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THE CONTEMPORARY MARX Essays on Humanist Communism

by Mihailo Markovic

European Socialist Thought series No 3 SPOKESMAN BOOKS 1974

Published by The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Ltd. Bertrand Russell House Gamble Street, Nottingham for Spokesman Books Printed in Great Britain by Bristol Typesetting Co., Ltd. Barton Manor Bristol Copyright © Spokesman Books 1974 isbn o 85124 084 4

Contents

General Introduction to Series Foreword I II

Marx and Critical Scientific Thought

vii ix i

Hegelian and Marxist Dialectic

17

III

Science and Ideology

42

IV

Descriptive and Normative Conceptions of Human Nature

81

V

Ethics of a Critical Social Science

92

VI

Social Determinism and Freedom

no

Equality and Freedom

128

Man and his Natural Surroundings

140

Violence and Human Self-Realisation

153

The New Left and the Cultural Revolution

173

Contradictions in States with Socialist Constitutions

195

VII VIII IX X XI

XII Self-Management and Efficiency

208

General Introduction to the Series

Having passed through a veritable Dark Age, in which dogmatism and obscurantism held a world-wide predominance, and flourished alongside small-minded provinciality, socialist thought has, during the past two decades, undergone a veritable renaissance, affecting almost every major European country, East or West. The collapse of Stalinist orthodoxy has been accompanied by a renewal of radical thinking in some of the older social-democratic and communist parties, and the growth of several independent schools of young intellectuals who have been profoundly influenced by ideals of socialist humanism. Unfortunately, much of the most audacious and relevant thinking in France, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Germany has been kept out of reach in Britain by a combination of difficulties : commercial publishers have been conservative in taking on commit¬ ments unless the authors in question have been glamorous, publicityattractive figures; all those works which have had a strong empirical base in the experience of a national labour movement have tended to escape translation because it is widely assumed that the Englishspeaking public is not interested in the detailed sociology of other European countries; and the specialist socialist publishing houses have been highly selective in their choice of doctrinal filters for a variety of reasons. Extracts from the writings of such men as Mallet, Markovic or Goldmann have been featured in the periodical press in Britain, and some of the specialist works of these authors have found respectable imprints. But not only have major works escaped translation : so too have numerous practical, polemical and agitational writings, some of which are of very great interest to all socialists. The object of this series is to begin to remedy some of these deficiencies. It is hoped to make available a number of important vii

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES

original works of analysis as well as some more directly propagandist essays which will assist the Labour Movements of the English-speak¬ ing world to understand their colleagues. But it is also hoped that the series may assist in widening the dialogue between socialists in East and West Europe, and emphasising the organic unity of their interests and concerns.

Ken Coates, ig74

Foreword

As this book goes to press, its author is the centre of a wide-ranging controversy in his own country. Since Yugoslavia is rightly respected in the West as a pioneer of non-Stalinist forms of socialist develop¬ ment, and since many British socialists have looked with keen enthusiasm towards the bold experiments in self-management which have been pioneered in that country, this controversy is both important

and

ominous.

Self-management

in

economic life

is

inconceivable without the development of free critical discussion in academic and political life, so there is no intrinsic need for alarm about the outbreak of controversy among its proponents : but what makes this particular argument alarming is the weight of official pressure which appears to have been brought to bear upon the author of this work and his distinguished colleagues, in order, it seems, to meet the challenge of their viewpoint, and resolve the argument, by suppression. Mihailo Markovic has been a staunch collaborator of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, and indeed two of the essays in this volume were originally prepared for the Foundation :

one has

previously appeared in the Russell Centenary volume on Socialist Humanismf while the other was submitted to the Linz Seminar on Spheres of Influence in the Age of Imperialism2 which was organised to commemorate that Centenary. It was therefore considerably distressing to the members of the Foundation to learn that Markovic was coming under fire in Belgrade, for advocating ideals which were not only very close indeed to its own, but which had previously been widely identified as being an integral part of Yugoslavia’s inimitable contribution to world socialism. The Foundation had always been involved in causes which attracted widespread support in Yugoslavia, and not only on the plane of international politics. Notably, both Bertrand Russell personally, and the Foundation as IX

FOREWORD

a body, had given material assistance to the formation, in Britain, of the Institute for Workers’ Control, which had always proudly identified itself with the experiments in self-management in Yugo¬ slavia, and which has never failed to invite prominent spokesmen of the Yugoslav Trade Unions and Self-Management Institutes to its major conferences. More, Bertrand Russell himself had long enjoyed a relationship of great confidence with President Tito, based on their joint endorsement of the ideas of positive neutralism, and their hopes that the third world could come together to assert itself as a force for peace and social development, thus imposing a degree of rationality upon the superpowers, which might hopefully assist in their own evolution towards more humane patterns of social organisation. Indeed, there is much evidence that Tito himself saw Russell as something of a co-thinker, and this is reflected in the most generous obituary message which he sent to Edith Russell on her husband’s death.3 In February 1974 Noam Chomsky and Robert Cohen submitted a brief on the situation in Yugoslavia to the New York Review of Books* It had been prepared by people who had followed events extremely closely, and, as they said, there was every reason to believe it reliable. It made unhappy reading : ‘Between 1949 and 1950, a new generation of young philosophers and social theorists, many of whom took active part in the libera¬ tion war (1941-1945), graduated and assumed teaching positions at the universities of Belgrade and Zagreb. They appeared on the scene during Yugoslavia’s resistance to Stalin’s attempts to dominate the country. They were mostly Marxists, but from the beginning they opposed Stalinist dogmatism

and

emphasised freedom

of

research, humanism, openness to all the important achievements of present-day science and culture. The years 1950-60 marked a decade of discussions on basic theor¬ etical issues, organised by the Yugoslav Philosophical Association. The debates were quite free; several groups opposed one another on different grounds. By the end of this period they all realigned along two basic lines, the orthodox one which stayed within the traditional framework of dialectical materialism and which con¬ sidered theory to be essentially a reflection of the objective social situation and material surroundings, and the humanist one which emphasised the anticipatory and critical character of theory, its

x

FOREWORD

unity with praxis, and its great role in the process of humanisation of a given society. In i960, at a conference in Bled, the humanist, praxis-orientated trend prevailed and subsequently became dominant in Yugoslav universities, journals, institutes. In 1962 Yugoslav society experienced its first postwar stagnation as a result of an unsuccessful attempt to make its currency con¬ vertible. At the biennial meeting of the Yugoslav philosophical association in Skopje, in November, 1962, the view was expressed for the first time that it is urgent to go beyond abstract theoretical discussion about the nature of man and knowledge, about alienation and freedom, and the relation between philosophy and science— and towards a more concrete, critical study of Yugoslav society, guided by general humanist insights. In 1963 a series of conferences and discussions made an attempt to clarify some general social issues: the meaning of technology, of freedom and democracy, of social progress, of the role of culture in building a socialist society. In August, the Korcula Summer School was founded by Zagreb and Belgrade philosophers and sociologists, with the purpose of organising free international sum¬ mer discussions on actual social issues. In 1964 the journal Praxis was founded by the same group. A new series of discussions ensued, this time about sensitive issues of Yugoslav society : the meaning and the perspectives of socialism, bureaucratic and authoritarian tendencies in the party and the state apparatus, the advantages and weaknesses of the existing forms of self-management and the possibilities for their further development, the right of a minority to continue to defend its views rather than conforming to the views of the majority. Most of these critical views and ideas seemed compatible with the liberal Programme of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (accepted at the Seventh Congress, 1958),5 but in reality were met with intolerance by alarmed party leaders. The transition from criticism of Stalinism towards a concrete critical analysis of Yugo¬ slav society led to an almost complete break of communication between party officials and leading Marxist social and political philosophers. During the years from 1965-7, while preserving a far more elitist and authoritarian political system than a developed system of parxi

FOREWORD

ticipatory democracy could tolerate, the political leadership intro¬ duced an economic reform that was subsequently to fail: returning to a nineteenth-century model of a laissez-faire economy, leaving the Yugoslav economy at the mercy of big foreign firms in the ‘free competition’ of the international market, causing mass unemploy¬ ment and huge foreign debts, allowing speculation in real estate and a rapid increase of social differences, encouraging the growth of autarchic tendencies in the existing six republics of the Yugoslav federation—which later constituted a material basis for strong nationalist movements. Expression of critical views about these developments (them¬ selves

later

condemned

as

manifestations

of

‘liberalism’

and

‘nationalism’ by the party itself) was met by growing hostility by the party press. Critical philosophers and sociologists were branded ‘abstract

humanists’,

‘neoleftists’,

‘extreme

‘Utopians’, leftists’,

‘revisionists’,

finally,

‘political

‘anarcho-liberals’, opposition

that

aspires to political power.’ In June 1968, students of the University of Belgrade occupied all university buildings for seven days. They demanded abolition of bureaucratic privileges, further democratisation, solution of the problem of mass unemployment, reduction of social differences, university reform. In one of his speeches during the crisis, Tito praised the students, endorsed all their demands, and declared he would resign if he failed to realise them. Later, when this grave political crisis was over, the political leader¬ ship and Tito himself came to the conclusion that philosophers were responsible for it because through their lectures they had ‘corrupted their students’, ‘poisoned them with wrong ideas’, and thus produced the student movement. The party organisation at the Department of Philosophy and Sociology in Belgrade was dissolved. For the first time, Tito expressed the demand that further corruption ‘of students through their professors must be prevented’, and that guilty pro¬ fessors must be ousted from the university. Between 1969 and 1972, growing pressure was exerted by the Central Party leadership on lower-level political institutions to find a way to eliminate the professors. But this was a difficult task. Yugoslavia had developed a democratic organisation of education and culture. All decision-making power in matters of electing, rexii

FOREWORD

electing and promoting university professors was in the hands of the faculty councils—the autonomous, self-managing bodies composed of professors, assistants, and students themselves. The university law emphasised scholarly qualification as the sole criterion of election. It did not give political authorities any right to interfere. In the previous period, the officially declared policy of the League of Communists (LC) was that all theoretical controversies should be cleared up through discussion and free exchange of opinion. Therefore the rather democratically-minded leadership of the LC in Serbia resisted the use of repressive measures against some of the leading philosophers and sociologists of the country. They were, however, refused access to mass media and mass gatherings, and the possibilities for circulating their ideas became much more limited. Still, they were able to teach, to travel abroad, to have 300-400 participants from various countries at the Summer School of Korcula, to publish the journals Praxis and Filosofja, and occasion¬ ally to publish a book or two. The time was used to develop a cluster of fairly sophisticated and concrete theories about socialism and social revolution, integral self-management, the phenomenon of bureaucratism, humanisation of technology, democratic direction of economy and culture, the problem of nationalism, and other matters. In the autumn of 1972, Tito ousted the leader of the League of Communists of Serbia, Marko Nikezic and a number of his sup¬ porters. They were blamed for ‘liberal’ practices and for opposing the new party line. The main feature of this new line was the return to a strong, disciplined, centralised, ‘monolithic’, party that has the right and power directly to control and manage the realisation of its policies. This called for complete ideological unity, consequently for a return to a crude form of ideological indoctrination, and for the abandonment of all the earlier sophisticated ideas of creating new socialist consciousness through dialogues or struggles of opinion and patient persuasion. The Faculty of Philosophy was now exposed to intense pressure. There were rumours of ‘enemies’, ‘foreign spies’ on the teaching faculty; there were threats of stopping further financing, of closing the faculty. The faculty building was equipped with hidden micro¬ phones, some of which were found. The University Committee of the League of Communists drew up a list of eight professors to be xiii

FOREWORD

fired. Passports were confiscated from five of them. Portions of some of their recently published books were banned. Some collaborators of the journal Praxis were arrested and sentenced to jail. At that moment dozens of internationally known philosophers and social scientists from Scandinavia, USA, Germany, France, and other countries wrote letters to Tito and the rectors of the universities of Belgrade and Zagreb, expressing their concern about those repressive measures and the hope that they would be discon¬ tinued in the interest of further free development of Yugoslav democratic socialism. Many philosophical associations, departments of philosophy,

academies,

international

institutions

devoted

to

human rights and civil liberties passed resolutions of concern and sent them to Yugoslavia. This discreet expression of solidarity of the international intellec¬ tual community made a considerable impact on Yugoslav authori¬ ties, who were proud of their past international reputation and who, in the existing economic and foreign-political

situation of the

country, could not afford to disregard world public opinion., They decided to take their time and to give repression a more democratic appearance. Slowly crushing the resistance of the Faculty of Philosophy with¬ out provoking too much international publicity required a series of steps. Some of these were easy, some were met with unexpected difficulties or even failed completely. It was relatively easy to introduce certain important changes into existing university law. The law as now amended requires a uni¬ versity professor not only to have scholarly and moral qualifications, but also to be politically acceptable. Political organisations now have the right to initiate a procedure in order to establish whether any individual university teacher meets political criteria. A third change was a general and vague limitation of the principle of self-management. While heretofore the vast majority of the members of the faculty councils had to be elected by the faculty and students themselves, now the law prescribed that the composi¬ tion of the council had to be determined through a ‘self-managing agreement’ between the faculty and its founder—the Republican Executive Council Republic.)

(i.e.,

the government of the given

Federal

The next step was to translate those legal changes into more xiv

FOREWORD

specific and practical demands. The plan was first to specify political criteria for being a university professor in such a way that they could be applied to ousting the eight Belgrade professors, who previously could not be removed; second to push the party organ¬ isation and the students’ organisation into condemning their col¬ leagues and teachers; third to compel the University of Belgrade to accept a sufficient number of outside voting members into the councils so as to enable political authorities to gain full control over the decision-making process in the Faculty of Philosophy. These measures met with considerable resistance. When a text outlining criteria for the election of university professors was first proposed to the University Assembly in June, 1973, most speakers objected strongly to it. They found certain criteria too rigid, for example the requirement that a university professor must accept Marxism and actively support the politics of the League of Com¬ munists in his lectures and in all his scholarly and public activity. But later the Rector of the University, most deans, and eventually the University Assembly succumbed to the pressure, and in Novem¬ ber accepted the text of the criteria. Only the Faculty of Philosophy rejected it, and gave the follow¬ ing grounds, among others : it was unconstitutional because the existing constitution guarantees freedom of scientific work and cultural creation and forbids any kind of pressure on individuals to declare what kind of beliefs they have; it was unacceptable because the vast majority of Belgrade University professors are not Marxists and are apolitical; it was discriminatory because it allows, by its vagueness, any conceivable kind of interpretation; and it was dis¬ criminatory also because these criteria were being imposed on the University of Belgrade only, and not on any other Yugoslav university. In May 1973, the Belgrade University committee of the League of Communists sent an open letter to the party organisation of the Faculty of Philosophy, demanding the ouster of eight professors : Milhailo Markovic, Ljubomir Tadic, Svetozar Stojanovic, Zaga Pesic, Miladin Zivotic, Dragoljub Micunovic, Nebojsa Popov, Triva Indjic. After a series of meetings, attended by a large number of higher-ranking party officials who exerted great pressure on students and professors to conform to the demand, the party organisation of the Faculty of Philosophy nevertheless rejected the ouster demand. xv

FOREWORD

A few of the most active opponents were expelled from the party, but when the party organisation of the faculty met again in Novem¬ ber, it decided, again unanimously, that the eight professors should stay at the faculty. There was a complete conviction that a university professor cannot be fired for expressing critical views in his writings, especially taking into account that the party itself now was repeating many of the criticisms that were expressed by those same scholars several years ago. In November, 1973, a university committee of the student organ¬ isation made an attempt to force students of the Faculty of Philosophy into action against their professors, threatening them with possible violence if the faculty continued to resist. But the philosophy students refused to undertake anything of the sort and, on the contrary, to everyone’s surprise, organised a street demon¬ stration (although strictly forbidden in recent years, and in the past forcibly dispersed by the police). This time, students protested against repression in Greece and against the massacre in the Uni¬ versity of Athens. There was no violence. The crucial issue during the last six months has been the com¬ position of the faculty councils. Self-management in the university meant that even in the institutions of special social importance, such as educational ones, only a small number of outside members were nominated by political authorities. Now the executive council (the government) of the Serbian Republic demanded that half the mem¬ bers of the faculty councils must be nominated from outside the university. Taking into account that students and administration must also be represented in the councils, this would give only one sixth of the votes to both professors and assistants and would clearly replace self-management by compulsory management. By October, after initial resistance, the Rector of the University and all faculties except the Faculty of Philosophy succumbed to the pressure. They were told that this new structure had been pres¬ cribed by the university law and therefore could not be a matter of debate. As a matter of fact the law only prescribed that the com¬ position of the faculty councils had to be determined through a ‘self-managing agreement’ between the faculty and its founder (the Republic’s executive council). The Faculty of Philosophy refused to sign the agreement because it was unconstitutional and incom¬ patible with the principle of self-management, and because the very xvi

FOREWORD

concept of agreement involves negotiation. The faculty asked the Constitutional Court to decide about the legitimacy of the imposed agreement’. At the same time, the faculty also drew up a counter¬ proposal. But there was no negotiation and communication was broken. An extremely abusive campaign was launched against the Faculty of Philosophy through the party newspaper Komunist, as well as through the press, radio, and TV. The faculty was accused of opposing the introduction of ‘self-management’ at the university, of opposing the policy of the League of Communists, of keeping a monopoly on education, and of opposing any influence from ‘society’, of asking help from foreign scholars and so on. At the same time the faculty was threatened with expulsion from the University of Belgrade, with refusal to finance its further activity or to employ its graduate students, and with eventual close-down. Under growing pressure of this kind, the Faculty Council decided on December 14, 1973, to authorise its Dean to sign the ‘selfmanagement agreement’. The Faculty Council will now have half of its members nomin¬ ated by political authorities. They will certainly be carefully selected from among leading political officials and disciplined members of the League of Communists. They will surely pose the question of removing the eight professors from the Department of Philosophy and Sociology as they do not meet the recently accepted political criteria. This may still not be an easy task. According to law, assistants are re-elected every three years, associate professors and assistant professors every five years—which means that legally one would have to wait for the expiration of that period for each candidate. Full professors do not undergo the process of re-election at all (i.e. they have tenure), which means that two among the eight (Markovic and Tadic) cannot at this time legally be removed at all. Another important circumstance is also that the party organisa¬ tion of the Faculty of Philosophy—whose opinion counts when it comes to political evaluation—has never agreed to condemn, or endorse the elimination of, anyone from the group. A relevant fact is that the threatened scholars enjoy a consider¬ able reputation in the university and among other intellectuals. The action against them is not popular and, despite great efforts, the xvii

FOREWORD

apparatus of the League of Communists was not able to find any well-known Yugoslav philosopher, sociologist, or political scientist to attack them. The crucial questions are now, first, whether the outside mem¬ bers of the council will be disciplined enough by the government to perform according to their orders when they face their victims in the council; and second, whether some of the inner members of the council, professors from various other departments of the Faculty of Philosophy, will yield to pressure and eventually vote for the firing of their colleagues. Neither development is inevitable, but both are possible. Without strong political pressure many outside members would—as in the past—not even attend the meetings, or would be passive or vote with the rest. Thus everything will now depend on how brutal the effort will be and how far the political authorities will go in pressing the members of the council. Meanwhile, during the past six months several of the eight philosophers under attack have again been deprived of their passports. The degree of pressure will depend on whether the whole thing will pass in silence as a little episode in one of the world’s many universities, or whether it will be understood for what it is : one of the last battles for survival of free, critical, progressive thought in the present-day socialist world, in a country which is still open to democratic development and where until recently it seemed to have every chance to flourish. That is where the reaction of the international intellectual com¬ munity may again play a decisive role. The whole political and economic position of Yugoslavia makes it sensitive to world public opinion. By showing an interest in what is going on now in Yugoslav cultural life, by spreading the information, by raising the issue in international organisations, by expressing concern and protest in the press or in letters to Tito (which, after the recent escalation, should have more resolute and sharp form than previous ones), scholars and intellectuals everywhere could help to relax the present grip of the Yugoslav leadership and induce it to live up somewhat better to its own ideology of self-management and socialist democracy. All the repressive measures so far have not sufficed fully to isolate and suffocate Yugoslav philosophy. But this might well happen if the scholarly world will tolerate the further escalation of xviii

FOREWORD

brutality and fear in a country that until not long ago has been an island of hope for many.’6 To the official attacks listed in this general account a number of others have since been joined. Early in 1974 the Yugoslav Embassy in New York circulated a statement by its cultural attache, Branko Novakovic, which repeated the most ill-informed and defamatory allegations of the accusations brought against the philosophers by the Belgrade authorities. The English-language journal Socialist Thought and Practice, published in Belgrade, gave over more than twenty pages of its March 1974 issue to a multi-pronged attack under the general heading ‘The Extreme Left—Actually the Right’, in which Nikola Filipovic, for instance, writes of ‘the counter-revo¬ lutionaries from the ranks of the humanistic intelligentsia’, while Franc Gengle writes of ‘an anachronism’ which must be ‘removed, to prevent it from doing great harm to the cause of communism.’7 The Congress of the Yugoslav Communist Party, still awaited at the time of writing, was scheduled for late May 1974, and a round of international diplomacy was planned for President Tito at about the same time. Previous to these events, there had been a lull of several weeks in the public campaign against dissent, which could prove to have been a temporary one. It may be that the Congress could result in attempts to resolve matters finally.8 Meanwhile, protests of scholars from all over the world have been pouring into Belgrade. While earnestly hoping that these will not be needed, the publishers are confident that this volume serves not only to advance the crucial arguments with which it is concerned, but also to furnish proof, if proof be needed, that the Belgrade school is one of the major creative achievements of European socialism, and is, as such, the property of a far wider world than that contained in the frontiers of Yugoslavia alone.

II A note on translations Since the technical vocabulary of Hegelian thought is not always readily understood by contemporary readers, it may be helpful to offer some brief explanatory notes, taken from Martin Milligan’s excellent translation of the Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts of Karl Marx :9 xix

FOREWORD

‘Aufheben (past tense: aufhob, p.p. aufgehoben; noun: Aufhebung). Aufheben (literally “to raise up”) has two opposed meanings in popular speech, (i) It can mean “to abolish”, “to cancel”,

to

annul”, “to do away with”, etc. (ii) It can mean “to preserve”. Hegel, valuing the word just because of this double, negative and positive, meaning (see The Logic of Hegel tr. Wallace, 2nd ed., p. 180), uses it to describe the positive-negative action by which a higher logical category or form of nature or spirit, in superseding a lower, both “annuls” it and “incorporates its truth.” Unfortun¬ ately, there is no single English word with the same double mean¬ ing, except “sublate”, a technical term adopted for the purpose by some translators of Hegel. . . .’ Milligan goes on to distinguish between the double sense of the word, and its commonplace negative meaning. For the former he uses the translation

‘supersede’

or

‘transcend’ :

for

the

latter,

‘abolish’ or ‘annul’. ‘Entaussern (pp. entaussert; noun : Entausserung.) The ordinary dictionary meanings of entaussern are “to part with”, “to renounce”, “to cast off”, “to sell”, “to alienate” (a right, or one’s property). The last of these best expresses the sense in which Marx uses this term. For “alienate” is the only English word which combines, in much the same way as does entaussern, the ideas of “losing” something which nevertheless remains in existence over-against one, of something passing from one’s own into another’s hands, as a result of one’s own act, with the idea of “selling”

something:

that is to say, both “alienate”

and

entaussern have, at least as one possible meaning, the idea of a sale, a transference of ownership, which is simultaneously a renun¬ ciation. At the same time, the word entaussern has, more strongly than “alienate”, the sense of “making external to oneself. . . .” ’

xx

Ill Acknowledgements A number of acknowledgements are necessary, since this book was prepared in Nottingham while its author was either in Yugo¬ slavia or travelling in a number of countries. The English texts of these essays were mostly furnished by the author, but two of them have been translated by others : Stephen Bodington prepared the translation of ‘Science and Ideology’ from the French version which was originally published in Questions Actuelles du Socialisme, No. 55, October/December 1959. ‘The New Left and the Cultural Revolution’ was translated from the German by Ekkehard Kopp and was originally published by Praxis, Zagreb, Nos. 1/2, 1971. A number of the other essays published in this book have previ¬ ously appeared in other volumes or reviews. ‘Marx and Critical Scientific Thought’ in Praxis, Zagreb, Nos. 3/4, 1968, ‘Ethics of a Critical Social Science’ in the International Social Sciences Journal volume XXIV, No. 4, 1972, ‘Social Determinism and Freedom’ in Mind, Science and History, volume 2 of Contemporary Philo¬ sophic Thought: The International Philosophy Year Conferences at Brockport, igyo; ‘Violence and Human Self-Realisation’ was one of the Essays on Socialist Humanism published by Spokesman Books in 1972. ‘Contradictions in States with Socialist Constitutions’ was first given as a paper at the Bertrand Russell Centenary Symposium held at Linz, Austria in September 1972, and subsequently pub¬ lished in Spheres of Influence in the Age of Imperialism by Spokes¬ man Books in 1973; ‘Self-Management and Efficiency’ was given as a paper at the Korcula Summer Conference in September 1973* Finally, we must acknowledge the admirable work done by Colin Stoneman and Chris Farley in preparing the texts and reading the proofs. Ken Coates

xxi

NOTES 1. 2.

Published by Spokesman Books in 1972. Published in a volume of the same name by The Spokesman January

3. 4. 5.

See The Spokesman No. 3 1970. In the issue of February 7 th, 1974. The important early essay in this volume, Science and Ideology, was prepared at this time. An abbreviated version of this paper appeared in the London journal The New Humanist, in March 1974. The same journal featured an open letter to President Tito, signed by Professors Ayer, Bronowski, Cranston, Crick, Darlington, Sargant Florence, Honderich, Leach, Strawson, Wells, Williams, Wollheim, and Ziman. Another letter to Presi¬ dent Tito was organized by the Russell Foundation, and attracted signa¬ tures from many people prominent in public and academic life in Great Britain. The journal features articles on this theme by Muhamed Filipovic, Franjo Kozul, Fuad Muhic, Joco Marjanovic, Besim Ibrahimpasic and Arif Tanovic in addition to those mentioned. All are conspicuous by their vagueness on matters of substance. None quote directly from the works they criticise, and all content themselves with generalised condemna¬ tions rather than specific charges. See Jonathan Steele: ‘Losing Dissent’ in The Guardian, 19th January

1973-

6.

7.

8. 9.

I974:

Published in Moscow by the Foreign Languages Publishing House in 1961.

XXXI

I

Marx and Critical Scientific Thought

marx created

a

theory which is both scientific and

critical.

However, in most interpretations and further developments of his thought one of these two essential characteristics has been system¬ atically overlooked. Among those who speak in the name of Marx or consider themselves his intellectual followers some accept only his radical criticism of the society of his time, some lay emphasis only on his contribution to positive scientific knowledge about contemporary social structures and processes. To the former group belong, on the one hand, various apologists of post-capitalist society who develop Marxism as an ideology; on the other hand, those romantically-minded humanists who consider positive knowledge a form of intellectual subordination to the given social framework and who are ready to accept only the anthropological ideas of the young Marx. To the latter group belong all those scientists who appreciate Marx’s enormous contribution to modern social science, but who fail to realise that what fundamentally distinguishes Marx’s views from Comte, Mill, Ricardo and other classical social scientists, as well as from modern positivism, is his always present radical criticism both of existing theory and of existing forms of reality. The failure of most contemporary interpreters of Marx to grasp one of the basic novelties of his doctrine has very deep roots in the intellectual climate of our time and can be explained only by taking into account some of the fundamental divisions and polarisations in contemporary theoretical thinking.

I The development of science and philosophy in the twentieth century has been decisively influenced by the following three factors: l

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

(1) the accelerated growth of scientific knowledge which gave rise to a new technological revolution characterised by automation, use of huge new sources of energy and new exact methods of management; (2) discovery of the dark irrational side of human nature through psycho-analysis, anthropological investigations of primitive cultures, surrealism and other trends of modern arts, and above all, through unheard of mass eruptions of brutality from the beginning of World War I until the present day; (3) the beginning of the process of destructuralisation of the existing forms of class society and the rapidly increasing role of ideology and politics. As a result of a rapid technological development and of an increasing division of work in modern industrial society the rational¬ ity of science has gradually been reduced to a narrow technological rationality of experts interested only in promoting and conveying positive knowledge in a very special field. In an effort to free itself from the domination of theology and mythology, modern science has from its beginnings tended to get rid of unverifiable theoretical generalisations and value judgments. As a consequence, a spiritual vacuum was created which, under the given historical conditions, could be filled only by faith in power, faith in success in all various forms. This philosophy of success, this obsession with the efficiency of means, followed by an almost total lack of interest in the problem of rationality and humanity of goals, are the essential characteristics of the spiritual climate of contemporary industrial society. By now it has already become quite clear that while increasing power over nature, material wealth, and control over some blind forces of history have created new historical opportunities for human emancipation, the material form of positive science (industry) has neglected many essential human needs and has extended the possibilities for manipulation of human beings. The universal pene¬ tration of technology into all forms of social life has been followed by the penetration

of routine,

uniformity,

and

inauthenticity.

Growth of material wealth did not make men happier; data on suicide, alcoholism, mental illness, juvenile delinquency, etc., even indicate a positive correlation between the degree of technological development and social pathological phenomena. Obviously, positive science and technology set off unpredicted and uncontrollable social processes. The scientist who does not care about the broader social context of his inquiry loses every control over the 2

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

product of his work. The history of the creation and use of nuclear weapons is a drastic example. Another one is the abuse of science for ideological purposes. The most effective and, therefore, most dangerous propaganda is not one which is based on obvious un¬ truths, but one which, for the rationalisation of the interests of privileged social groups, uses partial truths established by science. Science would be helpless against such abuses if it were atomised, disintegrated, disinterested in the problems of wholes and neutral with regard to such general human values as emancipation, human solidarity, development, production according to the ‘laws of beauty’, disalienation, etc. However, the most influential philosophy in contemporary science is positivism, according to which the sole function of science is to describe and explain what there is and, if at least some laws are known, to extrapolate what there might probably be. All evaluation in terms of needs, feelings, ideals, ethical, aesthetic and other standards are considered basically irrational and, from the scienti¬ fic point of view, pointless. The only function of science, then, is the investigation of the most adequate means for the ends which have been laid down by others. In such a way science loses power to supersede the existing forms of historical reality and to project new, essentially different, more humane historical possibilities. By its in¬ difference towards goals it only leads to an abstract growth of power, and to a better adjustment within a given framework of social life. The very framework remains unchallenged. So behind this apparent neutrality and apparent absence of any value orientation one dis¬ covers an implicit conservative orientation. Even a passive resistance to the reduction of science to a mere servant of ideology and politics is acceptable to the ruling elites because pure, positive, disintegrated knowledge can always be interpreted and used in any profitable way : ultimately society would be devoid of its critical self-conscious¬ ness. II Positivism and other variants of philosophical intellectualism, conformism, and utilitarianism are facing nowadays a strong opposition among all those philosophers, writers and artists who prefer ‘the logic of heart’ to ‘the logic of reason’, and who rebel against the

3

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

prospect of an impersonal, inauthentic life in an affluent mass society of the future. They see clearly that power and material wealth in themselves do not help man to overcome his anxiety, loneliness, his perplexity, boredom,

uprootedness,

his

spiritual

and

emotional

poverty. New experiences in political life, modern art, and science indicate a general lack of order and stability in the world and the presence of a basic human irrationality. Thus they have strengthened the feeling that after all the successes of the positive sciences and technology a fragile, unreasonable and suicidal society has emerged. As a reaction to the spirit of the Enlightenment (which had to some extent survived in the form of positivism) a powerful antiEnlightenment attitude is gaining ground among intellectuals. The world does not make sense, there is no rational pattern by which the individual can hope to master it, no causal explanation which would allow him to predict the future. There is no determination and pro¬ gress in history; all history of civilisation is only the history of grow¬ ing human estrangement and self-deception. Human existence is absurd and utterly fragile. Confronted with a universe in which there is pure contingency, lacking any stable structure of his being, man lives a meaningless life full of dread, guilt, and despair. There are no reasons to believe that man is basically good; evil is a per¬ manent possibility of his existence. Such an anti-positivist and anti-Enlightenment philosophy (which has been most consistently expressed in Lebensphilosophie and various forms of existentialism) is clearly a critical attitude, concerned with the problems of human individual existence. However, this kind of rebellion against the ‘given’ and the ‘existing’ tends to be as immediate as possible and to avoid any mediation by positive know¬ ledge and logic. The basic idea of this obviously anti-rationalist form of criticism is the following : to rely on empirical science already means to be caught up within the framework of the given present reality. On the other hand, as neither historical process nor human being has any definite structure preceding existence, all general knowledge is pointless. Nothing about the present can be inferred from the past, nor can the future be determined on the basis of the knowledge of the present. All possibilities are open. Freedom of pro¬ jection is unlimited. This kind of romantic rebellious criticism is entirely powerless. Postulated absolute freedom is only freedom of thought; as already

4

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

shown by Hegel in Phenomenologie des Geistes, it is the imagined freedom of a slave. Real criticism must start with the discovery of concrete practical forms of slavery, with the examination of human bonds and real practical possibilities of liberation. Without such con¬ crete practical examination, which requires the use of all relevant social knowledge and application of the scientific method, criticism is only an alienated form of disalienation. Ill In a historical epoch of fundamental social transformation a theory which expresses the needs and acceptable programmes of action of powerful social forces becomes one of the decisive historical determining factors. The theory of Marx has been playing such a revolutionary role for the whole historical epoch of human emancipation from alien¬ ated labour. It has been and still is the existing theoretical basis for every contemporary form of active and militant humanism. The critical thought of Marx is the fullest and historically the most developed expression of human rationality. It contains, in a dialectically superseded form, all the essential characteristics of ancient Greek theoria : a rational knowledge about the structure of the world by which man can change the world and determine his own life. Hegel’s dialectical reason is already a really creative nega¬ tion of the Greek notion of ratio and theory : here the contradictions between static, rational thinking and irrational dynamics, between positive assertion

and

abstract negation have been

superseded

(,aufgehoben). The theory and method of Marx is a decisive further step in the process of totalisation and concretisation of the dialectical reason : it embraces not only change in general but also the specific human historical form of change : praxis. The dialectic of Marx poses the question of rationality not only of an individual but also of society as a whole, not only rationality within a given closed system, but also of the very limits of the system as a whole, not only rationality of praxis as thinking but also of praxis as material activ¬ ity, as mode of real life in space and time. There is dialectical reason in history only to the extent to which it creates a reasonable reality. This theoretico-practical conception of man and human history had not been further developed by Marx’s followers as a totality, but

5

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

underwent a far-reaching disintegration into its component parts : various branches of social science, philosophical anthropology, dia¬ lectics, philosophy of history, the conception of proletarian revolu¬ tion and socialism as a concrete programme of practical action, etc. Science without dialectic and humanist philosophy incorporated in its telos, in all its assumptions, criteria and methods of inquiry, underwent in socialist society a process analogous to the one in capitalism : it developed as partial, positive, expert knowledge which informs about the given but does not seek to discover its essential inner limitations and to overcome it radically. The connection with philosophy remained doubly external: first, because it assimilates the principles of Marxism in a fixed, completed form as something given, obligatory, imposed by authority, abstract, tom out of context, simplified, vulgarised; second, because these principles externally applied do not live the life of science, are not subject to the process of normal critical testing, re-examining, revising, but become dogmas of a fixed doctrine. That is why

Marxist philosophy became

increasingly more

abstract, powerless, conservative. That part of it which pretended to be a Weltanschauung looked more and more like a boring, oldfashioned, primitive Naturphilosophic, and the other part which was supposed to express the general principles for the interpretation of social phenomena and revolutionary action assumed increasingly the character of pragmatic apologetic which was expected to serve as a foundation of ideology and for the justification of past and present policies. This temporary degeneration is the consequence of several im¬ portant circumstances: —of the fact that the theory of Marx became official ideological doctrine of victorious labour movements; —of the unexpected success of revolutions just in the under¬ developed countries of East Europe and Asia where, in addition to socialist objectives the tasks of a previous primitive accumulation, industrialisation, urbanisation have to be accomplished; —of the necessity, in such conditions, to give priority to acceler¬ ated technological development, to establish a centralised system and to impose an authoritarian structure on all thinking and social behaviour. Thus a return to Marx and a reinterpretation of his thought is

6

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

needed in order to restore and to further develop a critical method of Marx’s theoretical thinking. IV The essential theoretical and methodological novelty of Marx’s conception of science is constituted by the following features : First, by moving in the process of research from unanalysed given concrete phenomena (such as population, wealth, etc.) towards abstract universals (such as commodity, labour, money, capital, surplus-value, etc.) and from them back towards (this time) analysed empirico-theoretical concreteness, Marx succeeds in overcoming the traditional dualism between the empirical and the rational (specula¬ tive) approach. There is no doubt that he makes great efforts in order to support each of his contentions by as ample evidence as possible. All his major works were preceded by years of studying data, establishing facts. But, in sharp contrast to empiricism, Marx’s science neither begins with brute facts nor remains satisfied with simple inductive generalisations from them. His real starting position is a philosophical vision and a thorough critical study of all preced¬ ing relevant special knowledge. Initial evidence is only a necessary component of the background against which he builds up a whole network of abstract scientific concepts endowed with an impressive explanatory power. This elaboration of a new conceptual apparatus (new not so much in the sense of introducing new terminology as in the sense of giving new meanings to already existing terms) is the most important and most creative part of Marx’s scientific work. Second, according to Marx, science should not be primarily con¬ cerned with the description of details and explanation of isolated phenomena but with the study of whole structures, of social situa¬ tions taken in their totality. That is why Marx’s new science does not know about any sharp division into branches and disciplines. Das Kapital belongs not only to economic science, but also to socio¬ logy, law, political science, history, and philosophy. However, al¬ though the category of totality plays such an overwhelming role in the methodology of Marx, this is not a purely synthetic approach. Marx knew that any attempt to grasp totalities directly without analytical mediation leads to myth and ideology. Therefore, a necessary phase

7

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

of his method is the analysis of initial directly grasped wholes into their components, which in the final stages of inquiry have to be brought back into various relations with other components and con¬ ceived only as moments within a complex structure. Third, some variants of contemporary aspects of social formations, and structuralism which pays attention only to their synchronic aspects are degenerated, one-sided developments of certain essential moments of Marx’s method. However, in Marx’s new science these moments are inseparable. A totality cannot be fully understood with¬ out taking into account its previous development and the place it has in history. A socio-economic system becomes a meaningful structure only as a crystallisation of the past forms of human practice and with respect to historically possible futures. On the other hand, what is historically possible cannot be grasped without taking into account determinant structural characteristics of the whole given situation. Marx has discovered self-destructive forces within the very structure of the capitalist system; without establishing the law of decreasing average rate of profit and other laws of capitalist economy, he would not have been able to establish the real historical possibility of the disappearance of capitalist society. But on the other hand, had he not had a profound sense of history, had he approached capitalist society in the same ahistorical way as Smith, Ricardo and other bourgeois political economists—as the permanent natural structure of human society—he would hardly have been able to look for and find out all those structural features which determine both relative stability and ultimate transformation of the whole system. Fourth, a true sense of history implies a critical component not only with respect to all rival theories but also with respect to the examined society. Marx’s dialectics is essentially a method of critique and of revolutionary practice. He himself had expressed this funda¬ mental characteristic of his method by saying that dialectics arouses the anger and horror of the bourgeoisie because it introduces into the positive understanding of the existing state the understanding of its negation, involving its necessary destruction; because it conceives every existing form in its change, therefore as something in transi¬ tion ; because it does not let anything impose upon it, and because it is fundamentally critical and revolutionary.1 This thought was ex¬ pressed much earlier in ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ : the basic weakness of traditional materialism was construing reality only as object, not

8

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

as praxis. This praxis is critical and revolutionary. Thus man is not just the product of social conditions, but the being who can change these conditions. He lives in a world full of contradictions, but he can resolve and practically remove them. The main objective of philosophical criticism should be the ‘real essence’ of man; however, this essence is not something ahistorical and unchangeable but the totality of social relationship. In short, what really matters is not just explanation but the change of the world. What must follow from such activistic assumptions is a new con¬ ception of the function of science. According to this conception, science does not only provide positive knowledge but also develops critical self-consciousness. It does not only describe and explain the historical situation but also evaluates it and shows the way out. It does not only discover laws and establish what are the possibilities and probabilities of the future, it also indicates which possibilities best correspond to certain basic human needs. Thus critical scientific thought does not remain satisfied by showing how man can best adjust to the prevailing trends of a situation and to the whole social framework; it expresses a higher-level idea of rationality by show¬ ing how man can change the whole framework and adapt it to himself. Two examples should suffice to illustrate this conception of critical science. In his economic writings Marx thoroughly examined the struc¬ tural and functional characteristics of capitalist society. He did that in an objective way in accordance with all requirements of the scientific method of his time. But a critical anthropological stand¬ point is always present; this is the standpoint of man as ‘generic being’, as a potentially free, creative, rational social being. From the point of view of what man already could be : how he already could live in a highly productive and integrated industrialised society, Marx shows how utterly limited and crippled man is in a system in which he is reduced to his labour power, and his labour power is being bought as a thing, regarded not as a creative power, but as merely a quantity of energy which can be efficiently objectified and sold in the market with a good profit. The message of Marx s theory is not that the worker could better adjust to the situation by demand¬ ing a higher price for his labour power; in so far as his labour power is a mere commodity, he already receives the equivalent for it. The

9

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

implication of Marx’s theory is that the worker should reject the status of a thing, of a commodity, and change the whole social framework in which his labour is so alienated. Another example. In his criticism of Hegelian philosophy of law, Marx pointed out that the general interest of a human community could not be constituted by the abstract conception of an ideal, rational state. So far as in ‘civil society’ there is bellum omnium contra omnes and each individual and social group pursues only one or the other particular interest, the general interest of a truly human community has not yet been constituted. The Hegelian state, con¬ strued as a moment of objective spirit, exists only in abstract thought. What exists in reality is alienated political power beside and above all other individual and particular interests. The form of this alien¬ ated political power, which treats society as the simple object of its activity, is the state with its bureaucracy. Now, Marx’s explanation of the nature of professional politics, state and bureaucracy does not lead to the conclusion that man could be freer if he merely makes the state more democratic or increases control over bureaucracy. Without disregarding the temporary importance of such modifica¬ tions, Marx opens up the prospects of a radical human emancipation by altogether abolishing the state and political bureaucracy as forms of social organisation. This, according to Marx, is possible if organ¬ ised labour, the only class whose ultimate interests coincide with those of mankind as a whole, practically removes the economic and political monopoly of any particular social group. The atomised, disintegrated world of the owners of commodities would, in such a way, be superseded by an integrated community of producers. The state would be replaced by the organs of self-management, i.e., by institutions composed of the true representatives of the people who have been elected by a general free vote, who are immediately responsible to and replaceable by their electors, and who do not enjoy any privileges for the duties they perform. V The nature of the key concepts in Marx’s anthropology and philo¬ sophy of history best shows the character of his theoretical thought. These concepts are not only descriptive and explanatory but also value-laden and critical. io

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

Thus Marx’s criticism of fetishism of commodities in Das Kapital can be understood only under his assumption of a truly human pro¬ duction in which man affirms himself and another man in a double way: —by objectifying his individuality and experiencing his personal¬ ity as an objective, sensate power; —by an immediate awareness that by his activity and by the use of his product a need of another human being would be satisfied; —by mediating between the other man and generic human being: his activity has become a part of the other human being and has enriched and complemented it; —this mediation allows man to immediately affirm and fulfil his own true generic being.2 Alienated labour is labour which lacks these qualities. In a similar way the concepts of social man, human needs, history, freedom, state, capital, communism, etc. always imply a distinction between actual and possible, between factual and ideal. Social man is not just the individual who lives together with other individuals, or who simply conforms to the given norms of a society. Such a person can be very far from reaching the level of a social being. On the other hand, a person may be compelled to live in isolation and still profoundly need the other person and carry in his language, thinking, and feeling all essential characteristics of human generic being. In this sense Marx distinguishes, for example, between man who regards woman as ‘prey and the handmaid of communal lust’, ‘who is infinitely degraded in such an existence for himself’, and man whose ‘natural behaviour towards woman has become human’ and ‘whose needs have become human needs’. This ‘most natural im¬ mediate and necessary relationship’ shows to what extent man ‘is in his individual existence at the same time a social being’.3 Furthermore, history is not just a series of events in time—it pre¬ supposes supersession of ‘the realm of necessity’ and full emancipa¬ tion of man. That is why Marx sometimes labelled history of our time as ‘prehistory’. Freedom never meant for Marx only choice among several pos¬ sibilities or ‘the right to do and perform anything that does not harm others’. Freedom in Marx’s sense is ability of self-determination and of rationality controlling blind forces of nature and history. ‘All B



THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

emancipation is restoration of the human world and the relation¬ ships of men themselves’.4 The State is not just any social organisation which directs social processes and takes care of order and stability of the society. The typical feature of the State, according to Marx, is its coercive character as an instrument of the ruling class. The State is institu¬ tionalised alienated power. Therefore Marx very definitely held the view that the labour movement must abolish the institution of the State very soon after a successful revolution and replace it by associations of workers. Capital is not only objectified, stored-up labour in the form of money or any particular commodity. It is the objectified labour which at the given level of material production appropriates the surplus value. The objective form of capital conceals and mystifies a social relationship beyond it; the object mediates between those who produce and those who rule. There is no doubt that both in early and mature writings the concept of communism does not only express a possible future social state, but contains also an evaluation of that society. In the Econo¬ mic and Philosophical Manuscripts there are even three different descriptions and evaluations : i : ‘crude communism’ in which ‘the domination of material property looms so large that it aims to destroy everything that is incapable of being possessed by everyone as private property’; 2 : communism ‘a) still political in nature, b) with the abolition of the state, yet still incomplete and influenced by private property, that is by alienation of man’; 3 : communism ‘as positive abolition of private property, of human self-alienation’.5 But even when Marx in The German Ideology denies that communism is ‘an ideal to which reality will have to adjust’, he says, ‘we call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of affairs’.6 Here the adjective ‘real’ clearly is a value term. Therefore any attempt to determine the nature of Marx’s scientific thought should lead to the conclusion that it is both a knowledge and a vision of the future. As knowledge, it is vastly different from the idea of knowledge of any variant of empiricist philosophy be¬ cause, among other things, for Marx our future project determines the sense of everything in the present and the past, and this pre¬ liminary vision of the future is more the expression of a revolt than a mere extrapolation of the present trends established in an em12

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

pirical way. And yet, no matter how bold and passionate was this vision of the future, it is not merely an arbitrary dream or a utopian hope. The future is not a logical inference from the present situation, it is not the result of a prediction made according to the methodo¬ logical standards of empirical science, neither is it divorced from the present and the past. At the beginning of the inquiry it is a relatively a priori projection (based more on preceding theory than on em¬ pirical data). But, when at the end of the inquiry it is shown that the preliminary vision by all available evidence about actual trends is the present reality, then a posteriori, this vision of the future be¬ comes part of a meaningful knowledge. This dialectic of the future and the present, of the possible and the actual, of philosophy and of science, of value and fact, of a priori and a posteriori, of criticism and description is perhaps the essential methodological contribution of Marx to contemporary science—one which so far has not sufficiently been taken into account even by the followers of Marx themselves. VI In order to clarify and further elaborate the contention about the critical character of Marx’s scientific thought the following further qualifications should be made. i : Criticism is present in all Marx’s works at all stages of his intellectual development. To distinguish sharply between a value¬ laden humanist utopia of the young Marx and value-free scientific structuralism of the mature Marx would be a grave error indicating a superficial study of his work. To be sure, there are some important differences in methodology, in richness, and concreteness of the con¬ ceptual apparatus used, in the extent to which theory is supported by empirical evidence. However, the fundamental critical position is the same. There is often only a change of vocabulary or sub¬ stitution of specific terms applicable to capitalistic society for general terms applicable to society in general. For example, what Marx calls ‘alienated labour’ in his early writings (e.g. in Economic and Philo¬ sophical Manuscripts) will be expressed in Capital by ‘the world of commodities’. Or, in his criticism of Hegel’s philosophy of rights Marx says that ‘the abolition of bureaucracy will be possible when general interest becomes a reality’ and ‘particular interest really

13

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

becomes a general interest’. In Capital and in his analysis of the experience of the Paris Commune, Marx is much more concrete and explicit; associated producers will do away with the State and take control over the exchange with nature into their own hands. 2: Marxist criticism is radical although not destructive in a nihil¬

istic sense. Without understanding the Hegelian concept aufheben the nature of this criticism can hardly be grasped.* In spite of the differences between Hegel’s and Marx’s method, the idea of dialectical negation contains both a moment of dis¬ continuity and of continuity : the former in so far as the given can¬ not be accepted as it is (as truth in Hegel’s logic, as satisfactory human reality in Marx’s interpretation of history); the latter in so far as a component of the given must be conserved as the basis for further development—it is only the inner limitation which has to be overcome. Most Marxists are not quite clear about the nature of Marxist criticism—which is not surprising taking into account how few have tried to interpret Marx in the context of the whole intellectual tradition to which he belongs. However, a good deal of misunder¬ standing is of ideological character. Thus in order to develop a militant optimism or to express a natural revolt against tendencies to a market economy in underdeveloped socialist countries, some Marxists tend to underestimate the importance of those forms of civilisation, of political democracy, of educational, and of welfare institutions which have been developed in western industrial society. Marx took into account the possibility of such a primitive negation of private property and called it ‘crude’ and ‘unreflective’ com¬ munism, which ‘negates the personality of man in every sphere’, ‘sets up universal envy and levelling down’, ‘negates in an abstract way the whole world of culture and civilisation’, and regresses to ‘unnatural simplicity of the poor and wantless individual who has not only not surpassed private property but has not yet even attained to it’.7 Thus, there can hardly be any doubt that for Marx a true negation of class society and alienated labour is possible only at a high level of historical development. * Editor’s footnote: Martin Milligan, in his notes on Hegelian terminology which are incorporated in his translation of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (Lawrence and Wishart, 1968) has given a careful account of this and other Hegelian terms. See Foreword, pp ix to xx.

