Essay One: Why I Began This Project


Technical Preliminaries


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[Having said that, I have just discovered that they will play in IE11 if you have upgraded to Windows 10! It looks like the problem is with Windows 7 and earlier versions of that operating system.]

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Firefox and Chrome reproduce them correctly.




Although I am highly critical of Dialectical Materialism [DM], nothing said here (or, indeed, in the other Essays posted at this site) is aimed at undermining Historical Materialism [HM] -- a theory I fully accept -- or, for that matter, revolutionary socialism. I remain as committed to the self-emancipation of the working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat as I was when I first became a revolutionary over thirty-five years ago.


[That puts paid to the accusation that those who reject DM soon abandon revolutionary politics. I have never accepted DM.]


My aim is simply to assist in the scientific development of Marxism by helping demolish a dogma that has, in my opinion, seriously damaged our movement from its inception: DM (or, in its more political form, 'Materialist Dialectics' [MD]).


The difference between HM and DM as I see it is explained here.


It is also worth mentioning up-front that phrases like "ruling-class theory", "ruling-class view of reality", "ruling-class ideology" (etc.) used at this site (in connection with Traditional Philosophy and DM), aren't meant to suggest that all or even most members of various ruling-classes actually invented these ways of thinking or of seeing the world (although some of them did -- for example, Heraclitus, Plato, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius). They are intended to highlight theories (or "ruling ideas") that are conducive to, or which rationalise, the interests of the various ruling-classes history has inflicted on humanity, whoever invents them. Up until recently this dogmatic approach to knowledge had almost invariably been promoted by thinkers who either relied on ruling-class patronage, or who, in one capacity or another, helped run the system for the elite.**


However, that will become the central topic of Parts Two and Three of Essay Twelve (when they are published); until then, the reader is directed here, here, and here for more details.


[**Exactly how this applies to DM will, of course, be explained in the other Essays published at this site (especially here, here, and here). In addition to the three links in the previous paragraph, I have summarised the argument (but this time written for absolute beginners) here.]


Several readers have complained about the number of links I have added to these Essays because they say it makes them very difficult to read. Of course, DM-supporters can hardly lodge that complaint since they believe everything is interconnected, and that must surely apply even to Essays that attempt to debunk that very idea. However, to those who find such links do make these Essays difficult to read I say this: ignore them -- unless you want to access further supporting evidence and argument for a particular point, or a certain topic fires your interest.


Others wonder why I have linked to familiar subjects and issues that are part of common knowledge (such as the names of recent Presidents of the USA, UK Prime Ministers, the names of rivers and mountains, the titles of popular films, or certain words that are in common usage). I have done so for the following reason: my Essays are read all over the world and by people from all 'walks of life', so I can't assume that topics which are part of common knowledge in 'the west' are equally well-known across the planet -- or, indeed, by those who haven't had the benefit of the sort of education that is generally available in the 'advanced economies', or any at all. Many of my readers also struggle with English, so any help I can give them I will continue to provide.


Finally on this specific topic, several of the aforementioned links connect to web-pages that regularly change their URLs, or which vanish from the Internet altogether. While I try to update them when it becomes apparent that they have changed or have disappeared I can't possibly keep on top of this all the time. I would greatly appreciate it, therefore, if readers informed me of any dead links they happen to notice.


In general, links to 'Haloscan' no longer seem to work, so readers needn't tell me about them! Links to RevForum, RevLeft, Socialist Unity and The North Star also appear to have died.




As of April 2024, this Essay is just under 42,000 words long.


[Latest Update: 11/04/24.]


Quick Links


Anyone using these links should 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!


I have adjusted the font size used at this site to ensure that even those with impaired vision can read what I have to say. However, if the text is still either too big or too small for you, please adjust your browser settings!


(1) The Background To These Essays


(2) Introduction To This Site


(3) Heads Back In The Sand, Comrades!


(4) Reaction To My Case Against DM


(i) Bans And Censorship


(ii) Dialectical Responses


(iii) Further Responses


(5) Appendix One -- SWP's Crocodile Tears


(6) Notes


(7) Quotation Conventions


(8) References


(9) Abbreviations Used At This Site


Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism


Return To The Main Index Page


Contact Me


the Background To These Essays


This work began life in July 1998 and was originally intended to be an extended review of John Rees's book, The Algebra of Revolution (henceforth, TAR), but it soon developed into a full-blown project aimed at completely undermining the influence Dialectical Materialism [DM] has had, and still has, on Marxism.


[Unless indicated otherwise, by "dialectics" I intend the post-Hegelian use of that word, not its classical meaning.]


However, a brief outline of relevant parts of the author's biography might help readers understand 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, in the early 1980s, for a PhD (on selective aspects of Wittgenstein's early work), later still for a Mathematics degree. I became involved in revolutionary politics roughly at the same time and decided at some point to write a thorough-going refutation of DM, having come to appreciate the thoroughly pernicious and deleterious effect it has had on revolutionary socialism in particular, and the international workers' movement in general (at least since the 1840s). 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. That 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 above University, 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 core ideas from Historical Materialism [HM] in easily comprehended, 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 immediately thought unworthy of acceptance by anyone with genuinely materialist proclivities -- as well as other works expounding what can only be called, Hegelianised Marxism.


My antipathy toward the tradition from which DM had sprung was greatly amplified by the training I received in Analytic Philosophy, thanks to a department staffed with first-rate Philosophers and Logicians (most of whom were prominent Wittgensteinians and Fregeans). This ensured that I would never take Hegel or DM seriously.


And that is still the case over forty years later!


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 Jerry 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 agree fully with Cohen's account of HM, or his politics, I now saw that there was no need to accept the mystical doctrines bequeathed to us by Hegel (echoed in DM -- upside down or the 'right way up') if I wanted to be a revolutionary socialist.


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 party in the country. In addition, and to their credit, they didn't appear to be lost in the cloying dialectical fog that had engulfed other supposedly revolutionary groups. Gerry Healy's now defunct WRP specifically comes to mind in that respect.


Unfortunately, almost as soon as I joined that party the leadership performed an about-face and suddenly 'discovered' a new-found liking for DM, and articles expounding Engels's confused philosophical ideas began to appear in their publications. Although I now think I understand why that happened, at the time this turn of events was truly devastating. I just couldn't understand why Marxists I had come to respect for the clarity of their political, historical and economic ideas had suddenly grown fond of what seemed to me to be little more than Dialectical Mysticism.


As things turned out, I was soon able to witness at first-hand the baleful effect that DM and DL [Dialectical Logic] can have on revolutionary politics -- in this case, on local party activists in XXXX. Several of the latter -- in the run up to the defeat of the Tory Poll Tax and under the direction of the party leadership -- began to behave in a most uncharacteristically aggressive and abusive manner, especially toward less 'active' comrades. Without doubt, revolutionary parties require commitment from their members, but there are ways of motivating people that don't involve treating them so abusively or simply as disposable means to a particular end.


These hyped-up activists now declared that 'dialectical' thinking meant there were no 'fixed or rigid principles' in revolutionary politics -- not even, one presumes, the idea that the emancipation of the working-class will be an act of the workers themselves? Although, somewhat inconsistently, not one of them drew that particular conclusion, or even asked that specific question! Everything it seemed had now to be bent toward the 'concrete' practical exigencies of the class struggle. 'Abstract ideas' were ruled out-of-court -- except, of course, for that 'abstract idea'. Only the 'concrete' mattered, even if no one could say what that was without using yet more 'abstractions'!


In practice, this novel turn to the 'concrete' meant that several long-standing members of the party were harangued until they either revoked their membership or they adapted to the "new mood" (as the wider political environment in the UK was then called by the party). The latter course of action meant that they had to conform to an almost suicidally increased rate of activity around the fight against the Poll Tax, whether or not they or their families suffered as a result. At meetings, one-by-one, comrades were isolated and then publicly subjected to a series of grossly unfair and decidedly unpleasant hectoring sessions (in a way reminiscent of what went on in the Chinese "Cultural Revolution" -- minus the physical violence, of course -- and also unlike the WRP, where beatings were common, so we have been told). These publicly held inquisitions were conducted with no little vehemence and tenacity by a handful of party 'attack dogs' until their 'victims' either buckled under the strain or gave up and left the party.


'Dialectical' arguments of remarkable inconsistency were wheeled out in order to 'justify' every convoluted change of emphasis and counter every objection (declaring them one and all "abstract"), no matter how reasonable they might otherwise have seemed. Comrades who were normally quite level-headed and reasonable became almost monomaniacal in their zeal to search out and re-educate those who were not 100% with the program or who hadn't quaffed enough of the Kool-Aid. For some reason they left me alone, probably because I was highly active at the time and maybe because I 'knew a little philosophy' and could defend myself.


In the end, as is evident from the record, the Poll Tax was defeated by strategies other than those advocated by the UK-SWP, and the "new mood" melted away nearly as fast as most of the veteran members -- and, as fate would have it, about as rapidly as many of the new recruits the party had managed to attract at the time. I don't think the local party in XXXX has recovered from this period of 'applied dialectics'. Indeed, from what I can ascertain, it is about a half to a third of its former size, and thus nowhere near as effective. I have no reason to believe that the national body has managed to avoid a similar fate. Quite the opposite, in fact.


So, for well over twenty-five years the UK-SWP has been a fraction of its former size (despite claims to the contrary). Coupled with a handful of later splits, this probably explains why it has been unable to capitalise on the widespread radicalisation brought about by the Anti-Globalisation movement, the international opposition to the US/UK invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (despite the prominent role it played in the Stop the War Coalition), the serious weakness of the 'official left' in the UK, or the fight to defend welfare, wages and pensions, post 2010. This is especially so in the UK where recent surveys show that while there had been a marked swing to the left (between 2015 and 2022), this hasn't been reflected in the recruitment figures registered by far-left parties. The main beneficiary of these moves was until recently the UK Labour Party, whose membership rose by 150,000 between the General Election in May 2015 and its Annual Conference in September that year -- largely as a result of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader (and since then, industrial opposition to the Tory government, post-Covid, in the shape of a sharp up-tick in strike action, and not just in the UK). Indeed, in the week following his victory 50,000 more members signed up. This trend continued into 2016, which at that time made making the UK Labour Party one of the largest left-wing parties in Europe. [The situation has reversed since them with the sharp turn to the right under Labour's new leader, Kier Starmer. Since Corbyn was deposed as Labour leader in 2019 Labour Party membership figures have begun to slip back to pre-Corbyn levels, and that party has once again assumed its usual class-compromised pro-capitalist identity.]


However, no far-left party these days could hope to recruit so much as 5% of the above number (of new Labour Party members). Even if all such parties were lumped together as a job lot, they could still only dream of enrolling that many, that fast.


[While I left the UK-SWP in the early 1990s I continued to identify with it politically until at least 2012. The self-inflicted crisis that engulfed the party later that year -- which concerned the cover up of serious allegations of rape levelled against a leading member (links below) -- meant that I could no longer associate myself with that party at any level.]


My impression that there had been a disappointingly low level of SWP-recruitment during this period has now been confirmed by this document, and now this. These figures have also been indirectly confirmed in a response written by a leading member and this by another. However, another document tells us that the UK-SWP's registered membership in 2008 was in excess of 6000. (They are due-paying members, but, of these a sizeable proportion are inactive, which illustrates another recent turn of events -- 'non-fee-paying' members would not have been tolerated twenty years earlier, when I joined). [Unfortunately, none of the links in this paragraph now work!]


Of course, there is no way to confirm any of these figures objectively, but they aren't inconsistent with other evidence. [On that, see here.]


The UK-SWP used to hold two large annual gatherings each year (one in Skegness at Easter, and another in London in early July). Now, they only hold one. The second of these two used to last a whole week, but now (i.e., from 2007 through 2023) stretches across four or five days (comprising two or three full-days bookended by two half-days). The 2007 split in Respect further reduced the party's size and influence, and the crisis which engulfed the UK-SWP in 2013/14 has all but finished the party off as an effective force on the far-left. [More on that presently.]


These developments were all the more depressing given the failure of the entire 'Dialectical Left' to make significant progress during the most widespread and certainly most militant resistance mounted by European workers in the face of numerous 'austerity' programmes imposed both by right-wing and by 'leftwing'' governments -- certainly comparable to the resistance apparent in the 1970s and 1980s, possibly comparable with anything seen since World War II. As Richard Seymour noted:


"The 'strategic perplexity' of the left confronted with the gravest crisis of capitalism in generations has been hard to miss. Social democracy continues down the road of social liberalism. The far-left has struggled to take advantage of ruling class disarray. Radical left formations have tended to stagnate at best." [Seymour (2012), p.191. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]


Of course, as Seymour also pointed out, there were at the time two notable exceptions to this generalisation: the gains made by the electoral left in Greece and France (although, by mid-July 2015 it was clear that the 'advances' made by Syriza in Greece weren't worth the value of even one the ballot papers anyone had used to vote for them -- confirming yet again the fact that not even 'reformist socialism' can be created in one country!). However, the anti-austerity left in Spain, spearheaded by Podemos, has begun to make significant electoral gains since 2015; and, as noted above, the Labour Party seems to have revived under Jeremy Corbyn, performing far better than expected in the June 2017 General Election. [Seymour (2017).]


[Added on Edit, April 2024: As usual, the above gains were soon frittered away.]


Despite this, it is far from clear that the 'Dialectical Left' have benefitted from this in any way. Indeed, a political current that is forever fragmenting and which maintains semi-permanent episodes of internecine warfare between its rival parties isn't likely to grow to a size that will threaten even a handful of bosses or local police chiefs, let alone the entire capitalist class.


Nor is it ever likely to impress radicalised workers or the young.


Chris Bambery made a similar point:


"There is no question that the global recession on the back of the constant 'war on terror' has produced a radicalisation. Anti-capitalism is widespread. Evidence comes from the sheer scale of popular mobilisations over the last decade. Once, achieving a demonstration of 100,000 in Britain was regarded as an immense achievement. When grizzled lefties looked back on the demo of that size against the Vietnam War in October 1968, tears welled in their eyes. Now a London demo has to be counted in hundreds of thousands, to be a success.


"Yet this radicalisation, in Britain at least, has not been accompanied by the growth of any of the political currents which you would expect to benefit from this anti-capitalism. And I mean any, even those who reject the label 'Party'. The situation the left finds itself in is worse than when it entered the new century.... No other period of radicalisation in British history has experienced this lack of any formal political expression. It's not that people opposing austerity, war and much else are without politics. They are busy devouring articles, books, online videos and much else." [Quoted from here. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Some paragraphs merged.]


 Leading ISG member, Alex Snowdon, concurred:


"Let's start with a simple observation: the revolutionary left is not growing. Indeed I am perhaps being generous in referring merely to stagnation rather than decline.... Yet we live in an age in which many revolutionary socialist groups predict a growth in the revolutionary left -- including whatever their own organisation is -- and indeed sometimes speak as if it's already happening. So for someone from within the revolutionary left -- like me -- to make this comment may be somewhat uncharacteristic. There are two reasons why this stagnation might surprise people and therefore requires explanation. One is historical precedent. Previous periods of systemic crisis -- whether the First World War, the 1930s or the post-1968 era -- have led to a growth in the revolutionary left or in other sections of the Left (or both). So shouldn't that be happening now? The second reason is that it's not like we have a shortage of resistance to capitalism, or particular aspects of capitalist crisis, in the current period. Shouldn't such phenomena -- Arab revolutions, Occupy, general strikes in southern Europe, a widespread anti-establishment mood etc -- find expression in the growth of the revolutionary left?" [Quoted from here. Link added; paragraphs merged.]


And yet, DM-fans still refuse to consider any alternative explanations as to why this is so!


In relation to the current crisis in the UK-SWP, Alan Gibbons, prominent ex-SWP-er, spoke about the need to:


"[Break] from the toy Bolshevism that has led to the dominance of monsters like Gerry Healy and to grotesque fractures such [as?] have been discussed on these pages, a practice that has meant the Left has failed to grow in circumstances that have looked favourable.... The Left can point to some successes out of proportion with its size: the Anti Nazi League, the poll tax campaign, the Stop the War campaign. Have these mobilisations resulted in any genuine lasting and durable implantation of the Left? I'm afraid not. It has to be discussed why not. The lessons have to be learned. Then maybe left organisations can handle incidents such as the one which triggered this whole debate with integrity and humanity and not a squalid clumsiness that discredits it." [Quoted from here; accessed 13/01/2013. Links added. Paragraphs merged.]


This malaise isn't just a UK-, or even a Europe-wide, phenomenon; here are the thoughts of a US comrade:


"We should start with the fact that the objective situation is tough and that the left everywhere is having a hard time. Practically no organization or model has succeeded as a consistent challenge to the neoliberal order, and the most inspiring efforts in Greece and Egypt have stalled and been savagely turned back, respectively. The US working class is disorganized and reeling under blow after blow of austerity. The picture is defeat and flaming wreckage all across the front line, and, in Richard Seymour's words, pointing to the example of 'the CTU [Chicago Teachers Union -- RL] will not save us, comrades.' The American capitalist class has done pretty well under Obama's leadership, and profitability is at record levels (though they're not out of the woods of the Great Recession just yet). So yes, the world is not making it particularly easy to build a revolutionary socialist organization at the moment (and perhaps for quite a while now). That also makes it more likely that we're getting parts of our perspective and orientation wrong. We cannot allow reference to the objective conditions to become a block to self-evaluation, self-criticism, and change. And on the one hand, to say that objective conditions have been extremely difficult for the past five years does not square with our sense that the onset of the Great Recession would open a new era of radicalization that would allow us to operate more effectively and grow. Nor does it square with the advances in struggle in the Arab Spring and Occupy. Nor does it square with the assertion that there is a 'continuing radicalization' going on right now." [Sid Patel, quoted from here. Accessed 08/02/2014. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Link added; paragraphs merged.]


Not uncoincidentally, it looks like the ISN (established in 2013 by ex-SWP members) is already fragmenting! In fact, in late January 2014, it suffered its first serious split and by April/May 2015 the membership voted to disband! However, before it was dissolved, the comments I posted at their website were routinely deleted -- even when they weren't about dialectics! I was subsequently barred from posting there at all! The incipient Stalinism of the old UK-SWP (covered in more detail in Essay Nine Part Two) clearly found a home in this now defunct SWP-offshoot.


Another example of the disastrous consequences that result from of this 'style of politics' (and in the IST, too) can be seen in the break-up of SAG in Germany in the early 2000s. [On that, see here.] 


Who in their left mind would want to join a movement that will in all likelihood split before they receive their new party card? Or, which will descend into yet another wave of scandal and corruption even before they attend their first paper sale?


That unfavourable impression of far left politics wasn't helped by the news that one of the largest far-left parties in the USA, the ISO, folded in April 2019, largely because they too mishandled (and covered up) rape allegations.


The idea that Trotskyism is synonymous with abuse, corruption, internecine warfare and fragmentation has sunk so deep into the collective mind that in August 2016, when the BBC found they had to explain who Trotsky was and what Trotskyism is (because the UK press had been alleging that Trotskyists were once again infiltrating the UK-Labour Party), they did so in the following terms:


"They [the Trotskyists] have never had much success in elections, seeming to spend more time fighting each other and splitting into rival factions with confusingly similar names than taking on the powers that be." [Quoted from here; accessed 11/08/2016.]


As I have pointed out in several places on the Internet:


"If you read the attempts that have been made so far by comrades to account for this and other crises, you will struggle long and hard and to no avail to find a materialist, class-based analysis why this sort of thing keeps happening. Comrades blame such things on this or that foible, or personality defect of that or this comrade, or on this or that party structure. If we only had a different CC, or a new constitution, everything would be hunky dory. If only the climate in the party were more open and democratic...

"Do we argue this with respect to anything else? If only we had a different President, different Senators or MPs! Or, maybe a new constitution with proportional representation allowing us to elect members to Parliament..., yada yada. But this is an endemic problem right across our movement, and has been for generations, just as it afflicts most sections of bourgeois society. In which case, we need a new, historical materialist explanation why it keeps happening, or it will keep happening." [Slightly edited and quoted, for example, from

Sadly, but predictably, that comment of mine sank without trace. It seems that comrades still prefer to advance Idealist explanations why the far-left has stagnated and is regularly steeped in crisis -- like this, for example:


"There is currently a huge crisis playing itself out within the SWP, the party I have been a member of the past five years. Like many of us warned, this has now spread beyond our ranks into the national press, and has been even been picked up by our international affiliate groups in the International Socialist Tendency. Regardless of individual's opinion on the details of this case, it can no longer be denied that this issue will create severe repercussions for the party. The CC have failed to lead and much of the membership is demanding an explanation. It is also a dead end to argue that this should stay within the party and we should simply draw a line under it. This is in the national press and silence and failure to recognise the problem would be political suicide with the very people we hope to work with, the movement.... We need an entirely new leadership, and we need to comprehensively overhaul all the democratic structures of the party." [Quoted from here. Accessed 14/01/2013. Bold emphasis and link added. Paragraphs merged.]


Which means, of course, that this sort of thing will keep on happening.




Update, April 2024:


As if to add to the chaos, the German far left Die Linke has just fragmented:


"Germany's Left Party, Die Linke, is in the throes of a terminal crisis, after Sahra Wagenknecht and her supporters split off to form a new party. Wagenknecht is infamous for her social chauvinism: her scapegoating of immigrants, and her chasing of right-wing agenda points like vaccine skepticism. Yet as odious as her views are, Die Linke is in some ways worse: When announcing the split, Wagenknecht referred briefly to Gaza as an 'open-air prison.' Dietmar Bartsch, Die Linke's main speaker, responded by expressing his support for Israel. In other words, the split in The Left is between two-right-wing factions. For more than 15 years, the majority of Trotskyists in Germany have adapted to Die Linke. The party's crisis has thrown all the groups attempting to ride on its coattails into crisis as well. The post-Trotskyist network Marx21 has now split into three separate groups. As we wrote half a year ago, this split was a result of years of adaptation to different reformist bureaucracies. Over the years, many members of Marx21 got cushy jobs in a government party. The most corrupt of them now run a for-profit company selling services to the trade union bureaucracy. Following Jane McAlevey's theories of 'organizing,' they are known as the 'organizers.' Marx21 functioned for a time as a group of young, low-level bureaucrats who like to talk about revolutionary socialism in their free time. It has now shattered." [Left Voice, quoted from here; accessed 19/04/2024. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. One link added; paragraphs merged.]


Welcome to Dialectical Groundhog Day!




[In Essay Nine Part Two I provide both explanation and analysis of this counter-intuitive phenomenon (i.e., why it is that comrades refuse to apply HM to Marxism itself!) That Essay approaches crises like those mentioned above from an entirely different angle, providing for the first time (ever!) an HM-inspired explanation why our movement is fragmentary, is constantly in crisis, is going nowhere slowly, and what can be done to alleviate the situation. (Not that anyone on the far left is even listening!)]


After all, if our core theory [DM] originated in German Idealism and Mystical Christianity (and is now upside down or even the 'right way up'), is it any wonder that its theorists automatically reach for an Idealist explanation for events such as these?


Indeed, if the following Leninist principle lies right at the heart of our ideology, is it really much of a surprise that our movement keeps fragmenting?


"The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory the essence (one of the 'essentials,' one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristics or features) of dialectics.... The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute...." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphasis alone added.. Paragraphs merged.]


"Splitting" is an "essential" component of this theory; "struggle" is an "absolute". That must surely involve the relations between comrades. An emphasis on intra-party strife, bickering and splits thus sits right at the heart of Dialectical Marxism! And it is even celebrated!


Hence, we needn't wait for the ruling-class to 'divide and conquer' us, we are experts in that direction already!


Similar crises have afflicted other revolutionary parties.001 For instance, the disintegration of the WRP and the Militant Tendency (the latter link takes the reader to a reply posted in response to this) confirms that this is not only endemic and alarmingly widespread on the far-left, it has been so for many generations. Indeed, here is how one ex-WRP member characterised the internal regime in that party (linking the crisis it experienced in 1985 to the recent disaster that confronted the UK-SWP in 2012-13 -- on that, see also below):


"Rape, however, is a most abusive violent power relation and weapon used for oppression which echoes the exploitative rule of capital itself.  For such a form of abuse to emerge in any so-called socialist organisation -- and to 'deal' with it in the way the SWP has -- reflects the presence of the deepest forms of degeneration and corruption which, in turn, replicates the most insidious and inhuman forms of alienation and oppression of capitalist domination. If a so-called socialist organisation is not a safe place for women to voluntarily participate in its activities, then it is not worthy of the name 'socialist'....


"Historically, and speaking from my early political experience, socialists have witnessed such behaviour before. The dissolution of the Workers Revolutionary Party in 1985 was sparked by the discovery that its leader -- Gerry Healy -- had regularly assaulted party members, sexually abusing female comrades for many years and perpetrating various libels and slanders against socialists in other organisations. Healy's secretary -- who was instrumental in exposing his abuses -- listed more than 20 victims. Healy used his position of power in the party to sexually abuse female comrades....


"When Cliff Slaughter in opposition to Healy -- at a meeting in London -- quoted Lenin on morality, Healy et al accused him of purveying bourgeois morality (such accusations will ring a bell with those currently fighting the 'elect' in the SWP) until he actually stated subsequently to the full meeting that he had just quoted from Lenin. This exposed how far Healy & Co had actually moved away from 'their' Lenin on questions of morality. For Healy et al, Lenin was infallible, indisputable gospel. Nobody critiqued Lenin. Volumes 14 and 38 of the Collected Works were treated like divine revelation....


"Corin Redgrave (the now dead brother of the still living actress Vanessa) caused uproar in a meeting in Scotland when he praised what he called Healy's 'achievements' and said that... 'If this is the work of a rapist, then let's recruit more rapists'.... This was the sort of obscene, anti-socialist, inhuman morality which prevailed in the Workers Revolutionary Party prior to the break-up in 1985. This was used to prop up and validate the bizarre sectarian notions of vanguardism: 'we are the vanguard party', etc. Verbal and physical abuse, coercion, bullying, intimidation, emotional blackmail, humiliation, people re-mortgaging and even losing their houses to fund the party and working all hours (18-hour days were normal for some comrades) were all part of being a 'professional revolutionary' in the WRP. The personal life was 'toast'....


