Refuting A Weak Attempt At Refutation -- Part Three

 

Preface

 

If you are using Internet Explorer 10 (or later), you might find some of the links I have used won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu); for IE11 select 'Compatibility View Settings' and then add this site (anti-dialectics.co.uk). I have as yet no idea how Microsoft's new browser, Edge, will handle these links.

 

For some reason I can't work out, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer play the videos I have posted to this page. Certainly not on my computer! However, as far as I can tell, they play alright in other Browsers.

 

Quick Links

 

Anyone using these links must remember that they will be skipping past supporting argument and evidence set out in earlier sections.

 

If your Firewall/Browser has a pop-up blocker, you will need to press the "Ctrl" key at the same time or these and the other links here won't work!

 

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(1) Background

 

(2) The Unity And Interpenetration Of Opposites

 

(a) 'Internal Contradictions'

 

(b) 'External Contradictions'

 

(c) Stop Press! MLT Defends Two 'Trotskyite Wreckers'!

 

(d) MLT Should've Gone To Specsavers

 

(e) MLT Fibs Some More

 

(3) Concluding Unscientific Postscript

 

(4) Conclusion

 

(5) Appendix -- 'Contradictions' In Every Atom?

 

(5) Notes

 

(6) Bibliography

 

Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism

 

Abbreviations Used At This Site

 

Return To The Main Index Page

 

Contact Me

 

Background

 

In 2015, I posted the following comment on a YouTube page which was devoted to introducing prospective viewers to a highly simplified version of DM:

 

Alas for this video, I have demolished this dogmatic theory (from a Marxist angle) at my site:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

Main objections outlined here:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm

 

I have posted many similar comments on other pages at YouTube that are devoted to this theory and received little or no response. But, the producer of this film (whose on-screen name used to be Marxist-Leninist-Theory [MLT], but which has now changed to The Finnish Bolshevik -- henceforth, TFB) did respond (and to which I replied, here and here).

 

Not long afterwards, another video appeared on YouTube -- which was also produced by TFB, but posted to his other YouTube page -- entitled: "Refuting a Trotskyite Attack on Dialectics". I have replied to this largely incoherent video, here, here, and here.

 

 

Video One: The 'Case' For The Prosecution

 

I have now published Parts One and Two of my response to this surprisingly inept (and somewhat garbled) video -- as the title suggests, this is Part Three.

 

[All my debates and responses to TFB have now been collected together, here. Readers will be relieved to know that this is the shortest (by far!) of all my responses to MLT.]

 

The Unity And Interpenetration Of Opposites

 

The last section of this video is almost totally devoted to a surprisingly ill-informed attempt to criticise my demolition of the DM-theory that all change is the result of the inter-relation between 'interpenetrated opposites' and the consequent 'internal contradictions' that emerge as a result. Once again, MLT has based his 'refutation' on a summary of some of my objections to this theory outlined in an Essay written for novices, somehow imagining that it represents my more considered views.

 

[DM = Dialectical Materialism/Materialist, depending on context.]

 

'Internal Contradictions'

 

MLT begins by quoting me:

 

"'Among other things, Mechanical Materialism holds that all things are set in motion by an external "push" of some sort. In contrast, dialecticians claim that because of their 'internal contradictions', objects and processes in nature and society are in fact "self-moving".' [Quoted from here -- RL. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Link added.]

 

"Now, this supposed Marxist critique..., -- er..., like they said in the beginning --, this supposed Marxist critique is actually just a kind of bourgeois slander and mechanical materialism. So, enter, of course, semantics and other nonsense. So, here Lenin is quoted very selectively, and..., er..., his words are distorted. The language used..., er..., would require some explanation which our Trotskyite doesn't do, doesn't give, and..., er..., tries to fool the reader into thinking that Lenin means something he doesn't.

 

"By 'self-moving' we're not thinking about..., er..., things that happen, that just move without reasons..., er..., infinitely. Although you wouldn't really learn that from our Trotskyite because, because (sic) they wouldn't just let you...that's like they're trying to...they're trying to confuse and fool you.

 

"So, either our Trotskyite has absolutely no grasp on what dialectical materialism says, or is deliberately distorting it. And, I think it's both." [Approx 31:08-32:28.]

 

[As we will soon see, it is MLT who seems not to know his own theory.]

 

But, the show (trial) continues:

 

"Er..., in reality internal contradictions and unity of opposites etc., being the key in dialectical process (sic) doesn't mean that there are no external forces. I repeat: does not mean there are no external forces. Like, how could anyone even come to such a conclusion since it would contradict Marxism? Er..., remember earlier when our Trotskyite was saying that Engels was wrong when he said that only by adding..., er..., by adding or removing energy changes occur. So, it's really our Trotskyite here who believes that things move and change without causes, if they think that stuff (sic) just changes without energy being removed or added." [Approx 32:30-33:09.]

 

1) MLT seems to think that if I try to expose (successfully or not) the flaws in DM I somehow accept the opposite view (or some alternative theory), when I have made it perfectly clear that I think all philosophical theories (including DM) are incoherent non-sense.

 

[What was that again about deliberate distortion?]

 

2) I have nowhere denied that theorists like Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Mao, or even Stalin, believed in 'external forces'; the point at issue is (a) whether such 'forces' can be made consistent with other DM-theses, and (b) whether Stalinists and Maoists were justified in calling some or all of these factors 'external contradictions'.

 

As we will also see, MLT's woeful ignorance of his own theory (and, in particular, his patent ignorance of Hegel and Lenin's work on this aspect of dialectics) has badly let him down.

 

3) I never asserted Engels was "wrong", merely that his ideas are far too vague and confused for anyone to be able to say whether or not they are right or "wrong"!

 

Back to the main feature:

 

"Er.., so 'self-motion' means that..., er..., that the development is...is (sic) determined by internal attributes of a given thing. That's as simple as I can make it. For example, no matter how much you heat a small stone it will never hatch into a chick. It will eventually break and melt, but it will not become a chicken, because it's not in its nature...it's..., er..., its essence. This is what it means: the internal contradictions..., er..., determine the change that will happen. That is, an egg becomes a chicken; a stone will crack..., er..., will crack or melt, but the process is..., er..., of course, it's also affected by external forces. It doesn't happen in a vacuum, either. Er..., like dialectics is the exact opposite of claiming that things exist in a vacuum.

 

"So, this is from..., er..., The Great Soviet Encyclopedia... (So, one would think that finding this information would not be that difficult..., cos..., I just made a quick Google search and this...is what I came up with), er..., so:

 

'In dialectical materialism, the idea of self-motion is based on the premise that internal causes are the source of self-motion. These internal causes are, first of all, the contradictions inherent in all objects with a systemic structure.... The influence of external conditions on a specific self-moving system is indirect, through internal sources.' [The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 'Self-Motion'. Quoted from here -- RL. Ellipses corrected.] [Approx: 33:10-34:33.]

 

However, on the very same page as the above quotation, MLT failed to notice this comment of Lenin's:

 

"Self-motion that exhibits direction and irreversible change is a special type of self-motion called self-development. Here the idea of self-motion merges with the dialectical conception of development. In this conception, 'the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of "self-movement"' (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 317)." [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

[We will soon discover just why MLT ignored this passage.]

 

1) I covered this topic extensively in my first reply to MLT's other page over at YouTube (and in even greater detail in Essay Eight Part One). Readers are directed there for more details; I do not propose to repeat that material here. [Even so, I will be returning to this topic again, briefly, below.]

 

2) MLT's aside (i.e., "One would think that finding this information would not be that difficult..., cos..., I just made a quick 'Google' search...") was clearly directed at me for supposedly failing to do the required research. However, we will once again have occasion to 'admire' for ourselves the depth and breadth of MLT's detailed 'research', this time into Trotskyism in general, at the end of this reply.

 

Independently of this, if readers follow the links posted in 1) above -- and, indeed, read the rest of this reply -- they will soon see that I have done far more than a quick "Google search" in my endeavour to find out what DM-theorists actually believe, as opposed to what they can legitimately prove.

 

Right back at you, MLT: one would have thought that you would have tried a little harder to come to grips with your own theory!

 

Back to the 'refutation':

 

"So, the external..., er..., conditions affect the thing through its internal sources as...you know.... (sic) So, a thing has a specific nature which determines how the external conditions affect it, indirectly through its own internal contradictions.

 

"So, this is how..., erm..., Mao explains it in his work..., er..., On Contradiction.... (And, again, like this Trotskyite has put so much time and effort into this, it's difficult for me to believe that they really have never heard about this; I think they are just..., just acting out [this word is unclear -- RL]..., just..., erm..., being wilfully ignorant, here):

 

'As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development. [Interjection by MLT: "Now what this means is..., if there is perfect balance then of course nothing..., you know..., it can't change."] Contradictoriness within a thing is the fundamental cause of its development, while its interrelations and interactions with other things are secondary causes. [Interjection by MLT: "Do you hear that: 'secondary causes'? So..."] Thus materialist dialectics effectively combats the theory of external causes, or of an external motive force, advanced by metaphysical mechanical materialism and vulgar evolutionism.'" [Quoted from here; this is in fact Mao (1937b), p.313 -- RL.]

 

"Erm..., so, I think I've made my...made my case here pretty clearly. So, the changes that ee (sic) happen are determined by internal contradictions, and they can be considered the primary reason for them. Ah..., but the external conditions and external..., erm..., motive forces affect the thing..., I (sic)..., indirectly through its internal contradictions." [Approx 34:33-36:41.]

 

1) Once again, MLT's sloppy general approach to this topic means he failed to notice that I had already quoted this passage of Mao's, and had dealt with the above points in Essay Eight Part One.

 

In which case, MLT's accusatory finger should be rotated through a full 180 degrees.

 

2) Independently of this, MLT nowhere tells us how Mao could possibly know that there is an 'internal contradiction' in "every single thing". Had Mao examined every single object and process in the entire universe, for all of time? [During quiet moments on the Long March, perhaps?] What, for example, are the 'internal contradictions' in a photon, an electron or a quark? Does an electron change into a proton (which they should do if the DM-classics are to be believed)?

 

Nor did MLT tell us why both he and Mao helped themselves to the word "contradiction", when the things they think are contradictions don't even look like contradictions. [On that, see the Appendix (link below).]

 

Well, we needn't labour this point; as I noted in my second response to this video, it isn't as if we don't already know where Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin and Mao 'discovered' this odd use of the word "contradiction". They found it, not by examining what science had to say, but by leafing through the work of a Christian and Hermetic Mystic -- i.e., Hegel's 'Logic'.

 

[When confronted with the above objections, DM-fans generally point to the 'internal contradictions' in every single atom (between, for example, protons and electrons), which, for them, mean that there are indeed such 'contradictions' right throughout the universe. I have dealt with this rather weak response in the Appendix.]

