Idealism and Materialism in Marx's Dialectic

Author(s): Louis Dupré
Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Jun., 1977), pp. 649-685
Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc.
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AND MATERIALISMINMARX'S DIALECTIC
IDEALISM
LOUIS DUPR?

I

11 o aspect of Marx's theory has received more attention in recent
decades than the dialectical method. Yet, Western interpreters
have mainly restricted the discussion to those early writings in
which Marx explicitly confronts Hegel's philosophy, while socialist
commentators often hesitate to subject Marx's mature writings to funda
mental questioning. In the present contribution I propose to raise a
number of questions concerning the dialectical method as used
in Marx's later works and as interpreted in those of his principal
followers. I realize that there may be a substantial difference
between the two, yet since the latter, correctly or incorrectly,
explicate a text which frequently demands further justification,
they must be consulted. My purpose with this task is hermeneutical
rather than critical. I feel that, despite the existing bulk of Marxist
literature, we still have not read Marx attentively enough to be
ready for a decisive critique of his work. My own critical remarks
pretend to do no more than to allow the text to reveal its own mean

ing within its total context. They are part of that internal criticism
without which there can be no true hermeneutic.
Up to German Ideology, Marx's dialectic had been predom
inantly anthropological. Even when he discussed economic ques
tions, as in the Manuscripts of 1844, he did so from an anthro

pological angle. In the writings immediately preceding Capital the
anthropological model ceases to determine the critique of economy
altogether. The dialectic now follows an intrinsically economic pat
tern. Its contradictions result from internal conflicts within the
economic process, not from its opposition to any preconceived ideal
"nature" of man.
This is not to say that Marx's philosophical concerns vanished
when Marx started writing his definitive critique of classical economy.
Capital is a "philosophical" text as well as a critique of economic
theory, though the latter is far more in evidence than the former.
The rediscovery of the preparatory notes for Capital, the Grundrisse,

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650 LOUIS DUPR?

clearly indicates the continuing role of philosophy in Marx's work.
Yet the Grundrisse integrates a dialectical philosophy with an eco
nomic theory, which in the early writings had remained largely juxta
posed.1 In The Poverty of Philosophy (1846) Marx had adumbrated
his own concept of the dialectical development of economic categories
while attacking Proudhon's. Especially, the emerging notion of eco
nomic contradiction deserves attention. Previously, the dialectical

negation had consisted in the opposition between prevailing social
economic conditions and an ideal, anthropological model. But now,
Marx envisions the economic process as producing its own contradic
tions and surpassing them in new economic relations. Such a dialectic
of economic development differs substantially from Proudhon's
"Hegelian" theory. Proudhon separates the dialectic of economic

categories from their historical development. Instead of studying
the actual, historical production relations from which economic cate

gories derive, Proudhon deals in "immutable laws, eternal principles,
ideal categories." Even Hegel's Absolute Spirit reappears in the
secular form of "humanity," decked out as "general reason" or "social

genius."2 In heaping sarcasm on Proudhon, Marx is really settling
accounts with his own past, though he had formulated his abstract
universals in anthropological rather than economic terms.
But only in the Grundrisse3 does Marx fully integrate the
dialectical method within his economic studies. Marx explicitly
warns against any simplistically Hegelian interpretation of economic
categories, that moves, in Proudhon's manner, from the abstract
universal to the complex concrete.4 Even basic, universal categories

1
David McLellan, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought (New York:
Harper, 2 1973), p. 296.
The Poverty of Philosophy (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing
House, s.d.) p. 112.
3
Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Oekonomie (Berlin: Dietz,
1953); The Grundrisse, trans, by David McLellan (New York: Harper
and Row, 1971). McLellan's translation is only a partial one, yet I have
followed it wherever possible because it renders the enormously com
plex style of Marx's private notes somewhat more readable than Martin
Nicolaus' literal one (Baltimore: Pelican Books, 1973). I refer to the
former as "McL," to the latter as "Nicolaus," and to the German edition
as "Gr."
4 as
"Hegel fell into the error of considering the real (das Reale)
the result of self-coordinating, self-absorbed,and spontaneously operating
thought, while the method of advancing from the abstract to the concrete
is but the way of thinking (dieArt f?r das Denken) by which the concrete
is grasped and is reproduced in our mind as concrete" (Gr. 22, McL 35).

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5 This interrelatedness of all economic cate 5 Nor should this interconnection of production. Marx's concrete uni versal emerge at the end of the dialectic. 6.27. All the stages of production have certain destinations in common. wage labor. (Gr. For in its universal form. etc.186. it is from the beginning determined by distribution. 22). 21. 6." It remains economically meaningless until specified into the concrete classes of which it consists. at a certain stage. Unlike Proudhon's abstract uni versais. from the beginning (Gr. but the so-called general conditions of all production are nothing but abstract conceptions which do not go to make up any real stage in the history of production (Gr. The meaning of terms such as "produc tion" or "population" depends on specific social structures and changes with the development of the social-economic process. 18). The same ambiguity adheres to the seemingly univocal concept of "population. that is. McL. distribution. exchange. modes of production. money. Production already contains consumption. it appears only at the end of a long. Man is social. "Whenever we speak therefore of production. which we generalize in thought. a produc tion by social individuals" (Gr. and. McL. 11. 34). and therefore complex. and agriculture can never be considered sepa rately: they are codetermined by a number of other factors and can be fully understood only within the complex economic setting of the existing production relations. and the composition of these classes is determined by such varying historical factors as divi sion of labor. McL." then. can be used only in an analogous way for purposes of comparing similar (but never identical) functions in the social-economic process. we always have in mind production at a certain stage of social development. McL. as if production universally appropriated the products of nature while distribution deter mined which particular group were to partake of those products and con sumption constituted the individual enjoyment (Gr.18 on Thu. The term "production. 23-24). capital. 11. labor. 10. and consumption. Labor presents even greater complexities. and ex change be interpreted in a formalists "Hegelian" way. historical process in the economy of advanced industrial societies. 17). This content downloaded from 194. as a means of creating wealth in general without being specified to any par ticular form. and distribution itself is a form of producing (Gr. Yet Marx's method is more fundamentally Hegelian insofar as he intrinsically connects the various aspects of the economic process with one another and overcomes the classical separation of its stages. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . McL. McL.MARX'S DIALECTIC 651 such as production. Moreover. 21-22).

7 Though the point is of primary importance. Engels describes the difference: Political economy begins with commodities. by Martin Milligan [Moscow: International Publishers. Vol. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . trans. however. I. 7 Bertell Oilman has made this interrelatedness the central theme of his study Alienation: Marx's Conception ofMan in Capitalist Society (New York: Cambridge University Press. a commodity solely because a relation between two persons or communities attaches to the thing. 1962). In his review of Marx's Critique of Political Economy. man as the moving principle of all reality.. 374. of course. 1959]. internal development distin guishes Marx's discussion of economic concepts from that of the classi cal economists. II The assumption of a permanent.186. only conceptualized relations. begins from the moment when products are exchanged for one another?whether by individuals or by primitive communities.27. the dialectic of negativity as the moving and generating principle?is thus first that Hegel conceives the self-genesis of man as a process . Karl Marx-Friedrich Engels. 151). 652 LOUIS DUPR? gories marks a clear innovation in economic thinking made under the direct impact of Hegel's philosophy. the product.18 on Thu. 8 a dynamic is a principle which That reality is essentially process. But Marx regarded. The internal relatedness of the categories can be fairly evaluated only in the light of those two more comprehensive prin ciples which entail it. considers only man as a process being. we must postpone further discussion of it until we have acquainted ourselves with the most general principles which Marx borrowed from Hegel's dialectic: the developing character of reality and the dynamic nature of con tradiction. p. This text.8 To Marx the capitalist system is not the necessary 6 on August Review anonymously published in Das Volk 20. Selected Works (Moscow: International Pub lishers.. Each term must ever anew be defined in accordance with the complex web of relations in which it appears. the relation between producer and consumer who are here no longer united in the same person. Marx had adopted from Hegel at an early age.6 Marx uses no "simple" concepts. We find them most clearly articulated in Capital. p. and ever more so. In the Manuscripts o? 1844 appears the oft-quoted passage: "The outstanding thing in Hegel's Phenomenology and its final outcome?that is. In exchange a product becomes a com modity. This content downloaded from 194." (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 18Jib. 1859. 1971).

The translations of the last two are anonymous. The first volume was translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. The term "labor. belonging to a definite historical formation of society" (Capital III. 38).18 on Thu. character of economic concepts. and reinvestment. subject to historical metamorphoses and constantly passing through distinct but interconnected cycles of production. This content downloaded from 194. 814). 67). 263-264). that human labor is embodied in them. circulation. a revolutionary innovation. and therefore relative. Though such a claim may hardly seem to go beyond the fundamental principles of classical economy. it constitutes. Nowhere is the relative quality of economic concepts more evi dent than in Marx's discussion o? value. applies exclusively to the specific productive activity of a value-and-exchange system 9 AU references from Capital are to the editions published by Inter national Publishers. in time.9 and he describes capitalist production as "by no means an absolute form for the development of the pro ductive forces and for the creation of wealth" (Capital III. in fact. III. sales. Marx defines capital as "a definite social In Capital production relation.MARX'S DIALECTIC 653 product of common sense and Western inventiveness.186. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Value is the most universal economic category only within the capitalist economic system. Even this most basic con cept intrinsically depends on a particular. It negates a pre vious system of production and will." according to Marx. renders the value-producing activity into an abstract. The same system which reduces all products to "mere congela tions of undifferentiated human labor" (Capital I. 1967. Most of Capital I and all of the preparatory Theories of Surplus Values (post humously published by Karl Kautsky as Capital TV) deal with the intrinsically historical. be supplanted by a new system that synthesizes the two preceding ones. historical mode of pro duction. they are?values (Capital I. When looked at as crystals of this social substance. strictly capitalist mode of producing. For Marx presents value itself as resulting from a par ticular mode of production.27. The utility of a product becomes a value only within a system of social exchange which allows it to detach itself from use and to adopt an economic significance independent of the specific nature of the product. but the out come of specific historical factors. common to them all. All that these things now tell us is that human labor power has been expended in their production.