"[All this] was 'complimented' by the most abject philosophical philistinism and theoretically dissolute publication of Healy's very unremarkable 'Studies in Dialectical Materialism' which turned out to be an incomprehensible dog's dinner of convoluted mumbojumbo phrasemongering and terminological confusion. One comrade in Hull sarcastically recommended it as 'bedtime reading' when I told him I was having trouble sleeping. Because we didn't grasp it, we thought it was 'too advanced' for us. We didn't possess the 'supreme dialectical mind of a Gerry Healy'. As things turned out, when we looked at it as the fog started to lift, it was clear that we didn't understand it because it was unadulterated gobbledegook. Here again, we see a characteristic of cult-existence in which its leader was, momentarily at least, attributed powers which he really didn't hold. None of us understood the 'Studies' and so we were told to 'theoretically discipline ourselves' like a mental or intellectual form of self-flagellation or 'penance' found in physical form in some religious cults or sects....


"Many people did actually have mental breakdowns even after the break-up of the WRP. Homes broken. Divorces. Families destroyed. 'Building the party' was simultaneously the point of departure and the point of return. Everything else was subservient to this manic 'party-building'.... The 'leaders' of these sectarian groups -- these minilenins and tinytrotskys -- tend to attract the same degree of reverence from their rather uncritical membership as a charismatic neo-prophet does from the enchanted congregation of his cult. The social psychology is fundamentally the same. Until, of course, a profound crisis sets in which shakes everything to its foundations. And sexual abuse in a so-called socialist organisation is such a crisis....


"Meanwhile today, in March 2013, 28 years post-Healy, the Socialist Workers Party remains open to the accusation that it is harbouring rapists and sexual predators whilst two women socialists are insisting that they have been sexually abused by the accused man who is still free to prowl around the female membership. [The ex-comrade involved has since resigned from the SWP in order to avoid having to answer further accusations of sexual harassment levelled at him by the second of the two female comrades mentioned above -- RL.]" [Quoted from here; accessed 09/10/2013. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Links added. Several paragraphs merged.]


Anyone familiar with the history of Trotskyism either side of the Atlantic (and, indeed, elsewhere) over the last 80 years will know that this isn't just a UK phenomenon. In fact, it is such a deeply ingrained, even stereotypical, feature of Trotskyism world-wide, that it has now turned our entire tradition into a laughing stock, easily lampooned by Monty Python:




Video One: The People's Front Of Judea -- Now A Cliché,

But Still Painfully Accurate


Here is what Wikipedia had to say about UK Trotskyist outfit, Workers Power:


"In 2006 the League for the Fifth International suffered a split which particularly affected the British section. The minority, which left to form Permanent Revolution believed that the world economy was in a long upward wave (a position they adopted from Ernest Mandel) and that the possibility of a crisis of capitalism was unlikely for several more years. They criticised the majority as having an overly optimistic perspective or a pre-revolutionary period. In 2012, two further groups split, one criticised Workers Power's position on the NATO intervention in Libya and 16 more left to launch what the majority described as the 'liquidationist' Anti-Capitalist Initiative, the latter reducing Workers Power's membership by about a third." [Quoted from here. Accessed 19/12/2013. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; links in the original. Paragraphs merged.]


This has now been changed to the following:


"In 2006 the League for the Fifth International suffered a split which particularly affected the British section. The minority, which left to form Permanent Revolution, believed that the world economy was in a long upward wave (a position they adopted from Ernest Mandel) and that the possibility of a crisis of capitalism was unlikely for several more years. They criticised the majority as having an overly optimistic perspective or a pre-revolutionary period. In 2012, two further groups split, 2 members left due to their criticism of Workers Power's position on the NATO intervention in Libya where Workers Power supported the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, and 16 more left to launch what the majority described as the "liquidationist" Anti-Capitalist Initiative, the latter reducing Workers Power's membership by about a third." [Quoted from here. Accessed 21/05/2024. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; links in the original. Paragraphs merged.]


Workers Power was dissolved in 2015 (its members advised to join the Labour Party(!)); it was reformed in 2021.


And this, about the League for the Fifth International:


"In July 2006 the League expelled its Australian section, its sympathising group in Ireland and a large minority of its British section. The International Faction was planning to split the organisation on the eve of its Seventh Congress in Prague. In the previous two years, the International Faction (first as a tendency), had struggled against the perspectives and orientation of the League. In particular, they rejected the view that since the turn of the century there had been an intensification in class struggle, that the world economy was either 'stagnant' or demonstrated a 'tendency towards stagnation' in the imperialist heartlands, which the League had summarised as marking a 'pre-revolutionary period'. Instead, they argued that capitalism had entered on a 'long upward wave' following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeats of the working class movement in the 1970s/80s and that the League had exaggerated the extents to which breaks had occurred in social democracy. The League regarded the credit crunch, global financial crisis and recession as vindicating its analysis and published a critique of the theory of the long wave in its book The Credit Crunch -- a Marxist Analysis. The International Faction subsequently launched a new group Permanent Revolution. This followed the expulsion of some members of the League's Austrian section." [Quoted from here. Accessed 19/12/2013. Italic emphasis and link in the original. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Permanent Revolution's side of the story can be accessed here. Paragraphs merged; link in the original. (The above remarks have now vanished from the linked page, but something very similar can still be found in the revisions section, here.)]


[Details of the degeneration, decline and disintegration of the US-SWP can be accessed here, here and here. A similar punch-up in the CPGB a few years ago has been detailed here. There was also a serious split in the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) in 2010, and then yet another a few months later -- subsequently hailed as its exact opposite: a 'success'! (Who knew!) On that, see here and below.]


Sad though it is to have to say the following, but Trotskyism's only apparent major 'success' has been to split more times than a schizophrenic Amoeba on speed, which is, of course, one of the reasons it has been such a long-term failure.


Believe it or not, there still are comrades who will, in one breath, bemoan that fact and in the very next will refuse even to entertain the suggestion that their core theory (DM), alongside the class origin and current class position of their 'leadership', has anything to do with it! They won't even consider these as remote possibilities -- nor even as a tiny fraction of a partial explanation why our side has witnessed 150 years of almost total failure. That possibility is itself rejected out-of-hand -- with no little vehemence, deflection and scatological abuse thrown in for good measure.


Someone has hit a non-dialectical nerve...


[Why Dialectical Marxists in general behave this is explained in detail here. Incidentally, anyone who doubts the above allegations should check out the hostile responses I received here, here and here for merely suggesting these as possible contributory factors (unfortunately, these links are now dead!). Or, indeed, dear reader, take note of the response you will receive, too, if you try the following experiment for yourself: Find an avid DM-fan and suggest the theoretical possibility -- and tentatively advance the idea -- that DM might be a remote or even partial reason for just some of our failures. Unless you are incredibly unlucky, deflection, hostility, abuse and vituperation will soon come your way, which should help convince you that the above accusations aren't all that wide of the mark.]


One wonders, therefore, what would become of us Dialectical Dissidents in the unlikely event that fellow Trotskyists ever managed to secure real power. The vitriol, hostility, lies and smears I have had to face now for many years suggest I, for one, wouldn't last long in such circumstances!


[Please note, I am not complaining about this; I expect this level of vitriol. If I hadn't received it, I would have concluded I had gone wrong somewhere!]


For example, in an e-mail exchange a few years ago, one prominent Marxist Professor of Economics -- Andrew Kliman no less -- expressed the fervent hope that I would "Eat sh*t and die!" -- either that or quaff some Hemlock -- simply because I had the temerity to question the 'sacred dialectic'. I had asked him to explain exactly what a 'dialectical contradiction' is, which he signally failed to do. His DM-inspired vitriol was subsequently repeated in October 2013, here (in the comments section -- again, this link is now dead!), but it was deleted by the moderators because of the violent and intemperate nature of the language the good Professor thought to use. Another UK-SWP comrade (implicitly) accused me of being worse than the Nazis(!), and for the same reason. Incidentally, this particular comrade has now left the SWP. Apparently, he still thinks that 'truth is tested in practice'. [In 2020, I engaged in a lengthy (but fruitless) 'discussion' with a fan of 'Systematic Dialectics', who soon resorted to posting personal abuse and barefaced lies.]


Of course, a rapid descent into lies, abuse and invective isn't a novel feature of the far left, or even of the UK-SWP, as the late Colin Barker noted in a recently re-published debate he had with Ian Birchall:


"Sectarianism is the greatest possible danger in the present situation. We have to accept people as they are, if we are to change them. A personally friendly and open style of behaviour is required, with a stress on those areas on which there is agreement rather than disagreement. We have to be able to exploit disagreements and differences within the ranks of those who oppose us, and to be very sensitive to small changes in attitude. No one must be condemned simply as a 'Stalinist' or a 'social democrat' or a 'centrist,' and left to rot in his theoretical iniquity. We have to abandon that destructive tradition, developed by Trotsky's epigones, of personal unpleasantness as a means of expressing political differences. Had this been the tradition of the Bolsheviks -- the tradition of 'ultra-hardness' that the SLL [Socialist Labour League, precursor of the WRP -- RL] in particular delights in -- the Bolsheviks would never have conquered state power." [Quoted from here; accessed 18/02/2019. Bold emphases added.]


Apparently, those remarks went in one ear and out the other without engaging with a single brain cell belonging to anyone on the far left, least of all fellow Trotskyists, who have been among the most unpleasant, duplicitous and abusive.


[In fact, the most respectful and comradely responses I have so far received were in discussions on a Maoist site!]


Stalinism and Maoism are, it would seem, far less fragmentary; but that is only because both traditions have a long and bloody history of imprisoning, torturing or murdering those who stray too far from the 'path of righteousness', as opposed merely to expelling DM-infidels from the party.


[Once more, anyone who thinks this poisonous and obnoxious 'dialectical personality disorder' is confined to Trotskyism should read this and then perhaps think again.]


And yet this is the movement that is supposed to herald a new and improved era for humanity to create and grow into!




This series of events began a train of thought: as is apparent to anyone with unblinkered eyes, Dialectical Marxism is one the most unsuccessful major political movements/ideologies in human history -- almost bar none. Given its bold aims, totalising theory and the fact that it is supposed to represent the interests and aspirations of the vast bulk of humanity, the opposite should be the case. It isn't.


As noted earlier, the record of Dialectical Trotskyism is, if anything, even worse. In fact, it is little short of disastrous. And I say that as a Trotskyist!


To be sure, these observations are less true of Academic Marxism, a hardy perennial that largely sprang into life sometime in the 1960s, and is still going strong -- but, alas, to nowhere in particular.



Figure One: Academic Marxism -- The Movie


In fact, the political 'effectiveness' of this academic current has been conspicuous by its absence, which is an odd sort of thing to have to say about those comrades in Universities and Colleges around the world who spare no effort reminding us that truth is tested in practice (or, praxis, to use their buzz-word). For these individuals, "practice" appears to mean little more than attending a few seminars, endlessly discussing obscure philosophical conundrums on Internet mailing-lists/discussion-boards, writing blogs and incomprehensible books and articles about Marx's 'dialectical method' in Das Kapital -- or even blogs and entire websites reviewing incomprehensible books and articles written by other Academic Marxists -- that not one single worker will clap their eyes on, or would bother reading even if they did.


Ironically, just as the richest of Christian denominations on the planet attempt to 'justify' the brazenly luxurious life-style of Cardinals and Bishops while claiming to represent a man who lived in absolute poverty and who condemned wealth, so these academic comrades claim to be furthering the "world-view of the proletariat" with theories that few without a PhD could hope to 'comprehend'.


[The word "comprehend" is in 'scare quotes' since it is a moot point whether anyone actually understands the academic gobbledygook these comrades happily churn out -- indeed, as I have shown here, here and here, for example.]


Hence, I find myself agreeing with John Rees's recent summary of Tony Cliff's attitude to Academic Marxism:


"At the same time he [Cliff] had no time either for academic Marxism or for theory divorced from practice. Academic Marxism was for Cliff an oxymoron precisely because it lacked any relationship with political practice. He found Louis Althusser's idea of 'theoretical practice', the notion that theory was its own form of practice, to be ridiculous to the point of laughable. Indeed one of his favourite jokes in this context was to parody this idea, 'I write a book, that's the theory. You read it, that's the practice!'." [Quoted from here; accessed 09/04/2020. Links added.]




Although at the time I had no way of proving it, the local events mentioned earlier suggested that DM might have something to do with this wider, but suitably ironic, 'unity of opposites' -- i.e., the long-term failure of a movement that should in fact be hugely successful.


The thought then occurred to me that perhaps this paradoxical situation -- wherein a political movement that avowedly represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of inhabitants of this planet is ignored by all but a few -- was linked in some way to:


(i) The vague, confused and contradictory theory at its heart, DM; and,


(ii) The class origin and class position of its leading members and theorists.


I began to wonder whether the above considerations at least formed part of the reason why all revolutionary groups remain small, fragmentary or lack significant impact and influence. Indeed, could such factors be related to the unprincipled (if not manipulatively instrumental) way that Disciples of the Dialectic tend to treat, use and abuse one another? Maybe this also had something to do with the rapidity with which former 'friends' and 'comrades' resort to lying, gossip-mongering and smearing one another -- for example, in the recent collapse of UK-Respect (but not just there).


Indeed, until recently, a good place to sample much of this 'comradely banter' was over at the Socialist Unity website -- aptly so-named, presumably, because it unwittingly, perhaps even 'dialectically', managed to do the exact opposite. Its 'owner' is, or used to be, a huge fan of the 'dialectic'. A large proportion of its space was devoted to highlighting every negative factoid (of dubious provenance) it could lay its hands on to rubbish, malign and bad-mouth the UK-SWP, its 'leaders' and Leninism in general. Many of the contributions in the comments section at the end of each article at that site are -- if that were possible -- even more hostile and uncomradely. The level of abuse and vitriol directed at fellow socialists has to be seen to be believed. Small wonder then that very few female comrades ventured there -- especially given the content of the next couple of paragraphs.


Update, September 2012: The aforementioned 'comradely' acrimony and vitriol over at Socialist Unity re-surfaced in the late summer of 2012 amidst the controversy around Julian Assange and his alleged rape of two Swedish women -- which controversy was seriously compounded by the offensive remarks George Galloway subsequently made about rape. [On that see here and here (especially in the comments section). See also, here, here, here, here and here.]


Readers will no doubt have noticed that Socialist Unity had degenerated to such an extent that it even attempted to defend Galloway and brush aside his remarks on rape as a 'mis-statement'. This, about someone who is supposed to be one of the left's most eloquent speakers! That development led to the resignation of two of Respect's leading female members.


[I have moved several Updates that used to appear here to the Endnotes, in this case, Note 001a. Update, May 2019: The Socialist Unity website has since folded; given the above, few will miss it.]001a


Witness, too, the animosity and personal abuse also evident in the 2007 split that fractured the US Communist League, and the even more recent feud (February 2008) in the Maoist RCP-US. In 2007/08, there was a similar, dialectically-inspired bust-up (this link now appears to be dead!) in the US wing of the ICFI. The 2009/10 split (that link also appears to be dead!) in the IMT/WIL was no less rancorous.


The following remarks represent a revealing commentary on the above fragmentation of the IMT:


"The Venezuelan comrades of the IMT held their re-founding Congress in Caracas, taking the opportunity to launch their new paper, Lucha de Clases (Class Struggle). The comrades have had to deal with very difficult internal conditions over the past year but have been able to re-found the Venezuelan section of the IMT with great enthusiasm and optimism. The unanimous feeling was that the organisation was now on a qualitative higher level than before. Having purged the organisation of harmful ultra-left and sectarian deviations, they are prepared to play a decisive role within the PSUV and the Venezuelan revolution." [Quoted from here. Bold emphasis added. (On the reaction of their former comrades in the Militant Tendency, see here.)]


Attentive readers will no doubt notice how splits and expulsions somehow manage to 'strengthen' the movement! Gerry Healy, DM-Guru par excellence, was well known for holding similar views. Here are some comments he made soon after he was expelled from the WRP for raping several female members of his party:


"A new WRP is already well under way to replace the old. Its cadres will be schooled in the dialectical materialist method of training and it will speedily rebuild its daily press. It will be a new beginning, but a great revolutionary leap forward into the leadership of the British and the international working class. It will be a revolutionary leap forward for the [ICFI]." [Healy's 'Interim Statement' 24/10/1985, reproduced in Lotz and Feldman (1994), pp.335-36. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphases added.]


Just how great a "leap" forward, and just how effective these 'born-again' Dialectical Day-Dreamers proved to be, can be judged from the fact that the 'new' WRP soon split again, and then again, and is now a tiny rump wallowing in a state of truly impressive irrelevance. Healy has since gone to meet The Great Contradiction In The Sky.


Compare the above with the way that some members of the IST responded to the crisis that engulfed the UK-SWP in 2012/13:


"[We] on the German revolutionary left...have followed the developing crisis in the SWP with a mix of great concern and a bit of hope. There is an immense danger that this crisis will result in a substantial, long-term weakening of the SWP and have destructive effects on the entire International Socialist Tendency.... However, this crisis also presents the possibility of a democratic renewal of the SWP and the IST -- and with it a strengthening of the entire revolutionary left." [Florian Wilde, quoted from here; accessed 31/01/2013. Bold emphasis and link added. That hope was soon dashed as the IST is now a by-word for lack of impact.]


And, here is what ex-SWP-er, Ian Birchall, had to say about that debacle:


"Initially I, and a great many comrades, were deeply depressed and stunned. If the CC had shown some willingness to reassess the situation, to look for reconciliation and compromise, I am sure that many of us would have responded positively. But the CC seemed concerned only to prove how tough it was. One CC member told me that it would be a good thing if the party lost members, since that would strengthen it politically. He compared the situation to the 1975 split -- of which he appeared to know little. I asked him if agreed with the late Gerry Healy's axiom that 'with every defection the party grows stronger'. At this he did demur." [Quoted from here; accessed 15/12/2014. Paragraphs merged; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphases added.]


This is clearly the Trotskyist equivalent of the Maoist idea that "retreat is attack" (believe it or not, that odd claim was also 'justified' by an appeal to the 'unity of opposites'(!)) promulgated by Maoist guru, Ai Ssu-ch'i, in the 1930s (on that, see here). How and why comrades come out with such contradictory doctrines is -- as should by now seem rather obvious -- a direct result of the contradictory theory which holds them in its thrall.


[There are more details here, here and here.]


As I pointed out in Essay Nine Part One:


Here lies the source of much of the corruption we see in Dialectical Marxism. If your core theory allows you to justify anything you like and its opposite (since it glories in contradiction), then your party can be as undemocratic as you please while you argue that it is 'dialectically' the opposite and the very epitome of democratic accountability. It will also 'allow' you to claim that your party is in the vanguard of the fight against all forms of oppression, all the while covering up, ignoring, justifying, rationalising, excusing or explaining away sexual abuse and rape in that very same party. After all, if you are used to 'thinking dialectically', an extra contradiction or two is just more grist to the dialectical mill!


And if you complain? Well, you just don't 'understand' dialectics...


One thing is clear: we can expect decades more of the same before we finally allow the ruling-class to turn this planet into a cinder, courtesy of our own studied idiocy.


Update, November 2019:


What of my "There will be more" prediction? Well, since the above was first written, the rancorous implosion of the US-ISO in April 2019 amply confirms that forecast. And, there have been yet more: The second largest revolutionary party in the UK, the Socialist Party, has just imploded with equal rancour and hostility (August 2019).


Update, February 2020:


Here is what Wikipedia had to say about the above split -- and this could itself serve as part of any future epitaph carved on the gravestone narking the burial place of Trotskyism (commemorating its unremitting internal squabbling, rancorous back-biting and serial friability):


"In 2019, the CWI split four ways. The leading body of the CWI is the World Congress, which elected an International Executive Committee (IEC) to govern between congresses. The IEC then appointed an International Secretariat (IS) which is responsible for the day-to-day work of the International. The majority of the IS founded a faction called 'In Defence of a Working Class and Trotskyist CWI' (IDWCTCWI) in November 2018 at an IEC meeting, in opposition to the rest of the IEC. This faction held criticisms of a number of national sections of the CWI. The majority of the IEC disagreed with the faction's criticisms, and took issue with the methods used by faction members to conduct the debate, which included talk of expelling one of the sections the faction was criticising. The majority of the Spanish, Venezuelan, Mexican, and Portuguese sections, the first three of which had joined the CWI in 2017 after leaving the International Marxist Tendency, initially supported the IS faction but in April 2019 split with them and then left the CWI altogether to form their own international tendency, International Revolutionary Left. In Spain, a minority which supported the CWI Majority reconstituted themselves as Socialismo Revolucionario, which has been the CWI's section in Spain prior to its 2017 merger with Izquierda Revolucionaria. A minority in Mexico and Portugal also remained in the CWI and supported the CWI Majority.


"The faction's leadership was concentrated in the Socialist Party (England and Wales), as a number of members served on both the leading body of the England & Wales section and on the IS, including its general secretary, Peter Taaffe. The faction attracted support from an overall minority of the CWI's membership. Most of the IEC, and most of the CWI's national sections, encompassing a majority of the International's membership, stood in opposition to the faction. The IEC outlined a process of discussion and debate to avoid a split, leading to a World Congress in January 2020, the highest decision-making body of the CWI. The Taaffe-led IS faction initially agreed, then withdrew their participation from the committee charged with organizing the debate, and declared they would not participate in the IEC or the World Congress. They then held a separate conference in July 2019, open only to CWI members who supported the faction, and asserted that they had 'dissolved and refounded' the CWI. The majority of the CWI continued operating and held an IEC meeting in August 2019, and declared they will 'provisionally organize the renewed international organization with the name "CWI – Majority".'


"In September 2019, a minority faction of the South African section, the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), left the CWI and formed the Marxist Workers Party in support of the Refounded CWI. The remainder of the WASP declared itself for the CWI Majority. The same month, a majority of the German section voted by a 2 to 1 margin to support the CWI Majority. The minority faction formed a new organisation, Sozialistische Organisation Solidarität -- (Sol), supporting the Refounded CWI. The CWI Majority had a presence in 35 countries, making up the majority of the CWI. The Refounded CWI claims to have sections in 11 countries. At the CWI Majority World Congress on 1 February 2020, the name of the organisation was changed to International Socialist Alternative." [Quoted from here; accessed 25/02/2020. All but one link, and all italic emphases, in the original; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Several paragraphs merged.]


It is difficult, therefore, to disagree with much of the following:


"British politics urgently needs a new force -- a movement on the Left to counter capitalism's crisis


"Capitalism is in crisis, but its opponents are writhing around in an even bigger mess. The largest far-left organisation in Britain, the Socialist Workers Party, is currently imploding in the aftermath of a shocking internal scandal. After a leading figure was accused of raping a member, the party set up a 'court' staffed with senior party members, which exonerated him. 'Creeping feminism' has been flung around as a political insult. Prominent members, such as authors China Miéville and Richard Seymour, have publicly assailed their party's leadership. Activists are reported to be in open rebellion at their autocratic leadership, or are simply deserting en masse. This might all sound parochial, the obscure goings-on out on the fringes of Britain's marginal revolutionary left. But the SWP has long punched above its weight. It formed the basis of the organisation behind the Stop The War Coalition, for example, which -- almost exactly a decade go -- mobilised up to two million people to take to the streets against the impending Iraqi bloodbath. Even as they repelled other activists with sectarianism and aggressive recruitment drives, they helped drive crucial movements such as Unite Against Fascism, which recently organised a huge demonstration in Walthamstow that humiliated the racist English Defence League. Thousands hungry for an alternative to the disaster of neo-liberalism have entered the SWP's ranks over the years -- many, sadly, to end up burnt out and demoralised....


"But the truth is that Britain urgently needs a movement uniting all those desperate for a coherent alternative to the tragedy of austerity, inflicted on this country without any proper mandate.... The history -- and failures -- of the radical left are imprinted on my own family, spanning four generations: my relatives had wages docked in the 1926 General Strike and joined failed projects ranging from the Independent Labour Party to the Communists. My parents met in the Trotskyist Militant Tendency in the late 1960s; my father became their South Yorkshire organiser, and striking miners babysat my brothers while he fought (unsuccessfully) for revolution.... Neither would I argue for yet another party of the left to be built, Leninist or not. Britons are becoming poorer with every passing year; the wealthy elite continues to boom -- the increase in the fortunes of the richest 1,000 since 2008 eclipses our annual deficit; and Labour's leaders are still to offer a genuine alternative to austerity. But parties challenging Labour for the mantle of the left languish, as they have almost always done, in political oblivion. In the by-election in Manchester Central back in November, for example, the catchily titled Trade Union and Socialist Coalition won an embarrassing 220 votes and was even beaten by the Pirate Party. If not now, comrades, then when?... But it is absurd that -- as we live through a Great Reverse of living standards and hard-won rights -- the opponents of austerity are scattered and fragmented. Even as their poison drives up debt, poverty and long-term unemployment alike, the High Priests of Austerity remain perversely united.


"Ugly forces are more than happy to benefit from a widespread mood of revulsion at the political establishment. Nigel Farage has benefited from a ubiquitous presence on our TV screens -- so much for a left-wing conspiracy at [the BBC] -- but Ukip is thriving too as a collective middle finger stuck up at our rulers. If the left cannot pull itself together half a decade after global capitalism started to totter, the populist right knows a vacuum when it sees one." [Owen Jones, The Independent, 20/01/2013. Several links added, and several paragraphs merged. In 2015, Jones was a prominent and vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn; in 2016, he performed a U-turn, and, during the Labour Leadership election campaign, lent his support to Owen Smith, a Labour MP, who, overnight, discovered he had a few left-wing ideas. Jones then became one of the more vocal anti-Corbyn critics. Could it be that his parents' Trotskyism taught Jones enough dialectics to enable him to 'justify' his 'contradictory' behaviour? Update, September 2016: Jones now appears to have performed yet another U-turn! Update, November 2019: UKIP have now all but vanished to be replaced by Nigel Farage's new, right-wing party, Brexit. Update, July 2021: Brexit has also passed into oblivion, and Farage has been reduced to fronting adverts on YouTube. Update June 2024: Jones has now resigned from the Labour Party (largely over that party's horrendous line over the genocide talking place in Gaza), and is promoting the Greens. Farage now leads the far right Reform Party.]


Update, May 2024: The UK-SWP has just issued this statement about what happened in 2012/13; eleven years too late. On that, see Appendix One.


Just when the most concerted and vicious attack on workers' living standards (that the world has witnessed in many generations) gains momentum, the far-left has shot itself in the head. At a time when the far right and the fascists are mobilising throughout much of Europe and the USA, we have fatally compromised our ability to resist and fight back! How many more self-inflicted wounds can our movement take? When are we going to start learning from history?


Are we just unlucky?