 

'External Contradictions'

MLT continues:

 

"Erm..., now actually here at the end it does have a little bit of a disclaimer that..., er..., when I first made this script I did not see this. So, here at the end it actually says that: 

 

'in order to avoid such absurd consequences, some dialecticians (mainly Stalinists and Maoists) have had to allow for the existence of "external contradictions" (or "impulses"...).' [Quoted from here -- RL.]

 

"Now, there is so much wrong with this..., ahh..., this short quote that I don't even know if I have time to go through all of it, but, like they're...they're (sic) literally saying that...first of all they're saying that Lenin completely denies external..., er..., forces." [Approx 36:41-37:16.] 

 

Readers will search long and hard through my work (at my site, or anywhere else on the Internet where I have argued with DM-fans), but they will fail to find anywhere where I assert, hint or even vaguely suggest that Lenin didn't believe in external forces. Moreover, what MLT concludes about my ideas in this regard certainly isn't justified by the above passage (from my Essay).

 

This is just another example where MLT prefers to make things up about my ideas.

 

Back to the movie:

 

"Now, I don't understand where that is coming from. Like Lenin talked about this self-motion thing like once or twice in his entire life. He like wrote once or twice about this and pretty much only in his Philosophical Notebooks, which were never meant to be published, anyway. So [undecipherable word], that's like wrote (sic) a hay (sic)...a Hegel quote and wrote some notes about it, and that's it. It's not like he extensively explained what he meant and then..., er..., said that he denied external forces." [Approx 37:17-37:42.]

 

It might be instructive to compare what MLT says about Lenin and "self-motion" with what the latter said about "antagonism":

 

"Antagonism and contradiction are not at all the same thing. In socialism, the first will disappear, but the latter will remain." [Lenin, quoted in Weston (2008), p.433.]

 

Lenin commented on this connection only once in his entire life, and even then only in a marginal note added by hand to his copy of a book by Bukharin! More importantly still, Lenin counterposes "antagonism" and "contradiction" here (and tells us they aren't the same!), but this hasn't stopped Marxist-Leninist [ML] theorists jumping all over the term "antagonistic contradiction" ever since -- on that, see Note 1.1

 

So, why MLT finds it problematic that "self-motion" is mentioned only a few times by Lenin is rather puzzling -- given the fact that MLTheorists have constructed an elaborate theory of "antagonistic" versus "non-antagonistic" 'contradictions' based on this one passage! Has he lodged a similar complaint about the use of these mis-begotten phrases by such theorists? Especially when they are absent from Hegel, Marx, Engels, Plekhanov -- and even from Lenin!

 

For ML-Theorists, apparently all Lenin has to do is use the words "antagonism" and "contradiction" once each in the same sentence (but never together in "antagonistic contradiction") and that is enough to justify their use of "antagonistic contradiction" when and where they find it expedient.

 

So, why does "self-motion" stick in MLT's throat?

 

Anyway, as Weston points out (in relation to the above note by Lenin):

 

"This note has often been treated as evidence that Lenin accepted or even invented the NAC concept [Non-Antagonistic Contradiction -- RL] (e.g., Mitin and Mao), but it surely does not show this. Like Marx, Lenin distinguished contradiction from antagonism, and this raises a philosophical question about the relation between the two. Lenin did not answer this question, however, and he did not claim that antagonism is a special kind of contradiction." [Weston (2008), p.433. Links added.]

 

In fact, Lenin goes much further; he says "Antagonism and contradiction are not at all the same thing"!

 

Be this as it may, let's have another look at what Lenin actually said about "self-motion" -- where we'll see he used this term many more times than he used "antagonistic" and "contradiction" in the same sentence:

 

"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).

 

"In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external -- God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of 'self-movement'.

 

"The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the 'self-movement' of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the 'leaps,' to the 'break in continuity,' to the 'transformation into the opposite,' to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.

 

"The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58. Italic emphases in the original. Bold emphases added.]

 

Here, Lenin tells us that the "identity of opposites" involves the recognition of the "contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature", and that this further implies the "self-movement" of "all processes on the world" -- not most processes, but all phenomena and processes in nature. This, it seems to me, leaves no room for these 'external forces', or "external contradictions", as Stalinists and Maoists have re-labelled (some or all of) them ever since. This doesn't imply, of course, that Lenin didn't believe in 'external forces' (nor am I suggesting this!), but it does mean that he interpreted them in a rather specific way in order to undercut theism and mechanical materialism, among other things -- as we will see.

 

But, Lenin goes even further, he contrasts the idea that there are 'external forces' with his 'dialectical' understanding of nature:

 

"In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external -- God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of 'self-movement'.

 

"The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the 'self-movement' of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the 'leaps,' to the 'break in continuity,' to the 'transformation into the opposite,' to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new." [Ibid.]

 

The first conception (as Lenin terms it) seems to leave the driving force of change "in the shade", or it is viewed as "external" to the action -- which view, when its implications are spelt out, implies that 'God' kick-started everything in an act of creation. Lenin pointedly contrasts this approach with the second conception where attention is focussed on "self-movement", which Lenin then claims is the only way to comprehend "the 'self-movement' of everything existing" -- notice, once again: Lenin isn't referring to most things, nor yet nearly everything, but every last thing in the entire universe for all of time (which I take it is the same as "everything existing").

 

There would be no contrast between these two conceptions if objects in nature and society weren't "self-moving", both developmentally and as they move. As we have seen, this is indeed how Lenin has since been interpreted by his epigones, holding to the view that things actually self-develop and self-locomote.

 

[Now, there were for Lenin good reasons for asserting this, which I covered in my first response to MLT (here and here) -- more about this later.]

 

MLT objects that Lenin only said this in an unpublished work, but he in fact made the same points in published writing. In a debate with Trotsky and Bukharin on the Trade Unions, Lenin not only repeated this idea, he argued that Dialectical Logic [DL] "demanded" and "required" that change should be seen in no other way:

 

"Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)…." [Lenin (1921), p.90. Bold emphases in the original. Italic emphasis added.]

 

So, not only are objects said to be capable of moving themselves, but Lenin added that DL "requires" us to view their motion precisely this way.

 

Finally, we have already seen Lenin quoted in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (which MLT conveniently ignored), as follows:

 

"Self-motion that exhibits direction and irreversible change is a special type of self-motion called self-development. Here the idea of self-motion merges with the dialectical conception of development. In this conception, 'the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of "self-movement"' (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 29, p.317)." [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

As Lenin also noted, in this he was merely echoing Hegel:

 

"But contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality; it is only in so far as something has a contradiction within it that it moves, has an urge and activity." [Hegel (1999), p.439, §956. Bold emphasis added.]

 

Unfortunately, MLT has allowed himself to become distracted by subsequent Stalinist and Maoist attempts to ignore what Lenin actually argued.

 

[Exactly how eggs, for example, manage to develop without the influence of 'external forces' (that is, according to Lenin's view of things) will be explained later.]

 

Now, I devoted the whole of Essay Eight Part One (nearly 43,000 words!) to trying to resolve this conundrum: how is it possible for objects and processes to be entirely 'self-moved' and for them (seemingly) to be influenced by 'external forces'? In fact, one sub-section of the aforementioned Essay was entitled "Unfair to Lenin?", where I go out of my way to try to absolve Lenin of making a serious blunder, here. Some of this material was reproduced in a modified form my first reply to MLT's other page on YouTube. I'm not going to reproduce it here; if readers what to find out what MLT missed, they should click on that link. [However, I have summarised parts of it, below.]

 

[Spoiler: we found that there is no way these two ideas can be made consistent with one another, or with other DM-theses.]

 

MLT ignored this material, so no wonder he "doesn't understand". Indeed, if he stubbornly refuses to learn, I have a good mind to leave him in that blessed condition.

 

MLT continues:

 

"Sec..., second of all Lenin used external forces all the time, and everybody did that. Like, look at..., er..., Engels. He says that..., you know..., if a grain of barley falls on suitable soil then..., you know..., if it gets moisture and heat there's gonna be..., er..., a change. Like, is that not taking into account external...external (sic) forces? I mean..., and what is really going on there? Is it the moisture and heat that's changing the barley? Well, mechanical materialists will say 'yeah', but, of course, that's not the case. It's more than anything else, it's the internal contradictions of the barley itself that make it change. You can have any amount of moisture and heat but it's not gonna do that without the internal contradictions of the barley itself.

 

"Then it uses the word 'external contradictions' (sic). I've never heard that before. Never. External contradiction. So, it's basically just...it's external forces but they call it 'external contradictions' so that it would sound more made up, basically. So, once again, dishonest word-play, here." [Approx: 37:43-38:41.]

 

1) True-to-form, MLT focuses on 'external forces' when the issue in fact revolves around 'external contradictions', the point being that what might look like 'external contradictions' are really 'internal contradictions' in disguise, or which have been mis-identified as the former, as opposed to the latter. As we are about to find out, that is because we are also told that 'appearances' do not coincide with, but contradict 'essence' -- as other DM-theorists argue, following Hegel. In this particular case, if they are right, 'appearances' would indeed be 'contradicted' by 'underlying essence' -- as ML-theorist, David DeGrood, insists:

 

"Whereas Kant stopped at contradiction, Kant being paralyzed by its omnipresence where thought was concerned, Hegel presses forward to the recognition of the profound truth of contradiction, and thus Hegel is not trapped with an incognizable essence and a perfectly cognizable appearance, as in Kant; since, for Hegel, reality can only present itself by means of contradictory oppositions, such as the opposition appearance/reality." [Quoted from here; bold emphasis alone added.]

 

George Novack also weighs in with his very own brazen example of dogmatic apriorism:

 

"What distinguishes essence or essential reality from mere appearance? A thing is truly real if it is necessary, if its appearance truly corresponds to its essence, and only so long as it proves itself to be necessary. Hegel, being the most consistent idealist, sought the source of this necessity in the movement of the universal mind, in the Absolute Idea. Materialists, on the other hand, locate the roots of necessity in the objective world, in the material conditions and conflicting forces which create, sustain and destroy all things. But, from the purely logical standpoint, both schools of philosophy agree in connecting reality with necessity.

 

"Something acquires reality because the necessary conditions for its production and reproduction are objectively present and operative. It becomes more or less real in accordance with the changes in the external and internal circumstances of its development. It remains truly real only so long and insofar as it is necessary under the given conditions. Then, as conditions change, it loses its necessity and its reality and dissolves into mere appearance.

 

"Let us consider a few illustrations of this process, this contradiction between essence and appearance, resulting from the different forms assumed by matter in its motion. In the production of the plant, seed, bud, flower and fruit are all equally necessary phases or forms of its existence. Taken separately, each by itself, they are all equally real, equally necessary, equally rational phases of the plant's development.

