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26 Marxist Philosophy (1935)note

The philosophical doctrines of Karl Marx and his followers have received very little attention in academic circles, and this is naturally so, because they lie outside the main line of philosophical development. They have contributed nothing to the rise of the most important recent philosophy, that of realism, and, while they have certain affinities with pragmatism, they were not responsible for its emergence as a distinctive tendency in the philosophical field. This state of affairs has been partly due, no doubt, to their defective formulation, to the fact that Marx made no consecutive statement of his philosophic views and that it was left to men of inferior intelligence like Engels, or men like Lenin for whom philosophy was of merely incidental interest, to supply the missing doctrines. There is no doubt, also, that, had there been a greater academic interest in Marxist social theory, correspondingly greater attention would have been paid to the philosophy with which it has been combined. But the main obstacle to the close study of Marxist philosophy has been just this mingling of social and philosophical considerations. Since the philosophical material appeared on a casual scrutiny to be of a perfectly familiar Lockian or Hegelian type, the professional philosopher has seen no point in trying to disentangle it from the peculiar sociological setting which the Marxists gave it.

The philosopher, however, has to admit that philosophising at any rate is a social activity and that the existence of a philosophical tradition is a social phenomenon. And it becomes increasingly important for the philosopher, in order to maintain an independent interest in philosophy as against other social interests, to be able to show not merely that philosophy is not social theory but what is the connection between the two. It is not only the orthodox Marxists who confuse between theory and policy, between what is the case and what is to be done, though it is they who most elaborately defend this confusion; but, in all countries, powerful social interests, not themselves philosophically competent, endeavour to prevent the promulgation of philosophical doctrines which are offensive to them — and especially of a free-thinking philosophy, since every established State supports itself by some sort of fetishism. Thus, in upholding the philosophical interest (the interest, i.e., in philosophical truths as such), the philosopher has to recognise how it is affected by other interests, he has to effect the


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disentanglement above referred to, even if it takes him temporarily away from purely philosophical questions. He does so, of course, as a philosopher; he has to show what philosophical errors are involved in socio-philosophy, whether of the Marxist, the Hegelian or any other variety. But in so doing he also enables the social issues to be cleared up. And, on this question, I am convinced that Marxist philosophy has been an obstacle to the acceptance of Marx's main social views, and that a refutation of the philosophy can only advance the most typically Marxist contributions to science.

It should be understood, at the outset, that the outstanding social doctrine of Marx and Engels, the economic interpretation of history, whatever special difficulties it may present, does not in itself involve a socio-philosophical confusion. As Engels puts it (in his preface to the English translation of the Communist Manifesto in 1888), “The ‘Manifesto’ being our joint production, I consider myself bound to state that the fundamental proposition which forms its nucleus belongs to Marx. That proposition is: that in every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organisation necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch: that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms an evolutionary series in which, nowadays, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class — the proletariat — cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class — the bourgeoisie — without, at the same time, and once for all emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class-distinctions and class-struggles.” On this showing, it will be important for those interested in what Eastman calls “social engineering” to know that lasting social changes can come only by a change in the economic structure of society, in its “productive relations”, and that they cannot come by means of theorising alone, philosophical or other; it will be important to observe that the prevailing productive relations enter into all social activities. In fact, the general account given of social history may be perfectly sound, and yet philosophical theory will remain unaffected.

But a detailed study of the Manifesto itself soon reveals much more questionable matter. “Does it require deep intuition”, Marx and Engels ask, “to comprehend that man's ideas, views and conceptions, in a word, man's consciousness, change with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life? What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. When people speak of ideas that revolutionise society, they do but


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express the fact that, within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas ever keeps pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.” Now, whatever may be said about “ruling ideas”, we all know that it is not true that a man's views change with every change in the conditions of his life. Again, if there are dominant social forces, they will undoubtedly act so as to check the spread of views inimical to them; but it is quite another thing to say that they determine the whole intellectual history of the period, that they even successfully repress “heretical” views, let alone prevent them from arising in the first place. Marxists will argue, of course, that along with the ruling forces have to be considered the rising revolutionary forces; but, apart from the question of the relation of these forces in a social complex, it is still not true that the two together completely determine either the origin or the fate of “ideas” (views). However, the main point is that, in any case, an account of how views arise is not an account of their truth, any more than, in general, an account of a thing's origin is an account of the thing; and thus an exposition of the social influences on philosophical thought is not philosophy and can settle no philosophical problem. And, while it is suggested by the above quotation, it is made still more evident in Engels's main “philosophical” work, which was approved by Marx (the Anti-Dü;hring; partly translated into English under the title Landmarks of Scientific Socialism), that this distinction has not been kept clear. The illogical conception of relative truth, of a truth which is appropriate to a given period or social system or to a particular way of living within such a system, is embraced, with very damaging effects on Marxist theory in general.

The theory of relative truth receives its classic refutation in Plato's Theaetetus, where it is shown that, in the very formulation of a supposedly relative truth, the relativist is presenting something as an absolute truth. If I say “X is true for me”, then I am saying that X's being true for me is an absolute fact; and the same applies to any other attempted formulation of the relative. Every statement that can be made raises an issue of fact, the question is always whether X is or is not Y, and if such an expression as “true for me” had any meaning at all, it would not mean a special kind of truth, a peculiar way of being the case, but it would mean a certain predicate which might or might not belong, in a matter of fact way, to a given subject. Sometimes “true for me” is used as meaning “believed by me”, and in that case the question of fact is raised as to what I believe and what I do not believe — this not affecting the further fact that what I believe is sometimes not true. But, even so, the expression “true for me” is a confused one; it covers an attempt to evade the issue, to claim a kind of personal truth for my beliefs, in spite of the facts. The fundamental criticism of such relativism, then, is that in trying to evade the issue of fact, the relativist is himself presenting an issue of fact (a proposition which must be adjudged true or false).




