. He set up , in opp os it ion to the opp o rtunist theories , an analys­ is of the dialectic of the sub j ective and obj ective in the

proc ess of soc ial development , the teac hing of the imp ort­

anc e of the c ons c i ous element for the revo lutionary r emaking of s o ciety.

The teac hing on the soc ial ist revolution ho lds a c ardin­

al p lac e in Lenin ' s theoretical legacy. A study of the

Leninist elaboration of this question is p articularly in­

structiv e . On the one hand, it enables us to understand the

imp ortanc e of the c onsc i ous and consistent app lication of

scientific methodo logy for s o c ial theory . On t he ot her hand

it is in the theory of the s o c i alist revolution elaborat� d by Lenin that we see that every step. in the s c i entific c ogni­ t ion of society is inc onceivable outside the struggle

against subj ec tivist and obj ec t ivist c onc eptions , a struggle

du.ring whic h n ew problems , n ew asp ects of the approac h to

the study of soc ial proc esses are inevitably revealed . The s c i ent ific theory of the soc i alist revolution c ould not

aris e within the bo unds of metaphysical noti ons of the laws governing soc i al development ; the dialectical method was

nec essary for creating it .

For Lenin , dia lectics is not the totality of formal methods of description , not s ome k ind of a sc heme given in advanc e and imp osed on the ob j ec t . For him t he dial ectical

app roac h to r eality is f irst of all the demand for " immer­

s ion" in c oncr ete ec onomic , political and other material ,

i . e . , t he obj ec tive dialectic of reality as suc h. And only to the ext ent that the s c i entist ' s thought really assimi­

lates this material is society revealed in its actual c om­

plexity and c ontradictoriness .

- 38 -

Elaborating the theory of the socialist revolution and

ascertainil:ig the prospects of the world revolutionary pro­ cess ,

Lenin first of all ti.J.rned to an analysis of economic

relations in the new world epoch which began at the turn of

the last century. He disclosed the economic essence of impe­ rialism , ment ,

the unevenness of economic and political develop­

the influence of monopoly capital on the . alignment of

c lass forces , the political and ideological development of society .

The results of these studies were expounded by

Lenin in his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of C apitalism and in other works. Bourgeois reformists and revisionists now refer to new phenomena in capitalist society as a pretext for renouncing the revolutionary struggle .

They claim that contemporary

c apitalism , without transferring the means of production into social ownership , has attained planned ,

balanced deve­

lopment and thereby has put an end to the anarchy of produc­ tion and unemployment . Lenin more than half a c entury ago , we note , not only

furnished an

analysis of the essence of imperialism as a

whole but also was the first to discern and scientifically

evaluate the emergenc e of state-monopoly capitalism. It was Lenin who demonstrated the possibility of planning under c onditions of monopoly capitalism , especially at its state­ monopoly stage. But at the same time he noted that the introduction of planning under capitalism did not remove the exploitation of the working people and did intensify the dominance of capital . "Planning , " he pointed out , make the worker less of a slav e , ist to make his profits

" does not

but it enables the capital­

' according to plan. ' Capitalis m is

now evolving direc tly into its higher ,


regulated , form. "

With his analysis of the nature of imp erialism Lenin proves the insolvency of bourgeois and reformist theories of " ultra- 1mperialism, " " organised capitalism , " and the like.


V •I

Lenin . ,

Col lected Work s , Vol. 24 , p. 306.

- 39 -

Even at the higher stage of its development capitalism cannot eliminate its intrinsic soc ial antagonisms .

Criticising Kautsky ' s theory of "ultra-imperialism"

bas ed on the notion imperialism, in the course of its

development , will arrive at a single worldwide trust , Lenin

emp has is ed that real history had n�er pro c eeded so fatally .