 

"Yet each in turn becomes supplanted by the other and thereby becomes no less unnecessary and non-real. Each phase of the plant's manifestation appears as a reality and then is transformed in the course of development into an unreality or an appearance. This movement, triadic in this particular case, from unreality into reality and then back again to unreality, constitutes the essence, the inner movement behind all appearance. Appearance cannot be understood without an understanding of this process. It is this that determines whether any appearance in nature, society or in the mind is rational or non-rational." [Novack (1971), pp.86-87. Bold emphasis added.]

 

As I noted elsewhere:

 

It isn't my immediate concern to criticise this paradigm example of (modern) mystical Natürphilosophie (however, it will be later), but merely to note (1) The fanciful way that the term "contradiction" is employed by Novack, and (2) Novack's idiosyncratic use of the word "appearance". Exactly why a seed turning into a plant makes the seed an "appearance" Novack failed to say; why any of this is a 'contradiction' he left no less mysterious. Indeed, it is worth asking how Novack knows that something is real only if its "appearance" coincides with its "essence" (always assuming that there are such things as 'essences' to begin with) --, that is, over and above merely accepting Hegel's diktat to that effect.

 

Be this as it may, the alleged 'contradiction' between 'appearance' and 'reality' forms an important part of the reason why Dialectical Marxists argue that revolutionary theory is vitally important; the party is supposed to be able to see beyond the superficial, 'surface appearance' of society -- beyond the limitations and banalities of 'commonsense', 'commodity fetishism', 'false consciousness', 'formal thinking', and 'metaphysics' -- identifying the 'underlying forces and processes' in capitalism, in order to oppose and overthrow it.

 

As we will also see, this 'contradiction' between 'essence' and 'appearance' also lies behind Hegel and Lenin's answer to Hume's attack on rationalist theories of causation.

 

[Nevertheless, exactly why the above 'dialectical' approach to knowledge actually sinks DM faster than anything I have ever written against it is explained here.]

 

2) MLT also asserts that Mechanical Materialists [MMs] somehow think that water and heat are what make barley germinate and grow, but he quotes not one single MM in support of this rather wild allegation.

 

As if MMs thinks that water and heat on their own (without barley actually being present to be heated and then germinate) will make barley grow out of thin air!

 

To quote that wise old dialectician: "Are you serious"?

 

3) Now, I have asserted several times that MLT seems not to know his own theory, and the above material provides us with yet more proof -- here repeated:

 

"Then it uses the word 'external contradictions' (sic). I've never heard that before. Never. External contradiction. So, it's basically just...it's external forces but they call it 'external contradictions' so that it would sound more made up, basically. So, once again, dishonest word-play, here."

 

This is unfortunate -- i.e., both the admission and the fact that MLT just doesn't know, are what is unfortunate! Nor does he seem to know why it is important to call these 'contradictions', and not just 'forces'.

 

Unbeknownst to MLT (so it seems he has once again failed to do his homework!) Stalinists and Maoists use this term all the time. Here are just a few examples, beginning with (oops!) Stalin and Mao (but not Hegel, Marx, Engels, Plekhanov, or Lenin, who knew nothing of this odd phrase, indeed, as I alleged):

 

"Our country exhibits two groups of contradictions. One group consists of the internal contradictions that exist between the proletariat and the peasantry.... The other group consists of the external contradictions that exist between our country, as the land of socialism, and all the other countries, as lands of capitalism....

 

"Anyone who confuses the first group of contradictions, which can be overcome entirely by the efforts of one country, with the second group of contradictions, the solution of which requires the efforts of the proletarians of several countries, commits a gross error against Leninism. He is either a muddle-head or an incorrigible opportunist." [Stalin (1976b), pp.210-11. Bold emphasis added.]

 

Stalin introduced this term (and, as far as I know, the above passage represents the very first use of this phrase -- anywhere) in order to justify the odd idea that socialism could be built in one country -- again, just as I alleged. [On this, see Note 2.]

 

[Of course, the idea that socialism could be built in one country has now been refuted by history.]

 

Here, too, is Mao:

 

"(5) In terms of relative political importance the development of the national contradiction between China and Japan has demoted the domestic contradictions between classes and between political groupings to a secondary and subordinate place. But they still exist and have by no means diminished or disappeared. The same is true of the contradictions between China and the imperialist powers other than Japan. Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people are faced with the following task -- to make the appropriate adjustments with regard to those internal and external contradictions which can and must be adjusted at present so as to fit in with the general task of unity against Japan...." [Mao (1937a), p.265. The numbers in the on-line copy of this passage have been replaced by letters in brackets in the printed version, so the above in fact comes under (e), on p.265. Bold added.]

 

Finally, here is an assortment of Stalinist authors:

 

"The following types of contradiction are usually distinguished: internal and external, essential and non-essential, basic and non-basic.

 

"The interaction of the opposite aspects inherent in one and the same phenomenon is called an internal contradiction, whereas that of the opposite aspects inherent in different phenomena is called an external contradiction...." [Sheptulin (1978), p.268. Bold added.]

 

"The character of contradiction depends on the specific nature of the opposed sides and also on the conditions in which their interaction takes place. Internal contradictions are interaction (sic) of opposite sides within a given system, for example, within a certain animal species (intraspecific struggle), within a given organism or society. External contradictions are the interaction of opposites related to different systems, for example, between society and nature, the organism and the environment, and so on. In the final analysis, the decisive contradictions in development are the internal ones." [Spirkin (1983), pp.147-48. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphasis added.]

 

"External contradictions can facilitate development or impede it, lend it different shades of forms, but usually are unable to shape the main course of a process or of development as a whole. The victory of socialism in the Soviet Union, for example, was ensured by correctly resolving the internal contradictions, above all the antagonism between the bourgeoisie, which has been overthrown but not yet fully abolished, and the proletariat. But the advance to socialism was also affected by the external contradictions between the Soviet state and the capitalist countries, which did everything in their power to restore the capitalist system in Russia...." [Afanasyev (1968), pp.99-100. Bold emphasis added.]

 

More of the same can be found in the following: Kharin (1981), pp.132-35, 192; Konstantinov et al (1974), pp.146-52, 588-89; Kuusinen (1961), pp.91-99; Krapivin (1985), pp.160-71; and Yurkovets (1984), pp.96-100.

 

Will I receive an apology for, or a retraction of, the above slur?

 

I'm not holding my breath...

 

MLT Defends Two 'Trotskyite Wreckers'

 

But, there is more:

 

"Then it says that..., er..., Wood (sic) and Grant..., er..., don't believe in external forces, then there's a very short quote from Woods and Grant which says that 'matter is self-moving and self-organising'. Now, that doesn't contradict external forces at all. Um..., but, of course, they would have you believe that because they don't tell you what ext..., what self-motion is they just expect you to believe something else and then they try to fool you. [This is where you, dear reader, can try to figure out who each occurrence of "they" refers to here -- me and/or Woods and Grant -- RL.]

 

"And, I haven't even read what this..., this..., er..., book by Woods and Grant is, so I'm not even gonna take any responsibility what for..., for (sic) what they say. But, I think it's very..., highly questionable to..., for this Trotskyite to draw such conclusions from this very short quote, which doesn't really say what they say...they claim it does." [Approx 38:42-39:25.]

 

1) Doesn't MLT know that Woods and Grant are prominent Trotskyists?

 

After all, he did post the following on the YouTube page that hosts this video:

 

"He [Woods] isn't necessarily wrong about dialectics though but as I said I haven't read his stuff...." [Quoted from here.]

 

This must be a first: an M-L-er defending two of us 'wreckers'!

 

2) It seems MLT just can't resist fibbing, since the passage I quoted from Woods and Grant isn't 'short' or unrepresentative (indeed, in my main Essays I quote several other Trotskyist Dialecticians to the same effect). Judge for yourselves:

 

Other Marxists say more-or-less the same. Here are Woods and Grant (and readers will no doubt notice that these two comrades are quite happy to impose this doctrine on nature, holding it valid for all of space and time):

 

"Dialectics explains that change and motion involve contradiction and can only take place through contradictions.... Dialectics is the logic of contradiction....

 

"So fundamental is this idea to dialectics that Marx and Engels considered motion to be the most basic characteristic of matter.... [Referring to a quote from Aristotle -- RL] [t]his is not the mechanical conception of motion as something imparted to an inert mass by an external 'force' but an entirely different notion of matter as self-moving....

 

"The essential point of dialectical thought is not that it is based on the idea of change and motion but that it views motion and change as phenomena based on contradiction.... Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of matter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the unity and interpenetration of opposites....

 

"The universal phenomena of the unity of opposites is, in reality, the motor-force of all motion and development in nature. It is the reason why it is not necessary to introduce the concept of external impulse to explain movement and change -- the fundamental weakness of all mechanistic theories. Movement, which itself involves a contradiction, is only possible as a result of the conflicting tendencies and inner tensions which lie at the heart of all forms of matter....

 

"...Matter is self-moving and self-organising." [Woods and Grant (1995/2007), pp.43-45, 47, 68, 72. Bold emphases alone added.]

 

But, if this were so, nothing in nature could have any effect on anything else. Hence, while you might think that it is your kick that moves a football, in fact -- according to the above -- the ball moves itself! [Quoted from here.]

 

Notice what Woods and Grant say: "This is the source of all motion, change, life and development", and "It is the reason why it is not necessary to introduce the concept of external impulse to explain movement and change...." [Italic emphases added.] This seems reasonably clear, if a little batty.

 

While it might not be possible to defend the above approach to change -- have I distorted what they had to say? Indeed, in general, Trotskyist Dialecticians tend to agree with Lenin that all change is internally-generated. Of course, by "internally-generated" they mean something quite specific, which I will try to explain in the next sub-section.

 

But, and once again, the above is just a popularisation of what Lenin and Hegel argued. As we will also see in the next section: what might appear to the non-dialectical eye to be an external 'push' is, in 'essence', an 'internal' cause! DL 'demands' it, as Lenin insisted!

 

Now, to the 'non-dialectician' all this might look hopelessly self-contradictory -- but, hey, that's dialectics for you!

 

MLT Should've Gone To Specsavers

 

MLT now slips back into 'blah, blah, blah' mode:

 

"Then there's a link which says 'More details can be found here... There are deep [garbled and undecipherable] bla, bla, blah...' I went there and looked and didn't find anything that would..., er..., have had to do with self-motion. Maybe it's there; I couldn't find it." [Approx 39:25-39:36.]

 

Now, there's a series of adverts currently being shown on UK TV -- and, I imagine in other countries, too -- promoting a firm of opticians called Specsavers, These adverts feature several unfortunate individuals committing a variety of egregious blunders because they weren't wearing the correct glasses/contact lenses --, or any at all! The punch line is always "Should've gone to Specsavers!"

 

Here is one example:

 

 

Video Two: Good Advice For DM-Fans?

 

Now, MLT says he followed the link I inserted in the Essay in question, and he "didn't find anything that would...have had to do with self-motion".