*4

MARX AND CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT

Such a negation presupposes an abundance of material goods, various civilised patterns of human behaviour (which arise in the process of disappearance of scarcity), and, most important of all, it presupposes an individual who, among other things, has overcome at least the elementary, rudest forms of greed for material objects. While in this respect some Marxists appear as radical critics who fail to realise that certain features of advanced capitalism are neces¬ sary conditions for any higher level forms of society, they may, on the other hand, in some other essential respects, make the impression of mere reformers who remain quite satisfied with certain initial changes and who too soon become predominately interested in preserving the status quo instead of persisting in their revolutionary role and striving for further and deeper structural changes. What present-day socialism offers as the practical solution of the fundamental problems of alienated labour and political alienation is a far cry from a really radical criticism, from real supersession of alienation in capitalist society. Thus the essential source of exploitation and of all other aspects of economic alienation lies in the rule of objectified, stored-up labour over living labour.8 The social group which disposes of stored-up labour is able to appropriate the surplus value. The specific historical form of this structure in Marx’s time was the disposal of capital on the grounds of private ownership of the means of production : how¬ ever, private property is not the cause but the effect of alienated labour. Abolition of the private ownership of the means of pro¬ duction is only abolition of one possible specific form of the rule of dead labour over living labour. The general structure remains if there is any other social group such as, for example, bureaucracy, which retains a monopoly of decision-making concerning the dis¬ posal of accumulated and objectified labour. Therefore, only such criticism might be considered radical and truly revolutionary which puts a definitive end to exploitation and which aims at creating conditions in which associated producers themselves will dispose of the products of their labour. Another example. If the state, as such, is historically a form of alienated political power, the abolition of the bourgeois state is only the important step in the process of disalienation of politics. This step, according to Marx, (and Lenin in State and Revolution) must be followed by a transitional period of the gradual withering away

15

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

of any coercive state apparatus. Unless such an apparatus is replaced by an entirely different social organisation all the symptoms of political alienation, such as apathy, distrust, lust for power, need for charismatic leaders and for ideological rationalisation, use of all the available techniques for manipulating masses, and so on, will be reproduced. In so far as in man there is a profound Faustian need to rebel against any permanent historically determined limitation in nature, society and in himself, he will strive to supersede practically such limits, to develop further his human world and his own nature. Such an activistic attitude towards the world will always need philosophical and scientific thought boldly and radically critical of existing reality.

NOTES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Marx, Capital, Afterword to the second German edition. Marx-Engels, Gesamtausgabe, I, Bd. 3, S. 546. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (Marx’s Concept of Man) by Erich Fromm, New York 1961, p. 126-127. Marx, On the Jewish Question, ‘Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society’ ed. by Lloyd Easton. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (Op. cit.) p. 127. Marx, German Ideology, ‘Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society’ (Op. cit.), p. 426. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (Op. cit.) p. 125. Marx-Engels Archives, Moscow 1933, S. 68.

16

II

Hegelian and Marxist Dialectic

the

ambiguous character of the dialectic has been best expressed

by Marx in the Postscript to his Second edition of Capital: ‘In its mystified form the dialectic has become a German fashion because it appears to be able to justify reality. In its rational form it arouses the anger and horror of the bourgeoisie and its doctrinaire spokesmen because it is not satisfied with a positive understanding of the existing state of affairs, and also introduces an understanding of its negation, of its necessary doom, because it conceived each existing form as a process, therefore as something transient, because it cannot bear to have anybody as a tutor, and because it is essen¬ tially critical and revolutionary.’ The great disadvantage of the dialectic is the fact that it has too often been developed ‘in a mystified apologetic form’. Two cases are especially worth mentioning. Hegel himself, who has contributed more than any other philosopher to a systematic and explicit elaboration of the dialectic, to a critical analysis of the whole history of human thought, to the affirmation of a generic, historical approach to all phenomena - has at the same time created the most monumental apology of all time. Once his philosophy was construed as the self-consciousness of the Absolute Reason, it followed that the present was entirely the function of the past and devoid of any real future. It also followed that the only conceivable rationality of individuals and social groups consisted in their con¬ scious subordination to the logical pattern of his system. Another mystification

of

dialectics

took

place

among

those

followers of Marx who reduced it to a set of general ‘laws’ and then began to rationalise whatever looked irrational by simply subsuming it under those laws. The fact is, however, that Marx conceived and used the dialectic as a method of radical critical thinking and of revolutionary history-making.

But he never made

17

explicit

the

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

principles of his method. In order to dig them out of the whole structure of Capital, the Grundrisse and other writings and to use them in a creative way—at least three requirements had to be satisfied:

(i) it was necessary to have a comparable theoretical

culture and especially to know thoroughly Hegel’s Logic

and

Phenomenology of Mind; (2) it was necessary to be genuinely interested in ‘relentless criticism of all existing conditions , relentless in the sense of not being afraid of its findings and just as little afraid of the conflict with the powers that be;1 (3) and it was necessary to be able not only to apply the principles of the method as a priori, fixed rules but to develop them in the process of their application. It turned out to be very difficult to satisfy all these conditions. As a consequence the literature on dialectics was in most cases either incompetent, or a mere display of scholarly erudition, or a routine reproduction of certain ready-made schemes of inquiry. Many con¬ temporary Marxists who do not wish to fall into any of these categories avoid writing on dialectic. But this again indicates a certain impotence of thought. The list of difficulties that one has to face in order to develop the dialectic is not yet exhausted. In addition to the type of ‘critic’ and the type of ‘apologist’ there is also, among contemporary intellectuals, the type of ‘neutral expert’ who is interested solely in positive know¬ ledge. He will reject the ‘mystical form’ of dialectic. But he will also turn his back on its ‘rational form’. He will realise that Marxian dialectical criticism assumes certain universal humanist values and he will refuse to be committed, in order to preserve ‘objectivity’ and the ‘ethical neutrality’ of his research. But he will fail to realise : (1) that an apparently neutral expert ends up serving the alienated power and pursuing its particular values, (2) that the very concept of objectivity implies not only certain cognitive requirements but also a number of universal ethical values.2 Thus the real problem is not whether or not value assumptions may be tolerated in social theory, but whether they will be universal or particular and whether they will be smuggled in or consciously, critically accepted. If from preceding considerations it follows that discussing dialectic is a meaningful task, this task might be analysed into the following four questions : (1) What are the general features of dialectic that distinguish it from other philosophical methods? 18

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

(2) What are the novelties of Hegel’s and Marx’s dialectic with respect to the historical tradition? (3) What is the relation between Hegel’s and Marx’s dialectic? (4) What are the basic dialectical categories and how do they differ in Hegel and Marx? (1) THE GENERAL DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DIALECTIC In spite of all the differences between Hegel’s and Marx’s philosophy, dialectic in both forms can be clearly distinguished from any other philosophical method. Firstly, in its difference from a piece-meal, analytic approach; dialectic tends to embrace the whole to which an examined problem belongs. According to Hegel only the whole may be true; particular moments of totality can only be partially, incompletely true. For Marx who does not see the task of theory in merely understanding the world but also in changing it, the making of history involves radical changes and only changes of a whole system—of the totality of conditions under which man is condemned to live—may be con¬ sidered radical. Secondly, in its difference from a static, synchronic, predomin¬ antly structural approach; dialectic strongly emphasises the dynamic, diachronic, historical dimensions of phenomena. The history of knowledge, of mind, according to Hegel, is not something external, dispensable, different from its present form. The order of historical stages is the same as the order of particular moments of a present given system. Therefore the study of the history of an object is the study of that object itself. The emphasis in Marx is different but the opposition to a static way of thinking is even stronger. Not only does the study of the genesis of an object allow us to understand its present logical structure; it also throws light on the question of its future, and contributes to our understanding of the possibilities of its subsequent change. Thirdly, in its difference from philosophical methods that orient one to explain phenomena primarily or exclusively by external, objective,

heterogenic

factors;

dialectical

explanations

of

the

mechanism of change in both Hegel and Marx tend to indicate the crucial importance of autonomy, of self-movement, of self-deter¬ mination. This follows from the fact that neither Hegel nor Marx 19

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

ever deal with purely objective, purely material processes. Becoming, according to Hegel, is an activity of free thought, and while it has objective character, independent of human consciousness, it takes place within an all-embracing Subject, an absolute Self, which never requires any external stimulus to begin and to continue to develop. According to Marx’s social theory, many social processes as a matter of fact, assume reified form and are governed by laws which are blind, external, forces independent of human will. However, these processes are not specific for human history, they resemble the course of events in nature. Specifically human activity involves selfdetermination. Fourthly, in its difference from philosophical methods that lay stress on positive knowledge, on acquiring a reliable insight into given reality; dialectic is a method of critical thinking that points out the essential limitations of the given and the possibilities of over¬ coming them. In Hegel, critique deals with concepts : it reveals that each one of them has a limited content and represents a partial truth only. Thus each category involves its own negation

and emergence

of a new, richer, more concrete concept. This new concept being determinate, is also, in its turn, limited and has to be transcended. ‘In this way,’ says Hegel in the Introduction to his Science of Logic, ‘a system of concepts has to be built up and completed in the course of a pure, incessant movement, free from any outside interference.’ In Marx critique deals with forms of social life : it demystifies economic structures, political institutions, ideological superstructures that arrest further development; it shows the practical way of tran¬ scending them. (2) THE ESSENTIAL NOVELTY OF HEGEL’S AND MARX’S DIALECTIC The term ‘dialectic’ was applied in several different senses during the history of philosophy. Each of these diverse, unrelated ideas found its place within Hegel’s conception. Most important among them are the following : (a) The Heraclitean idea of the world as a self-made, everlasting fire that kindles and goes out with regularity, a flux involving eternal struggle, with the coming into being and passing away of all 20

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

things. Such a dynamic vision of the universe constitutes the onto¬ logical basis of Hegel’s dialectic. (b) Zeno’s method of refutation of his opponent’s views by deriv¬ ing contradictory conclusions from them. A later example of this ‘negative’ dialectic was Kant’s demonstration that the application of the categories of reason beyond the bounds of phenomena and pos¬ sible experience leads to paradoxes. (c) The art of arguing (dialektike techne) and reaching truth through the critical examination of reasons put forward for opposite views. (d) A method of classification and definition of general concepts, consisting in laying down some general form of that which is the object of inquiry and then building up the concepts of a number of species that mediate between one general form and many of its particular instances. This method presupposes a critique of muddled concepts and common sense platitudes. (e) As according to Plato general forms (ideas) constitute a time¬ less, intelligible realm to which the human immortal soul also be¬ longed in the past—all learning is remembering, reconstructing of an antecedent ideal order. This idea of transition from the potential to the actual, of the building up of knowledge as the explicit formu¬ lation of what implicitly is already there—is of great importance in Hegel’s philosophy. (f) Aristotle’s view of dialectic as reasoning starting with only probable (instead of indubitable) premises is inherent in Hegel’s con¬ ception of a non-formal logic operating with incompletely true thoughts. (g) The principle of coincidentia oppositorum (unity of opposites) in the philosophy of Nicholas of Cuse. (h) Jacob Boehme’s insight that something may be known only through contrast with its opposite : light and darkness, goodness and anger, divine and diabolic etc. (i) Spinoza’s idea of a substance which is causa sui, i.e. selfdetermined. Also the idea that all determination involves a negation. (j) Fichte’s method of building up a whole philosophy starting with one postulated principle, consciousness of a Self (Ich) then proceeding in trials of a thesis, antithesis and synthesis (i.e. a simple assertion, and its abstract negation building up a whole in which the two are mediated). 21

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

(k) Schelling’s idea of a universal totality uniting all opposites in nature, in knowledge and in human (artistic) activity. These dialectical ideas clearly had only partial character : they referred only to some particular procedures of inquiry or to some particular characteristics of being. They have all been incorporated into Hegel’s monumental concept of dialectic as the very nature of the world’s process. In Hegel’s hands dialectic has become an all embracing universal system : every valuable preceding philosophical idea was given a place in this system as a particular stage of development, as a moment of truth conceptually related to all other moments, being either the necessary outcome of others or one of the necessary conditions for their emergence. Dialectic thus becomes a science, which in Hegel’s terminology means a universal, self-developed knowledge of the world’s process in its inherent necessity. Hegel’s idea of science embraces both the speculative moment (in so far as it goes beyond the limits of em¬ pirical knowledge) and the positive moment (in so far as it con¬ stitutes a real encyclopedia of factual knowledge of his time). Dialectic, thus conceived, is a great synthesis; it tends to resolve many basic traditional conflicts and to bridge many gulfs in the thinking of Hegel’s predecessors. Object and subject, matter and mind, being and thought are no longer considered separate entities. The substance of the world is Spirit, a transcendental subject that for itself moves freely, but precisely in this way realises the inner necessity of its ‘an sich’, of its inherent telos. Thus for the first time a dynamic, activist monism became possible. After centuries of static structuralism

(since

Plato)

and

descriptive

historicism

(since

Thucydides) Hegel achieved the great intellectual breakthrough by showing how all structural features are changeable and all historical processes structured. Pure philosophy seemed completed. However, a little more than one decade after Hegel’s death the very idea of pure philosophy was radically challenged. Marx has shown that this idea presupposed unbearable dichotomies between thought and action, theory and praxis, the life of reason and the rationality of actual life. As a consequence many traditional conflicts were resolved in human consciousness only. The essential novelty of Marx’s dialectic is its practical-critical orientation. In Hegel man was reduced to self-consciousness, but 22

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

here he is conceived as a being of praxis, of free, creative, sensuous activity capable of physically changing the world according to human projects. Man-produced, historical reality will be the subjectmatter of all meaningful inquiry and all theory. History in Hegel took place only in the past. In Marx, history is the incessant pro¬ duction of both human surroundings and of man himself. The idea of critique is, consequently, much more concrete, radical, relevant to life. In Hegel, critique is purely spiritual, turned towards the past; reduced to the discovery of inner limits in concepts under¬ lying the world’s structure. Marx pointed out3 that because the whole critique takes place in pure thought, its result will be only knowledge—identification of self-consciousness with initial structure of the Objective Spirit. The objective of Marx’s critique, on the other hand, is to resolve contradictions and transcend existing forms of alienation in concrete historical reality, not merely in thought. (3) THE RELATION BETWEEN HEGEL’S AND MARX’S DIALECTIC In contemporary philosophy there are both tendencies to minimise and to overstress the differences between Hegel and Marx. To the first group belong : Marcuse’s attempt (in Reason and Revolution) to read Hegel in a Marxian way, Bloch’s interpretation of Marx as a basically Hegelian thinker, and a very widespread inclination to reduce the difference between Hegel and Marx to the one of philosophical starting point (idealism versus materialism). Marcuse was led to the overemphasis of the revolutionary aspect of Hegel’s work by the very nature of his task, by the very nature of the question he asked. Already in an early work4 on Hegel, Marcuse asked a question, the answer to which must have one-sidedly thrown light on what really is progressive in Hegel’s philosophy : the histori¬ city of his thought. Marcuse’s thesis was that Hegel’s ontology was based on the notion of life. But life, as well as the world produced by life, is historical—that is how life in Hegel becomes the Spirit. The idea of Spirit comes close to Marx, as Marcuse, under the influence of Dilthey, tends to identify spiritual being with the historical process of self-consciousness. Therefore he concludes his work with Dilthey’s phrase ‘Der Geist ist aber ein Geschichtliches Wesen’.5

23

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

Reason and Revolution was written nine years later with the purpose of reviving ‘a mental faculty which is in danger of being obliterated : the power of negative thinking’.6 In this context there was not much need to discuss more conservative dimensions of Hegel’s philosophy, and so, on the whole, Hegel sounds pretty much like Marx. Transcendental idealism evaporates and one is able to read that, according to Hegel, ‘the true being does not reside beyond this world, but exists only in the dialectical process that perpetuates it. No final goal exists outside this process that might mark a salvation of the world’.7 ‘The universal law of history is, in Hegel’s formula¬ tion, not simply progress to freedom but, progress in the self-con¬ sciousness of freedom.’ ‘A set of historical tendencies becomes a law only if man comprehends and acts on them’ . . . Actual subjects of history are those individuals whose acts ‘spring from personal interests but in their case these become identical with the universal interest and the latter far transcends the interest of any particular group : they forge and administer the progress of history.’8 It is not easy to see how this interpretation can be made com¬ patible with the very basic Hegelian assumption of the Absolute Spirit, which is eternal and changeless, which resides precisely beyond this, human world, which allows freedom only within the framework of its logical structure, the categories of which are logically and historically prior to any individual or universal human interest. Ernst Bloch, on the other hand, occasionally interprets Marx in the Hegelian way. The last section ‘Dialectic and hope’ of his book Subject-Object9 may be taken as an illustration. There Bloch invites us to action, but not to a merely negative one, a coup, an abstract spontaneity, but to ‘a liberation of that which is already there, which has arrived’. He characterises this kind of activity, in a typically Hegelian way, as ‘ a return to the native land, in which all the Nothingness in the world will be abolished’ and all the obstacles to the Totality removed’. Then he says that ‘the discovery of the future in the past is philosophy of history, therefore history of philosophy’ . . . ‘The real can become rational and the rational can be realised’—such is the phenomenology of true activity . . . and so on.10 Many passages in Bloch and some in Lukacs11 are instances of an eschatological Hegelian style of interpretation of history, which lays down a definite end of history and conceives this end as an a 24

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

priori rational pattern, that in some mysterious way exists ‘in itself before it becomes actualised. Another very simplistic solution of the problem is the view that both Hegelian and Marxian dialectic have the same content but are expressed in two different philosophical languages : idealistic and materialistic ones. Marx himself is partly responsible for this view, for example by saying in his 1873 preface to the second edition of Capital: ‘In Hegel’s writing dialectic stands on its head. You must turn it right way up again if you want to discover the rational kernel that is hidden away within the wrappings of mystification.’12 One gets the impression from this that there are no structural differences between the two forms of dialectic, and that simply turn¬ ing Hegel’s dialectic ‘the right way up’ suffices to produce the Marxian one. This is indeed the way Engels proceeded in his work on the ‘dialectic of nature’. In one of the most important fragments, entitled ‘Dialectic’, written probably around 1879, Engels enumer¬ ated three basic ‘laws of dialectic’ : (1) the law of the transition of quantity into quality, (2) the law of the unity of opposites, (3) the law of the negation of negation. He gives the credit to Hegel for having developed all those three laws ‘but in his idealistic way, exclusively as laws of thought’. In Engels’ view they must be derived from nature and history. Therefore he sets out to show, by giving various instances from mechanics, biology and chemistry, that they are true laws of the development of nature.13 During the last century this approach was adopted by most ‘dialectical materialists’, who hardly even noticed that the method they had developed did not have much in common either with Hegelian or Marxian dialectics. Two features especially make this

‘materialist

reading of

the

Hegelian dialectic’ quite unlike the method of Capital and bring it close to both pre-Marxian materialism and later positivism : first, the idea of ‘the laws’—of nature—in themselves-, second, the idea of dialectic as a body of quite general knowledge which refers to some¬ thing merely given, and the truth of which may be established by a simple piling up of the facts compatible with it. Certainly Marx did not deny the existence of nature ‘in itself’, but as early as the 1845 Theses on Feuerbach he came to the conclusion that it was the error (of all hitherto existing materialism) to conceive reality indepen¬ dently of ‘human sensuous activity, or practice’.14 Consequently dialectics is not concerned about how things just are but about how 25

THE- CONTEMPORARY MARX

things may be produced, superseded, and further developed by man. Dialectic is not mere knowledge, a ‘methodology’, but a critique of both knowledge and reality. Those dogmatic followers of Marx who needed precisely the former and not the latter realised the advantage of cutting off their version of dialectic from Hegel completely. Thus under Stalin the view emerged that there is nothing in common between Hegelian and Marxian dialectic : the whole of German classical philosophy was nothing but ‘an aristocratic reaction to the French revolution’. According to Stalin’s assistant minister of higher education, Svetlov, the Hegelian dialectic was merely ‘a scholastic manipulation with pure categories.’15 This was clearly a complete rejection of the philosophical testament of Lenin, who, in one of his last articles (‘On the importance of a militant marxism’—1922), advised all con¬ tributors to the new journal Under the Banner of Marxism to under¬ take a systematic study of Hegel’s dialectic from a materialistic point of view, and to make out of their journal a sort of club of ‘the materialist friends of Hegel’s dialectic.’16 A more recent and far more sophisticated attempt to construe the Hegelian and Marxian dialectics as completely disparate has taken place in Louis Althusser’s Marxian structuralism. In his book For Marx he has stressed the difference between the problems dealt with, in corresponding ideological fields, and in the social structures re¬ flected in these two forms of dialectic. Thus he comes to the conclusion that they have completely different structures. As typical Hegelian categories, he presents : negation, the negation of the negation, the unity of opposites, tran¬ scendence (Aufhebung), the transition of quantity into quality, con¬ tradiction and so on. These, he maintains, either did not take place in Marx or have different meanings. Therefore Althusser holds that Marx neither simply turns Hegelian dialectic right way up, nor transcends it in the Hegelian sense of Aufhebung; he demystifies it, literally abolishes it, destroys the illusion contained in it and turns back to reality.17 The element of truth in Althusser’s position is the fact that the two dialectics are structurally different and that their basic cate¬ gories do not have the same meaning. It is also true that they have been created in response to different social and cultural needs, as intellectual tools of different historical aspirations. 26

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

But all this does not exclude an element of continuity between them. Ideas are not solely determined by the social conditions of their time but also by earlier ideas, or by ideas transferred from different ideological fields, and different socio-economic contexts. To deny this means to stick stubbornly to a very vulgarised inter¬ pretation of Marx’s ‘materialist conception of history’ (the ‘basesuperstructure’ model), and to fail utterly in giving an adequate account of ideological developments in the Twentieth Century.18 In the very theoretical foundations of Althusser’s position there are ideas which are surely not mere reflections of the social and econo¬ mic conditions of France of his time but have been borrowed by various authors in various times. Some of them are not only antiHegelian but also anti-Marxian. Such are, for example, the concep¬ tion of a whole as an isolated Gestalt rather than as a phase of history, an over-static idea of structure, Bachelards’ idea of an epistemological gap or ‘coupure epistemologique’, and the view of negation as a ‘destruction of illusion and return to reality’. On the other hand, a more detailed examination of Marxian basic dialectical concepts in the next section will show that it is simply not true that ‘in the mature Marx’s works there is no more than a trace of specifically Hegelian categories’. Contrary to all those authors who one-sidedly lay emphasis on either discontinuity or continuity between basic notions of Hegelian and Marxian dialectic I shall try to show, as concretely as possible, how the latter really transcend the former. (4) THE BASIC NOTIONS OF HEGELIAN AND MARXIAN DIALECTIC Both Hegel and Marx were concerned with the problem of the rationality of the world and the way this rationality emerges. They both assume that there was a potential for this rationality, that in the past history there has always been a discrepancy between this potential and the actual existence of the world. They both call this situation a state of alienation, a state in which a given entity (be it the Absolute Spirit or the proletariat) fails to be what it could be, in which it is not ‘for itself’ and ‘for others’ what it really is ‘in itself’, i.e. a possibility which is not yet conscious of itself. The whole of history is, then, a process of self-realisation, and this in a double sense : first, because there was from the beginning a potential ‘self’ 27

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

to be actualised : second, because there will be no need for any external factor to account for movement: time and again it will be set in train by inner contradictions arising out of the limited con¬ dition of each existent form. This is the most general pattern of the dialectical process which is common in both great thinkers. All differences stem from the fact that they asked entirely different kinds of basic questions and had entirely different philosophical assumptions. Hegel’s question was:

What is the rational structure of the

universe and how does consciousness come to reveal it? His basic assumptions were : (1) The universe is the objectification of an Absolute Reason. (2) A fully developed human consciousness is identical with this Absolute Reason. But it travels a long way before it reaches that stage; it is quite poor and abstract at the very beginning (at the stage of ‘sense-certainty’)19 and very rich and concrete at the end (at the level of ‘Absolute Knowledge’).20 This process can also be described as the progress of the Absolute Spirit toward its selfconsciousness. (3) Absolute knowledge has been reached by human consciousness in the philosophical science of Hegel himself. Marx’s basic question was : what is irrational in the given world and how may it be changed through human praxis? His basic assumptions were: (1) The world is a historical being, that is, the product of man acting on antecedent natural surroundings. (2) Man has certain specifically human potential capacities and dispositions for action. Historical progress is constituted by a transi¬ tion from a state in which these capacities and dispositions have been thwarted and arrested towards states in which they will be more fully actualised from alienation to praxis. (3) There is no limit to this process. The abolition of existing forms of alienation constitutes only the end of the present historical epoch (of ‘prehistory’, of ‘class-society’) and the beginning of true history. This difference in orientation and in basic philosophical assump¬ tions will profoundly affect all basic dialectical categories in Hegel and

Marx,

such as:

totality,

mediation,

transcendence (‘Aufhebung’). 28

self-development

and

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

(i) Totality in the Hegelian dialectic is a universal timeless entity which embraces all particular forms of reality, and stages of develop¬ ment and in relation to which any individual event obtains its significance.21 Totality for Marx is human history, within which there are more particular wholes such as : the historical situation in one definite epoch, one definite mode of production, the ensemble of social relations in one historical moment etc. In both cases the principle holds ‘The true is the whole’. In both cases a study of a mere detail, of a fragment, of a partial aspect may be of value only as a stage of inquiry and should be considered an incomplete intel¬ lectual product that requires integration within a broader frame¬ work. In both cases a narrow theoretical horizon, a systematically one-sided approach to a problem, a limited regional, national, racial, religious, class, epochal point of view yields results that must be superseded from a universal standpoint. So far there is clearly a moment of continuity between Hegelian and Marxian dialectic. But the following differences are quite essential. Hegelian totality is spiritual, and in a double sense, first, as a World spirit (Weltgeist) which is ‘in itself’, not yet conscious of itself, not yet known by man, second, as the Idea, Self-consciousness that has reached the level of Absolute Knowledge. The former is quite mystical from Marx’s point of view and must be considered a redundant philosophical substitute for ‘God’ (the expression which Hegel, as a matter of fact, uses as the synonym for ‘World Spirit’, or ‘Reason’ or ‘Thought’ or ‘Notion’). For Marx there is nothing spiritual in the world preceding the appearance of man and outside human consciousness. The only structure that is antecedent and given in itself is Nature. But from the recognition of a certain un¬ known regularity of natural processes it does not follow either that this regularity is an expression of some Superhuman a priori Reason or that this regularity already involves all future possibilities of the world. The totality at the end of history, the Idea, may be conceived as a product of human culture, as a fully developed human selfconsciousness. From Marx’s standpoint totality in this sense is less obscure but equally unreal. Human consciousness is permanently growing, creative, open for real novelties. It is not simply identifica¬ tion with some antecedent structure which cannot progress beyond a certain point in history.

29

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

The Marxian concept of totality is more narrow in so far as it is reduced to human history, but is much broader in so far as it embraces not only the spiritual dimension of a historical situation (its culture, its consciousness, its ideological rationalisation) but also its more basic and more objective dimensions (its productive forces, relations of production, political institutions, laws, patterns of every¬ day social life). The Hegelian and the Marxian notions of totality differ also in so far as the former is absolute, unchangeable,22 and systematic, whereas the latter escapes any of these characterisations. Instead of a fixed entity one should rather speak about a process of totalisation which takes place whenever a genuinely rational human being at¬ tempts to solve a problem. The process of totalisation involves three essential moments: (a) the ontological: embracing a structure of all relevant objective phenomena, disregarding any boundaries of the professional division of labour, any customary political or cultural limits. (b) the epistemological: taking into account an a priori body of knowledge about that structure. This a priori is a posteriori with respect to preceding intellectual history; it is not transcendental or fixed, and will be tested and superseded during the process of inquiry. (c) the axiological: bringing to consciousness the basic practical need of inquiry. In the process of totalisation particular private needs and interests have to be subordinated to the universal end of human self-realisation and bringing human activity to the level of praxis. (2) Mediation. What makes a totality possible in both Hegelian and Marxian dialectic is mediation. Both analytical and phenomeno¬ logical method involve the assumption that, through a certain pro¬ cedure of reduction (epohe in Husserl, translation into a more precise language in Russell, early Wittgenstein or Carnap), one could reach the immediately given entities (essences—eidos—in Husserl, atoms of experience—sense data— in analytical philosophers). Dia¬ lectical procedure, on the contrary, starts from apparently immedi¬ ate entities: sensation, perception, common sense evidence, and shows that pure immediacy is

an

illusion,

that everything is

mediated and develops through mediation. Which means : (a) every¬ thing is what it is in relation to something else; any property of an

30

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

object involves a relation toward another object, outside of this relation it is without any content, it is meaningless, (b) No matter how immediate an object might look it contains another in itself; a closer examination will discover that it is polarised into opposite moments which negate each other, (c) Any two entities which, taken in their immediacy, seem to exclude each other are in fact deter¬ mined through each other; one does not make sense without the other. Mediation is thus (a) revealing the essence of an immediate being, (b) polarisation of an apparently simple, self-identical thing, (c) unification of opposites. A very clear illustration of mediation may be found in the first chapter of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind, on ‘Sense-certainty’. Our knowledge of the immediate of what is given ‘not altering any¬ thing in it as it is presented before us and keeping mere apprehension free from conceptual comprehension appears to be the richest, the truest, the most authentic knowledge’. But ‘when we look closely we realise that this knowledge is not merely immediate, merely is in sense-certainty, but is at the same time mediated’. Simple immedi¬ acy of ‘this’ breaks up into two ‘thises’, one is I, another is object. I have the certainty through the other—the object, and the object exists in certainty through the I. At first the object seems to be immediate, essential reality because it exists per se and is ‘quite indifferent to whether it is known or not.’ However as soon as we ask what is the meaning of that object we begin to mediate it. No matter how we try to characterise it we use expressions of language, and even the seemingly most concrete terms such as ‘Now’ and ‘Here’ are universal. They cover different possible experiences and each of them is definite only in so far as it denies the other : night¬ time is not noon-time, a tree is not a house etc. The This is shown thus again to be mediated simplicity, in other words, to be uni¬ versality/23 Hegel’s explanation of the category of essence in his Logic is another clear case of mediation in a sense which is also acceptable for Marx. Mediation is a process that does not simply destroy immediacy, it involves it all the time but it lifts it up to the levels of higher com¬ plexity and concreteness. A thing with its qualitative and quantita¬ tive properties is not merely an object of sensory perception but already something mediated by universals of language and thought, 31

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

Yet it belongs to the sphere of immediate being, being that may be conceived as something identical with itself and existing in itself, not yet necessarily related to a complex structure of other beings. Further mediation leads to the essence of being. Essence is a relation—towards another, (a) What seemed to be an immediately empirically observable qualitative or quantitative property turns out to be a relation—toward other objects.24 (b) Then, what seemed to be a thing identical with itself turns out to be a unity of opposites, of positive and negative characteristics, thus it involves a negation of itself, (c) Finally, beyond the apparent variability of the thing, beyond the mere change of its properties, mediation discovers the identity of its various states, and essence is precisely ‘what is per¬ manent (what remains) in a thing’.25 There is no doubt that those moments of Hegelian mediation which have so far been mentioned play a very important role in Marx’s method, although he does not always use the term ‘media¬ tion’. A good example is Marx’s analysis of commodity in chapter I of Capital. A commodity is an object the properties of which satisfy some human needs—these needs mediate its use-value. On the other hand, the ratio of exchange among different kinds of use-values mediates in exchange-value. Further analysis discovers beyond the apparent immediacy of a commodity a number of opposite char¬ acteristics, which all make sense only in relation to a given mode of production and exchange, ultimately in relation to certain human needs, habits, capacities. These are :

use-value—-exchange-value;

concrete labour—abstract labour; private labour—social labour. Each of these is mediated by its opposite and has a definite meaning only in its relation to the other one. Finally, beyond the variability of its physical properties, its usefulness for different people, and prices obtained in different markets at different moments—there is something permanent in each commodity that mediates its value and constitutes its essence. This is ‘the amount of working time which is socially necessary for its production’.26 There are many other examples in Marx. All general notions are the result of mediation : World-for-man is mediated through praxis, human essence—through an ensemble of social relations, capital— through the social relation between a propertyless worker who is compelled to sell his labour power as a commodity and the owner of the means of production who appropriates all surplus-value, 32

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

opposite classes of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are mediated through each other, human emancipation and the emergence of Man with a wealth of needs has been made possible, i.e. has been mediated, through a historical period characterised by the domina¬ tion of private property and the growth of needs in an alienated form. A profound difference between Hegelian and Marxian approaches to mediation consists in the fact that while for Hegel mediation always entails a moment of ‘reflection', of return-to-itself, of identi¬ fication with an ever present Absolute,27 for Marx it is a dynamic interrelation which leads to a genuine historical novelty. Each new category of the Hegelian dialectic that emerges as the result of a purely conceptual mediation is a realisation of the same eternal Spirit which is being reflected in ever new mirrors. But for Marx, each new form of historical reality that emerges as the result of the dynamic of social relations (including the struggle of opposite forces) constitutes a new stage in the self-production of man and the creation of new possibilities for man. Another difference between the two dialectics is in conception of the concrete. For Hegel the concrete is a union of different deter¬ minations, which, in distinction from the empty, isolated generalities of understanding, have to be conceived as interrelated and develop¬ ing universal. As the specific and individual have been disregarded, it becomes possible to claim that both the World-spirit at the begin¬ ning and the Absolute Idea at the end of Hegel’s system are concrete, only at first ‘in itself and then, later, ‘for itself. Hegel says: ‘Not only is the act concrete but also the potential, which stands to action in the relation of subject which begins, and finally the product is just as concrete as the action or as the subject which begins.’28 Mediation between universals is still abstract, from Marx’s point of view. A concrete mediation is one that takes place in history when an individual event occurs, which has been basically determined by certain general factors and mediated through various specific con¬ ditions (economic, political, cultural). The creative mediating role of the specific that links the individuals and the general in the historical process does not have place either in Hegel’s system or in the concept of history of most of Marx’s followers. The former neglects the role of the particular and the individual in the World s history, the latter in a schematic way, without any mediation, re-

33

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

duces everything individual to the general: to class struggle, to contradictions betwen productive forces and the relations of pro¬ duction, etc.29 Marxian mediation gives rise to ever new and specific social forms, to ever new possibilities. It is precisely the opposite to any form of reductionism. (3) Self-Development. There is a double movement in Hegel’s dialectic : first the Absolute Spirit unfolds its logical structure and develops categories that underlie the totality of world phenomena, and then human consciousness traverses all the stages from the most abstract one of ‘sense certainty’ to the richest and most concrete one of ‘absolute knowledge’. Both processes are essentially spiritual. The being of mind is its activity. ‘Nature, on the contrary, is as it is; its changes are thus only repetitions and its movements take the form of a circle merely.’30 ‘What we must represent to ourselves is the activity of free thought; we have to present the history of the world of thought as it has arisen and produced itself.’31 Thus there are two basic differences between natural and spiritual change : the former is external and repetitious, the latter is subjective and progressive—it is self-develop¬ ment. But because the self is an Absolute it remains the same in spite of all development. Under those conditions ‘development’ means (1) that within each of the two spheres (pure spirit, conscious¬ ness) there is a progress from the abstract to the ‘concrete’ (i.e. the unity of all different determinations), and (2) transition from one sphere to the other is also a progress : from the implicit (‘in itself’) towards the explicit (‘for itself’), from Reason-as-being toward Reason-as-known, from capacity toward actuality.32 The dialectical process, has, therefore, its direction and its end : it tends toward full self-consciousness of a logical structure which has always been implicit in the world. Consequently the logical coincides with the historical. In such a way Hegel attempted to solve an apparently unsolvable problem : how to embrace the totality of the world and thought within one system and at the same time to allow room for development. The Marxist conception of development is structurally different, not simply the product of a ‘materialist interpretation’ of Hegel. But many more of Hegel’s ideas have been incorporated than people like Althusser are ready to admit.

34

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

There is a unique historical process in Marx. This is not purely spiritual in any of the Hegelian senses. But Marx also holds that it involves a subject. The dialectical process, just as in Hegel, does not make sense in brute, not yet humanised nature, but in the inter¬ action of man and nature, in human production, in praxis. This process may also be characterised as ‘Self-development’ but this term will have here quite a different meaning. The Self is man and he is (a) both a material and spiritual being, (b) relative to his preceding history and existing social conditions, (c) variable, evolv¬ ing, self-producing in time. But in this relativity and variability there is something characteristically human that grows and evolves, there are certain universal human potential capacities, whether they are actually manifested or are latent, repressed and thwarted. As in Hegel progress consists in self-realisation, the transition from the capacity toward actuality. But the capacity does not lie in an im¬ plicit logical structure but in specifically human abilities, needs and dispositions. These are not fixed, they tend towards greater wealth and complexity, therefore self-realisation does not mean identifica¬ tion of the ‘in itself’ and the ‘for itself’, but the production of evernew forms of both human surroundings and potential structures of human being. Consequently the logical does not coincide with the historical. The life of Man in history cannot be fully embraced by any system, any a priori logical pattern. As a consequence the whole conception of time is quite different. From the fact that in Hegel the dialectical process takes place in an absolute system which has been fully expressed in the work of one particular philosopher—Hegel—it follows that all real development took place in the past and can only be repeated in future. In Marx the future is of fundamental importance for the understanding and critical analysis of the present and the past. Each existing form carries in itself a complex of possible futures. A choice among these possibilities, a vision of an optimal future will give rise to a critical distance toward the present. And only one who has a critical distance toward the present will be able to interpret the past cor¬ rectly, because he will be able to recognise there as significant not only what gave rise to the present but also what is only an embryo of a possible new reality. ‘The anatomy of man is the key to the anatomy of the ape.’33 That later stages are determined by the preceding ones is a common place. That earlier stages are deter-

35

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

mined in turn, by an anticipated possible production of later stages, is a distinctive idea of the dialectic of praxis. Here historicism means something quite different from either finding a place in the fixed necessary pattern of past development or making an arbitrary excursion into the past of the subject matter that we are interested in. The crucial point of a Marxist historical analysis is discovery of the simplest, most primitive past form of the given object, which in an elementary form, already contains its basic structure, lacking all those unessential features that later, more com¬ plex forms have. This primitive form may have been something rare, sporadic, exceptional in the situation in which it first appeared. But it is a necessary condition for the examined object. It may already contain all basic contradictions of later forms and may therefore serve as a natural model for their study.34 Contradictions are the moving principle of the world35 both in Hegel and in Marx. In both cases whenever a stage of development has been reached it will contain from the beginning both a moment of self-identity and a moment of inner differentiation. Difference will develop into polar opposition, where the positive and the negative still mediate each other, and this will give rise to an unbearable incompatibility and mutual cancellation. However, in¬ compatibility in Hegel is purely logical, it is a negative relation of one thought toward the other. Marxian contradiction, on the other hand, is a real historical conflict: either the struggle among existing social groups (e.g. classes struggle), or incompatibility of certain social institutions and trends of development, or a mutual cancel¬ lation of certain blind, alienated historical forces. Logical incom¬ patibility will only be a special case30 even in the sphere of conscious¬ ness : conflicts of ideas and ideologies as well as personal psychic conflicts will also be covered by the concept of contradiction. Marxists might surely decide to make a distinction between con¬ tradiction as a logical relation and conflict as a real phenomenon. But the present generality of the concept of contradiction allows the preservation of the principle Contradiction is the moving principle of the world in a different context: namely, what moves the world, from the Marxist point of view, is a wide variety of different kinds of impulses, including the individual and particular ones. The ‘mysterious power’ of universal concepts has been replaced by powers of actual, empirically observable human individuals.37

36

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

(4) Transcendence (Aufhebung). The most essential contradic¬ tion, both from Hegel’s and Marx’s point of view is one between a capacity for development and a definite structural property that reduces an entity to its' actually given form and thus limits its possi¬ bility to change. This inner limit is obviously a negation of what that entity really is (i.e. what it could be as distinct from its actual existence). Then, further development consists in the abolition of this limit i.e. in the negation of the negation. In Marx as in Hegel this principle gives an account of the very nature of transition from one stage to the other—it is the very basis of a radically critical thought. Hegel can be interpreted as a conservative thinker only in so far as at a certain point of the dialectical process he renounces the principle.38 Marx is a revolutionary thinker because he does not find any historical form, either in the present or in the future, which does not deserve to be aujgehoben i.e. (a) to have its essential inner limit abolished (b) to preserve its rational features, and (c) to be lifted up to a higher stage of development. Many followers of Marx, and Engels himself, completely mis¬ interpreted the triadic form of Hegelian negation of negation. In Hegel the thesis, the antithesis and the synthesis refer to the three essential moments within each notion, (a) self-identity, (b) self¬ negation in the sense of an inner limit and (c) the act of transcend¬ ence, i.e. of the negation of both. The ‘materialist reading of Hegel’ turned these three moments of each stage into three different succes¬ sive stages. Thus a principle that constitutes the very heart of any critical and revolutionary thinking ended up as a banal ‘law’ of spiral movement. Eventually Stalin left it out of his scheme of four ‘dialectical laws’.39 The only thing that remains unclear is whether (1) he did not want to have a law for which it is difficult even to find illustrations, let alone verifying evidence of its universal validity, or whether (2) he realised that critical thinking by Soviet citizens in terms of the negation of the negation, might have rather subversive implications. The first negation in Marx’s dialectic refers to those social structures, those economic, political and cultural institutions that constitute the defining characteristics of a given social form and thus limit and block further development. Such are the institutions of private property (and its effect on the means of production), capital,

37

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the market, the state. The second negation is the revolutionary action that abolishes those institutions while preserving all those achievements of past history that are necessary conditions of further development. Change in this sense is much more radical than simple growth and modification. On the other hand it cannot be construed as mere destruction and it does not entail either a use of violence or a short duration in time. The Marxist concept of revolutionary transcendence differs from Hegel’s Aufhebung in three important respects: (1) It applies to every society not only those in the past. (2) Its medium is human praxis, not only consciousness. (3) It opens more than one direction of possible development whereas the Hegelian dialectical process is unidirectional and rigidly deterministic. The latter is the consequence of the entirely different conceptions of freedom of these two thinkers. For Hegel freedom presupposes a rational insight into and accept¬ ance of necessity (ultimately logical necessity) of the world’s process. Reason, God, law, and such ideas constitute the true being of the individual. If he deviates from the universal rational pattern he will lose himself and, far from being really free, his behaviour will be merely

arbitrary, capricious, and

accident outside history.

For

Marx it is men who make history. They do not always act in an autonomous way, and in class society most individuals are reified, victims of powerful, blind alienated social forces. But progress con¬ sists precisely in a movement from reification towards emancipation. Rigid determination through iron laws of market economy and state legislation give way to increasing individual initiative and power. ‘In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms we shall have an association in which the free develop¬ ment of each is the condition for the free development of all.’40 Under those conditions transcendence becomes a principle of human self-determination. Dialectic develops into a theory and method of genuinely free and creative human activity.

38

HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

NOTES

I.

.

2

3-

456. 78. 910.

. 12. 11

1314.

Marx’s letter to Ruge of Sept. 1843, Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, ed. by Easton & Guddat, Doubleday, New York 1967, p. 212. See: Mihailo Markovic, ‘Ethics of a critical social science’. Below, pp. 92-109. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, ‘Critique of Hegel’s Dialectic and Philosophy in General’. (Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society ed. by Easton and Guddat, New York 1967, pp. 319-324.) Marcuse, Hegel’s Antologie und die Grundlegung enier Theorie der Geschichtkeit (Vittorio Klostermann Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1932). ‘But the Spirit is a historical being’. Op. cit. S. 367. Reason and Revolution, Beacon Press, Boston 1968, p. vii. Ibid., p. 167. Ibid., pp. 231-2. Subjekt-Objekt, Erlauterungen zu Hegel, Aufbau Verlag, Berlin 1952.1 Op. cit. Chapter XXIV. Lukacs, History and Class-consciousness. Marx, Capital, London, J. M. Dent & Sons 1933F. Engels, Dialectics of Nature, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publish¬ ing House 1954. Marx, Engels, Selected

Works, International Publishers, New York

16.

1968, p. 28. ‘Voprosy filosofii’, Moscow 1947; No. 1, p. 60. This first issue of the well-known Soviet philosophical journal contains the whole discussion about Alexandrov’s third volume of the History of Philosophy. Lenin, Marx, Engels, Marxism, Moscow 1946, p. 483. In 1914 Lenin wrote ‘One can not fully understand Marx’s Capital, and especially its first chapter, without studying and understanding the whole Logic of Hegel. Consequently, no Marxist has understood Marx during the last half century.’ Lenin, Filosofskie Tetredi, (Philosophical Notebooks),

i718.

Moscow 1947, P-154„ . . , tt ttt Louis Althusser, Pour Marx F. Maspero, Pans, 1965, ch. 11, 111Soviet, Chinese and Yugoslav Marxism would be inconceivable if con¬ sidered in isolation from the history of Socialist thought in more

15-

1920. 21.

22.

developed countries. , T G. W. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, Harper Torchbooks, New York 1967, ch. I, pp. 149-160. Ibid., pp. 789-808. , , . ‘We must have a general idea of the nature and aim of the whole in order to know what to look for. The high value of the detail lies in its relation to the whole.’ (Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Introduction, London 1892.) No philosopher before Hegel has so affirmed the idea of development and collected such an immense body of material on the history of science, philosophy, art and religion. And yet that same philosopher believed that Universal Reason is unchangeable, eternal, outside of time. This is one of the greatest paradoxes of Hegel’s philosophy.

39

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

2324.

25. 26. 27-

28.

29.

30.

31. 32.

33*

34.

35.

Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, Harper Torchbooks, New York 1967, pp. 149-153. To ‘have a colour’ means to reflect and absorb light rays of a certain wavelength and frequency, to ‘be hard’ means to be able to resist penetration of other objects, to be located on a certain measuring scale etc. Hegel, Encyclopedia der philo sophis chen Wissenschaften, ‘Logical science’ § 112-114. Marx, Capital ch. I, § 1. Cf. Hegel: ‘. . . Mediating is nothing but self-identity working itself out through an active self-directed process; or in other words, it is reflection into self, the aspect in which the ego is for itself objective to itself.’ (■Phenomenology of Mind, Preface, p. 82.) Introduction from Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1892. Reprinted in: G. W. F. Hegel, On Art, Religion, Philosophy, ed. by Grey, Harper Torchbooks, New York 1970, p. 231. Sartre had good reasons when he condemned this type of Marxism for being formalistic, abstract and ‘lazy’. (Jean Paul Sartre, Questions de methode, Gallimard, Paris i960, pp. 51-82.) Cf. Hegel s Introduction to Lectures on the History of Philosophy. ‘The becoming is not merely a passive movement, as we suppose move¬ ments such as those of the sun and moon to be. It is no mere movement in the unresisting medium of place and time.’ (G. W. Hegel, On Art, Religion, Philosophy, Harper Torchbooks, New York 1970, pp. 213, 239-) Ibid., p. 235. Cf.: ‘In order to understand what development is, what may be called two different states must be distinguished. The first is what is known as capacity, power, what I call being-in-itself, the second principle is that of being-for-itself, actuality. What man is at first implicity becomes explicit, and it is the same with reason . . . To enter into existence is to undergo change, yet still to remain one and the same thing. Potentiality governs the process. {Ibid., p. 228-229.) Cf. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy section Method . The last form tends to consider the preceding forms merely as steps towards itself; As it is only rarely and under very definite con¬ ditions able to criticise itself it follows that it always considers them onesidedly . . . Thus bourgeois economy reached an understanding of the feudal, the ancient and the oriental society only when it developed a self-criticism of the bourgeois society itself.’ See Ilenkov, Diaelektike abstraktnogo i konkretnogo v Kapitale Markse, Moscow i960, p. 195: ‘All those moments which perhaps participated in giving birth to a new form of movement but have not been necessary conditions of that process did not survive, were not reproduced in the subsequent course of development. They are no longer noticeable at higher stages of development of our subject matter—they disappear Thus the objective historical process itself produces an abstraction which preserves only the general moments of development liberated from all accidental circumstances.’ Cf. Hegel: ‘Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world: and it is ridiculous to say that contradiction is unthinkable. The only



HEGELIAN AND MARXIST DIALECTIC

36.

37. 38.