25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the money its general mode. it is precisely labor which allows the production of use value to be converted into one of exchange value. 153). but in the expansion of capital. All that counts is the process of value.10 At an advanced stage of this process. never concerned himself with the conditions of its origin. Its real purpose is selling rather than buying. in the final analysis pure anthro pological praxis. the substance of exchange value.18 on Thu. becomes value in process through the circula tion of capital. qualitatively to be understood as production of use values (goods). value can be measured in quanti ties of an arbitrarily chosen and arbitrarily valued metal. p. 101). Thus Ricardo. of quantitative labor time. Marx criti cizes them for simply assuming that those conditions "naturally" emerge. In the circulation m(oney)?c(ommodity)?m(oney) both the money and the commodity represent only different modes of existence of value itself. becomes an exchange value. Labor is on the one hand positively. Owing to its abstract nature. 1970). It is constantly changing from one form to the other without thereby becoming lost.27. Most importantly. Indeed. it allows the economic process to sever all direct connections with use. the price represents abstract value produced through abstract labor. the foundation of the exchange process. money in a capitalist economy is far more than a mere means of exchange.186. a commodity that can be bought and sold. who knew the concept of surplus value. Money is the concrete expression of abstract value. With it comes price. "the money name of the labor realized in a commodity" (Capital I. Its principal function consists not in the acquisition of goods. This content downloaded from 194. labor itself. Capital depends on the presence of specific historical conditions. which mode. so to say. and the commodity its par ticular or. However. Value. From this arises its peculiar ambiguity. 268. on the other hand it is negatively the 'substance' of what is not useful. the real agent.654 LOUIS DUPR? that is at least relatively independent of use. which allows any commodity to be exchanged for any other commodity. disguised mode. 10 Klaus Hartmann. Die Marxsche Theorie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. since this concrete expression of value as such is itself a commodity and possesses a value of its own. Though classical economists were well aware of that fact. "He treats it as a thing inherent in the capitalist mode of production. and thus assumes an automatically active character (Capital I.

as it exists in the personality of the laborer. since they resulted from a specific mode of producing. In the expression Value of labor. which is as different from its function. regulates. the natural forces of his body. 537). aside from confusing value and price. He develops his slum This content downloaded from 194. 538). At the be ginning of Capital III. "What economists therefore call value of labor. he at the same time changes his own nature. They may have been historically inevitable but were by no means "natural" or intrinsically necessary. Far from being the only possible realization. These imaginary expressions arise.186. According to Marx. but actually reversed. and in which man of his own accord starts. is the natural form of social production" (Capital I. capitalist labor almost directly negates this essence. a process in which both man and nature participate.MARX'S DIALECTIC 655 in his eyes. By thus acting on the external world and changing it. identi fies labor with its producer. classical econ gories omists define the value of labor as the price it takes to produce and maintain the labor power. Thus. and controls the material reaction between himself and Nature. head and hands. 515). Marx claims. But such an intrinsically capitalist equation. Nowhere does the historical-dialectical character of Marx's con cepts appear more clearly than in his most original contribution? the theory of surplus value. They are cate gories for the phenomenal forms of essential relations. Ignoring the history of economic cate results in inaccurate interpretations.' the idea of value is not only com pletely obliterated. That in then appearance things often represent themselves in inverted order is pretty well known in every science except political economy (Capital I. in order to appropriate Nature's productions in a form adapted to his own wants. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces. all its preceding conditions. It is an expression as imagi nary as the value of the earth. Capital is but the final outcome of a long line of historical It cannot be understood without an examination of developments.27. setting in motion arms and legs. from the relations of production themselves. In classical economy.18 on Thu. labor. Marx presents the labor process which yields surplus value from two different points of view. Labor is. in the first place. however. as a machine is from the work it performs" (Capital I. labor value is simply defined by the current capitalist practice of determining its price by the maintainance cost of the laborer. not from production as such. is in fact the value of labor power. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the very existence of those conditions must be investigated. he describes the process of productive work in its essential nature.

His aim is to produce not only a use-value. Our capitalist has two objects in view: in the first place. (Capital I. the creation of surplus value. But the only source of value is labor. distribution). not only value. price. he desires to produce a commodity whose value shall be greater than the sum of the values of the commodities used in its production. The resulting mode of producing admits no other goal than the creation of surplus value. and to yield profit the created value must exceed the amount returned in labor wages. (Capital I. has surrendered control over his labor and its product.186.. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . are determined by its principal goal. 186) 11 Exceptionally.27. no longer able to support himself independently or to contribute the material conditions for the production (place. value. and secondly. a commodity. articulated in the Paris manuscripts." The other description presents the labor process as it takes place within the capitalist production. Here a very different picture emerges. but of productive activity in general. that is. labor. capital. 177)11 What Marx describes here as the essence of productive work corre sponds entirely to the anthropological view. of an active. an article destined to be sold. This content downloaded from 194." "controls. he wants to produce a use-value that has a value in exchange.18 on Thu." "regulates. dialectical relation between man and nature. of finding labor power in the market as a commodity is this?that the laborer instead of being in the position to sell commodities in which his labor is incorporated. which exists only in his living self. but at the same time surplus-value. that he purchased with his good money in the open market. but a commodity also. Sur plus value alone determines what makes the capitalist economy move ?profit. Marx here does not use the term "labor" in the restrictive sense of the productive activity exclusive to the capitalist sys tem. of the means of production and the labor-power. that is to say. 168-169) All concepts of capitalist economy. Although the ability to buy and sell labor presupposes a "personal" independence which neither the slave nor the serf pos sesses.. machinery. 656 LOUIS DUPR? bering powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. must be obliged to offer for sale as a commodity that very labor power. a capitalist economy leaves the laborer no real freedom to sell or to withhold his labor power. (Capital I. not only use-value but value. The emphasis rests on human initiative: man starts "of his own accord. Clearly such a surplus can be achieved only in an economic situation where the producer. The second essential condition .

and that they actually form. Here I am concerned only with his relativization of established economic concepts. 20). Unfor tunately Marx himself provides little help toward understanding the nature of the dialectical contradiction as he conceived it. Ill This leads us to a second aspect of Marx's dialectic: the con tradiction. 183-184) through which man "develops his slumbering powers" (Capital I. the "necessary condition for effecting exchange of matter between man and Nature" (Capital I.186. namely. the one thing of moment is. different moments of an evolution. but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions. Value. he refers to a Russian review of his book and then proceeds to explain what he under stands by a dialectical development. For this inquiry. Marx's analysis of the current economic system includes. that is. I prefer not to enter into Marx's controversial thesis that labor is the exclusive source of value increase and that means of production never yield more value than they lose through operating expenses and amortization (Capital I. 208-210). 204). of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. 18) Yet a dialectic which consists entirely in a succession of contingent but mutually exclusive "facts" lacks the inevitability which enables it to predict the outcome of history. To Marx the cur rent stage stands in a negative relationship to earlier ones: it is opposed to what productive work "essentially" is and historically was. In contrast to bourgeois econo mists. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . but with another fact. price. 177). (Capital I. each with respect to the other. Development and interconnectedness alone do not con stitute dialectical necessity. In addition a contradictory opposition between the dynamically connected moments is required. "the recognition of the negation ofthat state. labor. MARX'S DIALECTIC 657 In the process capital expands. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact.18 on Thu. not with ideas.27. a process whereby contradictions are necessarily generated and overcome. of its inevitable breaking up" (Capital I. and it expands through an increase of the sole producer of value?labor (Capital I. that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible. In the Postface to the second edition of Capital I. In treating the economic process as This content downloaded from 194. all have become constitutive factors of the productive process at a particular stage of its development. he insists.

But since Marx does not grant any active function to the anthropological factor in his di alectic. Such an approach does not enable him to explain the process. But one has thereby not succeeded in explaining the negative. especially in its negative development. but. in a particular instance one may compare a form of society to the anthropological model of species life and criticize it by that norm. supporting his argument by a mirror type relation to Hegel's philosophy. What. consequently. Wirtschaft und Recht. eco nomic contradictions an anthropological theory from which alone the dialectical movement obtains its direction.13 12 of a teleological Long ago Rudolf Stammler located the presence element in the conscious decisions which entering into social relations in evitably requires." Political economy is negative and "contradictory" only because it is negatively related to a positive vision ofman. Marxists consider the separation of conscious aspirations and eco nomic necessity a "Kantian" error and prefer to concentrate on the second. But clearly the dialectic of Capital lacks the moving agent of Hegel's philosophy. positive future? Marx himself. and Lenin. dialectically negating) only to an ever assumed but never fully ad mitted anthropological "thesis. To be sure. Marx intends to present an intuitively concrete explanation of the social process. Marx continues to invoke Hegel's name. 2nd edition (Leipzig. Die Marxsche Theorie. Hartmann wonders what unifies the variety of tensions and oppositions ("contradictions") into a meaningful.e. p. Without this vision there would be no true negativity at all and. 421. since all reality. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . all practice is positive. What substitutes for the Spirit in providing the inner necessity which alone could grant total pre dictability. But what he achieves is a concept of reality. a representation.12 One recent critic of Marx's method claims to detect underneath the actual.. then. especially predictability of a non-contradictory future? Various answers have been given to this question. then. This content downloaded from 194. he intendes to expose the necessary inception and inevitable demise of historical systems of production because of their inherent (not contingent) contradictions. by the same necessity overcomes this negation in a new affirmation. p. his critics charge.27. a description.18 on Thu. no genuine dialectic. Engels. 13 Klaus Hartmann. Klaus Hartmann regards the so-called contradictions of capitalist society truly antithetic (i. all refer to Hegel's Logic.186. a Spirit which by intrinsic necessity negates itself and. 226. predictable develop ment. he invokes it in vain. provides the dialectic with the additional element that directs the development of history and leads the contradictions to a predictable.658 LOUIS DUPR? a dialectical development Marx does far more than empirically de scribe it. 1896).