 

I think he should've gone to Specsavers...

 

In order to see why this is perhaps excellent advice, it might be a good idea to re-post the section of my Essay that MLT garbled and then 'bla, bla, blah'-ed:

 

There are deeper, philosophical reasons (derived from Hegel, and accepted by Lenin) why 'external contradictions' would totally scupper DM. I have outlined them here.

 

If readers care to follow the above link, they will be taken to a sub-section of an Essay which is entirely devoted to showing that 'self-motion' (through 'internal contradiction') is the only viable option for DM-supporters if they want to explain change and motion, and why Lenin accepted Hegel's arguments to that effect. This is why several entire sections of Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks were devoted to this end, and it also explains why he didn't have to say more than 'once or twice' why DL sees change and motion as entirely and exclusively 'internally-generated'.

 

I won't repeat this material here (I have in fact re-posted it in an edited form in the first of my replies to MLT's other YouTube page, here and here); I will merely summarise it:

 

Hume's criticism of metaphysical theories of causation had struck right at the heart of Rationalism (since Hume held that there is no necessary, logical connection between a cause and its effect). Kant cobbled-together a reply of sorts, but Hegel was far from happy with that response so he devised his own solution. He found it in (1) Spinoza's dictum -- which neither Spinoza nor Hegel even so much as attempted to justify -- that 'every determination is also a negation', and in (2) His argument that the LOI "stated negatively" implies the LOC (which, unfortunately, it doesn't!).

 

[LOI = Law of Identity; LOC = Law of Non-contradiction.]

 

Based on this, Hegel was 'able' to argue that for any concept, A, "determinate negation" implies it is also not-A, and then not-not-A. This then 'allowed' him to conclude that every concept has development built into it as A self-transforms into not-A, and then into not-not-A. This provided him with the logical and conceptual link he sought in causation. Hence, when A changes it doesn't just do so accidentally into "this or that"; what it changes into is not-A, which is logically connected with A and is thus a rational consequence of the overall development of reality. This led him to postulate that for every concept A, there must also be its paired "other" (as he called it), not-A, its 'internal' and hence its unique 'opposite'.

 

Hegel was forced to argue this way since, plainly, everything (else) in the universe is also not-A, which would mean that A could in fact change into anything whatsoever, if he hadn't introduced this limiting factor, this unique "other".

 

[The best M-L-account (indeed, the best Dialectical Marxist explanation, tout court) of this can be found in Lawler (1982). Those who can't get hold of a copy of Lawler's article, I have reproduced about 90% of it here and here -- and have then, alas, demolished it.]

 

Hence, Hegel introduced this unique "other" with which each object and process was conceptually linked -- a unique "other" that was 'internally' connected to A  --, something he claimed could be derived by 'determinate negation' from A. This special not-A was now the unique "other" of A. Without it, Hegel's reply to Hume falls completely flat.

 

[This in fact represents the Hegelian origin of the 'unity and interpenetration of opposites', which later re-surfaced in DM. The logical connection here explains both the unity and the interpenetrated aspects of these 'opposites'.]

 

However, each of these 'others' also forms part of a "mediated" whole, a developing and inter-connected 'Totality', wherein the nature and development of every single part is conditioned by its relation to other parts and to the whole. So, for Leninist Dialecticians, an egg is part of just such a system of developing bodies, and one part of that system is the heat that the parent hen supplies to that egg. Evolution has created a system of mother hens that incubate the eggs they lay; but, the entire system of nature is the ultimate cause of the development of an egg. So, heat isn't an external cause or force for Lenin, it is internal to the system of evolving nature, of which each hen is a "mediated" part.

 

Naturally, 'non-dialecticians' won't be able to appreciate this, since for them truth isn't the whole!

 

"The truth is the whole. The whole, however, is merely the essential nature reaching its completeness through the process of its own development." [Hegel (1977), p.11; Preface, paragraph 20.]

 

"'Fundamentally, we can know only the infinite.' In fact all real exhaustive knowledge consists solely in raising the individual thing in thought from individuality into particularity and from this into universality, in seeking and establishing the infinite in the finite, the eternal in the transitory…. All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, and essentially absolute…. The cognition of the infinite…can only take place in an infinite asymptotic progress." [Engels (1954), pp.233-35. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

"The identity of thinking and being, to use Hegelian language, everywhere coincides with your example of the circle and the polygon. Or the two of them, the concept of a thing and its reality, run side by side like two asymptotes, always approaching each other but never meeting. This difference between the two is the very difference which prevents the concept from being directly and immediately reality and reality from being immediately its own concept. Because a concept has the essential nature of the concept and does not therefore prima facie directly coincide with reality, from which it had to be abstracted in the first place, it is nevertheless more than a fiction, unless you declare that all the results of thought are fictions because reality corresponds to them only very circuitously, and even then approaching it only asymptotically…. In other words, the unity of concept and phenomenon manifests itself as an essentially infinite process, and that is what it is, in this case as in all others." [Engels to Schmidt (12/03/1895), in Marx and Engels (1975), pp.457-58, and Marx and Engels (2004), pp.463-64.]

 

As Lenin noted:

 

"The gist of his [i.e., Bukharin's -- RL] theoretical mistake in this case is substitution of eclecticism for the dialectical interplay of politics and economics (which we find in Marxism). His theoretical attitude is: 'on the one hand, and on the other', 'the one and the other'. That is eclecticism. Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete development but not a patchwork of bits and pieces....

 

"A tumbler is assuredly both a glass cylinder and a drinking vessel. But there are more than these two properties, qualities or facets to it; there are an infinite number of them, an infinite number of 'mediacies' and inter-relationships with the rest of the world. A tumbler is a heavy object which can be used as a missile; it can serve as a paper weight, a receptacle for a captive butterfly, or a valuable object with an artistic engraving or design, and this has nothing at all to do with whether or not it can be used for drinking, is made of glass, is cylindrical or not quite, and so on and so forth....

 

"Dialectical logic demands that we should go further. Firstly, if we are to have a true knowledge of an object we must look at and examine all its facets, its connections and 'mediacies'. That is something we cannot ever hope to achieve completely, but the rule of comprehensiveness is a safeguard against mistakes and rigidity. Secondly, dialectical logic requires that an object should be taken in development, in change, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it). This is not immediately obvious in respect of such an object as a tumbler, but it, too, is in flux, and this holds especially true for its purpose, use and connection with the surrounding world. Thirdly, a full 'definition' of an object must include the whole of human experience, both as a criterion of truth and a practical indicator of its connection with human wants...." [Lenin (1921), pp.90-93. Bold emphases alone added. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

"Flexibility, applied objectively, i.e., reflecting the all-sidedness of the material process and its unity, is dialectics, is the correct reflection of the eternal development of the world." [Lenin (1961), p.110. Bold emphasis added.]

 

"Thought proceeding from the concrete to the abstract -– provided it is correct (NB)… -- does not get away from the truth but comes closer to it. The abstraction of matter, the law of nature, the abstraction of value, etc., in short all scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely." [Ibid., p.171. Emphases in the original.]

 

"The totality of all sides of the phenomenon of reality and their (reciprocal) relations -– that is what truth is composed of. The relations (= transitions = contradictions) of notions = the main content of logic, by which these concepts (and their relations, transitions, contradictions) are shown as reflections of the objective world. The dialectic of things produces the dialectic of ideas, and not vice versa." [Ibid., p.196. Emphases in the original, except for the first, which was added.]

 

"Logical concepts are subjective so long as they remain 'abstract,' in their abstract form, but at the same time they express the Thing-in-themselves. Nature is both concrete and abstract, both phenomenon and essence, both moment and relation. Human concepts are subjective in their abstractness, separateness, but objective as a whole, in the process, in the sum-total, in the tendency, in the source." [Ibid., p.208. All emphases in the original.]

 

"Nowadays, the ideas of development…as formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of Hegel…[encompass a process] that seemingly repeats the stages already passed, but repeats them otherwise, on a higher basis ('negation of negation'), a development, so to speak, in spirals, not in a straight line; -- a development by leaps, catastrophes, revolutions; -- 'breaks in continuity'; the transformation of quantity into quality; -- the inner impulses to development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; -- the interdependence and the closest, indissoluble connection of all sides of every phenomenon…, a connection that provides a uniform, law-governed, universal process of motion -– such are some of the features of dialectics as a richer (than the ordinary) doctrine of development." [Lenin (1914), pp.12-13. Bold emphases alone added.]

 

This is why, for Hegel and Lenin, a concentration on 'surface appearances' (for instance, MLT's banal observations about that egg!) can't reveal the core principles of development -- that is, the 'essential' connections that exist in nature and society.

 

I'm not too sure Stalinist and Maoist Dialecticians understand this point; in general, us Trotskyists do -- even though I personally belong to a vanishingly small minority of Trotskyists who argue that this approach to motion and change nevertheless fails, for reasons I won't enter into here. [Naturally, this idea underpins the theory that socialism can't be created in one country! That might explain why ML-Theorists have such a bad case of selective blindness, here. On this, see Note 2.]

 

So, although Lenin recognises "the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society", he also says:

 

"the interdependence and the closest, indissoluble connection of all sides of every phenomenon…, a connection that provides a uniform, law-governed, universal process of motion -- such are some of the features of dialectics as a richer (than the ordinary) doctrine of development." [Ibid.]

 

So, what appear (to the 'non-dialectical' eye) to be 'external forces' are all internal to the developing system. That is why the universe needs no external push, the entire system is complete and sufficient to itself.

 

Which is also why he added:

 

"[D]ialectical logic requires that an object should be taken in development, in change, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it). This is not immediately obvious in respect of such an object as a tumbler, but it, too, is in flux, and this holds especially true for its purpose, use and connection with the surrounding world." [Loc cit. Bold added.]

 

This isn't apparent to those who fail to use, or who refuse to employ, DL.

 

Engels, Lenin, Mao, and Plekhanov (and a host of other Marxist dialecticians) bought into this spurious 'logic' (at different levels -- several of them clearly unaware of the above 'rationale'; indeed, as far as I can see, of the DM-classicists, only Lenin appears to be fully aware of it!), and attempted to provide it with a 'materialist make-over'. And, that is why this Hegelian theory (albeit "put back on its feet") is integral to classical DM; it supplied Engels and Lenin (and several others, too) with a materialist answer to Hume.

 

[Exactly why this 'logic' is spurious is explained here.]