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This criticism applies to the arguments of Engels, who, besides confusing questions of fact with questions of our discovering fact, takes the historical character of things (a character which he admits to be absolute) as an argument against their absoluteness. Thus in his Feuerbach (Kerr edition, pp. 41, 42) he says: “Truth, which it is the province of philosophy to recognise, was no longer, according to Hegel, a collection of ready-made dogmatic statements, which once discovered must only be thoroughly learned; truth lay now in the process of knowledge itself, in the long historical development of learning, which climbs from lower to ever higher heights of knowledge, without ever reaching the point of so-called absolute truth, where it can go no further, where it has nothing more to look forward to, except to fold its hands in its lap and contemplate the absolute truth already gained.” Now there is in the conception of absolute truth nothing at all to suggest that anyone will ever know all truths. But not only does Engels imply in speaking of “the process of knowledge itself” that the recognition of that process is absolutely correct; he also passes over the fact that the “development of learning” takes place by successive assertions that something is the case and that we cannot speak of having reached a greater “height of knowledge” without implying that we now know something that we did not know before or about which we were wrong before. The very process in question, then, is a process in assertions, some of which are true, and some false, in a quite unambiguous sense.

Further, there is nothing in the recognition of process to suggest doubts as to absolute truth; in saying that a certain process occurs, we are saying that it absolutely occurs and that one phase of it absolutely gives place to another. Engels goes on to say that the dialectic philosophy he espouses “destroyed all theories of absolute truth, and of an absolute state of humanity corresponding with them. In face of it nothing final, absolute or sacred exists, it assigns mortality indiscriminately, and nothing can exist before it save the unbroken process of coming into existence and passing away, the endless passing from the lower to the higher, the mere reflection of which in the brain of the thinker it is. It has indeed also a conservative side, it recognises the suitability of a given condition of knowledge and society for its time and conditions, but only so far. This conservatism of this philosophical view is relative, its revolutionary character is absolute, the only absolute which it allows to exist.” But here again it is clear that Engels is making absolute assertions at every point, and that the fact that nothing lasts for ever does not affect the fact that it absolutely exists, absolutely has or has not a given character, at a given time.

The assertion by Engels that “historicity” is itself absolute is a belated and partial recognition of the absoluteness of the assertions he is making. In his Anti-Dü;hring (Landmarks, Part I, ch. VI: “Eternal Truths”), he admits that there are a number of “truths of the last instance” — e.g., “that twice two is four, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, that Paris is in France, that a man will die


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of hunger if he does not receive food” — though they are neither so many nor so important as “realists” like Dü;hring have supposed. But when Engels goes on to indicate truths of other sorts, he is quite unable to make good his distinction of the absolute from the relative. Thus, he says (p. 121), in the field of living organisms, “the changes and causalities are so complex that not only does the solution to each question bring about the rise of an unlimited number of new questions, but the solution to each of these separate new questions depends upon years, frequently centuries, of investigation and can then be only partially completed.” This is quite irrelevant to the question of truth; how long it will take people to find out something, or how many other things they will not then have found out, does not affect the fact that what they do find out is something that is absolutely the case. Again, if “there are frequently discoveries like that of the cell which compel us to entirely revise all hitherto firmly established truth of the last instance in biology and to lay numbers of such truths aside for good and all”, and if, on the side of social history, “when the intimate relations existing between a social and a political phenomenon come to be recognised, it is not, as a rule, perceived until the conditions are actually on the way to decay”, and even if we could admit that “Knowledge is therefore entirely relative, since it is limited to a given people and a given epoch, and their nature under transitory social and political forms, when it examines relations and forms conclusions” — still this is all concerned with conditions of knowing, how we come to beliefs and how we may be led to give them up, and does not at all affect the question of truth. Incidentally, if only a given people at a given time can know certain things, this is not an argument for the “relativity” of knowing any more than of what is known; it merely shows that knowing has conditions. But it is worth noting that Engels presumes himself to be able to transcend historical limitations and to lay down a historical correlation which is absolute and not relative to his own epoch.

There is not, then, in his attempted distinctions, the slightest indication of what a “relative truth” might be. When he goes on to give a detailed example, the weakness of his theory is completely exposed. “Let us take, for example, the well-known Boyle's law, according to which, the temperature remaining the same, the volume of gas varies as the pressure to which it is subjected. Regnault discovered that this law does not apply in certain cases. If he had been a realist-philosopher he would have been obliged to say, ‘Boyle's law is mutable, therefore it does not possess absolute truth, therefore it is untrue, therefore it is false’. He would thus have made a greater error than that which was latent in Boyle's law, his little particle of truth would have drowned in a flood of error; he would in this way have elaborated his correct result into an error compared with which Boyle's law with its particle of error fastened to it would have appeared as the truth. Regnault, scientist as he was, did not trouble himself with such childish performances. He investigated further and found that Boyle's law is only


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approximately correct, having no validity in the case of gases which can be made liquid by pressure when the pressure approaches the point where liquefaction sets in. Boyle's law therefore is shown only to be true within specific bounds. But is it absolute, a final truth of last instance within specific bounds? No physicist would say so. He would say that it is correct for certain gases and within certain limits of pressure and temperature, and even then within these somewhat narrow limits he would not exclude the possibility of a still narrower limitation or change in application as the result of further investigation” (pp. 125, 126). To which we could add, “and even then he would not exclude the possibility of a still narrower limitation”, and so on until he did not exclude the possibility of there being nothing left of Boyle's law.

This reductio ad absurdum is the result of Engels's evasion, of his attempt to hold that Boyle's law both is and is not shown to be “true within specific bounds”. But that phrase means nothing. The realist would be right in saying that Boyle's law has been shown to be false; and the most that Engels can say is that something like it is true. Boyle asserts that all gases have the property X; Regnault shows that this is false, but that all gases within specific bounds have the property X. In other words, a different proposition is true, not relatively but absolutely; it is not that a certain proposition has limited truth but that a limited subject has, absolutely, a certain predicate. And, whatever Engels may say about “further limitation”, he must admit, as an absolute fact, that some gases under some conditions have the property X or he must say, as he does not wish to do, that Boyle was quite wrong about gases. Supposing, then, that there is a limitation A to be applied to Boyle's law, i.e., that all A-gases, and only those, are X, then if we believed that all gases are X, as Boyle said, we should not, in spite of the falsity of that belief, go wrong in our conclusions so long as all the gases we dealt with in our investigations happened to be A-gases. The false belief would lead to true conclusions as far as we went, and so would be useful. That is the most that can be meant by relative or approximate truth, but the fact remains that the conclusions themselves are taken as absolutely true, and the so-called relative truth is, in the same sense, absolutely false.