Two opposite positions have emerged. even if this critique is presented in the form of inner tensions ("contradictions"). Economic contradictions alone suffice to bring the process of history to the predicted overcoming of the capitalist This content downloaded from 194.27. of course.MARX'S DIALECTIC 659 For a dialectical negation it is not sufficient to criticize economic realities by anthropological ideas. One radicalizes the anthropological element inMarx's dialectic.18 on Thu. 177 (quoted earlier). Those who have adopted it realize. they insist. In fact. To oppose an his torical-economic analysis to an assumed anthropological model. it is hard to imagine how it could have been avoided altogether and even harder to project a developed economic system which would exclude it in principle. In the description of labor of Capital I. They ascribe the more "naturalist" interpretation of Marx's theory to Engels and his heavy-handed successors. But it is difficult to conceive of such an emancipation as an economic contradiction. But is such an anthro pological "thesis" truly antithetical to the present mode of produc tion? What precisely does "human work" as opposed to capitalist "labor" mean on the economic level on which the dialectic is alleged to take place? It is easy to see how the emancipation of exchange value from use could constitute a threat to human development and even how it is opposed to the original goals of production. In choosing an anthropological approach those interpreters avail themselves of the possibility of establishing an original Marxist dialectic (the dialectic of freedom) instead of having to borrow secretly from a repudiated Hegelian philosophy of Spirit. the assumed anthro pological model surfaces when Marx defines work as man's self realization through the control of nature. is an idea of man." least of all an anthropological one. Nevertheless. is to pit against each other two different orders of reality. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The most important study to come out of this interpretation is Sartre's Critique de la raison dialectique. what determines this critique. clearly formulated in Marx's early writings and never retracted. Such an oppo sition does not constitute a dialectical negation. that little anthropology appears inMarx's critique of economic theories. The other position simply denies that dialectical necessity and development require an overall "thesis. Marx's own view remained humanistic to the end.186. Are Marx's "contradic tions" more than economic tensions and conflicts which become "con tradictory" only if one views them as manifesting the fundamental discrepancy between the current social-economic situation and an ideal of man? This question seems to have determined much recent interpretation of Marx's work.

Koj?ve and his followers felt. On the basis of Hegel's Master-and-slave passage. had already stressed the presence of anthropological ele ments inMarx's theory. but they ultimately depend on the economic ones. If this interpretation could be proven to be authentic. Other factors undoubtedly play a role in this process.27. While cowardice deprived him of an instant access to full self-conscious ness. the unworldliness of the unhappy conscious This content downloaded from 194.18 on Thu. the foundation for a wholly new dialectical philosophy. one which would dispense with such idealist notions as Absolute Spirit and Idea. In his unrestricted pursuit of freedom the master stakes his life in order to gain full self-consciousness. The process from denial to freedom continues in subsequent stages of self-consciousness which Hegel describes as the negative self-suf ficiency of Stoic freedom.660 LOUIS DUPR? system. existentialist Marxists conclude that freedom can be achieved only through self negation. Gramsci. Among them we find all "official" representatives of Marxist societies today. in fact. By highlighting certain passages in the Phenomenology and detaching this work from the totality of Hegel's System. including the communist parties of the West. but they deny that they play a role in the dialectic as such. basically coin cided with Marx's original one. as well as a number of Marx's critics.186. Koj?ve laid. For him also the road to freedom leads through self-denial. the radically anthropological interpretation originated in French existentialist circles after the war. Korsch. Only with the slave does the real dialectic of freedom begin. For by persistently overcoming the resistance of a material world. the slave gradually subjugates the entire cosmos and thus gains the kind of objective and lasting recognition which the master never received. a number of problems would vanish at once. Though Marxists such as Lukacs. Those who have chosen this approach concede that anthropological considerations occa sionally appear inMarx's mature work. Their approach has been mainly responsible for the post-war success of Marx's early writings and the relative neglect of his mature ones. and concentrate exclusively on the development of human free dom. This position. Yet his self-denial is limited to a one-act move. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . to some extent. After this victory no further sacrifice is required and he ends up depending on a slave to have his desires fulfilled. his consequent daily self-negating labor proved in the end to be a safer path toward the achievement of genuine freedom. It was pre pared by Alexandre Koj?ve's seminar on Hegel's Phenomenology. and.

Now. But he did not want his dialectic to depend on this opposition. But it provides no help in understanding Capital.. the detachment of the creative mind from its achievements and. It may still be true that the "contradictions" of Capital derive their dialectical quality from an unstated anthropological "thesis. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . any anthropological interpretation of his dialectic deviates from Marx's clearly stated intentions." is itself already the result of a preceding social-economic development and must therefore be regarded as "ideological." i. the alienation of the objective mind from its self-created culture. Economics as a science turns into a critique of economy. Certainly he regarded the capitalist mode of production incongruous with the demands of human nature. I find this interpretation inadequate for a number of reasons. but by objec tive modes of production and social structures. secondary with respect to the process of production. according to Marx. What Koj?ve and his followers proposed may help to solve the problems of Marx's early writings. in the Paris Manuscripts he repudiates Hegel's alleged identification of alienation and objectification. For the conflicts resulting from the capitalist system are precisely not the ones of freedom. they are created not by decisions and attitudes. It is a basic principle of hermeneutics not to neglect an author's own interpretation of his work until one has tried it and found it wanting. Searching for a dialectical necessity which they do not find in Marx's own writings they developed his brief allusion to the Master-and-slave passage at the end of the Paris Manuscripts into a full-fledged dialectical theory.186. his existentialist interpreters claim. not some precon ceived idea of human nature." "human work. most importantly. because any general concept such as "human nature. But. Consequently.27. but mainly because the dialectic of freedom is insufficient to provide the development of the capitalist system with the kind of necessity which Marx's theory requires. As Marx presents them. the denial of monastic life." but there can be no doubt that Marx studiously avoided basing his argument on anthropological concepts.18 on Thu. he never questioned the main thesis that man creates himself in a process of self-negation.MARX'S DIALECTIC 661 ness.e. Marx may not have agreed with most of this analysis. contradictions which already exist within the economic process itself. Di This content downloaded from 194. since an analysis of the present mode of production cannot fail to expose its multiple contradictions. No anthropological or philosophical thesis initiates the social-economic process. constitute the inner dialectic of the system and will its cause collapse.

Jack Cohen and S. In the process of exchanging one usable object with another. Capital III defines the contradiction of the capitalist system as a whole. Les probl?mes de la dialectique dans Le Capital de Marx (Moscow: Langues ?trang?res. trans.18 on Thu. then.27. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . . The contradiction of the capitalist mode of production . Yet as production increases. We must then first study the con tradiction on his own terms. Because of the partial identity of the two "values" their opposition becomes a dialectical contradiction: . If the opposites were not related or indifferent to each other. lies precisely in its tendency towards an absolute development of the pro ductive forces which continually come into conflict with the specific conditions of production in which capital moves and alone can move. the two sides which tend to isolate themselves from each other. W. (Capital III. This claim is based upon Marx's own exposition in Theories of Surplus Value. Rayazanskaya (Moscow: Progress Publishers. esp. . . The general "contradiction" of the capitalist system manifests itself in a number of specific conflicts. profit rates decline. 14 M. he has told us a few pages earlier. That it was his intention to keep it within those limits is beyond doubt. . all the difficulties and contradictions of production and exchange would vanish. 1971).186. 174. 152-304 and III. Thus if a producer could produce even one single unit of value without use. p. The entire development of capitalist economy is determined by the attempt to overcome this built-in handicap. Yet economic value tends more and more to suppress the use value on which it depends. I. abstract labor tends to suppress concrete labor on which it nevertheless depends. no struggle would take place. Rosenthal. 662 LOUIS DUPR? alectical contradictions. No economic value can be realized without use value. 1959). are self-contradictions of the social economic system. 453-540.14 The same contradiction reappears in the opposition between concrete labor (resulting in use value) and abstract labor (producing value). This content downloaded from 194. IV Whether Marx succeeded in keeping his dialectic within the economic system is a question which we may be able to answer at the end. are the ones that foster and expand the surplus value of the existing capital. are nevertheless intrinsically linked and cannot exist independently. starting with the first and most fundamental category of value. 257) These specific conditions.