 

Lenin's acknowledgement and endorsement of this principle ran as follows:

 

"'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing [tone], each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion....' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Lenin (1961), p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995), pp.278-98; this particular quotation is found on p.285. Bold emphasis added; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

"But the Other is essentially not the empty negative or Nothing which is commonly taken as the result of dialectics, it is the Other of the first, the negative of the immediate; it is thus determined as mediated, -- and altogether contains the determination of the first. The first is thus essentially contained and preserved in the Other. -- To hold fast the positive in its negative, and the content of the presupposition in the result, is the most important part of rational cognition; also only the simplest reflection is needed to furnish conviction of the absolute truth and necessity of this requirement, while with regard to the examples of proofs, the whole of Logic consists of these." [Lenin (1961), p.225, quoting Hegel (1999), pp.833-34, §1795. Emphases in the original. The full quote can be found here.]

 

Indeed, Lenin wrote in the margin (next to his excerpt of Hegel's argument):

 

"This is very important for understanding dialectics." [Lenin (1961), p.225.]

 

To which he added:

 

"Marxists criticised (at the beginning of the twentieth century) the Kantians and Humists [Humeans -- RL] more in the manner of Feuerbach (and Büchner) than of Hegel." [Ibid., p.179.]

 

This shows that Lenin understood this to be a reply to Hume, and that it was integral to comprehending dialectics.

 

Hence, any attempt (a) To eliminate the idea that change results from a 'struggle of opposites', or (b) Deny that objects and processes change into these 'opposites', or even (c) Reject the idea that these 'opposites' are internally-related as one "other" to another specific "other", will leave DM-theorists with no answer to Hume, and thus with no viable theory of change.

 

In which case, Hegel's theory (coupled with the part-whole dialectic) was at least a theory of causation, change, and of the supposed logical development of history. So, the Dialectical-classicists (in particular Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, and Mao) were absolutely right (as they saw things) to incorporate it into DM. It allowed them to argue that, among other things, history isn't accidental -- i.e., it isn't just 'one thing after another' -- it has a logic to it. Hence, Hegel's 'logical' theory enabled them to argue, for example, that capitalism must give way to the dictatorship of the proletariat, and to nothing else. Hume's criticisms -- or, rather, more recent reincarnations of them (which, when combined with contemporary versions of Adam Smith's economic theory (Smith was of course a friend collaborator of Hume's) in essence feature in much of modern economic theory and philosophy, and thus in contemporary criticisms of Marx's economics and politics) -- are a direct threat to this idea. If these bourgeois critics are right, we can't predict what the class struggle will produce. Or, rather, if Hume is right, the course of history is contingent, not necessary, not "rational" -- and there is no 'inner logic' to capitalism. Underlying all this is good old-fashioned Bourgeois Individualism, and, in its more recent incarnation, methodological individualism.

 

And that is why DM-theorists find they have to argue that everything is 'self-moving'. If A were in fact moved by B externally then that would re-introduce contingency into nature and society, undermining the logic of history. In which case, Lenin argued that DL "requires" each object to be taken in "self-motion"; DM-theorists must uncover the links that are (logically) internal to the system that is A (it must be a system if it possesses 'internal contradictions'), or in which A features, to see that A is moved by its own 'internal contradictions', or those of the system to which it belongs -- which are also logically linked to A.

 

Once again, while these 'outside' links might appear (to the untrained, non-dialectical eye) to be 'external', DL reveals the inner connection between, for example, A and B, meaning that causal links are really 'internal contradictions' in disguise.

 

Had he worn the right glasses, MLT could have seen this for himself.

 

As I said: MLT seems not to know his own theory.

 

So, Lenin didn't just speak about "self-motion" 'once or twice'; this idea and its background 'logic' were central to his interpretation of Hegel and thus of dialectics. Which is partly why he also said, famously:

 

"It is impossible completely to understand Marx's Capital, and especially its first chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel's Logic. Consequently, half a century later none of the Marxists understood Marx!!" [Lenin (1961), p.180. Bold emphases alone added.]

 

It was clear to Lenin that previous dialecticians had failed to appreciate this core Hegelian argument, and hence had failed to understand Marx:

 

"Marxists criticised (at the beginning of the twentieth century) the Kantians and Humists [Humeans -- RL] more in the manner of Feuerbach (and Büchner) than of Hegel." [Ibid., p.179.]

 

It seems we can now add MLT to this happy band.

 

MLT Fibs Some More

 

MLT now confesses his 'love':

 

"Ah..., so, I love this idea that 'Oh, external forces...they're just something that Stalin and Mao came up with.' Like, are you...are you kidding me? Are you serious? Like, everybody else used external forces before them as well. It's not like they just came up with it. What..., what nonsense.

 

"So, they're literally saying that..., um..., even though there's plenty of sources that contradict what the Trotskyite is saying..., ah..., simply because Lenin never talked about this a lot, we can just basically claim that Lenin said some, or meant some...something crazy, because he never real (sic)...really wrote about it in such great detail. So, you can just make sh*t up basically." [Approx 39:37-40:14.]

 

It's rather ironic that MLT seems to disapprove of those who make things up, when he has done precisely this, many times over right throughout this video, the above being just the latest example.

 

Nowhere do I say, allege or even hint that Stalin and/or Mao "came up with" 'external forces'. What we have in fact seen is that Stalin was the very first DM-theorist to use the term "external contradiction", which Mao then copied, as have generations of Stalinist and Maoist theorists ever since. [Trotskyists, by and large, tend not to use this phrase.]

 

I have a theory why Stalinists and Maoists tend to do this,2 but that doesn't affect the fact that they invented this term (which, as we have also just seen, completely undermines Lenin's theory of change). Hence, this isn't a question of 'semantics', but of defending Lenin, or --, as is the case with my work --, of showing that not even his more complex 'dialectical' theory works.

 

Concluding Unscientific Postscript

 

MLT now descends into full-on smear mode, confusing my attack on this discredited theory with what all Trotskyists are supposed to believe; but first, another by-now-familiar slander:

 

"But there's plenty of more (sic) semantics and distortion of Marxist literature to deal with, but I think I've done pretty much enough. Um..., clearly either this Trotskyite doesn't understand dialectics or simply prefers to lie about it. I think it's a combination of the two." [Approx 40:15-40:30.]

 

1) I am quite happy to admit that I don't understand dialectics, but, then, no one seems to understand this vague and confused theory, either: not Engels, not Plekhanov, not Lenin, not Stalin, not Mao -- and certainly not MLT -- or, if they do, they have kept that secret well hidden for over 140 years. Indeed, we have seen MLT struggle to make himself comprehensible.

 

As I noted in the Essay to which this video is supposed to be a 'refutation':

 

No good asking dialecticians. They will simply accuse you of not 'understanding' dialectics, and retreat into a semi-permanent dialectical sulk. [Quoted from here.]

 

I can only thank MLT for proving me right yet again!

 

2) As far as lying about such things is concerned, we can now see that MLT's accusations to that effect are all based on one or more of the following: (a) His woeful lack of knowledge of his own theory, (b) His own blatant lies about my work, and/or (c) His refusal to read the main Essays at my site, preferring to base his misfiring criticisms on an Essay designed for novices, treating it as a definitive expression of my ideas.

 

Not content with this, MLT continues (with yet another lie):

 

"Erm..., why they would attack Marxism like this, calling pretty much all the great Marxist theoreticians -- Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao (garbled and incomprehensible remark) -- fools." [Approx 40:31-40:38.]

 

Of course, MLT doesn't quote me to this effect, and it's not hard to see why: I nowhere assert, say, or even hint this, and nothing I have said remotely implies it, either. In fact, I have given a Historical Materialist explanation why the above revolutionaries adopted this ruling-class theory (except I exclude Marx himself from this, for reasons I have explained here and here). This isn't a personal, but a class issue.

 

Once again, we see that MLT prefers to tell lies rather than check his facts.

 

And, the blatant lies continue:

 

"According to the..., um..., the site, this..., er..., person started out as an anti-communist who was very hostile to dialectics and Marxism right off the bat, right from the start. But, then, as time went on they moved further to the left until they became a Trotskyite:

 

'...right from the start I was put off Marxism by the philosophical and logical confusion I encountered when reading books and articles on DM.... My antipathy toward the tradition from which DM had emerged was significantly intensified by the training I received in Analytic Philosophy from a group of first-rate Philosophers and Logicians at the above University (most of whom were prominent Wittgensteinians and/or Fregeans). This ensured that I would never take Hegel or DM seriously. ' [Quoted from here; ellipses and links restored -- RL.] [Approx 40:38-41:28.]

 

Here in fact is the full passage that MLT only partially quoted (and readers should try to find in there anything that even suggests I was hostile to Communism or Marxism "right off the bat"):

 

This work began life in July 1998 as an unpublished review of John Rees's book The Algebra of Revolution (henceforth, TAR), which then developed into a full-blown project aimed at completely undermining the influence of Dialectical Materialism [DM] -- and dialectics (in the post-Hegelian sense of that word) -- on Marxism.

 

However, a brief outline of the relevant parts of the author's biography might help readers appreciate the motivation, length and tone of the Essays posted at this site.

 

I studied for a BA Honours in Philosophy at The University of XXXX in the late-1970s, then for a PhD in the early 1980s, and later for a Mathematics degree. After I became involved in revolutionary politics in the early 1980s I decided to write at some point a thorough-going refutation of DM, having come to appreciate the pernicious influence this doctrine has had on revolutionary socialism over the last 140+ years. The publication of John Rees's book in 1998 provided me with the final impetus I needed.

 

My political views had swung sharply to the left much earlier; this occurred as a result of the very minor part I played in the UK Postal Workers' strike of 1971 -- I had at that time been a postal worker since 1969. This put me in direct sympathy with the left of the Labour Party (as it then was). Several years later, at The University of XXXX, I was introduced to Marxist Humanism by one of my tutors -- a truly remarkable man who possessed the rare gift of being able to explain Marxism in simple, everyday language, expressing Historical Materialism [HM] in eminently comprehensible and ordinary terms, free of the usual Hegelian jargon and Hermetic obscurities.

 

However, right from the start I was put off Marxism by the philosophical and logical confusion I encountered when reading books and articles on DM -- a theory I thought unworthy of acceptance by anyone with genuine materialist sympathies -- and in works expounding Hegelianised Marxism.

 

My antipathy toward the tradition from which DM had emerged was significantly intensified by the training I received in Analytic Philosophy from a group of first-rate Philosophers and Logicians at the above University (most of whom were prominent Wittgensteinians and/or Fregeans). This ensured that I would never take Hegel or DM seriously.

 

And I haven't since!

 

The election of Margaret Thatcher and the increasingly bitter class struggle this heralded in the UK in the early 1980s drove my opinions further to the left. However, while studying for my PhD on Wittgenstein, I happened to read Gerry Cohen's book, Karl Marx's Theory of History. From then on my opinion of Marxist Philosophy changed dramatically, for even though I couldn't fully agree with Cohen's account of HM, or his politics, I now saw that there was no need to accept the mystical doctrines found in Hegel and DM if I wanted to be a revolutionary.