Lenin, who follows Engels closely in all his theories, equally fails to show how the same theory can find room for absolute and relative truths or how any sense whatever can be attached to the expression “relative truth”. Thus he says (Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 107) that “from the standpoint of modern materialism, or Marxism, the relative limits of our approximation to the cognition of the objective, absolute truth are historically conditioned; but the existence of this truth is unconditioned, as well as the fact that we are continually approaching it.… Every ideology is historically conditioned, but it is unconditionally true that to every scientific theory (as distinct from religion), there corresponds an objective truth, something absolutely so in nature.” But the fact that an “ideology” is historically conditioned


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tells us nothing as to its truth. Historical conditions, let us say, cause A to believe X; in that case, the discussion of what has affected A is quite distinct from the discussion of X — though, indeed, either discussion can go on only by the making of unqualified assertions of fact. Lenin continues: “You will say that this distinction between relative and absolute truth is indefinite. And I will reply that it is sufficiently indefinite to prevent science from becoming dogmatic, in the bad sense of the word, from becoming dead, frozen, ossified; but it is at the same time sufficiently ‘definite’ to preclude us from espousing any brand of fideism or agnosticism, from embracing the sophistry and philosophical idealism of the followers of Hume and Kant. Here is a boundary which you have not noticed, and not having noticed it, you have fallen into the mire of reactionary philosophy. It is the boundary between dialectical materialism and relativism.” But actually no distinction of any kind has been indicated; it has been said that some things are historically conditioned, and that some things are unconditionally true, but nothing has been said to show that these are not the very same things. The only relevant distinction is that between absolute truth and absolute falsity.

Lenin admits this distinction when he says (p. 104), “If you are not in a position to maintain that the proposition ‘Napoleon died on May 5, 1821’ is false, then you are practically acknowledging that it is true. If you do not assert that it can be refuted in the future, then you are acknowledging this truth to be eternal.” But he still finds it possible to say that whereas, for Bogdanov, “the recognition of the relativity of our knowledge excludes the least admission of absolute truth, for Engels absolute truth is made up of relative truths”. He does not attempt to show, however, and he could not show, what relative truths make up the absolute truth “Napoleon died on May 5, 1821”, and how they make it up. It is to the credit of Engels and Lenin that they recognise that there are absolute truths, but they become involved in shifts and subterfuges when they try to combine this with the false view that there are relative truths.

A word may here be said about the view of Engels on moral truths; for, though the logical position is precisely the same, the moral question is so frequently raised and is found, in many quarters, so compelling an argument for relativity, that it is worth while showing the hollowness of Engels's arguments in this connection also. “From people to people, from age to age, there have been such changes in the ideas of good and evil that these concepts are contradictory in different periods and among different peoples. But someone may remark, ‘Good is still not evil and evil is not good; if good and evil are confused all morality is abolished, and each may do what he will.’ When the rhetoric is stripped away this is the opinion of Herr Dü;hring. But the matter is not to be disposed of so easily. If things were as easy as that there would be no dispute about good and evil. Everybody would know what was good and what was evil. How is it to-day, however? What system of ethics is preached to us to-day?” Having mentioned a number of systems, Christian,


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bourgeois and proletarian, Engels proceeds: “Which is the true one? No single one of them, regarded as a finality, but that system assuredly possesses the most elements of truth which promises the longest duration, which, existent in the present, is also involved in the revolution of the future, the proletarian” (Landmarks, p. 127).

So the greatest truth is possessed by that which is longest believed! No less curious than this type of proof is the inference, from disagreements about good and evil, that the distinction between the two is not absolute — in other words, that the disagreement is not about anything at all. It is obvious that Engels himself has no clear conception of morals; indeed, he goes on to show that he thinks of a moral position as expressed in commandments like “Thou shalt not steal”. Now, if good means commanded and evil means forbidden, then, since different people command and forbid different things, it will appear that good and evil vary and that the same thing can be both good and evil. But what comes of the “disagreements” referred to? If A says “I command X” and B says “I forbid X”, they are making statements which may both be true. It does not appear, then, what Engels could mean by “contradictory” moral concepts or by “an advance made in morals as a whole”. In fact, his confusion rests in an ambiguous conception of good — in the relational sense of being wanted or commanded, and also in the sense of a positive quality of certain things. It is the prevalence of this unnoticed ambiguity, this confusion of quality and relation (a confusion which also comes out in Engels's reference to a passage from “lower” to “higher”), that is at the root of relativism in ethics.

We come now to the next important division of our subject. The theory of relative truth is connected in Marxist philosophy with a representational theory of knowledge; it is supposed that “our ideas” correspond to a greater or less degree with the “external reality” which has produced them in our minds. As Dietzgen puts it (quoted by Lenin, p.106), “How can a picture ‘conform’ with its model? Approximately it can. What picture worth the name does not agree approximately with its object? Every portrait is more or less of a likeness. But to be altogether alike, quite the same as the original — what a monstrous idea! We can only know nature and her parts relatively, since even a part, though only a relation of nature, possesses again the characteristics of the Absolute, the nature of the All-Existence which cannot be exhausted by knowledge.” And, as Lenin reminds us (Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 195) in his polemic against the symbolists, “Engels speaks neither of symbols nor of hieroglyphs, but of copies, photographs, images, mirror-reflections of things”. There is no reason, of course, why this copy-theory should be combined, as Dietzgen combines it, with the perfectly correct admission that we never know “all about” any given thing; and there is nothing in the latter fact to suggest that the knowledge we do have is relative. But the copy-theory is completely false, as was clearly shown by Berkeley, whom Lenin discusses extensively without noticing this fact. Berkeley argues that, in order to show that


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“an idea” is a good or bad copy of “an external thing”, we should have to know them both and compare them — but, of course, if we can know external things directly, then the whole picture-theory collapses. Actually, this realist line is not the one adopted by Berkeley; he goes on, indeed, to argue that our sensations represent acts of will in minds outside our own, though he certainly claims that we have some direct knowledge of acts of that kind, viz., in our own minds. But he has still shown the untenability of a representational theory, and the only way out is to admit a direct knowledge of actual things and to reject the whole theory of ideas.