Or, are there deeper structural and ideological reasons for our serial screw-ups, failures and set-backs? blik




Several other questions soon emerged: Could it be that DM is indirectly, or even directly, connected with the tendency almost all revolutionary groups have of wanting to substitute themselves for the working-class --, or, at least, for excusing the substitution of other forces for workers, be they Red Army tanks, Maoist guerrillas, 'the peasantry', Central Committees, a 'Great Helmsman'/'Teacher', radicalised students, 'sympathetic', 'progressive' nationalist leaders, 'leftwing' MPs, or 'rainbow alliances'...? Indeed, has it been used to 'justify' and rationalise seemingly endless short-term, opportunistic and cynical tactical and strategic twists and turns (some of which took place literally overnight -- like the 180ş flips performed by the CPSU and the CCP in the 1920s and 1930s), which helped destroy more than one revolution, demobilised workers' struggles, indirectly leading to the death of millions of workers and their families in the run up to, and during, WW2 --, or, indeed, ever since?


[As we shall see, in each case, the answer to the above questions is, alas, unequivocally in the affirmative.]


And there are still some on the far-left who wonder why workers (particularly class conscious workers) across the planet ignore, or even distrust us!


It seemed to me that researching these and related questions might help explain why revolutionary socialism has been so spectacularly unsuccessful for so long. Indeed, if there are no fixed principles (according to the fixed DM-principle that there aren't any!), it is hardly surprising that comrades treat one another -- and are treated in return -- in an unprincipled and manipulative way. Or, that they use a 'dialectical' version of 'Marxism' to justify whatever is politically self-serving, expedient or opportune.


In that case, isn't DM just another part of the "muck of ages" that Marx claimed humanity had to cast aside if a socialist society is to be created?


Maybe not; but shouldn't it be?


Monumental lack of success (lasting now for over one hundred and forty years -- which means that this isn't just an ephemeral or superficial feature of our movement) sits rather awkwardly with the emphasis dialecticians constantly place on practice as a test of truth. Despite their long history of almost complete failure, DM-theorists still declare that Marxism is a success! This they say is because it has been "tested in practice" and hasn't been found wanting! Now, to ordinary observers, crazy denials and implausible avowals like these resemble a little too uncomfortably the refusal to acknowledge any damage done to him by the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. No matter which body part this joker lost he still claimed he was winning:



Video Two: Monty Python's Black Knight,

'Punching Above His Weight'?


In fact, anyone who has ever tried to convince the DM-faithful that Dialectical Marxism has been and still is an abject failure might just as well try to convince them that Karl Marx was made of cream cheese for all the progress they will make. Indeed, it won't even register, so deep in the sand has the collective dialectical head been inserted.


[Of course, the obverse of this is the widely held view (and not just by ex-Marxists) that Marxism itself has been an abject failure. Those advancing that claim fail to notice that the non-dialectical version hasn't been road tested yet! So, the failure of Dialectical Marxism has no bearing on Marxism itself.]


An irrational compulsion to see the world as other than it really is, is something Marxists quite rightly lay at the door of our class-enemies -- especially those who hold religious beliefs of one sort or other. But, it now looks like that psychological defect has come home to roost and is perched comfortably in each dialectical skull.


This suggested to me that DM might actually insulate militant minds from reality, and that this might actually form part of its appeal: the role it occupies as an 'opiate' numbing critical faculties.


Indeed, the radically perverse nature of dialectics might help convince otherwise alert revolutionaries that even if what they can see with their own eyes contradicts the abstract idea that 'Marxism has been tested successfully in practice' -- abstract because it certainly isn't concrete --, that glaring disparity can be discounted since this 'theory'/'method' also teaches that appearances 'contradict underlying reality'! In that case, the above incongruities are only to be expected. Just like those who hold irrational beliefs in some 'god' or other, DM-fans will completely ignore contrary evidence no matter how cogent it happens to be. And, perversely, even that incongruity only serves to further confirm the theory! For example, we have already seen DM-fans appeal to Engels's First Law, the transformation of 'Quantity into Quality', in order to argue that since a given party has fewer members (it having split or they having left) that must mean its quality has improved!


In a world supposedly full of 'contradictions', what else is to be expected of those who cleave to this dogma?


Hence, no material fact (no matter how obvious, blatant or damning) is allowed to count against the fixed idea that Dialectical Marxism has been, still is, and always will be a ringing success.


Apparently, this is one belief over which the infamous Heraclitean Flux has no hold -- indeed, it appears to be the only belief that remains rock solid, locked in Parmenidean stasis, year in, year out.


Any who doubt this need only read the up-beat, hyperventilated reports found in most revolutionary papers, and on the vast majority of 'dialectical websites' (with few notable exceptions): everything is always coming up roses. Major set-backs are quietly ignored, the smallest success is hyped out of all proportion, hailed as if it were of truly cosmic significance.



Figure Two: Great Moments On The Left -- 01


So, when a dozen or so hard-boiled, leather-necked, brick-faced Bolsheviks gather together in some 'god'-forsaken hotel or pub in the suburbs, we are regaled with the glad tidings that this marks a significant advance for the world-wide proletariat! Except, of course, no one bothered to tell all five billion of them, and the latter happily returned the complement by ignoring these numpties. A month later and what do we find? This 'party of the working-class' has split, with one half expelling the other -- and, as if to rub it in, even that outcome is hailed as a major advance for the toiling masses (as, indeed, we saw above with the IMT and Gerry Healy)!



Figure Three: Great Moments On The Left -- 02


The situation in the USA, with respect to the ISO, seems to be somewhat similar, as one comrade recently pointed out:


"And there is, finally, the question of the group's size and impact. A lot of games have been played with the categories of 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' since Convention, as if these have nothing to do with one another. In particular, while it is now basically admitted that the ISO has shrunk over the last several years, the leadership faction claims that the group's 'quality' has improved. Now it is theoretically possible for a group to decline in numbers and grow in strength -- if, for example, ten 'random' comrades quit and we recruit five people in a single important workplace, we probably would be stronger -- but the implications of what comrades are saying in the concrete context are really quite chilling. That is, it is being argued that shedding cadre is neither bad nor even neutral, but a positive good.


"In truth, the ISO has declined quantitatively and qualitatively since 2008, just like the international left generally. The fact that this has happened to basically everyone indicates that powerful 'objective' factors are engaged; the decline in itself is arguably not a sin. What is a sin -- always and under any circumstances -- is lying to oneself about it." [Quoted from here; accessed 03/11/2014. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; link in the original. Bold emphases alone added. Just how much of an 'advance' this proved to be can be seen from the fact that, as noted above, the ISO has now imploded.]


The conclusions drawn above are even more revealing given the additional fact that DM was used (again, in the shape of the law of the transformation of "quantity and quality") to reconfigure each such serious set-back as its opposite.


[Here is another excellent example of this 'contradictory' phenomenon.]


The reader is invited to check for herself the rabid optimism that (up until recently) swept, for example, through Respect, and then Respect Renewal (the 'breakaway' party), especially here (where even the cake that was served was "marvellous"!) --, and that after yet another split! Three hundred or so bedraggled comrades roll up a century-and-a-half or more after the Communist Manifesto was first published and that is somehow something to shout from the rooftops! Of course, all this rabid optimism has since melted away, replaced by fragmentation and bitter recrimination, currently being camouflaged somewhat behind illusions in a revived Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. [That, too, has now drifted off into the ether.]


And, what is worse: these comrades still refuse to be told!


It looks like single-celled organisms learn faster.


To be sure, not everyone involved in the above split was a fan of 'the dialectic' (even though significant sections were); once again, the class-origin and current class-position of the vast majority of those involved were key factors, for it is in this petty-bourgeois soil that sectarianism festers -- aggravated, of course, by this mystical 'theory', DM.


[Again, these phenomena have been analysed in much greater detail in Essay Nine Part Two.]


A century-and-a-half mismatch between theory and observation of this order of magnitude would normally sink an honest theory (i.e., a scientific theory), but not DM. One consequence of this particular 'theory' is that the message delivered to the collective dialectical brain is inverted into its opposite, becoming a powerful motivating force for the re-confirmation of the very theory that instructs believers to expect just such discrepancies, just such 'contradictions'! Theorists who proudly proclaim their materialist credentials can now 'safely' ignore material reality -- since it is merely an 'appearance', or even an 'abstraction' --, while clinging to the comforting theoretical idea that everything is hunky-dory, and the tide of history is on their side.


The fact that dialecticians almost en masse have bought into this rosy view of reality suggests that something has gone badly wrong, something is misfiring inside these Hermetically-compromised brains.


Dialectical Myopia is, alas, a movement-wide phenomenon. It afflicts Maoists and Stalinists, Orthodox Trotskyists and Libertarian Communists, Non-Orthodox Trotskyists, Left Communists, 'Green' Marxists and Academic Marxists alike. In fact, the deep, sectarian divisions that have split the movement from top to bottom, and from one side to the other for generations unfortunately haven't succeeded in dividing opinion over the following two factors:


(i) While every tendency views every other tendency as an abject failure, a 'traitor to the cause', the members of each given party judge themselves to be success incarnate; and,


(ii) DM has absolutely nothing to do with what few, if any, failures its acolytes even care to acknowledge. Perish the thought...


This means that the only two things in the entire universe that aren't interconnected are DM and the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism!


In a world governed by topsy-turvy logic like this, fantasy is all too easily substituted for fact, reality replaced by wish-fulfilment.


The almost universal and long-term rejection of Dialectical Marxism by practically every section of the working-class can thus be flipped upside down so that it becomes the source of Dialectical Marxism's strongest support! If workers disdain Marxism, then the theory that inverted this material fact -- transforming it into the contrary idea that workers don't really do this (since they are blinded by "false consciousness", have been 'bought-off' by imperialist super-profits, or have succumbed to 'commodity fetishism', 'commonsense', or 'formal thinking') -- at one stroke becomes both cause and consequence of the failure of revolutionary politics to "seize the masses". That is because hard-core fantasy like this actually prevents its victims from facing up to the long-term, profound problems that confront Marxism.


Of course, if there are no problems with the core theory (DM), then, plainly, none need be addressed!


So, the theory that helps keep Marxism unsuccessful is the very same theory that tells those held in its thrall that the opposite is in fact the case, and that nothing need be done about it, even as it insulates each militant mind from a recalcitrant reality that tells a different story.


This means that the DM-inspired negators of material reality can now safely ignore the fact that it universally negates their theory in return. As a result, 'reality' has to be rotated through 180ş in order to conform with the idea that whatever happens will always be a victory for socialism -- at least in the long term..., or..., er..., someday soon..., er..., anyway, the movement is..., er..., building, anger is..., um..., growing, the crisis is..., er..., deepening... We had a whopping 300 at our last World-wide convention, comrade!


This is a contradiction of such prodigious proportions that only those who "understand" dialectics are capable of "grasping" it!


Ironically enough for a theory ostensively concocted by hard-nosed Bolsheviks, the Ideal now stands proudly on its feet, the material world having been unceremoniously up-ended. No wonder Lenin said he preferred 'intelligent' Idealists to 'crude' materialists:


"Intelligent idealism is closer to intelligent materialism than stupid materialism. Dialectical idealism instead of intelligent; (sic) metaphysical, undeveloped, dead, crude, rigid instead of stupid." [Lenin (1961), p.274.]


But, if anything that happens can be made to agree with this 'theory', if decades of defeats, set-backs, splits and disasters count for nothing, how can it reasonably be maintained that practice is a test of truth? What exactly is being tested if history is so readily ignored? If DM can't fail whatever happens, why bother with this empty charade?


The short answer is, of course, that practice has never been used to test the truth of Dialectical Marxism -- despite what the official brochure might try to tell you. Had it been, there would be no DM-supporters left to question that seemingly impertinent allegation, since they would have seen Dialectical Marxism for what it is: failure writ large, refuting a theory writ small, and given up.


If one hundred-and-fifty years of defeat, retreat, disaster and debacle are anything to go by, we can safely conclude one or more of the following:


(a) If practice is a criterion of truth, Dialectical Marxism stands refuted;


(b) If practice is a criterion of truth, it hasn't yet been applied to Dialectical Marxism itself; or,


(c) Practice isn't a reliable test of truth.


If allegations like these drift anywhere in the vicinity of truth, it would seem reasonable to suppose that an adherence to DM will possess other noxious implications or side-effects that its adepts might prefer to ignore, or which they can be expected to try to invert in like manner.


Perhaps this theory has helped aggravate the following unappealing DM-traits:


(i) Mean-spirited intolerance and disdain displayed by comrades of one group toward those of any and all others in the revolutionary movement;


(ii) Sectarian in-fighting concerning minor theoretical differences over the interpretation of this or that vanishingly small dialectical thesis;


(iii) Personality cults;


(iv) Substitutionist tendencies displayed by almost all 'professional' revolutionaries;


(v) The anti-democratic promulgation of dogmatic theses by cabal-like Central Committees;


(vi) The casuistical rationalisation of dictatorial internal party structures;


(vii) Inconsistent tactical manoeuvres based on the adoption of openly contradictory 'principles';


(viii) The megalomaniacal idea that a handful of militants gathered together in, say, a flat in Camden, are authorised to issue demands on behalf of the "International Proletariat";


(ix) An irrational devotion to quasi-mystical theses -- involving, among other things:


(a) A belief in the 'infinite',


(b) A commitment to the idea that nature is a unified whole where everything is inter-connected,


(c) The brazenly animistic doctrine that the universe is involved in what can only be described as an endless 'argument' with itself -- evidenced by the alleged fact that there exist real "contradictions" in nature and society --; and finally,


(x) The tendency practically all dialecticians have for quoting Holy Writ in answer to any and all objections -- and this from comrades who are otherwise proud of their independence of mind!


All of these, and more, can and will be attributed in part or in whole to an acceptance of the 'dialectic' in what follows at this site. The prevalence of these faults and foibles is hardly surprising given the fact that the philosophical principles underlying DM can be traced back to the ideas and opinions of ancient and early modern Mystics, whose theories both mirrored and expressed well-entrenched ruling-class priorities and forms-of-thought.


At this point it is important to add the following comments (taken from here):


A word of warning upfront -- this isn't my argument:


Dialectical Marxism has failed, therefore DM is false.


It is the following:


DM is far too vague and confused for anyone to be able to say whether or not it is true, so no wonder it has failed us for so long.


I certainly don't believe that truth is tested in practice (why that is so is explained in detail here)....


Nor am I blaming all our woes on this 'theory'!


[The above remarks have been (or will be) substantiated in the following Essays: Nine Parts One and Two, Twelve Parts Two and Three, and Fourteen Part One -- summaries here, here and here -- I have linked to summaries since the latter three Essays haven't been published yet.]


The unity, self-discipline and grass-roots democracy that the class war progressively forces on workers stands in stark contrast to the petty sectarian divisiveness found in all known revolutionary parties. Amazingly, comrades can still be found who will argue that on the one hand workers must organise collectively to defend themselves, while on the other they will tell anyone who will listen that voting to expel this or that faction from that or this party will "historically" advance the cause of the working class!


Yet another 'unity of opposites' for bemused readers to ponder.


The fact that dialecticians can't even see the incongruity here speaks volumes in itself. Of course, such splits are often driven by a desire to maintain doctrinal 'purity', but that implicates dialectics all the more. It is only because the DM-classics are generally treated as Holy Writ that the notion of doctrinal purity makes any sense. Indeed, just like the Bible, the fathomless obscurity of Hegel's Logic works admirably well in this regard, too. Of course, that is further compounded by the growing existence of a corpus of highly repetitive, 'lesser' DM-works, which feed off the Mystical Motherlode like hungry piglets around a sow:



Video Three: Feeding Time On

Planet Dialectics?


The class origin of professional and semi-professional revolutionaries -- coupled with the ideologically-compromised theory they have adopted -- helps account for the radical mis-match between the political and economic interests of the working-class and the irrelevant philosophical ideas spouted by these self-appointed 'class-warriors' -- 'tribunes' of the people. In fact, Dialectical Marxists have simply lost touch with the working class.


The differential effect on workers and revolutionaries of the above factors is instructive in itself: while the class war forces workers to combine, it drives revolutionaries apart.


This rather odd state-of-affairs needs explaining -- and it has been, in Essay Nine Parts One and Two.


As a result of the action of well-known economic and social forces, working people have had to unite to defend themselves, so maybe the fragmentation witnessed in our 'movement' can similarly be explained as the result of other, less well-appreciated social and ideological forces -- those inherent perhaps in the class origin and current class position of leading revolutionaries. As Marx noted:


"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."


"Social being" might very well 'determine' the ideological predilections of leading Marxists, none of whom were beamed down to this planet fully-formed, DM-theses-in-hand. As members of the human race, dialecticians are surely not above the material pressures that shape the rest of us. But you wouldn't be able to conclude that by examining the inflated view they have of themselves. As far as they are concerned, social forces have by-passed any and all involvement in the formation of their ideas.


[The accusation that this is just "crude reductionism" has been rebutted here.]


If not, it must be a sheer coincidence that DM-fans share most of their core ideas and attitudes with practically every mystic who has ever walked the earth --, who, as bad luck would have it, also occupied analogous class positions, and hence had a commensurate need for some form of consolation. It must also be entirely 'coincidental' that Dialectical Marxism shares with all known mystical belief-systems the same propensity to fragment and split.


Is it beyond the realms of possibility that the historical forces, which originally helped shape class society -- and which also gave birth to the ideas of those who still benefit from class division --, have played their own part this glaring antinomy?


Those who disagree with the above and who reject it out-of -hand need go no further.


I have no desire to wake you from your dogmatic slumber.


The rest should consider this possibility: if it can be shown that DM was derived from, and belongs to, an ancient, well-entrenched, divisive philosophical tradition, which developed alongside and was nurtured by class conflict (as indeed it can), that might help explain why Dialectical Marxism has witnessed little other than fragmentation, sectarian division and unremitting failure almost from its inception. If DM is indeed part of a theoretical tradition that owes its life to ruling-class patterns-of-thought, and its leading figures and theorists came from the same class, its tendency to foment and then exacerbate division will thus have a materialist explanation.


As I have explained elsewhere at this site:


This ancient tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a hidden world -- populated by the 'gods', assorted 'spirits' and mysterious 'essences' -- a 'world' that is more real than the material universe we see around us, accessible to thought alone. Theology was openly and brazenly built on this premise; so, too, was Traditional Philosophy.


This way of viewing the world was concocted by ideologues of the ruling-class. These "prize-fighters" (as Marx called them) ensured that the majority were educated, or, rather, they were indoctrinated so that they saw things the same way. They invented this 'world-view' because if you belong to, benefit from, or help run a society that is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in a number of ways.

The first and most obvious is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

Another is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers" -- philosophers, administrators, editors, bishops, educators, 'intellectuals', and the like) that the present order either (a) works for their benefit, (b) is ordained of the 'gods', (c) defends 'civilised values', or (d) is 'natural' and hence cannot be fought against, reformed or negotiated with.


These ideas were then imposed on reality -- plainly, since they can't be read from it.


Hence, a 'world-view' is necessary for the ruling-class to carry on ruling "in the same old way". While the content of this ruling ideology might have altered with each change in the mode of production, its form has remained largely the same for thousands of years: Ultimate Truth is ascertainable by thought alone, and can therefore be imposed on reality dogmatically.


So, the non-worker founders of our movement -- who had been educated from an early age to believe there was just such a 'hidden world' lying behind 'appearances' that governed everything in existence -- when they became revolutionaries automatically looked for 'logical' principles relating to this 'abstract world' that told them that change and development were inevitable, part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of that ruling-class mystic, Hegel. Hence, the dialectical classicists latched onto this theory, which they were already predisposed to impose on the world (upside down or the "right way up") -- because of their education, it seemed quite natural for them to do so. That is because this is how 'genuine' philosophers have always behaved and should always behave -- or so they had been socialised to believe.


Indeed, we find an echo of this idea in the Communist Manifesto:


"[O]ne fact is common to all past ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all the multiplicity and variety it displays, moves within certain common forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of class antagonisms. The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involved the most radical rupture with traditional ideas." [Marx and Engels (1848), p.52. Bold emphases added.]


As well as this famous passage:


"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch...." [Marx and Engels (1970), pp.64-65, quoted from here. Bold emphases added.]


The ruling elite and their ideological 'prize fighters' thus created an ancient and long-lasting tradition that protects and promotes their interests. The founders of DM had these ideas forced down their throats even before they went to school; it was part of their religious upbringing. All they did when they became revolutionaries was throw away the religious outer husk and -- thanks to that Christian Mystic, Hegel -- they re-cast this ancient, ruling-class tradition in 'dialectical language'. For them, the hidden world of 'essences' remained more real than the "abstract" material world we see around us (which is precisely how Engels described it). Furthermore, this hidden world can be accessed by thought alone -- which accounts for the dogmatic, a priori nature of DM. [On that, see Essay Two.]


Is this then the historical and ideological source of deeply engrained sectarian and substitutionist thinking in our movement?


It certainly is.


Even better -- it is possible to show it is.


It thus became clear to me that if these un-comradely 'vices' were to be eradicated from our movement, this malignant tumour, DM, must be completely excised.


Of course, as noted above, this isn't to suggest that dialectics is the only reason for the legendary failure of Marxist ideas to "seize the masses", but it certainly helps explain why revolutionary parties tend to be perennially small, steadfastly suspicious (if not neurotically paranoid), religiously sectarian, routinely authoritarian, studiously insular, worryingly substitutionist, profoundly unreasonable, consistently inconsistent and monumentally unsuccessful.


In fact, and on the contrary, had such 'vices' led to success, that would need explaining!




A supporter of this site raised a few of these issues at a national gathering of the UK-SWP in London in July 1990. The reception he received from one large meeting suggested two things:


(i) That there were many comrades in and around that party (at that time) who thought like him but had no focus for their views, and,


(ii) That the party leadership would resist any attempt to undermine their collective commitment to the Sacred Dialectical Mantra.


For personal (not political) reasons I let my membership of this party lapse in the early 1990s, and although I have been active around several issues since (for example, in connection with the massive demonstrations in support of the NUM in the early 1990s and those in opposition to US/UK/Israeli aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, and Lebanon between 2003-14), my links with the UK-SWP have been merely formal.


However, it is worth noting that I still have no theoretical differences with this party (other than those that involve an acceptance of 'Materialist Dialectics'). It is also important to add that my differences with the UK-SWP now revolve around their disastrous handling of those recent rape allegations. As I noted earlier:


I continued to identify with it politically until at least 2012. The self-inflicted crisis that engulfed the party later that year -- which concerned a cover up of allegations of rape levelled against a leading member -- meant that I could no longer associate myself with that party at any level




Nevertheless, in 1998 John Rees published TAR. This awoke me from my non-dogmatic slumbers and motivated me to write a detailed response since his book symbolised for me much that was wrong with Marxist Philosophy. Despite its obvious strengths (not the least of which is its clear commitment to the revolutionary transformation of society), TAR is a stark reminder that the very best of socialists can have their thinking seriously clouded by dialectical mist.


And yet TAR isn't the worst offender in this regard; in fact, it is an unorthodox DM-text! 'Orthodox' dialecticians will, I am sure, abhor it. They will accuse it of this or that heinous crime against 'the dialectic': that it is a "revisionist" tract; that it is too "concrete"; that it is not "concrete" enough; that it is too "abstract"; that it isn't "abstract" enough; that it underplays theoretical issues and is thus superficial (I have already seen that one on the Internet -- but, see below); that it is too theoretical; that it takes a "subjectivist" view of this or that; that it takes an "objectivist" view of that or this; that it is "eclectic"; that it isn't "all-rounded", and is too "one-sided"; that it is the work of a "sophist"; that it has been hobbled by "formalism"; that it isn't "formal" enough; that it is far too "empiricist"; that it isn't empirical enough; that it is a "rehash" (this is a popular word among the DM-faithful) of such and such, or of so and so; that is it little more than "warmed-over" (another popular dialectical buzzword) reformism, or X-,Y-, or Z-ism; that it is Idealist, and/or "elitist"; that it is "positivist"; that it ignores "materialist dialectics"(!); that it fails to consider "systematic dialectics"; that it is "workerist"; that it forgets that "matter precedes motion" (or is it the other way round?), etc., etc.... Indeed as Paul LeBlanc has written:


"It is truly unfortunate that -- far from being widely recognized as the valuable contribution it is -- this book has had little publicity in Marxist and left-wing journals. Perhaps Rees's involvement in the British Socialist Workers Party is seen as sufficient reason by some for ignoring him, but this is hardly a narrow 'party' tract. It is a book of enduring value. One of the few reviews to appear so far, in the important Marxist journal Historical Materialism, distorts what Rees says in order to make him look foolish and dismiss his work. The reviewer (who is capable of much better) counts among the author's 'sins' the fact that he finds important philosophical contributions in the work of Frederick Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Georg Lukacs -- and that Rees is critical of one of the reviewer’s favourite thinkers, the late Raya Dunayevskaya, who engaged in interesting Hegel and Marx scholarship and headed a still-existing 'Marxist-Humanist' current.


"Rees makes positive reference to her work but criticizes what he sees as her attempt 'to more or less apply Hegel's categories to the modern world' in a manner that results in an over-abundance of 'abstract generalization' (p.108). In his opinion, Hegel's version of dialectics is vitally important, but also fundamentally flawed; his method had to be re-worked to be effectively utilized by Marx and others to advance revolutionary analysis and struggle. Some might respond that he is too critical of Hegel, while others might complain that he gives the German philosopher too much credit." [Quoted from here, accessed 30/11/2017. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Spelling modified to agree with UK English.]


In fact, TAR will be dismissed simply because that is how the 'orthodox' respond to practically everything that they themselves haven't written.


[Since the above comment by comrade LeBlanc was posted on-line, it is now even clearer that Rees's book has been almost totally ignored by the 'orthodox defenders of the faith', contrary to my prediction that it would be heavily criticised. Damned not by faint praise, but by being completely ignored -- rather like my work, too.]


Sectarianism like this has blighted all known religions, but reproducing that noxious defect has done Marxism few favours. Revolutionaries can't tap into the religious alienation that guarantees the oppressed will often turn to Bishops, Priests and Imams for 'illumination', guidance, or consolation.


Nevertheless, the universally sectarian predisposition evidenced by most dialectically-distracted comrades -- and, indeed, parties -- suggests that as far as party size goes, small isn't just beautiful, it is as inevitable as it is desirable. After all, the smaller the party the easier it is to control.


Hence, despite all the effort that has gone into "building the party" on the Trotskyist left over the last seventy or eighty years, few tendencies can boast membership rolls that rise much above the risible. Not one of them has ever "seized the masses". On the Communist or Stalinist 'left', this, too, has been the case at least for the last fifty or sixty years. Nor, of late, has either tendency looked like they are likely to so much as lightly hug the working class, never mind seize them. In fact, it has been more like an ignored light tap on the shoulder.