 

Hence, a year or so after the defeat of the National Union of Miners in 1985, I joined the UK-SWP, since they seemed to me to be the most sincerely revolutionary and least sectarian group in the UK. In addition, and to their credit, they didn't appear to be lost in the sort of dialectical mist that had engulfed other supposedly revolutionary groups. [Gerry Healy's now defunct WRP comes to mind here.] [Quoted from here.]

 

[I hasten to add that I left the UK-SWP in the early 1990s.]

 

Can anyone see in there any expression of hostility toward Communism or Marxism? Sure, I was hostile toward dialectics (in fact, I was more dismissive than hostile "off the bat"; my hostility toward this theory didn't really kick in until the early 1990s, and that is what partly lay behind my decision to leave the UK-SWP), but never toward Communism or Marxism ("off the bat"). Certainly, my mistaken belief that Marxism required the acceptance of this regressive theory helped put me off Marxism, but it never made me hostile toward it. In fact, I had come to respect it as a result of my studies with the individual I mentioned above -- who, incidentally, was a long-standing member of the UK Communist Party, and one of the translators that the Russian Communist Party employed in the early 1950s to translate some of Marx's work into English. I could hardly be hostile to communism when I owed my growing appreciation of Marx's writings to this communist!

 

Following a brief dalliance with Stalinist and Maoist ideas (lasting a couple of years in the early 1980s), I later became hostile toward both of these ML-currents after I began to study and appreciate Trotsky's work. But, this was never "off the bat".

 

Yet again, we see that MLT prefers to be the Enid Blyton of dialectics rather than an honest commentator on either me or my ideas. In this he follows in a long and disreputable tradition/line of other DM-fans who have 'debated' this theory with me over the years, as I explained in the same Essay.

 

[On that, see Note 3.]3

 

MLT now works himself up into a right old lather:

 

"So, meh.... I guess Trots (sic) are just so brilliant that they can see right through all that nonsense that idiots like Marx and Engels wrote. So, to be honest, I've heard plenty of similar stories from other people I know personally who have had the misfortune of dealing with these academic Marx (sic)..., 'Marxists' who think they know everything better than anyone else, and all that old Marxist dogma should be got rid of in fun (sic)... in favour of their brilliant new theories.

 

"So..., um..., I'm guessing this is even more..., er..., rampant among Trotskyist parties since there (sic) are knowingly revisionist to begin with..., er..., lot of the times, at least, especially nowadays. I mean they don't even accept..., erm..., most of what Trotsky said anymore at this point." [Approx 41:29-42:13.]   

 

1) Let's be crystal clear about this, so there is absolutely no confusion: I speak for every single Trotskyist on the planet, now and forever -- ranging from the most orthodox of the orthodox (such as the IMT, the ICFI, or even the good old UK-WRP), to the many neo-Trotskyist parties there are on the planet (such as the IS and IST tendencies), right through to openly post-Trotskyist sects (such as the UK-AWL)) --, to such an extent that what I have to say supersedes anything and everything Trotsky himself wrote, said, thought, or taught. This means that anything I say can be read as an authoritative statement of what they all -- every last single one of them -- fervently believe.

 

Yeah, sure it is -- but, only for those from Planet MLT!

 

In fact, I have yet to hear of, or encounter, a single Trotskyist party, sect, or tendency that would agree with me over DM! They are all fervent dialecticians, and in general give me a much harder time than even MLT here has given me for attacking this theory. Add to that the fact that the vast majority of them seem to have a firmer grasp of this theory than MLT has revealed in his lamentable video.

 

2) I am not an academic (so this is another fib, courtesy of MLT), but a worker; until recently I was a Trade Union rep (unpaid).

 

3) Where in my Essays have I said anything even remotely like this: "I can see through 'all that nonsense that idiots like Marx and Engels wrote'."? Nowhere, that's where. But, we have become used to MLT's fondness for fabulation.

 

4) I don't have a "brilliant new" theory to offer anyone. If MLT had read a little further (in the Opening Essay at my site) he would have come across the following:

 

From time to time readers will find themselves asking the following question of the author: "Well, what's your theory then?" No alternative philosophical theory will be advanced here (or anywhere else for that matter). This tactic hasn't been adopted out of cussedness -- or even out of diffidence --, but because it is an important part of the Wittgensteinian method (adopted at this site) not to advance philosophical theories. Wittgenstein's approach in fact means that no philosophical theory makes any sense.

 

[Why that is so will be considered at length in Essay Twelve Part One. A brief summary of this idea has now been posted here. Objections to the use of Wittgenstein's ideas have been neutralised here.]

 

...Those unfamiliar with Analytic Philosophy might find the overall style of these Essays somewhat daunting, if not entirely deflationary; this is so in the sense that these Essays not only seek to deflate the overblown pretentions of Traditional Philosophy, and DM, they do likewise with the common assumptions on which both are based, showing that one and all are founded on little more than hot air.

 

Nevertheless, the analytic method is to be preferred since (in many cases) it produces clear results. Anyone who takes exception to this way of doing Philosophy (or who is happy to leave their head in the sand) can simply log off this site now. I have no wish to wake you up.

 

 

Figure One: Dialectical Alertness, 101?

 

Indeed, the only scientific theory I accept (in this regard) is Historical Materialism -- provided every last trace of that ruling-class, philosophical theory [DM] has been fully excised.

 

5) But, what mountain of evidence does MLT offer his viewers in substantiation of his allegation that these faults and foibles are:

 

"even more..., er..., rampant among Trotskyist parties since there (sic) are knowingly revisionist to begin with..., er..., lot of the times, at least, especially nowadays. I mean they don't even accept..., erm..., most of what Trotsky said anymore at this point."

 

Or, even that there are:

 

"these academic Marx (sic)..., 'Marxists' who think they know everything better than anyone else"?

 

Prepare to be amazed, dear reader, at the depth, breadth, and exemplary professionalism of the research MLT has devoted to these knotty questions, for here it is:

 

"I guess".

 

And..., oh yes:

 

"I've heard..."

 

Ouch!

 

With profound thinkers like this ranged against me, I stand no chance!

 

[But, what would MLT have said if I had backed up everything I have ever asserted about DM and/or M-L in my Essays with a simple "I guess", or "I've heard"?]

 

And now, at last, the final curtain:

 

"But, anyway, that was my long..., em..., thing on..., em..., this revisionist attack on dialectical materialism...." [Approx 42:14-42:21.]

 

Yes, "thing" gets it just about right. MLT certainly has a firm grasp on complicated dialectical terminology, like "thing".

 

Conclusion

 

Mercifully, I don't have much more to say about this scurrilous video, except that it contains some of the worst examples of blatant lying about my work I have seen on the Internet over the last ten years or so. MLT is to be congratulated for plumbing new depths.

 

However, judging by MLT's response to my earlier allegation that he is happy to lie about me and my ideas (he first of all feigned innocence, and then, when he was confronted with a particularly egregious example, simply ignored it). I rather think that US Imperialism will become a progressive force for human emancipation long before he thinks to apologise -- or retract.

 

Appendix -- 'Contradictions' In Every Atom?

 

This is from Essay Two (edited):

 

Of course, it could be objected that particles such as protons (i.e., hadrons) are composed of even more fundamental particles, which do enjoy a contradictory life of their own 'inside' each host 'particle'; their interactions would therefore mean that apparently changeless protons are in fact changing 'internally' all the time. But, this response simply pushes the problem further back, for these other, more fundamental particles (i.e., quarks --, in the case of protons, two "up" and one "down" quark), are themselves changeless, as far as is known. [These quarks certainly have no 'internal contradictions' of their own.] Moreover, since protons are baryons -- i.e., they are composed of three quarks --, it isn't easy to see their inner lives as in any way 'contradictory' (with three terms?).

 

Even more difficult to account for dialectically are electrons and photons (which are leptons and gauge bosons respectively), since they have no known internal structure. Unless acted upon externally, their 'lifespan' is, so we are told, infinite; hence, if they change, it isn't because of any 'internal contradictions'.

 

[An appeal to antiquarks here, to save the dialectical day, would be to no avail, either. That is because quarks do not turn into antiquarks, nor vice versa, which is what the Dialectical Classics tell us should happen to all such 'opposites'. (On that, see here.) Anyway, since there is apparently very little antimatter in the entire universe, so we are also told, this is an academic question. Moreover, DM-theorists equivocate over the meaning of "internal". Sometimes they mean by this word, "logically internal", while at others they mean, "spatially internal". The latter sense would be fatal to DM (on that see here); the former is far too confused to make much sense of, anyway.]

 

This is from Essay Eleven Part Two (edited):

 

An electron, too, can exist in splendid isolation from its alleged 'opposite' (as can a proton or a positron; indeed positrons and electrons have to be isolated since contact between them would annihilate both, not turn either into its 'opposite' -- in fact, the situation is a little more complex than this; on that see here), but even if it couldn't, what precisely is its opposite? Is the opposite of an electron a positron or a proton? [As we saw here and here, it has to have a single, unique opposite -- its "other", as Hegel and Lenin both called 'it'.] But, that question alone gives the game away, since it tells us that this particular connection can't be 'logical', since, if the one implied the other, as we were told they should, we'd already know the answer. That's the point of calling these opposites "inter-penetrated". But, scientists had to discover the positron, and they did so long after they knew about electrons. By way of contrast, the north and south pole of magnets were discovered all in one go, as it were. Logical connections do not have to be discovered. For example, as soon as we know that a man is a father, we know that he has a son or a daughter (even if they are dead); we don't have to wait for someone to locate his progeny. And, who on earth is going to try to find out if a vixen really is a female fox?

 

Moreover, the atom is held together (largely) by the opposite charge of elections and protons. Hence, it might seem that here we have the opposites we seek. Of course, this would mean that the positron can't be the 'logical' opposite of the electron. But, the electron doesn't imply the proton, either. They, too, were discovered at different times. [On that see here and here.]

 

Finally, but perhaps more significantly, since we are told by the DM-classics that such opposites inevitably turn into one another, who has ever witnessed a father turning into his son? Or an electron into a proton (or even a positron)? Or the proletariat into the bourgeoisie, and vice versa? The medieval peasantry into Feudal Lords, and vice versa?

 

Moreover, as pointed out above, DM-theorists help themselves to the word "contradiction", when the relation between sub-atomic particles doesn't even look contradictory.

 

Now, these would be contradictions:

 

E1: This is an electron and it isn't.

 

E2: The atom contains electrons and protons, and it doesn't.

 

But, DM-theorists don't mean this. The difficulty is finding out what they do mean. For the last 140 years they have steadfastly refused to say with any clarity what they mean by 'internal contradiction' -- that is, over and above simply and uncritically repeating the sorts of things Mao said.

 

As was also noted above, the existence of an electron does not imply the existence of a proton, nor vice versa (unlike, say, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie --, or so we have been told), and they can exist in isolation from one another (again, unlike, say, the north and south poles of a magnet). In that case, the relation between electrons and protons can't be logical/'dialectical', and that in turn means that they can't 'contradict' one another, even in the quirky DM-sense of this word.

