I believe the influence of utopian socialism upon Marx and Engels is
reflected in both the works of Hegel and Feurbach. I know this may sound
like the standard line but isn't.
I spent ten years researching the development of dialectical materialism and
the materialist conception of history. My central thesis for my BA at SUNY
New Paltz in Social History was On the Relevancy of the Materialist
Conception of History.
I began my study under my advisor, Profesor Alfred E Bloch, a student of
Issac Deutcher, he himself a World War II Jewish resistance fighter. I had
critical help from Carlos Da Cunna Phd, the Argentine Socialist World Court
attorney, Eugene Lobel, a former economic advisor to Alexander Dubchek,
Amaru Seshu former member of the Indian Socialist Party and professor of
Economics. I completed the work in 1983 under Gerald Sorin who is a American
Jewish scholar who studied under Irving Howe who has written extensively on
the American Civil War and Immigrant History..
In addition I had correspondence and personal discussion with the late
Geroge Novack and the Socialist Humanist the late. Raya Dunayevskya,
(Freddie Johnson) and former secretary of Leon Trotsky. I was never able to
send her a final copy of my work.
This may all sound very academic but it isn't. My purpose for studying this
particular topic was practical and grounded in my practice as a
revolutionary. I apply what I learn to the realities of the class struggle.
In my original outline I summarized into 15 redbooks all of Marx and Engels
writings including the Critique of Political Economy, Theroies of Surplus
Value, Das Kapital, the Grundrisse. I started with the usual and also read
the entire text of the Holy Family, German Ideology, and Poverty of
Philosophy, The 18 Brumerie of Lousi Bonaparte, Dialectics of Nature and
the Economic Philiosphical Notebooks.. I also read Lukacs, Korsh, Gramisci,
Melosovic, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Bukharin, Trotsky, Luemburg, and Lenin
and how they each made an contribution to the understandinh of dialectical
There is no doubt in my mind Marx was developing his thoughts, Engels did so
as well in the beginning and their individual and combined revolutionary
experiences brought them together on common path. A path very different
than their idealist democratic Hegelian comrades..
I can concluded the two were no different than any young revolutionary of
today looking for answers to the current state of affairs of the modern
I also studied the the Utopians in their own right, reading Owen, Saint
Simon, Seismondi, Schilling and Fichte.
I concluded that Owen and Saint Simon were to Hegel what God is to most
idealists. By taking the time to study Hegel and Feurbach in their English
translations. Hegel became to Marx and Engels what Owen and Saint Simon was
to Hegel. It is far more complex than what I just illustrated but one cannot
deney their influence.
Now Babeuf's influence comes from an entirely different place. I believe
Babeuf represented the coming of the proletarian revolution.. Yes, an
idealist as far as goals but the kind of idealist Marx and Engels fully
could relate to. Babeuf functions as the reality of future working class
revolution. Babeuf as a revlutionary in practice the tremendous influence on
all the early communist workers. These communists as they first called
themselves became the concrete inspiration for the Communist Manifesto.
Their influence on Marx and Engels provided the seeds for the First
International. Their experience transended the class struggles from 1834 to
1871. The first examples of the proletariat in action.
There is no doubt both Blanqui, Proudhoun, Bakunin, Marx and Engels were
influenced by Babeuf, Hegel and Saint Simon.
Marx's entire polemic The Poverty of Philiosophy is an attempt to show the
idealistic direction of this earlier line of political thought. It is
chiefly dealing with Proudhon and Blanquist roots while at the same time
taking some good shots at the master Saint Simon, Francois Quenay Sisimondi
and the other physiocratic determinists of 18th and 19th century Utopianism.
Owen of course fits right in their with this critique however, appears to
have developed more directly from the English schools of Locke and Paine. I
also read Antonio Labriola's Materialist Conception of History
I research further reading Lenin's Materialism-Empiro Criticism and the
Philosophical Notebooks while reading Hegel's Philosphy of History, The
Phemnology of the Mind, and his Logic works first independently and then
combined reading them using Lenin's notebooks.I did this on my own before
ever talking with Raya Dunayeyskya.
I read Lukac's History of Class Counsciousness, Korsch, Philosphy of Marxism
Radek's Essay of History Materialism, Serge's Lenin to Stalin, David Geist's
Essays on Historical Materialism, and all of Dunayeyskaya's works and her
volumes of outlines which was no small task. I also threw in Sommervilles
Marxist Philosphy, Lousi Althusser's Marxism and David Macllean's numerous
books, Isiah Berlin, Edward P. Thompson's works.