But, hey, why change an unsuccessful strategy or challenge a failed theory? Why indeed would anyone who accepts the idea that reality is in the grip of a universal flux want to do such a crazy thing?




That close to home?


Are you mad?!


Have you been reading too much Heraclitus..., oh..., wait...!


Ironically, once again, it seems that this is one abstract principle (i.e., lack of change) to which the 'Orthodox' fondly adhere -- nay, stoutly defend.


But, dialecticians are supposed to be inconsistent; it is in their Idealist Contract. If DM-fans still hope to be 'consistent' with their own belief in universal contradiction, they must continue to preach unity all the while practicing division -- as, indeed, they do.


And we can expect them to continue sanctifying this failed strategy, employing of a battery of familiar-sounding, well-worn rationalisations -- such as, it represents a defence of 'orthodoxy', 'tradition', doctrinal 'purity', and rejects 'Revisionism' -- even though Lenin argued that all scientific theories need constant revision!


"Dialectical materialism insists on the approximate, relative character of every scientific theory of the structure of matter and its properties; it insists on the absence of absolute boundaries in nature, on the transformation of moving matter from one state into another." [Lenin (1972), p.312. Bold emphasis added.]


Trotsky concurred:


"Dialectic materialism is not of course an eternal and immutable philosophy. To think otherwise is to contradict the spirit of the dialectic. Further development of scientific thought will undoubtedly create a more profound doctrine into which dialectic materialism will enter merely as structural material." [Trotsky (1971), pp.96-97. Bold emphasis added.]


Which was an idea underlined by Engels himself:


"Just as the bourgeoisie by large-scale industry, competition, and the world market dissolves in practice all stable time-honoured institutions, so this dialectical philosophy dissolves all conceptions of final, absolute truth and of absolute states of humanity corresponding to it. For it [dialectical philosophy], nothing is final, absolute, sacred. It reveals the transitory character of everything and in everything; nothing can endure before it except the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher. And dialectical philosophy itself is nothing more than the mere reflection of this process in the thinking brain. It has, of course, also a conservative side; it recognizes that definite stages of knowledge and society are justified for their time and circumstances; but only so far. The conservatism of this mode of outlook is relative; its revolutionary character is absolute -- the only absolute dialectical philosophy admits." [Engels (1968), p.588. Bold emphasis added; spelling modified to agree with UK English.]


Given the approach adopted by contemporary defenders of the sacred flame, the above would, of course, mean that Engels, Lenin and Trotsky were -- Shock! Horror! -- 'Revisionists!'


Dialectical Marxists have yet to take the above words seriously -- except, of course, they apply them to everything but their own theory!


It could be countered that Lenin also added these thoughts:


"To analyse Machism and at the same time to ignore this connection -- as Plekhanov does -- is to scoff at the spirit of dialectical materialism, i.e., to sacrifice the method of Engels to the letter of Engels. Engels says explicitly that 'with each epoch making discovery even in the sphere of natural science ["not to speak of the history of mankind"], materialism has to change its form'.... Hence, a revision of the 'form' of Engels' materialism, a revision of his natural-philosophical propositions is not only not 'revisionism,' in the accepted meaning of the term, but, on the contrary, is demanded by Marxism. We criticise the Machians not for making such a revision, but for their purely revisionist trick of betraying the essence of materialism under the guise of criticising its form and of adopting the fundamental precepts of reactionary bourgeois philosophy without making the slightest attempt to deal directly, frankly and definitely with assertions of Engels' which are unquestionably extremely important to the given question, as, for example, his assertion that '...motion without matter is unthinkable'." [Lenin (1972), pp.299-300. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Italic emphases in the original


That clearly represents Lenin's attempt to draw a limit on what can and what can't be criticised, which can only mean Marxism, as he saw it, can't be a science!


However, if Marxism in the shape of HM is to provide the ideas, strategy and organisation necessary for a successful working-class revolution (as I believe it can), and if I am right about the negative impact DM has had on our movement, then the future of the human race partly depends on just this theoretical struggle.


That is how important this issue is.


We have no choice. We can't allow DM to become shorthand for Dead Marxism.


Comrades, you have nothing to lose but your small and steadily shrinking pond!


Introduction To This Site


Some might wonder how I can claim to be both a Leninist and a Trotskyist given the highly critical things I have to say about the philosophical ideas that have formed an integral part of these two revolutionary traditions from their inception. An analogy might help address that concern: we can surely be highly critical of Newton's mystical ideas even while accepting the scientific status of his other work. The same applies here.


I count myself as a Marxist, a Leninist and a Trotskyist since I fully accept, not just HM (providing Hegel's influence has been completely excised), but the political ideas associated with the life, work and revolutionary practice of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky.


Many argue that a rejection of DM automatically disqualifies me from being a Marxist, but that would be true only if Marxism were a religion of some sort, and dialectics a unquestioned and unquestionable dogma.


Nevertheless, in the Essays posted at this site I have mainly focused on core DM-theses, among which are the following: the DM-theory of knowledge, the idea that truth is "tested in practice", the nebulous Totality and the "mediated" relation between whole and part, universal flux, 'determinism' versus 'freedom', the three so-called "Laws of Dialectics" ("the transformation of quantity into quality", the "interpenetration of opposites" (involving "change through internal contradiction"), the "negation of the negation"), the alleged relation between opposing forces and 'contradictions', the nature of abstraction, the 'contradictory' nature of motion, Lenin and the status of matter, the supposed limitations of Formal Logic and the 'Law of Identity'.


In addition, I have also examined the class-compromised origin of the ideas dialecticians have imported into Marxism -- alongside issues connected with the damaging affect these have had on our movement almost from the beginning. I will also be examining the nature of science, language, cognition, and 'mind', as well as Hegel's egregious logical and philosophical blunders (in so far as they impact on the other issues under scrutiny at this site).


However, one of the first difficulties that confronts any aspiring critic is that it is virtually impossible to determine what the above DM-theses actually amount to, especially if reliance is placed solely on what dialecticians themselves have had to say about them. That isn't because little has been written on these topics -- far from it, the opposite is in fact the case --, it is because what has been published is hopelessly vague, mind-numbingly repetitive, alarmingly superficial, and profoundly confused, if not totally incomprehensible (as this series of Essays will amply demonstrate).


This has meant that in every single case it has been necessary for me to attempt to clarify key DM-theses before criticism can even begin! Of course, in endeavouring to do this I am fully aware that I might very well have misrepresented this or that DM-thesis, or, indeed, every single one of them! If that is the case, then any DM-supporters reading this or my other Essays, who conclude that my attempt to rephrase or clarify their theory is unsatisfactory, are invited to contact me, correcting any errors they might find, and say clearly -- for the first time ever -- what their core ideas actually amount to and what they really mean. Over the last forty years I have struggled long and hard to that end, but in extensive detail since at least 1998, as these Essays will confirm. However, even though I have studied logic and philosophy to PhD level, and have a mathematics degree, I still can't make any sense of DM


Unfortunately, there is little prospect that the above DM-clarification will ever emerge -- that is, if it is left to Dialectical Marxists themselves.


That is so for at least two reasons:


(1) Dialectical Marxists appear to be incapable of even entertaining for one second the idea that there might possibly be anything remotely wrong with their core theory, DM. In fact, what I alleged above (i.e., that it is impossible to determine with any clarity what this theory/method actually amounts to) will itself be met with total incredulity (indeed, as it did, for example, here), followed by knee-jerk rejection and open hostility. However, anyone who reads the Essays published at this site will soon see why I have described DM in the above way.


There are several reasons for such Parmenidean, dialectical complacency ("Parmenidean" in the sense that DM-theses never change -- nor do its fans); they have been examined in detail in Essay Nine Part Two. But, whatever the cause, this closed-minded stance seriously affects the way that criticisms are already handled by the faithful. Invariably, detractors are labelled 'enemies of Marxism'; they are misrepresented, misquoted, ridiculed or abused, their motives questioned, and spurious allegations are concocted in order to character assassinate each one of them. [On that, see here and here. A recent (January 2014) example can be found here (in the comments section).] Disconfirming facts and contrary arguments are almost invariably ignored. Either that, or critics (like me) are dismissed as latter-day reincarnations of Peter Struve, Max Eastman or James Burnham (which is, of course, the dialectical equivalent of guilt by association).01


Dire warnings are then issued concerning the serious consequences facing anyone who questions Holy Dialectical Writ --, along the lines that such foolishness will lead anyone reckless enough to ignore that advice away from the true faith -- with the names James Burnham and Max Eastman once again thrown into the mix, as if they were bogeymen.


Of course, fellow Trotskyists who argue along these lines forget that far more of those they themselves count as counter-revolutionaries actually accept DM than those they count as fellow revolutionaries -- namely, the Stalinists and the Maoists. [The latter, of course, will just have to ignore that comment! Except, perhaps, they can apply the same point in reverse to us Trotskyists!] Just as one and all will fail to notice that Plekhanov, a DM-theorist par excellence, was a Menshevik (as were both of the Axelrods); even Max Shachtman was a dialectician after he split with Trotsky. And, Gramsci wasn't known for his support for the application of dialectics to nature. So, there are way more counter-revolutionary- than there are revolutionary-fans-of-the-dialectic. 


[At this point, readers should wait for a few noises that sound like something else being swept under the rug.]


Moreover, in universities and colleges, Systematic Dialectics and Academic Marxism are surely the source of much that is non-revolutionary in Marxism. [While these strains of Dialectical Marxism are vastly more sophisticated than much else that passes for coherent thought in this tradition, they are nevertheless completely useless distant cousins of the hardy perennial known as 'revolutionary dialectics'.] So, that particular subspecies of 'dialectics' is already non-revolutionary.


[The above link leads to an automatically downloadable RTF document.]


This is also quite apart from the fact that countless thousands have been repelled by Dialectical Marxism because of its many foul-ups, like those that have been highlighted here.


In that case, and contrary to what many DM-fans would have us believe, an acceptance of 'the dialectic' isn't super-glued to an unshakable commitment to revolutionary politics, nor is it connected with successful revolutionary activity (and that includes the October 1917 Revolution). Indeed, since Dialectical Marxism has itself been a long-term stranger-to-success, and has played an active role in more than its own fair share of failed revolutions and monumental screw-ups, not only are its adherents in no position to point fingers, they have no legitimate fingers to point!


[Despite this, dialectically-distracted comrades will be the very last to see the above points, so we are likely to witness the same ignorant, knee-jerk dismissal of these Essays from such benighted souls -- i.e., that anyone reading these Essays is in mortal danger of being hoodwinked and led astray!]


This tactic is standard practice; one could even call it a cliché. A perusal of Internet sites where I have 'debated' DM with assorted dialecticians from all wings of Marxism will amply confirm that apparently cynical indictment. [I have listed most of them here.]


One reason for this knee-jerk response is the assumption that because DM is unassailably true (despite Lenin having said that no theory is final and complete), criticism of it can only arise from the suspect ideological and/or political motives -- or, indeed, the personal failings -- of its opponents. Which is why, when I have debated this with dialecticians almost all focus on me, not my arguments.


As Tony Collins noted, but not in connection with DM:


"The problem is, there is a certain way of seeing any discussion of the far-left that's started by someone who isn't a part of it. He must by definition be an enemy and we must therefore believe he's trying to destroy the left.... That's what happens on the far-left. We sort of have these instinctive reactions. You can see glimpses of this all over the net right now, with SWP members openly attacking each other, something I've not seen ever. There's a cult-like hatred of people who used to be allies." [Quoted from here; accessed 14/01/2013. Bold emphases added; paragraphs merged.]


The same can be said with equal validity about the reception of the ideas of those of us on the far-left who attack DM.


Thus, if detractors are branded from the start as insincere or duplicitous (even if there is no evidence to suggest this), or maybe, perhaps, that they are surreptitious enemies of Marxism --, or are even cops in disguise (I have been accused of that several times!) --, then its 'open season' and they can be misrepresented, vilified, abused, and then ignored. Naturally, this is about as sensible as ignoring the first signs of cancer, or attacking anyone who diagnosed its presence and warned of its consequences.


Unquestionably, these particular theoretical waters have been well-and-truly muddied by the detritus stirred up by ideological currents that are openly hostile to revolutionary socialism. Marxists are right to be wary of the underhand tactics employed by the class enemy. However, this reactive stance has meant that revolutionaries have repeatedly been forced onto the defensive; over time this means they have adopted a siege-like mentality. So, from these circled wagons there seem only two ways to shoot: in or out. This 'friend or foe' approach to theory (which, ironically enough, violates the DM-principle that 'there are no hard and fast dichotomies'!) has meant that critics -- even if they turn out to be comrades committed to revolutionary socialism and HM, as I am -- will never be given a fair hearing (or any at all) for fear that this might aid and assist the class enemy.1 Even though this state of semi-permanent paranoia is understandable (given the above considerations), it only serves to perpetuate the myth that DM is without fault, above criticism and is therefore unassailably true.


[However, and alas, there are deeper and more sinister motives at work here -- again, they have been brought to light in Essay Nine Part Two.]


Naturally, an impregnable redoubt like this can only be secured at the cost of rendering Marxism unscientific. There is no science that is immune from error or beyond revision. Indeed, there are none whatsoever that flatly refuse to take any criticism.


In light of what Lenin himself said about the approximate nature of knowledge, Leninists should be the first to see this point. The fact that they aren't in general prepared do so, and do not, cannot or will not even countenance any with respect to DM suggests that for them this theory is neither approximately true nor scientific. It has indeed become a dogma requiring continuous acts of devotion, genuflection and pusillanimous expressions of faith -- defended with the same over-the-top irrationality displayed by the genuine 'god'-botherers among us in defence of their own brand of mysticism.


However, one thing is clear: dialecticians are creatures of tradition. In relation to DM, that is perhaps their most powerful and enduring trait. If readers follow the links posted here, they will see that DM-fans with whom I have 'debated' this doctrine often make the same general point (explicitly, or implicitly): "Who are you, Ms Lichtenstein, to question the likes of Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao...?"


Of course, that itself ignores what Mao himself argued:


"Inner-Party criticism is a weapon for strengthening the Party organization and increasing its fighting capacity." [Quoted from here.]


Just as it disregards what Marx himself said:


"[I]t is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists...." [Quoted from here. Italic emphasis in the original.]

In fact, such comrades appear to have forgotten that the progress of science is predicated on just such questioning, just such criticism. Had these characters lived centuries ago, one can almost imagine them arguing: "Who are you, Galileo, to question Aristotle and the Church?"; "Who are you, Hegel, to question Kant?"; "Who are you, Feuerbach, to question Hegel?"; "Who are you, Herr Marx, to question Ricardo?"


And even when that point is put to them it sails right over their heads, so compromised and ossified have their critical faculties become. Small wonder then that in Essay Nine Part Two I liken them to religious obscurantists.


(2) The second reason for this theoretically moribund state of affairs isn't unconnected with the first: DM-supporters invariably regard any attempt to examine dialectics critically as an attack on Marxism itself -- even where (as here) that isn't the case. This defensive posture has evidently been motivated by the suspicion that any attempt to clarify their core theory -- i.e., any attempt that advances beyond yet another paraphrase or regurgitation of the 'classics', or that refuses to become yet another introduction to the basics -- might foster the suspicion that the dogmas enshrined therein are less than perfect. Otherwise, why 'clarify' them? After all, do Christians try to 'clarify' the Gospels or even attempt to improve them?2


However, an unfortunate consequence of this reactive stance is that DM has remained trapped in a theoretical time-warp now lasting well over a hundred years. An almost permanent doctrinal ossification has descended upon this theory. Despite their eagle-eyed capacity to spot change everywhere else, DM-fans fail to notice this example of semi-permanent stasis in their own back yard.2a Clearly, the faithful prefer this moribund state of affairs to one that might suggest DM is defective in any way, and so might need to be re-examined -- along lines Lenin suggested was the case with anything that claimed to be scientific. TAR at least attempts to approach this subject from a fresh angle, but even TAR in the end settles for yet another re-working of the classics (i.e., if we include in that category the work of György Lukács).


A theory steeped in formalin, it seems, can't rot any further, but it is still dead for all that.


Beyond trivialities, this means that DM hasn't advanced theoretically in over a century (and possibly far longer if we recall that Lenin's work was largely a re-tailing of Hegel's 'Logic', minus its overtly mystical content and intentions). That is how "vibrant" this theory is. Indeed, Tutankhamen looks positively sprightly in comparison.


[Of course, some will dispute that allegation, but beyond the addition of several layers of obscure jargon -- of the sort we find in Raya Dunayevskaya's unintelligible work (Dunayevskaya (1982) and (2002)), Roy Bhaskar's unreadable tome, Dialectic The Pulse Of Freedom (Bhaskar (1993)), or in Slavoj Zizek's two recent and impenetrable books on the subject (Zizek (2012) and (2015)) -- nothing substantially new has been added since Lenin inflicted his 'philosophical' ideas on the DM-faithful a century ago. And even that was a reprise of Hegel!]


This backward-facing orientation (unique, except perhaps for a somewhat similar approach adopted by Fundamentalist Theologians) helps explain why Lenin, for example, imagined he could advance dialectics by retrieving concepts he unearthed in Hegel's 'logic', obsolete ideas that had been committed to paper a good century earlier still!3


It is instructive to contrast this conservative approach to 'knowledge' with the way that genuine science develops. It is difficult to imagine someone like, say, Niels Bohr referring back to the ideas of Newton, copying them out and commenting on them in detail -- and doing practically nothing else -- in his endeavour to advance Physics. Difficult, perhaps, but it would be impossible to believe that scientists since Bohr's day would be happy doing exactly the same, paraphrasing or re-packaging the classics, and doing little else. Yet this is how the vast majority of DM-theorists conduct themselves. As noted above, TAR is itself a recent example of this conservative mind-set, an approach which seems happy merely to regurgitate the 'truths' handed down from the 'dialectical worthies', dogmas that adorn this decaying corpse like a wreath of wilted flowers.3a


Ironically therefore, the theory that posits change everywhere else can find no place for it at home. As already noted -- perhaps fittingly --, this situation isn't likely to change.4 Hence, DM -- the erstwhile theory of universal development -- is living disproof of its own superficial commitment to it. Dialectical Marxists promote philosophical ideas that have remained frozen for nigh on a hundred years. Hegel's system (even "the right way up") has been cemented in place; the abstract now set in concrete.5


Another consequence of this backward-facing, doctrinaire stance is that the vast majority of dialecticians are almost totally ignorant of developments in Modern Formal Logic [MFL] and Analytic Philosophy (having branded them 'bourgeois', 'ideological' or even 'trivial').


This means, of course, that anyone not quite so educationally-challenged, who tries 'debating' with DM-acolytes, will find they are doubly handicapped.


First of all, they will face accusations of being a "bourgeois apologist", one of their "dupes"/"stooges", or they will be branded an "elitist" (a term popular among OTs and ultra-lefts) for having taken the trouble to acquaint themselves with Analytic Philosophy and MFL before passing an opinion about both. That is, of course, as rational a criticism of MFL and Philosophy as those advanced by Creationists against Evolution and Modern Biology. In fact, less so, since Marxists should know better!


[OT = Orthodox Trotskyist; MFL = Modern Formal Logic.]


Second, and connected with the first, it is virtually impossible to help correct the thoughts of comrades who are deeply mired in logical error when they are blithely unaware of the extent, or even the profundity of their own ignorance; still less those who are happy to wallow in a state of profound nescience. Since the vast majority DM-fans are almost totally ignorant of logic (ancient or modern), not only are they incapable of recognising for themselves the serious logical blunders Hegel committed (summary here), they are similarly incapable of even following an explanation how and why he committed them, or how and why the DM-classicists were themselves incapable of assessing Hegel's ideas critically. Or, for that matter, how and why they have blithely swallowed such an glaringly crazy theory.


Thirty or more years experience 'debating' 'dialectics' has taught me that the majority of DM-fans are quite content to remain almost totally ignorant of MFL and Analytic Philosophy (even while they will happily fill their boots with the myriad confusions that litter 'Continental Philosophy') -- and yet that hasn't stopped them pontificating about one or both as if they were world-renowned experts, another trait they share with Creationists.


This is, of course, the 'dialectical' equivalent of the Dunning-Kruger Effect:


"Psychological research suggests that people, in general, suffer from what has become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They have little insight about the cracks and holes in their expertise. In studies in my research lab, people with severe gaps in knowledge and expertise typically fail to recognize how little they know and how badly they perform. To sum it up, the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task -- and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task. This includes political judgment. We have found this pattern in logical reasoning, grammar, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, numeracy, firearm care and safety, debate skill, and college coursework. Others have found a similar lack of insight among poor chess players, unskilled medical lab technicians, medical students unsuccessfully completing an obstetrics/gynaecology rotation, and people failing a test on performing CPR." [David Dunning, quoted from here. Accessed 28/05/2017. Paragraphs merged; spelling adjusted to agree with UK English.]


There is now no excuse for such self-inflicted ignorance since there is an abundance of sites on the Internet that make MFL reasonably accessible to those willing to put in the effort. Of course, it is entirely possible to be an excellent revolutionary and know nothing about Logic -- or, indeed, Analytic Philosophy --; but if DM-fans want to criticise either of these disciplines, ignorance most definitely isn't bliss.


In that case, a good many of the criticisms advanced at this site will sail right over most dialectical heads. In order to minimise that possibility, I have endeavoured to present the ideas and methods I have imported from Analytic Philosophy and MFL in as accessible a form as I could manage --, even at the risk of being accused of over-simplification.


In these Essays, therefore, I am not in general addressing academics (Marxist or non-Marxist), but comrades who have fallen badly behind, and who are thus totally unaware of the advances made in these two disciplines over the last century, and who are also unaware how badly out-of-touch they have become.5a


In addition, I have linked to other sites --, and I have also cited books and articles --, where the above methods and ideas have been explained more extensively, and perhaps with greater sophistication for the benefit of those who want to know more.


Heads Back In The Sand, Comrades!


Nevertheless, for all their avowed love of "contradictions", DM-theorists do not like to be contradicted, especially "internally", as it were, by a comrade. In fact, they reject out-of-hand all such attempts, which is odd given their commitment to the idea that progress can only occur in this way, through contradiction!


So, this presents us with a fittingly ironic conundrum: If all progress and change does indeed result from "internal contradictions", then the Essays that follow, which highlight the many contradictions that lie at the heart of dialectics, should be warmly welcomed by the DM-faithful. Indeed, if improvement and development can come about in no other way, these Essays ought to be well-received by those who are genuinely committed to 'dialectical' change.


The fact that they most definitely won't be welcomed should therefore count as one of the opening 'contradictions' exposed at this site: DM stands refuted as much by its own unwillingness to be contradicted as it is by the fact that this situation isn't likely to change.




It is worth emphasising at the start that unless otherwise stated I have confined my criticisms to the so-called "Dialectics of Nature". The extrapolation of 'dialectics' into areas governed by HM has largely been ignored, except where this might impact issues relevant to the demolition of DM itself, or where (in my view) the use of 'dialectical concepts' and associated jargon fatally undermines either the credibility or the validity of HM.


For instance, this would involve instances where, say, the word "contradiction" is used to analyse and hence understand Capitalism; or where comrades employ this word indiscriminately to describe anything and everything that happens in Capitalism (i.e., as a "contradiction") -- and yet, when they are asked to explain what this specific word means in such contexts they either refuse to answer, or they find they can't actually explain themselves. Indeed, when supporters of this site (including myself) have sent letters to Socialist Worker and other publications, or have posted comments on various websites and discussion forums asking DM-fans to explain why they keep using "contradiction" in this way, they have received either no adequate response, or, and far more likely, none at all. Even where some attempt has been made to justify the use of this word it is often accompanied by the usual, standard issue -- and by now clichéd -- diversionary tactics, laced with no little vitriol and personal abuse.


[On the indiscriminate and profligate use of "contradiction" in DM-circles, see here, here, here, and here; on my attempt to elicit a response from DM-fans, for instance, here, here, here, and here. It is worth adding that my attempt to elicit what Dialectical Marxists think they mean when they use the term "dialectical contradiction" isn't merely an academic exercise; there are important political reasons for asking such questions. On that, see Essay Nine Part Two.]


This isn't to say that I accept the validity of the dialectical jargon that has seeped into HM; the opposite is in fact the case. However, since the point of these Essays is to stem the flow of poison at its source, I have almost exclusively targeted DM.6


Throughout this work HM has been sharply distinguished from DM. Many see this an entirely bogus, if not a completely perverse distinction. However, no Marxist of any intelligence would use slogans drawn exclusively from DM to agitate and propagandise workers. Consider, for example, the following: "The Law of Identity is true only within certain limits and the struggle against US Imperialism!" Or, "Change in quantity leads to change in quality (and vice versa) and the campaign to keep hospital HH open!" Or even, "Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming, and the fight against fascism!"


Slogans like these would be employed by militants of uncommon stupidity and legendary ineffectiveness. In contrast, when communicating with workers active revolutionaries employ ideas drawn exclusively from HM (albeit applied to the current state of the class war or the balance of class forces, etc.). The best papers on the revolutionary left, for instance, use ordinary language augmented by concepts drawn from HM to educate, agitate and propagandise. Rarely, if ever, do they employ DM-phraseology to that end. Only deeply sectarian 'revolutionary' papers of exemplary unpopularity and impressive lack of impact use jargon lifted from dialectics to further the class struggle. Newsline, the paper of the old WRP, was a notable example in this regard -- which helps explain  its irrelevance, terminal decline and why it had to be financed by Middle Eastern, ruling class money.


So, the distinction drawn here is made in practice every day by militants. The present work merely systematises it.


[Objections to the above line-of-argument have been neutralised in Essay Nine Part One. See also here.]


In what follows at this site no attempt will be made to defend HM; that scientific theory will be taken for granted. Hence, any non-Marxists reading this material would be well-advised to go no further. These Essays aren't addressed to them.


Should any Professional Philosophers stray onto this site, they will find that in many places the material here only scratches the surface of the philosophical issues raised. In a site such as this, which isn't aimed at academics, unnecessary detail and complexity would be inappropriate. However, in every one of my Essays I have referenced numerous books and articles that develop or substantiate topics that have only been touched upon, or which have merely been skated over.7


Several other features of these Essays will strike the reader as rather odd:


(i) Their almost exclusively negative, if not unremittingly hostile tone;


(ii) Their quasi-dialectical structure (where the word "dialectical" is to be understood in its older, classical sense);


(iii) The total absence of any alternative philosophical theories;


(iv) Their extraordinary length;


and finally,


(v) Their analytic, if not uncompromisingly relentless, style.