Engels, whom Lenin here as elsewhere wholeheartedly supports, takes a curious way out of the difficulty. He refers (Historical Materialism, pp. 6, 7) to the agnostic who, while admitting that “all our knowledge is based upon the information imparted to us by our senses”, asks “How do we know that our senses give us correct information of the objects we perceive through them?” and “proceeds to inform us that, whenever he speaks of objects or their qualities, he does in reality not mean these objects and qualities, of which he cannot know anything for certain, but merely the impressions which they have produced on his senses”. (It may be remarked in passing, in accordance with Berkeley's argument, that the agnostic could not even say that “they”, viz., what Engels calls “objects”, are the causes of the representations or that there are any external causes at all — these points being actually made by Hume.) “Now”, Engels goes on, “this line of reasoning is undoubtedly hard to beat by mere argumentation. But before there was argumentation, there was action. Im Anfang war die That. And human action had solved the difficulty long before human ingenuity invented it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perceptions. If these perceptions have been wrong, then our estimate of the use to which an object can be turned must also be wrong, and our attempt must fail. But if we succeed in accomplishing our aim, if we find that the object does agree with our idea of it, and does answer the purpose we intended it for, then that is positive proof that our perception of it and its qualities, so far, agree with reality outside ourselves.” And Lenin (p. 83) on the above passage, remarks: “The materialist theory, then, the theory of reflection of objects by our mind, is here presented with perfect clearness: things exist outside of us. Our perceptions and representations are their images. The verification of these images, the distinction of true and false images, is given by practice.”

But Engels has not shown how there could be any verification or falsification, any agreement or disagreement between one known entity (whether we call it “object” or “idea”) and another. Either he has to admit direct knowledge of things and thus uproot the representational theory; or he has to take the view of Locke and Berkeley that “our


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idea” at any given time is just what we “have in mind” at that time — and so, while at a different time we naturally have something different in mind, no question of verification or falsification, and no issue as to something beyond our ideas, arises. That there are agreements and disagreements is due to the fact that what we have in mind at any time is that something is the case; i.e., something is taken as being an independent occurrence and not as “representing” one. Even if we were aware of something called a “representation”, we should be aware of it as occurring, and there would be no question of that occurrence meaning any other occurrence — or of its being less “objective”, less the case, than any other occurrence. Thus the Marxists, just like Berkeley, neglect the proposition (the statement of fact) as the object of any knowledge whatever, and, in taking their departure from “ideas”, are unable logically to arrive at propositions and thus to have any coherent theory.

It is commonly supposed that a “correspondence” or representational theory is required to account for error, but what has been said indicates that it does not do so. If we have an “idea” which is unlike a thing, we are not in error unless we think the idea is like the thing, and in that case the thing as much as the idea is an immediate object to the mind; i.e., the position is exactly as when we consider the likeness or unlikeness of two things, and no question of “ideas” arises. Engels is quite right in believing that the explanation of error is to be found in the practical character of knowing, i.e., its occurrence as part of our manipulations of things, our demands that X should be Y, and the illusory satisfaction of some demands, our satisfaction that X is Y when actually it is not. A subsequent dissatisfaction, a falsified expectation, may then show us that we were mistaken (though, of course, it is also possible for us to have a second illusory satisfaction, as well as to be disappointed through supposing that what we wanted has not come to pass when actually it has). But such discoveries would not be possible unless we were dealing all the time with actual things; there could, as has been shown, be no way of “correcting” one idea by another, even if we could regard a corrected idea as any more actual than an uncorrected idea or any more capable of leading us beyond ideas.

Also, the fact that we get our knowledge, or make our mistakes, in the course of our demanding, is no reason for confusing the issues themselves (the propositions asserted) with our activity in raising these issues, as is done by Marx in the celebrated Theses on Feuerbach, e.g., in the first when he says that the reality should be conceived as human sense-activity or “praxis”, and again in the last — “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently, but the point is to change it.” For, although it may be in acting on things (leaving aside for the moment the question of “the world”) that we get our knowledge of them, the theoretical point is what is the case, not how we know it or what we are going to do, or have done, about it. It is understood, of course, that there can be a theory of our activities as well as of anything else, but this theory consists of assertions of what we actually do and not of the


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activities that were needed to find out what we actually do. That Marx remained committed to the representational theory with all its defects is shown in his statement, in the preface to the second edition of Capital, that on his view, as opposed to Hegel's, “the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought”. What these “forms of thought” can be except assertions of what is actually the case in the “material world” Marx does not indicate, but no more than Engels could he make a bridge between “thought” and “matter” once they had been separated.

Lenin, as we saw, speaks approvingly of Engels's criterion of “practice”, but he too is unable to show how we can “find” that an object does or does not agree with our idea of it unless we have a way of knowing the object otherwise than by having an idea of it — in which case the “idea” becomes simply a different object, and just as much of a thing as the former. In trying to make the bridge, indeed, Lenin offers a variety of explanations, without appearing to be aware of their variety. He recognises that we cannot infer the existence of what is not “sensation” from the existence of “sensation”, but he does not see that the only way out is to deny sensation — as copy or representative of “external reality”. Hence he adopts a curious dual theory of knowledge, whereby we are presented at one and the same time with a sensation and a source of the sensation — though it is not explained how we know which is which, or why, if everything we know is of the form “A reflects B”, we should regard B as having any more of an “objective existence” than A.

In considering the theory of Mach, Lenin says (pp. 101, 102): “We ask whether or not objective reality is assumed as given us, when we see red or perceive hard.… If one holds that it is not given, then he is relapsing, together with Mach, into subjectivism and agnosticism.… If one holds that it is given, then a certain philosophical doctrine necessarily follows. Such a doctrine has long since been worked out, namely, materialism. Matter is a philosophic category which refers to the objective reality given to man in his sensations — a reality which is copied, photographed and reflected by our sensations, but which exists independently of them.” The doctrine of realism is, however, opposed to both these views; it asserts that we do not “see red or perceive hard” but perceive a red or hard thing, and it denies that “a philosophic category” is either necessary or sufficient to help us over from alleged “sensations” to things. And, as before, if we did perceive a “sensation”, we should perceive it as a thing and we should not “assume as given” the substantiality of some other thing which served it as a “source”.