 

In which case, Mao couldn't possibly have known that everything in the entire universe, for all of time, contains a 'contradiction'. Of course, this means that he, like other DM-theorists, simply "foisted" or "superimposed" this dogma on nature and society, in defiance of Engels:

 

"Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature...." [Engels (1976), p.13. Bold emphasis added.]

 

And, all because of the confused ramblings of a Christian Mystic!

 

If this weren't quite so serious, you'd fall about laughing.

 

Notes

 

1. Here is Mao on 'antagonistic contradictions' (I am only including this material since, if I don't, MLT might accuse me of inventing this term, too!):

 

"The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. Lenin said, 'Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects. Lenin often called this law the essence of dialectics; he also called it the kernel of dialectics. In studying this law, therefore, we cannot but touch upon a variety of questions, upon a number of philosophical problems. If we can become clear on all these problems, we shall arrive at a fundamental understanding of materialist dialectics. The problems are: the two world outlooks, the universality of contradiction, the particularity of contradiction, the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction, the identity and struggle of the aspects of a contradiction, and the place of antagonism in contradiction....

 

"Contradiction and struggle are universal and absolute, but the methods of resolving contradictions, that is, the forms of struggle, differ according to the differences in the nature of the contradictions. Some contradictions are characterized by open antagonism and others are not. In accordance with the concrete development of things, some contradictions, which were originally non-antagonistic, develop into antagonistic ones, while others which were originally antagonistic develop into non-antagonistic ones.

 

"As already mentioned, so long as classes exist, contradictions between correct and incorrect ideas in the Communist Party are reflections within the Party of class contradictions. At first, with regard to certain issues, such contradictions may not manifest themselves as antagonistic. But with the development of the class struggle, they may grow and become antagonistic. The history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union shows us that the contradictions between the correct thinking of Lenin and Stalin and the fallacious thinking of Trotsky, Bukharin and others did not at first manifest themselves in an antagonistic form, but that later they did develop into antagonism. There are similar cases in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. At first the contradictions between the correct thinking of many of our Party comrades and the fallacious thinking of Chen Tu-hsiu, Chang Kuo-tao and others also did not manifest themselves in an antagonistic form, but later they did develop into antagonism. At present the contradiction between correct and incorrect thinking in our Party does not manifest itself in an antagonistic form, and if comrades who have committed mistakes can correct them, it will not develop into antagonism. Therefore, the Party must on the one hand wage a serious struggle against erroneous thinking, and on the other give the comrades who have committed errors ample opportunity to wake up. This being the case, excessive struggle is obviously inappropriate. But if the people who have committed errors persist in them and aggravate them, there is the possibility that this contradiction will develop into antagonism.

 

"Economically, the contradiction between town and country is an extremely antagonistic one both in capitalist society, where under the rule of the bourgeoisie the towns ruthlessly plunder the countryside, and in the Kuomintang areas in China, where under the rule of foreign imperialism and the Chinese big comprador bourgeoisie the towns most rapaciously plunder the countryside. But in a socialist country and in our revolutionary base areas, this antagonistic contradiction has changed into one that is non-antagonistic; and when communist society is reached it will be abolished.

 

"Lenin said, 'Antagonism and contradiction are not at all one and the same. Under socialism, the first will disappear, the second will remain.' That is to say, antagonism is one form, but not the only form, of the struggle of opposites; the formula of antagonism cannot be arbitrarily applied everywhere." [Mao (1937b), pp.311, 344-45. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold added.]

 

Here is Sheptulin:

 

"The following types of contradiction are usually distinguished: internal and external, essential and non-essential, basic and non-basic.

 

"The interaction of the opposite aspects inherent in one and the same phenomenon is called an internal contradiction, whereas that of the opposite aspects inherent in different phenomena is called an external contradiction....

 

"Contradictions between classes or other social groups that have opposite interests are antagonistic.

 

"Contradictions between slaves and slave-owners, peasants and landlords, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are antagonistic, while contradictions between the working class and the peasantry, and between various socialist countries are non-antagonistic.

 

"Antagonistic contradictions are characterised by the fact that when they are resolved the unity within which they existed is eliminated. Thus, the resolution of the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie brings about the transformation of capitalism, in which this contradiction was inherent, into socialist society.

 

"The situation is quite different with non-antagonistic contradictions. Their resolution does not eliminate the unity within which they existed, but rather strengthens and consolidates it....

 

"Since irreconcilable class interests underlie antagonistic contradictions, the latter, as a rule, have a tendency to intensify. It does not follow, however, that this tendency manifests itself in all cases, under all circumstances. Conditions may obtain which paralyse this tendency and the antagonistic contradiction, resolved step by step, will ease off, rather than intensify. The development and resolution of the antagonistic contradictions between the national bourgeoisie and the working class in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a relevant example. The above contradictions ease off as they are gradually resolved.

 

"In contrast to antagonistic contradictions, non-antagonistic ones do not tend to intensify. On the contrary, since the social groups representing the aspects of these contradictions are interested in ensuring society's further progress, the contradictions tend to ease off, smooth out and become resolved, without reaching extreme forms.

 

"Antagonistic contradictions are resolved through acute class struggle, whereas non-antagonistic contradictions are overcome by persuasion, criticism and self-criticism. This in no way means that such methods can't be employed under certain conditions to resolve antagonistic contradictions. When the bourgeoisie realises the senselessness and futility of resisting the advance of society toward socialism, the antagonistic contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat may be resolved by peaceful means, by resorting to persuasion and re-education on a wide scale of that section of the bourgeoisie that accepts socialist transformation and cooperates on a voluntary basis with the proletariat and other groups of working people. The experience of transforming private capitalist enterprises in the German Democratic Republic and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are examples of the widespread use of persuasion and re-education in overcoming antagonistic contradictions." [Sheptulin (1978), pp.268-73. Italic emphases in the original; bold added.]

 

And Spirkin:

 

"Antagonistic contradictions are interactions between implacably hostile classes, social groups and forces. As a rule, they build up to the point of conflict and are resolved in social and political revolutions. Non-antagonistic contradictions are interactions between classes whose basic interests and aims coincide. The socialist revolution resolved and thus eliminated antagonistic contradictions, but it did not eliminate contradictions in general. Socialism has its contradictions, for example, those between developing production and increasing demands, between the advanced and the backward, between creative thinking and dogmatism. The main contradiction is the one which in a whole set of contradictions plays the decisive role in development." [Spirkin (1983), p.148. Bold emphases added.]

 

Also see Afanasyev (1968), pp.100-02, Kharin (1981), pp.171-93, Krapivin (1985), pp.165-71, Kuusinen (1961), pp.97-99, Mitin (1931), pp.148-50, and Yurkovets (1984), p.99. Cf., also Maoist theorist Ai Siqi (1957). [This links to a PDF.]

 

2. The theory of mine runs briefly as follows: in the mid-1920s the Stalinists introduced the term "external contradiction" in order to help 'justify' their adoption of the policy of 'socialism in one country' [SIOC]. Using this term they were able to argue that the 'inner contradictions' of the new Soviet state, although affected by 'external forces', had a dynamic all of their own, and hence could be 'resolved' independently of the wider dynamic of capitalism.

 

By way of contrast, Lenin's theory of change, adopted by Trotsky and his 'followers' (although I have yet to come across this argument set out in 'dialectical' terms like this) would have us concentrate on the capitalist system as a whole:

 

"Dialectical logic demands that we should go further. Firstly, if we are to have a true knowledge of an object we must look at and examine all its facets, its connections and 'mediacies'. That is something we cannot ever hope to achieve completely, but the rule of comprehensiveness is a safeguard against mistakes and rigidity. Secondly, dialectical logic requires that an object should be taken in development, in change, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it). This is not immediately obvious in respect of such an object as a tumbler, but it, too, is in flux, and this holds especially true for its purpose, use and connection with the surrounding world. Thirdly, a full 'definition' of an object must include the whole of human experience, both as a criterion of truth and a practical indicator of its connection with human wants...." [Lenin (1921), pp.90-93. Bold emphases alone added. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

"The totality of all sides of the phenomenon of reality and their (reciprocal) relations -– that is what truth is composed of. The relations (= transitions = contradictions) of notions = the main content of logic, by which these concepts (and their relations, transitions, contradictions) are shown as reflections of the objective world. The dialectic of things produces the dialectic of ideas, and not vice versa." [Lenin (1961), p.196. Emphases in the original, except for the first, which was added.]

 

"Nowadays, the ideas of development…as formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of Hegel…[encompass a process] that seemingly repeats the stages already passed, but repeats them otherwise, on a higher basis ('negation of negation'), a development, so to speak, in spirals, not in a straight line; -- a development by leaps, catastrophes, revolutions; -- 'breaks in continuity'; the transformation of quantity into quality; -- the inner impulses to development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; -- the interdependence and the closest, indissoluble connection of all sides of every phenomenon…, a connection that provides a uniform, law-governed, universal process of motion -– such are some of the features of dialectics as a richer (than the ordinary) doctrine of development." [Lenin (1914), pp.12-13. Bold emphases alone added.]

 

In which case, it is the 'internal contradictions' of capitalism as a whole that will determine the fate of the former Soviet Union [fSU]. So, while there is a dynamic internal to the fSU, that dynamic can't be isolated from, or hermetically sealed against, the capitalist system itself. In that case, there are no 'external contradictions' here, only the 'internal contradictions' of international capitalism -- mis-identified as 'external contradictions' for political reasons. Only those who refuse to use DL consistently (along the lines that Lenin suggested) will think otherwise.

 

Now, minus the 'dialectical' jargon, the above is a theory I also accept, indeed, assert, since it is based on the scientific concepts expressed in HM, not the confused ideas floated about in this Stalinised version of DM -- or, indeed, DM, tout court.

 

3. This is from the Opening Essay to my site (edited -- a tiny fraction of which Essay MLT quoted):

 

Some beleaguered dialecticians have also begun to claim that they are "too busy" to work their way through these Essays (or respond to them), a convenient excuse that allows them to continue advancing all manner of baseless assertions about me and my work, copying hackneyed errors off one another, without actually having read a single one of my Essays or checking their facts. [An excellent recent example of this syndrome can be found here.]

 

To be sure, no one has to read a single word I write, but then those who refuse to do so would be wise to avoid passing comments on material about which they know nothing....

 

Another excuse is that my work is far too long -- a factor that clearly doesn't prevent them wading through page after page of Hegel's 'Logic', or studying Das Kapital in detail. Indeed, it doesn't stop them dismissing my work as a "rant" (another favourite  term of theirs), or as a "screed" (ditto), even while they continued to pass judgement on its content in almost total ignorance.

 

[They even refuse to read the short summaries I have written, and regularly warn others to 'stay away'!]