I was keeping track in my mind Lukac's and Dunayevskaya's analysis of Hegel
and their view as to how much he influenced Marx. Also I was keeping in
mind Plekhanov and Lenin. Gerorge Novack's works. Novack contributed to a
understanding Lenin's critique of Lukac's which was published in the
International Socialist Review. Novack never wrote anything about
I also then began reading Sarte and Merlu Ponty under George Tuckle's
direction who was a closs collaborator of Eugene Lobel. Lobel had loss his
professorship at SUNY after John J Neumier left as President. Alfred Bloch
did the same and so went my professors who passed it own to evetually Sorin.
I made more complete studies of several of the later Leininists but I found
their work suffered from mechanistic materialism.
David Guist's short essay on dialectical materialism was a good primer.. I
read Stalin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh contributions to top the whole thing off
I even consider Fidel Castro's "History Will Absolve Me and Che Guevara's
writings on Marxism.. I must say Stalin made a very minorcontribution while
Mao , Ho Chi Minh, and Castro seemed to take what they learned and combined
together with their oun experiences and produced some very creative and
qualitative tracts worthy of recognition.
I concluded that dialectical materialism as method developed by Marx and
Engels is very relevant to our times. As a method of analysis it is based on
an understanding of what "unfetterd" scientific thinking is and how humanity
must completely remove itself from its barbaric backwardness. By
understanding the dynamics of social change we can arrive at a fully
balanced perspective providing the possibility for the transition into a
progressive human society.
The dialectical method is truly a means whereby we can discuss real time
issues. We can reach a conclusion for taking action and changing society. It
may not always be what we really want the outcome to be at least it enables
us to understand where we are coming from and what is the revolutionary
potential. Dialectical materialism and its Materialist Conception of History
is the science of modern social revolution. There is no other science in
existence designed to promote the transformation from capitalism into
socialism and communism. .
Marx and Engels dialectical materialism removes the "pie in the sky when you
die " and firmly places the responsibility for humanity to determine it own
future. Yes we cannot determine our past and the past does impact on the
present but once humanity become fully conscious of their aleinated
relationship to means of production in as such we are potentially capable of
At this moment then we are able to throw off the shackles of modern wage
and cyber slavery begin to move forward. Ultimately, it is our own act of
determination developed in revolutioanry practice makes a real difference.
As long as we ground ourselves in the material realities by turning the
idealistic dialectic on its head using the materilist dialectic instead can
we accept what we learn as the realities of the cuurent human condition.
From this point we can develop global democratic socialist plan.
Marx and Engels deliberately left this to us to determine and now we have
had the experience of the antithesis provided by the recent modern variants
of socialism throughout the world. Our socialist planning once we throw off
the fetters of U.S Capitalism and its imperialist designs can humanity
further honed down the real solutions. As the new modern proletariat takes
control of its own destiny by fully understanding it past and the object
political need for local, regional, national and international thinking.
When this occurs and social community consciousness turns the working people
to see its political power can real peace and planning occur.
We need to define ourselves as to what we are as a species and what we are
doing to ourselves and others. Only the application of the dialectical
materialist method combined with the application of historocal materialism
can make this happen. There is no other viewpoint that has this potential.
The anarchists and their contribution because of their lack of developing a
method of international planning cannot achieve what is potentially
developed in Marxism.
All other philosophical trends and ideologies are showing their bankruptcy
in our modern times.
There are serious fundamental problems in Marxism today. Each generation
must relearn the method and make their own contribution because Marxism is a
living political ideology. Like a shark Marxism must keep developing less it
will die. Just as we saw in our lifetime the restoration of capitalism now
we know its not a one-way highway but a four lane thruway which travels in
both opposite directions.
As a materialist method very few "Marxists" are interested learning and
studying it as a complete science and a system of thought as it was used and
applied by Marx and Engels.
Please let me illustrate. I cannot say that Ernest Mandel in his Marxist
Economic Theories fully applys the dialectical method because he wasn't. He
together a synthesis using the portions of the leading bourgeois
intellectuals to prove the validity of an outline understanding he had of
Marx's Economic thought.
Lenin would have problems as to his method of analysis. He would have
concluded this as an eclectic work. It is good for providing an outline but
it cannot replace reading Das Kapital or the Theories of Surplus Value.
Mandel made great contribution to the mass understanding of some Marx and
Engels economic concepts but must read Paul Sweezy's Monopoly Capitalism and
Harry Braver man's works and throw in the works of C.Wright MIlls, William
H. Domholf to get a really good understanding of the modern American
capitalist system. Yet Mandel's work is a reflection of how far we as
Marxists are losing the very fabric of our revolutionary thought. Just like
if we want to begin a study of Russian capitalism today one needs to read
Lenin's economic works because knowing the starting point provides us with a
place to begin in understanding what is happening today in Russia.