Lenin appears not to see the difference between the statements which he juxtaposes (p. 100), “We recognise the objective reality which is given us in experience” (which can only mean that we recognise what we perceive as things) and “we recognise an objective and independent source of our sensations”; or again (p. 116) between


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“Matter is that which, acting upon our sense-organs, produces sensation” and “matter is the objective reality, given to us in sensation”. The distinction between the two senses of “sensation”, as the knowing of a thing and as a copy of a thing (a copy which somehow is not itself a thing but is produced in us by a thing), is one of the most important contributions to philosophy made by modern realism; but it is a contribution rendered possible by Berkeley's refusal to accept the “dual” knowledge of Locke, even if he retained the relative object, the “idea”, instead of the independent object, the thing. In his endeavour to escape Berkeley's devastating criticism, Lenin not only has to equivocate as above but he has to say (p. 93) that “each one of us has observed innumerable times the simple and palpable transformation of the ‘thing-in-itself’ into the ‘thing-for-us’. This transformation is cognition”; i.e., he has to say that we have observed the uncognised becoming cognised — a position comparable to that which he attributes (p. 125) to Feuerbach: “Feuerbach recognises the objectivity of natural law, of causality, reflected only approximately by human conceptions of order, law and so forth”, i.e., Feuerbach recognises more than he recognises — unless he is more than human! The bridge is still unbuilt.

Similarly, when Lenin says (p. 101) that “in truth the Machians are subjectivists and agnostics, for they do not sufficiently trust the evidence of our sense-organs and are inconsistent in their sensationalism. They do not recognise objective reality as the source of our sensations. They do not see in sensations the true copy of this objective reality, thus coming into direct contradiction with natural science and opening the way to fideism” (the substitution of faith for knowledge), he does not see that, unless he drops all this talk about sources, copies and the like, he himself is closing the door to “objective reality” and opening the door to fideism. For it is only by an act of faith that we can say that “our sensations” copy objective reality, and we have as much (and as little) right to say with Berkeley that mind is the source of our sensations as to say that it is matter; we could not in fact say either, because we know the relation “being a source of” (like the relation “copying”) only as a relation between perceived things. For this essential part of modern realistic doctrine the way was prepared by Kant, who, in spite of his confused theory of things themselves, recognised causality as a relation holding between phenomena, i.e., the things we perceive, recognised also that it is of such things that laws of nature hold, as against Locke's theory that these laws apply to the sources of “ideas”, i.e., to something lying behind what we perceive. Yet the Marxists regard Kant as being further removed from an objectivist position than Locke, and Lenin (pp. 163, 164) treats the recognition of the “thing-in-itself” as an inconsistent concession on Kant's part to materialism and even to “naive realism”. The difficulty is not solved by denying “a radical difference between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon”, and leaving a relative difference on the lines of the dual theory of knowledge, but by denying any distinction


  ― 304 ―
whatever and maintaining that what Kant calls “phenomena” are things themselves and that the conditions under which they fall are conditions of existence and not mere conditions of cognition.

The case is parallel to Marx's misinterpretation of Hegel, in the preface above referred to, where it is made to appear that Hegel regarded nature as reflecting “ideas” in the Lockian sense — though certainly the notion of reflection disfigures the Hegelian theory as it does the Marxist. This running back to Locke, which confuses all the Marxist accounts of the history of philosophy, is due not merely to Marx's undue pre-occupation with the “philosophers” of the French enlightenment who followed Locke, but also to the fact that the dual theory of knowledge goes with a dual theory of reality, a theory of self-subsistence as opposed to relative existence, of “matter” as an ultimate reality or object of faith — an animistic theory whereby, as Eastman indicates (in his excellent pamphlet, The Last Stand of Dialectical Materialism), the Marxists were able to persuade themselves that the universe was on their side — in short, an idealist doctrine, since idealism consists in recognising some Absolute (some bearer of capitals), whether we proceed to call it Mind or Matter or The Great Unknown. (It should be noted that Eastman regards the animistic character of Marxism as coming out in its taking a characteristic of the human mind, viz., purposive action, as what is ultimate in things. But the position is logically the same, however we describe the “ultimate reality”; because any ultimate must be taken as the “animating principle” of what is not ultimate, and our recognition of what is ultimate guarantees that we are “in tune with” it.)

It is to Lenin's credit that he brings these questions into sharp relief, and makes it impossible for anyone styling himself a Marxist to evade the logical issues. Thus he continually insists, following Engels, that there are two and only two fundamental tendencies in philosophy, materialism and idealism, and that any serious thinker must choose his side. “Starting from sensations”, he says (p. 99), “it is theoretically possible to follow the line of subjectivism which leads to solipsism (‘bodies are complexes or combinations of sensations’), or to follow the line of objectivism which leads to materialism (sensations are images of objects in the external world). The first viewpoint gives us agnosticism, and if we push it a little further, subjective idealism — for which there cannot be any objective truth. The second viewpoint gives us materialism, for which the recognition of the objective truth is essential.” So (p. 20) he derides Valentinov, who considers kinship with Berkeley's views “no crime”, with the remark “To confound two irreconcilable fundamental divisions in philosophy — really, what ‘crime’ is there?” In effect he agrees with Hume that Berkeley's arguments “admit of no answer and produce no conviction” — no conviction, i.e., in one who has chosen the materialist, the proletarian, side. But, of course, it is not true that the arguments of Berkeley admit of no answer (apart from the dogmatic assertion, “Matter exists”); it is not


  ― 305 ―
true that it is “theoretically possible” to proceed from the recognition of sensations to solipsism or agnosticism or the denial of objective truth; for the recognition of anything is the recognition of the objective truth of certain propositions, of actual facts, it is the recognition of complex occurrences, and only this understanding of the proposition, which Berkeley like any other philosopher has to use, can solve the philosophical problem — it cannot be solved by the postulation of any philosophical “essence”, whether mind or matter.

That is the position of realism; if there are sensations, they exist objectively or as a matter of fact; if there are minds they exist as a matter of fact or have objective reality; and nothing can “exist more than”, more objectively than, more essentially than, anything else. “Engels”, says Lenin (p. 14), “sees this fundamental distinction” between materialists and idealists, “that while to the materialists nature is primary and spirit secondary, to the idealists the reverse is the case”. To the realist, however, no such distinction between primary and secondary reality is possible, and minds are as “natural” as stones and trees. One thing that may possibly be meant by saying that (to take the more usual formulation) matter is prior to mind, is that other things existed at a time when minds did not exist. On that line Lenin (p. 60) quotes from Feuerbach the statement that “Natural science necessarily shows us, at least in its present state, that there was a time when conditions were not fit for the existence of man, when nature, the earth, was not yet the object of the human eye and mind, when, consequently, nature was absolutely devoid of any trace of a human being.” But natural science could not show us anything of the kind unless it had been recognised, prior to that demonstration, that minds and non-minds exist equally now. No amount of natural science can affect the logical fact that at any time there exist a heterogeneity of things, and so we are no nearer discovering what the mysterious “matter” or primary reality is.