This accumulation capital to concentrate. One student of Soviet logic concludes in exasperation: "There are so many different notions of contradiction that one does not know where to begin. J. Originally amere means of circulation. 1967]. 105). in the end. between ab stract and concrete labor. contradiction is almost the same as the constitutive relation in the Hegelian sense. trans. In them all the contradictions between use and value. It brings to a close the simple form of exchange (commodity-money-commodity) and initiates the complex one (money-commodity-money) in which exchange value becomes the only goal of production. money gradually turns into the real end of the circulating commodities. Value asserts its independent existence inmoney. Marx's usage of the term suffers from the same ambiguities and some additional ones. J. 16 The ambiguity has grown worse among Marx's contemporary fol lowers. For some. allows mechanize. expansion will become capital's undoing. Its meaning varies from logical inconsistency to practical incompati bility to social conflict.MARX'S DIALECTIC 663 Together value and labor lead to the contradiction of money. p. This creates a conflict between an increased production and a decreased buying power that eventually results in a succession of economic crises.16 The contradiction between use and exchange 15 Marx mentions a number of other "contradictions." for they do exist in the same subject." such as the machine designed to shorten working time and to free the worker leading in fact to an unprecedentedly long working day and chaining the worker to one restricted task at one machine. Thus. Eduard von Hartmann attacked Hegel for presenting as contradictions what was in fact not at all con tradictory in the commonly accepted sense of mutually exclusive at the same time in the same respect. For others. and thereby expand the process of production. In his critical study On the Dialectical Method (1868). what began as a means of circulation has turned into the main instrument for accumulating value.18 on Thu. between commodity and money come to more and more explosive confrontations. Money enables the producer to retain surplus value and to add it to his original capital. contradiction is little more than the antagonism of vectors the effect of which are mutually exclusive. The Categories of Dialectical Materialism. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .27. Marx describes this development in Capital III.15 Has this initial survey taught us what Marx understands pre cisely by "contradiction?" Hardly. Praeger. This content downloaded from 194. Yet. As production increases.186. By lowering wages and lengthening working time it extracts an ever greater amount of surplus value from the worker. capital must compensate for the declining profit rate. Nor are Hegel's contradictions "contraries. Blakeley [New York: Frederick A. Between these two extremes there is place for almost anything" (Guy Planty Bonjour.

To understand the full meaning one must read the story backward. but he never thought of it as a contradiction." as Marx and Engels thought. Without accepting an overall. If only the addition of labor (variable capital) allows capital to increase profits. one has nocompelling reason for regarding them as dialectical.27.186. Any tension that is expected to accelerate the final conflict is termed contradictory.17 The only reason for attaching such a variety of meanings to the same term is that Marx regarded them all as creating conflicts which would eventually lead to the final crisis of capitalism. Only from the perspective of history as the preparation for an apocalyptic class war can we regard those tensions and conflicts as "contradictory" (i.. so to speak. results exclusively from the simultaneous existence of con 17 The "contradiction" of ? lengthening labor day as a result of the introduction of machinery devised to shorten the manufacturing process. Other contradictions are economic tensions which may lead to social crises. but neither is it scien tifically "necessary. from the anticipated final crisis to the tensions whose cumulative effect will bring it about. Even if the social economic tensions were proven to destroy the system in which they appear. as moments of an intrinsically meaningful and necessary develop ment. explosive). Such a perspective may not be unreasonable. they would still provide no information about its successor except that it would not contain the same contradictions to the same degree. Hegel provides such a teleological structure in his theory of reality as a self-developing Spirit.e. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .664 LOUIS DUPR? value refers to the capitalist trend to make exchange into the eco nomic value. such as the in creasing productivity of industrial capitalism and an inevitable (in Marx's theory!) decline in buying power. according to him.18 on Thu. Marx largely dispels himself by his distinction between constant and vari able capital. then any investment in machinery (constant capital) for whatever purpose. while use continues to provide the basis of exchange. But is this tendency to transform a production process originally designed for the creation of use value a contradiction? Is a shift from concrete to abstract labor contradictory? Does money become contradictory when from a means of circulation it turns into the determining factor of the exchange process? The inverted relation between profit rate and surplus labor value intrigued Ricardo. Dialectical movement. ideal structure of reality which with logical necessity directs the oppositions towards an ideal telos. But Marx recognizes no all comprehensive spiritual reality. This content downloaded from 194. that is. must be compensated for by an increase in labor.

and surplus labor itself arises from individual needs." p. demand has developed to the point where there is a general need for surplus labor beyond what is necessary.186. . V Even the term "contradiction. In the Grundrisse where we find his thought in process. Yet teleological assumptions abound and are ocassionally expressed. Some interpreters admit this presence?not. p. consistent movement. p. p. 121). to be sure. . on the one hand." (Grundrisse. 85). Only the internal structure of the contradictory ele ments. for this reason.. but by granting the human mind a constitutive part in the dialectic of opposing realities. p. a continual conflict between this its historical task and its own corresponding relations of social production. Yet these present more of an alternative to Hegel's 18 This was no mere slip of the pen." if it is to mean more than the simultaneous existence o? different realities. and finally when the productive forces of labor . Marx states: uThe historical vocation of capital is fulfilled as soon as. And again: "But this contradictory form [of capitalism] is itself a transitory one. . until it has become the property of the new generation. 440. . on the one hand shorter working hours for the whole of society . McLellan. at the same time. not the anticipatory effect of any final cause. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The result is the creation of a basis that consists in the tendency towards universal development of the productive forces? and wealth in general. 19 Most significantly Georg Lukacs mHistory and Class Consciousness (1923). .19 (Soviet Marxists have traditionally rejected interpretations of this sort as Hegelian. implies the presence of a mental factor. and produces the real conditions of its own termination. a historical means of developing the material forces of production and creating an appro priate world-market and is. . The basis offers the possibility of the universal development of in dividuals . and has been industriousness has developed passed on to succeeding generations.27. 231. In Capital III we read: The capitalist mode of production is. (Capital III. McLellan. .MARX'S DIALECTIC 665 flicting states. have developed to the point where the possession and maintenance of general wealth requires. . (Ibid. we still shall have to show how contradiction can result in develop ment without the assumption of an overall logical structure which unifies the separate agents into a single. by reintroducing an Hegelian Spirit. general .18 on Thu. 250)18 Even if we consider those assumptions a mere remnant from Marx's Hegelian past which does not intrinsically affect the basic argument. also the universality of commerce and a world market. provides the driving force. and on the other. This content downloaded from 194.

Each complex determination emerges dialecti cally from the preceding ones. It also corresponds to an epoch and the general historical char acteristics of the epoch in question?the framework for events and actions?can be deduced by starting from the category essential to it. Each category has a logical and methodological role. This content downloaded from 194. gives rise to fresh determinations: abstract labor. trans. it should be noted. pp. 21 p.18 on Thu. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .666 LOUIS DUPR? theory than their own "objective" readings which in the end attribute to Nature all the ideal qualities of Hegel's Spirit. Marxists of existentialist leanings tend to dismiss this account as a betrayal of Marx's theory. Official Marxism is understandably reluctant Fundamentals ofMarxism-Leninism dogmatically asserts: "Owing to their universal character. to admit this point. Dialectical Materialism." (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. social reality. officially recognized by communist parties. The dialectical structure in which the mind subsequently orders those data allows one to understand them beyond their empirical givenness and to predict their future development. the only ones.186. capital. it has its place in the explicative whole which leads to the reconstitution of the given concrete totality. by an internal movement. and events. 22Op. the modern world. 95. 1968). 87. yet derived from an objective.27.. cit. p. Nor did he 20 Cf.. 1963).20 An empirical study of economic data reveals their con nectedness and opposition. This theoretical deduction must thus agree with the empirical and spe cifically historical research into documents.22 How much empirical evidence is required to make the dialectic more than a heuristic device or a working hypothesis? Does the available evidence support even a moral certitude? The difficulties increase if we turn to other. The basic economic category?exchange-value?is developed and. But nowhere is this universal character justified.) The French Marxist Henri Lefebvre. An inductive a priori obtained by repeated ob servation cannot accomplish what Marx's dialectic is supposed to do. considers all categories of the dialectic abstract and mental. John Sturrock (London: Jona than Cape. for instance. Yet they conveniently overlook the fact that Marx himself left the task of justifying his method entirely to his collaborator.21 Even this most Hegelian of all interpretations falls short of yielding the certainty which Hegel's dialectic derives from the all-encompass ing active Notion. All of them are solidly rooted in Engels' "realist" account of the dialectic. the laws of dialectics are of a methodological im portance and serve as pointers for research. ego-witness accounts. less "idealist" in terpretations. 88-89. money.

p.186. 192-193. 374. Dialectic constitutes an essential feature of reality as such. 26 "Motion is the mode of existence of matter. to Marx. cit. 27 Op. Selected Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publish ing House.23 The mind merely retraces this extra-mental dialectic. cit. 118). Matter without motion is just as unthinkable as motion without matter" (op. metaphysical conception. history and thought. Such an affirmation and negation at the same time in the same respect. I. law of the of D?hring. This point of view regards contradiction simply and solely as a logical relation between propositions. p. . Wissenschaft der Logik (Hamburg: Felix Meiner. p. op. pp."25 Engels equates motion with contra diction. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion. Together the two assertions provide the entire "justification" for a dialectic of nature. . To support this assertion Engels refers to Hegel's "rejection" of Aristotle's principle of non-contradiction.18 on Thu. . an outright rejection of the fundamental principle of traditional logic. Miller (NewYork: Humanities Press. Thus Maurice Cornforth writes: "According to the common.. . cit. Cf. 1969). it is reality itself inmovement.24 Nor is the dialectic restricted to social-economic relations or to human affairs. Engels initiated the "realist" interpretation of historical mate rialism in a review of Marx's Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. and matter with motion. general development nature. we must give serious attention to the sole interpretation of his method which he himself approved. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Hegel. I. even Soviet scholars find hard to swallow (Planty-Bonjour.. . trans.26 Even simple mechanical change can occur only because of a body's being at the same time in one place and in another. 1934 [1967]).. 1971]. p. but does not consider it as a real relation between things" (Materialism and the Dialectical Method [New York: International Publishers.27 23 Marx-Engels. 154. [1966]). Commending Marx for divesting Hegel's logic "of its idealist trappings. . 24 This "reality" of the contradictions distinguishes what Marxists call "dialectical" from "metaphysical" thought. but not in things. 25 Herr Eugen D?hring's Revolution in Science (Anti-D?hring).27. Henceforth I shall refer to it as Anti-D?hring. . . contradictions occur in our ideas about things. p.d. 132. Dialectic. This is dubious sup port. V. 68). 1962).. This content downloaded from 194. His work may notexactly express Marx's own thought but. trans. 198. we read inAnti is "an extremely ." he describes the dialectic as a "real process" of interacting and conflicting economic relations. A. p. having no information on this thought. Indeed. s. Emile Burns (New York: International Publishers. since Hegel explicitly claims Aristotle's authority for his own theory of motion. 92). the only finished ex position of the method. Science ofLogic. but plays no active role in con necting its moments: they are intrinsically related by themselves. For Engels personally read the Anti-D?hring. p.MARX'S DIALECTIC 667 remain in the dark about the nature of Engels' interpretation.