The c ontent of the historical pro c ess is never a purely

mec hanical growth of one quality , t he automatic intensifica­

t ion of one tendency. History is always the interaction of numerous forc es , numero us tendenc ies , of whic h not one is realised in a p ure form . That is why, although it is .

p ossible to imagine in the abstract form that the tendency

towards c entralis ing cap ital c ou ld lead to t he organisation of a single world trust , suc h a p ossibility c ould never be

achieved in reality.

Lenin ' s c haracterisation of imperialism also helps to

understand pres ent-day developments in world cap italism. The c oncentration and internationalisation of cap ital c ontinues

to grow tremendously . Under the pressure of c ircumstanc es

state regulation of pro duction and distribution is extended in a number of c o untries . But actually suc h regulation

represents state protection of the mounting profits of the cap italists , a form of systematic exp lo itati on of labour.

In the course of the scientific and technologic al r ev o­

lution t he efficiency of pro duction ris es in capit alist

countries . But uneven ec onomic and p olitical deve lopment ,

inherent in cap italism , is further deep ened. A longside the

growth of the ec onomy in individual highly developed

countries ( even in this group of states by far not ev enly ) , in the greater part of the cap italist world ec onomic back­

wardness , want and poverty are on increas e .

State-monopo ly capitalism soc ialises production in de­

veloped capitalist countries on a gigantic s c al e . The s oc ia­ lisation process is als o eff ected on an international sc ale:

multinational c ompanies of monop o ly cap ital are emerging ,

production complexes enc ompassing a number of countri es are - 40 -

springing up .

The result is that the main contradiction of

capitalism�between the ·social nature of production and the private method of appropriation�is deepened to the extreme and the task of turning over the means of production into social ownership is bec oming more pressing . Lenin developed the theory of the socialist revolution and upheld it in the struggle against the numerous enemies of Marxism- -the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Trotskyites and the " Left" Communists ,

the leaders of

the Second International and all kinds of anarc hists . Lenin ' s critique of all these distortions and devia­ tions from Marxism, which are based either on objectivist or subjectivist variants of the methodology of bourgeois philosophy is of principled importanc e for our time in the ideological struggle against the Right and " Left" revision­ ists, against the ideology of Social Democracy and all kinds of bourgeois-reformist conceptions . To this day there are conceptions analogous to the Narodnik-Socialist-Revolutio nary theory which rejected the leading role of the working class in the revolution, set up village against the city, the peasant masses against the working class . In di£ferent combinations and variants there are spread views which greatly resemble the Menshevik­ Trotskyi te conception of revolution that ignored the revolu­ tionary role of the peasantry and d enied the ability of the proletariat to lead the non-proletarian masses. In recent years the anarchist theories of revolution as a spontaneous explosion, as a rebellion, have once again been animated . These theories challenge the need for proletarian organisa­ tion and state leadership of society by the proletariat . The opportunists have borrowed the ideological legacy of the reformist leaders of the S econd Internatio nal who replaced the revolutionary prospect by a stake on partial reforms,

on the spontaneous development of capitalism iilto

socialism . That is


Lenin ' s c ritique of anti-Marxist

views on the question of revolution is so instructive.

- 41 -

Dialectics and a Creative Approach to Theory Lenin called dialectics t he soul of Marxism. Examining all phenomena in their development , creative approach to theory ,

di alectics demands a

to the a'.nalysis of social pro­

cesses. The dialect ical understanding of contradict ions presup­ poses an analysis of the conditions und er w hich possibility turns into reality. We refer to the proposition t hat histo­ rical necessity is not fatal inev itability ,

t hat it is dis­

played in every historical " moment" only in the form of a tendency ,


in th� form of a greater or smaller possibi­

lity to develop along this "historically necessary" path , . that in every concrete moment of history--particularly in its crucial moments--there is also the possibility of a dif­ ferent development . And what objective path society will follow dep ends to a considerable extent on the subj ective factor ,

on the confrontation of cl asses ,

groups, parties and

leading personalit ies. Lenin gave the deepest exposition of t his question in analysing the prospect of building socialism in our country. C haracterising the danger of petty-bourgeois spont aneity after the victory of the October Revolut ion ,

he said :


er we subordinate the petty-bourgeoisie to .Q!!!: control and

account ing (we can do t his if we organise the poor ,

the majority of the population or semi-proletarians ,

that is round

the politically conscious proletarian v an guard ) , or they w ill overthrow our workers ' power as surely and is inevitab­ ly as . the revolution was overt hrown by the Napoleons and Cavaignacs who sprang from this very soil of petty pro­ 1 prietorship . " 2 Clearly such an understanding of historical necessity has nothing in common with a fatalist underst and­ i.tig of the laws governing historical development.