The first two items above aren't unrelated. Although I have endeavoured to construct as comprehensive a case against DM as possible, I have also sought to raise objections to my own criticisms at nearly every stage. While that strategy has been adopted to test my ideas to the limit, it has also been of considerable benefit in trying (where possible) to make sense of DM -- or render it a little clearer and thus slightly more comprehensible.


To that end, the reader will find that many issues have been raised at this site for the very first time ever, anywhere. Core DM-theses have been examined in unprecedented detail; most of them from a completely novel angle. It is a sad reflection on the mental paralysis induced in those who -- in Max Eastman's words -- "suffer from dialectics", that DM-dogma has escaped detailed scrutiny for well over a hundred years. It is nevertheless accurate for all that.


Even if it should turn out that this project is misconceived in some way, in whole or in part, it succeeds in breaking entirely new ground, as readers will soon discover. In fact, should DM-supporters engage fairly with the content of the Essays published at this site -- even if they remain unconvinced by the end --, they will find that their own ideas will emerge clarified and strengthened because of the entirely original set of challenges advanced in this work.8


As noted earlier, it is the opinion of the present author that DM has contributed in its own not insignificant way to the spectacular lack of success that has plagued Dialectical Marxism. It is an alarming fact that of all the major political ideologies or movements in human history, Dialectical Marxism is among the least successful, ever.8a The role that DM has played in helping engineer this disastrous state of affairs partly accounts for the persistently negative, if not openly hostile tone adopted at this site.8b


If revolutionaries genuinely wish to change the world by assisting in a successful working-class revolution (and I certainly count myself among those who do), then the sooner this alien-class ideology (DM) is jettisoned the better.


In that case, if the ideas presented here are valid, it is clear that DM has helped cripple the revolutionary movement almost from the beginning. Because of that, those who insist on clinging to this regressive doctrine (for whatever reason) risk extending that abysmal record of failure, defeat and debacle well into this new century.


Unfortunately, it is far from certain whether humanity -- or even Planet Earth -- can take another hundred years of Capitalism. One more protracted cycle of DM-inspired failures could (or, and far more likely, will) help guarantee that even fewer workers will take Marxism seriously --, or, and what roughly amounts to the same thing, live to tell the tale in anything remotely resembling a civilised society.


Items (iii) and (v) in the above list are rather different, though.


As far as (iii) is concerned, 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. That tactic hasn't been adopted out of cussedness -- or even out of diffidence --, but because it is a key aspect of Wittgenstein's method (adopted at this site) not to advance philosophical theories of any sort. His approach in fact means that no philosophical theory makes any sense.


[Exactly why that is so has been considered at length in Essay Twelve Part One. A brief summary of that Essay has now been posted here. Objections coming in from the left concerning the use of Wittgenstein's ideas have been neutralised here.]


As far as (v) is concerned, those unfamiliar with Analytic Philosophy might find the overall style of these Essays somewhat daunting, if not completely deflating. That is because these Essays challenge the overblown pretentions of Traditional Philosophy, but also those expressed in and by DM. Moreover, these Essays adopt a similar approach to the shared assumptions upon which both traditions have been based (for example, the idea that fundamental truths about reality, valid for all of space and time, can be derived from thought/language alone, which can then be dogmatically imposed on nature and society). In the end they succeed in showing that these "ruling ideas" have been founded on little more than linguistic confusion and systematic distortion.


Nevertheless, the analytic method is much to be preferred since it tends to produce clear results. Anyone who takes exception to this way of doing Philosophy (or, indeed, who is happy to leave his/her head in the sand) can simply log-off this site now. I have no wish to wake you up.



Figure Four: Dialectical Alertness?


Item (iv) also needs some explanation. The extraordinary length of these Essays has been determined by two factors:


(a) The nature of DM itself, and,


(b) The recalcitrant attitude of its supporters.


All of the major, and the vast majority of the relatively minor, DM-theories have been subjected to extensive and destructive criticism throughout this site. Because of DM's totalising and interconnected approach to knowledge it can be demolished in no other way. Had a single topic been left with only superficial wounds -- and not fatally injured -- its supporters might easily have imagined it could be revived. Had even one of these theoretical strands been left intact, because of the alleged inter-connections that exist between each and every one of its parts the temptation would have been to conclude that if one element is viable, the rest must be so, too. Just like Japanese Knotweed, DM would grow back. Hence, the excessive length of each of the main Essays is partly the result this theory's holistic character, and partly because few of its supporters have ever bothered to analyse their theory in any detail or to any great extent -- certainly not the unprecedented scale found at this site.


Those who still think these Essays are too long should compare them with the works of, say, Hegel, Marx or Lenin, whose writings easily dwarf my own. Nevertheless, I have attempted to summarise my main criticisms of DM in three Introductory Essays of decreasing length, difficulty, and complexity, here, here and here.


Finally, even though many of the arguments presented at this site are in my view definitive, genuine knock-down arguments in Philosophy are exceedingly rare. In that case, readers will have to make up their own minds whether or not I am alone in judging my Essays definitive.9




In researching the material published at this site I have endeavoured to consult as many DM-texts as is physically possible. These include all the DM-classics, the vast majority of the more important secondary works, and countless minor and subsidiary books and articles in English and several other languages.


For reasons explained on the opening page, these Essays were originally published on the Internet (in 2005) when they were less than half-complete. In that case, over the next decade or so I will be adding extensive detail and new material as I factor in the notes I have made about the contents of the many DM-works I have studied, but which haven't yet been referenced or fully referenced in the Essays that have already been published. In most cases, each Essay will end up approximately twice the length it is now. I expect to be working on this project for at least another fifteen years.


All being well, that should take me well into the 2030s.


However, since most DM-texts simply repeat almost verbatim what the classics have to say (quoting, regurgitating or paraphrasing Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, etc., often using the same ideas, phrases and even the very same words) -- with little attempt to clarify or amplify their content --, much of this research in fact turned out to be exceedingly repetitive. Indeed, on many occasions it felt as if the same book or article was being read, over and over. That, of course, is one of the problems with DM.


[Any who doubt this should check out the hundreds of DM-texts I have quoted in Essay Two, for example. The reason why DM is so neurotically repetitive is explained in Essay Nine Part Two, as is the ideological significance of the parrot-like behaviour of its supporters, which is a serious character-defect DM-fans have apparently failed to notice in themselves. That is yet another trait they share with open and honest religious mystics.]


Despite this, my lack of Russian (in which language much of the secondary literature on DM had been written) has prevented me from consulting Stalinist, post-, and pre-Stalinist works, except where they have been translated into English (or which now can be translated with Google Translator).10 Although Trotskyists argue that the "lifeless and wooden" 'dialectic' found in Stalinist texts contrasts unfavourably with their own 'lively and vibrant strain', a dispassionate, less partisan examination of both traditions reveals a rather different story. While there certainly are clear differences between Stalinist, Maoist, Libertarian Marxist, and Trotskyist applications of 'Materialist Dialectics' to class society, as far as their commitment to the 'dialectics of nature' is concerned, all four are virtually indistinguishable. With respect to DM they are genetic (and somatic) Siamese Quintuplets, philosophically joined at the head.


Again, any who doubt this easily confirmed fact will find it substantiated in Essays Two and Nine Part Two.11


However, it is quite clear that there are several STDs (both Russian and Chinese) who display a far more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of "the dialectic" than many OTs -- Lukacs, Ilyenkov and Oizerman come to mind here.


[STD = Stalinist Dialectician; OT = Orthodox Trotskyist.]


[Another four exceptions to the 'wooden and lifeless' jibe include (a) Alexander Spirkin's analysis of the Part/Whole relation, outlined here; (b) Yurkovets's discussion of "quality", (c) Bettelheim's analysis of 'principal' versus 'secondary contradictions'; and (d) James Lawler's attempt to make the term "dialectical contradiction" comprehensible, analysed in detail in Essay Eight Part Three.]


Of course, the dogmatic nature of DM certainly didn't prevent it from becoming the Official State Philosophy of the former 'socialist' states of the old 'Communist Block', where its explicit dogmatism was magnified ten-fold. But, DM is no less of a dogma for OTs. And yet, because of their even less successful revolutionary credentials, Trotskyists don't control of a single 'Trotskyist' state (degenerated, deformed or whatever) on which they can impose their very own preferred set of Dialectical Shibboleths.


As far as can be ascertained, and with respect to DM, that is the only relevant difference.


[However, readers should take note of the political caveat I have registered here about "the wall of blood" that separates Trotskyism from Stalinism.]


Another preliminary point worth making is the following: the reader will find no overall summary of DM in these Essays. While scores of DM-texts are quoted (sometimes at length), and are analysed in painstaking detail, I have made no effort to outline the general content of this theory (except, very briefly, here). Had such a summary been attempted it would have served no purpose and would probably have been counter-productive.


It would have served no purpose because there are countless summaries of DM available to those who might want yet one more -- all of which read very much the same, anyway.


It would have been counter-productive since, as these pages show, there is no settled interpretation of DM even among its acolytes. They all disagree with one another over minutiae -- while they all give lip-service to broad strokes of its core ideas and repeat them endlessly, which are then put to almost Machiavellian, sectarian mischief. Hence, one more attempt to summarise DM would surely have failed.


Hardcore DM-theorists would have responded to yet another summary of their theory (had one been attempted) in the way I have no doubt they have already received TAR: they would object to practically every single word, syllable and punctuation mark. That is what they do; that is all they do. Dialectical Moaners like this don't change, which is, of course, yet another suitably ironic punishment the Parmenidean 'Deity' has mischievously inflicted upon these back-sliding Heracliteans.


So, despite what Heraclitus said, it is all too easy to step into this same river of DM-abuse, misrepresentation and dissembling time and again -- especially on the Internet.




Readers should also make note of the fact that in what follows, if certain philosophical theories (or even DM-principles) are criticised, that doesn't mean I accept or give credence to their presumed contradictories. Hence, if, say, I attack the idea that reality is rational, no one should conclude that I believe that reality is irrational. In fact, in this specific case, I can make no sense of either alternative. Take another example: if I criticise the use of the word "objective" (when it is employed metaphysically, or, indeed, by DM-theorists), that doesn't mean I am a relativist (which I am not), or that I question the validity of scientific knowledge (which I do not). In fact, I reject this entire way of talking about 'reality', 'objectivity', and scientific knowledge (for reasons that were aired in Essay Thirteen Part One).12


In connection with the above, it is worth making a more general point: readers shouldn't conclude from my use of jargon drawn from Traditional Philosophy that I  think any of it makes sense. I am merely employing such language in order to assist in its demise.


[Some have wondered how it is possible to criticise certain uses of language if none of it makes sense. However, that query itself is based on a misunderstanding of my use of the word "sense". The reader is directed here for more details.]




I began this project in July 1998. Since then the Internet has transformed a researcher's capacity to work from home, and, of course, publicise their views. It is now possible to access all of the Marxist Classics on-line, and much else besides. Moreover, and by this means, I have been able to obtain literally hundreds of obscure books and articles from around the world, which would otherwise have been very difficult, if not impossible, to access a generation or so ago. In addition, the Internet has also allowed me to link to sites (but, particularly the on-line Encyclopedia, Wikipedia)10a where many of the ideas and technical terms I have employed are clarified or expanded upon. This is especially useful for those who are new to this 'debate' and aren't familiar with specific topics or the use of certain jargonised expressions. In addition, it has been possible to communicate with other Marxists who have also expressed serious doubts about DM, or who have aired critical remarks on several discussion boards, attempting to 'debate' dialectics with those still held in its grip. Finally, it has also allowed comrades from all over the world to read my work (thus giving it a far wider circulation than would have been possible had it only been published in hard copy), and as a result many have emailed their appreciation of, and support for, my forthright stance.


Some have complained that my use of Wikipedia completely undermines the credibility of my Essays. When I launched this project on the Internet in 2005, there was very little material easily available on-line to which I could link for the vast majority of topics other than Wikipedia. In the intervening years alternative sites have become available (for example, the excellent Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and several other peer reviewed encyclopaedias), so I have been progressively replacing the vast majority of Wikipedia links with links to these other sources. Having said that, I haven't in general done so for those Wikipedia links connected with geographical, historical, scientific, biographical (etc.) facts where the topics covered aren't controversial, at least among fellow Marxists -- unless there was good reason to do so. In every instance, I have endeavoured to avoid linking to Wikipedia in connection with key areas of my case against DM so that at no point will my criticism of that 'theory'/'method' depend exclusively on such links -- unless there was nothing else available on-line. Even then I have also been progressively replacing those links when I have become aware of more acceptable alternatives.


In addition to the above (as readers will soon see if they consult the Bibliography attached to each Essay) I have provided copious references to published academic and non-academic books and articles (posted on-line or available in hard copy) in the End Notes to each Essay, which further develop or substantiate anything I argue, claim, allege or propose.


Unfortunately, experience on the Internet has underlined just how resistant the DM-fraternity are to any challenges to their theory/method. It has also highlighted how unreasonable many of them are -- hence the 'scare' quotes around the word "debate" above. Quite apart from the fact that DM-apologists seem incapable of reading my Essays with due care (let alone with any accuracy -- that is, what few bother to do so -- or, indeed, with any honesty; a particularly egregious example of which has been exposed here), the responses I have posted on various Marxist or revolutionary discussion boards reveal how lamentably weak the objections are that DM-fans (so far) have managed to level against any of my criticisms.


In general, DM-fans tend to oscillate between the twin extremes of abuse and incredulity. For some, their response has revolved either around the safe, but pointless, regurgitation of 'Holy DM-Writ' (i.e., the quotation of selected passages from the 'dialectical classics'), or they simply rehearse the by-now-familiar, tired old dogmas -- as if reading the same hackneyed material for the thousandth time will do the trick and 'put me straight' when the previous nine hundred and ninety-nine somehow failed to do that. To a man, woman and 'party robot', one and all seem unable, unwilling or incapable of arguing with any cogency, let alone coherency, in support of the ill-considered philosophical theory our ideological forebears imported into Marxism. It turns out that the intellectual incapacity demonstrated by dialectically-distracted comrades appears to be in direct proportion to their propensity to quote Dialectical Scripture, and in inverse proportion to their ability to read with any care what I have argued in response.13


[FL = Formal Logic.]


Their common reaction supports the prediction made earlier that DM-'true-believers' will never abandon the faith -- whatever dire consequences their intransigence holds out for our movement. In line with other failed theories that humanity has had to endure (or sometimes reject), it seems that an entire older generation of dialecticians will have to pass away first before this miserable doctrine has any chance of being flushed out of Marxism for good.


Of course, that might never happen, and newer generations of comrades intent on initiating this long-overdue ideological purge may consistently fail to appear. Indeed, Marx's own assessment -- that the class struggle could lead to the common ruin of the contending classes -- might very well come to pass, assisted in no small measure by his erstwhile followers' unswerving attachment to this regressive 'theory'/'method'.


"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes." [The Communist Manifesto.]


If the above humanitarian disaster does indeed envelope the planet, the revolutionary movement will surely have been incapacitated by the contradictory theory at its heart as much as it will have been vanquished by the enemy at the gate.


If one particular view aired at this site is correct, then this misbegotten theory [DM] was in fact shaped by ideological thought-forms concocted long ago by a well-focussed, class enemy. The latter -- or, rather, their 'prize fighters' --, were, of course, engaged in this 'activity' either for their own ends or those of their patrons, oblivious of the misbegotten use to which dialecticians would one day put their ideas. This ancient, ruling-class approach to philosophy (which later gave birth to DM) was imported into revolutionary socialism by theorists who weren't workers. The founders of Dialectical Marxism were apparently far more impressed by the ideas they inherited from Traditional Thought than they were with their supposed commitment to philosophical radicalism.


However, it is now clear that the pernicious influence exercised by these "ruling ideas" -- which were smuggled into our movement long before the proletariat could provide them with an effective, materialist counter-weight -- is seriously impeding the scientific development of Marxism.


This is partly a result of:


(a) The fact that these alien-class doctrines have been ossified into what has come to be known as 'The Real Marxist Tradition'; and,


(b) The additional fact that its adherents are either blithely unaware of, or they don't really care about, the link between this ancient ruling-class thought-form and the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism itself.


Even worse, the vast majority of comrades plainly feel they can ignore the class-compromised origin of this theory (even while inconsistently chiding yours truly for my alleged reliance on 'bourgeois logic' and 'reactionary philosophy'), in the erroneous belief they are actually defending a radical tradition when they are in effect promoting an ancient Hermetic and Neoplatonic world-view (upside down, or 'the right way up').


[There is more on this in Essay Fourteen Part One (summary here).]


However, as is plain to all those who aren't blindfolded, our movement is slowly dying. Not only is this woeful 'theory'/'method' partly responsible, it helps prevent anything being done about it. Dialectical Marxism thus contains the seeds of its own demise. Its core 'theory'/'method' not only helps Dialectical Marxism fragment (exactly how that happens is one of the main topics of Essay Nine Part Two), it convinces those held in its thrall that nothing need be done about it. That is because they regard their movement as 'success incarnate' -- since DM has been "tested in practice", despite the fact that practice itself tells a completely different story. All the while, the real "gravediggers of Capitalism" (i.e., workers) have shown they want nothing to do with it.


Another neat UO for readers to ponder.


That fact, too, is buried deep in the same sands that provide 'safe haven' for far too many dialectical heads.



Figure Five: Dialectics 101 -- The Search For 'Clarity' Proceeds Apace


Tragedy and farce rolled into one...




Appendix One -- SWP's Crocodile Tears


Here is the May 2024 statement by the SWP Central Committee:


"The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is opposed to all forms of sexism and oppression, and we have zero tolerance for abuse or harassment. However, decisions made by the SWP in 2013 damaged our record -- and the current leadership acknowledges the party's mistakes and is committed to learning from them. We were wrong in how we responded to the two cases described below and we unreservedly apologise. Accusations of 'rape apologism' directed against the SWP arise from a case that was discussed at our party conference in January 2013. The case involved a woman alleging rape by someone who was then a member of the elected leadership of the party [in fact he was a leading member of the Central Committee, which was part of the problem -- RL]. A second woman also came forward to allege sexual harassment by the same member of the leadership. The women making the allegations chose not to take them to the police, an entirely understandable decision, given the lack of seriousness with which the police treat such cases. Instead, they sought to pursue their allegations through the party's 'disputes committee', an elected body of the SWP.


"As we subsequently recognised, the process we had in place at that time was entirely inadequate and we handled the two cases badly. Among other mistakes we made, the composition of the panel that heard the first case contained people who had worked closely with the person accused [in fact, several were his friends! -- RL]. Following the procedures in place at that time, the panel sought to pass judgement on matters of fact about which it could not meaningfully establish the truth. Our 2013 procedures were also insufficiently mindful of or sensitive to the challenges women face when they bring forward serious accusations of sexual misconduct. [An admission that the UK judicial system was to the left of the SWP at the time on this specific issue! -- RL] They also did not do enough to acknowledge potential imbalances of power due to gender, seniority in an organisation and age differences. [In this, they ignored those who pointed this out to them, back then -- RL] For clarity, the person against whom the allegations were directed has not been a member of the SWP since 2013. [He resigned in order to avoid further investigation, but he received significant support from within the party, right up to the end -- RL] We are sorry for failing the two women. We also apologise to all those in the wider movement who, like us, consider women's oppression in general, and rape in particular, to be abhorrent, including former members of the SWP who supported the two women.


"Because of the inadequacies in the handling of these allegations, in 2013 we immediately changed how we deal with such cases and have continued to review and update these procedures since. Our current procedures and expected behaviour are on our website. We make sure any new member of the SWP engages with these, and we make every effort to ensure they are taken seriously. Under our current procedures, anyone accused of rape or harassment is suspended from SWP membership while an investigation is taking place. If a member of the SWP's elected leadership body is subject to an accusation that needs to be investigated, no member of that same leadership body –  or former member of the leadership who worked with them – will be on the panel looking into the case. It will also be ensured that the person bringing the allegation is happy with the nature and membership of the panel overseeing the case before it begins.


"Our new procedures also reaffirm that those bringing such accusations should be supported, whether they decide to go to the SWP's disputes committee, the elected body that handles such matters, or to seek to use legal avenues, such as the police and courts. We should always proactively take measures to protect women who come forward with accusations. When holding hearings over cases of sexual misconduct, we now, in common with many other organisations on the left, seek to apply the guidelines drawn up by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. We were and remain absolutely opposed to rape-apologism. We are now confident our procedures are robust, helping us maintain our zero-tolerance approach to abuse and harassment. We hope that the measures we have taken will help to reassure those in the wider movement that we do not tolerate rape in our organisation or downplay its seriousness. We do not assume that we have all the answers, and we welcome advice from those outside the SWP who have expertise in these matters. We feel we have learnt both from our own mistakes in 2013 and from our engagement in wider movements over questions of oppression since then. We will strive to continue to learn and develop our practice in future. Statement from the Central Committee of the SWP, May 2024." [Quoted from here; accessed 26/05/2024. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; link added. Several paragraphs merged.]


I can do no better than quote remarks taken from two detailed responses to the above; the first is from rs21, which was originally formed a decade or so ago by many who broke away from the SWP over this very issue:


"The SWP's Central Committee recently issued a statement and apology for their party's 2013 crisis, when the SWP defended a Central Committee member accused of rape and drove out of their organisation those who supported the women complaining about his behaviour. rs21 was launched by many of those who decided the SWP had so betrayed socialist politics that it was necessary to start again. The apology sounds positive, but the rs21 Steering Group argues that it is inadequate. The crisis in 2013 seriously harmed the women who complained about the behaviour of Martin Smith, also known as 'Comrade Delta', who was a Central Committee member at the time. It harmed all those who upheld socialist and feminist principles. It ruined lives, destroyed trust and friendships, and people are still living with trauma now. It also harmed the SWP and the whole left. So it might seem that the statement from the SWP Central Committee could mark the beginning of a process of addressing the issues, but there are good reasons to think otherwise.


"If you are unfamiliar with the crisis, one of the many summaries is here. There are masses of documents here and public articles from the time in the rs21 archive.


"We have to ask why this statement has come now, 11 years after the crisis. Right up until this statement came out, SWP activists were still claiming that the crisis was history, they had changed their procedures long ago, and that it was an issue only raised now by their political opponents for point scoring. The statement isn't the result of internal debate or a political reckoning inside the SWP -- many members had no idea it was coming. The statement presents itself as an apology to the two women who brought complaints, and to the wider movement, including former members of the SWP who supported the women. Yet the statement is well hidden on the Socialist Worker website, the SWP has not shared the statement on its social media and we haven't seen a single SWP member share it publicly. Rather than a genuine shift in the politics of the SWP, this looks more like a document that members can share with those who raise the issues in the hope that the organisation can rehabilitate itself and recruit and retain young people without genuinely changing. We don't know about debates inside the SWP Central Committee, which are secret even from their own members. What we do know is that the majority of the SWP's Central Committee is still made up of those who were heavily involved in defending the rapist. It still includes the person who argued that raising the issues just gives ammunition to the right-wing press. It still includes the person who refused one of the women who complained permission to attend the conference session where her 'case' was discussed. None of these individuals have shared the statement on their Facebook accounts.


"The statement does acknowledge that the SWP's response to the cases in 2013 was wrong, and apologises. It also recognises some of what they did wrong:


(1) Having a panel containing (an understatement) people who had worked closely with Smith.


(2) Trying to pass judgement on matters of fact about which it could not meaningfully establish the truth.


(3) Being insufficiently mindful of or sensitive to the challenges women face when they bring forward serious accusations of sexual misconduct.


(4) Not doing enough to acknowledge potential imbalances of power due to gender, seniority in an organisation and age differences. [I have replaced the bullet points in the original with numbers -- RL.]


"This is the SWP's first public acknowledgement that there were political problems with how they responded to the complaints, rather than merely procedural ones. But the statement only scratches the surface. The main article on the subject published in the International Socialism Journal (ISJ), the SWP's theoretical journal, was by Charlie Kimber and Alex Callinicos, who remain on the Central Committee. This argued that the opposition wasn't really a challenge to their mis-handling of a rape allegation so much as 'giving up on the organised working class' and 'movementism'. The SWP has produced no new analysis of what happened since.


"We think the SWP still has a lot of learning to do. The statement still plays down what happened in 2013. It asserts that the SWP was opposed to rape apologism in 2013, not acknowledging that the majority of SWP members went along with rape apologist arguments. It treats the crisis of 2013 as if it was an isolated incident, when we have since seen other allegations against SWP members and complaints from a young trans activist just last year that the organisation was 'institutionally abusive, exploitative, and transphobic'. [However, I find that allegation hard to believe; the SWP is currently a leading promoter of what has since come to be called "trans activist ideology" on the far left and regularly supports protests against feminists and other socialists defending women's rights, as does rs21 -- RL.] rs21 has had quite a journey from being founded by people who left the SWP over the crisis. This isn't just about the fact that most of our current members (and of our Steering Group) were never in the SWP. It has been a political journey too. We had to answer the question of why the bulk of SWP members could be so wrong, not just the leadership or the disputes committee. This led us to examine both gender politics and questions of organisation.... Our feminism has practical consequences. Just look at the difference between the SWP's current Terms of Reference and Procedures for the SWP Disputes Committee and rs21's Guidelines on sexual violence and domestic abuse. We recognise that the pervasive nature of sexism and the obstacles women face when challenging sexual violence mean that it is not appropriate to use the same guidelines to deal with sexual violence as for someone stealing money from a local branch. The SWP are still following an essentially 'investigatory' and pseudo-judicial approach. rs21 seeks to prioritise the safety and empowerment of the survivor, of other members and of those we work with in the movement. We reject the idea that these should be subordinated or counterposed to the interests of a political group.


"There is no indication what lessons, if any, the SWP has yet learned from the crisis in relation to questions of organisation. We believe that, as well as sexist politics, part of the reason that the majority of SWP members closed ranks around a rapist arises from the way they organise. SWP members refer to their organisation as 'the' party. None of our organisations can claim to be 'the' party. We think much more work needs to be done to develop revolutionary ideas, build mass movements and revolutionary currents within them before a party can be established in Britain. We are an organisation contributing to that work. The SWP's delusions of grandeur have consequences. If you believe your organisation is the magic ingredient necessary to save the world from climate catastrophe and imperialist war, then defending the SWP becomes a duty above all others -- even at the expense of your principles. In the SWP, which has a huge paid apparatus for an organisation of its size, there is an overreliance on paid officials and a leadership that has been broadly unchanged for years. It means that defending the party easily becomes defending key leaders of the party, who are seen as indispensable. It also meant the leadership could deploy the paid apparatus, lies and smears to crush opposition.