motion is dialectical. 30 I. polemical work on the dialectical method Lenin restricts it to social development: "What Marx and Engels called the dialectical method is nothing more nor less than the scientific method in sociology. 165). 1964) states: "All development. I. Vol. Vol. But. 31 For instance. whether the evolution of stars. (Moscow: Progress Publishers. XIII. or put another way. 83. 668 LOUIS DUPR? Of course. We shall see later that this is what happens in orthodox Marxism. 1832). 258. Western Marxists like Lukacs and Korsch have shown). becoming results from the opposition in identity of pure Being and pure Nothing." (What the ((Friends of the People" Are and How They Fight the Social Democrats. 1961 [1972]). in Hegel also. Science of Logic. In the Logic. p. Collected Works. the growth of a plant. Collected Works. p. which con sists in regarding society as a living organism in a constant state of de velopment.29 But Hegel's moving reality is essentially spiritual. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . trans. 79). 313. by and large. p. 29 Gesamtausgabe (Berlin. 38. 67. the 28 Wissenschaft der Logik I. motion is the dialectic of all that is. Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House. the life of a man or the history of society is contradictory in its essence" (p. Clemens Dutt V. though neither methodically nor consistently. Lenin. but a dialectical theory of nature is excluded unless one endows "nature" or "matter" with the teleological quality of Hegel's Spirit.186. Vol. textbooks returned to the simpler version and uncritically assumed that all development is contradictory.18 on Thu. p. the study of which requires an objective analysis of the rela tions of production which constitute the given social formation and investiga tion of its laws of functioning and development. This content downloaded from 194.28 and in the History of Philosophy we read: The reason why dialectic first seizes upon motion as its object lies in the fact that dialectic is itself this motion. Without a spir itual basis a dialectical theory of human praxis is still possible (as non-orthodox. It isworth noting that in an early.31 VI Engels converted contradiction into progressive movement by means of three fundamental laws: the unity of contraries. p. In his Philosophical Notebooks Lenin qualified Engels' equation of develop ment and dialectic by specifying that the development must be a unity of contraries.27.

Without it his entire critique of politi cal economy becomes unintelligible. II (1955). and the attempt was made to show the internal interconnections in this motion and development" (Anti D?hring. that is. I believe.27. 30). the law of the inter penetration of opposites. pp.186. Stepanyan. is that "the whole natural. Engels did and his interpretation became decisive. Yet Marx rarely ventured beyond the man-made contradic tions of economic systems. 503) he criticizes "vulgar" economists for not perceiving the internal connections among the oppositions which they encounter in their science and thus failing to bring out their antagonistic char acter. change.32 Since the official interpretation of Marxist dialectic depends on these laws. as in constant motion. transformation and development. 33 Cf. p. To him all reality is in process and all its aspects are. 69-86. This content downloaded from 194. 1940]. "Contradictions in the Develop ment of Socialist Society. the simultaneous existence of opposite qualities in the same subject. A. Both nature and history present an endless maze of relations and interactions. p. How is such a connection possible without an all-comprehensive logical structure of reality? That Marx assumed the existence of internal relations is. 343-345. Ts. which in turn require a connection of all elements of reality." inVoprosy Filosofii. Marxists generally agree that the contradiction is a conflict between internally connected aspects of the objective world. that is.18 on Thu. Dialectical Materialism. pp. he claims. historical and spiritual world was presented as a process. In Theories of Surplus Value (III. Lenin reversed the order of the first two. and comments in Gustav Wetter. beyond doubt. internally related. Peter Heath (New York: Frederick Praeger. therefore. 26). the law of the negation of the negation" (Trans. Our earlier discussion of the contradiction has shown how difficult it is to grasp the precise meaning of the alleged con traries/contradictories (the terms are used inconsistently). 1958).MARX'S DIALECTIC 669 negation of negation.33 But the internal con tradiction requires the existence of internal relations. and the transformation of quantity into quality.. The great merit of Hegel's system. Not to see the inner connections between individual things is to overlook their coming into being 32 In the Dialectics of Nature they appear as follows: "The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa. The dynamic quality of the dialectic is due to the so-called law of the contraries. for instance. C. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . trans. Dutt [New York: International Publishers. we must consider them in some detail.

27. for they all have their negative and positive sides. p. 304). something dying away and something developing. Vol." Lenin writes in his Notebooks. Gustav A. But the very term parts ("whatever parts") implies an idea of a totum. pp. both logically and ontologically. Materialism.35 Lenin and Stalin faithfully follow Engels' doctrine. See also Maurice Cornforth. 38. responds that the internal nature of the "parts" rather than the function of the whole qua whole pro vides the connection.37 It is the existence of internal relations which makes Soviet philoso phers so confident that nature is self-moving and no longer needs an extra-mundane mover. 337. 11." By themselves.18 on Thu. Alienation. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . monads constitute separate ("windowless") worlds incapable of direct interaction. p. "Dialectics in the proper sense. a past and a future. 253. Yet how can internal relations exist without some logical and teleological structure which unites all elements in an organic totality? One commentator. do the oppositions of reality result in constant novelty..34 The universal existence of internal relations is a primary condition for a reality con ceived as creative process. 37 Dialectical and Historical Materialism (New York: International Publishers. Oilman finds the philosophical under 34 Also: "The first thing that strikes us in considering matter inmotion is the interconnection of the individual motions of separate bodies. 35. The reference to Leibniz seems particularly inappropriate. Materialism and the Dialectical Method.38 He supports his claim by what he considers to be the independence of internal relations in Leibniz's monads of the totality. Bertell Oilman. 38 Bertell Oilman." Stalin explicates: Contrary to metaphysics. For Engels the inner relations constitute the moving power of the dialectic: oppositions become dynamic only when they exist within one and the same reality. 1940 [1972]). 26-28). Dialectical p. p. 29). Wetter.670 LOUIS DUPR? and their passing away (Anti-D?hring. Only because they "mutually penetrate each other" (Anti-D?hring. since each monad is directly related to the principle of totality and harmony (God) and only through it to all other monads which it internally "reflects. Philosophical Notebooks in Collected Works. their being 35determined by one another" (Dialectics of Nature. p. 90. This content downloaded from 194. when a thing is internally divided against itself and its own constituents are in conflict with each other. p. 36Cf. dialectics holds that internal contradictions are inherent in all things and phenomena of nature. p.186. "is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects.

40Ibid.40 And further: The same kind of response can be given to the question whether the dialectic is in the world or in people's minds thinking about the world. Nor did Engels' further subordination of mind to nature eliminate idealism. Oilman is one of the few to have fully understood that the universal existence of internal relations leaves no other choice but to integrate the dialec tic of history with a dialectic of nature. but closer to it. the dialectic of history must inevitably entail a dialectic of nature and vice-versa..39 But Dietzgen starts from the idea of a totality and then attempts to show how universally recognized parts can be established. Marx may not have been quite ready for this conclusion. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .186. 38.p. a question which assumes it cannot be asked. This content downloaded from 194. I do not see how relations must be internal in the real "parts. 53. How would the dialectic apply to nature as well as to history. p.MARX'S DIALECTIC 671 pinnings of this theory in Marx's contemporary.. On the contrary! That the mind follows dialecti cal laws in its relation to nature is in itself no idealist thesis: the notion of logical law is implied in that of mind (whether derived or original). it is important to realize that nature is invariably conceptualized (even as 'nature') and 39/6id. while the problem inMarxist theory is pre cisely the existence of such a totality. Dietzgen presupposes it on the basis of cognitive processes which cannot conceive of the real except as relational. If nature and mind are aspects of the same totality. except on the idealist supposition that nature obeys the same laws as the human mind? Marx's "materialist" reversal of the priorities of nature and mind in no way exorcizes the basic idealist identity of the two. But once those laws are conceived as existing in reality ?independently of the mind?one moves not away from idealist monism. In this case. But I see no consistent way of escaping it on Engels' principles. Engels and possibly even Marx made precisely such an assump tion.18 on Thu. If nature and society are internally related (Marx explicitly denies nature and history are 'two separate things') an examination of any aspect of either involves one immediately with aspects of the other.27. When the logical distinction between the two is rejected. the self-made German philosopher Joseph Dietzgen." unless one assumes idealistically that the relations of the mind are the relations of things.