Lenin concretised his position on . the giv en question in his work On Our Revolut ion. In it he proceeded from a diffe-


Ibid. , Vol. 2 7 , p . 337

- 42 -

rentiation b etween the "general l in e of world history" . (which registers t he ord er of t he app earanc e of t he "funda­ mental r equis ites of civilisations" wit hin t he bounds of all mankind) and t he p ossibility of differ ent forms of transi­ tiop t o the creation of the " fundamental requisities of civ ilisation" of an individual p e op le . The historically inev itable s equenc e of the app earanc e of t he fundamental requisites of soc ialism is obligat ory only wit hin t he b ounds of world history . S oc i alism, for examp le, c ould not app ear b efore mankind


a who le passed t he stage of c ap italism and

reached a staee of c ivilisation t hat corresp onds to it . But within t he framework of t he history of individual p e op les the s equenc e and forms of t he app earan c e of t he fundamental requisites of civilisai{ion may be diff erent . "You say, " Lenin rep lied to t he t heoretic ians of the S e c ond Internation­ al, "that c iv ilisat:'.. o n is necessary for the building of s o c i alism. Very go o d . But w hy c ould we not first create such prerequisit es of c �v ilisation in our country as the expul­ sion of the landowners and t he Russian cap it alists, and then start mov ing towards s o c ia lism? Where, in what books, have you r ead t hat suc h variations of t he customary historical 13 s equen c e of ev ents ar e imp ermi.s s ible or imp ossible?" Thus, elaborating t he t heory o f revolution, Lenin at the same time disc losed t he insolv ency of reformism, of the Right-wing opportun ism that ignores revo lutionary possibili­ ties and t he need for their activ e us e, and also of v o lun­ tarist revo lutionism which denies t he obj ectiv e laws of rev olution. Critic ism of v arious distortions and dev iations �rom t he Marxist method of cognising and transforming social life is contained in many works of Lenin whic h were written after the v ictory of t he

October Revo lution and which deal with

the elab oration of p lans for building s o c ialism in t he Land of S ov iets , t he establis hment of t he main laws of t he s o c ialist transformation of s o c i ety and also t he acc omplish-


Ibid. , Vol . 33, p .480 . - 43 -

ment of the concrete economic , political and cultural tasks that faced Soviet Russia in those years . In that concrete historical situation it was necessary to wage a steadfast and stubborn struggle against displays of subjectivism and voluntarism. T.he increased danger of subjectivist and voluntarist ·dist �rtions of Marxist theory

in practice was , of course , not accidental . On the one hand , the revolution stirred up huge masses of the petty-bourgeois population . Drawn into the stormy process of revolutionary changes , they , naturally, could not but exert retroactiv e influence on the psychology and the mood of individual sections of the proletariat , could not but promote the · growth of anarchist sentiments . On the other hand , ins�fi­ cient experience and the absence of managerial skills impe ll ed many young Soviet functionaries in the direction of armchair management and voluntarist decisions . Nor , lastly , should we forget that the tremendous successes registered in the first years of the socialist revolution at times blunt­ ed , among some of its participants , the sense of real possi� bilities , created the illusion that it was possibl e to accomplish literally all tasks of economic construction through " enthusiasm alone . " The practical experience of socialist construction smashed the subjectivist-utop ian notions about an arbitrary leap into � ommunism without creating the requisite material basis and without considering the real possibilities , solely with the help of arch-revolutionary slogans and moral preach­ ments . A similar fate a lso befell the fatalist hopes for the automatic emergence of socialist social relations and a n ew consciousness , which is supposedly a mere d erivative of the growth of productive forces. A proposition of Marxism­ Leninism was confirmed , namely , that only in the process of fundamental revolutionary changes in social life and the building of the material basis of socialism , in the struggle against hostile class elements , is it possible to change social relations and people ' s consciousness , to ensur e the victory of socialism. - 44 -