"The power of the apparatus is central to the lack of meaningful democracy in the SWP. In practice, the Central Committee is self-selecting, with just three (unsuccessful) challenges in half a century. The fact that the Central Committee still has ten members who were there in 2013 shows the SWP's failure to encourage members to lead. The discouragement of dissent also contributed to the defence of the leaders in 2013 and there is no evidence this has changed. Ironically, the very issuing of this statement without internal political debate illustrates the top-down nature of the SWP and gives no confidence that members have really changed their views. Democracy isn't a luxury for the left, it is the best way to take decisions about what an organisation does in the movement and how we correct mistakes. [I have covered questions about the lack of democracy in the SWP in more detail in Essay Nine Part Two -- RL.] [Quoted from here and re-formatted to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Accessed 02/06/2024. Several paragraphs merged. Other than those in my interpolated comments, links are in the original. Bold emphases added.]


The second has been taken from Weekly Worker:


"Quite out of the blue, the Socialist Workers Party has issued a press release on its mishandling of rape and sexual harassment allegations in 2013. It is not clear what has led the SWP to make this move. Certainly the statement does not shed any light on the matter, though unspecified 'accusations of "rape apologism"' are mentioned. The comrades are, of course, busy little bees at the moment, enthusiastically participating in the mass movement against the Gaza war, as well they might be. They are presumably recruiting this way. Perhaps prospective members are raising this as an obstacle to joining; but then, by retreading this territory, they risk giving it wider publicity, when one has rather got the impression over the years that they would prefer never again to speak of the whole sorry episode.


"Publicly addressing this question at all is, thus, in some sense admirable. The SWP at least acknowledges that it screwed up, and offers some reasons to suppose that it will not do so again. Unfortunately, what it acknowledges is only a very partial list of the sins committed; and the reasons offered are not so reassuring on closer examination. In fact, these two points are connected. What do they think happened?


'The case involved a woman alleging rape by someone who was then a member of the elected leadership of the party. A second woman also came forward to allege sexual harassment by the same member of the leadership. The women making the allegations chose not to take them to the police…given the lack of seriousness with which the police treat such cases. Instead, they sought to pursue their allegations through the party's 'disputes committee' [DC].'



"This leading member was Martin Smith, then national organiser and de facto top dog. This was a serious matter for the overall leadership. But 'the process we had in place at that time was entirely inadequate and we handled the two cases badly'. The DC panel examining the case 'contained people who had worked closely with the person accused'. It 'sought to pass judgement on matters of fact about which it could not meaningfully establish the truth'. Furthermore,


'Our 2013 procedures were also insufficiently mindful of or sensitive to the challenges women face when they bring forward serious accusations of sexual misconduct. They also did not do enough to acknowledge potential imbalances of power due to gender, seniority in an organisation and age differences.'


"That is more or less all the statement has to say about the actual events. We then move on to apologies:


'We are sorry for failing the two women. We also apologise to all those in the wider movement who, like us, consider women's oppression in general, and rape in particular, to be abhorrent, including former members of the SWP who supported the two women.'


"That reference to 'former members of the SWP' is the only hint of the internal crisis that all this unleashed. It is the most spectacular omission in a very partial account, and we will get to that in a moment. However, we need to start at the beginning. As we noted, Smith was briefly national organiser, effectively leading the SWP in day-to-day matters after the old leadership around John Rees and Lindsey German was sidelined (their supporters later broke away to form Counterfire). This all took place in 2007-09, and coincided with the outbreak of the global financial crisis, from which the SWP, like most far-left groups, expected to draw renewed energy and purpose, and balloon in size. The reality was stagnation, and within a couple of years it was Smith's turn to be demoted. At around this time -- 2009 or 2010 -- allegations of sexual harassment were circulated anonymously against him, including to the Weekly Worker. We chose not to publish, having no way to verify the claims and supposing them to be part of the 'knives out for Martin' court politics then ongoing. Smith did, however, address them at an SWP conference in what witnesses described as an incomprehensible, elliptical speech, after which somebody in the crowd got up a 'The workers united will never be defeated!' chant, and the whole affair was presumed to be put to bed.


"It was late in 2012 when the whole thing started to unravel. The complainant had re-examined her own memories of her interactions with Smith, and come to the conclusion that she had been the victim of rape. The DC panel was convened and, exhibiting all the shortcomings the SWP now owns up to, dismissed the case against Smith. This immediately led to clandestine oppositions forming (there are, for practical purposes, no other kinds of oppositions in the SWP). Four members were expelled on the basis of leaked Facebook chat logs -- which, of course, had the effect of drawing more attention to the matter. At the SWP's conference early in 2013, things came to a head in the vote on whether to accept the DC's annual report, which covered the Smith case; the loyalists just edged to victory, but it was to prove extremely costly. The full transcript of the debate was anonymously leaked to the wider movement and rapidly published. One member in attendance, Tom Walker, used the pages of the Weekly Worker to give his scathing account of the goings on -- as far as I am aware, the most widely read article we have published as long as I have been writing here. The bourgeois press then got hold of it, and the SWP's usual disciplinary mechanisms simply ceased functioning. Hundreds went into open rebellion, with the full support of almost the whole of the wider movement.


"The leadership had a choice at that point -- between the olive branch and the truncheon. They chose the truncheon. All who courageously and rightly rebelled against this scandalous failure were denounced as wreckers, anarchists, liberals, agents of 'creeping feminism', and so forth. Two factions arose, one -- more militant -- around Richard Seymour, and including the 'Facebook Four'; and another, more conciliatory outfit that included many long-standing and respected SWP loyalists and intellectuals, including Ian Birchall and Neil Davidson. The militants chose to resign early on, under very heavy manners and likely to be expelled en masse anyway. The 'moderates' fought on under the name, 'In Defence of our Party', attempting to split ordinary-Joe comrades from the ultra-hardliners in the leadership (who somebody drolly nicknamed 'In defence of our Martin'). They, too, were defeated and driven out. By the end of 2013, the SWP was in such terrible shape that it was almost possible to imagine it just winking out of existence -- as indeed its former sister party, the US International Socialist Organization, would a few years later. The SWP had lost more or less half of its active membership, including something like 95% of its student membership. Its reputation in the wider movement -- always a little uneven -- was completely shredded. It was banned from several student unions as a 'threat to women', and attempts were made to do the same in trade unions as well. On more than one occasion, SWP literature was ritually burned by angry students.


"Is this what the SWP is apologising to its former members for? We have little doubt that the leadership now regrets the course it took in 2013 to some extent: how could it not, given the calamitous consequences of that choice? Yet in the context of this document, it seems otherwise. The organisation owns up to having had inadequate disputes procedures, but not to the fanaticism with which its leadership set out to drive out all who saw those procedures as inadequate at the time. It self-criticises for being blind to the power differential between a leading member and a young recruit, in the manner of a liberal 'age-gap discourse' think-piece, but, so far as we can tell, the ultra-centralist 'command and control' structure, which amplifies that differential, remains in place. If members were found considering their options for protesting a new Martin Smith-type case that was mishandled, it is quite certain that they would be expelled all over again. Unsurprisingly then, according to the SWP's account of what it learned from this episode, it was more or less entirely procedural. In today's SWP, we are told,


'anyone accused of rape or harassment is suspended from SWP membership, while an investigation is taking place. If a member of the SWP's elected leadership body is subject to an accusation that needs to be investigated, no member of that same leadership body -- or former member of the leadership who worked with them -- will be on the panel looking into the case. It will also be ensured that the person bringing the allegation is happy with the nature and membership of the panel overseeing the case before it begins. Our new procedures also reaffirm that those bringing such accusations should be supported, whether they decide to go to the SWP's disputes committee, the elected body that handles such matters, or to seek to use legal avenues, such as the police and courts. We should always proactively take measures to protect women who come forward with accusations. When holding hearings over cases of sexual misconduct, we now, in common with many other organisations on the left, seek to apply the guidelines drawn up by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. [EHRC]


"Much of this is reasonable, and indeed addresses some of the more glaring injustices in the Martin Smith case. It is telling, however, that the reader is referred to the EHRC guidance on such matters, drawn up to help employers deal with workplace disputes of this nature. I use the phrase, 'to help employers', deliberately. As with the common run of such guidance, the target audience is human-resources people, whose fundamental job is to protect the employer from reputational damage and expensive litigation. It is well known, for example, that the 'diversity, equity and inclusion' training industry -- which is so much the occasion of rightwing culture warlordism today, especially in the United States -- has the perverse bottom-line effect of making it harder for aggrieved employees to pursue legal remedies from their bosses for discrimination. The company lawyers can tell the courts: 'We make everyone take a class in how not to be racist -- what more can we do?' The EHRC guidance, specifically, mandates confidentiality in formal proceedings. This is just great for a bureaucratic corporation, since it ensures that everything has to go through 'official channels'; The HR [Human Resources -- RL] department are the only people who even know who is involved. It is spectacularly unsuited to a small left group with an politically homogenous leadership caste, because -- no matter how much effort is to be expended -- the 'HR department' will always be colleagues of the accused leader. The general effect even in corporate life, however, is that the top people get away with it, with only the lower-level creeps facing the music. For the masses, sunlight is the best disinfectant. It was only by exposing the scandal, after all, that the SWP rebels managed to impose any consequences on the SWP leadership." [Quoted from here; accessed 02/06/2024. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Several paragraphs merged. Bold emphases and one link alone added.]


I will add a few comments about the above in the next week or so.




001. Of course, this isn't just a problem for Trotskyists. The BBC had this to say about a recent UK criminal case, involving three individuals who had been imprisoned and treated as if they were slaves -- some of whom were sexually abused over a period of thirty years -- by a cabal of quasi-Maoists:


"The couple accused of holding three women as slaves for more than 30 years were activists in a Maoist group in London. It was a period when the UK had a plethora of small left-wing collectives and communes. Aravindan Balakrishnan, known as Comrade Bala, and his wife Chanda ran a bookshop and commune from a large building in Brixton. Balakrishnan had been a member of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) in the early 1970s but split and formed his own collective in 1974 -- the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. It comprised about 25 people.


"The group was not unusual. There were about 20 Maoist groups active in the UK in the 1970s, says Michel Hockx, director of the SOAS China Institute at SOAS, University of London. All followed the ideology of Chinese communist leader, Mao Zedong, who put industry under state ownership, collectivised farming and ruthlessly suppressed opposition.


'All [the UK groups] considered themselves Maoists, but they fought against each other about who was in possession of the right ideology.... Some were fairly militant, they would actively promote overthrowing the capitalist systems and class systems. Others practised communal living, equality as a group.'


"In some of the groups work would be collectively organised, people took meals together, shared possessions and would take part in political planning together.... It wasn't just Maoists, there was a great deal of other radical activism at the time.


'There was general ferment in society. In terms of radical politics people were very engaged by the war in Vietnam, significant numbers of young people were protesting about that,' says Prof Dennis Tourish, author of The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership. 'It was also the three-day week, the collapse of Franco in Spain, the 1968 Paris riots, there had been the assassination of Kennedy and Martin Luther King. There was a mood of radicalisation. Many people were drawn to far-left causes at one time or another.'


"Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, has described Balakrishnan's Maoist sect as the 'breakaway of a breakaway of a breakaway'. The term used was 'splittist'. Groups would part company and suspend members who did not toe the party line or presented a different view of the same ideology. Fringe groups would then form, often creating angry rivalries with their former comrades.


'Each spilt had its own pope, its divine leader, but they were all trying to colonise the same belief systems,' adds Tourish.


"Left-wing groups were active across the UK, but in Brixton in south London, there was a ready supply of short-term empty houses in neighbourhoods that Lambeth Council was gradually clearing for its housing programmes. It provided ample choice for people looking to set up squats and communes.


'There were also plenty of empty or under-used small shop premises, like that at Acre Lane, which has been linked with the Mao Zedong Memorial Trust,' says Alan Piper, of the Brixton Society. 'Some of these groups took a closer interest in local affairs, and went on to organise squats or housing co-ops or print workshops, or even to contest local council elections. Others were more oriented to national or international causes, so had a lower profile in the immediate area,' he adds.


"Not all of the fringe groups were based around communes. The Workers' Revolutionary Party encouraged their members to share accommodation, according to Tourish, but it was not mandatory.


'They had a number of other techniques to draw in members and reinforce their commitment.... It was only a small party -- at its peak it had around 1,000 people -- but for example they put huge effort into producing a daily newspaper which they would then spend their days trying to sell, and being ignored and ridiculed for it. That effort raised their commitment, and gave the members a very powerful group identity....'" [Quoted from here; accessed 27/11/2013. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; several paragraphs merged. Some links and italics added.]


This cult's leader was finally found guilty in December 2015:


"Det Sgt Paul Wiggett said the cult leader's daughter was scared of her father and that she 'genuinely believed the day she left the house she was going to explode ' that her life would come to an end'.... Balakrishnan came to the UK from Singapore in 1963 and enrolled at the London School of Economics. By the 1970s he was heading a Maoist group known as the Workers Institute, based in Acre Lane, Brixton, and had gained several followers. But over the years this group dwindled to six women and was transformed into a 'cult of Bala', where his followers were only allowed to read left-wing texts and were sexually assaulted and beaten. Giving evidence, Balakrishnan denied sex assault allegations and insisted two victims in the commune had 'pushed' him to have sex and competed for his attentions, even with the mother of his daughter. He said his views were grounded in the teachings of the Chinese revolutionary leader Chairman Mao which 'meant almost everything to him'...." [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform with conventions adopted at this site. Several paragraphs merged.]


I return to this theme in Essay Nine Part Two. [See also here and here.]


001a. The following updates have been moved from the main body of this Essay in order to allow it to flow a little more smoothly.


Update, January 2013: As one ex-UK-SWP-er, Tony Collins, noted in relation to the latest crisis in the UK-SWP (quoted earlier):


"The problem is, there is a certain way of seeing any discussion of the far-left that's started by someone who isn't a part of it. He must by definition be an enemy and we must therefore believe he's trying to destroy the left.... That's what happens on the far-left. We sort of have these instinctive reactions. You can see glimpses of this all over the net right now, with SWP members openly attacking each other, something I've not seen ever. There's a cult-like hatred of people who used to be allies." [Quoted from here; accessed 14/01/2013. Bold emphasis added. Paragraphs merged.]


Of course, vitriol like this isn't confined to Marxist circles, it is also found among certain groups of feminists, and has been for years (especially now in relation to transgender ideology and 'Intersectionality'):


"Yet even as online feminism has proved itself a real force for change, many of the most avid digital feminists will tell you that it's become toxic. Indeed, there's a nascent genre of essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it -- not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists. On January 3, for example, Katherine Cross, a Puerto Rican trans woman working on a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Centre, wrote about how often she hesitates to publish articles or blog posts out of fear of inadvertently stepping on an ideological land mine and bringing down the wrath of the online enforcers. 'I fear being cast suddenly as one of the "bad guys" for being insufficiently radical, too nuanced or too forgiving, or for simply writing something whose offensive dimensions would be unknown to me at the time of publication,' she wrote....


"Further, as Cross says, 'this goes to the heart of the efficacy of radical movements.' After all, this is hardly the first time that feminism -- to say nothing of other left-wing movements -- has been racked by furious contentions over ideological purity. Many second-wave feminist groups tore themselves apart by denouncing and ostracizing members who demonstrated too much ambition or presumed to act as leaders. As the radical second-waver Ti-Grace Atkinson famously put it: 'Sisterhood is powerful. It kills. Mostly sisters.'


"In 'Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood,' a 1976 Ms. magazine article, Jo Freeman described how feminists of her generation destroyed one another. Trashing, she wrote, is 'accomplished by making you feel that your very existence is inimical to the Movement and that nothing can change this short of ceasing to exist. These feelings are reinforced when you are isolated from your friends as they become convinced that their association with you is similarly inimical to the Movement and to themselves. Any support of you will taint them…. You are reduced to a mere parody of your previous self.'


"Like the authors of #Femfuture, Freeman was trashed for presuming to represent feminism without explicit sanction, in this case of the group she'd founded with Shulamith Firestone. It began, she told me, when the left-wing magazine Ramparts published a neck-down picture of a woman in a leotard with a button hanging from one breast. The group decided to write a letter to the editor. Four members drafted one without Freeman's knowledge, and when they presented it to the rest of the group, she realized it was too long and would never be printed. Freeman had magazine experience, and she decided to write a pithier letter of her own under her movement name, Joreen. When Ramparts published it but not the other one, the women in her group were apoplectic, and Freeman was excoriated at their next meeting. 'That was a public trashing,' she says. 'I was horrible, disloyal, a traitor.' It went beyond mere criticism: 'There's a difference between trashing someone and challenging them. You can challenge someone's idea. When you're trashing someone, you're essentially saying they're a bad person.'


"For feminists today, knowing that others have been through similar things is not necessarily comforting. 'Some of it is the product of new technologies that create more shallow relationships, and some of it feels like this age-old conundrum within feminism,' Martin [this is feminist activist, Courtney Martin, mentioned near the beginning of this article -- RL] says. 'How do we disentangle what part is about social media and what part is about the way women interact with one another? If there's something inherent about the way women work within movements that makes us assholes to each other, that is incredibly sad.'" [Michelle Goldberg, quoted from here; accessed 30/01/2014. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site; some links added. Spelling adjusted to UK-English. Bold emphases added.]


[More-or-less the same can be said about the extreme vitriol on the left currently surrounding the 'debate' over LGBTQ gender identity -- although, the intimidation, threats and physical violence are coming from one side only, which is why "debate" has been put in 'scare quotes'. In relation to this, it is hard to see how those who complain that 'trans women' have been told they aren't 'real women' can possibly argue consistently when they also claim that there are no 'real women' anyway.]


Naturally, in this specific case DM is hardly to blame -- although, as I have pointed out, wherever DM shows its face, it only succeeds in making a bad situation worse. The class origin and current class position of certain feminists is, however, a much more significant factor.


As noted above, acrimonious verbal exchanges have taken place, and are still ongoing, in connection with 'Intersectionality' (on that, see, for example, here and here).


Update, July 2013: The crisis in the UK-SWP seems to be building again, with the level of vitriol and back-biting now cranked up to eleven:


"Symptomatic of this, the atmosphere in the SWP is becoming fractious and poisonous. Accusations of the hacking of opposition email accounts and epithets like 'malignant tumour' and 'systematic liar' are thick in the air. The responsibility for this criminal, sectarian vandalism lies exclusively with the leadership; the comrades of the opposition, whatever our disagreements with them, are rebelling against a crass bureaucratic regime of an unaccountable, apparatus power. They deserve the solidarity of all partisans of the workers movement." [Quoted from here. I have no way of knowing whether or not these allegations are true, but if they are, it wouldn't surprise me; 'defending our tradition' in such a climate amounts to doing whatever it takes to rubbish, demean, misrepresent or trash 'the opposition'. We saw something similar in the 2016 Labour Party Leadership Election.]


Several more examples of vitriol and personal abuse directed at UK-SWP-ers by other SWP-ers and ex-members can be read here, in the main article and in the comments section.


Update, October 2013: The leadership of the UK-SWP have just mounted a rearguard defence of their conduct (on that, see here); for a response, check this out.


Update, December 2013: The UK-SWP held their 2014 annual conference several weeks early because of the growing crisis in the party. From Twitter feeds it looks like at least another fifty members have resigned (including a long-standing member, Ian Birchall -- check out his carefully measured resignation letter --, as well as Dave Renton, Jonathan Neale, Charlie Hore, Pat Stack, Neil Davidson, and Colin Wilson), and they did so partly as a result of certain things that were said from the platform in addition to the motions that were passed. It is highly likely that several hundred more will soon follow in their train.


Even more shocking, this was reported to have been said at the conference:


"We aren't rape apologists unless we believe that women always tell the truth -- and guess what, some women and children lie." [Quoted from here. Several other sources on Twitter confirmed this allegation.]


What is worse still, that comment received a round of applause!


Update, 30/12/2013: Indeed, there has now been a mass resignation of 165 comrades from the SWP.


01. Dialectical Reactions


[This forms part of Note 01.]

Bans And Censorship


In response to my trenchant criticisms of DM the main tactic adopted by Dialectical Mystics is to ban me from posting on their discussion boards -- RevLeft, RedMarx and the Association of Musical Marxists(!!) being among the latest to censor me. That would appear to be because I am far too effective at challenging DM. In fact, the latter two sites banned me within a couple of weeks of my first post there (as, indeed, have many pages on Reddit).


Readers can judge for themselves the extent and depth of my unprincipled and heinous thought crimes from this thread. [RedMarx has since closed, so this link is now dead. Revleft is now all but defunct, too. Update, November 2019: RedMarx has now been revived, but I am still banned.]


This tactic has also been copied by the break-away UK-SWP site, the International Socialist Network [ISN], clearly bringing their own brand of incipient Stalinism with them from the UK-SWP.


ISN has now been disbanded.


Update, July 11, 2021: John Rees has just blocked me on Twitter!


Dialectical Responses


[This also forms part of Note 01.]


Another favourite response is for dialectically-distracted comrades to claim that these Essays contain "nothing new" -- or, that they have been "plagiarised". This is just the latest example (my reply can be found here).


However, anyone reading my work (hopefully with their sectarian and partisan blinders removed) will soon discover that much of the content of my Essays is entirely original. If I have borrowed from others that has invariably been acknowledged.


[If anyone disagrees, please email me with the details and I will not only apologise I will gladly acknowledge the debt.]


However, when those who advance the above accusations were challenged to reveal where these "plagiarised" ideas have appeared before, not one of them has responded with the details. Either they can't provide the information or they simply enjoy being enigmatic. I suspect other motives.


One deeply disturbed dialectical dunderhead (if you follow that link. it's the10th post down --, and again, here) even tried to claim I hadn't actually written these Essays! Exactly who he imagines is their author he mysteriously kept to himself.


[Unfortunately, the first two of the above three links are now dead!]


Others claim that I quote the dialectical classics "out of context" (for example, here and here), but when they are asked to provide the 'right context' they all fall suspiciously silent.


In fact, in many places I endeavour to quote the entire context (for example, here), but even where I don't, it isn't easy to defend Engels, for instance, from the charge of blatant inconsistency, especially when he tells us the following in one breath:


"Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Engels (1976), p.13. Bold emphasis added.]


But then, in the next he says something like this:


"Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself; as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it, the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created; it can only be transmitted…. A motionless state of matter therefore proves to be one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas…." [Ibid., p.74. Bold emphases added. Paragraphs merged.]


[There are in fact several score dogmatic pronouncements like this in Engels's work alone; they have been reproduced here, alongside similar passages from over fifty other DM-theorists/authors.]


But do we really need much context to appreciate the glaring inconsistency in the above examples? Especially since Engels adopted a well-worn, traditional approach to Philosophy, one that has been practiced for well over two thousand years, and one that all dialecticians likewise employ (which was also demonstrated at length in Essay Two)?


In addition, beleaguered dialecticians often claim that they are "too busy" to work their way through these Essays (or even respond to them), a convenient excuse that allows them to continue advancing all manner of baseless accusations about me and my work, copying glaring errors off one another without actually having read even so much as one of my Essays, or, indeed, without checking their facts. [An excellent example of this ignorant response can be found here; a more recent one, here (in the comments section).]


To be sure, no one has to read a single word I write, but those who refuse to read my work only make fools of themselves when they pass comment on material about which they clearly know nothing.


[Perhaps the worst offender in this regard, who posted under the name "Volkov", can be found fabulating away here (alas, that link is now dead!) and at RevLeft under the name "Axel1917". This comrade was an 'expert' in all I have ever had to say, even though he openly admits he hasn't read any of my Essays. In addition, he never tires of telling others to avert their tender eyes from my work lest their highly sensitive DM-brains are irreparably harmed by anything I have to say!]


Another excuse often thrown up by the DM-Faithful is that my work is far too long -- a 'failing' that doesn't prevent them wading through Hegel's 'Logic', or, indeed, Das Kapital. It doesn't stop them dismissing my work as a "rant" (another favourite term of abuse), or a "screed" (ditto), even while they continue to pass judgement on the content of my Essays from a position of total ignorance. They even refuse to read the short summaries I have written, and regularly warn others to 'stay away' from my site!


However, when I write short articles they are called "superficial"; when I write long and detailed Essays, they are deemed "too long", or they are written off as "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 dialectical daydreams).


Another recent ploy is to argue that while I might have examined and criticised the ideas of dialecticians A, B and C, I should rather have looked instead at those of X, Y and Z. Another will then complain that while I might have examined the work of A, B and X, I should instead 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 or Mao's work; Maoists and Stalinists moan if I do likewise with Trotsky's (or even with "Brezhnev era revisionists"). Non-Leninist Marxists will bemoan the fact that I haven't confined my remarks to Marx's work or Hegel's, advising me to ignore the confused or even "simplistic" ideas to be found in Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Trotsky's writings on the subject!


Of course, because these comrades haven't read my work, none of them know that I have in fact examined the work of A, B, C, D,..., W, X, Y and Z (and that includes Marx and Hegel -- as well as DM-theorists that many of my critics have never even heard of!). In fact, since most of the material dialecticians produce is highly repetitive (check out Essay Two for scores of examples!), it often means that reading A's work is tantamount to reading almost everyone else's!


However, the most common complaint on the Internet coming in from academic, or quasi-academic, Marxists is that I have ignored much more substantive theorists -- such as Lukacs, Marcuse, Adorno, Habermas, Žižek, Ollman, and the like. [I have explained why I have done this, for example, here.] The work of several of these HCD-theorists will be examined in later stages of this project.


[Indeed, parts of Ollman's work have already been examined -- as have Marcuse's and Žižek's.]


1. Further Responses

[This forms part of Note 1.]


This 'friend-or-foe' reaction is rather odd in view of what Engels had to say about rigid dichotomies:


"For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Engels (1954), pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]


This "You-are-either-with-us-or-you-are-against-us" mentality plainly runs counter to the above ex cathedra pronouncement.


Nevertheless, other than those listed above, the most common reactions to my work (from comrades with whom I have 'debated' this 'theory' on the Internet, or elsewhere) are the following:


(1) An expression of total incredulity that there could possibly be a single genuine Marxist -- let alone a Trotskyist! -- who would even think to question this dearly beloved doctrine, or who claims (as I do) that Philosophy in its entirety is a completely bogus discipline. [Here is a recent example of this reaction on Reddit.] This reaction is often accompanied by a parallel accusation that anyone foolish enough to do this can't be a Marxist -- even though Marx himself rejected Philosophy and enjoined others to do likewise!