For Marx's dialectic pro ceeds not by "cumulative internaiization. therefore."44 Rather than being internal contradictions created by a single self 41 p. S. Louis Althusser has spearheaded the drive against idealism.42 Among the few Soviet thinkers who have genuinely tried to overcome the idealist elements in Marxist theory the Georgian logician T. that the dialectic exists in nature and the claim that it exists in people's minds are Identical. and nothing but what he sees. internal relations cannot be assumed to exist in reality. In his study on System and Method in Hegel's Philosophy he openly rejects the possibility of internal contradictions and. To rid the dialectic of its idealism it is not sufficient to reverse the order and to replace a priori methods by empirical ones. since such connections presuppose an ideal struc ture of the real. The Categories of Dialectical Materialism. p. For Marx. Nichols (New York: Basic Books. pp. everything that he sees.43 If ideas are secondary to reality. 53-70. the discussion of Bakradze's thought in Planty-Bonjour.. In the West. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .'41 This interpretation correctly reflects Engels' thought. 672 LOUIS DUPR? that people's minds are part of nature in reciprocal interaction with other parts. Only an idealist. 1958). The claim. in general. 44 Louis Althusser." as Hegel's Spirit does.186. Cf. trans. trans. Ben Brewster (New York: Pantheon Books. Thus Koj?ve characterizes Hegel's method in the Phenomenology as empirical and descriptive insofar as Hegel "looks at the real and describes what he sees. 1969). 1969). specifically a Hegel. because the immanent connec tions?the transition of one concept into another?are equivalent to the self-movement of the concepts. fails to account for the novelty of his enterprise. To present Marx's dialectic as a mirror image ("right side up") of Hegel's. 438. any more than Engels himself. 113. according to Althusser. 43Sistema i metod filosofii Gegelja (Tbilisi. 42Ibid. 269. p." Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. 176. about transitions from one into the other. but by "the accumulation of effective determinations (deriving from the superstructures and from special national and international circum stances) on the determination in the last instance by the economic. can speak of internal contra dictions of concepts.18 on Thu.27. This content downloaded from 194. Idealists often present their own method as fundamentally empirical.. Bakradze stands out. of internal relations. that the assumption of a single homogeneous reality subject to laws which the mind brings to conscious expression is an idealist one. p. yet the author does not seem to realize. of internal and immanent connections. James H.

837).45 Althusser correctly identifies the theory of internal contradic tions as idealist. Whether it be economic. political. another structural ist. The question arises. 1972). in others as superstructure" (Die Materialistische Geschichtsauffassung [Berlin.27. in some relations it may function as infrastructure. ed. 1908 [1976]). 356). Robin Blackburn (New York: Pantheon Books. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 46 First published in Les Temps Modernes 246 (Nov. pp. In Althusser's language. while denying all intrinsic dependence on Hegel's theory. He distinguishes internal contradictions within an economic structure. whether a "dialectic" of external contradictions can still claim predictability. claiming rightly that Marx's theory oiinteraction between productive forces and social relations excludes the simple economic determinism of which he is so often accused.MARX'S DIALECTIC 673 developing reality.18 on Thu. It is precisely because one does not imply the other that the opposition between the two 45 Althusser's theory is not entirely new. contradictions originate through over-determination. The latter opposition is external because the forces of produc tion constitute "a reality completely distinct from the relations of production and irreducible to them" (p. 334-368. such as the opposition between the social conditions of production and the forces of produc tion. ideological complex to be regarded as a superstructure upon an economic infrastructure. This content downloaded from 194. p. See Fundamental Problems of Marxism (Moscow: Progress Publishers. such as the relation between capital and labor." While Althusser seems but dimly aware of the problems in herent in a dialectic of external contradictions. It does not necessarily apply to any individual phenomenon in history. "Let us not forget: only in the final analysis is the whole juridical. 52-56. Already Plekhanov had cautioned against a simplistic understanding of the economic determination.186. however. it consists of an historically necessary conflict that will result in an equally necessary "resolution. 1966) and later translated in a collection Ideology in Social Science. In an essay on "Structure and Contradiction in Capital"46 Maurice Godelier strongly asserts the dialectical quality of Marx's theory. On what basis can the innumerable external determinations acting on one another be said to establish a homogeneous. dialectical contradiction cannot be simply equated with social conflict. writing under his influence has attempted to justify its logical consistency. 1927]. from con tradictions between two different structures. Karl Kautsky in his classical study on the materialist concept of history is even more explicit. relatively simple struc ture of development with a clearly foreseeable outcome? As we observed earlier. ideological or other. I. pp. Marx's contradictions are caused by the external collision of the economic structure with determinations of the super structure.

. that a particularized concrete kind of labor has to pass for abstract human labor. assert themselves. For Marx. The conversion of this mere possibility into a reality is the result of a long series of relations . in the antithetical phases of the metamorphosis of a commodity. to revolutionary conflict. Unfortunately. . 48 an external from an internal opposition. 356) and therefore results in violent conflict. (Capital Nicolaus 406. all these antitheses and contradictions. This content downloaded from 194. They follow from it directly and necessarily though not immediately. use-value and value. VII The problems created by the idealist heritage inMarx's dialectic increase with the law of the negation of negation.186. unities of use-value and value" (Capital I. the contradic tion between the personification of objects and the representation of persons by things. 104).48 The contradictions in Marx's theory cannot achieve what they are sup posed to achieve without being internal. The original opposition between use and exchange value contains all subsequent ones. Simply stated. and develop their modes of motion. 47 that private "The antithesis." I. and no more than the possibility. These modes therefore imply the possibility. The process then differentiates them into commodities and money. Marx also distinguishes But one directly entails the other. The second contradiction "does not contain within itself the set of conditions for its solution" (p.18 on Thu. The structuralists can win the battle against idealism only by sacrificing the dialectic itself. both opposing sides are commodities. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and thus produces an external opposi tion corresponding to the internal opposition inherent in them. simple pro duction and circulation lead directly to capitalist production and cir culation and. eventually. Grundrisse 310. first of all.47 Yet those conditions. enter into the process of exchange just as they are. "Commodities. 114). the text of Capital supports no clear distinction between internal and external contradictions. of crises. It is true enough that the contradiction immanent in the commodity from the beginning only creates the possibility of social conflicts and that for this possibility to become actualized a number of conditions must be fulfilled which are not given with the existence of the commodity as such. In and through its own development capitalist production creates the conditions which convert the possible into the actual conflict. On the other hand.27. as being at once use-values and values. the contradictions labor is bound to manifest itself as direct social labor. See also. which are immanent in commodities.674 LOUIS DUPR? becomes revolutionary. Commodities as use-values now stand opposed to money as exchange-value. those circum stances are not simply extrinsic to the internal contradiction.

18 on Thu. O'Malley. J. criticizes and changes it. the contradiction. Kainz. 1934). Marx admits in principle no concluding synthesis..27. "The Hegelian Dialectic" in The Legacy of Hegel. Algozin. The first negation. 497. p. is not fully understood until it is understood also as a unity of contraries. ed. Nor is this a later interpretation of Marx's theory. but selectively. W. in fact. 226). 58. For him the real dialectic of history occurs not through speculation but through practice. In the Hegelian tradition Marxists ascribe to this moment the progressive nature. C. For Hegel the second negation is far more than a negative movement which ends up negating itself.. not futile negation. rather than ratifying the established reality. Quoting Hegel's statement about the dialectical negation negating only the immediate he comments: "Not empty negation. retaining the positive . While for Hegel the second negation completes the cycle and brings the dialectical movement to a temporary conclusion. It includes. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Wissenschaft der Logik (Hamburg: Meiner. Con flicts are not resolved.186. as a moment of development. Protestant State. p. Rice. 1973). not even a temporary one. Yet Marx never reversed his stand on the 49 G. From his fellow Young Hegelians he had learned to distrust the dialectical "synthesis" through which the German philosopher had brought the revolutionary power of his method to rest in a religious and political conservatism. p. are mere stepping stones toward the final synthesis of the Prussian. since it leads to a genuinely new and positive synthesis inwhich the origi nal conflict is resolved. Hegel. a positive aspect as well as a negative one. Hegel's syntheses. Marx had soon repudiated the purely "critical" and theoretical approach of the Young Hegelians. Comments in Eric Weil. L." of the dialectic. P. vacillation and doubt is charac teristic and essential in dialectics . F.MARX'S DIALECTIC 675 the second negation prevents the dialectical movement from coming to an end after the first conflict.49 Yet Marx's dialectic differs from Hegel's on a crucial issue. Marx's reaction against Hegel's triadic cycles dates back to his student years in Berlin.. but negation as a movement of connection. they intensify until their combined effect explodes in a revolution. what Lenin termed "the spiral form. K. H. not sceptical negation. according to his emancipated disciples. and a practice negates not uni versally. They betray the dialectical principle which. II. Lenin understood this dual na ture of the second negation.." (Philosophical Notebooks in Collected Works 38. Hegel himself insisted on the two-fold function of this second negation when he envisioned the possibility of distinguishing four moments rather than three in the dialectical process. This content downloaded from 194. no. (The Hague: Nijhoff. W.

According to the latter. It is the negation of negation. be negated when the means of production become common property. it must continue to revolutionize the es tablished order. This content downloaded from 194. Marx applies the negation of negation only to social developments. .50 Frankfurt philosophers justify their apparent deviation from tradi tional Marxist theory by what they consider the un-Marxist develop ment of the official communist practice itself. E. produces capitalist private property. 159. especially with respect to the "spiral form" of the resulting development. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the result of the capitalist mode of production. This is the first negation of individual private property. As far as I know. he uses it to explain the evolu tion of private property. break with Hegel. In Capital I. is to ignore what the contradiction means. the movement of nega tion never reaches an end.. 1973). Ashton Negative Dialectics. on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production. but always in social-economic developments.. Lenin. B. . To negate a negation does not bring about its reversal. as founded on the labor of the proprietor.676 LOUIS DUPR? endless character of dialectical negation. Stalin. 50 trans.186. p. with the inexora bility of a law of nature.27. its own negation. This is the decisive enough.. but gives him individual property based on the acquisitions of the capitalist era: i. The capitalist mode of appropriation.e. (Capital I. To use identity as a palliative for dialectical con tradiction . in turn. (New York: Seabury Press. This does not reestablish private property for the pro ducer. In the words of Theodor Adorno: . and subsequent "party" philosophers). the other which attri butes to the praxis the same permanent negation which the Young Hegelians reserved to the philosophical critique (the position of the Frankfurt school).18 on Thu. Here again Marx's thought has received two different interpre tations: one that brings the dialectic to a more or less complete halt in the communist society (the interpretation of Plekhanov. But capitalist property will.. it proves rather that the negation is not negative . Individual private property directly result ing from work is destroyed by capitalist production which expropri ates both the workers' products and their instruments of production. This creates serious prob lems in understanding the law of negation of negation. 763) We find other instances of the dialectical negation of negation. it is a refusal to lend itself to sanctioning things as they are.. But capitalist production begets.