The fundamenta l prop o s it ions

of Lenin ' s teac hing c on­

c erning t he ways of building s o c i al ism and c ommunism have b e en c onsistently emb o di e d in the prac tical activites of t he C ommunist Party and the S oviet p eop l e .

On t he basis of

the Leninist approac h to revo luti onary theory , Party of the S oviet Union , p arties ,

t he C ommunist

j o intly wit h t he frat erna l

c ontinues creat ively t o dev el op Marxism-Lenin ism ,

to work o ut t h e new problems of t h e present ep oc h , problems



the world c ommunist movement and t he bui lding

of c ommuni sm .

In s o do ing , C ommunists vigoro usly rej e c t

rev i s i onist " innovat ions . " C onstruc tiv e en deavour in t heory by no means c onsists in inv enting n ew variants of Marxism diff erent from the ma in c onc lus ions of Leninism or supp o s ed­ ly rep la c ing t hem · by new ones but in effect by o ld revisi on­ ist i deas . Creative endeavour c onsists not in c onstruc ting var ious "models of s o c ialism" an d devis ing fas hi onab l e c on­ c ep t s whi c h s upp o s edly furnis h a rep ly t o the lat est t enden­ c i es of s oc ia l development but a c t ually break wit h s c i en­ t ific c ommunism.

Communists s e e their c ardin al t heoretical

duty in det ermining , realities ,

on t he basis of an analysis of c hanging

t he new tasks in the struggl e f or c ommunism ,


f in ding new ways and f orc es for t he ir ac c omp lis hment .


Marxist-Leninist analys i s also reveals the c hanges in

t he ec onomy and structure of c ont emporary c ap it alism w hic h create n ew p o s s ib ilities f or t he revo lut ionary struggle . Contemp orary state-monopo ly c ap italism ,

gigant i c ally s o c ial­

ising p r o duc tion and c entra lis ing its manag ement ,


t o t he extr eme t he c ontr adictions b etween t he monopo ly t op gro up and the huge mas s es of t he work ing c lass and all working p eop l e . The s oc i al c ons equenc es o f t he s c i entific an d t ec hno lo­ gical rev o lut i on ,

c ontrary t o revisionist fabrications ,

l ead

not t o a less ening but to the enhan c em ent of t he leading r o l e of the working c las s ,

to t he swelling of the ranks of

its allies . Monop o l i s ing the a c hi evements of s c i entific and t ec hnologic a l progress ,

Big Busin e s s inc reas ingly suppress es

t he middl e strata of t own and c o untry .

- 45 -

S c i entific and tec hno-

logical progr ess det ermines the increas e in t he number of engineers and technic ians and other strata of the int elli­ gentsia . At the same time the exp loitation of the main mas s o f t h e intelligentsia b y capital is int ens ified. The strugg le against the omnip ot�n c e


the arbitrary action s

o f t h e monop o lies op ens up p o s s ib±lities f o r uniting t he working c lass , p easantry , urban middle strata and int elli­ g entsia against Big Busin ess , whi c h tramp les up on their v ital interests and rights . In t he new historical c onditions Marxists hav e cr eative­ ly developed Lenin ' s proposition about the diversity of forms of transition to soc ialism . The existenc e of the world soc ialist syst em ,

its dec isive influen c e on t he c ours e of

world history opens up new , wider p o s s ibilities for c arrying out radica l s o c ial reforms ,

for c omb ining p ea c eful and non­

p eac eful means of struggle for effecting the soc ialist revo­ lution in one c ountry or anot her . At the same time the development of world soc ialism has shown that the teac hing of the c lass ics of Marxism-Leninism abo ut t he main g en erai laws of building s o c ialism an d communism has withsto o d the test of time and has b e en c orroborated by historical exp eri­ enc e . The realities hav e j ustified Engels '

f orec ast that ,

however different the ways of individual p eoples of s ocial­ ism are in detail ,