In answer to the contention that modern science is bringing about the “disappearance” of matter (i.e., its disappearance from physical theory — though, in any case, science is not competent to settle a logical question), Lenin says (p. 220) that “the sole ‘property’ of matter — with the recognition of which materialism is vitally concerned — is the property of being objective reality, of existing outside of our cognition”. But objective reality, existence independently of being known, is characteristic of minds as of other things, and so, as far as Lenin has shown, mind might be matter. Moreover, he had previously quoted with approval, from Engels's criticism of Dü;hring (Landmarks, p. 66), the contention that “The unity of the universe does not consist in its existence, although its existence is a presumption of its unity, since it must first exist before it can be a unit. Existence beyond the boundary line of our horizon is an open question. The real unity of the universe consists in its materiality, and this is established, not by a pair of juggling phrases but by means of a long and difficult development of


  ― 306 ―
philosophy and natural science.” The fact is that Engels and Lenin cannot say what “materiality” is, i.e., what is their primary reality; they can only say, arbitrarily, that it is not mind. A doctrine of a primary reality certainly leads to a monism (or doctrine of “the unity of the universe”), but, in doing so, it makes science impossible.

This was the position established by Parmenides, the first avowed monist, in the fifth century, B.C. He showed that, if we accept such an all-inclusive reality, we must deny everything else. A monist must deny all change and all differentiation; the One can have no history and no parts. For to say that it has a part is to assert the existence of the situation “X is a part of the One”, to assert, i.e., the equal presence of X and the One in this situation and thus to take the One as simply one thing among others and no longer the totality of things. It is not true, as Burnet suggests, that a solution may be found by passing from a corporeal monism to an incorporeal monism; the One, however it may be characterised (strictly speaking it cannot be characterised at all, and thus the position of Parmenides, like that of Berkeley, can be refuted by a consideration of the plurality involved in the proposition — in any assertion or theory), is incompatible with history and plurality; and the only resort is the assertion of a thoroughgoing pluralism, the denial of a “universe” or totality of things, and the recognition of the existence anywhere and at any time of a heterogeneity of things, things of various characters of which “materiality”, if it is a character at all (i.e., if it does mean more than existence), is only one.

Monism, then, fails as a philosophical theory, whether the One is regarded, with Hegel, as mental or, with the Marxists, as material; in any case, it commits us to a denial of history and the facts of experience, and renders meaningless whatever character is attributed to it. But, like Hegel, the Marxists have proposed to preserve both the facts and “the unity of the universe” by introducing the contradiction between them into the “universe” itself; they give it a history by making “contradiction” the actual moving-force of its development. Thus we have the “dialectic”, which Marx said he had freed from the mystification of Hegel, but which is as much of a mystification in the one theory as in the other. Dü;hring is right, of course, notwithstanding Engels's castigation of him, in holding that there can be no contradiction in reality. If two propositions contradict one another, that indicates that one of the two is false, that in one of them what is asserted is not the case; and it is only by means of ambiguity or plain error that either Hegelians or Marxists have made it appear that contradictories can both be actual facts.

Engels attacks Dü;hring's statement that “there are no contradictions in things” by saying: “This statement will have for people of average common sense the same self-evident truth as to say that straight cannot be crooked nor crooked straight. But the differential calculus shows in spite of all the protests of common sense that under certain


  ― 307 ―
conditions straight and crooked are identical, and reaches thereby a conclusion which is not in harmony with the commonsense view of the absurdity of there being any identity between straight and crooked” (Landmarks, p. 150). The calculus is certainly a curious instrument in the hands of Engels; but the most that could be meant by saying that it shows that “under certain conditions straight and crooked are identical” is that some straight things are crooked. Now, if this is true, it means that the commonsense view that “straight cannot be crooked”, i.e., no straight things are crooked, is false; it does not mean that straightness and crookedness are at once compatible and incompatible. Neither calculus or anything else will enable Engels to prove this, which would be a real contradiction.

But the outstanding example, to which Engels immediately goes on, is that of motion. “Motion is itself a contradiction since simple mechanical movement from place to place can only accomplish itself by a body being at one and the same moment in one place and simultaneously in another place, by being in one and the same place and yet not there. And motion is just the continuous establishing and dissolving the contradiction” (p. 151). Again this is a mere misstatement (besides introducing the fresh mystery of “dissolving” a contradiction, which appears to mean getting back to commonsense consistency, with the suggestion that there is something not quite right about a contradiction after all). There is a sense in which it may be said that a thing is in two places at the same time, if its stretch covers both places, but there is no sense in which it can be said that a thing is both at a place and not there. If we seriously mean either assertion, we do not mean the other. Engels falls into the old Pythagorean confusion about “moments” as minimum times at which something can happen; actually, moments are the boundaries of durations, and while we can say that a thing is at a place up to a certain moment and is not there from that moment (in which case, of course, there is no contradiction), we cannot say that it is at a place at a moment — it is just the contradiction that would then arise that forces us to the other view, and the forcing of this conclusion, i.e., of the recognition of the real nature of continuity, is the important outcome of Zeno's “dialectic”. In the same way, in his remarks on differentiation and integration, Engels commits himself to the conception of the “infinitesimally small”, i.e., that which both has and has not magnitude, and remains ignorant of the mathematical theory of limits which settles the whole question in a positive and non-contradictory way. The fact is that, just as in Zeno's paradoxes, the contradiction is between the rationalist assumption of the elementary, unitary or primary, and the empirical recognition of historical facts; and the solution is to reject rationalist assumptions and not attempt to combine opposing views in a single theory — just as in the attempt to combine “truths of the last instance” and “relative truths”.