39. 40.

thing correct in that statement is that contradiction is not the end of the matter, but cancels itself.’ ‘Logic, The Doctrine of Essence’ § 119 from the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. It should be taken into account that Marxist dialectic does not allow room for a Logic in Hegel’s transcendental sense. The only logic that makes sense is human logic—the product of history. Therefore the Marxist concept of contradiction excludes the Hegelian contradiction as a category of pure logic. Marx, German Ideology MEGA I/5, pp. 15-17, 342He is not conservative merely because he is an idealist. Transcending ideas that justify a given reality could be a preparatory revolutionary work of extreme importance. Cf. Hegel: ‘With change in the know¬ ledge, the object also becomes, different . . .’ When ‘consciousness finds its knowledge not corresponding with this object, the object likewise fails to hold out’ (The Phenomenology of Mind, Harper Torchbooks, New York 1967, p. 14.2). This could mean: When a social reality is demystified, when social consciousness reaches a knowledge that is no longer compatible with it, it ‘fails to hold out’. Stalin, ‘On Historical and Dialectical Materialism’, History of SKP(b), ch. IV. Marx, Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Selected Works, International Publishers, New York 1968, p. 53*

41

Ill

Science and Ideology

of

late, in our country and also abroad, there have been heated

discussions

between

Marxists

about the concepts

‘science’

and

‘ideology’ - where one begins and the other ends - and in particular about the scientific and the ideological aspects in Marxism. The problem is one of general importance and is more than just a disagreement between partisans of different doctrines. Science has advanced to such an extent that today it completely determines, in the civilised world at least, the relationship between man and nature. Thanks to science, man has succeeded in freeing himself from enslavement to the forces of nature and becoming in considerable part its master. On the other hand, the relationship between man and society is generally speaking dominated by ideologies; the epoch that we live in is more than any other an epoch of ideological differences and ideological wars. The problem is to co-ordinate science and ideology. Science should become the instrument of man inspired by a humanist ideology. And conversely, a progressive humanist ideology ought to be based upon science if man, who already to a considerable degree has become master of nature, is to liberate himself one day from the slavery that the blind forces of society impose upon him. And, sad to say, it must be observed that today we find intense exploitation of science for inhuman ends, on the one hand, and on the other the unleashing of ideological pressures that have no base in scientific understanding of actual relationships and tendencies in the development of modern society. Confusion of concepts. Lack of precision in the concepts ‘science’ and ‘ideology’, particularly in the latter, is a formidable obstacle to the co-ordination of these two forms of social consciousness. And in general, one of the direct causes of numerous misunderstandings in the modern world is to be found in the lack of precision and the multiplicity of meanings given to many expressions, particularly 42

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

those that are used in political and philosophical discussions and in ideological propaganda. Naturally, this confusion has deep roots in the diversity of people’s experiences, the variety of their prejudices, their traditions, and, in particular, in the variety of interests that different social groups have. And this confusion in terminology and concepts is knowingly fostered, with the purpose of defeating ideological adversaries and creating the impression that their views are inane. In giving to words a meaning that is different from that which the adversary gives to them, one fundamentally changes the meaning of his thought which then becomes easy to refute. That the notions ‘science’ and ‘ideology’ are not sufficiently clear, may be demonstrated by very many examples. Scholars themselves do not always agree about what works should be considered as scientific or not. For those with a positivist orientation anything that is not precise description of facts and of our immediate experiences, does not belong to science. Some go as far as saying that every state¬ ment that cannot be verified by personal experience is absurd. At the other extreme there are those who think that even the slogans of everyday politics, visionary descriptions of a distant future, norms of practical activity and abstract philosophical speculations on the world and the meaning of life have a scientific character. Institutions that approve topics for doctoral theses, that judge scientific works and define the scientific professions often find themselves having to decide whether a piece of work truly enters into the domain of science, where lie the frontiers between scientific activity on the one hand, and on the other hand routine, ideological propaganda, arbitrary combinations of logical or mathematical symbols, etc. As regards the notion of ‘ideology’ the confusion is still greater. The most generally accepted meaning today is ‘the ensemble of ideas belonging to a social movement’ and people speak in this sense of Marxism, of trade unionism, of anarchism, of racism, of national socialism, of liberalism, etc. ... In Marxist literature, a wider meaning is to be found for this word. People often say that the particular forms of social conscious¬ ness of a social formation (politics, law, morality, religion, etc.) are ideological forms that constitute the superstructure of the economic base of society in a particular epoch. There is, however, a difference, although not a contradiction, between this meaning and the original meaning that Marx and C

43

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

Engels gave to this expression in the writings of their youth, and in particular in the German Ideology. For them, ideology is social consciousness limited by class spirit, in which men and their relation¬ ships are reflected in an inadequate, twisted, mystified manner. They do not consider their own doctrine as an ideology, but as a science, and that is why they called it ‘scientific socialism’. Some Marxists still try hard in their explanations of the idea of ‘ideology’ to stick to this original meaning that Marx gave it. They make use of it in their critique of distortions in contemporary Marx¬ ism, so as to preserve its scientific character and to eliminate from it ideological elements. In doing so, they meet with bitter resistance from all those who see Marxism before all else as an ideology, who put political objectives before all others, before moral and human objectives and even before economic objectives for which the political party is the supreme arbiter in all questions of social science, philosophy, art, and who consider the line of the party as the criterion for all values—for truth, for progress, and even for artistic beauty. Neither the one nor the other of these two extremes can satisfy us. Critics of Marxism considered as an ideology (they are often called ‘revisionists’), concentrate too much on the narrow and specific meaning of the term ‘ideology’. Today, more than a century after the German Ideology, it is evident that Marxism is also an ideology. And what is more, it is an ideology precisely by virtue of what is new about it, by virtue of its active relationship with reality. A consciousness which is not content simply to record facts and coldly make predictions without taking sides (predictions that are based exclusively on knowledge of objective laws of evolution), but by contrast desires something, and chooses from amongst the various possibilities that are offered to it those that best suit it—such a consciousness is not rigorously scientific nor purely rational; it is also a consciousness that wills things, is moved by emotion, assigns values, and, so, is ideological. As they are well aware, the critics of ideology taking account of this distinguish then between reactionary ideologies and revolutionary ideologies. But at this point a great difficulty arises; if all ideology is an inadequate, inverted, reflection of reality, how can it be revolutionary? One does not master the blind forces of society, basing oneself upon errors; illusions oppress us, they do not free us, it will surely be seen. . . .

44

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

On the other hand the defence of Marxism considered as ideology satisfies us even less. In practice it provokes a catastrophic neglect of the scientific basis of Marxism. Instead of elaborating the ideas of the working class movement, such as the programmes of the workers’ parties, by basing oneself on a scientific and objective analysis of the actual situation of the society, taking into account tendencies and objective laws of evolution, ideas and programmes are thus left to be dictated arbitrarily and often in an ad hoc manner by leaders and by party forums which completely neglect numerous technical, economic, sociological and even psychological facts. In this way theoretical frameworks are specified for the social sciences (and for art). The effect of such practices is a sorry stagna¬ tion of the social sciences in some countries that are aiming at the building of socialism. Marxism so conceived suffers the same faults that Marx so justly criticised in the bourgeois ideology of his time. For an ideology so conceived, although it claims to be ‘scientific’, is in reality a con¬ sciousness that is limited, inadequate, mystified, belonging to a relatively narrow social grouping, its consciousness of itself and of its relationship with society. These variations in meaning and the differences in content ascribed to the word ideology in the various social settings make it difficult to orientate oneself and to take a position in discussions on the necessity of ridding Marxism of ‘ideological elements’, on the necessity of going beyond ‘sciencism’ and

revisionism, on the

scientific character of Marxism, on party spirit, on scientific objectiv¬ ity, etc. ... It seems to us that if one wants to get a logical grasp of all these questions, that it is necessary at the outset to analyse and to determine exactly the content of the key concepts:

science and

‘ideology’. I.

The Concept, of Science The defects of the positivist conception of science. We have

already sketched out what one should take as the two extieme con¬ ceptions of science, which thus set bounds to the space within which we ought to move. One of them encloses science within the limits of experience very narrowly conceived; the other allows us to break every link with experience and social practice. Many scholars, specialists with positivist leanings, think that the

45

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

essential feature of scientific work is the establishment as exactly as possible of facts, their classification and description. They make reference sometimes to Newton’s famous comment: ‘Hypotheses non fingo’ [I do not invent my hypotheses]. The scientist should not therefore advance theories that are dubious, should not plunge into generalisations, should not concoct broad syntheses. His work consists in recording phenomena drawn from reality that are incontestable, and in putting order into the material so obtained. Thumbing through collections from various disciplines and works edited by academic institutions as well as some of our scientific reviews, we find there numerous works of this sort (chronological expositions of historical events, enumerations of sources found in archives, detailed descriptions of pictures and ancient buildings, of popular customs, of animal and vegetable species, of symptoms and development of illnesses, of the properties of chemical compounds, of replies to surveys, etc. . . .). Works of this kind are a part of science. But they are only the first steps in scientific research. Science does not only describe, it also explains, it defines general laws of relations between the known and the unknown, it advances hypotheses, so as to discover these relations, it verifies these hypotheses by organised experiments. In short, the human involvement in the process of scientific understand¬ ing is much more active and creative, and the role of theoretical thought is much greater, than some positivists take it to be. Newton was not aware that his ‘immediately’ clear and obvious axioms of the philosophy of nature had, to a considerable extent, the character of hypotheses. At present, only the most backward scientific dis¬ ciplines are still in the rudimentary phase of description and collec¬ tion of factual materials. And in the most advanced disciplines, in theoretical physics, for example, the use of abstraction, of symbols which have a very general meaning, and of mathematical methods of rigorously formal deduction, is so extensive that it is difficult to find points of contact between these disciplines and sciences such as ethnography, geography or empirical sociology. Modern positivists have taken note of this difference and they have tried to explain it. They have divided the whole domain of science into two strictly separate parts. In one are to be found the ‘synthetic propositions’ of the empirical sciences which describe the different experiments that allow us to acquire new knowledge. In 46

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

the other are to be found the ‘analytical propositions’ of mathematics and of formal logic which, according to them, have no relation with the facts of reality and with our experiences, which do not give us any new knowledge, but which only express in a different manner what we already knew (what is already implicitly contained in the meaning of the terms used is explicitly formulated). This rigorous division of science into two distinct parts makes a single definition of the concept of science impossible in principle. Furthermore, logic and mathematics are conceived so liberally that it is possible to include in them every arbitrary game with symbols which is conducted according to formal rules, themselves also arbitrarily chosen. That is the meaning of Carnap’s famous principle the principle of tolerance,1 according to which everyone is free to make his own logic provided it satisfies certain formal conditions. The final consequence of this principle would be universal relativism and subjectivism. Each would thus have his own truth, and in this ocean of in¬ dividual and contradictory truths there would no longer be anything having the right to call itself objective truth. There is no doubt that the concept of nature ought to be deter¬ mined in such a way as to exclude all systems of symbols that have a truly arbitrary and conventional character, and which, in reality, and at best, are only ingeniously constructed games. Some very great mathematicians and logicians, such as Hilbert and Carnap, sincerely believed that their theories had no relation with reality, that their point of departure was an arbitrarily chosen convention and that they were in fact games with symbols. And yet, that their theories are much more than that is proved by the fact that they find an important application in the empirical sciences, that is to say, there exist criteria that limit science and every other free activity of operation on symbols. These criteria are much more severe than those which positivist logicians formulate and, in practice, they themselves instinctively use these criteria. Science and metaphysics. The concept of science ought also to be determined in such a way that it is rigorously distinguished from non-scientific metaphysical philosophy. The logical positivists have worked hard to this end, but, in their zeal, they have gone too far. They proclaimed almost all philosophy to be metaphysics, and they only recognised as having the status of science that part of logic

47

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

which deals with language, its structure and the meaning and use of terms. All other philosophical postulates, on the relation between thought and objective reality, on the most general laws of being, on the problems of value, on ethical and aesthetic norms, not to men¬ tion the traditional problems of speculative philosophy such as those of free will, the immortality of the soul, the infinite, the divisibility of the world, the meaning of life, have been declared absurd since by definition they do not belong to any scientific sphere. These are not analytical postulates of fact, even though they claim to tell us something about the world; they are not empirical postulates since they do not satisfy the principle of verification; they cannot in any manner be verified by actual experiment by the subject who thinks them. According to the neo-positivists the same fate awaits all ideo¬ logical postulates : they must be considered absurd. Today, it is obvious that this conception is untenable. In the first place, even many of the postulates of traditional metaphysics are not absurd, since we are in a position to interpret them and under¬ stand them, even if we do not accept them. Furthermore, many theses in the theory of knowledge, in axiomatics, in ethics, in aesthetics, and even some fundamental principles of ontology, not only are not absurd, but are indispensable as a theoretical basis for scientific knowledge. And, finally, the positivists’ criticism of meta¬ physics itself sets out also from certain principles (for example the principle of verification) which cannot be considered either as synthetic or as analytic, and which accordingly must be considered as absurd. Consequently, the problem of setting limits to science, vis-a-vis speculative metaphysics, remains wide open for the positiv¬ ists despite their valiant efforts. Science and ideological propaganda. Before arriving at a precise determination of the concept of science, it is necessary to make one further distinction, the distinction between propositions that express objective rational knowledge and propositions that express interest, emotions and ideals held by an individual or a social group. This difference cannot easily be settled from outside, by the linguistic form of the propositions. The latter, like the former, are often ex¬ pressed in the indicative tense; they seem to be setting down some¬ thing that is objectively given or something that will necessarily come about. Now, objectively, what is given is at best only the possibility that 48

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

certain subjective desires or aims may be realised. And this possibility usually is only one alternative in the future course of events and not its inevitable outcome. The reason for which these desires and these interests find ex¬ pression in the indicative tense is quite simple : it is the most effective way of rousing to adequate action those upon whom the realisation of such aims and these desires depends. One finds in the literature of propaganda many examples of this kind. I quote the first that come to hand, drawn from the article by Tsamirian, ‘The great October revolution and the radical change in national relations in the U.S.S.R.’ (Voprosi Philosofii, No. 5 1957): ‘The Socialist system has created all the necessary conditions for the development of powerful spiritual forces in all the peoples,’ and Proletarians, like workers in the capitalist countries, oppressed people in the colonies and semi-colonies see in the example of the U.S.S.R. and all the countries in the socialist camp the only real road to their emancipa¬ tion from social and national oppression.’ These two propositions resemble in their linguistic form scientific propositions : they are in the indicative tense, and of a general character; apparently they do not express hopes and convictions, but are affirmations claiming to be true. And the point is not simply that they are only partially true, that in them real facts are only ex¬ pressed in part and that in part they are beautiful hopes. For there are also scientific propositions that were thought to be true when they were promulgated and which have since been shown to be false. The point is, one reaches scientific propositions by definite objective methods: the point of departure is socially established facts of experience and conclusions are drawn according to the rules of logic, that is, rationally, taking into account as far as possible emotions, desires and interests. These conclusions are verified by practice when they successfully point to future experiences, when, inspired by them we obtain the practical results that we reckoned on. The situation is altogether different with the propositions of ideological propaganda which we have chosen as examples. These are not generalisations obtained by means of logic, but before all else expressions of emotions and interests on the part of certain social groups. They have not got an objective and rational character but a subjective and emotional character. In certain cases even, the person who promulgates them does not believe that they are really 49

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

true. He simply desires to arouse in others an activity that will contribute to the realisation of these ends and so bring about eventu¬ ally a situation in which his proposition becomes true in the future. However, very often, one is not dealing with a deception undertaken to arrive at a goal but with an appearance of truth; one believes one is doing something absolutely correct, which could indeed be useful to humanity and its progress. In the language of modem psychology, it is a special form of rationalisation of subconscious psychological motives (which in this instance have their roots in the material conditions of life of the social group in question). It is precisely this form of thought that Marx and Engels called ideological. The object and method of science. It is interesting to note that the manner in which the concept of science is defined is less a matter of dispute than is the application of this concept (the opposite of which applies in the case of many other concepts). There are many elements that Marxists, as well as philosophers belonging to other philo¬ sophical trends, or specialist scientists, would certainly be ready to include in their definition of science. It seems then that by and large there is agreement: science is a system of knowledge of reality, this knowledge has an objective character and there are methods that determine whether an affirmation or a theory is truly scientific. These are the methods of theoretical proof and practical experi¬ mental verification. Difficulties begin, however, when one goes be¬ yond this determination of the content of the concept of science, beyond this minimum, that is to say. This is primarily due to the fact that in modern science ever greater importance is accorded to certain activities which do not involve the direct acquisition of knowledge of objective reality, but rather the devising of the most diverse instruments that can (but need not necessarily) serve to develop more effective knowledge of reality. Theoretical thought in man is well in advance of empirical thought. It fashions hypotheses which serve as a point of departure for research by which one is to look for the facts which may confirm these hypotheses. It constructs mathematical models and symbolic systems for which, perhaps in the future, applications in the direct knowledge of material reality will be found. Thought not only generalises and analyses factual material, it also anticipates it: in times gone by Francis Bacon considered that man should, to gain knowledge, listen

50

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

to nature, mould himself to her. This passive and plastic attitude was already holding man back in the days of Bacon himself, who, not knowing enough of the science of his day, lost sight of his contemporary Galileo, one of the great revolutionaries in the history of scientific thought, who introduced mathematics and the methods of abstract thought into mechanics and formulated the laws of a phenomenon (free fall) which one can never live through in experi¬ ence, in its pure, simplified, idealised form (without air resistance), at least on our earth. This is a phenomenon that one could never establish by induction or by empirical generalisation. When non-Euclidian geometry and Boole’s algrebra of logic were invented no one could imagine that they would one day find applica¬ tion in science. Windleband has called this algebra a logical sport, and Schroeder expressed regret saying that science had never con¬ structed so precise but so useless an instrument (that in use was good for nothing). But we know that Riemann’s geometry has become the theory of space in Einstein’s general theory of relatively, and that Boole’s algebra has found a very valuable application in electronics and in modern telecommunications technology. That is why it is necessary to distrust those over-narrow definitions which would exclude from science all the acquisitions of abstract thought. But it is also necessary to distrust broad definitions that include in science every arbitrary symbolic activity carried out in accordance with certain formal rules. We have already seen that an excessive liberalism leads in this domain to confusion and relativism. But an excessive rigour, de¬ manding that every scientific result directly reflects material reality, leads to a conception of science which is over-simple and im¬ poverished. A preliminary definition of science could be formulated as follows: science is that system of propositions and of theories by means of which we describe, we explain and we in practice master the phenomena of objective nature. It is implied here that those concepts, propositions and theories whose objective correlative consists in abstract imaginary objects, limits of certain real processes which one can never in fact reach, simplified, idealised situations, and such notions, none the less form part of science insofar as one can apply them by reason of the fact that with their aid one succeeds in describing and explaining a real

51

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

phenomenon and so in adding to our control over this phenomenon. This possibility of application in the empirical sciences is in fact the criterion that allows us to set limits to activities operating with symbols which belong to the science of these activities which truly have an arbitrary character and from this point of view resemble a game. And yet, this definition, though clear from the point of view of good sense, is far from having the necessary precision. It is necessary to be precise about some of its terms, so that the definition of science clearly implies the criteria that distinguish science from everything that is not science. The crucial question is the following : what does it mean to say of a theory that it represents ‘the description, that is to say the ex¬ planation, of phenomena in objective reality’.

Is this

concept

sufficiently clear to allow us to decide with certainty whether a proposition is, or is not, part of science? And it must be said this definition does not give us this criterion. Faced with a metaphysical doctrine such as Heidegger’s picture of the world, or faced with an ideological defence of reality such as, for example, some articles in the Bulgarian Review Filozofska Misl, or faced with a horrible vision of the future such as Huxley’s Brave New World or Orwell’s ig84, all of which could claim to describe and explain reality, directly or indirectly, in various ways, and also to contribute to its practical transformation, we find out that we lack precisely formu¬ lated criteria of what science is, so as to be able to draw the line between science and all these creations of the human spirit. This arises from the fact that we spoke in our preliminary definition of the goal of science, without taking account of the specificity of its method. Now, it is precisely by virtue of its method that science is distinguished most distinctly from all other branches of human activity. What above all else characterises the method of science is the fact that all scientific knowledge is founded on facts that are socially established and publicly verifiable. That is to say there are fixed conditions enabling different people at different times to establish by their personal experience scientifically admissible facts. In this way it may be said that a physical phenomenon is socially established and verifiable when the experiment that permits its verification has been described in such a way that everyone who has the professional

52

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

capacity and the necessary technology, can carry it out with success. In the second place, all the results of scientific knowledge are expressed in a clear and precise language, in which the meaning of each term is precisely defined and explicitly formulated (with the exception of a small number of fundamental terms which serve as definitions for others). To obtain the necessary social communic¬ ability, it is necessary for each symbol in a rigorously specialised language and each technique in a scientific discipline to be such as can be expressed by means of universally comprehensible terms in ordinary language. To be sure, there are scholars who neglect in their works this standard of communicability and whose terms can be understood only by their collaborators, by those who work in the same domain, and that often thanks to intuition rather than to rational explana¬ tions. But the scientific character of the work of these scholars is to that extent questionable. The third characteristic of scientific method is the rigorous logic of all the conclusions and the coherence of different results. The deduction of new knowledge from the basis of knowledge already acquired is always effected in conformity with rules of logic. And we say in this event that the knowledge in question has been theoretic¬ ally proved. Naturally, logic does not here mean merely theories on the rules of thought that can be found in text books on logic. There is a logic of thought, which is very complex and very simple, that we use, all of us, ceaselessly in daily life, and of which only a part is formulated in the books. The essential thing is that scientific con¬ clusions are not regularly made under the pressure of emotions, or instincts, or desires, but to be sure in the most rational way possible in conformity with certain rules that are universally applicable. Furthermore, it is essential that there should be agreement between different scientific results (absence of contradiction). The fourth characteristic, and perhaps the most important, of scientific method is the fact that the value of scientific results is recognised primarily according to the exactness of the foresight they allow of future experiences in the process of their practical applica¬ tion. Although science also serves the purpose of satisfying the intellectual curiosity that is natural to man, its principal goal is the greatest possible effectiveness in human practice, the realisation of greater control over the elementary forces of natural and social

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THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

processes. That is why the ultimate goal of scientific research is that knowledge which gives foresight of future happenings. It is know¬ ledge of certain constant, general and necessary relationships be¬ tween phenomena—knowledge of laws. This means, first of all, that the formulation of a natural law must allow us to deduce a specific relationship which describes experiences that we can have at a later point of time under certain specific conditions. Secondly: realisation of these conditions at a given moment of time should allow us to observe the predicted occurrences. When this observation cannot be explained by another hypothesis we say that the law has been verified. It is only now that we can clearly grasp the nature of abstract mathematical and logical theories and also their instrumental role in the process of scientific knowledge. As they do not directly reflect reality, these theories cannot be verified in the manner that we have just indicated, as propositions and theories of empirical sciences. However, for them to have a scientific character, it is necessary that it should be possible to apply them, that is to say, to draw from them propositions which are verifiable. There are various manners of application. An abstract mathematical formula can be applied when in place of its symbols one puts specific quantitative values obtained by measurement. A gnoseological principle can be applied when it is conceived as an indication of the manner in which a piece of research should be conducted. A rule is applied when a speculative operation is carried out in conformity with it (definition, classifica¬ tion, conclusion, etc. . . .). Consequently, although all science in the last analysis is oriented towards practical experience, it is necessary to distinguish concrete knowledge that is verifiable in experience, from abstract knowledge which is applicable in the process of obtain¬ ing concrete knowledge.

With

the

object of making

a wider

generalisation we can specify the two manners of establishing the relationship between scientific knowledge and practical experience, by the term practical application. Now we are in a position to give a more precise definition of science : Science is a system of propositions and of theories that are socially communicable, theoretically coherent and applicable in practice, describing and explaining the phenomena of objective reality.

54

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

This definition allows us to distinguish science from speculative metaphysics and from ideological propaganda, in a precise manner. It is only exceptionally that metaphysical propositions are socially communicable. The metaphysical philosophers are only well under¬ stood by their disciples, or at least these say that they understand them. To a considerable extent the same applies to the language of ideological propaganda, words take on an altogether different mean¬ ing according to the ideological party or trend that one belongs to. One need only think of the terrible confusion that reigns about the meaning of words such as ‘free world’, ‘liberty’, ‘justice’, ‘democracy , ‘internationalism’, ‘socialism’, etc. . . . The struggle of interests between antagonistic political movements finds expression already in choice of terminology and in the inter¬ pretation that is given to key expressions in this terminology. For example, would anyone ever have dreamed outside the socialist camp that the word ‘internationalism’ could have been defined at the moment at which the socialist revolution is triumphing in a number of countries, as Stalin defined it: ‘Internationalism is being ready, without hesitation and without conditions, to defend the U.S.S.R.’2 Metaphysical theories are often very coherent (see Spinoza’s Ethics), but they are often full of inconsistencies and contradictions. This seems particularly so when one regards ideological propaganda on the part of the reactionary forces in society. There is no possibility of applying metaphysics to practice. It is in this that metaphysics is most sharply differentiated from science and from scientific philosophy. There are no empirical facts that could confirm or invalidate everything that Plato tells us about ideas, or what Aristotle tells us about entelechy, or Thomas Aquinas about the Holy Trinity or Descartes about thinking substance, or Spinoza about God as natura naturans, or Leibnitz about monads or Hegel about the Absolute Spirit, or Scheler about the supreme value of holiness or Whitehead about eternal objects, etc. All these theories claim to tell us something about the world, to explain something to us. They are addressed to our intellectual capacities'to inform us of certain objects. But we cannot know these objects, we cannot verify them by experience, either directly or indirectly. Nor have these theories and these propositions an instrumental function like those of logic and mathematics. They are outside the fields to which

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the fundamental critera of objective truth can be applied. They are, accordingly, outside the limits of science. The situation as regards ideological theories is different. They are sometimes practically applicable, but in a very specific sense. They are not universally applicable, like scientific theories. They are only applied by the members of a certain class, of a movement, of a party. And it is precisely thanks to their operation, which can be very powerful, that a foreseen end may be realised, even though it might not be expected if judgment were passed in cold blood, objectively and from outside a committed standpoint. In other words, it shows itself as a powerful but unforeseeable factor : the stimulatory effect of the forecast itself upon the masses who follow a given political movement. So it is that it comes about that where the scholar estimates that there is objectively little probability that a particular assessment of the political situation should prove wellfounded, the future proves the politician right, precisely because his assessment has itself been one of the causes of success. So it was that in 1917, in Russia, one could not have announced the Bolshevik Revolution if Lenin had not asserted that it would be successful. So, in life, things sometimes happen which, from a purely scientific point of view ‘cannot happen’. Thanks to this activism and this voluntarism, political consciousness—whilst based upon a sound appraisal of the situation—can sometimes show itself to be more perspicacious than scientific consciousness, for it succeeds in waken¬ ing in the masses a great spirit of sacrifice. Unfortunately, too often this activism and this voluntarism, if they lack a material and scientific basis, lead to catastrophic defeats. The disaster that overtook the German people in the course of the last war is an example of this. Amongst phenomena of this kind one can mention the enterprise of the Communards, the Russian Revo¬ lution of 1905, the Hungarian and Bavarian Revolutions of 1917, the formation of Kolkhozes and machine and tractor stations in some of the countries in the ‘Socialist camp’. As a consequence we may say that if the activation of masses through political pro¬ paganda is in fact to achieve social objectives whose realisation at a given moment may appear, from a strictly scientific point of view, unlikely, (socialism in backward countries, for example), it is neces¬ sary all the same to satisfy certain material conditions.

56

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

II.

The Concept of Ideology The Concept of ideology up to the time of Marx and Engels.*

The expression ‘ideology’ was invented in 1796 at the Institute of France by the philosopher Destutt de Tracy, who, at this time when all institutions were changing their names, wanted to give a new name to the philosophy that had paved the way to the revolution. The word metaphysics was discredited. It was to be replaced by the word ideology, meaning the science of ideas, of their qualities, of their laws, of their symbols and, in particular, of their origin. Destutt de Tracy tried to show, in his Sketch of the Elements of Ideology (1801), that all general ideas are formed from sensations.4 In this sense a large group of philosophers, of scholars and of writers con¬ sidered themselves, or were considered as ideologues : Condorcet, Volney, Garat, Cabanis, Chenier, Saint-Simon, Conte, Merimee, Stendhal, Sainte-Beuve, etc. . . . Soon this word took on a pejorative meaning. Napoleon, dis¬ pleased by reason of the republican opinions and the oppositional attitudes of these thinkers, called them pejoratively ideologues, meaning by implication thereby that they were occupying themselves with abstract problems which were unrelated to reality and to practical politics. Chateaubriand straightaway used the word in the same sense. Later, it was more and more used to mean thought which presents reality in a superficial way, and does so intentionally, to gull others. In science, to study ideology and the ideological meaning of thought, meant then to study the psychological, social and other causes of error. At this time, that is to say at the beginning of the nineteenth century, consciousness, and even erroneous deformed consciousness of reality, was understood in an abstract, ahistoncal manner. It is true, if comparisons are made with the metaphysicians of the seven¬ teenth century, who conceived consciousness as a manifestation of natural reason which was the same in all men, that the philosophers of the enlightenment in the eighteenth century had made at least one step forward in conceiving consciousness as a social product, the result of the action of the social environment. But they explained the development of society and of the environment in which man lives by the development of ideas, so that in the last analysis it was, all the same, abstract and ahistoric consciousness which was considered as the motor of history.

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From the point of view of the rationalist philosophers of the eighteenth century the dominant ideas of a society are not false because their creators (by reason of their specific situation in society, for example) could not know the truth, which is always, according to them, accessible to good sense. The reason for which erroneous ideas are disseminated, they maintain, is the desire to satisfy ego¬ tistical interests. Ideological thought is then a deliberate deception. The romantic epoch, with its movements of national liberation, was the first which in a certain sense made concrete the concept of human consciousness : from universal human consciousness (Welt Geist), this became then national consciousness, the spirit of the people (Volks Geist). The conception of ideology in Marx and Engels. A new step in the concretisation of the concept of human consciousness was made by Marx and Engels, who understood it as before all else the consciousness of an historically determined class. According to them the dominant thoughts of an epoch ‘are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.’5 ‘The same men who establish their social relations in conformity with their material productivity, produce also principles, ideas and categories, in conformity with their social relations.’8 The first essential characteristic of ideas that reign in a class society is that these ideas, as a consequence of the limited character of the material and spirtual conditions of life of their authors, present an inadequate and distorted picture of the real relations of society. We find in the German Ideology these classic formulae of Marx which express the essential element of the meaning that he gives to the word ‘ideology’ : ‘If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life process.’7 ‘If the conscious expression of real relations of these individuals is illusory, if these individuals, in their representations, turn reality upside down this also is the consequence of their limited material activity and of the social relations that result from it.’8 The second characteristic of ideological thought is lack of con¬ sciousness of the true material motives of the ideas that it produces,

58

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

the lack of consciousness of the character of these ideas which is conditioned by the material situation in society of the person who is thinking. The ideologues create specific illusions about the society in which they live, idealising it, presenting it as eternal, and they sincerely believe these illusions. In this regard Marx and Engels’ conception of ideological errors differs radically from the vulgar theory of interests, the theory which many Marxists still adopt today, including some Yugoslav Marxists. According to this theory exploiters always lie intentionally and deceive the masses so as to safeguard their egotistical interests. We find in Engels a very clear explanation of this characteristic of ideo¬ logy as the founders of Marxism conceived it: ‘Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously indeed but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives. Because it is a process of thought he derives both its form and its content from pure thought, either his own or that of his predecessors.’9 ‘Every ideology, however, once it has arisen, develops in con¬ nection with the given concept-material, and develops this material further; otherwise it would cease to be ideology, that is, occupation with thoughts as with independent entities, developing independently and subject only to their own laws. That the material life conditions of the persons inside whose heads this thought process goes on, in the last resort determines the course of this process, remains of necessity unknown to these persons, for otherwise there would be an end to all ideology.’10 According to Marx and Engels, the roots of ideology are to be found in the existence of classes, in the division of labour, in the alienation of man’s consciousness that results from class society. The division of society into classes makes of man a being all divided up into bits. The man who exploits other men becomes incapable of seeing society in its totality, incapable of feeling the interests of the whole of society as his own interests. In a word, he ceases to be a social being in general. Corresponding to the divided and limiting character of his existence and social practice there is a type of consciousness that is also divided and limited

his class

consciousness. The division of labour has had as a consequence the fact that

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some thinkers belonging to the class in power ‘appear as thinkers of the class’ as ‘ideologists who make the perfecting of the illusion of the class about itself their chief source of livelihood’.11 ‘Division of labour only becomes truly such from the moment when a division of material and mental labour appears . . . From this moment onwards consciousness can really flatter itself that it is something other than consciousness of existing practice, that it really represents something without representing something real; from now on consciousness is in a position to emancipate itself from the world and to proceed to the formation of ‘pure’ theory, theology, philo¬ sophy, ethics, etc.’12 The division of work into manual work and intellectual work has then had the effect that man has become incapable of understanding the relation between the products of his head and the social practice of the very class to which he belongs. And he has become even incapable of seeing this practice and his real social relations in their true light because all the products of social labour acquire in class society the form of forces which are alien to man, which dominate him; he can neither control them nor conceive of them as his own work. ‘Alienation manifests itself in the fact that the means of my existence present themselves as the means of another man, in the fact that that which is the object of my desire presents itself as inaccessible to me, because it is the property of another man, because each thing becomes something other than what it is . . . and because all are dominated by an inhuman power.’13 The typical example of these alienated products of human labour are the commodity and money. The social relations that are disguised as commodity value remain hidden, unknown, incomprehensible. Not being able to con¬ trol them, man conceives real relations between men in the process of production as relations between things. In capitalist society money in this way becomes a fetish. It is regarded as the all powerful master to which man submits himself; the acquisition of money becomes the goal to which all fundamental human needs are sacrificed. Ideology is only the alienation of man at the level of his conscious¬ ness. The products of the human spirit become powers that govern him. There is no better example of this ideological form of aliena¬ tion, of this enslavement vis-a-vis one’s own spiritual creation than man’s religious relation to God.

60

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

Analogous fetishes can serve as a basis for massive political propaganda : a ‘fatherland’ which, in reality, is not the true fatherland of the workers; a ‘state’ which, in fact, is perhaps only an apparatus in the hands of an insignificant minority of exploiters; a political party which for long has betrayed its original ideals and which has become an end in itself, without its devotees becoming in the slightest degree aware of this, etc. . . . In the course of the eleven decades that have passed since Marx and Engels put forward this notion of ideology as inadequate, mis¬ shapen, class consciousness, important changes have taken place in the use of the expression. In particular, Marx and Engels themselves, and subsequently numerous other Marxists, began to use the word ‘ideology’ in a wider sense, in the sense of the totality of the forms taken by the superstructure of an historical epoch. So it is that we find in the classical text of Preface to the Critique of Political Economy the following formula : ‘With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations the distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of pro¬ duction which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic— in short ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.’14 Lenin on ideology. It is evident that Lenin avoided using the word ‘ideology’. In all his works, which run to more than 15,000 pages, he used it only a dozen or so times. And he speaks particularly of bourgeois ideology, when he says that social democracy ought to struggle against its influence. In the article Socialism and War he says ‘The bourgeoisie disguises its gangster aims as national ideo¬ logy’.15 The word ideology is there understood in Marx’s sense, with the difference that Lenin leaves it to be understood by implication that the ideology of an exploiting class can be deliberate deception. Once, in Materialism and Empiriocriticism, Lenin uses the word ‘ideology’ in the sense of theory or doctrine in general. He says ‘All ideology is historically conditioned, but to every scientific ideology (as distinguished from religious ideology for example), there cor¬ responds in every case objective truth, nature as the absolute.’16 Finally, in What is to he done? Lenin speaks for the first time of 61

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socialist ideology. There he develops the thesis according to which the working class movement cannot all on its own spontaneously build its ideology, but this ideology is implanted in the move¬ ment from outside, from the ranks of the progressive intelligentsia. He refers there, in his struggle against economism, to Kautsky and to a principle in the Hainfeld programme of Austrian social demo¬ cracy, according to which the task of social democracy consists in the implantation in the proletariat of a consciousness of its situation and a consciousness of its tasks. Every cult of elemental spontaneity in the working class movement (every belittling of the importance of socialist ideology . . . means then a strengthening of bourgeois ideology), it being given that ‘the spontaneous development of the working class movement leads precisely to its subordination to bourgeois ideology.’17 Marxists who today insist on the ideological character of marxism at the expense of its scientific character usually make reference to these texts of Lenin. However, the following two facts should not be overlooked : first, Lenin speaks in all his later works almost ex¬ clusively of the theory of the working class movement and not of its ideology. Secondly, there can be no doubt that he considered socialist ideology to be the result of scientific research. In the passage quoted from What is to be done? Lenin quotes the following words of Kautsky and speaks of them as being penetratingly accurate : ‘The socialist consciousness today cannot come into being except on the basis of a profound scientific consciousness. In reality, a contemporary economic science is the condition of socialist production as much as, let us say, technology, and the proletariat, despite all its desires, cannot create either the one or the other; they are both born from the contemporary social process. The representa¬ tive of science is not the proletariat but the bourgeois intelligentsia : contemporary socialism was born in the heads of some members of this section of society, and they have communicated it to proletarians distinguishing themselves by their intellectual development, and they in turn introduce it into the class struggle of the proletariat wherever conditions make it possible. In this way, socialist conscious¬ ness is something imported from outside the class struggle of the proletariat and not something spontaneous.’18 A little later in his Letter to the ‘Federation of the North’, Lenin wrote :

62

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

‘Socialism, insofar as it is the ideology of struggle of the pro¬ letarian class, undergoes the general conditions of birth, develop¬ ment and consolidation of an ideology, that is to say it is founded on all the material of human knowledge, it presupposes a high level of science, demands scientific work, etc. ... In the class struggle of the proletariat which develops spontaneously, as an elemental force, on the basis of capitalist relations, socialism is introduced by the ideologists.’19 One may then conclude that when Lenin speaks of socialist ideology he uses this expression in the sense of the theory of scientific socialism, a theory which on the basis of objective scientific know¬ ledge orientates the revolutionary practice of the proletariat. The current confusion. In contemporary philosophy and sociology many bourgeois scholars have studied the phenomenon of ‘ideology’. Some of them have taken over to a greater or less degree some results of the Marxist critique of ideology. Karl Mannheim, for example, in the well known work Ideology and Utopia, concludes that a dis¬ tinction must be drawn between the partial and the total concept of ideology. The first, according to him, corresponds to the process of deformation and camouflaging of the real social situation of thought, the second to the style of thought and civilisation in an epoch.20 The German sociologist Theodor Geiger has based his conception of ideology on the difference between affirmative consciousness and value-giving consciousness, that is to say between theoretical pro¬ positions about facts and propositions that evaluate. Ideological propositions are then, according to him, all those propositions which ‘by their linguistic form and by the meaning that this form expresses, are presented as theoretical expressions of reality, but which contain a-theoretical elements that do not belong objectively to cognitive reality.’21 Another sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, has defended an analogous opinion expressed in a somewhat different manner. However, one finds in some authors interpretations of the word ideology which have no relation with the others. For example there is an article by George Boas on ideology in Dagobert Runes’ Philo¬ sophical Dictionary. According to him ‘Of late the term ideology means in English in the writings of some determinist economists ineffectual ideas insofar as they are opposed to causal efficacy, or else any ensemble of general ideas or philosophical programmes.’22

THE

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How do Marxists use the expression ‘ideology’ ? Some keep to the original meaning that Marx gave it and the wider meaning of ideological

superstructure.

For example

the

French Marxist A. Cornu considers that this word has two mean¬ ings : (i) The mental expression of objective reality in the social consciousness and (2) the meaning that Marx gave it in The German Ideology.™ Others consider ideology primarily as superstructure, the reflection of the material social being. This opinion was advanced by Dr. Bogdan Chechic in his report to the annual assembly of the Serbian Philosophical Society, in 1954, a report titled ‘Some Problems of Ideology’. He distinguished between the ideologies of exploiters and socialist ideology. What characterises the latter is that it is founded upon science, that it tends towards the suppression of class relations and is consequently revolutionary and humanist. Still others cling to the original conception of Marx. Milan Kangrgra and Miladin Jivotic have developed this point of view in recent times.24 Jivotic, certainly, introduces some subtleties into his thesis, as he tries to understand the phenomenon of ideology in all its complexity and diversity. So it is that on one occasion he defines ideology as ‘The form of value-giving consciousness which is born of man’s limited (class) position and tries to justify this position and to impose it as the only form of being for man.’ (Prohlemes de la Definition de LTdeologie, Filosofski Pregled, No. 3, 1957, p. 56). In another place he says that the essence of the phenomenon of ideology is ‘in the conflict between rational consciousness and value-giving consciousness, in their mutual alienation.’ (De LTdeologie, p. 31). Unfortunately one does not see how it is possible to co-ordinate these diverse propositions in a single coherent conception. Dr. Mihailo Popovic, keeping, basically, to the Marxist conception of ideology, has stated that ‘Marxism was not, basically, an ideology’, but ‘That does not mean however that it broke in every specific instance with every ideological element and with the possibility of arbitrary speculation.’ These ideological elements come, according to him, from the fact that ‘Marxism, like all other ideologies, has the function of pushing the working class and other workers to engage in political action for the destruction of the old society and the building of the new.’25 Some Polish Marxists, basing themselves on the Marxist concep64

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

tion of ideology (as a twisted, deformed reflection of social reality) have insisted that science and in particular sociology, should be freed from ideology.28 A fourth group of Marxists, although they make references to Marxism, implicitly ignore it and make a radical difference between progressive socialist ideology and reactionary bourgeois ideology. So it is that we find in the Philosophical Dictionary of Rozental and Yudin the following definition of ideology : ‘Ideology is the system of conceptions, of ideas, of notions and representations that a class or a political party adopts. Political ideas, philosophy, art, religion, are forms of ideology . . . The ideology of the working class is Marxism-Leninism, the ideological arm of the Communist Party and of the working class in the revolutionary socialist transformation of society. The invincible force of this ideology derives from the fact that it reflects correctly the objective laws of the progressive develop¬ ment of society and serves to express the irresistible needs of historical development at the present time.’ The reaction of certain Soviet philosophers to the interpretation of the expression of ideology in the spirit of Marx is very character¬ istic. In an article entitled ‘The Revisionist Myth of “The Liberation of Science from Ideology” ’ (Voprosi Filosofi, No. 7 1958)3 Kamari has violently attacked the Poles Vjatr and Baumann for having defined ideology as ‘The back-to-front, distorted reflection of social reality’. He says ‘All those who know a little history of philosophy will immediately understand, on reading these lines, that here we have a new aspect of the old pretence of positivists to liberate science from all ideology, from all philosophy, that is to say, in reality, from Marxist philosophy.’ Kamari sets out then to prove that no scholar is free from the influence of one or another philosophy. It is interesting to note that Kamari equates ideology to philo¬ sophy without grounds for so doing;27 further, he says nothing at all about the fact that Vjatr and Baumann are simply expounding Marx’s conception of ideology. It is true that in another passage Kamari no longer accuses them of positivism but of dogmatism : ‘Only hardened dogmatists could extract from Marx and Engels’ critique of the Idealist Conception of History the conclusion that they condemned ideology in general,

that they considered all

ideology as “the distorted reflection of social reality”.’ One cannot but regard this manner of conducting an argument

65

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as wrong. Kamari knows very well that Marx and Engels attacked ideology in general, that they did not consider their doctrine as an ideology but as a science. Careful study of their texts shows clearly that they were not just talking of some specific phenomena of their times, but of the phenomenon of ideology in general. That is why it follows from their writings that as long as there are special groups of individuals who only are occupied with production of theories, separately from material practice, and as long as there are one¬ sided men who are not social beings, as long as men make fetishes of their own products—there will be ideologies in the sense that they gave to this word. Actually the authors belonging to this fourth group have changed the meaning of the word ‘ideology’, in relation to Marx, but they do not want to say so openly. Instead of that they pull Marx on to their side towards the conception that they currently adopt and attack as ‘revisionists’ those who, in reality, are remaining faithful to the orthodox conception of Marx. This habit of wanting at any price to give the appearance of agreement with the authorities on every question, whilst in reality departing from the authorities (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad) is not only alien to the spirit of scientific work but it has serious moral consequences; it leads to hypocrisy and practical opportunism, which are the characteristics of homo-duplex, that is to say, ideological consciousness in the sense that Marx gave to the word. In the current use of the concept of ideology by some Soviet Marxists, it is necessary to distinguish two things in relation to the Marx of The German Ideology. In the first place, Marxism is understood as ideology also and not solely as scientific theory. The ideological moment in Marxism would be that it ‘it expresses the position, the interests and the historical tasks of the working class’.2S I think that these Soviet authors are right to underline this aspect. It is not the job of science to express the interests and tasks of whatever social class. The theory that deals with this certainly has an ideological character, and that in a wider sense than Marx’s original meaning. In the second place, in the determination of the content of the concept of Marxist-Leninist ideology, or socialist ideology, politics— and even every-day politics—has pushed science back into second place.

66

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In my view, whilst there are grounds for the first modification, there are not for the second; it leads to serious consequences for the contemporary working-class movement. When one compares theoretical works on ideology written in the years just after the October revolution with those of today the differences stand out. To begin with, in explanations of the concept of socialist ideology the fundamental theoretical principles of Marxism only were being dealt with (for example the relationship between social being and social consciousness, the class character of social theories, etc.). Later on an enormous importance was given to the practical steps taken by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, for example, to decisions taken on questions of literature, of philosophy, of political economy and so forth.29 As regards the present conception of ideology in countries in the socialist camp, the article by Konstantinov, which has already been mentioned, is characteristic. He regards as the principal character¬ istic of socialist ideology the socialist approach to democracy that flows from it. According to him, ‘In the Soviet Union and in the countries of socialist democracy, political and legal ideas and the institutions that express the interests of true democracy, therefore socialist democracy, have already triumphed.’30 What is immediately obvious is that what should be the outcome of a movement of long duration, what is for the moment, and in particular in some of the countries of the socialist camp, rather an ideal than a reality, is treated as if it had already been realised. So we find ourselves face to face with a typical justification of reality which could not be con¬ firmed by an objective sociological research. It is the same with the other characteristics mentioned by Konstantinov, such as internationalism, the principle of equality, of friendship and brotherhood between peoples, of humanism at work, etc. . . . The campaigns against socialist Yugoslavia form a violent contrast with these fine phrases. Ideology, then, plays here the role of idealising the realities; its content is political slogans that do not very accurately reflect the true relations. It is the same with the principle of humanism. An objective scientific analysis would estab¬ lish that what has been done to establish the conditions for a free development of each individual, and in general, the creation of human relationships between men (for example, mutual confidence, sincerity, free struggle of opinions, etc. . . .) is still quite insignificant 67

THE

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in comparison with the success obtained in other spheres, and in particular, in the sphere of technology and warfare. Konstantinov further mentions the following characteristics of socialist ideology:

‘Struggle against cosmopolitanism, against in¬

dividualism, against bureaucracy, against mysticism, against pessim¬ ism, etc. . . .’ Today, he would certainly put in the first place the struggle against revisionism. All these slogans (adopting the Chinese style one could give them the name of ‘struggle against the Five (or Seven) ills’) are, it is true, in principle, a socialist characteristic. However, the concepts receive a specific content and their full mean¬ ing by the use that is made of them in specific practical situations. So, too often, the practice behind these slogans has not had a socialist character. For example, at the moment when the campaign against cosmo¬ politanism was going full blast, in the years 1948 and 1949, violent attacks were made on men who ‘had not sufficiently appreciated the contribution to world culture made by Russian scholars, philosophers and artists of the nineteenth century and earlier centuries’. The philosopher Kedrov was blamed for opposing certain notorious manifestations of great Russian chauvinism and for having said that he considered that the question of priority was not of vital import¬ ance for the history of science. Often a natural and positive desire of a gifted person to give free scope to his creative capacities in opposition to a backward environ¬ ment was attacked as individualism. As regards bureaucracy, in reality the point of the sword was turned against functionaries who did their job badly. Konstantinov says that ‘The Communist Party and its central committee struggle against bureaucracy which is the most harmful relic of capitalism.’ (p. 47). But the true problem of bureaucracy remains in this way completely obscured. For although the state plays at the beginning of the period of transition a progressive role in economic and social administration, the enormous concentration of power in the hands of a state apparatus and a rigorously centralised and hypertrophied party leads to typical bureaucratic deformations, which is the inevit¬ able consequence of the system. Experience shows that conduct of all social life by the state apparatus leads to separation between this apparatus and society; the apparatus then imposes itself as a force above society. And this

68

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

independence of the bureaucracy asserts itself in particular under conditions of material backwardness. A good mood and optimism are certainly very good things. They are naturally to be seen in healthy, well balanced and personally happy people, who have organised their life well and are pursuing some personal and social objectives. But to what purpose is it to say that socialist ideology is an ‘ideology of good mood and optimism’ and that ‘the reactionary bourgeoisie inculcates into men the psycho¬ logy of decadence, of pessimism, of despair, etc. . . .’?S1 Although these general characteristics are at root correct, one cannot apply them in an absolute manner. In practice, rigid insistence on them often provokes lack of sincerity and kindness. It can terribly im¬ poverish art, which has never been able to and never can sustain itself on only one kind of emotional feeling. Men cannot be compelled to feel what they ought to feel instead of what they actually do feel. Quite certainly there will always be great artists who despite all their respect for the present and all their faith in the future, will never succeed in being sufficiently calm and optimistic. Ought they in their works to make a pretence or to give up creative work, or allow themselves to be exposed to attacks from such pettily conceived ideological opportunism? Finally, when the issue is struggle against dogmatism and revision¬ ism, these two terms are used in a very arbitrary way in the polemics. Typical is the attitude of Soviet theoreticians towards those who are trying to realise in practice the classical formula of Engels on the withering away of the state after the triumph of the socialist revolution. Some years ago they were treated as dogmatists; today, for this same reason the Yugoslav theoreticians are taxed with revisionism. When Lenin was speaking of socialist ideology, he was thinking of a theory based on science, on an objective analysis of social relations. Today, when some Marxists speak of socialist ideology they are thinking of a collection of conceptions and slogans which express the direction of a party at a given moment of time. The doctrine of Marx, of Engels and of Lenin is used as a reservoir of texts from which is drawn, according to need, one or another quotation without regard for its context, to justify a practical step in conformity with the political line of the day. It is said that, in the period of transition, the subjective factor is decisive. That may well be so if all the pro69

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

gressive conscious forces that build the new society on the basis of knowledge of the situation and of the objective tendencies, is regarded as a subjective factor. However, what happens is that only some people or only one single person who finds himself at the head of the party apparatus, is, in reality, considered a subjective factor. In the name of Marxist ideology writers have been told to paint only the rosy side of Soviet life, positive heroes, the builders. Musicians are asked to renounce the modem language of music and to revere Tchaikovsky. To begin with philosophers were forbidden to study formal logic, ‘The arm of the class enemy’, then they were told to write text books on this same logic ‘So that Soviet men may leam to think effectively’. A whole domain of science, sociology, has been completely neglected. In linguistics, Marr and his disciples had a dictatorial position at one time. Then, one fine day, Stalin changed his mind, and they began to be persecuted. The same thing happened to Varga in political economy. Lysenko was for a long time flouted and persecuted by ‘formal geneticists’. But it was enough for him to tell a meeting of biologists that his speech had been approved by the Central Committee for an enormous majority to applaud it and to condemn his adversaries. In a country where such customs have taken root, no one has ever been able to explain how a professional politician, over¬ burdened with work, succeeds, however great a genius he be, in understanding so well the problems of poetry, of philosophy, of linguistics, of biology, etc. ... so that his incursions into these fields could be useful. And how can science and art prosper if they must in principle subordinate themselves to the politics of the day? To be sure all that does not mean that art for art’s sake, or ‘scientism’ are justified in whatever form they assume. Artists and scholars cannot isolate themselves from the rest of society. By virtue of the fact that their creations are for society and that in a socialist country society assures them of conditions in which they can carry out normal work, they ought to submit the results of their activity to the praise and criticism of society. Society cannot look on with indifference if artists and scholars properly understand the needs and aims of the whole community in which they live, if they are inspired by the progressive and humane ideas of their times, if they respect in their mutual relations and their inevitable public conflicts' the fundamental ethical postulates.