MARX'S DIALECTIC 677 Engels universalized the law and considered social processes a particular instance of natural processes.52 Yet the real difficulty concerns the nature of the synthesis. In Anti-D?hring. progress must emerge from the contradictions themselves. a self-realizing Spirit justifies this upward trend. Most of this is of dubious value for the under standing of natural processes. But. A mere negation of the state of affairs resulting from a "contradiction" presents nothing really new unless one assumes that the development follows an upward direction. Cornforth.51 Yet this distinctness is essential to a dialectic of social revolution. depending on the specific character of the processes of development. especially the obvious fact that the new life in nature is not directly caused by the death of the old. This content downloaded from 194. denies that the law of negation of negation applies to all forms of development. Yet the repetition of an earlier stage is a notable feature of some processes of development and. See Die Materialistische Geschichtsauffassung. geology. even though he upholds the dialectical char acter of all development. ceases to exist as a grain (negation) and becomes a plant which. All development takes place through the working out of con tradictions?that is a necessary universal law. for in such a presentation the distinctness of the third moment from the first is lost. produces new grains and dies (negation of negation)? Does Engels say anything more than that natural developments follow a cyclic pattern? Not only is this non-informative. from any other. Plekhanov also expresses reservations about its universal application. 132. p. then. but specinc contradic tions do not necessarily work out in such a way that an earlier stage of development is repeated at a later stage?sometimes that may happen and sometimes not. and mathematics as well as to history and anthropology. most contemporary Marxists have quietly abandoned Engels' scientific simplifications. in turn. but it is non-dialectical as well. 117.186. But this "spiral" movement is not given by the negation of negation. it is presupposed by it. What does it mean (Anti-D?hring.18 on Thu.27. to bring it about is often an important aim of practice. Then the difficult question arises how Marx's second negation differs from the first or. for instance. It is hard to 51 Kautsky has pointed out other inadequacies in Engels' presentation. for Marx. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 169) that a grain of barley germinates. Not surprisingly. The importance of this conception of negation of negation does not lie in its supposedly expressing the necessary pattern of all develop ment. 52 Materialism and the Dialectical Method. p. for that matter. he applies the principle to botany. moreover. p. In Hegel.

"55 Clearly this is too arbitrary to merit discussion. Cornforth. p. of course. p.18 on Thu. denies that the distinction depends on any difference between "nature" and "spirit" and asserts that a movement can have direction without any consciousness to direct it (the hypothesis of God being explicitly excluded). then."54 We cannot speak of the direc tion of everything. p. More to the point.186. It does not mean the best possible or even "better. 109. what determines some movements as progressive in contrast to others? Cornforth's answer blatantly begs the question: "If some processes have direction and others have not. 110. for "fit" is any situation that survives the present contradiction. The Darwinian priority of "the fittest" holds no promise of constant progress or even of temporary improvement. "but only of the direction of the par ticular things in which we are interested such as the 'forward' move ment from feudalism to capitalism to communism.678 LOUIS DUPR? conceive of a negation of negation without introducing teleological considerations. this depends solely on the particular character of the processes themselves and of the con ditions under which they happen. cit. 364). but nothing guarantees that it will possess a higher degree of intrinsic perfection. and may be considered more perfect as it is better equipped to cope with both.. which are farthest removed from 53 Philosophical Notebooks in Collected Works 38. But. This content downloaded from 194. 54 Op. p.27. Yet Marxist philosophers usually regard a developing reality to be an upward moving reality. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Even Lenin's "apparent return to the old"53 cannot be justified and. A dialectic consisting exclusively of a collision of dif ferent aspects of a moving reality ("objective contradictions") holds no clue whatever about the outcome of its contradictions. My critique is confirmed by Wetter: "It is clear that a twofold negation by no means necessarily lands one back at the starting point (even at a higher level)" (Dialectical Materialism. the notion of "progress" must remain wholly unsupported. 222. 55Ibid." except in the one respect of being able to cope with the current conditions. "It is impossible to say that this teleology and perfection increase in the course of development of a series of organisms. Kautsky observes that each organism pos sesses its own structure for self-preservation and procreation.. What survives will be more compatible with the prevailing conditions than what changes. he claims. whom we found earlier distinguishing processes which are truly progressive (negation of negation) from others which are not. that the more highly developed ones.

Godelier does not appeal to some self-evident law of evolution that conflict must result in greater perfection. 197. the third phase of development bears a formal resemblance to the first" (The Development of the Monist View of History. 81). Marx's dialectic must dispense with all internal teleology. Once the negation is reduced to a simultaneous presence of "contrary" elements in reality."56 Precisely because of its anthropomorphic teleology. The law of negation of negation constitutes a Marxist attempt to retain Hegel's ascending movement without his spiritualism. developing to its conclusion.. 221) as if itwere implied by the doctrine of the unity of opposites (cf. I suspect that he assumes progress. On the questions which Soviet philosophers have begun to raise about the same point. Collected Works 38. p.MARX'S DIALECTIC 679 the forms of their ancestors. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .59 The Categories of Dialectical Materialism. The dialectical move ment then is reduced to a natural process of evolution extended to include social developments. p. I do not believe that it has succeeded in its task. more vital and more affirmative than the simple ones. 1972]. 136-138. becomes transformed into its opposite. in which he detects the influence of Kant. p. 223). 139. Of course. are better organized. see Guy Planty Bonjour. Some Marxists implicitly admit this and consider the law to be nothing more than the dialectical negation (understood in the Marxist sense of pure contradiction) brought to its ultimate conclusion. Andrew Rothstein [New York: International Publishers. though.. Godelier also concludes that the negation of negation has lost its validity in a dialectic that is no longer propelled by a self-moving Spirit. resemblance is not identity. being opposite to the first. yet Plekhanov's reservations about the triadic character of the dialectic indicates that he is in the dark as to how the second negation could essentially differ from the first.58 Most consistent was Stalin who dropped the law of negation of negation altogether.18 on Thu. replacing it by two others of his own making. Stalin fully realized that the law was either redundant or idealist. also is transformed in its turn into its own opposite. trans.57 Kautsky rejects any equation of Marxist dialectic with a Darwinian theory of evolution. pp. 58 Plekhanov thus describes the negation of negation: "Every phenome non.186. p.27. It consists entirely in a conflict of incompatible but relatively independent structures. but as the new phenomenon. For to be pro gressive a process of negation must follow a teleological direction for which there is no room inMarx's theory. p. This content downloaded from 194. Others attempt to give it a sepa rate status by distinguishing it as a particular species of the generic law of negation. Ibid. Unlike Stalin. Lenin also places it at the end of the list in his "Elements of Dialectics" (Notebooks. no resources remain from which "positive" meanings can be extracted.59 56 Die Materialistische 57 Geschichtsauffassung.

Lenin. Plekhanov. p.62 Stalin went further and admitted the continued existence of genuine con tradictions. How could all contradictions be resolved in a socialist society without bringing the dialectic to the same artificial halt which Marx and the Young Hegelians denounced in Hegel? Orthodox Marxists have not remained unaware of the problem. a positive and permanent state of society? Here the critique of orthodox Marxism by the Frankfurt school becomes particularly pertinent. Collected Works. p. A. such as the conflict between the peasant class and the proletariat. G. since the development of production always lags behind the development of productive 60 cit.186.. estimates that "it does not at all play in Hegel's work the part which is attributed to it by those who have no idea of his philosophy. Kazakevich and A. It forced Lenin to distinguish "antagonism" from "contradiction": the former would disappear. in the socialist society of the Soviet Union. p. Abolentseva conclude their article on "Some Problems concerning the Law of the Negation of Negation": "Marxism by no means rejects the triad."60 His judgment may be erroneous for Hegel. has the dialectic not changed from triadic to dyadic? Most Marxists continue to pay lip service to the triadic form. Lenin. Bukharin's Economics of the Transi tional Period" (May 1920). claims that attempts to prove the correctness of the triad are but a relic of Hegelianism. 62 V. XXIII [1956]. in the course of their development" (Vestnik Leningradskogo Universiteta.680 LOUIS DUPR? But if the third movement brings nothing new. the triad is above all expres sion of the path of double negation pursued by all natural and social phenomena as well as our knowledge.27.18 on Thu. but nor is it regarded as a universal master key which can be used to prove every thing. but they often do so with little con viction. What theFriends of thePeople Are and How They Fight the Social Democrats in Collected Works I. while upholding the triadic schema against Mikhailovski. "Remarks on N. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . T. This content downloaded from 194. I. Even permanent contradictions between relations of production and the productive forces of society continue to exist. but it certainly applies to Marx. Dialectical Materialism. 79. is the Marxist still justified in expecting a final synthesis. p. 362. Engels does not even men tion the triads in his method. 76). Quoted in Wetter. Some contemporary Soviet philosophers express similar reservations. I. in his early polemic with the same Mikhailovski. 61Op. As understood in dialectical materialism.61 If the second negation introduces no positive element into the dialectic. while the latter would remain and become the moving power in the development of the communist society. 164.