 

However, when I write short articles, they are branded "superficial"; on the other hand, if I write long and detailed Essays, they are too long, or are "tedious" and "boring". In fact, dialecticians already "know the truth" --, and it has "set them free"; i.e., "free" from having to read anything that might disturb their Hermetic slumber.

 

Another recent ploy is to argue that while it might be the case that I have examined the ideas of dialecticians A, B and C, I should have looked instead at the work of X, Y and Z. Then another comrade will complain that while I might have examined the ideas of A, B and X, I should have concentrated on C, D, and Z! Yet another will then advise me to confine my attention to A, D, and W..., and so on.

 

Trotskyists complain if I quote Stalin and Mao's writings; Maoists and Stalinists moan if I do likewise with Trotsky's; non-Leninist Marxists will bemoan the fact that I have not confined my comments to Hegel and Marx, advising me to ignore the confused or "simplistic" thought of Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Trotsky.

 

Of course, because these comrades haven't read my work, none of them know that I have in fact looked at A, B, C, D,.., W, X, Y and Z's work (along with Marx and Hegel's, and many other authors these comrades haven't even heard of!). Indeed, since most of the material dialecticians produce is highly repetitive, this quite often means that to look at A's work is in fact to look at almost everyone else's, too!

 

...Apart from those listed...above, the most common reactions to my work (from comrades who have 'debated' this 'theory' with me on the Internet, or elsewhere) are the following:

 

(1) An expression of total incredulity that there are genuine Marxists who would even think to question this dearly beloved doctrine, or who claim (as I do) that Philosophy in its entirety is a completely bogus discipline. This is then often accompanied by a parallel inference that I can't therefore be a Marxist -- even though Marx himself rejected Philosophy!

 

Naturally, the above would mean that being a Marxist is merely a matter of definition (and a rather narrow one at that: i.e., "Only those who do not question tradition are genuine Marxists") --, and, incidentally, it is a definition that ignores Lenin's advice that no theory is sacrosanct, or above criticism....

 

(3) The posting of several long (or short) quotations from the DM-classics, often of tenuous relevance.

 

(4) Page after page of bluster, abuse and misrepresentation. Indeed, one leading Marxist Professor of Economics, Andrew Kliman, told me in an e-mail exchange to "Eat sh*t and die!" (either that, or quaff some Hemlock) just because I had the temerity to ask him to explain what a "dialectical contradiction" was, and then point out that his explanation was defective! [Scatological abuse is alas, almost de rigueur from such comrades. This is just the latest, incoherent example. Here is another.]

 

Naturally, twenty-five or more years of having to endure such vilification would make anyone (other than a 'saint') rather tetchy, if not somewhat aggressive in return.

 

[Indeed, on this page the reader will be able to see that my forthright response to their attacks on me is something DM-fans can't stomach. Sure, they can lie about, and abuse me, but Ms Lichtenstein must take this lying down, and be all sweetness and light in return.]...

 

(6) A casting of the usual time-honoured slurs e.g., "anti-Marxist", "positivist", "sophist", "logic-chopper", "naïve realist", "revisionist", "eclectic", "relativist", "post modernist", "bourgeois stooge", "pedant", "absolutist", "elitist", "empiricist"..., and so on.

 

Naturally, when such comrades are described as "mystics" in return, they complain about "name-calling". Once more, they are allowed to dish it out (but not very well), but they plainly can't take it in return.

 

(7) The attribution to me of ideas I do not hold, and which could not reasonably have been inferred from anything I have said or written -- e.g., that I am a "postmodernist" (which I am not), an "empiricist" (same comment), a "Popperian" (I am in fact an anti-Popperian), that I am a "sceptic" (and this, just because I challenge accepted dogma, when Marx himself said he doubted all things and Lenin declared that all knowledge is provisional), that I am an "anti-realist" (when I am in fact neither a realist nor an anti-realist -- with respect to philosophical theories, I am in fact a "nothing-at-all-ist" -- but, this mustn't be confused with Nihilism!), that I'm a "positivist" (same reply!), that I am a "reformist" (when I am the exact opposite), or that I am a "revisionist" (when Lenin enjoined us all to question accepted theory).

 

Once more, these are often advanced by comrades who haven't read a single one of my Essays (but that doesn't prevent them from being 'experts' concerning my work, or from making things up about me), or they have merely skim-read a few isolated sections of some of my Essays. Naturally, they would be the first to complain if anyone else did this in relation to the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. [This is just one of the latest examples. Here's another.]

 

Indeed, Engels himself waxed indignant with Dühring over precisely this point:

 

"In connection with Herr Dühring's examination of the Darwin case, we have already got to know his habit, 'in the interests of complete truth' and because of his 'duty to the public which is free from the bonds of the guilds', of quoting incorrectly. It becomes more and more evident that this habit is an inner necessity of the philosophy of reality, and it is certainly a very 'summary treatment'. Not to mention the fact that Herr Dühring further makes Marx speak of any kind of 'advance' whatsoever, whereas Marx only refers to an advance made in the form of raw materials, instruments of labour, and wages; and that in doing this Herr Dühring succeeds in making Marx speak pure nonsense. And then he has the cheek to describe as comic the nonsense which he himself has fabricated. Just as he built up a Darwin of his own fantasy in order to try out his strength against him, so here he builds up a fantastic Marx. 'Historical depiction in the grand style', indeed!" [Engels (1976), p.159. Bold emphases added. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

Dühring was censured for doing this, but apparently it is OK for dialecticians to do it to me!

 

[In many cases, the standard of debate displayed by DM-fans sinks almost to the level on display here (by a rather benighted Creationist). This is, alas, particularly true of fellow UK-Trotskyists -- here, here, here and here are excellent examples of the crass responses I receive from UK comrades, who, incidentally, also can't defend their 'theory' without resorting to prevarication, lies and abuse. Typically, they become emotional, irrational, and childish, often content merely to post supercilious remarks as a way of deflecting from their self-inflicted predicament. However, there is one major difference between these comrades and the aforementioned Creationist -- Marxist dialecticians are far more abusive!]

 

(8) The rejection of "bourgeois logic" (i.e., modern Fregean and post-Fregean Logic).

 

This is perhaps the oddest response, since such comrades invariably know little or no MFL (and, in most cases, they are also ignorant of AFL!), even while they have uncritically swallowed the 'logic' they found in Hegel's work -- who was, as we all know, a fully paid-up member of the working-class, and not the least bit bourgeois!

 

[MFL = Modern Formal Logic; AFL = Aristotelian Formal Logic.]

 

So, for such comrades, it is lack of specialist knowledge that makes each and every one of them expert logicians! -- A fitting 'dialectical' conundrum if ever there was one. In that case, George W Bush must be a leading Theoretical Physicist, and the late Ronald Reagan a towering authority on the intricacies of brain surgery.

 

[Many complain when even this is pointed out to them; here is a good example.]

 

Furthermore, these endearing qualities are often garnished with stereotypical, ill-informed and erroneous comments maligning Wittgenstein as a "bourgeois" apologist, or as a mystic, or both -- as if Hegel himself were squeaky clean in this regard!

 

[On this particular issue, see the Additional Essay Was Wittgenstein a Leftist? -- summarised here.]

 

Of course, it is perfectly possible to be a revolutionary socialist and know little or no logic at all, but if comrades are going to pontificate about MFL (or even AFL), they ought, at least, to have the decency to learn some first!

 

 Naturally, I'll be adding a link to MLT's video (with its egregious fibs, fabulations and blatant lies) to a future re-write of the above Essay!

Bibliography

Afanasyev, V. (1968), Marxist Philosophy (Progress Publishers, 3rd ed.).

 

Ai Siqi, (1957), 'Antagonistic And Non-Antagonistic Contradictions'.

 

Engels, F. (1976), Anti-Dühring (Foreign Languages Press).

 

Hegel, G. (1977), Phenomenology Of Spirit (Oxford University Press).

 

--------, (1999), Science Of Logic (Humanity Books).

 

Kharin, Y. (1981), Fundamentals Of Dialectics (Progress Publishers).

 

Konstantinov, F. et al (1974), The Fundamentals Of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy (Progress Publishers, 2nd ed.).

 

Krapivin, V. (1985), ABC Of Social And Political Knowledge: What Is Dialectical Materialism? (Progress Publishers).

 

Kuusinen, O. (1961) (ed.), Fundamentals Of Marxism-Leninism (Lawrence & Wishart).

 

Lawler, J. (1982), 'Hegel On Logical And Dialectical Contradictions, And Misinterpretations From Bertrand Russell To Lucio Colletti', in Marquit, Moran, and Truitt (1982), pp.11-44.

 

Lenin, V. (1914), 'The Marxist Doctrine', reprinted in Lenin (1970), pp.1-18.

 

--------, (1921), 'Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation And The Mistakes Of Comrades Trotsky And Bukharin', reprinted in Lenin (1980), pp.70-106.

 

--------, (1961), Collected Works Volume 38 (Progress Publishers).

 

--------, (1970), Karl Marx (Foreign Languages Press).

 

--------, (1980), On The Question Of Dialectics (Progress Publishers).

 

Mao Tse-Tung, (1937a), 'The Tasks Of The Chinese Communist Party In The Period Of Resistance To Japan', in Mao (1964), pp.263-83.

 

--------, (1937b) 'On Contradiction', in Mao (1964), pp.311-47.

 

--------, (1964), Selected Works Volume One (Foreign Languages Press).

 

Marquit, E., Moran, P., and Truitt, W. (1982) (eds.), Dialectical Contradictions And Contemporary Marxist Discussions, Studies in Marxism, Volume 10 (Marxist Educational Press).

 

Marx, K., and Engels, F. (1975), Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, 3rd ed.).

 

--------, (2004), MECW Volume 50 (Lawrence & Wishart).

 

Mitin, M. (1931), 'Antagonistic Contradictions'.

 

Novack, G. (1971), An Introduction To The Logic Of Marxism (Pathfinder Press, 5th ed.).

 

Sheptulin, A. (1978), Marxist-Leninist Philosophy (Progress Publishers).

 

Spirkin, A. (1983), Dialectical Materialism (Progress Publishers).

 

Stalin, J. (1976a), Problems Of Leninism (Foreign Languages Press).

 

--------, (1976b), 'Concerning Questions Of Leninism', in Stalin (1976a), pp.160-236.

 

Weston, T. (2008), 'The Concept Of Non-Antagonistic Contradiction In Soviet Philosophy', Science & Society 72, 4, pp.427-54. [This links to a PDF.]

 

Woods, A., and Grant, T. (1995/2007), Reason In Revolt. Marxism And Modern Science (Wellred Publications). [The version now available on the Internet appears to be the Second Edition.]

 

Yurkovets, I. (1984), The Philosophy Of Dialectical Materialism (Progress Publishers).

 

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