70

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Consequently, the problem is not one of interference or non¬ interference in itself. Advisory bodies in science, in the universities, in art, in the cinema and elsewhere are also a form of interference (and even a form that is successful and adequate), a form in which the conscious socialist forces of society make their intervention. All depends upon the principles in the name of which (in fact and not simply in words) this intervention is effected and the manner of the intervention. Is it desired to impose directives from outside, direc¬ tives by party forums, or does one only want to help creative people to discover for themselves scientific thesis and formulations of under¬ lying principles in their own fields of work through a struggle of opinions so as in this way to overcome negative tendencies? The consequences of a different way of tackling things from that which the league of Communists in Yugoslavia adopts and of which the principles are formulated in its programme have engendered stagnation in all domains, in some countries in the socialist camp, and have produced a rather strange phenomenon, which one might call the displacement of national genius towards those sectors where creativity has remained free, unhampered by ideology : towards mathematics, physics, chemistry, electronics, and, in general, towards the natural sciences and technology. Also it is to be observed that branches of art in which the uninitiated have difficulty in involving themselves and where it is rather hard to use art for political ends, such as music, have been less affected than those in which anyone can imagine that he has enough understanding to give authoritative opinions (such as literature and painting). Another consequence of this ‘ideological’ practice is that the con¬ cept of ideology itself is compromised. This explains why some Marxists return to the sense which Marx originally gave to the word, and ask that Marxism as science should be freed from its ideological elements. So one should not be surprised if in most countries in the socialist camp there is a violent condemnation of this tendency as ‘revisionist’. Special attention was given to it at the Seminar on Ideology and Current Problems in the Struggle Against Revisionism, held in Prague on the 16th and 17th October 1958. The main report was presented by the secretary of the Central Committee of the Czecho¬ slovak Communist Party, Vladimir Koucky. He accused the ‘re¬ visionists’ of trying to make a difference between ‘Marxism as pure

7*

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

science’ and ‘as a political instrument and the ensemble of ideo¬ logical aspirations’. He quoted the views of Pierre Herve and of Henri Lefebvre and also of the Pole L. Kolakowski. But he did not present a theoretical and critical analysis of their theories. They are simply accusations about their ‘alien activities in the bosom of the party’, ‘their destructive action directed against the P.C.F.’, their attempt to ‘divorce Marxism from life and transform it into a pro¬ fessional discipline.’ Patient and generous analysis of his ideas brings one to the conclusion that Koucky is against the distinction between science and ideology in Marxism for the following reasons: 1.

He considers that this ‘excludes the Marxism of the revolution¬ ary politics of Communist Parties’, ‘deprives it of its practical effectiveness’, ‘liquidates its revolutionary essence’. And this distinction is ‘metaphysical’.

2.

In the distinction between Marxism as science and Marxism as ideology ‘bourgeois objectivism is manifested’, and in the last analysis, an intellectual pride towards the working class, which, according to these ideas, could with its class subjectivity only sully revolutionary theory. In all this discussion one does not at all see if the matter at issue

is the distinction between the ideological and the scientific elements in Marxism, or indeed the complete (‘metaphysical’) separation of Marxism as pure science from all politics and revolutionary practice. In truth separation here is impossible. A person who only takes Marxism as pure science, without relation to the revolutionary practice to which its application leads, can, in the last analysis, be a good philosopher, a sociologist, an economist, who solves some scientific problems in the spirit of the fundamental principles of dialectical and philosophical materialism; he can even in this way render important services to the working class movement, but he is not for all that a Marxist: for activity, the link between theory and practice, revolutionary orientation towards a transformation of the world, these are the essential characteristics of Marxism. At the same time, a man is not a Marxist whose political practice is not inspired by an objective scientific analysis of social reality and of the laws of its development. This second anti-Marxist aspect of the separation between science and politics, Koucky forgot to mention. Was it by chance ?

72

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However, if all that is at issue is drawing a distinction between the scientific aspect and the ideological aspect in Marxism, it is hard to see what harm there would be in that. An exact definition and delimitation of concepts greatly helps precision and clarity of thought. It is a condition of true knowledge. Does Koucky think that science and ideology are one and the same thing? Then why would drawing distinctions between concepts which indicate the different forms of social consciousness be ‘bourgeois objectivism’, ‘intellectual pride towards the working class’ ? Actually an analysis of this kind would certainly show that many things that are today considered as part of socialist ideology have no scientific foundation. The practical meaning of a distinction between the scientific and the ideological aspect of what is at present labelled ‘Marxism-Leninism’, consists precisely in undertaking research which would show what are the aims and the tasks fixed by the pro¬ grammes of workers’ parties today which possess an objective scientific basis and what are those which do not possess such a basis which are only grafted on to the movement in a subjective, arbitrarily opportunist manner. Is not this precisely what those who think like Koucky want to avoid? What definite meaning should then be given to the concept of ideology? It seems to me that the solution should be looked for in the sense of a generalisation of Marx’s view which would fit in with the generally admitted practice of talking of scientific socialism as an ideology. It is insufficient and impossible to return in a pure and simple way to the youthful writings of Marx on this topic. One cannot define ideology as ‘an inadequate and upside-down social consciousness’ and, to speak at the same time of the revolutionary ideology of the proletariat serving as a guide to the creation of a more developed and humane society. Inadequate knowledge, except in a few rare instances, ends up in ineffectual practice giving results very different from those that were sought. It is no accident if, quite apart from all the deformations we have been dealing with here, the theory of the working class movement is so often called ideology. Marx’s theory has been a theory of revolution in the most developed countries. It seemed that it was only establishing the goal towards which the development of society was inevitably leading. That is why Marx considered that his pre¬ diction, at least so far as the near future was concerned, had a

73

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

strictly scientific character. In this sense : ‘The working class . . . have no ready-made Utopias to introduce par decret du peuple (by decree of the people) . . . they have no ideals to realise, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeoise society itself is pregnant.’32 But it came to pass that the first socialist revolutions were in countries that were more or less backward, full of contradictions, some of which were perhaps even more violent than the contradic¬ tion between the working class and the bourgeoisie. There what was at issue was not only liberation of the elements of the new society which had already developed within the ancient bourgeois system that was collapsing. First of all it was necessary for the most part to create these elements. The new society there was in fact an ideal; it is true, an ideal for the realisation of which certain fundamental objective conditions (economic conditions, political and so forth . . .) were already given. The advent of the revolution there was not a necessary fact that had only to be established,33 it was necessary to will the revolution, to struggle for it, to prepare it. To be sure, Marx was not a fatalist and the objective necessity of revolution did not include for him revolutionary action by the proletariat. It was only one possibility amongst other objective possibilities. The role of the subjective factor became correspondingly more important as experi¬ ence showed that if men have an exact scientific picture of the social situation and if they at the same time are ready to try the ‘im¬ possible’, to go beyond themselves, they can successfully realise ideals whose realisation would be improbable without this enormous and exceptional commitment of the masses. Experience has thus shown that the class consciousness of the proletariat includes, alongside a rational and scientific aspect, an emotional value-giving aspect and that the phenomenon of pro¬ letarian ideology cannot be explained without that.34 Ideology is, then, the ensemble of ideas and theories with which a class expresses its interests, its aims and the norms of its activity. Ideology in Marx’s sense is a particular case of this concept. When we have to do with an exploiting class, this class expresses its interests, its needs and its aims in a pseudo rational form, with a collection of theories that give a false picture, that inadequately represents and mystifies the real social relations. It clearly emerges from Marx’s analysis that what is presented as the ideology of the 74

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

proletariat can be, under certain conditions, an ideology in this particular sense. Since the group in power in a society which is engaged in building socialism has particular interests, which are different and opposed to the interests of the mass of society, since this group has in its ranks a privileged group of pure thinkers who only undertake theoretical work for the group in power, and since, at the same time there still appear cases of alienation and fetishisation of products and human institutions—one inevitably ends up with apologetics and glorification of reality, constructions of myths and illusions which it is thought convenient for the masses to believe. In a word, the result will be a mystified, inadequate reflection of reality. At the same time, the creators of this view of the world can be subjectively convinced that their interests are identical with the interests of the whole of society and that their way of doing things is the only possible route to the realisation of socialism. However, the ideology of the working class is not and ought not to be, as a rule, such mystifying and inadequate consciousness. The proletariat has no special interests different from the interests of the rest of society. The true theoreticians are people committed to the practice of the transformation of society and the creation of new and more human relationships. For a true communist this cannot include fetishes. He knows that God is the product of men’s imagina¬ tion that is why he is a convinced atheist. He knows that money is only the symbol of the value that he creates and for that reason the possession of money, of ever greater sums of money as an end in itself, is not the key to a happy life and one rich in content, but rather that this key is to be found in the all-round blossoming of the individual and of the men about him. He knows that money should only serve as a means of realising deeper and finer values in life. Finally, he thinks that, in a socialist state, the party, the state and all the other network of institutions are only means to the creation of a better and more humane society and to guarantee more liberty to the individual and not an end in itself, an alienated power lording it over men. True Marxism is a unity of two different moments : the scientific moment and the ideological. Science establishes and explains that which is, that which has been and that which will be. Ideology expresses that which ought to be, that which man desires, that which is in the interests of the working class. The unity of these two aspects D

75

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

in the framework of Marxism results from the fact that the aims and ideals of the working class can only be determined on the basis of a scientific analysis of contemporary society. They must accord with the actual tendencies of social movement. From the point of view of scientific socialism the working class only sets itself tasks for the realisation of which sufficient material conditions have already been provided, so that there is only need of the revolutionary energy of the working masses for what is already objectively possible to become actual. On the other hand, the unity of science and progressive ideology consists in the fact that from their standpoint, scientific research is inspired by a humanist ideal of future society, by the fact that they ought to serve a more general creation, the most complete emancipation possible of man from the forces that de¬ grade him, shackle him and humiliate him. The scientific element in Marxism consists in the propositions that describe and explain the world in its totality and human society in particular, and which are in accord with the laws of scientific methodology. This means that they must be communicable (that is to say formulated with precision so that the terms used are lucid and socially comprehensible), theoretically motivated and mutually con¬ sistent. And finally, they must be such as can be applied in practice so that they can be directly or indirectly verified or used as a basis for deduction of verifiable propositions. An example of the scientific spirit in the Marxist classics is certainly Marx’s Capital. Indubitably ideological in character are all those propositions that deal with tasks for Communists, be they immediate or distant, questions of organisation, communism as a final goal, what kind of people communists should be, etc. . . . The first problem posed by these propositions is that of knowing if they are truly an adequate expression of revolutionary aspirations felt by the working class, and in this specifically lies their difference from scientific opinions (which are, as a rule, of a universal character). Accordingly the famous thesis of Lenin, in his discussion with Martov, according to which every member of the Communist Party ought to work in a base organisation, does not involve a question of reflecting an actual situation but one of effectiveness in the struggle for socialism. However, if an ideological proposition is truly to fit the goal that is sought and to be effective in practice, it must be scientifically based on an exact objective knowledge of the facts and of the level

76

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

of social development, of the level of development in the conscious¬ ness of the masses, and so on . . . Let us take another example : the theses of Marx on the complete man and on the suppression of alienation, in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, are not true in the sense of being affirma¬ tions of a factual situation, they describe an ideal, something that ought to be. But here is the essential point: to be an element in a scientific ideology the description of this ideal ought to be scientific¬ ally based. It ought to be possible to bring forward arguments that show that there already exists, at least in the most progressive part of society, a real tendency towards the suppression of alienation, towards socialisation and towards going beyond a petty and one¬ sided manner of existence. It is only in this way, and uniquely in this way, that the ideals, the norms, the values, the tasks obtain their scientific justification and cease to be Utopias, subjective desires and manipulative myths. There is a great problem about drawing the line between the scientific and the ideological, in that social ideals, visions of a distant future, are often expressed in the form of judgments in the indicative tense which makes them hard to distinguish from scientific pre¬ dictions. It should not be forgotten that the science of society is not yet sufficiently developed to be able to make accurate long-term forecasts and, since social phenomena are extremely complicated, it is proper to ask whether social science will be able to make such predictions even when it has reached a far higher degree of scientific precision. Its predictions are generally conditional and relatively imprecise, by virtue of the fact that they contain variable factors. Of these variables, pre-eminently the first is the behaviour of men. Furthermore men have inherited and acquired characteristics that differ markedly from one individual to another and which can express themselves in surprising forms in new situations. It follows that sociology lacks complete knowledge of the initial conditions and of the factors that can influence the course of events. Its predictions are accordingly hypothetical. A text of an ideological character, describing the perspectives of social evolution from the standpoint of a class, does not take account of nor can it take account of all these difficulties, particularly if long-term forecasts are at issue. Generally, it projects into the future the desires and aims of the class in question and that is why its fore-

77

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

casts often have a simplified and strictly determinist aspect. So, when Engels, in his work on the development of Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, describes the process of the withering away of the state, his words, despite their apparently apodictic tone, should not be understood as prediction of something that must happen immedi¬ ately after the working class takes power. The fact is that the working class has taken power in a number of countries, without the state beginning to wither away; on the contrary it has been rein¬ forced. Moreover, the fact Engels and Marx always attached an enormous importance to man’s action, to his power to modify the circumstances in which he finds himself, shows clearly that Engels could not believe in a strictly determinist prediction. Consequently, this text, and others like it, must be interpreted in a different way. In reality we have in them a programme of action, the description of what ought to happen, of what the working class ought to do, if it wants to realise the objective possibilities of building a society without exploitation and oppression. It is not therefore a purely scientific pronouncement which, coldly and impartially, takes into the reckoning all aspects of the future and determines their prob¬ abilities. We have here a description of one aspect only—that which coincides with the ideal of the working class. But this description is founded on indubitably scientific facts, and amongst these the following should in particular be stressed : 1.

the development of capitalism necessarily leads to the trans¬ formation of private property into state and social property;

2.

the proletariat is truly the class that can emancipate itself only by taking power, but which, at the same time, has no interest in exploiting other classes and so it has no lasting need for the state. Our experience today brings out a third fact: the existence of the state necessarily produces bureaucracy and that is in pro¬ portion to the strength of the state apparatus and the number of its functions. All those ideological theses which lack such an objective and

scientific base are no less mystifications than the ascientific ideologies against which Marx struggled.

78

SCIENCE AND IDEOLOGY

NOTES 1.

‘Our job is not to impose bans, but to look for agreements. Everyone is free to build his own logic, that is to say his own form of language. All one asks of him, if he wants to discuss with us, is to demonstrate his method clearly, and to present syntactical rules instead of philosophical dissertations.’ (Carnap, Logische Syntax der Sprache, Vienna 1934, P-

8. 9. 10. 11.

44-45-) Stalin, Works, Volume io, p. 51 (in Russian). See on this subject the works of Miladin Jivotic; On Ideology ‘RAD’, 1958 and Some Problems About the Definition of the Concept of Ideology ( Filosofski Pregled, No. 3, 1957). See Destutt de Tracy, Memoire sur la Faculte de Penser, 1796-98 and Projet d’Elements d Ideologie, 1801. Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, p. 64, Lawrence & Wishart edition, 1970. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 122, Lawrence & Wishart edition. Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Lawrence & Wishart 197°) p. 47. The German Ideology, p. 555 in the 1970 edition. Engels’ Letter to Franz Mehring, 14 July 1893. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, pp. 65-6, Martin Lawrence edition. The German Ideology, p. 65, Lawrence & Wishart, 197°-

12. 13. 14.

Ibid., pp. 51-52Marx & Engels, Collected Works, p. 662 in Russian Edition. Kerr edition of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy,

2. 3.

4. 5. 6. 7.

15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

1904, p. 12. Lenin Volume LXI p. 194, Russian edition. Ibid., Volume XIII, p. 111. Lenin’s Works, Volume IV, pp. 391-2 in Russian Edition. Ibid., p. 391. Lenin’s Works, Vol. V. Third Edition, p. 125 in Russian. Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia. Theodor Geiger, Ideologie und Wahrheit, Eine Sociologische Kritik des Denkens Wien, p. 66. Dagobert Runes’ Dictionary of Philosophy, London 1951, p. 14°A. Cornu, Marxisme et Ideologie, La Pensee, No. 2, 1953, P- 88. The Ideological Consciousness is back to front consciousness, distorted, changed, mystified ... ‘In the struggle for the new man the Critique of ideology must play a prime role.’ . . . (Milan Kangrgra, Probleme de L’ideologie, Pogledi, No. 11, i953> P- 783‘The expression “ideology” ’, writes Jivotic, ought to be kept ex¬ clusively for the concept of the ideal superstructure of class society, for the social consciousness of a class. For the ideal superstructure in general is not necessarily ideological. And the totality of the content of the social consciousness of a class society is not a deformed alien¬ ated ideological reflection of reality.’ (De LTdeologie, in RAD 1958,

25. 26.

P- 35-) Filozofski Pregled, No. 1-2, 1954, PP- 21-22. Vjatr and Baumann, Le Marxisme et la Socialogie Gontemporaine, in Mysl Filozoficzna, No. 1, 1957.

79

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

27.

28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.

Philosophy can have an ideological character when it is reduced to the conception of the world held by a social class. But philosophy that purports to be scientific aspires to the greatest objectivity and universal¬ ity. It studies by scientific methods the conditions of object knowledge of the truth (logic, the theory of knowledge), criteria for appraising moral values (ethics), and artistic values (aesthetics). Kostantinov, The Principal Characteristics of Socialist Ideology (in Russian in Voprosi Filozofii, No. 2, 1952, p. 32). One need only compare the 1935 with the 1955 edition of the great Soviet encyclopaedia. Ibid., p. 40. Ibid., p. 49. Marx, The Civil Watr in France, p. 504, Vol. II, Selected Works 1935. We are here making this distinction in a very exaggerated way, for greater clarity. That is why what Todor Pavlov says is wrong when he states that ‘Ideology itself, under the form of the ideology of the proletariat . . . is transformed before our eyes into a perfect scientific view into a com¬ plete system of scientific views on social and material things.’ (La theorie du reflet, Kultura, 1947, p. 405.)

80

IV

Descriptive and Normative Conceptions of Human Nature

in this essay I should like to attempt the following three things: (1)

to show briefly the connection between ideologies and existing conceptions of human nature;

(2)

in distinction from those normative conceptions that are in¬ volved in ideologies, to explore the possibilities of building up descriptive conceptions of human nature;

(3)

to indicate what would be the position on this problem of one who commits himself to a critical humanist social theory.

I There is a confusion about the notion of ideology and we have to make a choice here about the use of that term. In the more narrow and more precise sense in which the term was used by Marx in The German Ideology, ideology is the expression of interests and needs of a particular ruling social group. The function of ideology in this sense is to conceal and mystify real social relationships that are characterised by domination and oppression, to make a better image of them than they deserve or at least to construe them as natural, lasting, necessary forms of human life. For this purpose of justifica¬ tion a Weltanschauung is needed, including an idea of human nature, and it is essential to create the impression that this Welt¬ anschauung is theoretically sound and universally valid. That is why ideologies need science and philosophy, that is why their state¬ ments may get such a general, abstract and systematic character, and that is also why most of their value judgments are carefully disguised and expressed in the form of mere indicative statements. Ideology in a broader sense is the.expression of interests and needs of any particular social group, the ruled and oppressed one as well 81

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

as the ruling and oppressing one. The term is very often used in that sense, even by most followers of Marx (e.g. when they speak about socialist versus bourgeois ideology). The more general concept does not involve that crucial ideological statements are false or value judgments in disguise. It involves only their normative character. Ideological statements do not merely describe actual human behaviour in a given society, they express what it should be, and how society ought to be organised. In order to have at least the appearance of being well founded they need a concept of human nature. For this purpose the image of man that would fit the existing social framework or that is required to explain and justify a certain project of social change is construed as a fixed, inborn and historical entity with invariant characteristics. A study of the correlations between different attitudes toward a given society on the one hand, and different concepts of human nature on the other, lead to the following simple rules : (1)

Status quo ideologies tend to develop sceptical views about human nature. One form of this scepticism is to warn that human rights must be limited and that one must be realistic with any conceivable programme of structural change because there are beastly instincts in man that must not be unleashed. Another more liberal variant is the rejection of the very idea of human nature as a speculative metaphysical concept. It follows then that there is only a huge variety of observable forms of human behaviour. This view is compatible with pro¬ grammes of social change in the sense of growth and continuous modification of existing social structures. For example, it goes together with Popper’s idea of social engineering. But it rules out any long-range programme of radical social change in the sense of a structural transformation (revolution). If we cannot have any good reasons to believe that some different form of society ultimately corresponds better to human nature or is more humane than the existing one then it seems that the method of trial and error is the only one at our disposal.

(2)

The more an ideology is future-oriented and radically opposed to the given society the more optimistic is its conception of human nature.

If the task of revolutionary change seems

feasible and especially if it offers a possibility of realisation in a series of smaller steps (the case of revolutionary reformism), a 82

CONCEPTIONS

OF

HUMAN

NATURE

certain dose of realism is possible : a darker side in human nature need not be fully excluded. The weaker the real revo¬ lutionary forces, the more remote and difficult the task appears to be, the more need for idealisation, the more optimistic and utopian the idea of human nature. In its extreme form it con¬ tains only good, admirable qualities: freedom, creativity, soci¬ ability, etc. There is a hope that sufficiently strong social forces for revolutionary change could be mobilised if it could be shown that there is an unbearable gap between possibility and actuality and that the given society is a total barrier to human self-realisation. (3)

The more an ideology is past-oriented and expresses the interests of social groups that tend to restore some historically obsolete structures of domination,

the more pessimistic or

cynical its view of man. Man is considered basically bad (aggressive, greedy, acquisitive, egoistic). Another regularity is that at one pole of the continuum, in future-oriented ideologies, one finds maximum egalitarianism : all individuals are potentially good, equally creative, able to perform all kinds of functions in society, etc. Hence the principle of rotation in all roles, including the leading ones. The emphasis on differences gets stronger as we move toward the opposite pole. Extreme reaction¬ aries insist on permanent biological differences between

races,

nations and classes. According to them democracy and socialism favour the weak, sick, inert, unfit. Society should be reorganised in such a way as to do justice to the obvious superiority of elites com¬ posed

of

supermen,

endowed

with

strong,

healthy,

aggressive

instincts. II If the conception of human nature that we find in ideologies is a clearly normative one and plays more the function of providing theoretical ground for a certain project of practical group action than of describing a certain reality, two questions arise : (1)

Are all normative concepts of human nature, from a scientific point of view, equally irrelevant and devoid of factual content, or do they also contain (to a higher or lower degree) a descrip¬ tive component?

83

THE

(2)

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MARX

What is a descriptive conception of human nature, and by what methods can it be established?

As to the first, it is obviously possible to treat ideological state¬ ments about human nature as candidates for factual statements and to test their theoretical and empirical grounds. Three different types of situation might arise : (1)

If the conditions are not specified under which these statements could be empirically tested and falsified, the involved concept (or part of the concept) of human nature lacks any descriptive dimension.

(2)

If the conditions are specified but it is not clear how they can ever be met, the involved concept is scientifically irrelevant (such are the XVIII century descriptions of man in a state of nature or more recent descriptions that refer to a society with¬ out scarcity of any kind).

(3)

If the conditions are specified and can be met, the concept of human nature becomes descriptive

and

on

the results

of

actual operations of testing it will depend whether it will turn out to be factually adequate or not. In such a way one can test the validity of the assertions that man is essentially belligerent under any system, or that acquisitiveness will disappear under certain social conditions. Empirical study of human behaviour under different historical conditions provides the necessary material for possible anthro¬ pological generalisations of a descriptive character. There can hardly be any doubt that the image of man built up in such a way would be one of enormous complexity. First of all, we would find an evolving structure rather than a fixed static entity. Some features tend to dis¬ appear (patriarchal loyalty to the older generation) some new arise (homo consumens). These in their turn become questionable for coming generations. Instead of having in front of us a set of stable deterministic characteristics one finds only tendencies of behaviour with all kinds of individual exceptions. It becomes obvious that there is an enormous gap between the actual and the potential. Most human properties are only latent dispositions that may, but need not ever be actualised. They have its material, chemical basis in definite gene-patterns. A far more

advanced

knowledge

of

this

biochemical

basis

would allow us to realise certain limits of men that may nowadays 84

CONCEPTIONS

OF

HUMAN

NATURE

be only a matter of guessing. But there can be little doubt that within these limits lies large scope for possibilities. On the social and cultural conditions will depend which of these will be realised in the form of actual tendencies of behaviour. What man actually is is only a small fragment of what he potentially is, i.e. what he could be. As a matter of fact, man has a number of potential capacities that he had begun to manifest as a child but that are blocked by unfavourable conditions of work in contemporary industrial society. His compulsory acquisitiveness may be a substitute for these arrested modes of behaviour. Such are a capacity for increasingly richer, more cultivated, sensory experience, for creative activity, problem solving, meaningful communication, for participation in all kinds of social activities, games, festivities, etc. Another important feature of the descriptive concept of human nature, in close connection with this duality actual-potential, would be its apparently contradictory character. All preceding history presents a picture of opposite tendencies of human behaviour : a craving for freedom but also escape from responsibility; a striving for universalism and internationalism, but also class, national and racial egoism; a need for creativity but also powerful irrational, destructive drives; readiness for self-sacrifice in certain conditions, but a strong lust for personal power and domination in some others, a profound need for love, but also incomprehensible need to inflict pain and suffering on the beloved ones. What can we say scientifically about human nature if we have to face such apparent paradoxes? Ill The task seems to be soluble. Scholars know how to cope with similar problems in other fields. One has to analyse data, to general¬ ise and extrapolate, to introduce abstract terms

abbreviations.

Once we have learnt the distinctions between an empirical fact and a law, and between the whiteness and solubility of salt, i.e. between actual and dispositional properties of phenomena, there should be no problem to distinguish between, on the one hand, the actual mode of human existence (that can be very narrow and utterly limited) and, on the other hand, all wealth of potential human capacities. Also we should have no problems to resolve

85

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MARX

apparent paradoxes by specifying different historical conditions under which opposite tendencies of behaviour take place. Two serious problems, however, are : (1)

Are we sure that the resulting descriptive picture is purely scientific, that a lot of ideology was not smuggled in in the very assumptions and procedures of our scientific method? The answer of course is that there is no such thing as pure nonideological science, especially social science. As a consequence, our descriptive concept will not be entirely free of normative elements.

(2)

A second, more crucial question is : What is the use of the descriptive concept of human nature if we are not happy with the present human condition and want to change society?

A very customary approach among critical social scientists is to reject the descriptive concept altogether as a product of positivist thinking and as a mere apology of the given social reality. But what then are the alternatives? One has either to give up the concept of human nature altogether or to postulate such a concept without taking into account any available scientific information. In the former case one has to give up any humanist criteria of evaluating the old or new society, one must consistently avoid all critical phrases like ‘dehumanising’, ‘de¬ grading’, ‘alienating’, ‘unnatural’, etc. One will have to use the utilitarian technocratic language : ‘useful’, ‘efficient’, ‘rational’ (in a technical sense), ‘optimal’ (without reference to any higher level [humanist] criterion). To be sure one will fall under Marx’s wellknown criticism of Bentham from Capital: He that would criticise all human acts, movements, relations etc. by the principle of utility must first deal with human nature in general and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch.1 (In connection with this, Marx made a distinction between ‘constant drives which exist under all conditions and which can be changed only in their form and direction they take’, and the ‘relative drives and appetites which owe their origin to a definite type of social organisation’.2) If, on the other hand, one simply postulates the concept of

86

CONCEPTIONS OF HUMAN NATURE

human nature, not only does the procedure suffer from excessive and unnecessary arbitrariness, but also the whole concept becomes quite static, ahistorical, and to a considerable extent mystical. There is no history if man remains the same all the time. If there is an inborn nature then the role of social conditions, education and culture be¬ comes negligible and it is impossible to explain great changes in human behaviour when considerable changes in social conditions take place. This criticism leads to the conclusion that instead of rejecting the descriptive concept of human nature we should take it as a factual basis for building up a concept ideal that would embrace both a descriptive and a normative component. This whole procedure presupposes a basic intuitive criterion as to which things are intolerable and which are acceptable in human society. This criterion is a matter of our general practical orientation in social life. In the case of a scholar who advocates radical social change this criterion is primarily an expression of revolt against the human conditions in contemporary class society. Immediate experi¬ ence of human misery, humiliation, all kinds of deprivation, empti¬ ness and suffering give rise to a rebellious consciousness that initially has predominantly a negative form : certain things must not be allowed to happen to man. Further observation, practical experience, study of literature and thinking lead to a network of basic ideas as to what social structures are responsible for existing forms of human degradation. Also one finds out that there is a high degree of agree¬ ment among great humanist thinkers in the past on certain values such as freedom, equality, peace, solidarity etc. This agreement does not prove anything but shows the universal character of certain norms of human life. This belief that certain norms have universal character at a given historical moment is an a priori basis for a theory of social change. Here a priori must be taken in a historical, relative sense not as an absolute, transcendental entity.

It is a

crystallisation of the past and is relative. The very process of build¬ ing a theory including change of human nature involves the follow¬ (i)

Discovering internal limits in actual forms of human behaviour as well as in latent dispositions (such as aggressiveness, will to power, obsessive acquisitiveness). Limits here mean : negative features that should be overcome.

87

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

(2)

Finding out under which social conditions

these negative

features are being brought to life. (3)

Showing how these conditions can be transformed (what social structures and institutions should be abolished) in order to eliminate these negative features. Of course deeply rooted latent dispositions cannot be done away with by suppressing them : they might only temporarily recede. A much more promising course is to create conditions in which they could be freely expressed but in a modified, socially acceptable way, (as cultiv¬ ated, controlled aggressivity in debates, in sport, sex, etc., power to rule transformed into creative power, etc.).

(4)

On the other hand conditions should be created for full actualisation of other, non-negative, potential capacities. Eventually these should prevail.

Thus by practically engaging and bringing to life one of the possible futures, we, at the same time, would change our own nature —by encouraging the development of some of our traits, by suppres¬ sing and modifying others, by creating some entirely new attitudes, needs, drives, aspirations, values. IV A historical fact which is often overlooked is that some values which have been very important in the recent past lose their sense and evoke satiety and revolt among the new generation. In such a moment a sudden mutation in human behaviour can be observed. This is especially the case with those values which had originated in powerlessness and all kinds of privation, and which have directed human behaviour for such a long time that many theoreticians took them for lasting characteristics of human nature. Thus for example : (1)

Material scarcity has brought about a hunger for goods, a lust for unlimited private property. This intemperate hunger, this typical mentality of a homo consumens developed especially when, for the first time in history, in industrial society, con¬ ditions of all human activity were created for mass satisfaction of material needs. However it loses a good part of its meaning in the conditions of abundance in a ‘post-industrial’ society. At the scale of values some other things become more important— and one can already observe this tendency in advanced in-

88

CONCEPTIONS OF HUMAN NATURE

dustrial countries where people increasingly give preference to travelling and education over food and clothing. (2)

A situation of powerlessness and insecurity against alienated political power gave rise to an obvious overestimate of political power. This kind of obsession especially developed on a mass scale in the most civilised countries in our century due to the introduction of various form of semi-democracy, i.e. such a type of society in which political power is still alienated and estab¬ lished in a strict hierarchical order, but at the same time open to a much larger circle of citizens. On the other hand, the rise of the will to power is caused by the destruction of other values : it is a substitute for a will to spiritual and creative power, it is an infallible symptom of nihilism and decay. However, it loses sense to the extent to which the basic political functions would be deprofessionalised and to a considerable degree decentralised, to the extent to which every individual would have real possi¬ bilities to participate in the process of management.

(3)

In a society in which a person is condemned to a routine technical activity—which was not freely chosen by him, and does not offer opportunity for the realisation of his potential abilities—the motive of success naturally becomes the primum mobile of all human activity, whereas pragmatism takes the ground as the only relevant philosophy. Nevertheless, one can already envisage conditions under which basic changes in human motivation might take place. If an individual could have a real possibility to choose his place in the social division of work according to the type of his abilities, talents and aspirations, if in general, professional activity could be reduced to a minimum and to a function of secondary importance with respect to the freely chosen activities in the leisure time, the motive of success would lose its dominant position. Success would no longer be regarded as a supreme end worthy of any sacrifice, but only as a natural consequence of something much more important. This more important and indeed essential thing is the very act of creation (no matter whether in science, art, politics or personal relations), the act of objectification of our being according to ‘the laws of beauty’, the satisfaction of the needs of another man, putting together a genuine com¬ munity with other men through the results of our action.

89

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

In

general,

scarcity,

weakness,

lack

of

freedom,

social

and

national insecurity, a feeling of inferiority, emptiness and poverty to which the vast majority of people are condemned, give rise to such mechanisms of defence and compensation as national and class hatred, egoism, escape from responsibility, aggressive and destructive behaviour, etc. Many present-day forms of evil really could be over¬ come in a society which would secure to each individual satisfaction of his basic vital needs, liberation from compulsory routine work, immediate participation in decision-making, a relatively free access to the stores of information, prolonged education, a possibility to appropriate genuine cultural values, the protection of fundamental human rights. However, we are not yet able to predict today which new problems, tensions and conflicts, which new forms of evil will be brought about by the so-called ‘post-industrial’ society. For this reason we should be critical towards any naive technicist optimism which expects all human problems to be solved in the conditions of material abundance. A considerable improvement in the living conditions of individuals does not automatically entail the creation of a genuine human com¬ munity, in which there is solidarity, and without which a radical emancipation of man is not possible. Because, it is possible : to over¬ come poverty and still retain exploitation, to replace compulsory work with senseless and equally degrading amusement, to allow participation in insignificant issues within an essentially bureaucratic system, to let the citizens be virtually flooded by carefully selected and interpreted half-truths, to use prolonged education for a pro¬ longed programming of human brains, to open all doors to the old culture and at the same time to put severe limits to the creation of the new one, to reduce morality to laws to protect certain rights without being able to create a universally human sense of duty and mutual solidarity. The key problem which mankind will have to face for another long period of time is: how to avoid that ruling over things does not, time and again, in every new social model, revert to ruling over people. This problem is of fundamental importance for any radical vision of the future : the existence of alienated concentrated economic and political power in the hands of any ruling elite : of warriors, private

90

CONCEPTIONS OF HUMAN NATURE

owners of the means of production, managers, professional poli¬ ticians, or even scientists and philosophers, would impede any radical changes in the sphere of human relationships. The division of people into historical subjects and objects would entail a hypertrophy of the apparatus of power, a conservation of the ideological way of thinking, a control over the mass media of communication, a limita¬ tion of political and spiritual freedom. Consequently a permanent concentration of power in the hands of any particular social group would be an essential limiting factor of the whole further develop¬ ment. Fortunately, scientific and technological progress with far-reach¬ ing consequences in the economic, social and cultural plane opens the historical possibilities for a radical supersession of all those institutions which in the past have allowed certain privileged elites to rule over people (such as the state, political parties, army, political police, security service, etc.). Radical structural change of these institutions is the necessary condition for the creation of a new man and new human relation¬ ships.

NOTES 1. 2.

Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Chicago 1906, p. 668. Marx, The Holy Family, MEGA V, S. 359.

91

V

Ethics of a Critical Social Science

i the

problem of the social responsibility of scientists and techno¬

logists has become one of the crucial issues of modern culture at the beginning of the last third of the twentieth century. This stems from the fact that science and technology themselves have become prob¬ lematic. A century ago even the most radical intellectuals, while con¬ testing all existing institutions, were reluctant to challenge science. The Russian nihilists, like Pisarev and his followers, for example, attacked all traditional values—from idealistic philosophy, Christian religion and morality to the State and family. They were certain that tyranny and ignorance were the source of all evils, that the former must be swept away by revolution and the latter be overcome through science. The heroes of Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons be¬ lieved that in a future society, science would solve all problems and cure all ills. That optimism is now gone. Certain young people of today, who need not be even mildly rebellious, let alone nihilistic, are inclined to think that, after all, it is science itself which is a problem and an ill to be cured. Of course, the spirit of Enlighten¬ ment is still very much alive and one of the strongest social currents in all societies is ideologically based on faith in science and its endproducts : power over nature, material wealth, efficient organisation of social life. On the other hand, there are growing doubts about an increasing number of implications of scientific development, such as the unexpected deterioration of personal relations in scientifically and technologically advanced societies, research for the purpose of destruction, which may ultimately lead to collective suicide of man¬ kind, increasing opportunities to control and manipulate individuals, the massive use of scientists and of their methods and equipments for repressive purposes, and a pathological obsession with consumption

92

*

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

which may lead both to waste of most necessary resources and to an irreversible pollution of the natural environment. 1 his is a new situation and one that demands prompt reaction on

the part of scientists. If something of universal, planetary importance happens which can be traced back to their own production in alienated form then they must surely find a way to come to grips with the problem. They can either accept the alienation as a natural state of affairs and continue to draw a sharp demarcation line between responsibilities for the creation and for the use of know¬ ledge, or they can rebel against alienation, against the status of producers of information who neither care about the basic goals of inquiry and about the broader context of knowledge within which their intellectual products acquire final meaning, nor are allowed to participate in the decision-making process about the use of these same products. If they accept the latter option, then scientists must change their fundamental assumptions about the nature of their task, must re¬ place previously dominant ideas of positive science with the concep¬ tion of a critical science and its methodology; their traditional detachment and aloofness must give way to a very serious concern about all misuses of scientific findings for non-humane purposes. If they accept the first option, however, scientists can continue to insist on a narrow professional division of work and to escape their responsibilities by pretending that scientific objectivity has nothing to do with commitment. They can attempt to take up a defensive stance based on the position that either research must be value-free and ethically neutral, or findings will lack objectivity and have a predominantly ideological character. This position does not have a long history. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the critical evaluation of reality was considered a legitimate function of scientific inquiry. Two philosophical ideas constituted the ultimate criterion of evaluation. One was the idea of natural order and natural rights of men. It originated in ancient Stoic philosophy and was developed especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (by Bodin, Althusius, Grotius, Hobbes, Leibniz, Kant and others). The other was the more recent idea of progress which emerged with the Enlightenment and dominated the nineteenth century'. It made it possible to take a critical attitude towards any actual state of the economy, of politics and of law from

93

1

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the point of view of natural order and progress. Certainly, these ideas were vague and underpinned by naive, one-sided or unverifiable assumptions. They were used not only for critical but also for apologetic purposes: for example, the capitalist economy was con¬ strued as the economic order which best corresponds to human nature and allows optimally rapid progress. Hence strong resistance to these ideas and a resolute demand to eliminate from science all value-judgements and to reduce social inquiry to the description and explication of factual situations was partly the result of increasing methodological rigour. Partly it was also the expression of a con¬ servative tendency to eradicate all scientific basis of social criticism and to relegate evaluation, projections and basic decision-making to the realm of politics. Nevertheless the problematic concepts of natural order and progress have not been replaced by any other normative categories. The dominant philosophical trend in the 1930s and 1940s—logical positivism—construed all value statements as mere expressions of emotion without any cognitive meaning. As a result, philosophy became completely divorced from living social issues, lost its anticipatory, critical and guiding role and was reduced to the study of the logical structure of language. Science by contrast was interpreted as the study of given, empirically observable pheno¬ mena, which at best can establish certain regularities and extrapolate from them certain possible phenomena. All evaluation in terms of needs, feelings or moral standards was considered basically irrational and fit only to be discarded. There are historical periods and conditions under which such emphasis on the ethical neutrality of science has a progressive character. Max Weber was right in insisting that, in the conditions of restricted freedom of scientific research and teaching, the principle of ethical neutrality may save the honour and dignity of a scholar by allowing him to disengage himself from the immoral goals of the ruling circles. In such situations, and in that sense, value-free science may play a progressive, demystifying role. It would seem, however, that at present the main social danger does not come so much from tyrannical, authoritarian regimes but from a spiritual vacuum that is being filled by a faith in power and success, by an ideology of consumption, by an almost pathological obsession with the efficiency of means coupled with a fatal lack of interest in the problem or rationality and the humanity of goals. In

94

ETHICS

OF

A

CRITICAL

SOCIAL

SCIENCE

such an historical situation, and in such a spiritual climate, the principle of ethical neutrality plays a rather mystifying, systemsupportive role. By its indifference toward any long-range projec¬ tions, by its profound scepticism with regard to any visions of radical social change, value-free science only leads to the growth and strengthening of alienated power, to ever more efficient control over natural and historical processes within the framework of the existing historical structure. ‘Pure’, positive, piecemeal knowledge can always be accepted, interpreted and used in a way most convenient to the ruling elite. A society in which this kind of science is favoured remains devoid of its potential critical self-consciousness. II In fact, the very concept of value-free scientific inquiry is mis¬ leading. Certain values and norms are always present in any social research; the question is only : to which kind do they belong. Certain cognitive values are basic elements of the scientific method : clarity, precision, flexibility, the fertility and explanatory power of the con¬ ceptual apparatus, accuracy of inference, the verifiability and applic¬ ability of theories, etc. Some of these complement each other and do not necessarily go together with others. Priority patterns differ from one methodological

orientation

to

another.

To

choose

among

analytical method, phenomenology and dialectic, to adopt empiric¬ ism, rationalism or intuition, to prefer the method of explanation or method of understanding—does not only mean the adoption of a certain type of language, a way of thinking and a set of descriptive, epistemological and ontological postulates, but also giving priority to certain cognitive values over others. In addition to cognitive values, non-cognitive ones are also invari¬ ably implicit in the theoretical and methodological presuppositions of social scientists, no matter how neutral they pretend to be. For example sociological functionalists assume that society is a stable system, the parts of which are well integrated, each one having a definite function

and

contributing

to

the

conservation

of the

system. Proper functioning of the system is contingent on agreement about its basic values. Social order is the fundamental condition for the successful functioning of the system. Finally, any deviation from this order is dysfunctional, deviant, pathological. By contrast, a,

95

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

Marxist sociologist assumes that we all live in an epoch of transition from reified to free human activity, from a class-bound to a classless society, hence all social systems are more or less unstable, with clear disintegrative tendencies, with many obviously dysfunctional in¬ stitutions, torn by disagreement and class struggle. Far from being pathological, deviation and dissent from a sick society may be revolutionary, and an indication of sanity. Here we obviously have a clash of attitudes toward the whole system of values built into existing society. By insisting on stability, harmony and order, func¬ tionalism tries to defend it. By assuming the inevitability of a struc¬ tural, revolutionary social change, by favouring a critical, rebellious position, Marxism seeks to destroy the claims to legitimacy of that value system, and to show that at least some of its basic assumptions do not have a universally human character but express the needs and interests of particular ruling groups. Thus, for example, private pro¬ perty, economic competition, labour as such (regardless of whether it is alienated or not), order, civil obedience, national unity, freedom to express views without freedom to participate in decision-making, etc., are really values only for certain people at a certain time and under certain specific conditions. To advocate them (explicitly or implicitly) without any qualification, would be incompatible with scientific objectivity and universality. True, individual scientists be¬ long to a particular nation and social group; they have been educated within a particular tradition and social climate. The most difficult and responsible task of those who train young scientists is therefore to help them overcome this narrowly critical spiritual horizon and to realise that science is a universal human product. In fact, certain universal ethical values are implicit in the very concepts of objectivity and rationality which constitute the very foundation of scientific method. (Geiger was very right when he insisted that there is a close link between scholarly skills [Fachkonnen] and scholarly conscience [Fachgewissen]). Objectivity pre¬ supposes a basic honesty in the application of the professional norms of research; merciless elimination of any kind of personal vested interest; a co-operative spirit in the whole process of symbolic activity (without which communication would be impossible); readiness to give priority to truth over group loyalty; freedom from rationalistic, social, religious and ideological intolerance. The objectivity of scien¬ tific research is contingent upon certain social conditions and these,.

96

ETHICS

OF

A CRITICAL

SOCIAL

SCIENCE

in turn, depend on the implementation of a whole series of other values, such as the openness of a society toward the rest of the world, a general atmosphere of political and cultural tolerance (which does not exclude struggle against superstitions and prejudice), the free flow of information (which includes the freedom of self-expression, of discussion, of travel, of studying any scientifically interesting problem), the autonomy of science from other social spheres especi¬ ally from politics, a social climate that favours anti-authoritarian attitudes, which implies that the only authority in science is one based on knowledge, and ability, and the only elite in society would be the elite of spirit and taste. On the contrary, any barriers to com¬ munication, any ideological hostility toward rival philosophical approaches and methodological orientations, any monopoly of power that imposes control and censorship over scientific research and publication and tends to promote loyal supporters into scientific authorities greatly reduce objectivity and lead to a general deteriora¬ tion of scientific work. There is another social condition of objectivity that best shows its connexion with humanism. While scientific work is the privilege of a small minority and in general remains a strictly isolated field in the professional division of labour, ‘objective’ often means what the pro¬ fessional experts have agreed on. However, in proportion to the extent to which an increasing number of people obtain the necessary education in their free time and develop an active interest in science, the group of trained observers, theory-builders and critics, especially in the social sciences, is substantially expanded and social judge¬ ments concerning the objective validity of data and theories become more critical and accurate. A similar analysis is possible for the concept of scientific rational¬ ity. All rational behaviour is value-laden : it consists in selecting the most probable alternative for reaching a certain goal. The goals in most cases are unexamined, tacitly assumed, put between brackets, which creates the illusion that instrumental, technological rationality is value-free and ethically neutral. Of course, it is not. Many new products emerging from highly rationalised productive processes are merely more profitable for the producer, not superior in the satis¬ faction of human needs. An examination of the values concealed within the very concept of rationality uncovers the problem of the ultimate goals of all scientific inquiry. By now it has certainly be-

97

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MARX

come clear that some of the enormous scientific efforts in this century have to some extent been misdirected, that many essential human needs have been neglected, that incredible amounts of material, knowledge and the best human energy have been wasted to satisfy incidental and artificially induced needs, and that science in general requires an articulated, critical self-consciousness and a new humanist orientation. Ill Theoretically, the key problem in building up such a new orienta¬ tion is the justification of the claim that its basic ethical norms have a universal character. There are three orders of reason that can be put forward to legitimate this claim. First, the history of philosophy and of culture shows a very high degree of consensus among recognised great thinkers concerning certain fundamental values, such as freedom, equality, peace, social justice, truth, beauty, etc. This consensus does not itself prove any¬ thing but indicates the universal character of certain norms of human life. Second, critical philosophical anthropology offers a theory of man, of his essential capacities and genuine needs, from which all value considerations, including the problem of a hierarchy of values, may be derived. This theory obviously contains not only an indica¬ tive but also a normative component. The former is implicit, for example, in the theoretical justification of the view that there are universally latent dispositions (such as: capacities to use symbols and communicate, to solve new problems, to develop a self-con¬ sciousness, etc.), that these are realised at a certain stage of growth under favourable social conditions and that they may be wasted and extinguished if appropriate conditions are lacking. The normative component is implicit in the very selection of essential human capacities and in the distinction between true and false needs. The universality of this normative component would be validated if it could be shown that, ceteris paribus, all normally developed human individuals really have structurally similar affective needs and pre¬ ferences in certain crucial existential situations of deprivation and suffering, group activity, sexual attraction, etc.

98

-

Third,

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

contemporary,

humanist

psychology

derives

universal

human values from the study of psychologically healthy, self-actualised persons. The essential methodological point here is that health may be defined operationally and not with the help of higher-level abstract concepts. Abraham Maslow defines the concept of a healthy, self-actualising human being by the following empirically describable characteristics : clearer perception of reality, more openness to experience, increased integration of the person, increased spontane¬ ity, a firm identity, increased objectivity, recovery of creativeness, ability to fuse concreteness and abstractness, democratic character structure, ability to love, etc.1 On the other hand, what is char¬ acteristic for all pathological mental states is the disintegration of the person, and the homeostasis of the organism as a whole. This approach allows humanist psychologists to replace the question ‘What should human values be?’ with the factual question : ‘What are the values of healthy human beings?’ These three approaches, historical, philosophical and psycho¬ logical, taken together, allow us to speak in a meaningful way about a universal humanist foundation for a critical social science. From these general considerations it follows that at least the following three alternative positions are open to a social scientist: (a) to act as an apologist for the official ideology in a given society, (b) to try to pursue research guided solely by cognitive norms and to relegate any ethical principles, or economic, political and cultural aspirations, to the background; (c) to engage in a critical study from a universal humanist point of view. It is not difficult to explain why many social scholars assume the role of apologists. At best, they may identify with the official ideo¬ logy, with the aspirations and goals of the ruling elite. At worst, they may conform because they recognise the price of acceptance or refusal to play that role : high social status in one case, rejection in the other. Whatever their motives, those scholars who decide to subordinate their work to ideological demands cannot but violate standards of the scientific method, which relate to truth and there¬ fore have universally objective validity. All ideologies, on the other hand, are false rationalisations; being the expressions of limited, particular interests, they nolens volens construe social relations in a mystifying way, only pretending that they produce scientific truths.