Peking.R. Neo-Darwinism par ticularly appealed to Marxist dialecticians for having dislodged final causality from its last stronghold. in 1957. Already in his work On Contradiction (1937) (SelectedReadings. Marxists came to seek it more and more in a scientific theory that.186. such as the oppositions between mass and leaders. the law of transformation from quantity to quality gained in importance. some other law had to be found to direct the movement resulting from contradiction. 1953).27. VIII As the status of the negation of negation became more and more dubious. more specifically to give it a consistent upward turn. The law of negation of negation constitutes a somewhat incongruous attempt to introduce evolution into what bas ically is a dialectic of revolution. 14. of continuing progress.18 on Thu. pp. ed. If the negation of negation was considered to be too idealist to be effective in a Marxist dialectic. Cohen. Stalin and his followers who had dropped the former strongly emphasized the latter. Mao alone was consistent enough to perceive the con sequences of a negative dialectic when he declared the existence of genuine contradictions between individuals and society to be "nothing strange" in a communist society and when. he criticized Stalin for not having perceived the existence of internal contradic tions. (1952). without invoking any teleology.63 Yet Stalin did not regard those contradictions as "antagonis tic" in that economic planning will prevent them from leading to open conflicts. however gratuitous.S. The law neither explains nor justifies what it purports to achieve." in Current Soviet Policies.S. 160-163. 1971)Mao advocates a theory of permanent contradiction. The reason is not difficult to grasp.64 The proliferation of scholastic distinctions between communist and other oppositions suggests that Marxists have not been able to account satisfactorily for a "positive" synthesis in a dialectic of internal conflict. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Leo Gruliow (New York: Praeger. and by purely empirical methods. since it has not been ade quately integrated with the dialectical method as Marx conceived it.MARX'S DIALECTIC 681 forces. 1964). The survival of the fittest alone 63 "Economie Problems of Socialism in the U. and for having treated them as external antagonisms. 64 Arthur A. The Communism of Mao Tse-Tung (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. succeeded in educing intelligible patterns of development out of conflict and in creating an expectation. p. This content downloaded from 194.

Science of Logic. Marxa i Engelsa [Moscow]. 1867. Science of Logic. In Engels' unpublished papers one passage criticizes Darwinism as a simplistic trans position of Hobbes' bellum omnium contra omnes and bourgeois economic struggles to the development of nature (Archiv K. 309). Other instances are the transformation of value from use value to money and the transitions between the successive modes of co operation that lead to capitalist production. as had Hegel himself.) 66 Dialectics of Nature. at which point a qualitative "leap" occurs is found inWissenschaft der Logik. cit. 68 Cf. hence forth the law of quantity and quality interpreted in a Neo-Darwinian fashion would suffice to give the dialectical movement a "progressive" direction. 343-346. pp. p. 139). 26. Hegel's principle asserted that purely quantitative in creases eventually result in qualitative changes "and. Hegel's thesis that changes remain purely quantitative until they surpass the "measure" of an object. Rosenthal. The "vice versa" which has puzzled commentators is based on Hegel's words: "But we have seen that the alterations of being in general are not only the transition of one magnitude into another. pp. C.18 on Thu.186.67 Engels points out similar transitions in the fourth part of Capital I on "The Production of Relative Surplus-Value" (Anti-D?hring. of course. But they had rejected. Already Marx and Engels had taken a lively interest inDarwin's theory.65 Where once the negation of negation had been needed to secure the "upward turn" of the dialectic. 129-137." Engels adds. Lysenko's now discredited attempts to revive Lamarck's theory of the inheritance of acquired habits. op. 333-336..682 LOUIS DUPR? sufficed."m Marx applies the principle to the transition from precapitalists to capitalist possession of money and commodities. that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes" (Capital I. the theory of evolution so intimately combined conflict with movement that it might be regarded as the scientific counterpart of Hegelian dialectic. reminds us of the contrary. 62. A footnote refers to a molecular theory of modern chemistry as developed by Laurent and Gerhardt. In a letter written to Engels on June 22. that Marxism simply threw its lot in with Neo-Darwinism. This content downloaded from 194. as in natural science. At the same time. pp. 370). 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . trans. p. p. to account for the emergence of ever more developed forms. the concept of a gradual change from one species to another: dialectic progressed by sudden reversals. II. officially accepted through most of the Stalin era. but a transition from quality into quantity and vice versa" (Logik I.. De Vries' discovery of genetic mutations dispelled the dialecticians' reservations. "vice versa. or so it was thought. 67 "Here. p. Marx also refers to the qualitative leap in a quantitative series. is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his 'Logic').27.68 65 This is not to say. p. 383. Dutt. p.

conflict and con tradiction offers self-evident advantages for a social and political theory based on the concept of class antagonism and class struggle. cit. 70 Z. 204. Both were pri marily concerned with social conflict.. unless it was integrated with the determinist laws of the material universe. cf. the dialectic would remain an idealist theory of action. the other as a practical revolutionary. The Evolution of Dialectical Materialism. Z. but they con sidered change essentially subordinate to conflict. contingent and un foreseeable occurrences. revolutions and upheavals were bound to remain what they actually are. Jordan. Engels had first attempted to streamline Marxist dialectic a into "scientific" system. In Hegel's dialectic they found. namely. above all. Planty-Bonjour. Yet. Their interest in the positive sciences was entirely second ary. they felt. (New York: St. Plekhanov and Lenin removed the law from the first place which it held with Engels.27."71 Thus the two men who restored Hegel's dialectic to Marx's theory. sequence and con catenation of historical events alone. Lenin remained a faithful follower of Plekhanov. This content downloaded from 194. Yet he had been too close toMarx's original vision and had perhaps remained too imbued by the spirit of Hegel's philosophy to reduce the dialectic to a unified.. Yet it took a different kind of mind to complete this develop ment. were. A.186. pp.70 The law of the interp?n?tration of opposites is "cosmologized" for the same reason: "A universe brimming over with strife. op. scientific theory. 1967) p. a method for the understanding of social dy namics. by a perverse paradox of fate. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . A. Martin's Press. p. In this respect. The two Russians were anxious enough to provide social theory with a "scientific" foundation. Only the cosmological doctrine of leaps allowed him to establish the inevitability of political revolutions by some kind of cosmic decree and natural necessity.69 Character istically. one as a philosopher of revolu tion. 71 Ibid. As long as Plekhanov considered the concurrence. Stalin came better prepared for the task of reducing the dialectic to a cosmic 69 He fails to account for the "vice-versa" of the transition from quantity to quality. 205. 126-127.. Jordan's suggestive description of the "political cosmology" of one applies equally well to the other. For some contemporary attempts. also responsible for its develop ment toward a homogeneous materialist system.18 on Thu.MARX'S DIALECTIC 683 Engels argues that the entire present flora and fauna have re sulted from small quantitative changes accumulating until they turned into qualitative changes over millions of years.

If the attempts had ever completely succeeded?Stalin came close to success?the dialectic would have been converted into the unchanging law of a system of nature. This content downloaded from 194. Since he equated the in creasing complexification of this process with progress. p. but as an inward and upward movement. sub jecting human initiative to the same necessity which rules the mate rial world.186. He may. as a transition from an old. qualitative state. it lost in revolutionary power. as a development from the simple to the complex. he felt but little empathy with the unpredictable novelty of a dialectic of freedom..684 LOUIS DUPR? system. 25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Yet what Marxism gained in coherence. If dialectical developments were "necessary. He thereby stifled revolutionary action into dialectical determinism. In retrospect. Stalin attempted to remove the last remnants of ideal ism.27.18 on Thu. To Stalin the qualitative leap constitutes the essence of the evolutionary process of nature. Significant for his attitude is that he restored the law of the transition from quantity to quality to the primary position which it had held in Engels and from which Plekhanov (followed by Lenin) had removed it. the dialectic would now apply to nature and society in the way. have improved the logical consistency of Marx's theory. not as a simple repetition of what has already occurred. we notice in the development of Marxist theory an increasing tendency to impose unity upon a dualist mode of think ing.e. thereby." as Marx's theory claimed they were. This was mostly attempted by eliminating the "idealist" factor in favor of the "naturalist" one. Stalin attempted to reduce to logical con sistency what was by its very nature irreducible to unity. on the basis of this law] holds that the process of development should be understood not as movement in a circle.72 same Thus Marx's dialectic was converted into an all-comprehensive theory of evolution of which the revolutionary praxis presents but a particular facet. there was no good reason to keep politics apart from a deterministic but fully dialectical cos mology. All preceding positions still labored under too much ambiguity to allow an entirely homogeneous description of all aspects of reality. Stalin uninhibitedly proceeded to homogenize history and nature. from the lower to the higher" (Dialectical and Historical Materialism. Idealist considerations kept interfering with the professed materialism. But 72 "The dialectical method therefore [i. Unencumbered by Marx's "spirit" or by a thorough acquaint ance with Hegel's work and endowed with an orderly school-master's mind. 9). Only with Stalin does the "monist view" of reality fully conquer Marxist thought.

25 Dec 2014 20:47:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . namely. This content downloaded from 194. Yale University.186.18 on Thu. It is most doubtful whether it could still fulfill the purpose for which Marx devised it. to understand the social-economic development of history in such a way that we gain a certain knowledge of the future as well as the means to hasten its coming.MARX'S DIALECTIC 685 such a "naturalist" dialectic must remain descriptive.27.