Indeed, it is impossible to be thorough-going with this theory of contradictions, for when the upholder of common sense says that the


  ― 308 ―
“dialectic” theory is false, the dialectician has to meet him with perfectly straightforward contradiction and say that it is true and that the commonsense view is false. Thus Bernstein (cited by Plekhanov, Fundamental Problems of Marxism, p. 111) is right when he rejects the formula “Yes is No and No is Yes”, and Plekhanov is wrong when he supports it, even with all the authority of Heraclitus (who does not deserve the honour), Hegel and Marx. Plekhanov follows Engels on motion, and he deals in a similar way with the question of becoming. Now if we imagine that, between a thing's being X and its (previously) not being X, there is a period when it is becoming X, then not only shall we have to say that in this period it is neither X nor not X (which also means that it is both) but we shall be faced with the problem of how the transition is made between the period of absence of X and that in which its absence is its presence (the period of its “prabsence”, as we might say), and we shall have to invent a further intervening period, and so on. In actual fact, then, we have to reject such intervening periods altogether, and to recognise, as before, that up to a point the quality was absent and from that point it was present. The difficulty of where to draw the line, as in Plekhanov's example of when a man has grown a beard, is quite irrelevant here; because as regards any given amount of hair, there is a point up to which it is not present and from which it is present; and how much hair we call “a beard” is a linguistic, not a logical question. There is no greater logical difficulty in dealing with the contention of Engels (Landmarks, p. 43) that it is impossible “to fix the precise moment of death, for physiology shows that death is not a single and sudden event but a very slow process”. Physiology could not show this unless it could say when a body is dead and when it is not dead, and, if such statements can be correctly made, then there is a moment up to which it is not dead and from which it is dead. There may be a phase of life which regularly ends at that point, a process which we can call “dying”, but even so there will still be a point of death. It is interesting to note, then, that Engels cannot even state his paradoxes coherently.

Lenin, as usual, goes to the root of the matter and brings up (p. 325) the Hegelian contention that the proposition itself involves a contradiction. “One's first impression about the judgment”, Hegel is quoted as saying (in the “Logic” from the Encyclopædia of the Philosophical Sciences), “is the independence of the two extremes, the subject and the predicate.” However, Hegel goes on, “it shows a strange want of observation in the logic-books, that in none of them is the fact stated that in every judgment there is such a statement made as the individual is the general, or, still more definitely, the subject is the predicate (for instance, God is absolute spirit). No doubt the notions of individuality, universality, subject and predicate, are also quite different, but it remains none the less true in general that every judgment is really a statement of identity.” Lenin rightly maintains that the dialectic would have no foundation if it could not be shown


  ― 309 ―
in this way that contradiction runs through everything, though he does not observe that in that case nothing is left of even those few absolute truths which Engels and he distinguish from relative truths.

But the attempt to show that the proposition itself is contradictory misses the point that contradiction can only be between propositions, and betrays the fact that some “essence” prior to the proposition (and thus “unspeakable”) has been postulated. As regards the proposition itself, if we say, as we do, that subject and predicate are distinct, we can also say that they are connected; there is no contradiction in that. But if we say that they are distinct and also not distinct, we are talking nonsense. There is in fact no identity in the case (except that of the “proposed” situation) just as there is no “is of identity” — though, if there were, it would still be impossible to amalgamate it with another “is of distinction”, and to take the proposition in either sense, just as we liked. In making an assertion, then, we are not identifying different notions; we are saying that a thing of a certain sort is at the same time of a certain other sort — and there is nothing paradoxical about that. (Incidentally, Lenin hardly helps his case by speaking of the “transformation” of the particular into the general, which could only mean that something particular and not general came to be general and not particular. Such mishaps are bound to befall the “materialist” when he tries to work with “notions”.)

The whole position being erroneous, then, all the further examples of “contradictions” are bound to be erroneous too. In speaking (Landmarks, p. 98) of “the contradiction between the innumerable mass of germs which nature produces in such prodigality and the slight number which can manage to reach maturity”, Engels indicates no contradiction whatever; the only thing contradicted is the expectation (if anyone has it) that all germs will reach maturity, i.e., a person so expecting would simply be wrong. When we speak of a struggle for existence or of any other struggle, we imply that a result which would be reached if a given factor were not present in the situation, will not be reached since it is present; but again there is no contradiction in that. And similarly with the alleged contradictions, of which so much is heard, in social affairs. What is shown is not progress by contradictions, not the “negation of negation” (of which Engels gives so many laughable examples), but simple cause and effect, the operation of different factors in the social situation, in the ways in which such factors do operate and in accordance with the other factors with which they come in contact — matters which, if they are known at all, are known as unqualified facts.

Engels asserts (Landmarks, p. 183) that “the productive forces of the modern capitalistic mode of production as well as the system of distribution based upon it are in glaring contradiction to the mode of production itself and to such a degree that a revolution in the modes of production and distribution must take place which will abolish all class differences or the whole of modern society will fall”. But there is


  ― 310 ―
still no contradiction here. Engels recognises as a fact the present coexistence of a number of social forces; he maintains that they cannot continue to coexist — a conclusion he can have reached only by specific consideration of social processes, of how the forces in question do work; and he considers that the outcome will be of one or other of two forms, thus showing uncertainty as to the existence or mode of operation of certain further forces. All this is positive, not “dialectical”, theory. So when Marx (Capital; quoted by Engels, p. 163) declares that “Capitalism becomes an impediment to the methods of production developed with and under it. The concentration of the means of production and the organisation of labour reach a point where they come into collision with their capitalist covering. It is broken. The hour of capitalist private property strikes. The expropriators are expropriated”, he is asserting that recognisable social forces operate in recognisable ways; he is making a social prediction, drawing a conclusion from given premises; he is not exhibiting the “negation of negation”, not showing, i.e., that all processes are divisible into three phases of which the first and third share some character not possessed by the second. And even if that were the case, it would not show (as Engels himself naively indicates) that there is only one way of “negating the negation”, only one possible third phase after a given first and second; and it most emphatically would not show that the third is the first “raised to a higher power”, a Hegelism which means nothing at all as a description of an actual occurrence.

In fact, any specific prediction must be based on the operation of specific forces and has no basis in any general conception of “the universe”, of a whole reality which somehow manages to reach “higher” and “higher” forms. The history of society is the history of certain specific activities going on in a certain environment which in turn is further environed, and so on. This pluralistic position does not show that correct prediction is impossible. Our predictions must be based not only a knowledge of certain “general laws” but on the recognition of certain “collocations”, and we are capable of being wrong about each of these — about the way in which things we know act, and about what other things they will come in contact with. For there is no contradiction in the fact that the same thing will act differently under different conditions, though we can know this only by recognising such forms of action, by believing that they (absolutely) take place — and, of course, by acting on them ourselves. And this brings out the point that we are also capable of being right about the facts relevant to a certain prediction. The general possibility of error or ignorance, then, is nothing against our predicting; we do predict, sometimes rightly, and we cannot help doing so. Thus if we find, as a fact, that capitalism brings about conditions which will themselves bring about the end of capitalism, we do so by observation of social activities and not of “the unity of the universe”; we do so, indeed, whether we realise it or not, by taking a pluralistic or commonsense view of the operation


  ― 311 ―
of things. And we do so none the less if we find activities of our own to be part of the conditions referred to.