99

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

This worst kind of abuse may be avoided by scholars who commit themselves to ethical and ideological neutrality. There are several variants of this type of approach. Obviously considerable differences exist between : a scholar who escapes into the security of pure science while silently rejecting the official system of values in a repressive society; a frustrated and sceptical former rebel for whom any commitment has become senseless; the owner of a special kind of commodity, knowledge and intellectual skill, at the disposal of anybody ready to pay his price; the servant of the government or the corporation who takes a certain pride in his social function but who, in contrast to the ideological doctrinaire, tries to produce really ‘positive’ knowledge in the tasks assigned to him by the establish¬ ment; and last like Bertold Brecht’s ‘Der Denkende’, the carrier of knowledge, who, like Brecht’s figure, Herr Kenner, should not fight, nor tell the truth, nor serve anybody; he has ‘only one of the virtues : he carries knowledge’. A common feature of all these different attitudes is escape from responsibility for the use of knowledge. Yet no scholar can any longer ignore this responsibility. The greatest abuse of scientific endeavour in history, the development of the nuclear bomb, immediately resulted in a series of reactions by leading contemporary scientists : Einstein’s and Szilard’s letters, the Franck report, the petition to the President of the United States of America of 17 July 1945, later the Pugwash movement and increas¬ ing participation of scientists in the peace and environmental move¬ ments and in various cultural activities of the United Nations and Unesco. A new international solidarity of intellectuals has begun to emerge in recent decades. A critical consciousness is developing which tends to transcend the limitations of nation, race, class or religion and assume a humanist position. One of the most widely diffused expressions of the new and spontaneous intellectual universalism is to be found in the First Pugwash Statement signed by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein : ‘We are speaking not as members of this or that nation, continent or creed, but as human beings, members of the species of man, whose continued existence is in doubt. ‘Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but as human beings we have to remember that if the issues between the East and West are to be decided in any manner that gives any possible satisfaction to any¬ body, whether communist or anti-communist, whether Asian or 100

.

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

European or American, whether white or black, that these issues must not be decided by war. . We appeal as human beings to human beings—remember your humanity and forget the rest.’2 IV Many scholars feel uneasy when they are confronted with such a universal humanist appeal, and there are good reasons to be on guard. First, a universal point of view may be so abstract that it does not do justice to any particular standpoint or claim. It is intellectu¬ ally and morally very comfortable, and to that extent also irre¬ sponsible, to gloss over all issues and assume the appearance of a ‘neutral’ universal judge who damns all sides from the vantage point of ‘Mankind’. Surely some particular standpoints may be more com¬ patible with universal interests and needs of human development, of self-realisation, than are others. Furthermore, it is not even possible in practice to promote these universal interests without taking a particular stand in each particular situation. In some conditions that may imply the condemnation of all sides, in others it might be endorsement of and active support for the side which, while struggl¬ ing for its own ends, also struggles for humanity as a whole. What is needed is a concrete historical, not an abstract, transcendental universalism. Second, humanism has so often, in history as in dictionaries, been associated with philanthropy, tolerance, charity, soft-heartedness and do-goodism that many social reformers and revolutionaries may be reluctant to appropriate this label, even when, objectively or sub¬ jectively, they have a universal standpoint. The preaching of abstract universalism and humanistic tolerance could be the ideology of the dominant power, which might thus try to neutralise radical criticism of existing social relations and deflect militant activism towards harmlessly benign or welfare efforts. A concrete universal humanist point of view has indeed nothing to do with such a superficial, watered-down concept. From the beginnings of ancient Greek culture the universal, the humane and the critical go together in one form or another. Accord¬ ing to Heraclitus, for example, man lives in the prison of his individual world so long as he relies only on his personal experiences IOI

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

and aspirations. Thinking allows him to grasp logos, the universal structure of all being, and thus to enter a world common to all those who think. In this way men overcome their previous state and develop into awakened beings. In Plato, the Stoic philosophers and many other classical thinkers one finds a similar fusion of three great ideas : (a) that the universal structure of being, exists; (b) that this universality is not strictly outside man but can be discovered and appropriated by man; and (c) that the transition from an existing, individual state to a potentially universal state possesses a critical character : man lives in a dream, in a cave, in a prison, before his critical thought (where reason and emotion fuse)3 allows him to awake, to set himself free, to be really human. The main point on which modern humanism has decidedly gone beyond the ancient version is in its historical character, and consequently in a stronger emphasis on the practical dimension of man. The universal man as an active individual develops over time, the split between the actual and the potential human being takes different forms in

each

historical epoch and the purpose of criticism is not only to awaken man but practically to overcome any social situation on which he remains unfulfilled and degraded. Finally, a third reason for the rejective attitude of some con¬ temporary scholars towards humanism even when it implies critic¬ ism, or precisely for that reason, is the fact that certain humanists fail to satisfy methodological scientific standards or even assume a markedly anti-scientific stance. Here one should distinguish between two kinds of humanist attack on positive science, their motives and arguments being quite different. One originates from the traditional humanities which have always expressed indifference towards the practical application of knowledge and efficiency as a value. This has its roots in the ancient Greeks’ relation to work and in their conviction that theoria is significant primarily as a way of attaining full humanity, not as a means to implement certain practical goals. The term humanitas in Cicero designates a set of genuinely human properties which can be developed in each individual through the proper education. That is why in mediaeval universities, during the Renaissance, and later, the purpose of humanistic studies was always : to cultivate spiritual abilities and to develop the necessary cultural basis for a given society. Humanities created the intellectual elites for European societies over many centuries, but they lost their 102

. ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

dominant role as a field of study from the beginning of the industrial revolution and the increasing rapid development of technologicallyoriented science. Yet the rivalry never vanished. Humanists make a sharp distinction between nomothetical and ideographic sciences, assert that with respect to human society the search for scientific laws does not make sense, that the method which seeks to explain laws must be replaced by a method of understanding, that formal and quantitive methods are fruitless and misleading, etc. ‘Positivists’ reply that all genuine scientific inquiry must follow clearly formu¬ lated methodological rules, to rely on conscientious work and to offer in ter subjectively testable results. Humanists, on the contrary, tend to be arbitrary, to rely on unverifiable mental faculties (intuition, imagination, understanding, etc.) and to offer problematic and sub¬ jective results. Defenders of positive science are surely the prisoners of a very one-sided and simplified paradigm of science which, in addition to its naivety with respect to values, suffers from its incapacity to account for the heuristic and creative aspects of scientific inquiry. But they have a point when they criticise attempts to introduce a cleavage between the sciences and the humanities. The difference between natural and social sciences is only one of degree. Any notions concerning the optimal potential of a social situation (which is the crucial point of a critical social theory) require the most scrupulous investigation of the actual situation, its general trends and most probable future outcomes. Without such a concrete study, a generally critical humanist approach remains dangerously vague and indeterminate. Lack of knowledge of facts and of the laws of a given social situation imply ignorance of the limits within which the goals of possible social action have opportunities of success. The critique of positive science originating from some leftist circles has different motives but often suffers from the same dichotomous approach to the relation between humanism and science. The mem¬ bers of the Frankfurt School, and especially Max Horkheimer, have rejected any positive theory-building in the name of ‘negative dia¬ lectic’. The argument is that all positive theories have a system¬ supporting function. Therefore, the business of a dialectical social theory can only be criticism of a given social reality and all proposed scientific theories. A similar argument, put forward by existentialist authors, holds that to establish scientific laws of a society amounts 103

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

to determining the conditions of its formal functioning and per¬ petuation; thus science has an implicitly conservative function. The strength of this argument lies in the fact that it refers to something that in most cases really happens, though it happens only because most scholars indeed accept system-supporting roles. Scien¬ tific methodology as such does not prevent a scholar from establish¬ ing a law which describes a destructive tendency in the system. Marx’s law of the fall of the average profit-rate is a classic example. In effect, the very requirement of scientific objectivity would seem to make it incumbent on a social scholar to establish both the con¬ ditions of survival and normal functioning of a system and the conditions for its qualitative change and emergence of a new system. Which only means, first, that scientific theory building need not play an apologetic role, and, second, that a dialectician is not condemned to negative criticism only. Indeed, the very term ‘negative dialectic’ seems to be misleading. The negativity of a dialectically critical thought consists in the discovery of an essential limitation to a given system and of the ways to overcome this limitation. This double negation (Aufhebung) leads to a new system and there is nothing in the dialectic process which might prevent us from describing this new system (for Hegel this was the stage of synthesis). The process of critical thought does not, of course, stop with the new system. A series of successive steps, projected in the manner indicated by critical theory, mediates between the actual situation at present, and the vision of an optimal historical opportunity over the whole given epoch. Without this mediation, a humanist vision of an optimal future remains only a matter of faith or hope. Humanism needs science in order to transcend its utopian and arbitrary character, i.e. to translate its theoretical aspirations into a practice. V Once scholars assume their responsibility and accept a humanistethical point of view they commit themselves not only to showing the way to social practice but also to taking a direct part in that practice. The character of their commitment is obviously contingent upon the very nature of the problems created by modern scientific develop¬ ment. The most urgent task is to struggle by all means for the suppres-

104

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

sion and elimination of existing, inhumane technology. This means in the first place a struggle for disarmament, for a new anti-pollution technology. A much broader task is active commitment against the abuse of existing knowledge, for those who create knowledge have not only every right but also a duty to be concerned about its practical applications. As we are already familiar with some of the worst forms of the abuse of knowledge it sometimes becomes possible to identify the pathological character of research at an early stage. ‘Pathological’ here means research for inhuman purposes, such as the destruction of human lives, the poisoning of our natural surroundings, or domination over human minds. Taking part in such a research with full awareness of its purpose is obviously immoral. It is true that the practical purpose of certain research need not be known or can be irrelevant to the subsequent use of its results, but there are other cases when it is, or could be, known. It is the moral obligation of a scholar in such cases to refuse to serve. He can preserve his moral integrity and avoid intellectual prostitution only if he refuses to be an accomplice in the scientific preparation of crimes against human¬ ity, in the violation of human rights, or in the methodical psycho¬ logical destruction of human aspirations towards freedom and development. Refusal to use one’s knowledge and skills for such objectives can take different forms, from the openly rebellious one following Goethe’s advice, ‘Defy power, don’t even bow, show your¬ self strong’, to the more passively resistant one that follows Brecht’s Herr Kenner : ‘Don’t serve powers that be but don’t say a loud no. I have no backbone to be broken, I must outlive the powers that be.’ It is high time for scientists to work out various strategies of professional disobedience and resistance to abuse, which also requires a change in the character of their organisations. Up to now they have organised themselves primarily either into learned societies in order to promote knowledge, or into associations comparable to trade unions in order to protect their professional interests. Nowadays it is the order of the day to organise for the long-coming struggle against the abuse (and waste) of scientific knowledge, and because that abuse is of international scale, it can be relatively effectively counteracted only by a world organisation of scholars. Such an organisation would undoubtedly be needed also for 105

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

another purpose ] to protect scholars who are persecuted for their ethical attitudes, especially for such crimes as the critical analysis of systems, challenging official ideology, demystification of institutions and charismatic leaders or revealing in public facts, which people have the right to know, about alienated political, economic and military forces which mould their lives. Surely the moral strength of an individual cannot be contingent on the existence and efficiency of any organisation. Organisations can help to mobilise public opinion and to express collective solidar¬ ity. It is good to know that one is not alone. But moral decisions have to be taken even if one is alone. Ethical norms are thoroughly social but the decision to act in accordance with them and to take all the risks which such action involves are individual and purely autonomous. There are certain conditions which reduce the vulner¬ ability and increase the necessary autonomy of a person. They all have to do with such changes in individual consciousness and life style as result in a greater sense of self-identity and self-determina¬ tion. The following seem to be of basic importance : 1.

Critical re-examination of values and life-roles which have been imposed on us during the process of education, with the ultimate aim of building up a new, coherent, fundamental life-orienta¬

tion. Without such a critical and self-integrative effort a scholar may lack strength of moral conviction. He will, like any in¬ dividual, find in his consciousness various norms that direct his behaviour, but being a scholar, he will, unlike other individuals, often realise that these norms lack both unity and rational foundations, that they stem from different sources and constitute alien, unreliable forces of his conscious life. Such an erosion of original moral consciousness leads to pragmatic or escapist be¬ haviour. Without a new and freely accepted Weltanschauung, which furnishes ground for a firm sense

of

direction,

an

autonomous moral commitment with all its attendant risks is hardly possible. 2.

Emancipation from false, artificial needs such as those for power, wealth and unnecessary consumer goods, insignificant titles and honours, or fictitious friendships. It is characteristic of all such needs that they not only waste time and generate constant anxieties but also that they make a person dependent and vulnerable. The freedom involved in a moral act implies a readi106

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

ness to accept blows from the power against which the moral act has been directed. As the satisfaction of most artificial needs depends on the existing powers, retaliation becomes easy, the price to be paid for freedom looks high and the reluctance to pay that price amounts to renunciation of freedom. Spinoza was one of the freest men of his time because, among other things, he made his living by brushing optical glasses. Scholars who crave promotion, rank and opportunities for political influence, who are too eager to live in great comfort, to travel at official expense and to preserve by all means all their illusory friend¬ ships cannot afford to be free for moral commitments. 3.

Raising professional, scientific activity to the level of praxis. Artificial needs are surrogates for genuine ones, they are neces¬ sary to furnish a spiritually empty life. To the extent to which a scholar experiences his research as an end in itself, that allows him to fulfil his best creative aspirations and potential capacities, he becomes able to organise his life in a simple, healthy way which provides the maximum of necessary independence and

moral autonomy. There are also other conditions worth mentioning such as broad scientific and cultural interests, openness to change, awareness of new social needs, professional excellence. They are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions : the freedom involved in a moral act cannot be determined by them. But they create a personal situation in which obstacles to self-determination are considerably reduced.

VI In addition to their responsibilities as producers of knowledge and techniques scientists have a special responsibility as the educators of those who will train coming generations. Teachers who are only able to convey information and pass on routine skills may become redundant in the not too distant future : they can be collectively replaced by teaching machines. On the other hand, students will always need living contact with a teacher who can do certain things that no machine will ever be able to do because they are not a matter of routine and cannot be programmed. Amongst these are : 1. Putting pieces of information into broader contexts, showing the E

I07

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

connexions, mediations, place in history, social and psychological conditions under which knowledge originated, the scientific method by which it was created, implications for future research and social practice.

This broader context provided by the

teacher is not prefabricated, it can be built up in various directions, it emerges from a dialogue between the two sides in the teaching process, and it depends not only on the breadth of knowledge and culture of the professor but also on the specific interests of the students. 2.

The creative interpretation

of knowledge.

Mere

conveying

knowledge, even when reproduced in all its complexity, should be replaced by an attempt to endow the symbolic forms in which knowledge is expressed with a new meaning, in the light of a specific, personal philosophical outlook. 3.

Awakening the intellectual curiosity of students, broadening their spiritual horizon, developing their capacities for critical thinking. In order to educate an open-minded and creative type of young intellectual who will have a sense of history, a good professor must teach them to approach reality not only with the question ‘how?’ and ‘what are the optimal means to keep things going?’ but also with the questions ‘why?’, ‘to what purpose?’, ‘what are the essential limitations and how to supersede them?’.

In order to be a successful educator, a scholar must possess personal¬ ity, being not only a man of knowledge and culture but also a man of integrity and character, who is actively committed to the realisa¬ tion of his beliefs. Students forgive if the beliefs are somewhat utopian or too realistic. What they cannot forgive, and rightly so, is the discrepancy between thought, word and deed. It follows, then, that a professor who wants to live up to the ideal implicit in his calling will extend his activities beyond the limits of the relatively narrow academic circle and become an active figure in the global community. This need not necessarily imply political commitment in the strict sense of the word, for it can consist of any practical initiative that leads to an intellectual and moral reform of society and contributes to the creation of a new culture, more adequate to the needs of the time. This public activity is an important link in the process of media¬ tion between theoretical mind and concrete praxis of a society. An immense collective effort of the best minds of a nation is needed in 108

ETHICS OF A CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

order to convert the given social reality to the level of its optimal historical potential. Without such an effort, or in the case of the irresponsible escapism or conformism of its leading scholars, a nation or class is likely to miss its optimal level and end up in a state of stagnation and decline. A scholar-teacher has the opportunity to influence the course of the most important social processes in a double sense : on the one hand by his direct action, on the other hand, indirectly, by educating those who will change the world. That involves simultaneously changing external conditions and changing of self. This kind of activity is a break in the chain of blind historical determinism and fully deserves to be qualified as the ‘making of history’ or briefly as ‘praxis’.

NOTES 1. 2.

3.

Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, p. 157, New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968. Russell, Einstein, ‘Appeal for the Abolition of War, Sept; I955’> ln Grodsius and Rabinowitch (eds.), The Atomic Age, pp. 535“4r) New York and London 1963. Greek thought has a strong intellectual cast but it is far from the cold, calculated rationality of present-day science. For Plato true philosophical emotion is the root of all philosophy.

VI

Social Determinism and Freedom

contemporary

philosophical thinking has been split into two

entirely different, incompatible modes of approach and methodo¬ logies of solving philosophical problems : on the one hand a scien¬ tific, value-free realism, which lays stress on positive knowledge and assumes methodological requirements of precision, empirical validity, and logical exactness; on the other hand, an antiscientific, value¬ laden romanticism, which is mainly concerned with the criticism of the present, either in the name of a utopian vision of the future or of a great, idealised tradition of the past. The discrepancy is not only the consequence of an excessive specialisation and of the strong impact of specific national traditions, but it is also the expression of a sharp polarisation with the intellectual world under the influence of certain powerful social factors. The unprecedented growth of scientific knowledge and techno¬ logy, which gave rise to a substantial increase of human power over nature and over at least some of the blind forces of history, supports the basically rationalistic idea (originated within the eighteenthcentury Philosophy of Enlightenment and implicit in all scientific trends of contemporary philosophy) that by using proper methods and techniques of inquiry man can reach reliable knowledge about the laws of nature, adjust to them, and thus become powerful, rich, and happy. The other aspect of this conception of scientific and technological rationality is obviously a philosophy of efficacy and success within a given framework of social and individual life. The very framework has not usually been challenged by this type of philo¬ sophy; it has been concerned, rather, with the validity of means for given ends; it does not question the rationality of the ends them¬ selves. The problem of human freedom hardly enters the circle of really interesting and ‘meaningful’ problems; if it does, it is usually reduced to a much narrower problem of rational choice within a i io

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

given determined framework of alternatives. One can therefore venture to say that this philosophy has been strongly supported by a widespread attitude of conformism and utilitarianism. Its great power lies, however, in the fact that it is a theoretical expression and rationalisation of a general drive toward the affluent society. This basically cerebral, realistic, intellectualistic philosophy, today meets with a strong opposition among all those lonely thinkers who prefer ‘the logic of the heart’ to ‘the logic of reason’, and who rebel against the prospects of an abundant but impersonal, inauthentic, unfree life in a mass sociey of the future. New experiences in political life, modern arts, social and psychological research, indicate the presence of unpredictable new forms of irrationality and sickness and strengthen the feeling that living in abundance and apparent ex¬ ternal power does not make men happier, and that, after the suc¬ cesses of science and technology, man has created a basically unfree, unreasonable, and suicidal society. Thus a strong anti-Enlightenment attitude has gradually emerged : there is evil in men, human existence is basically meaningless, the role of reason and knowledge is negligible, no determinism and progress are apparent in history, all modern civilisation is only the culmination of human estrange¬ ment and self-forgetfulness. This emphasis on human irrationality and lack of order in history usually goes together with a very hostile attitude toward science, scientific method, and logic. The revolt against the given present reality implies a refusal to admit that it has any roots in the past, or that (no matter how flexibly) it deter¬ mines the frame of possibilities for the future. This is why the future is considered the primary dimension of time, and possibilities are construed as unlimited ranges of entirely open courses of action. The principles of absolute freedom and responsibility have been opposed to the principles of reality and determination. However, this anti-Enlightenment philosophy (which has most consistently been expressed in existentialism) is only a powerless, romantic expression of revolt against inhuman aspects of modern society. It is supersession of the unsatisfactory concrete situation in abstract thoughts; i.e., it is an alienated form of disalienation. In order to make any real step towards the solution of the essential anthropological problem of human freedom a philosophy is needed : (a) which supersedes both the learned superficiality*of commonsense reasoning based on fragmented descriptive data and the barren in

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

abstractness of speculative considerations with a unity of critical theoretical vision and concrete knowledge of the given historical situation, as a whole; (b) which studies the determining factors of the given situation in order to find out which possibilities are really open and which human projects are really feasible, not just in order to conform to what is most probable; (c) which considers human praxis as one of the essential determin¬ ing factors in history; such an activistic philosophy does not only ask what possibilities are given but also what new possibilities can be created by suitable action; (d) finally, within the framework of such philosophy freedom is much more than the lack of external compulsion while choosing one among given possibilities; full freedom is the ability for self-deter¬ mination and for changing the very conditions of a deterministic system. The general principle of determinism can be formulated in the following way : If a certain state of a dynamic system S is given in the moment t0, then a unique set of states of S will occur in the moment t'. This formulation can be applied both to the future and the past. Also it allows ontological, epistemological, and axiological interpre¬ tation. In case the moment t' precedes the moment t0, the principle of determinism expresses the possibility of reconstructing a past situation starting from the given present one. In case the moment t' follows t0, the principle expresses the possibility of bringing about or predicting the future on the basis of the present. When interpreted ontologically, the principle states that all events in nature and human society are necessary, in the sense of occurring according to certain objective laws which are independent of any particular subject. Epistemological interpretation of the principle of determinism is constituted by the assertion that there is a method by which, when¬ ever the state of a given dynamic system at a certain time is known, the state of that system in any other time can be described (predicted if in the future, retrodicted if in the past). In connection with the social and historical sciences it is important that, as a special case, there should also be an axiological interpre¬ tation of the principle of determinism. According to this, the notion 112

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

of the state of a system might, among other things, be definable in terms of a (conscious or unconscious) tendency to realise a certain goal. To ‘determine’ would mean, then, to bring about the state of the system which corresponds to the given goal. Another important characteristic of the general principle of deter¬ minism is that it embraces, as special cases, both classical rigid deter¬ minism and various weaker forms of determinism, which, being incompatible with the former, have often been labelled ‘indetermin¬ ism’. The language in which that famous dispute used to be ex¬ pressed was rather misleading. The real issue between classical determinism and indeterminism was not whether there were or were not any scientific laws by which events in nature and human society could be somehow determined (in a stronger or in a weaker way). The real difference between those two conceptions consists in the fact that they assumed different notions of the state of a system and different interpretations of the idea of

a class of determined

states. The notion of the state of a system presupposes (a) a language with specified syntactical and semantical rules; (b) a logical method for drawing inferences; (c) a set of data as well as of confirmed empirical generalisations concerning the given field of objects; (d) a certain general body of knowledge and awareness of a goal (of inquiry and action) which allow us to distinguish between relevant (important, essential, etc.) and irrelevant (insignificant, accidental, etc.) features of the given field of objects; this ability to discriminate allows us to establish the boundary conditions of the dynamical system S under consideration; (e) finally, knowledge of the initial condition of S in t0Now the specific interpretation of the notion of the state of a system from the point of view of classical determinism is the special case where

(a) the language at our disposal contains rules which

allow us to speak meaningfully not only about classes but also about individual objects, (b) inferences can be drawn in a deductive way, (c) laws of the given field are provable within an axiomatic system, (d) full and precise knowledge of all boundary and initial conditions is, in principle, possible. The fulfilment of all these requirements allows us to reduce the class of possible future (or past) states to just one element. In all weaker forms of determinism this class contains several elements. This is the consequence of the fact that strong 113

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

conditions which hold for rigid determinism cannot be fulfilled : Either we can speak meaningfully only about classes, but not about individual objects, or/and deductive inference is not always possible, or/and laws have the form of probability statements, or/and full description of boundary and initial conditions is not possible. What follows, then, from a given state of the system in t0 is a disjunction of alternative states in t' which could be expected with a greater or lesser degree of probability. Thus, non-determination in one specified respect might still involve determination in some other respect. All scientific methods of dealing with dynamic processes, no matter how complex, could be ordered within the continuum of a single unifying concept, taking as the criterion of ordering the degree of determinacy, that is, the degree of sharpness with which we can make predictions about the states of the system S in t' when we know the state of S in t0The essential difficulty in explicating the principle of determinism is the interpretation of the very notion of determination. What does it mean to say that if a state of a system in t0 is given or known, then a class of states in t' occurs or can be predicted. What kind of necessity is here expressed by the implication if .. . then? The in¬ formative value of the principle obviously depends on what we wish to deny. The first thing we want to deny is that the class of deter¬ mined states of the system is either empty or is a universal class. In other words we deny both (i) that a system can be without any history and be non-existent in any future or past moment, and (2) that all logical possibilities are open. Therefore, the most flexible formulation of the principle of determinism would have a negative form : It is not the case that if a state of a system S is given in the moment t0, then none or any state could follow at the moment t'. Paraphrasing Spinoza’s dictum Omnis determinatio negatio est one might say that all determination is essentially exclusion of certain possibilities. Each system S opens a field of possible states P and contains certain limiting conditions LG, and to say that a certain x is neces¬ sary with reference to S means that x is a non-empty subclass of the class of possible states P and that all other possibilities of the field P except x are excluded due to the given limiting conditions LC. Obviously by introducing new elements into the class of limiting conditions the degree of determination (the scope of elimination) 114

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

increases until we get the special case where the subclass of allowed possibilities contains only one member : This is the special situation described by classical determinism. The kind of necessity we have here (expressed by the connective if . . . then in the principle of determinism) is by no means logical necessity (as has sometimes been argued by rational philosophers). The class of limiting conditions contains both logical (syntactical and semantical) rules and empirical conditions, among which established empirical laws play the key part. We may therefore call this type of necessity empirical (or factual). Here, the term, ‘necessity’ is not the name of some mystical glue which sticks events together; it can rather be construed as an abbreviation for the more complex ex¬ pression, ‘that which resists all attempts of elimination’. It should be noted that the concept of empirical necessity is relative to a whole set of assumptions, rules, and information constituting the given system S. Any change in the system, any discrepancy between the system and the real structure of corresponding objects, allow devia¬ tions (‘chance events’) from what has been considered ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ within the system. Contrarily, chance events with respect to one system (S) may be reinterpreted as necessary events with respect to a richer and stronger system (S'). The applicability of the idea of determinism to the social sciences and history has often been challenged in our century. From what has been said earlier, it follows that the rejection of determinism often goes with a romantic anthropological revolt against positivistic con¬ formism and indifference toward the problem of human freedom. When detenninism is construed in a classical, rigid way and freedom is exalted to an absolute principle of authentic human practice, these two ideas are really incompatible. The denial of determinism and causality in the social sciences often also has roots in the tendency to draw a too sharp demarcation line between the natural and social sciences, and between nature and history in general. The views of the Neo-Kantian Baden school are typical in this respect. As according to Windelband and Rickert, social sciences deal with unique, unrepeatable events; they cannot generalise and explain but only describe and understand. (They are ideographische, verstehende contrasted with nomothatische erkl'drende Wissenschaften.) On the other hand, a number of idealistic philosophers, e.g. Dilthey, Croce, Collingwood, and others have

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

questioned the objectivity of historical facts and emphasised the role of value judgements in the process of interpretation. There is no need to reject all insights of these great philosophers, especially if these insights are taken as arguments for the thesis that very im¬ portant differences exist between the natural and social sciences. Nevertheless they introduce a dualism which is by no means tenable. The only nature which is relevant to our lives and to scientific research is nature transformed by human (physical and mental) practice and viewed in the perspective of human language, experi¬ ence, and practical needs. Thus, the subject of the natural (and technical) sciences is not nature ‘in itself’ but nature that has already become part of human history. Accordingly, there is a tendency to overlook the fact that even in the most exact natural sciences value judgements play a certain role e.g., in the controversies about the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics and that the inter¬ action between object and subject in the process of inquiry takes place throughout science. If, however, we deny any dualism between the natural and social sciences and if we cannot see any really new or convincing reason for giving up a conceptual apparatus which is highly suitable and, in fact, indispensable for the explanation of social events, still it does not follow that the only alternative left to us is the unification of concepts and methods, characteristics of logical positivism. By the very fact that, after all, history is made by man and that even blind, impersonal social forces are ultimately the mean values of individual human actions (which are to a certain extent free and unpredict¬ able), deterministic structures of social processes must be much more complicated, dynamic, and discontinuous. The most important specific features of social determinism are the following : (i) In the social sciences the notion of a system, to which the principle of determinism is relative, becomes rather vague. The range of phenomena on which a natural process depends is often very limited and can easily be identified and isolated. We are usually interested only in a small number of properties of the examined natural process. In order to explain them and predict their future change, it suffices to take into account a small number of other pro¬ perties with which they usually stand in some relatively simple functional relationship. Even in the most complex systems of natural

u6

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

phenomena, where classical deterministic methods cannot, in prin¬ ciple, be applied (for example in quantum mechanics), the number of independent variables is small and specifiable, and their relations are rather simple. The main source of difficulties here is the im¬ possibility of giving a full description of the initial conditions of the system. That the system of social phenomena must be much more complex follows already from the fact that social beings are also physical, chemical, biological, etc., beings. All features of the world are already contained in them; we can disregard most of them for methodological reasons, but the fact remains that in human society we deal with concrete totalities, not with quite abstract properties. Another more complex aspect of the systems dealt with in the social sciences consists in the fact that human beings do not often respond immediately to external stimuli. They are capable of learn¬ ing and of delayed reactions, and we hardly ever know where in the past the most important determining factors of a certain pattern of behaviour are located. For a natural object the past is dead : there is nothing in the past which has not already been crystallised in the present form and which can play any important role in the future. For a social being a constant recurrence to the past is characteristic : the reinterpretation and re-evaluation of past experiences and tradition play an important role in all subsequent life, and only in the future will there be realised some consequences of and reactions to past events. Thus the sense in which social phenomena have a history is entirely different from what is sometimes being called the ‘history’ of a natural process. The consequence of all this is that the notion of system in social sciences should embrace a great number of relevant variables from various spheres at various levels and in different times. As all these are hardly specifiable, the boundary conditions of the system are more or less vague. As the interaction among the variables is not fully controllable, the social scientist can hardly ever use simple deductive methods for projecting possibilities. Therefore statistical inference plays an even more important role than in the most com¬ plex disciplines of natural science. (2) A system with reference to which we speak about the deter¬ mination of a process is not just a collection of mutually related phenomena in themselves. The criteria of the relevance and import¬ ance of certain phenomena for some others depend on the nature of

7

11

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the problem, on the goal of research, and, eventually, on the general epistemological and value orientation of the person interested in determination. Therefore, a system is a meaningful structure. Even in the natural sciences practical needs, interest in rapid technological progress, philosophical assumptions, theological, ideological, and other prejudices may considerably influence the choice of problem, selections of data, conceptual apparatus used for the interpretation, classification and generalisation of empirical material, and especially the final decision whether to accept a theory or to persist in challeng¬ ing it. All history of natural sciences from Copernicus and Galileo to modern disputes on relativity, determinism, evolution, genetics, cybernetics, etc., shows convincingly that absolute objectivity of the results of natural sciences is only a matter of faith of a layman. There is no doubt, however, that value considerations play a much greater role in the social sciences. Although science is a universal human product and the requirements of scientific method secure a considerable degree of impartiality and universal inter¬ subjectivity, the very nature of social research is such that its results can be highly relevant to the particular interests of the social group (class, nation, race) to which a scientist belongs. Even if we dis¬ regard the cases of deliberate pragmatic behaviour, the fact is that scientific methodology at best provides only necessary and not sufficient conditions of truth. If there is not always just one single road to truth in each situation, it is obviously possible to choose among the alternatives the one which best suits the interests and goals of the particular group. A scientist may not even be aware of certain deeply rooted values, norms, and preferences. When they influence and direct his work very strongly—when he presents halftruths as truths, favourable statistical frequencies as established scientific laws, useful correlations as causal relations, projects for the future as the already existing reality—he has clearly assumed the role of the partisan of a particular creed. Between science and ideological or theological rationalisation are many transitional cases. Particular values in question need not be restricted to one nation or class or race or religion, but may hold for a whole civilisation. Thus the problem is how to be fully objec¬ tive in dealing with the problem of Ancient Greece, the Renaissance, or the Enlightenment when we are not even sufficiently aware of how many fundamental value assumptions of modern Western 118

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

philosophy and sciences stem from those cultures. On the other hand, it is very difficult to reach a really objective position toward, say, China, while instinctively rejecting the basic values of the Chinese cultural tradition, especially of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. What follows from all this is not that objective deter¬ mination in social sciences is altogether impossible but only that it deserves a more careful analysis. It would also be wrong to conclude that objective determination is possible only under conditions of a value-free social research. What is necessary is only to develop a self-awareness and selfcriticism with respect to all kinds of particular value considerations (including these of a whole particular civilisation). Universal human values which express the interests and needs of mankind as a whole are by no means incompatible with truth and scientific method. Without them science would be reduced to mere positive knowledge and devoid of true critical spirit. (3) A third important specific characteristic of social determinism is that social laws cannot be very precisely formulated and quanti¬ fied : the abstract concepts which they contain do not always have operational import. Consequently, the degree of their confirmation is usually not very high. Because of these epistemological and methodological difficulties, social laws should be conceived as tendencies and not inevitabilities. There are also ontological reasons for construing them in this way. Social laws only exceptionally (e.g., in economic science) express relations of functional dependence between simple, relatively in¬ variant properties. In most cases they are expressions of statistical central tendencies of a mass of individual chance events. Many laws dealing with micro-phenomena in the natural sciences also have this statistical or probabilistic form. Specific features of social laws, as contrasted with the statistical laws of natural sciences are, firstly, different reasons for which an event can be considered a chance event, and secondly, the limited validity of the law of great numbers. In general, an event is considered accidental with reference to a system if it has not been fully determined by the properties of the system. In nature the reason for deviation is usually an unpredict¬ able interaction of factors within the system or interference of factors which do not belong to the system. In society a chance event is the consequence of the fact that the individual agent is a conscious being ii9

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

who is able to choose among various possibilities of his action, and who is able to behave in a quite extraordinary, unpredictable way, overcoming the limits of his character and his habits, abandoning tradition, or rebelling against external social coercion. Had people always acted consciously and freely, had society been just an aggregate of mutually isolated individuals, there would have been no order and determination in history. We would have to accept Bury’s theory of Cleopatra’s nose, according to which all history is just a series of accidents. However, human beings do not always behave as free agents, and they are not just isolated in¬ dividuals. In a reified world man is reduced to a thing, to a frag¬ ment of a machine in the process of production, to an object of manipulation in political life. A reified human being fails (out of inertia or fear) to make use of his ability to discriminate and choose; or his choice is not conscious and critical, thus unconscious psychic forces prevail; or again, being a split personality, he acts contrary to what has been chosen; or finally, many counter actions of various isolated individuals cancel each other out. This situation is rather similar to those in nature : Each individual action seems to be a chance event, and due to many unpredictable and uncontrollable collisions of individual wills, the outcome of an action differs considerably from what has been in¬ tended. When the number of agents and their actions increases, the deviations from a central statistical tendency become increasingly negligible. Thus the deterministic structure of the processes in ‘reified’ social situations (for example in a market economy) are very similar to those in thermodynamics, micro-physics, genetics, etc. However historical processes have, at least temporarily, an entirely different, typically social deterministic structure in a really human world, in a genuine social community, (a) where there is a considerable amount of solidarity and co¬ ordination of individual practical efforts; (b) where there is a fairly adequate knowledge of the historical situation and a correct estimate of the realm of really open historical possibilities; (c) finally, where there is a critical awareness of the existing social reality and its limitations. Under these conditions the ‘law of great numbers’ no longer holds. The historical process does not lead to the most probable state but to 120

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

the one which is optimal from the point of view of human needs and goals, although it might be on the very margin of the range of real possibilities. Thus a new quality of social determination emerges:

highly

creative, rational, and intense practice of sufficiently well organised social collectives makes possible departures from the middle roads of history to highly risky, but also much faster and radical paths, which open whole spectra of new possibilities that would otherwise remain hardly attainable. In such a case it is possible to speak about a dis¬ continuity within social determinism. Man becomes free in a new, hitherto unknown sense. This is no longer freedom only with respect to certain laws which are completely independent of the human will. Man, of course, cannot abolish laws while he remains within the limitations of a given system. However, a human community which takes the risk and far exceeds the usual patterns of behaviour, is able to transform the conditions under which certain laws hold. This is what happens in all times of great social change and creation of new economic and political systems. (4) A fourth important specific characteristic of social determin¬ ism is in connection with causality in social processes. Some social scientists regard causality as a concept of natural sciences and oppose its application to history and social sciences. They overlook, among other things, that the idea of cause has developed in connection with human practice and only afterwards was transferred, by analogy, to natural phenomena. Hume was right in saying that without our immediate experience of practically producing certain changes the ordinary classical idea of causality would lack ground. He was wrong, though, in denying that we do have an immediate experience of production. A great part of the explanation of historical events, certainly, consists in establishing the character of human actions that produced them. The concept of cause in its application to physics and other natural sciences has been gradually modified and generalised, and the idea of final cause tends to disappear. After Galileo, the question ‘how’ instead of the question ‘why’ came into the centre of attention of natural scientists. And still, the idea of cause as an active ante¬ cedent condition which is necessary and sufficient for a given change is an indispensable assumption in every experiment, in all laboratory work. 121

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

In society not only are there many more causes than in natural processes, but also the concepts of necessity and sufficiency of con¬ ditions acquire a different meaning. Only when we examine an already completed process a posteriori shall we be able to conclude that in the absence of certain events it would not have taken place, while their presence decisively influenced its course and outcome. Here we have included human practice as a known quantity, but we can never be sure about this variable a priori. Therefore we must often speak about ‘necessary’ and ‘sufficient’ conditions with certain qualifications:

In the same objective conditions at a different

moment people may behave differently, for they can acquire ex¬ perience from their behaviour in the past; they can assess differently the consequences of their actions; they can, for various rational or irrational reasons, act in an unusual, abnormal, entirely unexpected way; or, finally, they can change their objectives. The latter is especially interesting to us because it constitutes one of the essential characteristics of social determinism. In nature causes are chiefly material phenomena. In society a cause can be the awareness of a certain objective. This dimension of causality has often been entirely neglected by all those historians and social scientists who believe that history is the result of blind im¬ personal forces, geographic, economic, political, and others. While they completely ignore the role of conscious human projects, others like Thuycydides or, more recently, Collingwood, reduce it to a purely subjective, personal motivation of a free and responsible individual. This dilemma is surely false : An increasingly important role in history is being played by the goals of large social groups, which are both objective and in a double sense; they imply the change of really existing states, and they are an expression of the interests and needs of a whole social group (class, nation, etc.). While in the early phases of human history there prevailed relatively simple and crude forms of causality, which were con¬ stituted by external and impersonal factors and which were com¬ parable to causality in nature, later, on a higher level of historical development with progressive extension of the range of human possibility, an increasingly important role in determining major social events is played by practical engagements of individuals and groups for freely chosen goals. This is one of the essential aspects of the process of the supersession of the ‘realm of necessity’ by the 122

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

‘realm of freedom’ to which Marx refers at the end of Das Kapital. Speaking about necessity and freedom as two different realms or spheres or stages of history could be misleading and could strengthen a popular belief that one excludes the possibility of the other. The consequences of any conception which assumes the logical incom¬ patibility of these two ideas are very serious. It seems unrealistic to hold that in our behaviour there is no determination whatsoever, but if we accept the opposite view, then it seems to follow that there is no reason for holding people responsible for their actions. The only way to solve this old problem is to show the limitations in the initial opposite concepts and to remove the contradiction between them by making them more concrete and flexible by introducing necessary distinctions and qualifications. That is what was attempted in preceding sections as far as the notion of social determinism is concerned. If we can speak meaning¬ fully about the determination of the whole class of alternative future states, if practical activity of social groups is one of the most im¬ portant determinant factors and if this activity depends, among others things, on freely chosen goals and values, it seems that both room for human freedom has been created within the very notion of social determinism and vice versa, for a determinism that has a social character and that presupposes a certain initial freedom of human action. The problem of freedom, however, cannot be reduced to the question of the possibility of freedom within a generalised deter¬ ministic structure. The essential question here is : Under what con¬ ditions is a historical subject free? As freedom of social groups and communities implies freedom of individuals, we can concentrate on the latter. The main dilemma is, then, do we take freedom in a descriptive or in a predominantly critical and normative way? Or, in other words, is personal freedom a matter of immediate awareness of the given subject or a matter of critical evaluation of the whole situation ? In the former case a subject would be free in the sense of being confronted with several possibilities of choice and having the oppor¬ tunity to choose the most favourable among them without any external coercion. However, this approach may immediately be challenged by asking the following questions and making the followins: remarks : O 123

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

(1) Did the given subject know about all possibilities of the situation? People usually take less freedom than is available in a given situation. One of the reasons for this waste of opportunities is insufficient knowledge of constant forces (laws) operating in the given field. Old theories (of the Greeks, Spinoza, Hegel, Engels), according to which freedom is essentially knowledge of necessity, are no longer tenable as they stand because they reduce freedom to con¬ formism and voluntary slavery. However, these theories had at least one merit: without considerable relevant knowledge, freedom would degenerate into an arbitrary choice of imaginary states of affairs which have no chance of ever being realised. Thus, a choice may be considered free only if the chosen possibility is a real historical possibility, i.e., if it is compatible not only with logical rules, but also with all relevant empirical conditions and laws of the given system. It would be odd to say that a choice was free even though it was made on the basis of false assumptions. Ignorance is incompatible with freedom, although its negation, knowledge, is only its necessary (and not a sufficient) condition. (2) A much more important reason for a widespread escape from freedom is the unwillingness to take the risk, to jeopardise an already established position in practical social life, to risk even one’s very existence. Hegel in his famous analysis of the relationship between the master and the servant in Phanomenologie des Geistes shows how, in the conditions of social struggle, freedom can only be the result of the acceptance of possible death. Man (‘self-consciousness’ in Hegel’s terminology), who depends too much on life and who fears death, becomes a slave, subordinated to the will of his master and, in the best case, experiences freedom only in his thought, i.e., in an alienated way. Even if we disregard particular historical conditions under which social relationships acquire the form of the merciless fight for the position of a master who satisfies his greed (Begierde) by appropriat¬ ing the results of the work of a servant, the more general question is : can one ever be at the maximum level of possible freedom in his time if he does not overcome his fear while taking the risk of explor¬ ing practically the limits of his possible being? (3) A free choice presupposes the existence of a criterion of an assessment and selection among alternative possibilities. The ques¬ tion then arises whether the subject is aware of his standards of

124

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

evaluation, whether these have ever been

critically examined,

whether they eventually correspond to his needs. (4) The next step in the critical analysis of freedom is an examina¬ tion of the authenticity of the very needs that direct the whole process of free selection. Is it not the case that many of these needs are artificial, built in by the powerful influences of the social sur¬ roundings to which the individual belongs? And how are we to distinguish these from those needs that are true and authentic? Theoretically, this question can be answered only by developing a whole anthropological theory. A more concrete and descriptive answer would be the following : while we are satisfying our genuine and basic needs we have an immediate experience of the intensity and wealth of life, of our own power, of our self-fulfilment. On the other hand, it is characteristic of artificial needs that their satis¬ faction is often followed by the feelings of emptiness, satiety, bore¬ dom, uprootedness, powerlessness—in one word, nothingness. It is important to note that some of the basic needs of a developed personality who has become a true social being are a need for solidarity and social justice and a need for such kinds of activity, including material production, which will satisfy the needs and enrich the life of another person. (5) The development of a critical self-consciousness opens up some new problems. First, is not even my self-consciousness (at least partly) a result of manipulation ? Then, is my authentic self a simple totality or a dynamic field with considerable tensions among more or less egoistic and more or less altruistic social motives and im¬ pulses? Usually, my self can be fulfilled in more than one way. This implies that every realisation of one possibility of my self is at the same time the negation of some other possibility of my authentic self. Is not, then, every freedom at the same time an act of the limitation of freedom, not only with respect to somebody else but also to myself? Social determinism and freedom presuppose each other; they are necessary moments of human praxis in a concrete historical situation.

To sum up, what has been overlooked by many philosophers who wrote on this subject is that both determinism and freedom make sense only with respect to a certain context or situation, or, more precisely, with respect to a certain system, constituted by the langu125

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

age and logic at our disposal, by the problem and goal of our inquiry, and by certain information which we consider relevant to our problem. Determination, then, means elimination of all other logically possible states except one unique class of real possibilities, which in the special case of strict classical determinism contains only one element. The more laws and other limiting conditions there are, the more restrictive they are, the higher is the degree of determinacy of a system. Instead of just two ways of examining and describing this situation (determinism in the classical sense and indeterminism) we have, in fact, a continuum of deterministic methods varying in the degree of determinacy. In society and the social sciences the very notion of the system, for various reasons which I mentioned, is rather vague—the number of variables is much greater, value considerations play a much more important role, and the behaviour of each individual member of the system is not always and fully predictable. When society or a privileged group in society succeeds in manipu¬ lating individuals to a great extent by coercion or by suitable education and propaganda, or when individuals are isolated, un¬ organised, and governed by blind social forces or by laws of great numbers—e.g., in the relatively free market—the degree of freedom of individuals is very low or the degree of determinacy of their behaviour is very high. Of course, people may have illusions about their freedom : they can imagine that they are free whenever an external authority leaves them two or more possibilities among which to choose. This imaginary freedom is, in fact, determined by the criteria of choosing and by the character of our needs, which can be artificial ones, and also by our unwillingness to accept any risk. However insofar as individuals live in a situation which allows them a choice, and also insofar as they have critically examined and accepted their criteria of choosing, and to the extent to which they are ready to risk their social status—their security and eventually even their lives—their behaviour becomes increasingly free. Freedom here does not mean denial of any causality or determination, and by no means can we speak about absolute freedom. There are various steps of this relative freedom. At the lowest level freedom is merely choice among given alternatives. The level of freedom depends on the extent to which we control various limit126

SOCIAL DETERMINISM AND FREEDOM

ing conditions of the system, and according to how well we are able to realise those real possibilities which (no matter how probable they might be) best correspond to our needs. The highest historically possible level of freedom is characterised by the fulfilment of fundamental human needs which have been developed during the preceding history and which constitute the necessary basis for future self-production of men. This level can be attained only when associated individuals by their co-ordinate efforts succeed in fully superseding the unsatisfactory existing system and create conditions for a new one, in which different laws and limiting conditions will hold and which opens a larger field for human praxis.