Naturally, the above reaction would mean that who counts as a Marxist is decided by definition (and a rather narrow definition, too: i.e., "Only those who don't question tradition are genuine Marxists", an odd attitude for avowed anti-traditionalists to adopt) -- and, incidentally, such a 'definition' totally ignores Lenin's argument that no scientific theory is above criticism.


(2) A hasty retreat to the view that dialectics isn't "a royal road to truth", merely a "method". Comrades who offer this response have plainly failed to notice that it completely undermines its 'objectivity'.


(3) The production of page-after-page of bluster, mis-direction, deflection, abuse and misrepresentation.


Indeed, as noted earlier, one leading Marxist Professor of Economics, Andrew Kliman no less, told me in an email 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" is, especially when I subsequently pointed out that his 'explanation' was defective!


Scatological abuse is, alas, almost de rigueur from such comrades. Here is one of the latest (incoherent) examples. [Unfortunately that link is now dead!] Here is another.


Naturally, thirty years or more of having to face vilification like this would make anyone (other than a 'saint') rather tetchy, if not downright aggressive, in response.


[Once more, I hasten to add that I am not complaining. I expect such dishonest and abusive responses, and for reasons highlighted in Essay Nine Part Two.]


Indeed, on this page the reader will see that my forthright and robust reaction to their underhanded attacks is something that DM-fans themselves can't stomach, the poor lambs. Sure, they are 'allowed' to post endless abuse -- as well as lie about me and my ideas --, but I must take it lying down and be all sweetness and light in return.


(4) The posing of bemused questions like the following: "What other concepts are there that could possibly account for change?"


The apparent obviousness of the reply that these comrades hope to elicit (viz.: "You're right, there are none, so dialectics must be correct. How foolish have I been!") is itself clearly a direct result of the conceptual void that DM has created inside each dialectical skull.


As will soon become apparent to anyone who reads the Essays posted at this site (but especially this one), there are in fact countless words and phrases in the vernacular (for instance, nearly every verb and adverb), as indeed there are also in the sciences, that enable change of every conceivable variety or complexity to be depicted, studied and thus explained -- and in limitless detail, too. In fact, ordinary words achieve this incomparably better than the lifeless and obscure jargon Hegel concocted in order to fix something that wasn't broken. Every single one of these ordinary terms can be appropriated with ease and used in HM. The vast majority of revolutionary papers already do this.


They have to if they want to communicate with workers!


That is, of course, quite apart from the ironic fact that dialectics can't itself explain change!


(5) The hurling of the usual time-honoured slurs in my general direction -- e.g., "hysterical", "mad", "anti-Marxist", "positivist", "sophist", "logic-chopper", "naďve realist", "revisionist", "eclectic", "relativist", "post modernist", "bourgeois stooge", "pedant", "absolutist", "elitist", "empiricist"..., -- to name but a few.


But, when DM-fans are described as "mystics" in return they wax indignant and complain about "name-calling". Once more, they are allowed to dish it out -- but not very well --, while they plainly can't take it in return, poor dears.


(6) The attribution (to me) of ideas I do not hold, and which can't reasonably be inferred from anything I have said or written -- e.g., that I am a "postmodernist" (which I am not), an "empiricist" (same comment), a "positivist" (ditto!), a "Popperian" (I am in fact an anti-Popperian), that I am a "sceptic" (that slur cast simply because I challenge accepted dogma, when Marx himself said we should subject everything to ruthless criticism, 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" -- which mustn't be confused with Nihilism, I simply reject all philosophical theories, not 99.9%, but 100% as incoherent non-sense), 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, and Mao himself apparently rejected the NON).


This is just the latest slur along these lines, where a desperate DM-fan alleges that I promote "the sophist confusions of Wittgenstein, as if this is going to lead to the emancipation of the working class" -- even though my signature: "The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves" was facing him on the very same page where he posted that comment. Naturally, this comrade predictably failed to inform us what these "sophist confusions" were. [On Wittgenstein, see here.]


Once more, these accusations and allegations are often advanced by comrades who haven't read any of my Essays -- but that doesn't prevent them from being 'experts' about me and my work, or from making things up about me. Either that, or they have merely skim-read a few random, isolated paragraphs lifted from my work. Naturally, they would be the first to complain if anyone were to do likewise with the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin. Trotsky, Mao or Stalin.


[This is just one of the latest examples; here is 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.]


While Dühring was rightly pilloried for doing this, apparently it is perfectly OK for dialecticians to do the same to yours truly!


Here, too, is John Molyneux:


"Marxist materialism is repeatedly attacked by the method of oversimplifying and caricaturing it to the point where it is obviously false...." [Molyneux (2012), p.36.]


And yet, that is precisely what he and other DM-fans regularly do when they attempt to summarise, discuss or criticise FL -- or, indeed, my work.


In many cases, the standard of debate displayed by DM-fans sinks almost to the embarrassing level on display here (which was written by a rather benighted Creationist). Alas, that is especially true of the reaction I have received from fellow Trotskyists; here, here, here and here are excellent examples of the crass responses to me coming in from UK-Trotskyists, who seem incapable of defending their 'theory' without resorting to prevarication, deflection, lies and abuse. Often, they become emotional, irrational, even childish, content merely to post supercilious remarks in order to deflect from their obvious incapacity to defend DM effectively, or at all.


A recent comment by Owen Jones could very well apply to many of the above comrades:


"Thing is, it always comes across as though they're rattled, rather than proving hurtful, which I suspect is the partial aim. Above all, it's a convenient way of avoiding having to engage with my arguments -- just make it about me and my real motives, and they think their work is done." [Quoted from here; accessed 12/07/2015. Italic emphasis in the original.]


Having said that, there is a major difference between DM-fans and the Creationists alluded to above: the former are far more abusive!


Here, here and here are particularly good examples of abuse from one particular Marxist-Leninist [M-L] comrade (which were posted in 2015) -- a serious defect further compounded by this individual's insecure grasp even of DM, a failing only exceeded by his somewhat tenuous grip on rationality.


[Once again, I'm not complaining about this, I expect it. I am merely highlighting it in order to expose the intellectual bankruptcy displayed by DM-fans.]


Finally, here is a video severely criticising an Introductory Essay of mine, posted on YouTube in 2015 by another M-L:



Video Four: A Largely Incoherent 'Defence' Of DM


Although the personal attacks on me in this video are few and far between, it is peppered with sarcasm, condescension, distortion, falsehood and blatant lies --, and, just like the benighted comrade mentioned a few paragraphs back, this M-L clearly doesn't know his own theory too well. For example, he openly admitted he had never heard of 'external contradictions' -- he even implied that I had invented the term(!) -- and this despite the fact that his heroes, Stalin and Mao, used it several times! I have responded to him here, here and here, where I have exposed his many egregious errors, his woeful ignorance (even of his own theory!), and his downright lies.


This benighted M-L then posted a second, even longer, but highly repetitive and largely incoherent video, to which I have also responded here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. [I have posted this many responses since the video in question is over an hour long and this M-L doesn't like to read long replies. I have now collected together all the links to my responses to him and posted them here.]


(7) A rejection of "bourgeois logic" (i.e., modern Fregean and post-Fregean Logic) supposedly in my work.


This is perhaps one of the oddest responses to my Essays mainly because (i) I use very little such logic in my them, and (ii) DM-fans who react this way invariably know absolutely no MFL (and, in most cases, they are equally ignorant of AFL), even while they have uncritically swallowed the sub-Aristotelian 'logic' that infests Hegel's work.


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


Hence, for such individuals a lack of specialist knowledge ironically makes each of them an expert logician, which is another 'dialectical' conundrum for readers to ponder.


As noted earlier, psychologists have now given this syndrome its own name: The Dunning-Kruger Effect -- whereby those who know very little about a given subject are at the same time in the grip of the delusion that they are in fact experts in that very subject! Apparently, it also helps explain why so many voted for that serial incompetent, Donald Trump! By parity of reasoning, that would make George W Bush a leading Theoretical Physicist, and the late Ronald Reagan a world-renowned brain surgeon.


Some complain even when this has been pointed out to them. Here is an excellent example.


Furthermore, these 'dialectically-debilitating' qualities are often garnished with stereotypical, ill-informed and misguided comments maligning Wittgenstein as a "bourgeois" apologist, or even a mystic -- as if Hegel himself was a "hoary-handed proletarian"!


[On this particular issue, see my Additional Essay, Was Wittgenstein a Leftist? -- the content of which has been summarised in an article I wrote, published here (unfortunately that link is now dead!). However, a version of it can be accessed here.]


Of course, it is possible to be an effective revolutionary socialist while knowing little or no logic, but if comrades are going to pontificate about MFL (or even AFL), they should at least have the decency to learn some first!


(8) Of late, desperate defenders of the dialectic have adopted one or more of the following tactics (when the ridiculous nature of their core belief system has been exposed by yours truly):


(a) They deny that the DM-classics actually say the things I allege of them;


(b) They try to argue that the decidedly odd things we find in the Dialectical Grimoire mustn't be taken literally (they're merely "metaphorical", "hypothetical" or even "whimsical");


(c) They claim that Engels, Plekhanov, Trotsky, Lenin, and Mao aren't DM-authorities. [Yes, they're that desperate!]


They even try to maintain (a) and (b) in the face of chapter and verse that tell a different story (recent examples of this desperate dialectical dodge can be found here, here, here, and here). They also do this despite the fact that it has been pointed out to them that similar tactics have been adopted by Christians (in relation to the ridiculous things we find in The Bible) confronted by the advancement of scientific knowledge. In which case, these more open and honest (Christian) mystics also try to sell us the idea that the Book Of Genesis, for instance, is "metaphorical", or 'poetically true'.


In relation to (c), exactly who is the authority in matters dialectical the above fans-of-the-dialectic steadfastly refuse to say, even when asked!


So, it seems that DM-supporters will say anything, pull any dodge, try any ploy, invent, lie, twist and turn beyond even the knotted pretzel stage, rather than allow the theory that history has already refuted to be even slightly questioned.


[An excellent recent example of dialectical mendacity like this can be found in the warped logic and frenetic special-pleading found here (written by one "Gilhyle").]



Figure Six: Dialectical 'Reasoning' -- But Only

After It Has Been Straightened-Out A Little!


Indeed, bourgeois 'spin doctors' look straight-forward, open, honest and truthful in comparison!


(9) Finally, dialectically-distracted comrades more often than not either:


(i) Refuse to respond to the vast majority of my criticisms; they simply ignore them,


(ii) Brand them "nonsense", but refuse to explain why -- or,


(iii) Claim that many of my arguments address a "strawmen"; so they brush them aside and retreat into a protracted dialectical sulk -- especially after I have exposed the many errors and non-sequiturs that litter their counter-arguments.


[An excellent recent example of option (ii) above can be found here. The individual concerned, who posts under the name "Jochebed 1", said he had read my Essays and then decided they were "unsystematic nonsense". When I pointed out to him that, somewhat miraculously, he had managed in less than an afternoon to read all 2.1 million words posted at this site he went rather quiet. An example of box (iii) idiocy has been posted below. (That 2.1 million word figure is now badly out of date; the number of words now exceeds 5 million.)]


In fact, the above is reminiscent of the rather pathetic responses extracted under the cross examination of William Jennings Bryan by Clarence Darrow, the defence lawyer in the infamous "Scopes Monkey Trial", in Tennessee, July 10th to 25th, 1925, summarised for us in the following book review by James Morone:


"But there is also an embarrassing side to Bryan: the 'great commoner' was a Bible-banging fundamentalist. When officials in Dayton, Tennessee decided to roast John Scopes for teaching evolution in 1925, they called in the ageing Bryan to prosecute. The week-long trial became a national sensation and reached its climax when the defence attorney, Clarence Darrow, called Bryan to the stand and eviscerated his Biblical verities. 'Do you believe Joshua made the sun stand still?' Darrow asked sarcastically. 'Do you believe a whale swallowed Jonah? Will you tell us the exact date of the great flood?' Bryan tried to swat away the swarm of contradictions. 'I do not think about things I don't think about,' he said. The New York Times called it an 'absurdly pathetic performance', reducing a famous American to the 'butt of a crowd's rude laughter'. This paunchy, sweaty figure went down as an icon of the cranky right. Today, most Americans encounter the Scopes trial and Bryan himself in a play called Inherit the Wind. I once played the role of Bryan and the director kept saying: 'More pompous Morone. Make him more pompous.'" [James Morone, London Review of Books, 21/02/2008.]


If my experience is anything to go by, the vast majority of DM-supporters "do not think about things they don't think about", either. An excellent recent series of examples, courtesy of one wing of The Dialectical Know-Nothing Tendency, was kindly provided for us by a comrade operating under the pseudonym "Futurehuman" in The Guardian's comments section -- see, for example, here, here, here, here, here, and here. This comrade insists on inflicting on his readers obsolete, dogmatic and confused ideas he stumbled across in Hegel and Engels's work, but steadfastly refuses to defend them in the face of my criticisms.


[It should be obvious that I have posted there under the pseudonym "RosaL001". You will need to use the search function in your browser (if it has one!) to locate both sets of comments. At the first of the above links, however, this comrade did initially attempt to post a weak defence of his ideas, but subsequently he merely sank into a, by-now-familiar, dialectical sulk. This comrade is also the author of Malek (2012), about which book I will be commenting in some detail in a later re-write of Essay Seven Part One. By the way, I am not 'outing' this comrade; in the above comments pages he acknowledged himself as the author of the said book. The latest example of this can be found here.]


DM-fans react more-or-less in the same way to the many serious problems their theory faces, highlighted in the Essays published at this site. For example, when confronted with the fact that not all changes in 'quality' are sudden (or, indeed, proceed in "leaps", to use the buzzword) -- e.g., melting metal, glass, plastic, butter, resin, toffee, tar, and chocolate -- DM-fans either ignore these glaring exceptions, or they brush them aside (often for no stated reason). This was indeed the response of one of the leading theorists of the CPGB, who seemed to think it a minor point that almost every metal in the universe disobeys this aspect of Engels's 'Law' (as, indeed, do all amorphous solids, which have no distinct melting point). Moreover, when asked to define the length of a dialectical "node", without fail they all become evasive -- either that, or they change the subject, distracting attention from this 'awkward' subject. A recent example of this can be found here (in the replies of 'redmaterialist').


[More on this, here, here, and here.]


Any who still doubt these tactics are employed by DM-fans should perhaps consult: (a) The numerous passages reproduced in the Essays posted at this site; (b) The material churned-out by any randomly-selected DM-fan; or (c) The many discussion boards and Marxist sites that have sprung up on the Internet (for example, here).


[However, in relation to (b) above, readers should also consult the comments I have added to the end of Note 11, below. (c) Is now out-of-date since most revolutionary discussion boards have closed down.]


Update, 23/03/2010: Perhaps the most desperate slur levelled against me over the last thirty years is the accusation that I am a cop!


2. As is the case with those committed to spreading the 'message' of that other 'holy book', The Bible, the dialectical faithful seem to think that only heretics would either want to alter, revise, or add to the content of the sacred DM-canon. One can well imagine a Christian (or even Muslim) Fundamentalist saying something like the following: "Why clarify the Word of God? Who are you to presume to know better than the Lord and His Holy Prophets? You can't improve on perfection...", etc., etc.


While dialecticians certainly give some thought to DM, and endeavour to debate it among themselves, internal dialogue is heavily constrained by organisational and psychological factors analysed elsewhere at this site (for example, in Essay Nine Part Two).


However, that at least helps explain why:


(i) All DM-writings are extremely repetitive,


(ii) All dialecticians employ almost exactly the same phrases and rhetorical flourishes (which often simply amount to lengthy, almost word-for-word, paraphrases of Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, or Mao), and why,


(iii) Their thoughts on DM-related topics cover an extremely limited range of topics.


For instance, the vast majority of DM-fans illustrate Engels's 'Three Laws' with the same hackneyed examples (boiling water, balding heads, plants negating seeds, Mendeleyev's Table, the link between North and South poles of a magnet, wave-particle duality -- and, of course, those pesky Mamelukes), despite the fact that it is relatively easy to show that these 'Laws' fail to work even here!


In addition we are informed by one and all of the "limitations" of FL (and this by comrades who can't even get Aristotle right!), that "internal contradictions" motivate every instance of change in the entire universe for all of time, while in the same breath these comrades will swear blind that they haven't "imposed" dialectics on nature! Hoary old DM-clichés like these are dusted off, year-after-year, as if they were still cutting edge philosophy, when they more closely resemble Mickey Mouse Science, and demonstrably so.


[Apologies for the mixed metaphors!]


It also helps explain why DM-fans refuse to confront ideas they can't handle, or why they pretend that there are no genuine problems with their theory. Any such 'difficulties' (where they are even so much as reluctantly or partially acknowledged) are often rejected out-of-hand, and for no good reason -- other than, of course, to point out that since these 'difficulties' are incompatible with the edicts promulgated by the Dialectical Founding Fathers, they must be completely false. End of story.


[The knee-jerk responses from this comrade serving as an excellent example of the above impregnable 'dialectical redoubt'.]


Or, as noted earlier, it is also assumed -- without any evidence -- that DM-critics must have questionable, if not sinister ulterior motives. This has perhaps been one of the most frequent reactions to my work. [It certainly motivates the vast majority of the responses listed here.] Failing that, spurious reasons are invented in order to explain why dialectics "hasn't been disproved" by my Essays. [Three excellent recent examples of this type of response can be accessed here, here and here.]


2a. Some might be tempted to question the assertion that DM hasn't changed much in over 150 years, arguing on the contrary that DM is a vibrant, changing theory. [An excellent recent example of this counter-claim can be found here.] Admittedly, there have been a few peripheral changes to the theory, but when they are examined closely they merely amount to minor, even insignificant, elaborations of the 'eternal truths' laid down by Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Mao. Where there have been less insignificant changes (for example, when the NON has been binned by this or that dialectician), they are almost invariably anathematised with accusations of "Revisionism!" by The Guardians Of The Sacred Dialectical Flame.


[This topic has been discussed in more detail in several Essays at this site, particularly Essay Thirteen Part One. See also Note 5, below.]


Academic Marxism [AM] is, of course, an entirely different matter, but since that Dialectical Dead End is irrelevant both to revolutionary socialism and the class war, I have largely ignored it. In order to appreciate just how useless a discipline AM is, readers might like to check out a 'debate' I had with a fan of 'Systematic Dialectics' in 2019-20. Failing that, they might like to struggle through Zizek (2012, 2015) and Bhaskar (1993).


3. In general, it isn't easy for dialecticians to accept the accusation that DM is a dogmatic, backward-facing theory even after it has been pointed out to them, or even substantiated with a mountain of evidence. In fact, it is nigh on impossible for them to acknowledge that easily demonstrated fact -- nor yet appreciate its significance. That is partly related to:


(a) The dogmatic and a priori style of reasoning adopted by every single DM-theorist;




(b) The fact that, after 2400+ years of Traditional Thought (where this dogmatic approach to Philosophy is de rigueur), this style of reasoning has become part of the philosophical landscape, as it were. In fact, this approach has been around for so long that few notice it or recognise it for what it is (even though Kant highlighted its pernicious influence over two centuries ago (Kant (1953)). A priori dogmatism thus seems quite normal, natural and uncontroversial in the eyes of most DM-fans, and, of course, Traditional Thinkers. In this way, the ideas of the ruling-class, alongside the a priori methods invented and employed by their "prize fighters", have found their way into Marxism --, and no one in the movement bats an eye!


Quite the reverse in fact; ruling-class forms-of-thought find some of their most enthusiastic defenders among the DM-faithful. [This is especially the case with respect to those who hail from the HCD-Tendency.]


And the above is relatively easy to explain, too, in view of the class origin or current class position of the overwhelming majority of Dialectical Marxism's leaders and main theoreticians. A recent example of this can be found here (more specifically here, and in the ensuing discussion), as well as here. A more pernicious and insidious set of examples of this malaise can be accessed here, here, and here.


As far as (a) above is concerned, while DM-supporters never tire of telling us that they refuse to impose their ideas on nature and society (adding that DM isn't a "master key" capable of unlocking the deepest secrets of the universe), that isn't what they actually do. Dialecticians en masse readily foist their theory on nature and society. [That allegation has been fully substantiated in Essay Two.]


For instance, DM-apologists don't usually regard Lenin's philosophical work as an example of dogmatic reasoning. On the contrary, they see it as a genuine contribution to science -- or at least to philosophy and revolutionary theory.


But, that is despite the fact that Lenin didn't even attempt to marshal any supporting evidence for the things he so boldly asserted (for example, in his Philosophical Notebooks [PN]), and in spite of the fact that he affirmed the truth of numerous universal, all-embracing 'propositions', which he confidently declared were applicable to all of reality for all of time, when it is clear that no amount of evidence would prove sufficient to substantiate claims like these. It can be seen, too, when Lenin claimed, for instance, that dialectics reflects the "eternal development of the world". [PN, p.110.] He even contradicted the usual DM-claim that dialectics isn't a "master-key" capable of unlocking the door to universal, a priori knowledge:


"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…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing…." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58. Bold emphasis alone added.]


A key that unlocks universal secrets is different from a "master key" in name alone. Of course, these are the sort of things that only a deity could possibly know.


In fact, as noted earlier, dialecticians can still be found who will read the following passage from Engels, but who will also fail to notice (or they will even deny!) that it is as good an example of a priori dogmatics that has been imposed on the world as one could wish to find:


"Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]


A few pages later Engels even added the following:


"Finally, for me there could be no question of building the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Ibid., p.13. Bold emphasis added.]


So, even Engels was oblivious of what he was doing!


Nor will they view the following comment of Trotsky's this way:


"[A]ll bodies change uninterruptedly in size, weight, colour etc. They are never equal to themselves…. [T]he axiom 'A' is equal to 'A' signifies that a thing is equal to itself if it does not change, that is, if it does not exist…. For concepts there also exists 'tolerance' which is established not by formal logic…, but by the dialectical logic issuing from the axiom that everything is always changing…. Hegel in his Logic established a series of laws: change of quantity into quality, development through contradiction, conflict and form, interruption of continuity, change of possibility into inevitability, etc…." [Trotsky (1971), pp.64-66. Bold emphases added.]


Of course, Hegel 'established' no such thing. He, too, derived this 'law' from a superficial examination of what water supposedly does when it is heated or cooled, but from which truly impressive 'body of evidence' he extrapolated this idea across the entire universe for all of time. Trotsky simply took Hegel at his word and failed to subject that Christian mystic's Mickey Mouse Science to the sort of critical scrutiny he applied, for example, to reformism.


Or, this from Mao:


"The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics.... 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....


"The universality or absoluteness of contradiction has a twofold meaning. One is that contradiction exists in the process of development of all things, and the other is that in the process of development of each thing a movement of opposites exists from beginning to end.... There is nothing that does not contain contradictions; without contradiction nothing would exist....


"Thus it is already clear that contradiction exists universally and is in all processes, whether in the simple or in the complex forms of motion, whether in objective phenomena or ideological phenomena.... Contradiction is universal and absolute, it is present in the process of the development of all things and permeates every process from beginning to end...." [Mao (1937), pp.311-18. Bold emphases added, several paragraphs merged.]


DM-fans ever since have simply continued in the same vein -- there are in fact countless examples of a priori dogmatics like this both in the Dialectical Classics and the writings of 'lesser' DM-luminaries.


The above theories weren't discovered by scientists, either, and neither were they derived from the evidence available even in Hegel's day; the same is the case with the greatly increased body of scientific knowledge to which we now have access. On the contrary, they were all concocted by ancient and early modern mystics (like Heraclitus, who effortlessly 'derived' a universal thesis, true for all of space and time, from a "thought experiment" about stepping into a river!). They too did this before there was any evidence at all to speak of. Naturally, this means that no DM-thesis represents a 'summary of the evidence', as is sometimes claimed. How, for example, could Engels's pronouncements about matter and motion have been derived from 19th century knowledge? Or even from contemporary science?


"Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]


Worse still, it turns out that what little evidence DM-theorists have scraped-together in support of their hyper-bold, universalist claims fail to support their theory (as my Essays have shown -- particularly Essay Seven Part One).


If Lenin's philosophical dogmatism is now contrasted with his other, more tempered claims -- where he insists that science is only ever partially true, and is always revisable -- the above instances of hyperbolic dialectical exaggeration are all the more reprehensible.


"…[the] basis of philosophical materialism and the distinction between metaphysical materialism and dialectical materialism. The recognition of immutable elements…and so forth, is not materialism, but metaphysical, i.e., anti-dialectical, materialism…. Dialectical materialism insists on the approximate, relative character of every scientific theory of the structure of matter and its properties; it insists on the absence of absolute boundaries in nature, on the transformation of moving matter from one state into another." [Lenin (1972), p.312. Bold emphasis added. Several more DM-passages that say the same sort of thing have been posted here.]


Hence, it is difficult to see how Lenin could possibly have asserted (with such confidence) the universal and omnitemporal validity of DM-theses while at the same time maintaining the belief that DM hasn't been imposed on reality -- and while holding the idea that knowledge in general is only ever partial, approximate and relative. Especially when he also said the following:


"What Marx and Engels criticise most sharply in British and American socialism is its isolation from the working-class movement. The burden of all their numerous comments on the Social-Democratic Federation in Britain and on the American socialists is the accusation that they have reduced Marxism to a dogma, to 'rigid orthodoxy', that they consider it 'a credo and not a guide to action'." [Lenin, 'Preface to the Russian Translation of Letters by Johannes Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, and Others to Friedrich Sorge and Others', 1907, quoted from here. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphasis and link added. Italic emphases in the original.]


"[Marxism is] [a]bsolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes...." [Lenin, quoted from here. Bold emphasis added.]


Contrast the above with the following:


"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. Bold emphases alone added. Paragraphs merged. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]


None of this looks at all "relative" and non-dogmatic --, especially those items Lenin calls "absolute".


Except, of course, when it comes to DM. Then it is open season and everyone has a licence to impose their ideas on nature and society. As we will see, in relation to dialectics, Lenin was quite capable of dogmatising with the best and using DM as a test of 'orthodoxy'.


It could be objected that revision doesn't mean abandonment of the theoretical gains of the past; scientific development builds on the advances achieved by previous generations.


The picture is in fact far more complex than this, as will be argued in Essay Thirteen Part Two, and yet the truth is that if anyone tries to argue with the faithful that DM can be, or should be, even so much as slightly revised in line with Lenin's advice, even with respect to the minutest of details, they risk being assailed with what is perhaps the most powerful word in the DM-phrasebook: "Revisionist!", and the DM-Inquisition will be on their case.