Here we may briefly mention the views of Engels on freedom. “Freedom”, he says (Landmarks, p. 147), “does not consist in an imaginary independence of natural laws but in a knowledge of these laws and in the possibility thence derived of applying them intelligently to given ends.” But he does not tell us on what law the applying is dependent. Again in Feuerbach (pp. 95, 96) he says that, when materialism has turned the dialectic right side up, it “became reduced to knowledge of the universal laws of motion — as well of the outer world as of the thought of man — two sets of laws which are identical as far as matter is concerned but which differ as regards expression, in so far as the mind of man can employ them consciously, while, in nature and, up to now, in human history, for the most part they accomplish themselves unconsciously in the form of external necessity, through an endless succession of apparent accidents”. But what difference it makes to a law when it is “employed consciously” (or how it can be differently “expressed” — or “reflected”) is something that Engels does not and cannot explain — the fact being that minds are different sorts of things from non-minds and thus act in different ways, though equally deterministically, while at the same time they have features in common with various other things and thus also act in common ways. Such ways of acting are not inferable from or reducible to “universal laws of motion”, even under the special condition of being “consciously employed”.

It should be evident that, in spite of the confusions into which the leading Marxist philosophers fall, their doctrines contain much that is sound. They do recognise the causal determination of things, they reject the view that things other than minds exist in dependence on minds, and, above all, they recognise that all things are events or processes, interacting with other processes. But the advantages of this historical position are lost through the conception of the ultimate reality, “matter”, and of a moving totality of things; and the development on this basis of a theory of “dialectic” which was applied to the workings of society has been a serious hindrance to the theoretical consolidation of the sound social observations which the Marxist school has made and which place that school, with all its defects, far in advance of any other body of social thinkers. Again, the doctrine of relative truth (especially in the form of the vicious conception of “reflection”) has done untold harm to the study of scientific and artistic activity. The confusion which these doctrines have wrought comes out most strikingly, however, in the teleological conception of society which is inherent in the treatment of social history as part of a postulated “universal history”. On this assumption, the doctrine that the proletarian movement has “history” on its side comes to mean that it has the universe on its side — a doctrine which, in spite of the Marxist theophobia (a phobia which leads Lenin, in particular, to scent out


  ― 312 ―
God in every view to which he is opposed), is of an essentially theological or, as Eastman says, an animistic character. Whereas what should be meant is that it has society, or the more permanent features of society, on its side — a position which, as has been seen, could be arrived at only by social observation and not by philosophy.

It may be argued, in this connection, that such a faith in the co-operation of ultimate powers will induce an element of fanaticism without which far-reaching social changes cannot be brought about; that the belief that things are working with them, and that they possess a “truth” from which their enemies are debarred, will kindle and keep alight men's revolutionary ardour. No one else, indeed, has stressed so much as the Marxists the fact that society does not proceed by sweet reasonableness, but they would strongly oppose the supposition that an effective social movement must be definitely anti-intellectualist in character; and it seems to me to be a false view. I should rather contend, in line with what I consider to be the only sound theory of ethics, that, as a good way of life is one in which productive forces fight for their continuance and extension and in which they are allied in their scientific, artistic and industrial manifestations (in the progress of what may be broadly called culture or civilisation), so the development of a pluralistic or “free-thinking” philosophy must harmonise with the general movement for a producer's society, and the latter can only gain from the removal of philosophical errors, the rejection of monistic and teleological conceptions. “Dialectic”, like any other theory postulating an ultimate reality, is necessarily authoritarian or “fideist”, to use Lenin's term; and it is already sufficiently obvious that the conception of “contradictions”, of something which can both be and not be, is admirably adapted to the purposes of an unscrupulous and corrupt leadership. The struggle against the corruption of the movement for social revolution, for the establishment of a society of producers, is thus, in my view, linked with the struggle against “dialectic”.

And here a concluding point may be made. Recognising the falsity of the theory of relative truth, recognising that theory can progress only by the raising of specific issues, by the asking of the quite unambiguous question, “Is it true?”, we can still see that there is a connection between a man's social views and his philosophical views, and that any fetishism, of matter, mind or anything else, is connected with the acceptance of some authority, some established social power as representative of “the nature of things”. The element of fetishism in the philosophy we have examined, then, may well be bound up with the fact of its development in a capitalistic society, and the persistence of that element may be taken as indicating a constant danger of reaction. Indeed, recent events in the Communist movement show that this is more than a possibility; the cult of Stalin, the fetishism of “Socialism in one country”, the neglect of real historical processes in the blind belief that “history is on our side”, with the collapse of the Communist International in the face of Hitler as


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its most striking consequence — these are among the more and less important indications of a movement away from a producers' society. But they are not a growth of the immediate past alone. The neglect of the real history of philosophy in favour of a fancied culmination in “materialism”, the attempted fixing for all time of the philosophical errors of Engels, the ranking of all the works of the masters as “sacred books” — these are phenomena which, in the case especially of so able a social thinker as Lenin, must give us pause and must show us once for all the untenability of any single-line conception of social or philosophical progress.

It will be a sign of renewed progress, then, when we see revolutionists divesting themselves of the idealistic elements in their philosophy and embracing a consistent realism. Meanwhile, it is the philosopher's business to be realistic, to attack idealism wherever he finds it, to consider constantly what is the case. In so doing, he will find himself co-operating with those, be they few or many, who take a realistic view of society. His rejection of idealism will, of course, preserve him from any cheaply optimistic expectation of support, and, as we have seen, he would be utterly unphilosophical if he acquiesced in an idealistic movement in the hope that it would give opportunities for being realistic later on — here or nowhere is his reality. But he will be strengthened in his task if he finds his activity to be part of a producers' movement, and he may even find a measure of encouragement in recent setbacks to that movement in that he will no longer be tempted to think that it can roll on without him but will rather see his intellectual levelling as an integral part of social levelling.note

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