127

VII

Equality and Freedom

Historical Introduction one

can distinguish three main stages in the history of the ideas of

equality and freedom : At first the problem is posed in its most abstract, philosophical and religious form as equality and freedom of an individual as a human being in general. Then it gets its political and legal dimension and becomes the problem of equality and freedom of an individual as a citizen. At last it gets focused on economic relationships and becomes the problem of equality and liberation of an individual as a producer. In all great ancient religions men were treated as equals in some important aspect. Hinduism, while justifying extreme social in¬ equalities of a caste system, brings forth the idea that all persons are equally capable of self-discovery, self perfection and becoming the centre of the highest religious experience. Judaism and Christianity claimed that all men are equal in the sense that they all were created by God, have equal souls, the inner image of their divine creator, and are equally responsible to him. The Bible, in the book of Leviticus says : ‘Ye shall have one law for the stranger and citizen alike for I, the Lord, am your God.’ Here we find already the idea of the equality before the law, divine law to be sure. In its secular, rational form the idea of equality of being of all men appears for the first time in the views of the Sophists. For example Antiphon considers that ‘our natural endowment is the same for us all on all points, whether we are Greeks or barbarians.’ Therefore ‘it is barbarian to revere and venerate one only because he was born of a great house’. After these first indications we find a consistent doctrine of universal natural equality in the philosophy of Stoa. Over a long period of time the Stoics have argued, in opposition to Plato and Aristotle, that all men are alike by nature because they all have reason and the ability to know and do the 128

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

good. ‘If bad habits and false beliefs did not twist the weaker minds and turn them in whatever direction they are inclined, no one would be so like his own self as all men would be like all others.’ (Cicero, De Legibus, B. I, ch. io.) At a time of enormous social inequalities the idea of a universal natural equality must have looked rather unrealistic. But its authors did not claim to give descriptions of social realities of their time. They projected natural equality into the past, into an early age of innocence, preceding the introduction of property, slavery and state. This dualism : of the present inequality and oppression versus past equality and freedom, of social organisation versus natural state, of actual distorted reality versus potential more humane being—will remain characteristic of the humanist thought of the whole epoch of class society. What characterises the second stage in the history of the ideas of equality and freedom are the political and legal implications of the idea of natural equality. Equality of being becomes equality before the law. There is a long period of transition. The idea of natural equality was taken over by the Roman law;

for example in

Justinian’s Institutes we find the passage, ‘By the law of nature all men from the beginning were born free’ and in the Digest ‘according to natural law all men are equal’. From the Roman law the idea of natural equality was transmitted to medieval legal thought and from there to Renaissance culture. Nicholas of Cusa was the first who derived very definite political implications from the idea in its abstract form. In his De Concordantia Catholica (1433) he said : ‘Accordingly since by nature all men are free, any authority . . . must come solely from the agreement and consent of the subjects. For if men are by nature equal in power and equally free, the pro¬ perly ordered authority of one who is naturally equal in power can only be established by the choice and consent of the others, and also law is constituted by consent.’ (B. II, ch. XIV.) In subsequent centuries, in classical liberalism and Enlightenment, in the democratic ideology of great bourgeois revolutions in America and France a powerful criticism of authoritarian and hierarchical features of feudal society will be fully elaborated. The fiction of the social contract will serve not only as the explanation of the origin of the state authority but also as the justification of people’s sovereignty and the inalienable rights of the citizen. Among these rights there 129

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

will be quite definite civil freedoms : of thought, self-expression, organisation, election, demonstration and public protest etc. Equalitybefore the law will be guaranteed and this is a great step forward indeed not only in comparison with feudal society but also with respect to those political inequalities which, until this very day, have survived in all those societies that never had the benefit of passing through the period of Enlightenment and of a genuine bourgeois revolution. The basic limitation of the liberalist interpretation of the ideas of equality and liberty consists in almost complete abstraction from the economic dimension of social life. Society is split into a political and a civil sphere. Equality and freedom of the individual are guaran¬ teed in the former but not in the latter. As a consequence so-called and much praised equality of opportunity goes together with a striking inequality of condition. That is why in contemporary historical conditions all those con¬ ceptions of equality and freedom must be considered conservative, status quo preserving, that do not entail demand for the abolition of class inequalities and class repression. The thought of Karl Marx still remains representative of that conception of equality and freedom which best expresses the funda¬ mental social demands of our epoch. To be sure this thought cannot be classified as radical egalitarian¬ ism or an apology for absolute freedom. Marx was quite well aware of natural differences among individuals and of the fact that these will increase in importance when institutions that favour social dis¬ crimination and inequality disappear. He was very far from conceiv¬ ing communism as a rigid egalitarian society in which all individuals would be equally paid and cultivate a uniform style of life. His conception of equality is focused on the demand to abolish class exploitation, that is to abolish capital and wage labour, in the last instance to overcome commodity production and the market as the basic regulator of production. His conception of freedom is also concrete and critical: at its core is the idea of the withering away of the state, of overcoming purely representative democracy and of creating a system of participatory democracy, a federation of pro¬ ducers’ councils without any centres of alienated economic or political power. Today we must recognise how far we are from the realisation of

I3°

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

this project, even in those societies which have passed through the initial stages of socialist revolution. It is clear nowadays that Marx’s project does not express the necessary outcome of historical process. In contemporary social science there is no more place for a doctrine of rigid social deter¬ mination. Consequently Marx’s ideas express only an optimal possi¬ bility of historical process. Social forces capable of realising this possibility may not be present, nor subjectively prepared for the appropriate revolutionary activity. Also they may suffer from all kinds of deformations while they try to perform their task. As the period of transition from a reified, class society to a more equitable and freer social form requires different roles and kinds of function during a long interval of time, new unsuspected forms of inequality and discrimination are bound to emerge; they were completely lost sight of in the preliminary analysis. A further difficulty follows from the fact that Marx deliberately left his conception of the goal in a very vague, general form, susceptible of all kinds of interpretation, misunderstanding and controversy. From a large set of such problems I shall select the following three : (1) What is the concrete meaning of the principles of equality and freedom at the present-day level of critical social theory and practice ? (2) What is the contribution of the Yugoslav socialist revolution to the realisation of ideas of equality and freedom? (3) What is the relation of equality and freedom? Is equality a necessary condition of freedom? What kind of equality is required in order to promote human emancipation in a Marxian sense? (1) The Meaning of Equality and Freedom The concrete meaning of demands for equality and liberation becomes clear only in a negative critical approach, in a demand to abolish some existing forms of inequality and determination. There are different types of inequality and many of them cannot be the objective of social action. Two important distinctions should be made. First, there is a difference between inequalities in natural capacities, talents, interests etc. and inequalities in social roles to be performed. Second, there is a difference between mere differentiation and stratification, i.e. between inequality in kind and inequality in 131

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

rank. On the basis of these two criteria one gets the following four types of inequality : (a) differentiation on the basis of natural capacities, (b) stratification on the basis of natural capacities, (c) differentiation on the basis of social roles, (d) stratification on the basis of social roles. (a) In every society there will be differences among individuals in their abilities, character, gifts etc. Uniformity imposed by a rigid egalitarianism is incompatible with the aspiration for individual self-realisation that remains the very basic objective of all humanist thought.

Society may interfere only in another quite opposite

respect: many seemingly natural differences are not solely the con¬ sequences of differences in inherited genetic dispositions but also of the social conditions under which growth of a young individual took place. Therefore many apparent natural differences of rank (in intelligence, talent, creative imagination etc.) may be reduced by creating specific appropriate conditions of growth. (b) Some inequalities in status on the basis of different abilities are unavoidable. It is essential, however, that they don’t involve any form of domination or economic exploitation. (c) Also in every modern society there will be different social roles. But they must not involve any political or economic hierarchy; they must remain differences in kind. (d) What remains to be abolished is stratification on the basis of different social roles. Until now some roles have had a privileged status and have brought with them power, wealth, prestige, glorifica¬ tion. Modern development has made some of these roles socially redundant (kings, priests, private capitalists). Some of them have survived (professional politicians, managers, soldiers, policemen) and become sources of new elites that concentrate enormous alienated power in their hands. This may happen even when all classes will have been abolished. Any theory that tries to understand social in¬ equalities only in terms of class differences fails to understand this phenomenon. This is part of the reason why many Marxists fail to give adequate account of social stratification in socialist countries. Consequently a more refined conceptual apparatus is needed for the description and analysis of social stratification. A distinction is needed, for example, between class, power and status. The elite of political power is not the same as the ruling class. Political power is 132

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

not always and simply the emanation of economic power. Other¬ wise it would be impossible to explain the emergence of fascism, the New Deal in the U.S.A., socialist tendencies in Scandinavian coun¬ tries and bureaucracy in socialism. The power of bureaucracy does not derive from a specific position in the production process but from a privileged position in the process of decision-making. It is at least theoretically clear how to prevent the emergence of class differences on the basis of a differentiation in social roles. It would be essential to apply strictly the principle of remuneration according to work and consequently to prevent anyone from appro¬ priating any form of surplus value on the basis of his specific social role. In other words land rent, profit and bureaucratic privileges would have to be radically abolished. (Radicalism here does not exclude that appropriate changes take place within a longer interval of time and in a way compatible with ethical principles and human dignity.) It is also theoretically conceivable how the emergence of a hierarchy of power may be prevented. It is essential to introduce democratic election, replacability and vertical rotation for all func¬ tions of social management and to prevent any professional division of work in this whole sphere. It is not clear, however, how to prevent the acquisition of high status and prestige for playing certain social roles. High status may lead to great influence and eventually to political power. Society can fight this danger only by developing a critical awareness of it and by jealously preserving its democratic norms. In that case the only elite in society, would be the elite of spirit, of moral authority, of taste. Nevertheless this form of inequality does not jeopardise human relations, does not degrade anybody, it is beneficial rather than dangerous for the society. In the analogous way an analysis of various existing types of free¬ dom indicates two important distinctions. One is the difference between freedom with respect to external social factors and freedom with respect to internal, psychological, personal determinants. An¬ other distinction is between freedom from some set of determining factors and freedom to be in one way or other, to develop into one kind of person or the other. The principle of liberation as a principle of concrete historical action means on the one hand, abolition of all those repressive

133

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

institutions and structures that thwart, deform and reify men; on the other hand it means the creation of such new institutions and forms of social organisations that would encourage personal development, make participation possible, favour imagination and creativity. (2) The Problem of Equality and Freedom in Yugoslav Society The Yugoslav socialist revolution has made several major steps in the direction of a more equitable and freer society. An essential factor of social inequality and

oppression was

eliminated by abolishing private property in the means of produc¬ tion. Land reform removed the remnants of the feudal elite and greatly improved the social position of the poorest peasants. One might also mention a series of other achievements such as : free education and health service, substantial aid to developing regions, great subsidies to culture, a very accelerated development of scien¬ tific institutes and universities. An especially great contribution has been the introduction of self-managing councils into all enterprises, public services and local communities. In such a way room was created for a really new, more humane type of society with a much more equitable distribution not only of wealth but also of power. When, after three decades from the beginning of that revolution, one analyses the causes of its present-day crisis one has to go back into the very initial stages in order to find there the roots of later inequalities. And the root seems to be a hierarchical, authoritarian type of the very organisation that was supposed to remove the hierarchical, authoritarian structure of the whole society.

Such organisation

created striking inequalities in status from the very beginning, before the revolution even started. That some day these inequalities might constitute a problem was hardly clear to anybody : critical awareness of the problem was entirely lacking. An additional aggravating circumstance was a generally low level of socialist consciousness, something quite understandable in a predominantly agrarian coun¬ try. As a consequence most participants in the revolutionary move¬ ment identified themselves more with persons of high status than with the ideas of the movement. Under those conditions there was nothing to prevent inequalities in status being transformed into inequalities in power.

134

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

In the early sixties the political elite of Yugoslav society was facing two crucial problems : (1) Further development of self-management required a sub¬ stantial dismantling of its own power and the building of a whole network of self-managing bodies at the level of the republics and the federation that were supposed to replace the classical organs of the state. (2) After a period of very successful and accelerated economic growth in the fifties (one of the highest growth rates in the world) a substantial capital emerged in the hands of the state and it had to be decided whether (a) to retain state control over the economy, or (b) to create a self-managing apparatus to take care of the co¬ ordination and direction of economy, or (c) to allow the managerial group to undertake the task, allowing the market to play the essen¬ tial regulative role and keeping the state in the background trying to preserve an overall control, always ready to intervene and intro¬ duce order when needed. The first solution looked too conservative, the second too radical. The third was implemented. Whatever the advantages of that solu¬ tion from the point of view of modernisation and efficiency, and although it still might be a better solution than the return to once abandoned state socialism, the consequences from the point of view of social equality and genuine socialist emancipation are rather grave. The alliance of technostructure and politostructure is much too powerful to tolerate any other really important power structure, such as workers’ councils, alongside. There are many signs that the whole system of self-managing bodies is losing influence and status. The gap between developed and developing regions, between strong and weak Economic branches, and consequently between the rich and the poor in general is growing. The logic of a market economy cannot possibly have any understanding of solidarity, of social security, of the protection of the weak. That the fund for the aid to underdeveloped regions still exists is an imposed political solution that daily meets criticism in the name of ‘efficiency and profitability’. This new way of reasoning is obviously in conflict with the traditional revolutionary approach and greatly erodes the whole scale of values of those who still stick to their old socialist beliefs. The most serious problem, however, is the reappearance of capital 135

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

on the scene. Concentrated financial means, alienated from the producers, free from social control, become capital, that is a definite social relationship characterised by exploitation in one form or the other. This capital is now in the hands of a curious kind of techno¬ structure that in some aspects resembles capital owners. It is true, the managers cannot treat this capital entirely as their private pro¬ perty. They are limited by various laws, by a loose political control of the state and by a rather formal control of the workers’ council. Still they manage to dispose of this capital rather freely. For example they were able to export a considerable amount of that capital abroad, to open hundreds of firms there in their own name. The number of these firms, the amount of capital invested and the mode of their operation is unknown and outside public social control. The problem of course, is how to stop this process, how to socialise once more all capital of the banks, big commercial and industrial enterprises, how to put it under effective control of self-managing bodies. Another problem is to stop the new-born enriched middle class from being transformed into a myriad of small stockholders. Money made in speculations in land and ‘week-end houses’, from stealing and corruption and in hundreds of other illegal ways waits to be transformed into shares and to begin bringing in profits. There is a constant pressure to introduce the necessary legisation. The only chance for Yugoslav socialism to survive is to resist this pressure and to find solutions within a greatly transformed and integrated system of self-management. The fundamental lesson that can be drawn from the history of the Yugoslav socialist revolution is the following : A new more democratic type of the organisation of the revolutionary movement is necessary at the very outset. It is essential to prevent an escalation from inequalities in status to unequal distribution of political power, and from there to the restoration of economic, class inequalities. Self-management has to be developed from the beginning and not only after an initial stage of rigid and undemocratic ‘state socialism’. In that sense some hierarchical structures will be already so fixed that self-management will barely have a chance to develop beyond certain initial forms. On the contrary it must not stop developing from the microcells to the global society. Any post-revolutionary society is in a process of transition; is an 136

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

incoherent unstable mixture of various conflicts, elements and tendencies. Therefore stagnation of self-management cannot but mean a strengthening of repressive and conservative forces. This is a very dramatic and, in a sense, tragic situation for a society which has already paid a high price for the cause of a more just, equitable and democratic society. (3) The Relation of Equality and Freedom What is the relation of equality and freedom ? They do not always and in all respects imply each other. For example, the freedom of a Greek citizen was made possible due to the work of slaves, women and barbarians. Aristotle only tried to rationalise that situation when he wrote in Politics that a free man is naturally superior to the slave, a man to a woman, a Greek to a barbarian. And in many revolutions and rebellions, a noble soul struggling for universal freedom assumes the role of an authoritarian dictatorial leader. Vice versa, any radically egalitarian society would very essentially limit individual freedom, especially in the sense of a creative fulfil¬ ment. The realisation of different individual potential capacities and dispositions is incompatible with conditions of life that are the same for all. Therefore for Marx (and already for Louis Blanc before him), the principle of a communist distribution of goods was neither strict equality of share, nor amount of work, but human needs. The solution is neither uniformity nor mere diversity but individual and group diversity within a generically identical structure of basic human potential capacities and needs. Each individual as human being has capacities of unlimited development of senses, of reason, of communication, of problem-solving, of creative association and introduction of novelties, of harmonising relationships within a group or a broader community. Also each individual as a human being has some primary biological, social and psychological needs— from the needs for food and persons of the opposite sex to the need for action, self-identification and self-affirmation. All other political, legal and economic equalities rest on the basic ontological equality. Individual

self-realisation

presupposes

a

very

differentiated

education on the basis of a principle, equal for all, that education must be adequate to the specific potential being of each individual. It follows that a profound revolution of the whole system of educa*37

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

tion is needed. Instead of the present-day group-elitist or uniform approach that can only freeze or increase the differences resulting from unequal preceding conditions of life and growth, the educa¬ tional system should offer each individual opportunities to explore and experiment, to find out about the world and himself/herself, to discover his/her optimal dispositions and to actualise them into abilities. Such a revolution in education is already a historical possibility given the conditions of limiting armament expenditures and the population and production growth rates. A very important fact is the future decrease in importance of production, of work, of what Marx used to call ‘the sphere of neces¬ sity’. On the other hand, especially as the consequence of automation that will liberate men from most routine work, the sphere of free activity, of praxis, will increasingly gain in importance. Once organ¬ ised society provides culture and politics with the necessary material facilities (housing, libraries, laboratories, sports grounds and halls, natural parks, etc.) and free adequate education, the sphere of praxis will be the sphere of equality and freedom. On the other hand, work will be limited, freely elected and constantly open to change of role due to a process of ongoing education for adults. To be sure a necessary condition of human emancipation is the abolition of present inequalities in the sphere of politics. While making room for professional political specialists, a socialist demo¬ cracy cannot tolerate a professional division of labour in leading political roles, responsible for basic decision-making, determination of fundamental goals, long-range programmes, criteria of evaluation and overall control. These have to be in the hands of democraticallyelected members of the community who are replaceable, rotatable, and devoid of any material privileges. The experience of Yugoslav self-management shows that they can be easily manipulated by the administration or by the techno¬ structure unless at least the two following conditions are fulfilled. First, the organs of self-management from the factory to the federa¬ tion have to have their own access to the data of the situation; they must have their own analytical service instead of having to rely entirely on the data and analysis of the administration. Second, the administration has to be compelled to offer alternative technical 138

EQUALITY AND FREEDOM

solutions, otherwise organs of self-management would be reduced to an institution that in a routine and formal way gives the green light for ready-made and perhaps already executed decisions. To be sure, positive freedom in the sense of Marx’s human emancipation means much more : the kind of goals, the quality of the vision of the future is in question. Freedom for an accelerated and increasingly insane production of an over-fed, over-clothed and over-drunken world is a freedom that enslaves. Alongside the efforts to overcome material poverty and to create a genuine participatory democracy, a far-reaching humanist revo¬ lution is needed. It should radically overcome the remnants of feudal and bourgeois structures in human consciousness. In many countries (and in all socialist societies) it should simultaneously per¬ form a double task of two successive historical epochs: of Bourgeois Enlightenment

and

of

Socialist

Enlightenment.

Each

genuine

bourgeois revolution was preceded by the creation of consciousness of a free citizen who knows his civil rights and who has once and for all overcome the humble, patriarchal-feudal attitude to author¬ ity. Analogously a necessary condition for each genuine socialist revolution is the creation of consciousness of a socialised personality who spontaneously resists every privatisation and reification, every alienation of economic or political power. Such an already belated humanist revolution requires titanic efforts of several generations. But without it no further step toward social equality and freedom is possible.

F

139

VIII

Man and his Natural Surroundings

i the

two opposing stands concerning the relationship between

man and the natural environment which are characteristic of primitive,

underdeveloped

contemporary

industrial

societies

society.

have

become

According

to

outdated

one:

nature

in is

external, alien, and unfathomable to man who, in turn, has been destined to an eternal and unequal struggle with it. The other, contradictory stand originates from the helplessness of man, from the attempt to make this helplessness meaningful and rationalize it in a mystical fashion : man is a part of nature and there is no greater joy for him than to be in harmony with nature, to adapt to it and, finally, through his death, again become immersed in it. In

European

civilization,

this contradiction has

taken

on

a

generalized, theoretical form. On the one hand, we have a dualistic orientation which very distinctly sets up man as opposed to nature, subject as opposed to object, and mind as opposed to matter. Even as early as in Sophist philosophy we encounter the belief that man, the subject, is superior to his environment: that the surrounding, objective world is only lifeless, passive matter on which man should impose his will and his laws. It is with a similar dualism that Des¬ cartes began the modern era in philosophy. Mind and matter are two entirely different substances which have nothing in common. The foundation of modern individualism was laid with the intro¬ duction of the concept of the individual ego, a self-consciousness which is completely independent of its environment. Later dualists found themselves, as did Descartes, faced with the problem of mediation between the ego and the environment. They will not resolve this problem, however, as the ego will always remain some¬ thing subjective, alienated from the environment, and nature is 140

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

something purely objective, foreign to man. The very concept of interaction itself will not succeed in closing this gap if interaction is understood in a mechanical way, in the sense of Newton’s principle of action and reaction. Another, monistic, path began its development with the very onset of ancient Greek philosophy. Of essential significance here is the idea of Logos, the universal law of being, mind, and language. On the basis of this typical Hellenic assumption on the unity of the physical and the spiritual, Aristotle was able to reconcile the prin¬ ciple of spontaneous natural development and moral perfection in his ethics. Good for man is also the objective towards which nature itself endeavours. Man’s greatest happiness is in activity which results from the nature of man, which realises this potential nature to the highest possible degree and thus leads to a feeling of complete satisfaction. This simple but very penetrating solution will vary later on in different ways and certain of its features will be treated in more detail. According to Spinoza, good for us is that which is useful to us, and useful is that which is upheld by our being and raises it to a higher level of reality. However, the highest level of reality which characterises our instinctive being is knowledge, rationality. Only knowledge enables us to be free as it gives us the impulse and power to withstand the influences of external things and to form a relationship with the environment which corresponds to our own nature. Spinoza’s principle of suum esse conservare (safeguard one’s essence), as well as Aristotle’s idea on the actualisation of potential human nature, receive their specific expression in Leibnitz’s idea of perfection as the harmony of natural and moral law. Far from being alien and adverse to man, natural law requires man to do the very thing which leads to his improvement. There is ‘pre-established harmony’ in the world. By learning about one’s natural environment and one’s own nature, man morally improves himself. In linking this viewpoint with ancient eudemonism (insofar as moral improvement is understood to be a source for the feeling of well-being), the en¬ lightenment philosophers introduced the idea of utility—which was to play an obvious role in the later ideology of bourgeois society. However, utility here is not so much the realisation of some interest in the external environment as it is the fact of enlightenment and moral improvement. No one stated quite as lucidly as Shaftesbury the personal, individual character of improvement. The highest level 141

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

of morality is achieved by a person who succeeds in realising his individuality in all the wealth and abundance of his personality. Life should be lived in such a way that the individual develops and co-ordinates all his powers and instinctual potentials. The Greek ideal of total and harmonious self-realisation, Kalakagathos, implies a unity of the beautiful, the good, the wise, and the physically able— which was again brought to life in the Renaissance and received its dynamic philosophical foundation in the era of enlightenment. Rousseau’s entire criticism of the civilisation of his times was founded on the assumption that man is gifted with the ability to improve, that this is spontaneously realised under natural living conditions, and as the result of upbringing without coercion and authoritarianism, and that this will permit the natural expression of authentic individual loveliness. The idea of unity of the natural and of the humane serves here as the basis for the enormous belief in progress which was especially characteristic for Condorcet. The essential weakness of this idea is that, in the name of reason, it opposes history, in the name of the utopian vision of the idealised natural state it clashes with real social forces. Rousseau realised already that private property and political power were the basic social institutions which divided people into categories of rich and poor, strong and weak, and which led to a general degradation of civilised society. However, he could not see how these institutions could be transcended in the framework of a historical process; that is why he opposed history and demanded a return to nature. It was due to Vico and Herder, at the very end of the era of Enlighten¬ ment, that there was a gradual crystallisation of the opinion that all hitherto history was, in essence, the uninterrupted continuation of natural development and that therefore, the natural aptitudes of individuals and of entire nations could be realised only in history. As Herder stated in Letters for the Advancement of Humanity, the meaning of history is nothing but an awakening, and an increasingly wealthier and more complete development of

human

nature. The

final, systematic, but also mystified form of this idea of history, as the self-realisation of man, was given in Hegel’s monumental system. II Thus the problem of a criterion for the assessment of interaction 142

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

between man and the environment seemed philosophically resolved, despite relying upon the widest range of humanistic tradition. How¬ ever, this humanistic tradition, from ancient times to early Christian¬ ity, the Renaissance, and up to the Enlightenment, began with an idealised and optimistic supposition that man is basically a good, free, and unselfish being who is spoiled by external evils: either by the evil of the Devil or of civilisation. What sense would there be, however, in the idea of self-realisation if man is essentially selfish, greedy, desirous of power and possession, aggressive, and a ‘lone wolf’ always ready to fight against everybody? Just such an opinion of human nature was expressed by Hobbes, an opinion which could no longer be avoided. As compared to the humanistic orientation, which was usually represented by free thinkers who were not associated with any social class, and which is often unrealistic and utopian, here we have the development of a tough down-to-earth realism which does not wish to go beyond the boundaries of the historically-given form of society and which, even when it en¬ deavours to soften Hobbes’ pessimism, essentially remains the ideo¬ logy of the bourgeois society. Liberalism in politics and utilitarianism in ethics are the highest achievements of this ideology. Their com¬ mon characteristic is an attempt to provide maximal humaneness within the boundaries of a class-divided society, established on the institution of private property. The major objective of such a society is the fastest possible development of production forces, increasingly successful struggle against nature, and maximal increase of material well-being (with growth in social differences as an unavoidable consequence). These objectives are no longer compatible with the principle of self-realisation of the latent human being. If it is man’s nature to be good, free, and creative, he cannot realise these abilities as a wage worker. The achievement of high industrialisation and the creation of a state of material well-being assumes that an ever-increasing part of the society will be trans¬ formed into wage labourers and that labour will be highly simplified, routine, alien. On the other hand, if the true nature of man is just the way Hobbes described it to be, then unhindered human selfrealisation would lead to the continuous struggle of everyone against everyone else (bellum omnium contra omnes) and to a general un¬ certainty in which neither technology nor economic advancement would be possible. 143

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

The solution imposed itself : only that freedom which is com¬ patible with technological progress and material development should be provided for, and in all else people would have to be bridled by the institutions of public authority. The principle of improvement and natural self-development was supposed to have been substituted by the principle of pleasure, primarily that pleasure which can be offered by ever-increasing industrial products. For this reason, liberal¬ ism divides society into two spheres : civil society, in which each individual follows his own private interest, in which competition and struggle are prevalent, and in which the market element is the sole regulator; and political society, in which each individual complies with the laws and the ruling powers in order to receive certain rights and freedoms guaranteed by the state.

Utilitarianism,

through

Bentham, established a seemingly democratic principle according to which we should aspire to ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people’. However, the basis of happiness is utility. Utility can be measured on the basis of a scale of values or non-values where the principle of pleasure plays a very significant role. In contrast to the humanism of ancient ages and anti-feudal revolutions, the consolidated bourgeois society established an entirely different criterion for assessing the relationship between man and the environment: the principle of power over nature, the principle of effectiveness in mastering the environment. Of course, power and effectiveness are in some ways connected with the affirmation of man and with his liberation. But the focus has been put on a one-sided external affirmation. Power may be associated with improvement, with the satisfaction of human needs. But the accent has been placed on improvement in one single highly specialised area which may be of significance to material production. Instead of organising production so that it satisfies real, authentic human needs and thus contributes to the enrichment and self-fulfilment of human beings, the motive of profit directs the production; the structure of produced goods determines the formation of artificial needs; the satisfaction of these needs creates a feeling of empty, pathological satiety which is mistakenly called happiness.

r44

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

III The experience which comes from the material and spiritual history of mankind offers two essential criteria for the assessment of interaction between man and the environment. The first is: the degree of human control over the natural environ¬ ment. From this point of view, priority should be given to those forms of human activity which increase power over natural forces, provide for increasing amounts of energy and

usable natural

material, enable more rapid and versatile mobility in given space, and which more effectively prevent the occurrence of undesirable natural phenomena; finally, priority should also be given to those activities which enable us to forecast as accurately as possible future natural processes. The second criterion is the degree of realisation of human needs and of potential creative abilities. Viewed from this aspect, inter¬ action with the natural environment should be directed in such a way that it contributes to the self-discovery and self-identification of every individual, development of all the wealth in his latent abilities, full recognition as a creative being, reinforcement of his communication and solidarity with other members of the society with whom he exercises a mutual influence on the environment. The first criterion is technical, it guarantees a so-called negative human freedom (a freedom from alien, external powers), and it may also be expressed as a principle of effectiveness and technical rationality. The second criterion is humanistic, it guarantees a socalled positive freedom (freedom for self-determination, self-develop¬ ment), and it may also be expressed as a principle of disalienation and self-realisation. The crossing of both these criteria gives an instructive typology of the basic forms of interaction between man and the environment. For the n values in each criterion we receive 2n types. For example, if we differentiate, on the one hand, technical ineffectiveness versus effectiveness and, on the other hand, a self-alienating versus selfrealising activity, then we obtain four types of interaction . (i) that which is, simultaneously, technically ineffective and self-alienating (in the sense that it leads to the creation of a product which escapes human control, hinders creative ability, and leads to degradation and the loss of one’s potentialities); this activity is characteristic for 145

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

an expressly primitive, impoverished, and uncultivated society; (2) an activity which is ineffective but provides for the satisfaction of needs and self-realisation on a relatively low level; this activity was characteristic for some primitive societies with considerably deve¬ loped culture, such as the ancient Greek or Maya civilisations; (3) an activity which is effective but self-alienating, leading to abund¬ ance but also to dehumanisation, characteristic of modem industrial society; finally, (4) an activity which is both effective and creative, as it provides for just that type of abundance which is necessary for the overall and rich life of all human senses, intellectual powers, and instincts; this activity has, in the course of history, been possible only for the most highly-developed individuals. IV Although these two criteria do not, in principle, exclude each other, one has usually dominated the other in history and in social theory. The technical criterion requires positive scientific knowledge— knowledge of facts, constant relations and tendencies, and of the most probable possibilities of the future states of the system. This knowledge, in its aspiration toward maximal objectivity, is greatest when the natural environment (whose systems are the most simple), is concerned but is significantly decreased when its subject-matter is the social environment. Positive scientific knowledge of man, how¬ ever, is extremely limited and scanty. This is one of the causes for the tendency, when assessing the interaction of man and the environ¬ ment, to over-simplify human aspirations and reduce them to one basic, purely quantitative desire : the desire for expansion, constant growth, and unlimited increase of power. The technical criterion requires a methodology which provides the most adequate pro¬ cedures for problem-solving in the framework of certain given value assumptions, but does not go into a critical analysis of these assump¬ tions themselves. Therefore, in every society in which there exists a significant economic and social inequality, it is inevitable that the ruling value assumptions reflect the interests of the ruling power elite. In this way, the ever-increasing degree of control over the environment can mean, in practice, the increasing realisation of the interests of the 146

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

ruling social groups (maximisation of profit—in the case of the bourgeoisie; increased power and increasingly more successful mani¬ pulation of human beings—in the case of bureaucracy). Class and group egoism of this kind, armed with powerful modern technology, leads to an extremely intensive and careless exploitation of the environment, to a destruction of the existent harmony between man and the environment, and to pathological phenomena which, beyond certain limits, may become irreversible. V In some intellectual circles we often encounter a one-sided nega¬ tion of the technical criterion in favour of the humanistic one. In a highly-developed industrial society which has transcended material poverty but where the degree of pollution of the natural environment has reached alarming proportions, where most of the population suffer from an apathetic, taciturn satiety and from a pathological passiveness which Paul Goodman called a ‘diseasenothing-can-be-done’, a massive resistance is expressed by a part of the ‘intelligentsia’ and youth. This resistance tends to assume a romantic character because it makes no distinction between techno¬ logy as a means and technicism as a style of life, between technology in itself and technology which is ill-used by the egoistical ruling group. However, in spite of its romantic, utopian character, this anti-technological tendency has brought certain actual problems into focus and has caused the creation of a new counter culture.1 A similar, one-sided resistance to technology has also appeared in underdeveloped, poorly urbanised environments with strong mythological traditions which search for alternatives to the industrial civilisation. Gandhi assessed modem civilisation as being ‘satanic’ because it ‘worships’ Mammon and degrades man morally and spiritually, because of its ‘mad race for the multiplication of needs’, the displacement of the human race by machines, mass-production which ‘does not take into consideration the real needs of the con¬ sumer’, the unhealthy life in large cities, the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the minority. Gandhi ‘would welcome the natural extinction of railways and hospitals’, he ‘does not see that the Iron Age was an improvement over the Stone Age’, that the world is better off for having rapid 147

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

means for going from place to place; he is ‘sickened with the insane desire to destroy space and time, increase animalistic appetites, and travel to the ends of the world in order to satisfy them.’ Gandhi does not believe that boats and telegraphs ‘are indispensable for the permanent well-being of the human race.’ Gandhi’s criticism of civilisation strikes out at many real evils, it expresses a deep under¬ standing of the specific characteristics of the historical situation of India. Its motives are pure and profoundly moral. Gandhi makes no secret of the fact that his point of view is basically conservative : ‘While the Machine Age wants to turn people into machines, I want to return the man-transformed-into machine to his original state.’ And this state is ‘a simple but noble life, developing thousands of village homes and living in peace with the world.’ ‘Leisure is good and justifiable only up to a certain point. God made man to eat bread earned by the sweat of his brow, and I am afraid of the possi¬ bility of plucking everything we need, including food, out of a magician’s hat.’2 The essential limitation of every humanism founded on a low level of control of the natural environment is that it condemns man to a poverty of needs, drudgery and degrading routine labour, help¬ lessness in the face of natural forces and to a crippling of the majority of potentially creative abilities. Complete balance between the technical and the humane was achieved for the first time in the ideas of Marx. In an under¬ developed and uncultivated environment, humanism

is, in

the

opinion of Marx, transformed into its opposite—‘primitive, crude communism. The abolition of private property in such a society leads to general envy, levelling off, the reduction of everything to a common, relatively low level, and to the negation of man’s personal¬ ity in every sphere.’ The abolition of private property under these conditions leads to ‘the abstract negation of the entire world of culture and civilisation, regression to an unnatural simplicity of the individual who has not yet achieved private property, much less transcended it.’3 Marx’s alternative to capitalism was a society in which alienation was transcended, in which ‘the free development of the individual is a condition for the free development of all,’4 in which social pro¬ cesses will be subject to the conscious, planned control of freelyassociated individuals, in which there will be th^ well-rounded 148

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

development of human needs and a rich life. However, ‘this de¬ mands such a material basis of the society and such a number of material conditions which, themselves, are again the product of a long and painful history of development.’5 In other words, Marx realises the necessity of technological development if human self-realisation is ever to be made possible. Spiritual wealth is conditioned by the abolition of material poverty. Man must master the forces of nature in order to develop freely all of his creative powers. For this reason, Marx is aware of the historical significance of industrialisation, private property, and reification (which are necessary consequences of an intense struggle with the natural environment). He understands that there is no other road to universal human emancipation. For this reason Marx does not reject modern technology and industrialisation, but rather only uncovers their limitations and goes beyond them by his vision of the future. Technology is and remains a means for human self-realisation. Present-day socialist thought has, to a great extent, forgotten this. This has led to the ill-fated inversion of goals and means. Giving the highest priority to such goals as reaching and over¬ taking Western technology may lead to the restoration of some essential structures of the consumption civilisation of the West. VI A critical analysis of the criterion of self-realisation leads to the following conclusions : (i) Self-realisation cannot be reduced to the manifestation of actual human abilities only. Actual abilities are conditioned by specific social circumstances, tradition, the particular individual history of each person, the opportunities available to the individual for getting to know himself in the period of his formation—to discover his predispositions, affinities, and talents, to experiment freely with

them

and

to

develop

them

fully

in

that

period

when latent predispositions are still flexible, still open to develop¬ ment, A society which still struggles with the natural environ¬ ment by means of the mechanical and alienated labour of millions of physical workers, and by a narrow professional division of labour,

systematically

realises

only

M9

those

abilities

which

are

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

needed for high technical effectiveness and for the maintenance of a stable social order. However, investigations of human activities under exceptionally favourable conditions (elite education, freedom for leisure, material abundance, etc.) show that man also has potential abilities which are the product of the entire course of history and which can be realised by every normal individual who is provided with suitable conditions. Such abilities are : progressive cultivation and enrichment of the senses, rational thinking and problem-solving, imagination,

communication,

creative

activities

(the ability for innovation, for bringing beauty to all which is other¬ wise routine and conventional), self-consciousness (the ability for identification with oneself, for a critical study of oneself and one’s role in the society, of freely-chosen turning points in one’s basic orientations in life). In modern industrial production, in bureau¬ cratic politics, and in a culture highly popularised on the basis of an avant garde of the elite and cheap entertainment for the masses, these potential abilities are blocked or crippled for the majority of individuals. (2) When we say that in human interaction with the environment the quantity of produced goods and instruments is not essential but rather the satisfaction of human needs, then the problem arises : with which needs are we concerned here ? There are many artificial needs which seem to be important or even to take priority, but whose satisfaction leaves us with extreme indifference, emptiness, or even fills us with loathing. In the life of the individual, as well as of entire nations and societies, after a number of decades we again discover that the consciousness of needs was crippled or distorted, that we ran after phantoms which, really, were not indispensable, while during that time the genuine needs remained repressed, unrealised, and perhaps definitely extinguished. Up to this point, science has not been highly engaged in the problem of human needs. With respect to a typology of needs, much less has been achieved than in the typology of minerals, insects, or of nuclear particles. Still worse, as long as science is predominantly descriptive and value-neutral, it lacks the criteria for making an indispensable distinction between authentic and artificial needs. This problem obviously demands the presence of philosophical assump¬ tions which the positivistic orientation of science tends to avoid. The prevailing theory in all capitalist societies begins with the 150

MAN AND HIS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

principle that the market is the basic regulator of production and that the market should indicate the type and quality of goods desired by the consumers. Therefore, the market is supposed to bring a knowledge of the structure of human needs, which individual companies can take account of in their production plans. Socialist theory recognises the positivist character of such a solution : the needs manifested on the market are the result of a historically-formed condition. Some of these needs are the con¬ sequences of upbringing and of manipulation by a powerful pro¬ paganda apparatus; on the other hand, some of those needs which have not yet been expressed should be encouraged and realised. However, the proposed solution proved to be entirely unsatisfactory : if planning committees and political forums are to decide which human needs should be satisfied and developed, and which should not, then they obtain a tremendous power which exceeds every other in history. This is so because (a) hitherto every influence on the formation of the structure of human needs and the scale of priorities was, after all, inadequately organised, unsystematic, and allowed some kind of selection; however, here we are concerned with com¬ pulsion by a highly-organised, monolithic, authoritarian will; (b) exercising an influence on human needs, tastes, and aspirations by way of the market and of commercial advertising is at least direct and limited in time, while a bureaucratic influence determines the structure and priority of needs for generations to come. Complete identification and fulfilment of authentic human needs are possible only under the condition of transcending manipulation by both the modern market economy and by bureaucratic authority. Only under conditions of free experimentation, self-government, and training for self-knowledge and self-improvement is it possible to develop a critical consciousness of artificial needs and to have an orientation which leads to the satisfaction of true needs—those which lead to the realisation of specific,

fundamental human

abilities. (3) The concept of self-realisation does not imply the prior existence of an unchanged and closed human nature. Human nature is constituted by contradictory latent predispositions whose actualisation is not necessary but only possible, dependent upon specific historical conditions, and open to various possibilities of its further development. It is not necessary to be an existentialist to negate I51

THE NEW LEFT AND THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION

rigid determinism. In order to affirm the possibility of harmony between the technical and humanistic criteria, it is not necessary to deny the fact that human nature contains within itself an element of evil. The fact that man is still flexible and open to various develop¬ mental possibilities is compatible with the fact that previous history has left its mark on him in the form of some basic latent predis¬ positions. There is an anthropological a priori, there is a human nature which precedes existence but which is a historical and not transcendental category. It is pluralistic and does not determine existence in a rigid way. It leaves more or less room for human freedom. Also our hope that, in spite of other unfavourable possibilities in future human history, there is an optimal real possibility that in post-industrial society man will use his power over the natural environment to realise his most creative abilities and develop all the wealth of his authetic needs, is entirely compatible with the recogni¬ tion that in many of our contemporaries man described by Hobbes— selfish, greedy, aggressive—is still present. However, this component of human nature is a historical product and just as specific historical conditions favoured it and brought it into the centre of attention, changed conditions can block, repress, and transform it into analog¬ ous, socially acceptable tendencies of human behaviour. Optimal interaction between man and the environment is that which, while increasing human control over the natural environ¬ ment, simultaneously creates conditions for the maximal, historically-possible self-realisation of man. NOTES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture, New York’ 1968. Gandhi, Borba nenasiljem (Struggle by Passive Resistance), ‘Komunist’ 1970, pp. 153-164. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. ‘Private Property and Communism’, ad p. xxxix. Marx and Engels, Komunisticki manifest (Communist Manifesto), (Selec¬ ted Works, ‘Kultura’, 1949, p. 35). Kapital, Vol. I, 1, D, § 4 (published by ‘Kultura’, Belgrade 1948, p. 43).

152

IX

Violence and Human Self-Realisation

violence

has always been present in human history both in

individual behaviour and in social life, in both the ‘legitimate’ form intended to preserve a given order and as a means to promote social change. our

What

century

is

is

new

the

and

sometimes

enormous

indeed

discrepancy

paradoxical

between

the

in

basic

beliefs and theories, on the one hand, and the actual practices on the other. One of the essential principles of Enlightenment, which underlies all contemporary civilisation, is the belief that growth of human knowledge implies an increased ability to behave rationally, to pre¬ dict events and to control blind natural and social forces. Even so, the less civilised and less rational world in earlier times never saw such outbursts of uncontrolled and irrational violence as those that took place in the two world wars, or in the ninety-seven local wars that, according to the Hungarian historian Istvan Kende, broke out in the period 1945-1970. Analogously, criminal forms of violence in individual behaviour do not tend to wither away with the coming of a higher level of comfort and education; contrary to expectations, data on delinquency appear to show an alarming correlation between violent crime and the level of material development. Liberal bourgeois governments which for more than two centuries have adhered to the ideological principle of ‘ruling by consent’, and which have never before had such excellent opportunities to pro¬ duce this consent through the manipulations of powerful mass media, have recently manifested a frightening readiness for indis¬ criminate violent suppression of radical liberation movements. On the other hand, while the right to violent revolution is still professed and preached but hardly ever used in the practice of Western Communist Parties, violence still plays a surprisingly im¬ portant and sometimes even an increasing role in the internal affairs of post-capitalist countries many decades after the revolution. Social-

153

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

ism did not develop as a new way of life characterised primarily by fraternal relations among men and by the withering away of the power structures. Violent repression of heresy and dissent has be¬ come part of everyday life in these countries—the theory of the necessary intensification of class struggle in the process of develop¬ ment of socialism, far from explaining anything, is logically absurd : socialism by definition means the transition period in which men evolve towards a non-violent, classless society.* The awareness of the fact that successful violent revolutions naturally give rise to authoritarian regimes has led to an historically extremely important attempt, in the early sixties, to create new types of mass movements which would explore the possibilities of attain¬ ing social power without the use of violence. This New Left shook the globe, and in France in 1968 it was on the verge of full victory without firing one single bullet. Had the workers’ strike committees been integrated into a global national network of self-managing bodies, and had they organised production, they would have had a good chance to survive and to build up a new collectivist society. Failure to take these final, indispensable steps led to defeat and a widespread feeling of frustration. As a consequence, the New Left regressed to old patterns of organisation, ideology, and strategy. Instead of developing a variety of specific strategies and methods of struggle appropriate for the concrete historical conditions in a given society, most Leftist activities have reverted in the last few years to the old idea of revolution as a violent seizure of political power— which in fact may only be the first step, and then only in some social situations. However, what is new in this old idea is the tendency to replace instrumental violence by expressive violence. It is one thing to kill the tyrant in order to stop mass suffering and to open the way to freedom and human dignity. It is another matter to believe with Sartre that one ‘whose only wealth is blind hatred’ becomes human only ‘by this mad fury, by this bitterness and spleen’, or by his ‘ever¬ present desire to kill us.’1 Once violence becomes a value in itself it turns against those who use it; after killing their oppressors men continue to kill each other. Such a reversal of means and ends renders the whole process of liberation a typical Hegelian false Therefore, a society in which class struggle intensifies is far from being socialist. The classes in conflict in such cases are bureaucracy, petit-bour¬ geoisie and working class.

*54

'

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

infinity : endless repetition of the same contradiction.2 When the phenomenon of violence is considered in its own terms the question arises whether it is the manifestation of an invariable universal structure of human beings or whether we are dealing with a disposition of human behaviour that is the product of specific historical conditions. On the other hand, when violence is considered as a means to promote social change the obvious question is: under what con¬ ditions is violence an adequate or even a necessary means to create a better, more humane society? Both these approaches presuppose a fundamental conception of human nature and a distinction between its actual and potential dimension. Humanity is not only what appears in actual, overt be¬ haviour but also what subsists in a latent form in human individuals and comes into existence when appropriate conditions are given. This latent pattern of human capacities and dispositions need not be grasped as an eternal form and even less as a paradigm of a perfect harmony. The whole of history may be viewed as a process of the emergence of humanity, of creating human potentialities and actualising them. Human self-realisation constitutes, then, the ultimate criterion of evaluation of all and various sorts of behaviour and social change. The concept of self-realisation plays the central role in philo¬ sophical anthropology but it is also indispensable in humanist psychology. Abraham Maslow, for example, holds that £all basic needs (e.g., the need for food, safety, love, etc.) may be considered to be simply steps along the path to general self-actualisation, under which all basic needs can be subsumed.’ He continues : ‘. . . It looks as if there were a single ultimate value for mankind, a far goal toward which all men strive. This is called variously by different authors : self-actualisation, self-realisation, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realising the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that the person can become.’3 The reason why the concept of self-realisation can be almost universally accepted as an ultimate criterion of evaluation is that it is very abstract and that, in fact, it represents only a very general and neutral theoretical framework which can be filled with very different

155

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

images of man. If man is construed as an essentially aggressive being, then acting in a violent way would have to be interpreted as a mode of his self-realisation. On the other hand, if one takes the needs for peace and co-operation to be defining characteristics of man, viol¬ ence would be considered a pathological phenomenon. Various concepts of human nature may be ordered within a conceptual continuum, taking the degree of importance attributed to aggressivity and violence as the principle of ordering. One of the poles of this argument would be

constituted by authors

like

Machiavelli and Hobbes. Machiavelli in his Prince holds that men in general are ‘ungrate¬ ful, fickle, false, cowards, and covetous’ therefore a prince ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty because ‘it is much safer to be feared than loved.’ For example ‘the wonderful deeds’ of Hannibal were due to his ‘inhuman cruelty.’ It is not possible to rule only by the law, it is also necessary to have recourse to the method of force, which is ‘proper to beasts.’ The prince ‘ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study than war and its rules and discipline.’4 According to Hobbes the basic feature of man in his natural condition is the desire for power. Man is essentially egoistic and interested in satisfying his own appetites. As men have equal abilities and equal hopes to attain their ends ‘they become enemies and endeavour to destroy or subdue one another.’ ‘Hereby is manifest,’ continues Hobbes, ‘that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such war is of every man against every man.’ As a consequence there is ‘continual fear and danger of violent death.’5 From such premisses it follows that self-realisation is bad for men and that constraints to men’s freedom are necessary if violence and universal insecurity are to be overcome, which leads Hobbes to the idea that the best type of society (‘commonwealth’) is an absolute monarchy. A strong state is indispensable to curb evil human nature. At the opposite pole of our theoretical continuum there is an over-optimistic utopian conception of man as essentially a free, peace-loving social, creative being. We find it in all revolutionary thought, even in the thought of one of the most severe critics of utopian socialism, Karl Marx. In his mature works this utopian view of human essence is only a tacit value assumption of his critical 156

'VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

scientific theory, but in his early writings it has been formulated in its pure form. For example, in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts he says:

''Communism is the positive abolition of

private property, of human self-alienation, and thus, the real appro¬ priation of human nature, through and for man. It is therefore the return of man as a social, that is, really human being . . .’6 In his Notes of 1844, speaking about free human production, he makes a projection of ideal human activity in a society without private pro¬ perty :

this activity would involve full affirmation of one’s in¬

dividuality and at the same time would satisfy the need of another human being.7 In the Holy Family Mare examines the implications of the materialist theories of the original goodness of man and explains his conception of freedom : if man is ‘not negatively free to avoid this or that event but is positively free to express his true individuality, then rather than punish individuals for their crimes we should destroy the social conditions which engender crime, and give to each individual the scope which he needs in society in order to develop his life.’8 From this point of view aggressiveness and violence are not the constitutive characteristics of human nature but temporary products of unfavourable historical conditions. Change of these conditions, removal of certain institutions (such as private property, professional division of labour, the state, the market, etc.), would allow man to be what he potentially is and would automatically do away with violence. If man is formed by circumstances, these circumstances must be humanly formed.9 One should not put barriers to human self-realisation but remove them all. The task seems to be relatively simple and essentially negative. There is no doubt that the practical implications of these two extremely opposed views about the nature of human self-realisation and the place of violence in it are vastly different. If freedom necessarily gives rise to wolfish fighting and eruptions of violence, then any weakening of the existing social order involves great risks. But if, on the other hand, violence and alternation are precisely the consequence of that order, then practical commitment to break that order goes together with an enormous self-confidence and with an almost unlimited faith in the future. In spite of these profound differences both extreme views have some common features. Both reduce the possibilities of self-deter-

157

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

mination and self-creation in history, both assume a fixed,

a

historical, reified conception of human nature, a concept that hypostatises either past forms of human selfishness, aggressiveness, and brutality or ideal future possibilities. Man has no future from the former, conservative point of view : he can only stay in the civilised, comfortable and secure present, or else return into a natural con¬ dition (‘state of nature’) with all its constant fear and insecurity. From the radical, utopian point of view man has a future but can¬ not choose among its alternative possibilities and create himself afresh. It is determined in an eschatological way. History has a purpose and an ultimate goal which is independent of the will of human individuals; they can only bring it to consciousness and accelerate its realisation. If there were no other possible approach to the problem of human nature, in addition to both the examined extremes, it would seem as if we are faced with the following dilemma with respect to the problem of violence. Either violence is an inevitable, essential, ever-present lurking tendency of human behaviour and must constantly and for ever be repressed by external authority and force; or else violence is a merely superficial phenomenon without deep roots in the very make-up of human beings, a product of specific historical institutions, that is bound to disappear as soon as these institutions can be eliminated. If we accept the former alternative we have to renounce any hope of an essentially more democratic, peaceful, and humane world. The process of liberation cannot proceed beyond a certain limit, the time will never come when human conflicts will be resolved in non¬ violent ways. All historical progress may be construed only in quan¬ titative terms of growth, expansion, and increase of comfort. But if we accept the latter alternative our hopes and expectations are so great that time and again we fail to grasp the recurrence of violence even when the specific institutions that were considered its causes, are removed. Inevitable frustration assumes sometimes tragic forms and leads to long periods of alienation and passivity. This dilemma is obviously false. It is possible to build up a theory of human nature that is more realistic, embracing evil as its com¬ ponent, and still allowing the chance of unlimited historical progress. The basic assumption here would be that human nature is a struc¬ ture of conflicting dispositions that evolve in time and may be 158