"the prin c ip les and aim of proletarian 14 policy will everywhere b e the sam e . 11 The ris e o f national states .in p lac e o f the former c olonies and s emi-c olonies has introduc ed es s ential c hanges in t he p olitical structure of the world and has a ltered t he c orr elation of forc es to the detriment of imp erialism. Today, national liberation movements have ris en to a new stag e of the active exp loration for ways to develop furt her . Marx and Engels v o ic ed the � hought t hat c o untries at the p r e-capital­ list stage , b enefiting from the examp l e and supp ort of countries where soc ialism has been victorious , would fully be able to s horten greatly t he proc ess of their development · Marx and F . Engels , Works , 2nd Rus s . ed . , ol . 1 ? , p . 291 .

14x .

- 46 -

towards socialist society. Lenin developed this thought and profoundly demonstrated the possibility of the non-capital­ ist development of such countries . Today, thanks to the existence of the world socialist system, the non-capitalist way of development has become much easier for young nations. In these countries, however, social changes are becoming the

object of ever s harp er struggle between the progressive

forces of a socialist orientation and reactionary circles, which favour the strengthening of the cap italist structure and are inclined to reach agreement with imperialism. The living di alectic of the translation of the possibi­ lity into reality is compatible neither with subjectivism nor with fatalism. This process is comp leted not in a spontaneous way but during t�e struggle of opposing social forces, and not acc ording to the arbitrary wish of indivi­ dual parties but depending on objective conditions. Such is the cardinal conclusion of the dialectical materialist theory of the historical process.

LENIN 'S PIANS FOR ELABORATING THE THEORY OF MATERIALIST DIALECTICS A cademician Bonif ati Ked.rov In his article entitled "On the Importanc e of Militant Materialism" , Lenin s et out the task of creatively elaborat­ ing materialist dialectics and mastering it . He saw this as the only way of overcoming idealism, agnosticism and down­

right religious obscurantism , who s e advocat es intensified

their attacks on materialism in t he early 1 920s . Lenin s harp ly cut s hort t he positivist t endencies which had t hen

gained some c urrency in the country and pointed to the need

:for naturalists to provide a "solid p hilosop hical grounding" for their scienti.fic views .

The work on materialist dialectic s , which Lenin decid­

ed to writ e , must have been start ed in 19 1 4 and 1 91 5 , and

rec orded


his Philos ophical Not ebooks . It rema ins in­

complete in the s ense that it was not written in t he form of a book for readers at large . Everything Lenin wrot e in his Philo sophical Notebooks was app arently meant , for the

time being , for himself alon e . This naturally raises the

question about whether Lenin intended to writ e a spec ial book on materialist dialectics and whether his Philosophical Notebooks were written in preparation of it . Aft er all , we have no direct indications of t his in Lenin ' s notes or any ot her evidenc e t hat he was indeed p lanning to write suc h a b ook . He may well _ have s et hims elf a �omewhat different task , that of elaborating mat erialist dialectics for his

own theoretical work to be used in his subs equent res earc h .

That i s a task he did fulfil .

- 48 -

What is the p i cture . of Lenin ' s int entions we obtain

from an analys is of his Notebo oks ? Spec ial interest attaches

to the last noteb o ok c ontaining t he most imp ortant o utlines

of Lenin ' s p lans for a systematic exp osition of materialist

dia lectics ,

inc·luding the fragment entitled "On t he Ques­

tion of Dialectic s" , its first v ersi on . Whi le the earlier

notebooks c ontain full-scale s umma ries of the b o oks Lenin

r ead on p hilo sop hy ,

the last noteb o ok c l early s hows Lenin

app roac hing t he p o int of writing a book on materialist

dialec tic s , as will be s e en from his p lans , above all the fragment "On the Question of Dialectics" , where he dis­

cus s es t he question of how materialist dialectics sho uld b e

s et forth i n systematic form and how, s ho uld b e studied.