Trotsky greatest is always discussed but what about his limitations are
another example. He was one in a group of many who were not really
understanding basic dialectical materialist method.. He could not transfer
his true revolutionary experience to those who followed him in America so
instead most of the movement remains splintered and fragmented. He created
the very opposite of what he wanted and knew was needed to achieve. Nedova
Sedova,also a Marxist who knew Trotsky's methods so well made it very clear
when she resigned from the Fourth International and joined with Max
Schactman the alleged earlier "petty bourgeois" oppositionists. Could it be
at Trosky found himself isolated and no longer with his comrades Lenin,
Stalin, Zinoviev, Kollenti, Zeitland and Radek Bukharin, and the rest of the
Bolshevik central leadership what daily and worked together until the
combined intervention and economic problems lead to the liquidation of the
party. Intend he had Cannon, Hanse, Novice, Reed, Chestier, and so many
younger still underdeveloped comrades to bounce ideas off of.
Marx and Engels worked directly with the revolutionary workers of their
times. Lenin had Plekhanov and Luxemburg had Kautsky and it all goes back to
Enegles, and Liebnecht and Merhing. The Marxist method is everything.
Really using it.makes a difference.
As illustrated by the recent discussion concerning Bush reviewing possibly
using nuclear weapons. This has been done by every President since Truman at
one time or another. No one takes this seriously today. Well my friends
think about what Bush's practices are and the position of U.S. Imperialism
today and its need to consolidate its Empire. My answer is No to the Bomb!
Stop the Bombing! Don't Even LET Him Consider It? The nuclear clock is now
closer than ever. Is anyone listening? So what is the best way to approach
this? See it as being a fear technique.of the ruling class. I agree. The
ruling class is always split on this issue, however Bush the Second is a
cowboy and one of the best. He is hard as a rock.. If there was in a
revolutionary International we would submit an analysis, including some the
documents I have seen floating around the Internet the pass few days.
Weighing out the facts it is important for the working class to hear its
leadership condom the thinking of the ruling class as another example of
barbarism in practice and it should never be allowed. As a class we need to
to protest even the consideration. This is in an ideal situation Comrades.
Reality dictates we need to begin to work on this problem foremost and get
things rolling if it becomes more than a review.
When the SWP says they defend the North Koreans in their use of nuclear
weapons as a means of self defense it not Barnes that is the problem here.
Barnes is wrong and needs to be confronted.. I see Barnes as being like the
opposite twin of Bush, Barnes came first with his idea and then came Bush.
I defend the right of any oppressed nation to defend itself but I as a
Marxist I must condemn the thought on their part ever thinking of using a
nuclear weapon. It is barbaric and against the very future of humanity and
it cannot be allowed. If we learned anything since 1950 I don't care
whether or not they are a "workers state." I don't get into the "worker
state" debate because like Sedova said you are "using old outmoded
formulas," -mechanistically applying your Marxist dialectic. So it is
possible to be a dialectical materialist in name and still be a mechanical
materialist. The later leads to ultra-leftism and infantile disorders..
This is the key here. What many Marxist believe is dialectical materialism
is really the old mechanists Lenin talks about. He spent a lot of time
confronting the ideas about these guys who had developed within Russian
Marxist intelligenstia.They considered themselves to be part of the
revolutionary movement.. The last thing we need right now is one-sided
thinking because the work only suffers. If we are serious about the
revolution then it is important to really understand the dialectical method
and how it lead to the development of the materialist conception of history.
Trotsky made a tremendous contribution when he wrote his two books on 1905
and the 1917 Revolutions. It is here where historical materialism is applied
by him and one his great achievements as a Marxist. One finds here a concept
of uneven and combined development as it existed in Pre-Revolutionary
Russia.. It is how he uses these formulations makes this his greatest
contribution to Marxism. He took a concept he found in Marx concerning
"revolution in permanence" and then he provides us with real illustrations.
Here he explains the two most important revolutions of the early 20th
century. All one needs to do is read the great works of Andre Gunder Frank
and James Petras and we find a true modern analysis of underdevelopment and
a contribution which has been helping us understand the globalization of
capital and it modern imperialist variations.
I look forward to your critique comrades because I am here to give it my
best because I firmly believe the working people are the real sleeping giant
and once it receives it wake-up call and there is no telling what is going
to happen. I believe very soon along with our comrades in the rest of the
world we are going to start to participate in the digging the graves for
capitalists and their imperialist system.. Humanity has no other choice then
world socialism and as Ernest Mandel correctly contributed over thirty years
ago in his popularized essay on Workers Democracy how this is going to take
place. It is along these political lines and no other can the current state
of human affairs be transformed from barbarism to democratic world
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