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

manifested, suppressed, or modified in various ways in appropriate historical conditions. Previous history provides ample evidence about these conflicting tendencies; craving for freedom but also escape from responsibility; a striving for inter-group and international collaboration and solidarity but also class, national, and racial ego¬ ism; a need for creativity, but also powerful destructive drives; a readiness for self-sacrifice in certain conditions, but also a strong lust for personal power and domination in some others; a profound need for love, but also an incomprehensible, irrational need to inflict pain and suffering on both the hated and beloved ones. These features are the crystallisation of past history but they do not constitute a fixed static entity. Some of them tend to disappear, although they were characteristic of man during several historical epochs (for example, patriarchal loyalty to the older generation); some new features arise (such as the compulsory acquisitiveness of a homo consumens). These in turn become questionable for coming generations. Analogously to the dynamic psychology which throws light on the mechanism of individual psychic processes, a dynamic anthropology might give us insight into the evolution of man in history. We might learn which are the basic conflicting human capacities, needs, and practical dispositions, what is their biochemical basis, and how their actualisation depends on economic, political, and cultural conditions. With respect to the problem of violence our libraries are piled high with books which tell us how similar animals are to us.10 This literature is a great source of joy to all conservatives who use the opportunity to jump to the conclusion that since we are animals and are so aggressive, all visions of a more peaceful and rational world are naive illusions. Methodologically this is the same kind of error as the one attributed by Sartre11 to dogmatic ‘lazy’ Marxists, who reduce complex and unique cultural phenomena to their general and abstract class description. ‘Valery is a bourgeois writer but not every bourgeois writer is Valery.’ Man is an animal but not every animal is a man. Instead of reducing human violence and belligerence to animal aggressiveness it is necessary to explain how their various characteristic forms emerged in specific historical conditions. It is good to know the biological background against which human history takes place. But it is even better to be aware of the fact that this background has been transcended. It is very important to know

159

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the genetic patterns that constitute the material basis of human behavioural dispositions; a far more advanced level of biochemistry would allow us to realise certain limits of men that are still only a matter of guesswork. But there can be little doubt that within these limits there lies a very large range of possibilities. Actual social conditions determine which of these will be realised. As a matter of fact man has a number of creative potential capacities (for problem solving, for introduction of new elements into known, recurrent contexts, for construction of symbols and meaningful communication, and so on) that may have been mani¬ fested in earlier stages of life and are later blocked by unfavourable conditions of life and work in industrial society. Compulsive acquisi¬ tiveness may be a substitute for these arrested modes of behaviour, and violence may be a reaction to unfulfilled needs for affection and social recognition which produce a general feeling of insecurity and inferiority. If such dispositions may be reactions to socially structured situa¬ tions, if they may be substitutes for socially arrested and thwarted needs, if they may be actualised in different, socially more or less acceptable forms, depending on social conditions, then human selfrealisation is not a strictly deterministic process and involves an element of human self-creation. The problem of violence as a mode of self-realisation consequently takes the following form : What do we intend to do with deeply rooted human tendencies to aggressive, violent behaviour? Do we want to preserve the social conditions in which these tendencies will continue to take on most egoistic and vicious forms? Or are we ready to mobilise our forces to create new social conditions in which aggressive dispositions would be manifested in modified, relatively harmless, socially acceptable forms (in games, sports, arts, verbal disputes, work, love, etc.). Intuitively we know that all other conditions being equal, any sane human being would prefer the latter alternative. But because all other conditions are not equal and because this alternative may involve sacrificing important interests, many individuals would pre¬ fer the preservation of the status quo and would therefore be inclined to challenge the basic assumption of this alternative, namely, that violence in itself is bad. And indeed why should hostility and violence be worse than gentleness, sobriety, or peacefulness? 160

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

There are several possible ways to handle questions of this sort and to try to justify one among existing alternatives. First is the criterion of logical consistency : a property of man and human behaviour is ‘good’ to the extent to which it satisfies the concept of man.12 And a particular definition of man is acceptable if, among other things, it is in basic agreement with actual usage of the term ‘man’ in ordinary language. In the given case ‘violence’ is not one of the defining characteris¬ tics of the concept man, therefore one who acts violently is not a good specimen of human species. Naturally one may give his own, new definition of man that includes violence as an essential feature of human nature. Then he violates the principle that a good defini¬ tion of an already existing concept must be only an explanation, preserving the sound core of its meaning in ordinary language. Or, in other words, he takes as an essential characteristic of man some¬ thing that is not generally believed to be a specific feature of man. To be sure, a consideration of this kind does not prove or disprove anything. However, the price that one may have to pay in order to defend this position is to introduce queer concepts and to break the link with the logic implicit in ordinary language. The second approach is historical in a double sense. On the one hand, it is possible to show what, throughout history, were the respective consequences of violence and peace. This makes sense if one is ready to agree that life is better than death, and that creation and happiness are better than destruction and suffering. On the other hand, the history of philosophy and of culture shows a very high degree of agreement among recognised great thinkers in the past about certain fundamental values, such as freedom, equal¬ ity, peace, justice, truth, beauty. This agreement again does not prove anything but indicates the universal human character of certain norms of human life that are incompatible with expressive violence. A third approach is characteristic of a critical philosophical anthropology. Value considerations, including the problem of a hierarchy of values, are derived from a theory of man, of his potential capacities and genuine needs. This theory obviously con¬ tains not only an indicative but also a normative component. The former is implicit, for example, in the theoretical justification of the view that there are universal latent dispositions (like the capacity to

161

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

use symbols and to communicate), that these get actualised at a certain stage of growth under favourable social conditions (i.e., any young child is able to learn a language provided there is enough interaction with a normal social surrounding), that these potentiali¬ ties may be wasted and extinguished when appropriate conditions are lacking (for example, a number of adolescents found in a jungle were no longer able to learn to speak). The latter, normative component is implicit in the very selection of basic human capacities (creativity but not destructivity, problem¬ solving but not problem-evading, participation within a community but not escape from community bonds, etc.). It is also implicit in the very distinction between true, genuine needs and false, artificial needs. This normative component, in the first place, expresses the general practical orientation of the author (in the sense of Fichte’s dictum that the character of a philosophy depends on what kind of man the philosopher is). But if a philosophical theory claims to be more than a personal statement it must seek some kind of objective validation and refer to some kind of general commonsense. Now in a similar way in which empirical validation consists in the claim that all normal qualified individuals could observe some data under certain specified conditions, and logical validation ultimately refers to the expectation that all persons who know a language will use certain expressions in a certain way, so the validation of normative attitudes refers to the expectation that, other conditions being equal, all normal developed human individuals would have structurally similar affective needs and preferences in certain crucial existential situations : of deprivation and suffering, or of group activity, sexual attraction, etc. This expectation will not be fulfilled in some cases but this holds also for the expectation that all individuals will see the same things or use words in the same way; there is a difference in degree but not in essence. In this sense we may have good reasons to state that violence in itself is repulsive and evil, although taken as an instrument it may be considered a necessary evil. Experiencing violence, as such, as attractive, is as abnormal as being unable to distinguish colours or to draw correct inferences. Contemporary

humanist

psychology

offers

another,

fourth

approach to the problem of validation of normative attitudes. Its results coincide very much with previous considerations. Its starting point is the distinction between psychologically healthy and psycho162

'VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

logically sick individuals. The essential methodological point is that health and sickness here may be defined operationally and not with the help of higher-level abstract concepts. By studying neurotic and mildly troubled persons Carl Rogers came to the conclusion that pathological symptoms are the consequence of blocking a drive toward self-realisation which the individual normally has.13 Abraham Maslow, on the other hand, studied healthy, self-actualised persons, and this allowed him to replace the normative question, ‘What should be human values?’ with the factual question : ‘What are the values of the best human beings?’ The concept of best human beings or of full humanness or of a healthy, self-actualising human being Maslow defines by a set of objectively describable measurable characteristics such as : clearer perception of reality, more openness to experience, increased integration of the personality, increased spontaneity,

a firm

identity,

increased

objectivity,

recovery of

creativeness, ability to fuse concreteness and abstractness, democratic character structure, ability to love, etc.14 Maslow claims that there are clinical techniques available for studying corresponding subjec¬ tive reactions, such as the feelings of zest in living, of happiness, of serenity, of confidence in one’s ability to handle stresses, anxieties and problems, etc. Self-actualisation so defined does not exclude decisiveness, justified anger and indignation, self-affirmation, etc. However it is incompatible with hostility, cruelty, and destructive¬ ness, and with corresponding subjective feelings of fear, anxiety, despair, boredom, intrinsic guilt, aimlessness, emptiness, or lack of identity. These are signs of psychological sickness, of self-betrayal, of fixation, of regression. What is characteristic of all pathological mental states is the falling apart of the unity of the person, of the homeostasis of the organism as a whole. ‘Then’, says Maslow, ‘what he wants to do may be bad for him; even if he does it he may not enjoy it; even if he enjoys it, he may simultaneously disapprove of it, so that the enjoyment is itself poisoned or may disappear quickly. What he enjoys at first he may not enjoy later. His impulses, desires and enjoyments then become a poor guide to living. He must accordingly mistrust and fear the impulses and the enjoyments which lead him astray, and so he is caught in conflict, dissociation, indecision; in a word he is caught in civil war.’15 This analysis seems to fit well the data about both the behaviour of violent persons and their introspective descriptions. It gives also

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

good grounds for a negative answer to the question put in the beginning : aggressive, violent behaviour is not a mode of human self-realisation. Even at best, when it is the expression of a justified revolt and a necessary means to remove some impediment to selfrealisation on a larger social scale, it leads to internal conflicts, to a discrepancy between the motive which has been approved, and the act itself which may be utterly repulsive.16 Acting in this way one remains caught within the sphere of necessity and one is aware of it. Activity that involves instrumental violence is still very far from truly human praxis, which is not only approved for its implications but is also desired, needed, and enjoyed as an end in itself, as an intrinsic value. When violence is desired for its own sake it is a sym¬ ptom

of

a pathological

self-disintegration

and

self-destruction,

which when transformed into an ideology, invariably has tragic consequences for mankind.17 All those scholars who derive anthro¬ pology from zoology and who tend to praise violence as a mani¬ festation of the life force and even of human creativity, pave the way to such an ideology. If violence is not a mode of self-realisation is it not a means to it? The answers to this question reveal the following paradoxes : Many of those who believe that violence is an inherent tendency in human nature reject violence as an instrument of social change. On the other hand those radicals who believe that man is essentially non-violent tend to affirm violence as a necessary or even sole means of social change. The former attitude is characteristic of most present-day liberals. They eliminate from the classical liberalist doctrine some universally valid, revolutionary thoughts about the right of people to rebel against usurpation and tyranny. Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, and other ideologues of the revolutionary bourgeoisie held that people are fully justified in using force in order to overthrow a government which violates the social contract and rules for its own rather than its people’s interest.18 According to Locke when the legislature or the prince betrays the trust of the people and works or plans to destroy the liberty or the property of the people, and to submit them to arbitrary power, the rulers forfeit the power given to them and thus cause the dissolution of government. By removing the legislature the tyrants remove the basis of their own authority and relapse into a state of war. If a rebellion breaks out because a prince destroys the 164

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

liberties of the subjects it is the fault of the prince, not the subjects, just as when an honest man resists a bandit the resulting bloodshed must be blamed on the bandit. If honest men never resisted this would only produce more banditry.19 Rousseau also holds that peace under despotism is not desirable : ‘One can live peacefully enough in a dungeon, but such peace will hardly of itself ensure one’s happiness. The Greeks imprisoned in the cave of Cyclops lived peacefully while awaiting their turn to be devoured.’20 When a government rules only by force then it is better for the people to ‘shake off its yoke’ than to obey. If force itself makes right then a stronger force could reverse this right: so people are justified in using force to re-establish their freedom.21 The same attitude pervades all the writings of Jefferson, in the first place The Declaration of Independence. ‘Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government . . . Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes . . . But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.’22 Even an unjustified rebellion is productive of good according to Jefferson : ‘It prevents degeneracy of government and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing and is necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.’23 The way Jefferson comments on Shay’s Rebellion must sound like sheer madness to many contemporary liberals : ‘God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all and always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the im¬ portance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . What country can preserve its liberty if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms . . . The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure . . ,’24 This was

the

language

of

revolutionaries.

Their

theoretical

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

achievements constitute still the ideological foundation of liberal bourgeois society. But the ideologues of that society have long ago switched to an unconditional, unqualified condemnation of revolu¬ tion. They forget of course that the social order they advocate and tend to preserve has itself been born through violent revolution. And while they demand that the people use only peaceful means, they seem to overlook the fact that the whole system is based on enormous amounts of built-in, institutionalised ‘structural’ violence.25 In con¬ trast to direct, physical violence that hits individuals in a dramatic, immediately observable way, structural violence affects large masses of people indirectly, slowly, invisibly through the system and its legal institutions. The number of people who die from starvation, pollution, carelessness, etc. is certainly no less than the number of those who are killed by bullets. That is why A. J. Muste had to say ‘In a world built on violence one must be a revolutionary before one can be a pacifist.’26 Merleau-Ponty has seen well the conservative and hypocritical side of the unilateral condemnation of revolution¬ ary violence : ‘In advocating non-violence one reinforces the estab¬ lished violence of a system of production which makes misery and war inevitable.’27 The only way to rehabilitate the principle of non¬ violence and to get rid of its apologetic, cynical interpretations is to apply it consistently, to extend its use so as to embrace also ‘estab¬ lished’, ‘structural’ violence. But then it becomes too revolutionary to be accepted by most liberals and too ‘soft’ to be met with enthusiasm by most Marxists. This leads us to the discussion of the other previously mentioned paradox : the belief that man is essentially a non-violent being goes together with the conviction that man will restore himself as a man only through an interlude of a violent revolution. It is clear from the whole preceding discussion why Marx and his followers insisted on the need to use violence in order to reopen the blocked road of historical progress and eventually reach a higher-level society in which all forms of structural violence would wither away, while direct violence would lose any ground in human relations. They faced tremendous power in the hands of the defenders of the status quo. Being the historically legitimate heirs of the bourgeois revo¬ lutionaries, they proceeded with the development of revolutionary theory, where Rousseau and Jefferson, Saint-Simon, Fichte, and the young Hegel had stopped. They rejected the myth of the social

166

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

contract and the traditional substitution of the state-people relation for the class struggle. Once it was revealed that the real opponents were the ruling and the oppressed classes it also became clear then that the question of revolution does not arise only when the govern¬ ment becomes unjust and begins to rule contrary to the people’s interests : revolution is legitimate all the time because the state rule is never just and never serves the interests of the oppressed bulk of the people. However, from the fact that the proletariat has the right to use force against its oppressor it does not follow either that the use of force is in all situations the most efficient and necessary means to a qualitative change of the old society, nor that it is in principle possible for a non-violent new society to emerge after a prolonged period of increased violence. Marx and Engels had their doubts. They allowed the possibility of a peaceful proletarian revolution in the most advanced coun¬ tries.28 And they were not unaware that ‘in the play of violence there is the risk of permanent involvement.’29 However they believed that proletarian violence as a means of liberation has a quite specific nature and will tend to recede in time. And they had a good reason for that belief : the working class really has no interest in installing itself as a new ruling class : rather its interest lies in abolishing itself as a class and in gradually introducing a new democratic, non¬ violent social organisation. They overlooked only one thing : that in certain historical conditions the victorious workers’ vanguard may alienate itself from the rest of the class, seize all the levers of economic and political power, and establish its own sectional rule. The socialist revolutionaries became conscious of this nightmare only when it already became true.30 The essential problem of contemporary Marxism is therefore : how to secure that the use of violence would really recede after the revolution, how to create a movement that would be strong enough to seize political power and to enforce necessary structural changes, without becoming bureaucratic and returning to the old forms of direct and structural violence. There is also another possibility. If, according to Marx, a non¬ violent revolution was possible in Great Britain and Holland in the nineteenth century, why should it not be a better solution, at least in some societies, in the last quarter of the twentieth century? 167

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

Thus it follows that unqualified condemnation and affirmation of instrumental violence has to be replaced by a concrete historical analysis of various types of situations. Strategies of revolutionary action would have to vary according to the type of situation, depend¬ ing especially on the character of the existing centre of power. In the simplest possible case we might take only two parameters into account: the strength of the centre of power (government, state) and its readiness to introduce reforms. We should distinguish, first, between a strong stable centre of power that still enjoys a support of the considerable part of the population and has a strong military and police force at its disposal, and a centre of power that is unstable, corrupt, with a demoralised army and with little public support. Secondly, we should distinguish between a centre of power that is rational, liberal, open to gradual progress, ready to introduce reforms within the framework of the given system, and one that is adamant, conservative, unwilling to make any concessions. In this simple model with four types of situations, only in one case, of a weak and hard conservative regime, may violent revolution be the only possible means to further development with a good chance of success. While the centre of power is still strong, a move¬ ment that uses violence is doomed and would only provide an in¬ crease of repression, whereas in the case of a weak, reformist centre of power a violent revolution might be successful but is not necessary since its goals might be reached through a series of well-directed changes of the system constituting as a whole a structural trans¬ formation of the given society. And this is what a social revolution essentially is; its defining characteristics are not the use of violence or physical destruction or abrupt character of change, but the change of structure, the superseding of the old social order, the removal of those institutions that blocked further progress (which has to be more ultimately evaluated in terms of human self-realisa¬ tion rather than of mere material growth). In any judgment about the desirability and necessity of the use of violence in a certain situation the following principles should be taken into account if this judgment is to be both just and realistic : (i) Other conditions being equal, non-violence is preferable to violence, and for the following reasons : (a) Violence produces unpredictable amounts of human suffering and material damage;

168

•VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

(b) In many cases the use of violence does not offer any chance of success. A centre of power that is sufficiently strong in military terms will easily crush any opposition that uses violence. (Revolu¬ tions in Russia, Yugoslavia, China, and Cuba succeeded under conditions of defeat and disintegration of the forces hostile to the new regime). ‘Red terror’ used by anarchists never produced any result whatsoever: it alienates a considerable part of the popula¬ tion; (c) the use of violence provokes such a fear and anger among middle classes that under certain conditions (such as general economic instability, profound demoralisation, frustration with existing ‘permissive’ regime) it might trigger a shift toward the extreme right on a mass scale; (d) even if carefully prepared and used only at a favourable moment, with minimum bloodshed and destruction, the use of violence as a means to seize political power requires a certain type of political organisation (clandestine, centralistic, authoritarian, strictly hierarchial, with a strong sense of historical mission, highly intolerant toward all other organisations outside of its control) that, in case of victory, tends to be trarr" med into a bureau¬ cratic elite. (2) When other conditions are not equal, the undesirable con¬ sequences of direct violence used by revolutionary forces should be compared with the undesirable consequences of indirect, structural violence inherent in the old system. Critics of revolutionary violence usually take an entirely anti-historical position. They either analyse a revolutionary process in itself, without comparison with other alternative possibilities of the same society. Or else they compare a post-revolutionary situation in all its backwardness, destruction and loss of the best human lives (caused often through foreign inter¬ vention) with the situation in other much more developed countries. Obviously the only methodologically sound approach would be to compare developments of countries with different systems and similar starting positions (for example China and India), or to com¬ pare the actual situation with other projected historical possibilities of the same society (for example, China now under Mao with what China would have likely now been under Chang). (3) After traumatic experiences with fascism even the most ardent adherents of the principle of unconditional, unqualified non-violence 169

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

find themselves in difficulties when they have to answer questions such as : Is it justified to use violence against these who strive to build up a society based on sheer violence? Would it have been justified to suppress Hitler’s movement by force before it had come to power? The area in which an answer is to be found lies between an emphatic refusal to use violence under any circumstances and Saint-Just’s maxim : ‘No freedom for the enemies of freedom.’ The former answer cannot be satisfactory: it leaves us and coming generations at the mercy of pathological minorities. The latter is too indiscriminate : any regime may use it for drastically repressive measures; what is needed is only an appropriate interpretation of the concept of the ‘enemies of freedom’. And yet, there is a sound core in Saint-Just’s maxim; this is the idea that one has the right to be free only if he recognises this right in others. When we generalise this idea we get the following principle : No human rights for those who do not recognise their universal validity. These three principles imply the following general conditions under which violence in social life might be transcended and a rational alternative to an apocalyptic vision of the future as a series of violent revolutions and wars would be offered, (i) The existing centres of alienated power would have to develop such a sense of history as to gradually renounce structural violence and open the process of radical democratisation and abolition of class distinctions. (2) The existing revolutionary organisations would have to renounce direct violence and to begin to develop strategies of non-violent struggle for social change. The meeting of both conditions is not very probable. But it is not impossible if we all realise what the other alternatives are.

NOTES 1. 2.

J. P. Sartre. Preface to Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York 1963), p. 17. Hegel, Encyclopaedic der philosophischen Wissenschaften, Die Wissenschaft der Logik, p. 104.

3.

Abraham H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 2nd ed. (New York 1968), p. 153.

4-

Niccolo Machiavelli,

3.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Part I, ch. 13; ‘Of the natural conditions of mankind as concerning their felicity and misery.’

The Prince

170

(1513),

Everyman’s Library (New

VIOLENCE AND HUMAN SELF-REALISATION

Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe, 3 p. 114, translated by T. B. Bottomore in E. Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man (New York 1961), p. 127. Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, translated by 7Easton and Guddat, (Doubleday, New York 1967), p. 281. 8. MEGA 1/3, p. 308. 9- Loc. cit. According to Hannah Arendt ‘Anthropomorphism and theomorphism IO. are but two sides of the same error.’ On Violence (New York 1969), p. 60. ^ > J. P. Sartre, Critique de la raison dialectique, ‘Questions de Methode’, 11. (Gallimard, Paris i960). Cf. Robert Hartman, ‘The Science of Value’ in Abraham Maslow (ed.), 12. New Knowledge in Human Values (Harper, New York 1959)13- Rogers, Psychotherapy and Personality Change (Univ. of Chicago 19,54); A Therapist’s View of Personal Goals (Pendle Hill i960); On Becoming a Person (Boston 1971). 14. Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (Van Nostrand Reinhold Corp., New York 1968), p. 157. 15- Ibid., p. 159. 16. Jules Humbert-Droz, who was a secretary of the Comintern in 1921, reports in an interview to Le Monde how Lenin detested the use of violence although he realised that it was a question of life and death. He recommended to a head of ‘Tcheka’, Dr. Kedrow: When you will be able to sentence someone to death without horror—resign. The political police is a terrible necessity; it should never become a pro¬ fession.’ (Le Monde, 18 February 1970), p. n. The atrocities of fascism are practical consequences of the following 17views expounded by Hitler in his various speeches and articles in the Twenties: ‘From all the innumerable creatures a complete species rises and becomes the master of the rest. Such a one is man the most brutal, the most resolute creature on earth. He knows nothing but the extermination of his enemies in the world’ (Volkischer Beobachter, 23 Nov. 1927). ‘Whatever goal man has reached is due to his originality plus his brutality . . . All life is bound up in three theses. Struggle is the father of all things, virtue lies in blood, leadership is primary and decisive’ (Ibid., 7 April 1928). ‘In the power of the sword lies the vital strength of a nation.’ (Ibid., 4 May 1928). ‘One is either the hammer or the anvil. We confess that it is our purpose to prepare German people again for the role of the hammer’ (Ibid., 17 March 1929). Previously Martin Luther, during the struggle of Protestant princes 18. against the Emperor, took the position that Christians had the right to fight in self-defence, and that the authority of the ruler should be respected only so long as he was just. If the ruler disregards the higher law and becomes a tyrant, the subjects are freed from their allegiance

6.

1920. 21. 22. 2324

and have the right to revolt. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Bk. II, ch. 19. J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, Bk. I, ch. 4. Ibid., ch. 1, 3. . . Social and Political Philosophy, ed. by Somerville and Santom (Double¬ day, New York 1963), p. 240. Letter to James Madison, 30 January 1781, op. cit., p. 258. Letter to Colonel Smith, 13 Nov. 1787, op. cit., pp. 259-60.

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

25.

26. 27. 28.

29. 30.

The concept ‘structural violence’ was explored by Johan Galtung in ‘Violence, Peace and Peace Research’, Journal of Peace Research (1969), pp. 167-91. A. J. Muste, ‘Pacifism and Class War’, The Essays of A. J. Muste (Indianapolis 1967), pp. 175-85. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humanism and Terror (Beacon Press, Boston 1969), P- xviii. See Marx’s speech at Amsterdam 1872 quoted in M. Steklov, History of the First International (New York International Publishers 1928), p. 240; Marx, ‘Konspekt der Debatten iiber das Sozialistengesetz’, 1878 [in Marx-Engels, Briefe an Behel, Liebknecht, Kautsky und Andere. Verlag Genossenschaft Auslandischer Arbeiter in der USSR (Moscow 1933), P- 51 &] i Engels, Critique of the Social Democratic Draft Pro¬ gramme, 1851, sec. II. Merleau-Ponty, op. cit., p. xviii. Rousseau early realised the dangers inherent in the very idea of pro¬ fessional political representation: ‘Political representatives and pro¬ fessional armies are twin evils which result from corruption and in¬ dolence . . . The professional army will enslave the country and the professional representative will sell it . . . The only alternative is direct participation in public assemblies like in ancient republics. It is true the conditions are different. But all these concrete difficulties of direct participation today should not deter us, for the only alternative is the loss of our liberties.’ (Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book III, ch. 15.)

172

X

The New Left and the Cultural Revolution

i two

different factors will determine the fate of the world in the

next few decades : the liberation movements in the economically underdeveloped and politically dependent countries of Asia, Africa and South America, and the movement towards more radical structural changes in the developed industrial states of Western Europe and North America. On the one hand, it is clear that with¬ out the presence, material aid and support of the socialist states the liberation movements would have no chance of success; similarly the revolutionary movements in the capitalist states would then be without their most powerful catalyst. On the other hand, in the near future one cannot count on any fundamental internal changes within the socialist states : they will continue to advance their industrialisa¬ tion, produce ever greater quantities of commodities, improve pro¬ ductivity and create many varied institutions. However, as a result of their bureaucratisation these states have ceased to be models of a more humane and rational society and can no longer exercise an immediate influence on history through their mere existence and their competition with the antagonistic capitalist power bloc. They may become more liberal, but the conditions for a decisive debureaucratisation can only be given by revolutionary processes within the West. Broadly speaking we are witnessing two opposing basic tendencies. One possibility is that liberation movements such as in Vietnam will weaken and morally discredit capitalism to such an extent that the movement of the New Left, which has grown strongly under capital¬ ism, will succeed in winning essential structural changes and will thus indirectly facilitate a radical political and economic democratisation in the socialist states. The second possibility is that the New

173

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

Left will indirectly mobilise the forces of the extreme Right, con¬ tribute to the strengthening of the extremely authoritarian structures in both power blocs, and thus contribute to the defeat of the liberation and revolutionary movements in the whole world—which will eventually lead to a catastrophic war. Between these extreme poles lies a whole series of other possi¬ bilities. If nothing more drastic happens, if the present movement of the New Left declines as a result of impotence and apathy, as was the case with the so-called Old Left three or four decades ago, then it is highly probable that humanity—divided into a few empires— will survive to see the end of the century, will enjoy all the ad¬ vantages of post-industrial affluence, and will experience all the fear¬ ful consequences of superbureaucratic alienated power. II The New Left is a political movement encompassing the most disparate oppositional groupings: opponents of the Vietnam war; rebelling students who demonstrate against authoritarian structures in universities and other institutions; leaders of the most threatened and exploited ghetto communities; campaigners for civil liberties; striking workers, or—as in France in 1968—workers who occupy factories in spite of the opposition of the union leadership; com¬ munists engaged in the struggle regardless of the opportunist position adopted by their own party; intellectuals and artists who refuse to be bought by the consumer society, but who wish to preserve their own freedom and to find a deeper, more humane meaning in their work; and, not least, young people revolting against the duplicity, irrelevance, hypocrisy and alienation of their affluent parents— looking for real human values and a different way of life. One might say that the only common characteristic of this mosaic of different groups is their revolt against the present bureaucratic consumer society and their opposition to violence and all existing authoritarian structures. To judge them more concretely one needs to explore the reasons for the crisis in the Old Left and then con¬ sider the basic tendencies in the development of the New Left. The Old Left, which developed ideologically and organisationally around the Third International and whose whole strategy was founded on the assumption of the inevitable economic collapse of 174

THE

NEW

LEFT AND

THE

CULTURAL REVOLUTION

capitalism, whose organisational ideal was the Leninist Party and whose model of the new society was Soviet state socialism, was already facing dangerous crises by the end of the thirties : Stalin’s purges, the pact with Hitler, the division of Poland and the war with Finland alienated many revolutionaries and posed a serious threat to the Left in many countries. The war, heroically fought through to victory, brought new enthusiasm and hope. The revolution was achieved in several countries, but brought—together with rapid material advance—unexpected concentration of power, privilege, and drastically authoritarian conditions in its wake. The crisis of the Old Left manifested itself in the framework of the socialist world as a series of authoritarian measures in practice, together with a theoretical ‘revisionism’. In the first category we mention the break between Yugoslavia and the Cominform in 1948, the workers’ revolt in East Germany in 1953, the rising in Poznan and the anti-Stalinist movement in Poland and Hungary in 1956. The revisionism of the fifties, as seen in the Petbfi-clubs, in the Polish magazine Po Prostu, as well as in its various Yugoslav forms, differs fundamentally from the classical revisionism of the Second International : it does not believe in reforms, is sceptical of bourgeois parliamentary and trade union methods of struggle, and is decisively opposed to the exaggerated economism of the social democrats. On the other hand this revisionism is closely related to the present New Left, if indeed it has not had a direct influence on it. It is funda¬ mentally opposed to any form of ideological dogmatism, to all authoritarian structures in the socialist world, whether it be the oppression of one nation by another (under the pretext of proletarian internationalism) or internal bureaucratic repression

(masked as

socialisation). In the cultural realm, especially, this neo-revisionism questions the monopoly of state and party, rejects ‘socialist realism’ as the only permissible method, and campaigns for the unfettered freedom of artistic and scientific creativity. The movement is philo¬ sophically interesting in that it represents a renaissance of the for¬ gotten humanism of Marx, embellished by elements of other in¬ fluential contemporary movements. With the exception of France and Italy, the Old Left in the West suffered a near mortal blow in the fifties. This was the result not only of the Gold War, McCarthyism and other extremely repressive measures, but primarily of its own total ideological impotence. It

05

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

continued to proclaim, with little conviction, the thesis of: —the inability of capitalism to develop the forces of production, in a situation where this was being achieved with great success; —the growing poverty of the proletariat, at a time when the standard of living of the proletariat was visibly on the increase; —inevitable economic crises, which did not occur. For decades these revolutionaries were like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot. The organised Left promised the worker ad¬ vantages which he already enjoyed, but remained blind to the real problems pointed out by the few radical philosophers such as C. Wright Mills, Paul Goodman, David Riesman, and Marcuse. It was able to hold its own only as long as it remained possible to idealise the first socialist country, as long as the hope existed that its successes in rivalling the existing system would somehow lead to the world¬ wide

socialist

victory.

Then

came

the

bitter

disillusionment:

Khrushchev’s report and the Soviet intervention in Hungary. The Sino-Soviet conflict at first confused the Left in other countries, and eventually led to splits. At the end of the decade there was a revolution in Cuba, which had practically nothing in common with the Old Left as regards ideas, strategy and tactics. The Cuban Communists remained passive until the last and considered Castro’s initiative as an adventure which did not need to be taken seriously. In a certain sense this is what it was: it was effected in stark contrast to all classical principles of revolutionary strategy. (When he steered his little ship Granma towards the coast of Cuba, and published the precise date and place of the invasion, Castro had no party and no movement behind him, no mass support; he did not attack in secret and unexpectedly, as would be the case in a coup conducted according to classical revo¬ lutionary strategy. When he finally arrived in Sierra Maestra he did not act quickly and decisively but waited until Batista’s forces dis¬ integrated by themselves.) The fact that this revolution succeeded can only lead one to conclude that different conditions demand different strategies. The conduct of the Cuban Communists is char¬ acteristic of that of all communist parties in the ’60s. They will continue to wait for something; each spontaneous revolutionary initiative will be branded as an adventure or provocation. The new left-oriented movement will now grow independently of them. In 1959-60 we find several events marking a development in the 176

THE

NEW

LEFT

AND

THE

CULTURAL

REVOLUTION

movement of the New Left. On the theoretical level there is the appearance of New Left Review in 1959, which represents a fusion of the New Reasoner and Universities and Left Review, both of which had already propagated the new ideas since 1957. In i960 Wright Mills published his ‘Letter to The New Left’ and the polemic ‘Listen Yankee’ which mark the transition from critical sociological theory to concrete political engagement. New forms of political organisation and action are created : S.D.S. (Students for a Demo¬ cratic Society), S.N.C.G. (Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Com¬ mittee)—a movement campaigning for the rights of Blacks, the Aldermaston Marches of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Student Revolt in South Korea, which toppled Syngman Rhee, and student demonstrations in Turkey, Okinawa and Japan. Although the conditions and methods of struggle in different countries had their individual features, I believe that it is possible to perceive four different phases within the past decade. We shall refer specifically to the development in the most advanced capitalist state in the West—the U.S.A. (1) Left Liberalism (1960-63). This is the phase of the struggle for reforms within the existing system, of the peace movement and of the Civil Rights Campaign. The new radical theory is already apparent in the work of Mills and Marcuse; it is however pessimistic and is not conscious of any social forces able to free themselves from manipulation, co-option, nor able to transcend the boundaries of the existing structures. (2) The struggle for participation and local community projects (1963-65). While the peace and civil rights movements are further developed and radicalised the general protest against militarism and racism becomes a progressive programme for the establishment of a decentralised democratic society on the level of the local community. During this phase the S.D.S. still believes that an appropriate strategy will enable it to unite the radical and trade-union forces in the goal of significant changes within the framework of the existing society. This era in the U.S.A. is characterised by the Economic Research and Action Programme (E.A.R.P.) whose aim is the realisa¬ tion of a number of local social reforms. Through attacks on un¬ employment, high rents, segregation, ghettoes, through demands for better public transport, nursery schools and similar ‘unimportant little issues’ the New Left hoped to mobilise the poor as well as

*77

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

liberals, to bring about a confrontation with the political institutions, a flow of resources from the military to the social sphere, and every¬ where to create a society—on the micro-level of the individual cells—based upon the principles of collectivism and participatory democracy. This programme failed. However, it produced decisive experiences : it showed that the liberal and trade union forces cannot be mobilised for any of the radical goals; not even at the local level. It showed that solidarity of white and black workers is a matter for the future and that the ruling class will not allow any significant reforms. In this phase also Yugoslav Marxism achieved a critical self-consciousness about the possibilities and limitations of selfgovernment at the local level in the presence of bureaucratic con¬ ditions in central government and society. (3) Opposition to the Vietnam war, ('ig6§-68). The massive and unprecedentedly brutal American aggression against the people of Vietnam galvanises the student-based left-oriented movement in a number of countries. In 1966 students and police clash in the streets from Berkeley to Belgrade. In the U.S.A. the development of revolutionary black militancy is of decisive importance. In the ghettoes of Watts, Newark, Detroit, and the whole series of other cities there are black riots which are brutally repressed by the police (including the murder of Malcolm X). In this period the New Left moves from its liberal to the radical phase. The phenomenon of imperialism comes to the fore. This is not to say that this was not a favourite theme of the Old Left. How¬ ever, the Old Left saw this phenomenon only in the capitalist world and was thus exposed to the reproach that it is partisan and in the pay of Moscow. Its main defence against this reproach was verbal political agitation. The New Left does not shrink from including some of the actions of and conditions in the socialist world in its concept of imperialism; thus it gains the moral right to express the full measure of its revolt against American imperialism. Secondly, it is not satisfied with mere verbal agitation, but attempts to take the initiative. It develops a broad spectrum of new, non-violent methods of struggle : from non-co-operation to the burning of draft cards. (4) The present phase in the development of the New Left stems from the students’ and workers’ revolution in France 1968, from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the repression of all student 178

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movements in the socialist states. Two things became clear. In the first place, many theoreticians of the New Left, even Marcuse,1 gave up the working class as a revolutionary factor far too early. Mills was more careful. He demanded that the metaphysics of labour characteristic of Victorian Marxism should be abandoned. The working class should no longer be seen as ‘The Necessary Lever’ as it is by ‘nice old Labour gentlemen’, but he adds ‘The social and historical conditions under which industrial workers tend to become a-class-for-themselves and a decisive political force, must be fully and precisely elaborated. There have been, there are, there will be such conditions.’2 This is a decidedly acceptable point of view. But Mills limits this conception too much when he adds further: ‘generally it would seem that only at certain (earlier) stages of industrialisation, and in a political context of autocracy, etc., do wage-workers

tend

to

become

a-class-for-themselves,

etc.’

The

French workers in May 1968 showed that they can become the subject of revolution under certain conditions even in an affluent, highly-developed state. Conversely, the events of 1968 in the socialist states show very clearly that ‘socialism with a human face’ is far more difficult to realise than had been imagined. They showed in the first place that the liberal socialist forces were far too indecisive, far too ready to compromise to be able to maintain a decisive effort and a full measure of revolutionary steadfastness. Secondly, it emerged that the bureaucracy was unwilling to tolerate any student movement not under its immediate control. Thirdly, it became clear that the international bureaucracy had already founded its ‘holy alliance’, which from now on would create laws and social orders by force wherever the danger of democratic socialism becomes apparent. Ill What remains to be said about the general characteristics of the New Left? It rejects bureaucratic socialism as well as capitalism. It opposes all exploitation : appropriation of profits by the bourgeoisie as well as appropriation of surplus production in the form of bureaucratic privilege. It rejects all authoritarian conditions—those of enterprises in which private owners and managers prevail as well as those of a

179

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state which remains entrenched as an instrument of alienated power. It rejects the relationships inside political parties which perpetuate hierarchical, elitist structures, as well as those in universities, whether controlled by businessmen, administrators or apparatchiks. The New Left demands a radical economic and political democratisation, actual equality and reciprocity between the constituent partners—in short, self-determination. In this it undoubtedly returns to the true tradition not only of Marx, but also of Proudhon and Bakunin. What is the character of such rejection? Often it consists of a mere antithesis and a demand for the destruction of the existing structure. Indeed, the New Left lacks a vision for the future, equally it lacks a programme, which could show the way ahead with historical conviction. As in modern art, where a plethora of anti¬ forms have been created, the language of the New Left abounds with negative concepts : anti-authoritarian, anti-social, anti-organi¬ sational, counterculture, anti-university. However, this rejection does penetrate much more deeply than that of the traditional Old Left into the basic value structure of modern bourgeois and bureaucratic society. The Old Left was not sufficiently conscious of the problems of the consumer society and of power. It never fully understood Marx’s thesis that abundance is a pre-condition of communism. For this idea of Marx means the following: only in conditions of abundance will men overcome their hunger after material things, and only then will the privateegoistical philosophy be abandoned—in its positive form of greed as well as in its negative form as envy. The traditional Left interpreted this thought differently: affluence is important in that the hunger after material things is satisfied on an ever high level. This bound¬ less, growing hunger was not questioned; it was considered as a human response, just as was the wish for its satisfaction on an ever higher level. The only essential restriction is the removal of ex¬ ploitation in this process and the distinction between private and personal property. As the Old Left failed to resolve theoretically Marx’s thesis of the conquest of private ownership as a way of life, in practice its life style remained within the bourgeois framework. Factors which should have remained means to an end : higher G.N.P., higher standards of living, a higher level of material satis¬ faction—became ends in themselves. The victorious avant garde provided immediate examples: today we have expensive cars, to180

THE

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AND

THE

CULTURAL

REVOLUTION

morrow you will; today our wives wear expensive furs, tomorrow yours will; today we have palatial houses, tomorrow you will. Criticism of greed was simply rejected as envy or a primitive mentality, bent upon reversing the course of history. It was the New Left which first proclaimed, and then showed by example : —that life means being, not having; —that human senses, which have shrunk under the conditions of capitalism to a single one—greed—will have to redevelop their full potential, or more simply : —that at a certain level material needs cease to be primary, and that creativity, love, knowledge, solidarity and joy gain decisive importance. This could be shown primarily by those who had overcome private ownership, not those who had never enjoyed it. Hence the New Left was born in the economically-developed world, where it also has its future. It is precisely in the privileged, rich classes that a Hegelian split of the single unit into opposites occurred : into the parents, still obsessed by greed, and the children who realised that the moment of the full development of all other senses had arrived. A similar development may be witnessed as regards the problem of political power. The traditional Left pushed the abolition of state and power into the distant future. It strongly opposed the anarch¬ istic thesis which called for the immediate dissolution of power into a federation of workers’ councils. In the assumption that revolution is above all the seizure of power, in introducing the concepts of transition period and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Old Left over-emphasised the importance of political power, without asking itself how a new estrangement of power can be avoided, or how the ‘common will’ of the proletariat can be constituted and realised within the framework of a state of the transitional period. What Rousseau, the pure theoretician, had already suspected—that the representatives of the nation can always betray its interests Lenin, the practitioner, never considered seriously; in his last writ¬ ings of 1922-3 he despaired of the rapidly increasing bureaucratisation. He only saw this in the growth of the number of officials, that is, only in a fragment of the reality and not in its essential ingredient: the uninhibited power of the party leadership. In the decades that followed, most communists remained totally unconscious of the 181

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

extreme degree of authoritarianism and inequality in their society and organisation. It needed a new generation, free of prejudice and mystification, to question not only bourgeois rule, but the concept of power itself: is any goal so high, so holy, that it justifies the power of one man over another? This question could not be asked by those who themselves aspired to power, who only dreamed of changing places with the tyrants. One often hears that the New Left consists of the spoiled children of the rich and powerful. So much the better ! They have achieved critical self-consciousness through a thorough observation of their parents’ position. They do not seek power, it has no value for them. It was in their grasp, had they followed the path their parents trod; they did not take it, thus they will know how to prevent others from doing so. IV Such considerations lead us to ask what might be the historical fate of a political movement which expects its support from outside the productive elements of society, outside all groups who create and reproduce the means of social activity. How can there be a revolutionary movement which does not rely upon the working class—who still produce ever greater surplus value which is appro¬ priated and used against their objective interests? A political movement can have a revolutionary character—even if the proletariat has only a small stake in it—as long as it pursues revolutionary goals. This is shown in the examples of China and Cuba. But in the highly developed industrial states no structural changes can be brought about without involving the mass of workers. The crucial question is that of the nature of and motives for such involvement. Underlying the question whether the workers can still participate actively in the revolution, one usually find the assump¬ tion that this involvement means the overthrow of the political power of the bourgeoisie. This conception is largely outmoded today. In May 1968 millions of French workers occupied their factories— the most direct form of revolutionary activity. The sequence of political, economic and cultural revolution cannot be regarded as fixed; any combination is possible under certain conditions. What are the basic model situations in which workers can create any of these three types of revolution ? 182

the

new

left

and

the

cultural revolution

The first is the situation of growing material need. This no longer exists, by and large, for the worker in the highly developed industrial state. It can only be reproduced by a catastrophic economic reces¬ sion—which is not impossible, but unlikely. The second type is the situation of growing exploitation. As technological advance increases productivity far more than it does wages,

such conditions

prevail

everywhere.