Dialecticians clearly pay lip-service to Lenin's more modest claims (as, indeed, he did, too!). Clearly, what he said applies to everyone else, not DM-apologists, to every other theory, not theirs.


In fact, no amount of evidence could substantiate the sort of universal claims Lenin, Engels, Plekhanov, Dietzgen, Stalin, Mao and Trotsky repeatedly asserted about all of reality for all of time.


In this regard, it is instructive to contrast dogmatic dialectical discourse like this with, say, the much more measured, genuinely scientific approach found, for example, in Darwin's careful, empirically-based classic, On The Origin Of Species.


Admittedly, PN wasn't meant for publication, but this quasi-theological aspect of dialectics also dominates every single published DM-text (including MEC), as Essay Two has shown (and that includes the countless pro-DM articles one can find these days on-line).


More recently, this a priori and dogmatic approach to knowledge is especially to be found in the dialectical musings of Gerry Healy, CLR James, and Raya Dunayevskaya. It seems that among HCD practitioners of 'Systematic Dialectics' and AMs (e.g., Tony Smith, Chris Arthur, Bertell Ollman, Slavoj Žižek, etc., etc.) dogmatism is clearly mandatory.


In fact, it is impossible to find a single DM-text that doesn't slip into a priori dogmatics at the drop of a principle.


[Option (b) from earlier is dissected in more detail in Essay Twelve Part One.]


3a. Published thirty odd years ago, Gollobin's book is a long, detailed and first rate example of this supine approach to Holy DM-Writ. RIRE is another example of the forlorn attempt to breath some life into this moribund theory. More-or-less the same can be said of John Molyneux's recent, but mercifully much shorter contribution -- as well as this article of his, and with this reply to it.


In fact, and in direct response to several recent posts of mine, this site thought it timely to publish yet another rendition of The Dialectical Catechism for the faithful to meditate upon, perhaps as a prophylactic measure to ward off my evil influence -- indeed, as I pointed out at the time:


I can only think that you are publishing all this material on dialectics as some sort of response to my recent demolition of one of its core ideas -- that is, I have been able to show that if this 'theory' were true, change would be impossible. So reproducing the above material is no more of an effective response than it would be for Christian Fundamentalists to publish passages from the Book of Genesis on-line in response to Darwin. This 'theory' has been thoroughly demolished at my site. Get over it. [Paragraphs merged.]


More-or less the same can be said of the scores of videos about DM and 'Marxist Philosophy' that now festoon YouTube, all of which rehearse the same handful of basic ideas (almost as if no one had summarised them before). This is one of the latest -- check out my reply to it in the comments section, and make a note of its author's pathetic response:



Video Five: Night Of The Living-Dead-Theory


4. Again, experience on the Internet suggests that not only are DM-acolytes impervious to argument, they are living disproof of their claim that everything in reality is always changing. They never do and apparently never will. It looks like a whole generation of DM-supporters might have to die out before fresh theoretical air is allowed to filter into Marxism.


But, I for one will not be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. [No pun intended.]


5. As noted above, the accusation that DM hasn't changed significantly in over a hundred years will be substantiated in Essay Thirteen Part One.


This rather bold and controversial claim is often contested by DM-apologists, who then appeal to examples drawn from the development of Marxist social, political and economic theory since the turn of the previous century. However, the above allegation was directed solely at DM, not HM, so pointing to advances in HM is hardly relevant.


Another aspect of the defensive stance adopted by dialecticians is the fact that few of them fail to argue that hostile critics of Dialectical Marxism always seem to attack "the dialectic". This then allows them to brand all such detractors "bourgeois apologists", which in turn means that whatever the latter say can safely be ignored as, 'plainly', ideological.


[This is the DM-equivalent of the Roman Catholic Church's old Index of Forbidden Books.]


However, it has surely escaped their attention that the reason 'the dialectic' is attacked by friend and foe alike is that it is by far and away the weakest and most lamentably feeble area of traditional 'Marxist Philosophy'. Far from it being an "abomination" to the bourgeoisie (even though the State Capitalist rulers of Eastern Europe, the former USSR, Maoist China and North Korea are, or were, rather fond of it, as are those sections of the bourgeoisie that publish books and articles on dialectics, or, indeed, on 'Marxist Philosophy'), 'the dialectic' has in fact visited an abomination on revolutionary socialism.


So, our enemies attack dialectics precisely because they think they have found our Achilles Heel.


Whereas, revolutionaries (like the present writer) criticise it for the opposite reason: to rid Marxism of its Achilles Heel.


Admittedly, Trotsky tried to respond to this line-of-argument along the following lines:


"Anyone acquainted with the history of the struggles of tendencies within workers' parties knows that desertions to the camp of opportunism and even to the camp of bourgeois reaction began not infrequently with rejection of the dialectic. Petty-bourgeois intellectuals consider the dialectic the most vulnerable point in Marxism and at the same time they take advantage of the fact that it is much more difficult for workers to verify differences on the philosophical than on the political plane. This long known fact is backed by all the evidence of experience." [Trotsky (1971), p.94. Bold emphasis added.]


But, Trotsky's argument actually works both ways, for if it is difficult for workers to verify the "differences" he mentions, then that plainly allows others (such as party leaders, party hacks and party theorists) to manipulate workers with ideas they don't understand (indeed, no one understands), or can't check (i.e., those found in DM itself). And, far from it being the case that only workers find it hard to defend -- or even understand -- this 'theory' so they are even capable of detecting such "differences", DM-theorists themselves have shown that they, too, don't understand their own theory (as these Essays have also repeatedly demonstrated, particularly this one)! That isn't because it is a difficult theory to grasp; it is because it is based on incomprehensible Hegelian gobbledygook (upside down and the 'right way up').


However, as the Essays published at this site also show, there is now no good reason to cling to these vague and confused DM-fantasies, even though there are easily identifiable psychological and ideological motivating factors that help explain why they are, have been, and will continue to be embraced by the DM-faithful.


Hence, the conclusion is inescapable: petty-bourgeois revolutionaries maintain their commitment to this mystical and misbegotten set of doctrines for contingent psychological, opportunist and ideological reasons, and for no other. [Again, there is much more on this in Essay Nine Parts One and Two.]


[The "Ah, but what about 1917?" defence has also been neutralised, here.]


The class origin and current class position of comrades like Trotsky works against them, as well. After all, they, too, aren't above (i.e., they aren't exempt from) Marx's declaration that:


"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness." [Marx (1987), p.263.]


[The "Ah, but that's just crude reductionism!" riposte has also been neutralised, here.]


5a. Those who object to my alleged reliance on 'bourgeois thinkers/theory' should read this and then perhaps think again.


There is a notable exception to this negative assessment (i.e., that DM-fans are woefully ignorant of MFL and Analytic Philosophy); one comrade has openly declared on the Internet that he is "learning logic" so that he can respond to, or even neutralise, my criticisms.


[That declaration can be found here, along with my reply, here (as well as in subsequent posts on the same page). In fact, the Maoists at that site were considerably more comradely toward me than most of my fellow Trotskyists have been!]


Update, September 2022: Over fifteen years later and still no sign of this comrade or his newfound expertise in logic!


Not that it will do her/him much good; very little of my case against DM relies on FL!


6. Some readers might be surprised to find little or no discussion or analysis of AM at this site --, particularly the work of theorists like Lukács, Sartre, Althusser, Derrida, Žižek, and the 'Frankfurt School' -- or, indeed, the work of 'Continental Philosophers' in general --, or, for that matter, much of what passes for 'Systematic Dialectics'.


That is because:


(a) The vast bulk of the above work relates to issues that are connected with, or are integral to, HM.


(b) Both revolutionary socialism and the class war have largely been unaffected by AM (whatever deleterious effect it might have had on the minds of highly educated and otherwise politically astute comrades), and,


(c) I can make little sense of much that passes for 'theory' in this genre. [On that, see Chomsky's comments, posted here.]


Indeed, most of the material that has so far emerged from this 'tradition' strikes me as little more than a determination to produce highly convoluted prose, impenetrable jargon, and then more of the same in order to 'explain', or comment on, the last batch of gobbledygook produced by yet another AM! This theoretical quagmire is littered with ideas and concepts that are about as comprehensible and transparent as a theological treatise on the 'Incarnation' of Christ. This current in Marxism is in effect a sort of 'woollier-than-thou' approach to Theory.


Hume's bonfire has never been more sorely needed...


[Some have taken exception to the above comment since it appears to resemble illiberal and intolerant attempts to burn books, but it shouldn't be taken literally. It amounts to little more than "Consign these works to the basement area of the library to gather dust!" Or even "Leave them to the gnawing criticism of the mice."]


Marx likened Philosophy to masturbation (or, rather, he said that it stood to science as masturbation does to sexual love). Well the above thinkers appear for all the world to be engaged in their own collective 'circle-jerk', which is probably why their influence on the class struggle has been close to zero, and will no doubt approach zero asymptotically as their writings become more prolix over time; and, of course, as the working-class continues to grow and continues to ignore them en masse.


Having said that, much of what is concluded in Essay Twelve (i.e., about the ruling-class origin of metaphysical and philosophical thought) also applies to this highly insular body of 'Marxist theory', as well as those who seem determined to keep churning out yet more of it.


[A summary of the above Essay can be accessed here. In fact, Marx abandoned Philosophy, root-and-branch, by the late 1840s, and advised others to do likewise. On that see here. See also, here.]


7. These Essays have been written from the perspective of a specific current within Analytic Philosophy -- and, it is worth adding, it represents a minority and highly unpopular viewpoint among Analytic Philosophers, too! However, since the vast majority of DM-fans clearly lack any sort of background in this genre, many of the points made at this site have had to be pitched at a very basic level. Professional Philosophers will, therefore, find much here that will irritate them. That, however, is their problem. As I have already noted, this site isn't aimed at them.


In addition, I have endeavoured to write much of this material with the following thought in mind: "If this or that passage isn't accessible to ordinary working people, re-write it!" Now, I don't think for one second that I have everywhere succeeded in achieving that level of clarity or directness, but most of the material at this site has been written and re-written well over fifty times (no exaggeration!) with that sole aim in mind. This process will continue indefinitely. Naturally, it is for members of the target audience (i.e., working people, should they ever read these Essays!) to decide if I have succeeded or failed in achieving my stated aim.


Indeed, and in this regard, I am happy to be judged by them alone.


Even though the content of this site has been heavily influenced by the work of Frege and Wittgenstein, it strives to remain consistent with HM. That will strike some readers as an impossible (if not a pointless) task. That misapprehension has also been addressed in another Essay at this site.


8. There is no chance that DM-fans will give the material published at this site a fair hearing. In fact, after nigh on thirty-five years, and out of the hundreds of DM-fans (again, no exaggeration!) with whom I have 'debated' this 'theory', I can count the number of comrades who have engaged fairly with me (that is, without them resorting to knee-jerk rejection, fabrication, abuse, lies or slander) on the fingers of a severely mutilated hand.


It is worth recalling that according to DM, no progress can be made except through internally-generated contradictions -- i.e., in this case, contradictions exposed by someone inside the movement, one presumes. That is why a naive observer might be tempted to conclude that these Essays would be welcomed by the DM-faithful. But any such will be sorely mistaken. Nevertheless, it is also why these Essays won't be favourably received. Not even DM-fans can put their own theory of 'change through contradiction' into practice by allowing it to be contradicted itself!


The problem with dialecticians is that they do not (or perhaps cannot) recognize the glaring 'contradictions' in DM (or they brush them aside with what I have elsewhere called the "Nixon defence").


As far as change is concerned, this can only mean that:


(i) Their theory can't actually develop (that is, according to their own theory of change it can't do so if it has no 'internal contradictions'), or,


(ii) If they refuse to examine the glaring 'contradictions' I have exposed, their theory of change itself must be defective, since that must mean these 'internal contradictions' don't in fact change anything!


But, if their theory of change is misguided (i.e., if these 'internal contradictions' do not in the end cause change), then dialecticians can safely ignore any 'contradictions' I point out, including this one!


Of course, if DM can't change (presumably that will be because, for the first time in history, human beings have invented a theory with no 'internal contradictions'!), it would imply DM is absolutely true, and Lenin's claim that all knowledge is relative and incomplete is itself mistaken!


Whichever way we turn core DM-theses take body blow after body blow.


In that case, DM-theorists should welcome the many 'contradictions' I have exposed in their theory, even if only to save it from such easy refutation!


Unfortunately, however, that particular outcome will sink their theory even faster!


[This rather ironic, fatal dilemma has been tweaked some more here, and here.]


8a. Of course, that depends on how the word "successful" is understood. Unfortunately, however, on any reasonable interpretation of that term, this allegation (i.e., that of all the major political ideologies and/or movements in history, Dialectical Marxism is among the least successful) turns out to be true. [On that, see Essay Ten Part One.]


8b. It is worth underlining yet again that I am not blaming all our woes on dialectics. I have to keep repeating those words since comrades who read these them still persist in claiming -- deliberately, it has to be concluded --, that I am blaming the failure of Dialectical Marxism solely on DM, no matter how many times they are told otherwise!


What I am doing is claiming that this 'theory' is partly responsible for the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism.


[The extent to which I think that is the case is detailed in Essays Nine Part Two and Ten Part One.]


9. Since beginning this project I have discovered several somewhat similar points raised in Eric Petersen's, The Poverty Of Dialectical Materialism, an excellent book (that is, if we ignore what he has to say about Philosophy in Chapter 2, and Logic in Appendix A), which I first read in January 2005.


Also, in early 2005, I happened across the work of Denis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth. Their invaluable study -- On The Edge: Political Cults Right And Left -- greatly amplifies several of the points I have made here about sectarianism, etc.


It needs adding, though, that I completely distance myself from their comments about Leninism.


[A summary of Tourish's ideas can be accessed here.]


10. However, DM itself still seems to be alive and well in China (boosted no doubt by its close affinity with Daoism). Because of that, I have consulted several books on 'Chinese Dialectics', which have been written or translated into English.


10a. Some Marxists turn their noses up at Wikipedia, but that is probably the result of no little intellectual snobbery (possibly coming in from the HCD fraternity), or perhaps even a result of sectarian disdain (possibly coming from LCDs). But, where my own expertise is relevant, this on-line source is in general reasonably reliable (although, on the few occasions where I disagree with what it has to say I have explained why (in one or two of my Essays, or in discussion sections over at Wikipedia itself -- for example, here).


In which case, I have no reason in general to question other pages where my expertise is lacking. Even so, there are no other sources on the Internet that are anywhere near as comprehensive or as accessible.


On the other hand, as I have noted in the main body of this Essay, where possible I have been progressively replacing Wikipedia links with links to any acceptable or authoritative alternative sites I can find. If readers know of still others, I'd appreciate it if they informed me of them! Fortunately, or unfortunately, Wikipedia pages are continually being altered, edited and revised. I have generally made a note of this wherever I have linked to such pages, and where I am aware of substantive changes.


Finally, wherever possible or relevant I have linked to articles published by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [SEP] or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy [IEP], and, where relevant, to specialist sites promoting MFL and modern science.


11. That is, of course, why Trotskyist bookshops (such as Bookmarks in London) find they can sell works written by STDs and MISTs.


However, the comments in the main body of this Essay aren't meant to suggest that Trotskyism and Stalinism are literally Siamese twins. Far from it. At least as far as a clear commitment to international revolution and the self-activity of the working class are concerned (among many other issues!), the two couldn't be further apart. Nevertheless, as far as their commitment to DM is concerned, it is difficult to slip a party card between them.


[That controversial claim has been examined in more detail in Essays Two and Nine Part Two.]


12. On Internet discussion boards this has perhaps been one of the hardest messages to get across, not least because comrades there tend to accept the traditional idea that Marxism actually needs a 'philosophy' of its own. Why that is so is seldom ever raised. [The few arguments advanced in its favour have been critically examined in Essay Twelve Part One.]


However, it is often assumed that if I query a specific 'philosophical' thesis I must therefore accept an opposing doctrine (which I never do -- I invariably reject both). In fact, we no more need Philosophy than we need Religion:


"Feuerbach's great achievement is.... The proof that philosophy is nothing else but religion rendered into thought and expounded by thought, i.e., another form and manner of existence of the estrangement of the essence of man; hence equally to be condemned...." [Marx (1975b), p.381. I have used the on-line version, here. Bold emphasis and link added.]


Moreover, the ubiquity of religious beliefs and philosophical theories in class society shouldn't fool us into thinking they are either inevitable or necessary to 'the human condition'.


Indeed, as Essay Twelve points out, because Traditional Thought represents and expresses ruling-class priorities, and both Theology and Philosophy appeal to, or employ, dogmatic ideas of one sort or another -- which approach to 'knowledge' is, again, based on the unsupported belief that there is an underlying "rational" structure to reality, accessible to thought alone -- it is clear that both are the result of what turn out to be analogous alienated social conditions. As Marx pointed out:


"We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970), p.118. Bold emphasis added.]


"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.'" [Ibid., pp.64-65, quoted from here. Bold emphasis added.]


"In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or -- this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms -- with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic -- in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production." [Marx (1968), pp.181-82. Bold emphasis added.]


"...philosophy is nothing else but religion rendered into thought and expounded by thought, i.e., another form and manner of existence of the estrangement of the essence of man; hence equally to be condemned...." [Marx (1975b), p.381.]


"The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man -- state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.


"Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.


"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." [Marx (1975c), p.244. Bold emphases alone added.]


Even more instructive: in Essay Nine Part Two I show that the quasi-religious devotion displayed by DM-fans to the 'dialectical world-view' is actually a consequence of the same alienating forces that also motivate and encourage theological myth-making by that other group of social victims (i.e., the religious and the superstitious). One cause, two similar effects.


[This argument has now been summarised here. This topic will also be explored at greater length in Essay Twelve (summary here.)]


13. Two recent examples of this phenomenon can be accessed here and here (the first link no longer works; the second will take the reader to a post that was published just after I had intervened on the site in question) -- but there are many more just like them.


As noted earlier, the only other 'argumentative ploy' that DM-apologists seem to have available to them (in response to my Essays) is to ignore totally whatever they don't like or can't answer. As noted above, such comrades appear to know little FL (many indeed proudly and openly boast about this rather un-edifying and self-imposed intellectual defect), but that doesn't stop them informing the world of its many 'shortcomings'. In this they perhaps stand to MFL rather like the Pope does to any advice he gives on marriage and sex. Except the Pope has the decided edge here; he is, so we are told, of the male sex and hence, at a minimum, he at least knows something (even if that isn't much) about what he is talking about. The same can't be said of the vast majority of DM-fans in relation to their comments about FL.


[FL = Formal Logic; MFL = Modern Formal Logic.]


[These comments don't, of course, apply to the work of Graham Priest, a highly sophisticated philosopher and logician. Priest's ideas will be criticised in subsequent Essays. Until then, the reader is directed here and here for more details.]


However, whenever I attempt to recast my anti-DM arguments in mind-numbingly simple and basic terms so that  child could follow them dialecticians lambaste them for their 'banality', or their 'superficiality'. On the other hand, when they are presented at length, in all their complexity, they moan even more loudly, and throw out insults like "elitist", "ivory tower", "academic", "pedantic", "semantics". They even complain about "walls of text", or they grumble that they are being "talked down to". [The author of the videos mentioned earlier displayed several of these 'endearing' personality traits all rolled into one.]


Page-after-page of impenetrable Hegelian gobbledygook they happily down before breakfast; a few pages of clear argument from yours truly and they throw even more toys out of the pram.


Quotation Conventions


(1) Unlike the convention adopted in USA, 'scare' quotes employed at this site uses single quotation, not double quotation, marks.


(2) When quoting a passage of text from another site, book, article or paper, double quotes are employed. When those outside sources also use double quotes in the body of a quoted text they will be replaced by single quotation marks. If that double-quoted text the employs single quotes to quote someone else, they in turn will be replaced by double quotes, and so on. For example, this body of text:


Professor NN once said "Anyone who quotes the first line of the Gettysburg Address 'Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal' cannot consistently support racism..."', 


 will be rendered as follows:


"Professor NN once said 'Anyone who quotes the first line of the Gettysburg Address "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" cannot consistently support racism...'."


(3) When directly mentioning a name, word or phrase as such (even if it isn't in the English Lexicon), double quotation marks will be used. For example:


The phrase "Karl Marx" is in fact a Proper Name, and so is "Trotsky"; but "BuBuBu" isn't even a word let alone a name.


(4) Single, 'scare quotes' will be used in relation to any terms deemed to be suspect, controversial or of otherwise dubious import, such as, 'dialectical contradiction', 'quantity' passes into 'quality', 'abstraction', 'negation of the negation' and 'consciousness'.


[Why the last item in that short list is deemed to be of dubious import is covered in Essay Thirteen Part Three; specifically, here and here, but also all the way through that Essay.]




Several of Marx and Engels's works listed below have been linked to the Marxist Internet Archive, but since Lawrence & Wishart threatened legal action over copyright infringement many no longer work.


However, all of their work can now be accessed here.


Bhaskar, R. (1993), Dialectic. The Pulse Of Freedom (Verso Books).


Cohen, G. (1978), Karl Marx's Theory Of History: A Defence (Oxford University Press).


Dunayevskaya, R. (1982), Philosophy And Revolution (Humanities Press, 2nd ed.). [Several chapters of this can be found here.]


--------, (2002), The Power Of Negativity. Selected Writings On The Dialectic In Hegel And Marx (Lexington Books).


Engels, F. (1954), Dialectics Of Nature (Progress Publishers).


--------, (1968), Ludwig Feuerbach And the End Of Classical German Philosophy, in Marx and Engels (1968), pp.584-622.


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


Gollobin, I. (1986), Dialectical Materialism. Its Laws, Categories And Practice (Petras Press).


Kant, I. (1953), Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able To Present Itself As A Science, edited and translated by Peter G Lucas (Manchester University Press).


Lenin, V. (1961), Philosophical Notebooks, Collected Works Volume 38 (Progress Publishers).


--------, (1972), Materialism And Empirio-Criticism (Foreign Languages Press).


Levins, R., and Lewontin, R. (1985), The Dialectical Biologist (Harvard University Press).


Lotz, C., and Feldman, P. (1994), Gerry Healy. A Revolutionary Life (Lupus Books). [The Forward and Introduction can be accessed here.]


Malek, A. (2012), The Dialectical Universe -- Some Reflections On Cosmology (Agamee Prakashani).


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


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


Marx, K. (1968), Preface To A Contribution To The Critique Of Political Economy, in Marx and Engels (1968), pp.180-84, and Marx and Engels (1987), pp.261-65.


--------, (1975a), Early Writings (Penguin Books).


--------, (1975b), Economical And Philosophical Manuscripts, in Marx (1975a), pp.279-400.


--------, (1975c), A Contribution To The Critique Of Hegel's Philosophy Of Right, in Marx (1975a), pp.243-57.


Marx, K., and Engels, F. (1848), Manifesto Of The Communist Party, in Marx and Engels (1968), pp.31-63.


--------, (1968), Selected Works In One Volume (Lawrence & Wishart).


--------, (1970), The German Ideology, Students Edition, edited by Chris Arthur (Lawrence & Wishart).


--------, (1987), MECW Volume 29 (Lawrence & Wishart).


Molyneux, J. (2012), The Point Is To Change It. An Introduction To Marxist Philosophy (Bookmarks).


Petersen, E. (1994), The Poverty Of Dialectical Materialism (Red Door).


Rees, J. (1998), The Algebra Of Revolution (Routledge). [This links to a PDF.]


Seymour, R. (2012), 'A Comment On Greece And Syriza', International Socialism 136, Autumn 2012, pp.191-96.


--------, (2017), Corbyn. The Strange Rebirth Of Radical Politics (Verso, 2nd ed.).


Tourish, D., and Wohlforth, T. (2000), On The Edge. Political Cults Right And Left (M E Sharpe).


Trotsky, L. (1971), In Defense Of Marxism (New Park Publications).


Woods, A., and Grant, T. (1995/2007), Reason In Revolt. Marxism And Modern Science (Wellred Publications). [The on-line version now appears to be the second edition.]


Zizek, S. (2012), Less Than Nothing: Hegel And The Shadow Of Dialectical Materialism (Verso). [This links to a PDF.]


--------, (2015), Absolute Recoil. Toward A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism (Verso).


Many Of The Abbreviations Used At This Site



  AM:    Academic Marxism/Marxist (depending on the context)


  AD:    Anti-Dühring (i.e., Engels (1976))


  AFLAristotelian Formal Logic


  BBTBig Bang Theory


  CNSCentral Nervous System


  COTCoherence Theory Of Truth


  CTTCorrespondence Theory Of Truth


  DB:   The Dialectical Biologist (i.e., Levins and Lewontin (1985))


  DL:   Dialectical Logic


  DM:   Dialectical Materialism/Materialist (depending on the context)


  DN:   Dialectics Of Nature (i.e., Engels (1954))


  fSU:  Former Soviet Union


  FL:    Formal Logic


  IDM:  In Defense Of Marxism (i.e., Trotsky (1971))


  IED:   Identity-In-Difference


  IO:     Interpenetration Of Opposites


  HM:   Historical Materialism/Materialist (depending on the context)


  LEMLaw Of Excluded Middle


  LIE:    Linguistic Idealism


  LOCLaw Of Non-Contradiction


  LOI:    Law Of Identity


  MD:    Materialist Dialectics


  MEC:    Materialism And Empirio-criticism (i.e., Lenin (1972))


  MECW: Marx And Engels Collected Works


  MIST:    Maoist Dialectician


  MFL:     Modern Formal Logic


  NON:    Negation Of The Negation


  NOT:    Non-Orthodox Trotskyist


  OLP:    Ordinary Language Philosophy


  OT:      Orthodox Trotskyist


  OTG:   Orthodox Trotskyist Group


  OTT:    Orthodox Trotskyist Theorist


  PB:      Principle Of Bivalence


  PMT:    Pragmatic Theory Of Truth


  PN:      Philosophical Notebooks (i.e., Lenin (1961))


  QM:     Quantum Mechanics


  Q«Q:  Quantity Turns Into Quality, and vice versa


  RIRE:   Reason In Revolt (i.e., Woods and Grant (1995/2007))


  STD:    Stalinist Dialectician


  STT:     Semantic Theory Of Truth


  TAR:    The Algebra Of Revolution (i.e., Rees (1998))


  UO:      Unity Of Opposites




Word Count: 41,870


Latest Update: 11/04/24


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