Let us assume , nev ert heles s ,

acc ordingly , it

that Lenin intended to

c onfine himself to a critical study of works on dia lectics

for his own purp o s e s an d never set the task of writing a

sp ec ial book on t he sub j ec t . In t hat case we cannot under­ stand why after his vast eff ort in studying the works of

Hegel , F euerbach and other p hilo s ophers , Lenin worked so

insistently to draw up various plans for a systematic expo­

s ition of dialectic s , and t hen went on to draw up the first

o ut l ine of it s exp o sition . It is natural to supp ose in

1 9 1 4 and 1 91 5 Lenin c onceived the idea of a sp ec ial work on dialectics an d began to implement it , but was unab le to

c omp lete it b ecause t he tempestuous historical e! ents forc­ ed him to turn his attention to more urgent ide o logical ,

t heoretical and practical question .

A t any rate , what Lenin wrote in his Philo sophical

Not ebo oks cannot but leave t he impression that t his was

preparation and arrang em ent of mat erial for a p lann e d work

on dialectics and the s tart of its realisat i on . v . Adoratsky ,

the�.Aan who wrote t he prefac e to the first public ations of

Lenin ' s Philo sophical Not eb o oks in the Lenin misc ellanies

b el i eves t his to be tru e . Here is w hat Nadez hda Krupsk aya , Lenin ' s wife ,

says in t his c ontext :

"The advice whic h

Vladimir Ilyi c h gives in his arti c l e on militant materialis m

- 49 -

to t he editors of the j ournal Pod znamenem marks i zma (Under t he Banner of Marxism) , ings ,

ab out how to work on Heg e l ' s writ­

c ontains an ardent ,

even if half exp lic it ,

desire t o

s e e t hat t he work whic h he hims e lf : c arried o ut in t he sphere of p hilosophy and in p op ula.r ising it s hould b e c on­ tinued by s omeone els e .

In t ne sp�ing of 1 922 ,

I lyic h

already f elt t hat his strength was go ing and it was wis h

t hat the work s ho uld not b e dropped .

11 1


As a res ult we are left with a fairly strong conv ic­ tion that Lenin did indeed b egin t o write a work on mate­ r ial ist di alec t i c s and did not leave t his hop e later t o c ontinue an d finis h t he work h e had started .

When it b ec ame

c lear t hat his hop es were apparently not to be realis e d , Lenin b equeathed the work he had s tart ed f o r ot hers to c on­ tinue . A ll of t hi s s heds a new light on the origins of the art i c l e " On t he Import anc e of Mil itant Mat eri al ism" ,

whic h

is j ustly regarded as Lenin ' s p hi l o s op hic al testament . I s ho uld l ik e t o express a s upp o s it ion about why Lenin had to interrupt his work on the . b o ok after he moved from Bern e to Zuric h in early 1 9 1 6 .

Lenin ' s Philo s ophical Note­

b o oks show t hat he was aware of the n e e d for g enera l i s a­ ti ons and " dialec t ical treatment"

in t hat b o ok not only of

t he history of p hilos op hy but a l s o of the history of indivi­ dua l natural s c i enc es . In 1 91 4 and 1 91 5 , _he had had t ime t o read a number of works o n t h e s e questions an d rev i ews o f t hem.

But d� ing t he First World War Lenin had l ittle opp or­

tunity for s uc h a vast undertaking as furt her p hi l o s op hica l

g en eralisation of t he r esults of the who le of mo dern natural s c i enc e ,

esp e c ial ly of its history and the history of its

individual branc hes .

His att ention was dr�wn to other vital

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