One might expect

workers to revolt not only against the fact of increasing exploitation, but also against the uses to which their surplus production is put (in the U.S.A., 75.5 billion dollars were spent on military purposes in 1967, against 42.5 billions for education, and only 18 billions for health purposes). Unfortunately experience shows that such motiva¬ tions seldom inspire workers to revolutionary activities. As long as capitalism manages to increase the workers’ standard of living, the phenomenon of exploitation remains an obscure abstraction. In this way

the

consumer

society

can

co-opt

the

workers,

at

least

temporarily. The third type is that of the relative decline of the economic and social status of the workers in contrast to that of other social groups. This was the situation in France in 1968. The sustained prosperity of the country had not benefited the working class; others reaped the profits. In these conditions potential revolutionary energy is gathered. But it requires two further conditions to galvanise this energy: one is a minimum of revolutionary tradition; which is certainly present in the French workers—whereas the American worker would react in trade union fashion. The second is the presence of a catalyst; i.e. of revolutionary groups which initiate a confrontation with the regime, bear the consequences of brutal re¬ pression and thus release the revolutionary energy of the workers. This role was played by the Paris students. A fourth type, which already emerges in the most industrialised Western countries, is the most significant from the point of view of the New Left. On the stage appears a new generation of workers, who do not know poverty and hunger, who regard the great de¬ pression of the thirties as something in the distant past, whose standard of living will rise slowly but surely, not only in absolute terms, but also relative to the lower sections of the middle cla.ss. Now, when all other motives of revolt disappear, a decisive motive begms to filter into their consciousness: life has been reduced to 183

THE

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MARX

work, to a still enormously high, totally lost number of working hours; relative to the rapidly rising productivity the work is ex¬ tremely senseless, exhausting, stultifying, humiliating, destructive of all the best human characteristics : the intellect, imagination, creativity. The worker is still the humblest of human beings, even when he drives a Chrysler and has colour television at home. It is not just a case of the expropriation of the surplus production, but rather of the fact that he is robbed of a potentially meaningful and creative life, of time for love, play, friendship, of time to learn and to engage in social activity. Why should the worker suffer all this only in order to receive a little more than he has already ? The sceptic will immediately point out that experience indicates that the worker prefers money to free¬ dom. But a simple comparison with past experience cannot explain why the hippies rejected their parents’ life-style so decisively. For the same reasons as the students who have decided to possess less and live more, young workers will soon begin to demand more free time and less money. This demand only becomes possible and realistic at the present stage of development. For within three years, 1964-7, the G.N.P. in the U.S.A., Sweden and Japan has rise by 26%, 39%, and 70% respectively.3 In the developed countries the average income rose by 46% between 1964 and 1969, from 1,730 to 2,515 dollars per head. In the light of this enormous growth of production a radical shorten¬ ing of working hours clearly becomes a possibility. The basic pre¬ conditions for the liberation of man—as conceived by Marx_are finally being realised. It is becoming possible to shorten the working hours, while simultaneously achieving the satisfaction of material needs at a high level. This fact indicates a strategy for undermining the foundations of the contemporary consumer society. It can only maintain its high rate of profit if the enormous psychological pressure exercised by the advertising industry (which spends some 16 billion dollars p.a. in the U.S.A.) succeeds in finding further artificial needs, and if it can realise these needs when the worker has the necessary spending power. Thus his wages will be increased, and in turn the last modicum of strength will be wrung from him. It is inessential that the majority of commodities will not in fact satisfy his real needs; what is essential is that this process guarantees high rates of profit 184

THE

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AND

THE

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avoids economic crises and, by excluding the worker from the political sphere, succeeds in integrating him into the status quo. Hence the struggle for a radical shortening of working hours is the most subversive strategy conceivable, and goes hand in hand with the demand for workers’ participation in decision-making. It pre¬ supposes the subjugation of the consumer mentality, equally, it assumes a new culture, a new way of life. The New Left puts an incomparably greater emphasis on the necessity for a new, more radical culture than did the Old Left. The thesis that there can be no revolutionary movement without a new revolutionary culture is articulated most clearly and convinc¬ ingly by Gramsci. The majority of Marxists never recognised this fact. As culture was only understood by them in the vulgar sense as a social superstructure, it is not surprising that the three phases of revolution were given in the order: political, economic, cultural. Then culture was reduced to mean the political seizure of power, and cultural revolution to simple educational and ideological activ¬ ity within the framework of the peaceful construction of the new society. After a temporary, post-revolutionary period of shortages and puritanism, the bourgeois life-style was soon

reproduced :

characteristics are a growing privatisation of the individual, inner dichotomies, hunger after material things, objectification of human relationships. Mao focused the attention of the world on the problem of the cultural revolution. He realised that China would lose its oppor¬ tunity to build a socialist society, if it failed to shake off the ballast of the ancient feudal culture and to erect barriers against the culture of the Western consumer society, which began to infiltrate the first Chinese socialist state. Nevertheless the so-called Chinese cultural revolution can hardly be considered to measure up to the standards laid down by Gramsci. Firstly, it was a means of ending a struggle between two factions; secondly, it did not represent a truly dia¬ lectical negation of the old culture, did not attempt to raise the life-style and modes of thought to the level of human universality, but replaced critical self-consciousness by a cult of the will. Because of its general backwardness China was unable to overcome feudal and bourgeois culture dialectically, but could only attempt to re¬ move it by force. It did not have the strength to expose ltself to influences from the rest of the world, to judge and absorb all that 185

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

reflected the greatest creative qualities in universally human culture. To quote Gramsci, it was unable to ‘raise it to the point reached by the most advanced human thought.’4 The human consciousness developing under Chinese conditions could not become self-con¬ sciousness, it constituted itself as a form of manipulation and re¬ mained trapped in the covers of a single little red book. The Chinese cultural revolution may have been necessary and useful to China, and contains valuable lessons for other underdeveloped states, but it is no ideal model for the progressive industrial states. What is known in the West as ‘cultural revolution’ is of more interest for the socialist transformation of industrialised, urbanised states. It consists of a negation of official ideology, culture, science, art, education systems, and of the creation of numerous small human communities which have discarded traditional bourgeois values and attempt to organise a life on a new basis. This ‘cultural revolution’ is an incomparably wider and stronger movement than the New Left. Most of the young people who rejected the ‘American way of life’ and attempt to live in a radically different fashion—without competition, power, violence, without being hampered by material possessions—have no political aims and act in a political fashion only highly sporadically and in response to very concrete situations (such as the Vietnam war and concrete acts of repression). They are basically fleeing from official society and culture, and find refuge in their communes, mass gatherings such as pop festivals, love-ins and communal drug-taking. The New Left however, is a political movement. It does not seek to flee from the official society, but to abolish it, to change it from the inside. The participants in the cultural revolution are anarchists in the most primary, essential sense of the term. Their slogan is ‘Do your own thing’, i.e. ‘do as you please’. They oppose any form of organisation, and structured way of life : not only that of the political party or of the state, but also of the family, school, profession etc. The New Left is influenced to at least equal degree by anarchism as by Marxist theory. This however, is an articulated anarchism, which does not exclude all forms of organisation; only authoritarian forms and rigid structuralisation, which demand the individual’s commitment to the common cause. In spite of such clear conceptual differences it is valuable to investigate the cultural revolution with reference to the New Left

186

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CULTURAL REVOLUTION

In the first place, both movements are intertwined in practice. Many members of the New Left live like hippies—not only because of the superficial features, such as long hair, beards, unconventional dress and pot, but in their estrangement from the official society, their renunciation of careers and potential affluence. They remove all bridges to their class background and thus avoid the danger of being bought or co-opted by society. Conversely, former drop-outs, hippies and other malcontents form the permanent political reserve army of the New Left. This army is not entirely reliable; it fluctuates in various and unexpected ways, it is not militant, but is always willing to struggle for many important goals; resistance to imperialist brutalities, to repression, to the accelerating destruction of the environment by the politically and economically powerful elite, and to fight for the rights of subjugated and oppressed minority groups. The second reason why it is important, from the point of view of the New Left, to pay close attention to the cultural revolution—in spite of its many weaknesses—lies simply in the fact that this is a movement which actively rejects the contemporary world with its technological structure, its profit-oriented production, its bureau¬ cratic elite, and its model of the loyal citizen, worker and landowner, on a much wider scale than any other political grouping or organisation is able to do. What kind of rejection is meant here? A direct application of Hegelian language to this concrete situation would probably lead one to conclude that this is a typical antithesis, and by no means constitutes a synthesis at present. Naturally, reality is not as simple : all concrete situations, when seen from the point of view of pure thought, are full of impurities and contain ingredients which belong to totally different concepts. In some aspects, to be discussed later, the cultural revolution is already the creation of a new, universally human, communist culture. But for the time being it is still domin¬ ated by spontaneous, unthinking revolt, the aspect of destruction and antithesis. One can observe this even in its language, where the prefix ‘anti’ is dominant; and in many concrete actions ‘vandalism’, acted out on motor cars, elitist cultural institutions and works of art, the theft of books at privileged universities, public displays such as urination and the use of vulgar sexual expressions. However, this drastically antithetic and destructive action is reflected more funda187

THE

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MARX

mentally in the sphere of theoretical rationality, in the instinctive psychology and sensibility. In his recent, extraordinarily popular book, The Making of a Counterculture,5 Theodore Roszak sees technology as the basic evil in contemporary society. He confuses technology and technocracy throughout, and even in the sub-title he states that the counter¬ culture is a form of opposition to technocracy. He agrees with Jaques Ellul, that ‘it is essential for technology to take possession of man and technology must reduce man to a technological animal.’6 He refers to discipline in the production process as a technocratic phenomenon.7 He describes expertise (which exists in any developed human society) as technocracy.8 He claims that the success of the French May 1968 movement and the setting up of workers’ councils would not have prevented their technocratic integration, but that the crucial question is one of the simplification of life, of a slowing down in the rhythm of social development and a vital utilisation of leisure time.9 He reveals in these half-truths that he is incapable of distinguishing between the problems of technology and technocracy, i.e. between a potential means for the liberation through knowledge and a power structure based upon knowledge. In his attacks on objective, rational knowledge as such10 (not on the positivistic and functionalistic aspect thereof), in his unconditional acclaim for the renaissance of oriental religion and mythology,11 in his doubts whether anything could provide as radical an opposition to techno¬ cracy as the ‘mystical tendencies of the awareness created by drugs’,12 Roszak adopts such a negative posture vis-a-vis technology, that he in fact advocates a return to pre-industrial, agricultural, tribal society. The criticism of the system of education provides a second example of this one-sided rejection, which strives to abolish the existing forms and not just their internal boundaries. Paul Good¬ man13 and his disciples, in their struggle against the rigidity and bureaucratic nature of this system—which smothers all spontaneous articulation, self-determination and

self-consciousness—reject

all

structuralisation and systematisation of the educational and learning process, all potential intellectual competition and all methods of assessment. The criticism of the cultural elite is another very good example of this kind. It has several points of contact with the ‘proletarian cult’ 188

THE

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LEFT AND

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REVOLUTION

movement in Russia immediately following the Revolution, and with Mao’s thesis of the elitist character of all inherited culture. It is true, that classical culture was created by privileged elites who retain their monopoly of it. But any true culture also contains a general, universally human aspect, which belongs to all humanity and deserves to be incorporated into the integral human culture of com¬ munist society. Louis Kampf, whose ‘Notes toward a radical cul¬ ture’14 is the only article on culture in the recent collection on the New Left, edited by Priscilla Long, fails to grasp this. According to him ‘Culture which is owned and administered by the chosen, the rest watching their mysteries with adoration, can be little else but an instrument of class oppression.’15 ‘The cult of the great artist is the cultural myth most natural to a competitive society . . . The exist¬ ence of great figures in the arts is a reflection of social disease . . . we must stop looking to experts to perform the tasks of culture for us.’16 ‘Whose property are the great masterpieces? What, in fact, do they teach? What interests do they serve?17 ‘The movement should have harassed Lincoln Centre from the beginning. Not a performance should go by without disruption. The fountains should be dried with calcium chloride, the statuary pissed on, the walls smeared with shit.’18 While the theory of the cultural revolution surprises one with its restrictiveness and exclusiveness, which often drags it down below the level even of that of the classical Marxist Left, the practical experiments with the newly created culture possess an astonishing width of scope and tolerance, giving it a strikingly eclectic character. Thus an impression of lack of orientation is created. Contempt for the values of the consumer society, choice of a life¬ style which achieves a modest level of material needs, utilisation of leisure time and a high level of satisfaction of spiritual needs goes hand in hand with the bohemian and with deliberate casualness; lack of ambition as regards career, social success, competition and power are not the expression of mental superiority, but rather an expression of passivity, laziness and failing creative powers; de¬ privatisation of the individual becomes a passive flight into the masses, as with pop and jazz festivals; the liberation from sexual repression also entails the destruction of the erotic sublimation and finally leads to a total sexual irresponsiblity of the man, which serves merely to accentuate the oppression of the woman and increases her

THE

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MARX

insecurity. On top of this one finds two forms of negation of techno¬ logical rationality which would have aroused the indignation of the Old Left and which the serious wing of the New Left also finds unacceptable : the strong tendency towards experiments with ab¬ normal states of consciousness through mystical cults and drugs. The first of these is already inherent in hippy poetry, in the work of Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and in the propaganda for Zen-Buddhism of Suzuki and Watson in the fifties. Subsequently Ginsberg introduced a Hinduist element, and nowadays practically all mystical cults, from Hari Krishna to theosophy, from satanism to astrology, have disciples on the campuses. It it difficult to imagine a more perfect example of a degraded, dehumanised realisation of the visionary imaginative potentiality of man. The situation as regards the transformation of consciousness through drugs is even more serious. No one has done more to propagate this form of anti-culture than Timothy Leary and Ken Keassey. The first linked communal drug-taking with uninhibited sexual freedom and with the religion whose arch-priest he is and which was institutionalised as the ‘League of spiritual revelation’. The second organised public ‘trips’ with accompanying ear-splitting jazz music, mysterious lighting and uninhibited behaviour. In this way they lured hundreds of thousands of young people towards drugs. Finally drugs have become the means of revolution19 and the means for the extension of consciousness. Thus Marx’s thesis of the liberation and development of man’s enormous sensual potential has been realised in the most absurd way conceivable; instead of be¬ coming human self-determination, it has turned into a completely mechanical determinism, instead of depending on our will, direction, choice and interpretation of observations have become dependent on external, inhuman, chemical factors. Hence, broadly speaking, the cultural revolution represents an alien and even pathological form of triumph over the existing alienation. The new culture and the new world cannot be based on a bohemian, parasitic life-style, on infantile irresponsibility, sexual promiscuity, on a rediscovery of the myths of primitive and back¬ ward social structures, on other-worldliness and drugging of the senses. This is an antithesis of the seriously ailing world. Sometimes it is unclear which is the sickest society : that of the official ‘establish¬ ment’ or that of the opposing culture. 190

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But to end one’s comments there is to utter half-truths. If the best, most elite part of the young generation had not reacted in such a crazy, drastically irrational, anti-objective, anti-realistic, anti-techno¬ logical way, it is by no means clear what would have halted techno¬ logy on its journey into the post-industrial, super-bureaucratic society foreshadowed in so many literary works. The ‘flower children’ are demolishing from the inside, and removing from the grip of the ruling elite, one of the most indispensable institutions of contem¬ porary society: the university.20 If one surveys the progress of this destruction over the last ten years, one perceives its continual widening, and it is by no means clear what will stop it in the near future. Nor is it possible to predict the outcome if this process begins inevitably to involve young workers, who, as a result of growing automation, will no longer be at their meaningless occupations for the period of time now required for production. Furthermore one must mention several significant truly new and progressive characteristics of the ‘anti-culture’. Above all there is solidarity, not the concept as it exists in humanist writings, but solidarity as a real relationship between people who live together and share their possessions. There is also a renewed strong feeling for equal human rights, the concept of resistance to all forms of authority, paternalism, all attempts at domination and manipulation. Schools, factories and political organisation cannot remain unchanged. There is the demand for unfettered self-expression, which has become a tremendous need. Instead of passively absorbing know¬ ledge, a purely contemplative relation to art and the immediate environment, the individual strives to make his mark on his environ¬ ment, to beautify it with objects of his own creation. The essential contribution to the humanisation of life lies un¬ doubtedly in the general slowing of the rhythm of life, relative casualness, and the re-introduction of the principle of joy as opposed to that of realism. Finally one is impressed by the spirit of true universalism, the openness to the cultural values of all nations, all people, all ages. There emerges a generation without chauvinism or racism. Even if the movement has brought nothing else, it has brought us a great deal.

THE

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V The talk among the American Left of the imminent revolution certainly sounds very naive. It is naive : American imperialism has a vast arsenal of available destructive weaponry. Even fifty years ago the Bolsheviks knew, and Trotsky articulated, that a revolution has no chance of success as long as the military might of the regime is unchallenged. Yet the revolution has already begun in a certain sense. It has begun in the one sphere where it must begin in the modern, highly developed world—human consciousness. Here we must recall the thesis preclaimed on the 29th May and 13-14 June 1968 : ‘The bourgeois revolution was a juridical one, the proletarian revolution was an economic one. Ours will be a social and cultural one, so that man may become what he is.’ The New Left does not as yet have a definite positive programme. But it knows what it does not want: it does not want a notoriously criminal world which spends three times as much on the production of present and future dead, that is on military projects, as on health.21 It does not want a world with inhuman relationships between people, nations and races. It rejects a world in which the individual does not have the right to determine his own life, a world in which production is geared, not to human needs, but to profit and bureaucratic privilege. The New Left does not as yet possess its own strategy. But it has already freed itself from certain fatal weaknesses of the strategy of the traditional Left. The first such misconception is that the revo¬ lution must begin with seizure of political power. There are now enough reasons for the assumption that strategy must vary according to the conditions, and that in the situation of a stable regime which bases its power on a ‘moody populace’ the cultural revolution must come first. It must represent a radical change in human conscious¬ ness, in priorities and life-style. The second traditional error is that one can either effect a dis¬ continuous change in the global system or must await a revolution¬ ary moment when such a change becomes possible. A third possibility now appears : a series of continuous changes in all social microcells can, in their totality, produce a discontinuous change in the global system. There is a historical precedent: the English revolution of 192

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REVOLUTION

1688 did not end in a complete success. But inside the feudal society we already find the beginnings of the new bourgeois society—the free cities. Today this role is played by universities and tomorrow factories could become such autonomous self-determining cells, which could father the new democratic socialist society. The third strategic error is the restriction of the methods of struggle to political agitation on the one hand and sporadic local actions such as armed revolt and guerrilla warfare on the other. There are situations where the tactic of revolutionary violence is either inapplicable or unnecessary, since more could be achieved by the numerous non-violent methods (non-co-operation with the ruling elite, general strikes, occupation of factories and institutions, con¬ frontations which force the power apparatus to reveal its true nature). The New Left lacks, among other things, leadership and strong organisation. Perhaps this is its fatal weakness. Or perhaps precisely this is its chance.

NOTES 1. 2. 3.

4.

See his work The One-dimensional Man. C. Wright Mills, ‘Letter to the New Left’, New Left Review 5, p. 25. According to Unesco and O.E.C.D. the absolute figures in billions of dollars are: U.S.A., 1964—628, 1967—793; Sweden, 1964—17, 1967—-27, Japan, 1964—68, 1967—115. Gramsci, The Modern Prince and other writings, London, Lawrence

5.

and Wishart, 1954, P- 59' Theodore Roszak, ‘The Making of a Counterculture’, Anchor Books,

6.

New York 1969. Jacques Ellul, The

7. 8.

9. 10.

Technological Society,

N.Y.

1964,

quoted

in

Roszak, remark, p. 6. Roszak, ibid., p. 14. Ibid., p. 19. Ibid., p. 68. Ibid. Ch. 7, p, 205ff. See also the criticism of Marcuse with respect to his opposition to any concept of transcendence, pp. 118-123.

11.

Ibid. Ch. 4.

13'.

Paul’Goodman, Drawing the Line, N.Y. Random House 1962; The Empire City, N.Y. Macmillan 1961. Louis Kampf, ‘Notes toward a radical culture’, New Left, ed. Priscilla Long, Boston, Extending Horizons Books, 1969.

14. 15. 16. 17.

Ibid., p. 431. Ibid., p. 432. Ibid., p. 422.

193

THE

18. 19.

20. 21.

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

Ibid., p. 426. In a television interview in 1967 Leary said: ‘The U.S.A. will become an L.S.D. country within 15 years. The Supreme Court will smoke marihuana. It is inevitable, for it is now done by the students at our best universities. Interest in war and politics will decline.’ Remember that 10 million students study at universities in the leading Western countries—four times as many as in 1950. In 1970 the world spent 210 billion dollars on defence, 65 billion on health.

*94

XI

Contradictions in States with Socialist Constitutions

i the

very expression ‘states with socialist constitutions’ suggests that

here we are dealing with social forms that resist easy classification. These societies underwent

a profound

political

and

economic

change, as a result of either a socialist revolution or an external military intervention by the countries in which socialist revolution had taken place earlier. The essential features of this change are : the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and the introduction of a state-controlled economic system, the abolition of the political power of the bourgeoisie and the replacement of multi-party parliamentary pluralism, in which wealth played a considerable role, by a oneparty system in which political status is the unique source of power. The constitutions in these societies are socialist; they express longrange objectives of a socialist revolution : elimination of exploitation and all class inequalities, remuneration according to work, the decisive role of the workers in social decision-making and a consider¬ able extension of human rights, which, in addition to civil liberties, comprise also the right to employment, social security, free educa¬ tion, participation in management, and so on. However, in all these societies there is a wide gap between the socialist principles of their constitutions and their social reality, which still preserves various kinds of inequality and various forms of domination and oppression characteristic of class societies. This gap is the consequence of the fact that the socialist revolution was never completed in any of these countries. Socialist revolution in the Marxian sense is a radical transformation of the relations of pro-

195

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

duction; it involves the abolition of all those social structures that allow one particular social group to dispose of objectified labour and to appropriate a considerable part of the surplus value. According to Marx, seizure of political power is only the beginning, only ‘an episode’ in the process of transcending all existing social conditions. What, furthermore, explains the cleavage between ideology and reality is the fact that the political phase of the socialist revolution started in backward societies which missed the liberating effects of the Enlightenment and the bourgeois democratic revolutions. They never went beyond certain typically feudal institutions and patterns of social behaviour, involving entrenched privilege, discrimination before the law, the subordination of both the legislature and the judiciary to executive power, the public treatment of political leaders as absolute monarchs and the reduction of the citizen to a loyal, obedient subject, ready to follow any twist and turn of those official policies dictated from above. Under those conditions it did not take long for the vanguards of the revolutionary movements to emerge as new ruling elites. Initial inequalities in status gave rise to inequalities in the distribution of power. Once hierarchical and authoritarian political structures were developed they inevitably led to the restoration of some typical class distinctions. It is true that the means of production were nationalised, but they never really became social property : they remain alienated from the producers and fully at the disposal of the new ruling elite. It is true that profit in the classical capitalist form of the appropriation of the surplus value has disappeared, but some more or less concealed forms of exploitation have survived and have gained ground considerably in recent years. That is why these societies cannot be described simply either as socialist or state-capitalist: they are curious mixtures of various elements, and even when they give the impression of considerable stability they hide, below the surface, many sharp, latent conflicts and contradictions. One of the very basic disadvantages of these societies is that they have not yet sufficiently developed democratic and non-violent strategies of conflict resolution. The reason for this is not only the lack of a democratic tradition from an early pro¬ gressive liberal bourgeois era which never took place in the territories in question; another part of the explanation could be offered by a study of the nature of their revolutionary movements during the time preceding their accession to power. Facing the tremendous 196



CONTRADICTIONS

IN

‘SOCIALIST’

STATES

power of their entrenched establishments, they had no chance of successfully overthrowing it unless they developed a monolithic unity, extreme discipline and a spirit of uncompromising militancy. Participants in such movements conditioned in this way over de¬ cades, continued to look out for class enemies even when there were hardly any around, and it is still easy to manipulate them into over¬ reacting to any dissent as if it were a hidden form of class hostility. In the absence of a more tolerant and flexible approach to necessary differences and clashes of interests, two other approaches remain at their disposal: occasional violent showdowns, invariably construed as the crushing of dangerous conspiracies, or suppression of conflict; preserving the facade of unity while desperately trying to mobilise all internal forces against dramatically overemphasised external dangers. The sharper internal contradictions are, the less certain the ruling elite is that it can successfully handle them, and the more belligerent it becomes tow'ard ‘class enemies’. This mechanism pro¬ vides at least one part of the explanation of both increased internal repression and the occasional surge of aggressiveness towards other countries. In spite of all the differences between the various societies of this type, all of them suffer from the following three basic contradictions. First, there is a lasting (although most of the time latent) conflict between the ruling bureaucracy and powerless working people. Secondly there is a constant war between various strata and factions within the bureaucracy. Thirdly, in spite of the great efforts of the central power fully to control national, regional and local leaders, these latter persistently try to increase their autonomy, their power over their own territory, which gives rise, on the one hand, to serious disintegrative, particularist tendencies, and, on the other hand, to occasional centralist counter-measures: anti-nationalist campaigns, purges or military interventions, which in the international arena clearly assume an imperialist character. The key concepts in this analysis are politics and bureaucracy. According to Weber politics is (i) that set of efforts undertaken in order to participate in ruling, or in order to influence the distribu¬ tion of power either between the states or among different groups within one state, (2) this activity is basically the activity of the state, and (3) the state is a relationship of domination of man over man,

197

THE

CONTEMPORARY

MARX

based on ‘the means of legitimate violence’. Politics in this sense, as compared with true praxis, was characterised by Marx as the sphere of alienation. Political activity would be and could become praxis under the following conditions : 1. Domination of man over man is replaced by the domination of man over things. Political praxis is essentially self-government, con¬ scious and rational co-ordination and direction of social processes without any professional rulers. 2. The criterion for the evaluation of various alternatives in this process is the satisfaction of true human needs, not the increase or preservation of power. 3. Therefore political praxis is of universal importance and con¬ cerns each human individual. 4. Political praxis is not isolated from or incompatible with other modes of creative activity; it contains moments of philosophical vision, of scientific knowledge and of beauty; it need not violate moral norms. 5. Such an activity, without subjugation, tutelage and fear is extremely attractive, and offers each individual a chance to partici¬ pate and develop an important dimension of his social being. Politics is a sphere of alienation when it becomes an activity monopolised by a particular group of professional rulers. Such politics transforms men into things, into passive and apathetic objects of manipulation, it serves the particular interests of one privileged social group, it takes place behind closed doors, it becomes pragmatic, irrational, amoral, and in order to attract its victims, it not only develops all kinds of meaningless rituals but also encourages the most primitive aggressive passions. While the concept of political praxis expresses an optimal histori¬ cal possibility for our epoch, the concept of professional politics clearly contains a negative moment, since it indicates the existence of an essential limitation that could and should be transcended. Seen in this light, bureaucracy is not only the group of clerks, experts and administrators; under certain conditions it embraces also charismatic leaders, the creators of politics, whose political position is not only contingent upon their capacities and expertise but also upon their merits in the past. In spite of all the differences between those two groups of professional politicians in a post-capitalist society, they both belong to a privileged elite which has an almost 198

CONTRADICTIONS IN ‘SOCIALIST’

STATES

absolute monopoly of political and economic power and, con¬ sequently, plays the role of a unique historical subject. Here belong not only influential officials of the Party and the State apparatus but also top managers, leading figures in the mass media and cultural institutions, and most certainly, military chiefs. The vast majority of them are appointed or ‘elected’ to their positions precisely because they have a high status in the Party, or, if they happen to reach high positions because they possess extraordinary expertise they will surely be quickly co-opted by the Party and will remain responsible and accountable to it. The interests of bureaucracy obviously clash with the basic aspira¬ tions of all other social strata : these are all ruled and more or less exploited. Peasants were the first to rebel; they still are to a considerable extent an alien force not only with respect to the bureaucracy but also to socialism as such. Partly this is the consequence of their class position : they are individual producers, small owners, naturally interested in the survival of the market economy and in increasing their possessions. For all that, they were invariably able to partici¬ pate actively in early phases of the socialist revolution while it was associated with agrarian reform, resistance to foreign domination, national liberation warfare and abolition of gross inequalities in the distribution of wealth. Their later opposition to the new revolution¬ ary establishment was the inevitable consequence of the fact that accelerated industrialisation, in the absence of available capital, was feasible only at the price of tremendously draining the resources of agriculture. The policy of compulsory delivery of agricultural goods at imposed prices and the series of expropriations, the heavy taxes and the compulsory creation of collective farms, alienated the peasant farmers and, especially in the U.S.S.R., where the pressure was strongest, led to dozens of armed rebellions which never had any chance. What dooms peasant resistance from the beginning is its lack of historical perspective. A society of small land owners, using primitive technology, belongs to the past (it has a future only in the case of a total collapse of present-day industrial civilisation). On the other hand, the state cannot industrialise agriculture overnight and has to find a modus vivendi with the peasant for many decades to come. The prevailing solution is not very satisfactory for either side : in exchange for conforming to the imposed pattern of the collective

T99

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

farm, where his rights are very limited, the peasant is allowed to have a small private plot and to continue to behave there as an individual producer. His social being is split, he lives in two worlds : the private one in which he is free but which keeps him tied up to his precapitalist past, the other, public one, which is presented to him as the form of new life but in which he feels impotent and alienated. Politically, peasants are outside the scene and are treated as second-rate citizens. To this they react with low productivity and passive resistance. Chinese communes and Yugoslav self-managing agro-industrial enterprises seem to be better solutions. The only way to avoid con¬ flict is the relaxation of state control and the creation of techno¬ logically well equipped, relatively independent enterprises and local communities in which the farmer becomes a worker, a collective producer with every right to participate in decision-making and management. At an early stage of post-revolutionary development the new state is fully supported by the worker. It commits itself to his liberation and it actually liberates him from capitalist domination. It speaks and rules in his name. It offers him considerable social security, better education and a higher standard of living. All these gains in his social position blur his perception of social reality and arrest his understanding of the true nature of bureaucracy long after his objective interests begin to clash with those of bureaucracy. The revolutionary vanguard promises the worker to set him free from exploitation and to let him dispose fully of the surplus value of his work. Soon he finds out that a tremendous amount of this surplus value goes to the state and that a good part of it goes into the pockets of his former leaders. Much more than their high salaries, enormous material privileges at their disposal become a new form of exploitation. The worker has also been told that after the revolution he will rule the country. Then he finds out that at best he has some say in his factory. At worst even there he is fully subordinated to the man¬ ager. The only field open to his initiative is production in its quantitative aspects. Otherwise, he is expected merely to conform to the directives of the Party, to obey the orders of the state and to provide his muscles for the realisation of various five-year plans imposed from above. 200

'

CONTRADICTIONS IN ‘SOCIALIST*

STATES

Then he has also been promised the highest type of democracy that ever existed in history—socialist democracy. However, in the name of socialism bureaucracy has robbed him of some of his traditional rights : to organise, to move freely, to have his own press, to meet and express critical opinions in public, to struggle for the improvement of his working and living conditions, to demonstrate and to strike. Most of these rights are recognised in the constitution, but abolished in reality. The gap between the potential and actual status of the worker is really enormous. If he were fully conscious of all the possibilities of the new historical situation after the abolition of the capitalist class, his open conflict with bureaucracy, which blocks the realisation of these possibilities, would be inevitable and would assume the form of a class war. With considerable success bureaucracy uses a whole series of devices in order to prevent the development and maturing of this consciousness. It uses all kinds of traditional revolutionary symbols in order to suggest full continuity between the initial revolutionary vanguard and itself. It develops an ideology that justifies social in¬ equalities, and lays strong emphasis on law, order, material growth and

efficiency—typical values

of

all

contemporary status

quo

ideologies. It tries to reduce ad absurdum all the workers’ demands for organisation and participation, by repeating such cynical asser¬ tions as that workers already have their organisation (the Party), and that they already participate in the management (indirectly through their leadership), while furthermore they do not need the right to demonstrate and strike—which right could only be used ‘against themselves’. Any practical attempts to organise and express publicly critical views are prosecuted as politically criminal. Any comparisons with other societies are hindered by banning free travel abroad. Finally, one of the most important devices is the invention of ever new enemies. Like the Christian devil, this ever-present, constantly lurk¬ ing and continually conspiring enemy unites, mobilises, brings back erring souls to the fold, restores order, upholds the establishment. When the condition of workers deteriorates beyond certain limits all these protective, fog-raising devices no longer help. Then erupt the well known, bloody episodes of workers’ rebellion, from Berlin (1953) to Poznan and Budapest (1956), to Gdansk (1971). Bureau¬ cracy’s readiness to crush such rebellions with the greatest cruelty 201

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

accompanies, none the less, a willingness to follow on by improving the basic conditions of the workers. The fact that these conditions really are steadily ameliorated, and the fact that a considerable part of the bureaucracy really does have revolutionary origins, out of which it skilfully cultivates myths about itself, confuses most workers and obscures their real social position. More clarity could be brought about only by an adequate new revolutionary theory. That is why all those intellectuals who try to develop such a theory under new conditions immediately become the target of bureaucratic repression. This is not simply the conflict between politicians and intellectuals, between the pragmatism of the former and the idealism of the latter. The intelligentsia as a social group splits into at least three sub-groups:

apologists, ready to serve, to rationalise and

prettify whatever social order there is; experts who are in the posses¬ sion of pure, neutral knowledge and do not wish to commit them¬ selves; and critics who analyse the limitations of the given social forms and explore the possibilities for the creation of freer, more equitable and humane social structures. Bureaucracy cannot rule without the ideological and technical services of the apologists and the experts. On the other hand its rule would be seriously jeopardised by the free development of critical social thought and the subsequent raising of social consciousness among workers and youth, especially students. Such thought radic¬ ally challenges its authority and completely demystifies it. Profound crises of the system in 1956 and 1968 resulted from movements which were preceded by the critical ideas of philosophers, social scholars and writers. Bureaucracy is now determined not to take any further risks, and at the moment uses a whole arsenal of repressive measures—from the suppression of publications to firing and arrest¬ ing dangerous intellectuals. The seriousness of this most visible conflict becomes quite clear only when taken in the context of all other tensions and temporarily latent contradictions. II It is in the periods when bureaucracy’s external conflicts are in the background, dormant or well under control, that, its own internal 202

CONTRADICTIONS IN

‘SOCIALIST’

STATES

contradictions flare up. Most of the history of the societies that call themselves ‘socialist’ is made up of the internal struggles within their ruling elites. The term ‘bureaucracy’, like all general terms, covers a complex and heterogeneous group that becomes really monolithic only in the presence of a real and imminent danger, of a serious challenge to its common interest. A concrete analysis of this concept and the group to which it refers should take into account differences in roles, in status and in general orientation. The main roles that belong here are those of top state officials, Party leaders, managers of enterprises and banks, leading experts in the government, heads of the army and security services and leading figures in the mass media and cultural institutions. The status of all these roles is different. It is a characteristic of so-called socialist societies that the highest status, and therefore the most power, goes with the leading positions in the Party. In this system, the highest functionaries of the state, generals and top officials of the security organisations may hope only to be secondary figures. The status of the technostructure is still lower, outside the inner circle which takes the basic decisions.

The bureaucratic

stratum in the mass media, culture and education normally plays the role of transmission belt, ready to serve and to provide the necessary decorum, but in periods of acute struggle among factions their support may be of great importance. From the point of view of orientation there is a wide spectrum, between hard liners who insist on order, monolithic unity and centralistic management; and liberals who advocate more diversity and local autonomy within certain well-defined limits. The struggle between hardliners and liberals is basically the struggle between sup¬ porters of two different political and economic models, both of which pass under the name of socialism. The paradigm of one is the system created by Stalin, with a rigidly planned economy, un¬ challenged domination of the Party organs over the whole of social life, total centralisation of decision-making, ruthless suppression of any intellectual dissent and extreme emphasis on extensive material growth. The liberal model, the objective of many attempts at reform since Stalin’s death, reaffirms to some extent the principles of the market economy and tends to reconcile planning with competition and a demand for profitability; it tends to relax the Party’s grip on H

203

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the economy and culture and to allow some room for decentralised decision-making; finally it seeks to replace tough administrative measures against undesirable tendencies with more sophisticated methods of isolation and political counter-offensives. The Yugoslav model, with its initial forms of self-management and far-reaching decentralisation, goes even further in this direction, although it also restores, in new conditions and forms, the same conflict between the faction of order and the liberal faction. The main battlefield of this struggle is the central organ of the Party, although factions are no longer formally permitted in any Communist Party. The very nature of their social roles makes some groups supporters of one or the other faction. Thus, as a rule, the army and security service heads uphold the faction of order, whereas the technostructure and top officials in the field of culture are more likely to support the liberal faction. However, what makes the com¬ plexity of the situation truly enormous is, first, the extremely great importance of personal links and loyalties, and secondly, the fact that in this kind of struggle principles and convictions play a much lesser role than considerations of usefulness and efficiency. The presence of a charismatic leader makes the whole situation even more complex. Himself unsure which solution is best, and perhaps vaguely feeling that in this way he might best strengthen his own power, he occasionally switches his support from one side to the other and quite unpredictably contributes to the victory of one or the other. Castro’s behaviour in the sixties is a good example of this. This kind of struggle may run riot for a long time behind closed doors deep under the surface of observable public life. Its outcome usually does not have important implications for further social progress. There is, nevertheless, one type of case in which internal con¬ tradictions within the bureaucracy may be resolved in a manner that opens the way to further development. One of the necessary conditions for such a progressive outcome is that within the liberal faction there is an important core of individuals who are really democratically-minded, in whom still lives the character of revolu¬ tionaries. This character may have been temporarily suppressed in an effort to adjust to new ways of life. But it might be ready to manifest itself again as soon as the conditions allow. Another im204

CONTRADICTIONS IN ‘SOCIALIST’

STATES

portant condition is the existence of a more or less spontaneous movement, or at least a mass demand for further progressive change. Under these two conditions further evolution of this type of society is possible. Good examples are the Chinese cultural revolution and the Dubcek era in Czechoslovakia after January 1968. There are other less favourable alternative outcomes. One is the freezing of the conflict due to the formation of a strong bureaucratic centre. This only perpetuates the stagnation of the system. Another unfavourable, retrogressive development is a change of character of the conflict: as when unresolved social conflict is re¬ placed by its surrogate—national conflict. Ill From the point of view of Marxist theory, national conflicts are inconceivable after a victorious proletarian revolution. In Marxist theory only capitalists are interested in exploiting other nations. Workers are solely interested in their liberation, and the way to liberation lies through abolition of every form of exploitation. Lenin proposed the following formula for workers of a multi-national country : ‘Workers of the dominating nation should fight for the right of all nations to full self-determination, including separation; workers of dominated nations should fight to stay together in the same multi-national community.’ In 1918 this rule was applied in practice : Lenin sent his younger collaborator Stalin to the first Congress of the Finnish Social-Democrat Party to declare there in the name of the Russian Committee of the People’s Commissars that the Finnish proletariat was free to decide whether to continue to live together with the Russian proletariat in the same state or to split. The Finnish social-democrats wished to stay together, but the Finnish bourgeoisie was of a different opinion and after a bloody civil war eventually separated. Lenin’s new government was neither willing nor able to interfere. When a similar situation repeated itself in Georgia, where the brothers Mdivani set up a separate menshevik government,

Stalin went there with

the army and physically

destroyed the separatists. Since that moment the socialist world has always been plagued with national conflicts. The roots of these conflicts are, surely, multiple. Historical tradi¬ tion, past grievances, inherited inequalities in the level of develop205

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

ment obviously play an important role. However, the factor that might especially interest us is the role of bureaucracy in the emergence

of nationalist

tendencies

and

movements

in

multi¬

national federative societies. Both bureaucracy in the centre of a federation and in a national unit are responsible for bringing about nationalist forces. The former because it usually insists on centralism, on unity, on a uniform, unarticulated approach to all national units, and on the right of the central power to interfere. The latter because it wants to be the master on its own national soil and for this purpose over-emphasises any differences with respect to other nations. At the same time that it condemns nationalism, a national bureaucracy tends to encourage it.

It is strongly motivated to

do so. First, this is the only way open to it to free itself from the tutelage of the central bureaucracy. Secondly, by demanding the redistribution of federal wealth, the national bureaucracy seeks to strengthen its material position. It is very characteristic that in its struggle against centres of alienated economic power such as huge federal funds for investment, the funds of the banks and big federal import-export enterprises, the national bureaucracy poses only the question of redistribution, not that of real socialisation of those funds. Thirdly, by mobilising national forces for explicitly national goals, the national bureaucracy tries to awaken apathetic workers and peasants politically, to sink real social problems into oblivion, and to make itself once more the leading force of a real mass movement. The customary strategy of building up a nationalist movement consists in developing on the one hand hatred for another nation as the main culprit, and on the other hand self-pity for one’s own nation as the main victim. Once bureaucracy gives the initial im¬ pulse, a whole army of loyal economists, statisticians, historians and newspapermen undertakes the task of digging out and stamping into people’s minds appropriate one-sided data and beliefs. A great intellectual effort is needed to undo the psychological damage done in this way. Central bureaucracy does not care for such subtleties. Its strategy for fighting nationalism (and indeed for fighting anything) consists in simply defining it as a conspiracy of 206

CONTRADICTIONS IN ‘SOCIALIST’

STATES

the class enemy, and in organising holy bureaucratic alliances against it in order to strike it down by force. *

*

*

*

Bureaucracy is not able to resolve all these conflicts. The basic contradictions of post-capitalist societies may only be transcended by transcending bureaucracy itself.

207

XII

Self-Management and Efficiency

the following two questions seem

to sum

up most controversies

about the idea and existing practical experience of self-management:

(1) What is self-management? (2) How is the principle of self-management to be reconciled with the principle of efficiency in a modern economy? That the former is a real problem follows from the fact that the term ‘self-management’ is being used in a very indiscriminate way covering a number of different social forms which in fact lack some necessary conditions for correct classification as self-management. Thus : WorkersJ control is by all means an important, progressive objec¬ tive in a class society. And yet it may only contribute to preventing undesirable decisions; it is still far from determining a positive policy in enterprises and local communities. Workers3 participation is also a progressive demand that has been gaining more and more ground in the international labour move¬ ment. And yet this is a broad, vague demand and in various forms could be accepted by the bourgeois ruling-class without really affecting the general social framework of a capitalist society. This is because: workers might be given rights to participate only in decision-making on some matters of secondary importance; they might be in the minority in a given body of management; they might be allowed only advisory or consultative functions and not the right to take decisions; finally, they might be denied access to in¬ formation and left in the position only to endorse decisions that have been prepared by others and presented without any real alternatives. Dictatorship of the proletariat, which in Marx’s theory referred to a transition period of increasing democratisation, is nowadays associated with the existence of a strong, centralised authoritarian state which is actually in the hands of a political bureaucracy, and 208

SELF-MANAGEMENT AND EFFICIENCY

which uses the phrases ‘the power of Soviets’ or ‘workers’ state’ in order to conceal and mystify the real oppressive nature of social relationships. However, the idea of self-management should also not be mixed up with the idea of a mere decentralisation : an atomised, disinte¬ grated society, lacking necessary co-ordination and conscious regu¬ lation would be at the mercy of blind, alienated social forces. Self¬ management is surely not the absence of any management and conscious direction within the society as a whole. Here we come to the second question mentioned above. The most customary objection to self-management (as some form of social system in which people themselves somehow take care of matters of common interest), is that such a system is incompatible with the demands of technological efficiency and rationality in a complex modem industrial society. The argument is : self-management is a noble humanitarian idea but it cannot be brought to life because workers and ordinary citizens are not educated enough to run a modern state and a modern economy. Professional experts are needed to do the job. Therefore self-management is either a utopia or must be reduced to a rather limited participation in decision¬ making. This kind of criticism surely overestimates the usefulness of the technostructure and expertise in decision-making on crucial social problems. But it points to a real problem which can be resolved only by developing a rather sophisticated model of self-management— which leads us back to our first problem. *

*

*

*

The idea of self-management rests on a more general philo¬ sophical principle—that of self-determination. Self-determination

is a process

in which

conscious practical

activity of human individuals becomes one of the necessary and sufficient conditions of individual and group life. This is a process contrary to external determination, i.e., a process in which necessary and sufficient conditions of the life of some human individuals are exclusively factors outside their control and independent of their consciousness and will. To be sure self-determination is always con¬ ditioned by a given social situation, by the level of technology, the 209

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

given structure of production, the nature of political institutions, the level of culture, the existing tradition and habits of human be¬ haviour. However, it is essential for determination : (i) that all these external objective conditions constitute only the framework of pos¬ sibilities of a certain course of events, whereas upon the subjective choice and conscious human activity will depend which of these possibilities will be realised; (2) that the subjective choice is autonom¬ ous, genuinely free and not heteronomous and compulsory. This means that the subject by his own activity creates a new condition of the process instead of merely repeating time and again an act to which he was compelled or for which he was programmed. This act need not be arbitrary and groundless; it should be an act of selfrealisation, of the actualisation of basic human capacities, of the satisfaction of genuine human needs. This active role in the course of events, this creation of new conditions instead of mechanical reproduction according to the laws of the system and inherited instincts, this extension of the framework of possibilities instead of permanently remaining within that frame¬ work, is a specific power of men, characteristic of every human individual, present at least in the form of a latent disposition. Under certain social conditions this power can be alienated. It will be concentrated in the hands of a privileged social group and becomes its monopoly. Alienation is a consequence of:

(1) the

division of labour, (2) the accumulation of the surplus-product, (3) the creation of institutions the function of which is to take care of common social interests, (4) increasing mediation between the in¬ dividual needs and the needs of the whole society. Political and economic alienation involves a process of social polarisation which at one extreme transforms a conscious, potentially creative subject into an object, into a reified, oppressed and exploited mass, whereas at the other extreme it transforms a normal, limited and fragile human subject into an authority, into a mystified entity that has supernatural power and control over human lives. Such a critical analysis leads to the question: under what social conditions would the life of individuals and communities be less and less reified, less and less contingent upon external authority, and more and more self-determined. There are four such basic con¬ ditions. The first such condition

is negative: 2tO

the co-ordination

and

SELF-MANAGEMENT AND EFFICIENCY

direction of social processes must no longer be in the hands of any institution that enjoys a monopoly of economic and political power (such as capital, the state with its coercive apparatus, and the party with its bureaucracy and hierarchy of power). People themselves must decide about all matters of common interest. And this is pos¬ sible only if the society is organised as a federation of councils com¬ posed

of non-professional,

non-alienated

representatives

of

the

people at all levels of social structure : in the enterprises and local communities, in the regions and whole branches of activity, and finally, for the society as a whole. The second condition of self-determination is reliable knowledge of the situation, of its scarcities and limitations, of the existing trends, of the conflicts to be resolved, of the alternative possibilities of further development. Freedom is incompatible with ignorance or with a biased perception of reality. The right to take decisions with¬ out previous access to information is a mere formality : self-deter¬ mination becomes a facade behind which a real manipulation by others, by political bureaucracy and technocracy, takes place. There¬ fore, a genuine self-determination presupposes the formation of critical study groups at all levels of social decision-making, from the local community and enterprise to the federation as a whole. The third condition of self-determination is the existence of a powerful, democratic public opinion. The genuine general will of the people can be formed only through open communication, free expression of critical opinions, and dialogue. It is clear, then, that any monopoly of the mass media (either by big business, the church, the state, or the Party) must be dismantled. Such a monopoly enables a ruling elite to manipulate the rest of the population, to create artificial needs, to impose its ideology and to rule by consent of a ‘silent majority’. Therefore mass media must be free and genuinely socialised. The fourth condition of self-determination is the discovery of the true self of the community, of the real general needs of the people. This condition is basic and most difficult to achieve. Therefore, most of what passes under the name of freedom in contemporary society is only an illusory freedom : mere opportunity of choice among two or more alternatives. But alternatives are often imposed, choice is arbitrary and even when it has been guided by a consistent criterion of evaluation, this criterion is hardly ever authentic, based on a 211

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

critical, enlightened examination of one’s real needs and one’s longrange interests. This condition clearly assumes a universal humanist point of view and practically implies creation of a new socialist culture and a humanist revolution of all education. Discovery of one’s self, of one’s specific individual powers and potential capacities, learning how to develop them and use them as a socialised human being that cares about the needs of other individuals—would have to become the primary task of a new humanist education. The preceding analysis clearly indicates that the transition from reification and external determination to freedom and self-deter¬ mination is a matter of a whole epoch. Existing forms of self-management, seen in this broad historical perspective, are surely of great revolutionary importance but they should be regarded as only the initial steps. With general material and cultural development many other steps would have to be made, many present limitations would have to be overcome. Thus, organs of the class state (in the sense of an instrument of class rule) would have to be replaced by the organs of self-management composed of the workers’ delegates who are democratically elected, replaceable, rotateable, and by no means corrupted by material privileges and the alluring career of a professional politician. Planning would have to be a synthesis of decentralised and democratic-centralist decision¬ making. The market economy, with its production for profit, would have to be gradually replaced by production for genuine human needs. With further technological advance, productivity of work will quickly increase, while, at the same time present-day hunger for consumer goods will be replaced by entirely different aspirations. Present-day overstressed concern about production and management will naturally tend to diminish. Self-determination in various other aspects of free and creative praxis will naturally gain in importance. *

*

*

*

There are two possible ways in which a humanist philosopher might challenge the very idea of efficiency. First, he might argue that beyond a certain high level of techno¬ logical, economic and cultural development efficiency will begin to lose its importance. After all, efficiency in its present-day meaning is ability to produce a desired result, to perform well a certain de212

SELF-MANAGEMENT AND EFFICIENCY

fined role in the social division of labour. In a highly developed future society automata will increasingly replace man in routine physical and intellectual operations. As ‘production of specified, desired results’ and ‘performance of well defined roles’ are typical routine activities, it would follow that man will let computers be efficient instead of him, and he will engage more and more in the production of unique, beautiful objects, and in playing new, surpris¬ ing, not-defined-in-advance roles. In other words he will engage in praxis and in praxis the question of efficiency either does not arise at all, or is of secondary importance. Second, it might be argued that the concept of efficiency is devoid of any humanist meaning. It is apparently value-free and ideologic¬ ally neutral. On closer scrutiny, however, it turns out to be ideologic¬ ally loaded, and encouraging certain harmful and dangerous atti¬ tudes towards nature and existing society. Maximum efficiency in conquering and controlling natural surroundings means a danger¬ ously growing rate of waste of scarce material resources and avail¬ able forms of energy. Maximum efficiency in running present-day social organisations and institutions means full-scale endorsement of their inhuman, degrading practices. For unjust systems efficiency really is their best chance of survival. Under given assumptions this critique is perfectly sound. In a highly-developed future society both material production and the maximisation of efficiency will become social goals of secondary importance. But they are still a primary concern of every presentday society. Man will liberate himself from too-well-defined and ordered roles in material production and will afford to relax about efficiency only when he masters it, when he catches hold of it to such an extent that he will be able to relegate it to machines. And even then there is a sense of the term ‘efficiency’ which will always be associated with achievement of goals of human activity, whatever these goals might be. Which leads us to the second argument. From the fact that ‘efficiency’ is a neutral concept it follows that it could be—and as a matter of fact it is—associated with all kinds of wasteful irrational and inhuman practices. But it also follows that its meaning would be entirely different with respect to progressive and rational human goals. After all, no theory and no programme of social change is possible without some neutral concepts. There is an element of 213

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

neutrality in most concepts, including self-management. There is no guarantee that self-management will always, in itself, make people happier, more rational, less alienated. It is only part of a complex project—not the absolute. *

*

*

*

With these qualifications in mind one has to take the problem of compatibility of self-management with efficiency quite seriously. While dozens of countries average one hundred dollars of national income per capita or even less, while there is still poverty of large segments of population even in Europe and Northern America, while human beings still spend the best part of their life in boring, technical work, further increases in efficiency are a necessary con¬ dition of human liberation and possible self-realisation. Human liberation is certainly inconceivable without the right of every individual to participate in social decision-making. But is it really the case that full, meaningful participation of each citizen destroys efficiency? This does not happen if the following three groups of conditions are satisfied : (i) The first group follows analytically from the very concept of integral self-management. Workers’ councils in the enterprises and the councils of local communities are not isolated atoms but elements of a whole network at different levels (from the territorial point of view : local-regional-national-federative; from the professional point of view : basic unit—the whole enterprise—the branch—the com¬ munity of all producers). Any individual has direct decision-making power in the basic units where he works and where he lives, and, in addition, he has an indirect decision-making power at higher levels through his delegates (freely elected, rotateable, always replaceable, responsible to him). Any unit has all necessary autonomy and responsibility for decision¬ making on matters of its specific concern. But there must also be a readiness to co-operate and harmonise interests with other units of the system. On the other hand, higher-level organs of self-manage¬ ment must have the maximum possible understanding of the parti¬ cular interests of each sub-system. They are vastly different from the organs of the state in so far as they are not instruments of any ruling 214

SELF-MANAGEMENT AND EFFICIENCY

elite, they don’t oppress, and tend to reduce interference to the minimum. But in matters of common interest, after a certain policy has been widely discussed and accepted, its decisions must be bind¬ ing. Otherwise, social life would lack a minimum of necessary organisation and co-ordination, and would tend to disintegrate. (2) Another

group

of

conditions

follows

from

the

general

characteristics of self-determination discussed above. Organs of self¬ management operate in a field characterised by the following features : mass media of communication are free, they contribute to the creation of a genuinely democratic public opinion; political parties in the classical sense are absent but there is a plurality of various other forms of non-authoritarian and non-manipulative political organisations, and there is an ongoing process of education and raising of socialist consciousness of all individuals. (3) The third group of conditions under which the principles of participatory democracy and efficiency would be reconciled derives from analysis of the basic stages of the process of decision-making and of different kinds of knowledge and competence needed. Each rational technical decision presupposes (a) a critical analysis of the situation (including scrutinising the effectiveness of policies adopted in the past), (b) a long-range programme of development, a set of basic goals of the organisation, with respect to which all concrete technical decisions would constitute the means. In other words, there are three distinct necessary functions in the process of rational decision-making : One is fact-finding, analytic, informative. Another one is governing, political. The third one is technical, managerial. Accordingly there are three distinct kinds of knowledge relative to these functions: factual knowledge, (know that)-, theoretical know¬ ledge of the basic needs of people in a certain situation {know what is good and just to do); technical knowledge of the ways in which basic decisions can most effectively be realised {know how). Thus, in addition to the organ of self-management composed of wise, experi¬ enced persons who understand the basic needs at a given moment (who know what could and should be done), there must be, on the one hand, a group of analysts who critically study the implementa¬ tion of adopted programmes and the changes in external and in¬ ternal factors, and, on the other hand, the technical management, composed of people who ‘know how’, who elaborate concrete alter¬ native policy proposals, and who try to bring to life the decisions of 215

THE CONTEMPORARY MARX

the organ of self-management in the most efficient possible way. In this complex structure the technocratic tendencies are the main threat to self-management. (To be sure, while there is still a state and a ruling party, much greater danger comes from political bureaucracy. However we are discussing here a model of a highlydeveloped, integrated self-management in which the functions of the traditional state and authoritarian party have been taken over by the central organs of self-management.) A permanent source of technocratic tendencies is the fact that it is the managers who hold the executive power, who usually have better access to data and who, therefore, might try to manipulate the self-managing council. Excessive power of the managers, the executives, is dangerous because their understanding of social needs might be very limited and their scale of value very biased, giving priority to typically instrumental values of growth, expansion and order. Contrary to a common prejudice that modem society requires the rule of experts, the truth seems to be that experts are the least qualified candidates for good, wise, rational mlers, precisely because they are only experts, and their rationality is only technical. Self-management has at least three powerful possible devices to resist manipulation by the technostructure : (i) independent access to data, (2) the iron rule that the management always prepares its proposals for the organ of self-management in the form of alterna¬ tives among which to choose, (3) the right to elect, re-elect or replace the manager. The organ of self-management must have its own informative and analytic service, and not depend on the manager. Otherwise, it will be at the mercy of the half-truths produced by the management whenever it is interested in having its own particular point of view adopted. The organ of self-management must, time and again, assert its right of freely taking a decision after carefully examining other possible alternatives. Once it is reduced to an institution that merely votes on the proposals prepared by the management it clearly be¬ comes a victim of manipulation. In order to keep the balance and to be able to assert its rights, the organ of self-management must have the power of rotating the manager. There is no real danger that a ‘primitive’, ‘ignorant’ workers’ council will fire a good, efficient manager. The experience qi6

SELF-MANAGEMENT AND EFFICIENCY

of Yugoslav self-management is that if the workers’ council ever fires a manager this is either because he is utterly incompetent or because he is too authoritarian (or both). But the real danger is rather that the workers use this right too rarely or too late, after considerable damage has already been done, and the enterprise operates with heavy losses. This reluctance to react promptly indicates that what jeopardises the efficiency of production in socialism is rather too little than too much workers’ participation. A developed self-management has the historical opportunity to overcome both wasteful and irrational models of contemporary efficiency:

one imposed by capital and the market, the other

dictated by the authoritarian political machine.

X

217

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