Thread: Is Dialectical Materialism a Religion?

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    Default Is Dialectical Materialism a Religion?

    A recently banned member asked this question (in Learning), but his/her thread was closed before I could interevene.

    Dialectical Materialsm [DM] certainly works in ways that make it analogous to religious dogma. Here is what I wrote in a previous thread on this (in answer to the question: 'Why is DM a world-view'?):

    There are two interconnected reasons, I think.

    1) The founders of this quasi-religion weren't workers; they came from a class that educated their children in the classics and in philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there is a hidden world, accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

    This way of seeing things was invented by ideologues of the ruling class, who viewed reality this way. They invented it because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

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

    Another way is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers" and administrators, at least) that the present order either works for their benefit, is ordained of the 'gods', or that it is 'natural' and cannot be fought, reformed or negotiated with.

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

    So, these non-worker founders of our movement, who had been educated to believe there was just such a hidden world that governed everything, looked for principles in that invisible world that told them that change was inevitable, and part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of a ruling-class mystic called Hegel.

    2) That allowed the founders of this quasi-religion to think of themselves as special, as prophets of the new order, which workers, alas, could not quite grasp because of their defective education and their reliance on ordinary language and 'common sense'.

    Fortunately, history has predisposed these prophets to ascertain the truth about reality for the rest of us, which means that they are our 'naturally-ordained' leaders. That in turn meant these 'leaders' were also teachers of the 'ignorant masses', who could 'legitimately' substitute themselves for the unwashed majority -- in 'their own interests', you understand. This is because the masses are too caught up in 'commodity fetishism' to see the truth for themselves.

    And that is why DM is a world-view.

    It is also why dialecticians cling on to this theory like grim death (and become very emotional (and abusive!) when it is attacked by yours truly), since it provides them with a source of consolation that, despite outward appearances to the contrary, and because this hidden world tells them that Dialectical Marxism will one day be a success, everything is in fact OK, and nothing in the core theory needs changing -- in spite of the fact that that core theory says everything changes! Hence, it is ossified into a dogma, and imposed on reality. A rather nice unity of opposites for you to ponder.

    So, this 'theory' insulates the militant mind from the facts; it tells such comrades that reality 'contradicts' outward appearances. Hence, even if Dialectical Marxism appears to be a long-term failure, those with a the equivalent of a dialectical 'third eye' can see the opposite is in fact the case: Dialectical Marxism is a ringing success!

    In that case, awkward facts can either be ignored or they can be re-configured into their opposite.

    Hence:

    DM is the sigh of the depressed dialectician, the heart of a heartless, class-dominated world. It is the opiate of the party. The abolition of dialectics as the illusory happiness of the party hack is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

    Unfortunately, these sad characters will need (materialist) workers to rescue them from themselves.

    I stand no chance...
    And here, in answer to the question, "Why do DM-fans get so agitated, irrational and emotional when their 'theory' is attacked?":

    George Novack records the following meeting with Trotsky in Mexico, in 1937:

    "[O]ur discussion glided into the subject of philosophy.... We talked about the best ways of studying dialectical materialism, about Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and about the theoretical backwardness of American radicalism. Trotsky brought forward the name of Max Eastman, who in various works had polemicized against dialectics as a worthless idealist hangover from the Hegelian heritage of Marxism.

    "He became tense and agitated. 'Upon going back to the States,' he urged, 'you comrades must at once take up the struggle against Eastman's distortion and repudiation of dialectical materialism. There is nothing more important than this….'

    "I was somewhat surprised at the vehemence of his argumentation on this matter at such a moment. As the principal defendant in absentia in the Moscow trials, and because of the dramatic circumstances of his voyage in exile, Trotsky then stood in the centre of international attention. He was fighting for his reputation, liberty, and life against the powerful government of Stalin, bent on his defamation and death. After having been imprisoned and gagged for months by the Norwegian authorities, he had been kept incommunicado for weeks aboard their tanker.

    "Yet on the first day after reunion with his cothinkers, he spent more than an hour explaining how important it was for a Marxist movement to have a correct philosophical method and to defend dialectical materialism against its opponents! "[Novack (1978), pp.169-70. Bold emphases added. Spelling changed to conform to UK English.]
    Given the mystical nature of this theory, and the emotional attachment to it displayed by DM-fans -- and Marx's own words about religious alienation and the need for consolation (see below) --, Trotsky's semi-religious fervour, his emotional attachment to the dialectic, and his irrationalism become much easier to understand.

    The accuracy of Novack's memory is supported by the following comment of Trotsky's:

    "...It would not be amiss, therefore, to refer to the fact that my first serious conversation with comrades Shachtman and Warde, in the train immediately after my arrival in Mexico in January 1937, was devoted to the necessity of persistently propagating dialectic materialism. After our American section split from the Socialist Party I insisted most strongly on the earliest possible publication of a theoretical organ, having again in mind the need to educate the party, first and foremost its new members, in the spirit of dialectic materialism. In the United States, I wrote at that time, where the bourgeoisie systematically in stills (sic) vulgar empiricism in the workers, more than anywhere else is it necessary to speed the elevation of the movement to a proper theoretical level. On January 20, 1939, I wrote to comrade Shachtman concerning his joint article with comrade Burnham, 'Intellectuals in Retreat':

    'The section on the dialectic is the greatest blow that you, personally, as the editor of the New International could have delivered to Marxist theory.... Good. We will speak about it publicly.'

    "Thus a year ago I gave open notice in advance to Shachtman that I intended to wage a public struggle against his eclectic tendencies. At that time there was no talk whatever of the coming opposition; in any case furthest from my mind was the supposition that the philosophic bloc against Marxism prepared the ground for a political bloc against the program of the Fourth International." [Trotsky (1971), p.142. Bold emphases added.]
    And further support comes from Max Eastman's testimony:

    "Like many great men I have met he [Trotsky] does not seem altogether robust. There is apt to be a frailty associated with great intellect. At any rate, Trotsky, especially in our heated arguments concerning the 'dialectic' in which he becomes excited and wrathful to the point of losing his breath, seems to me at times almost weak. He cannot laugh at my attacks on his philosophy, or be curious about them -- as I imagine Lenin would -- because in that field he is not secure....

    "...Yesterday we reached a point of tension in our argument about dialectics that was extreme. Trotsky's throat was throbbing and his face was red; he was in a rage...." [Eastman (1942), p.113.]
    Anyone who has discussed dialectics face-to-face with certain leading comrades alive today (whose names I will not divulge, to save their blushes), or on the internet (say at RevLeft) and who has challenged this 'theory', will no doubt recognise in the above something all too familiar: the highly emotive and irrational response one gets from dialecticians when the source of their 'opiate' is attacked. [This follows my own experience, recorded elsewhere at my site.]

    However, Eastman is surely wrong about Lenin; anyone who reads Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, for example, can see how irrational he, too, was in this area. [On this see, Essay Thirteen Part One.]

    Faith in this theory is not confined to the past; here is part of the Preface to the new edition of RIRE [Reason In Revolt ,published in the summer of 2007]:

    "Ted Grant was an incorrigible optimist all his life. Marxists are optimistic by their very nature because of two things: the philosophy of dialectical materialism, and our faith in the working class and the socialist future of humanity. Most people look only at the surface of the events that shape their lives and determine their destiny. Dialectics teaches one to look beyond the immediate, to penetrate beyond the appearance of stability and calm, and to see the seething contradictions and ceaseless movement that lies beneath the surface. The idea of constant change, in which sooner or later everything changes into its opposite enables a Marxist to rise above the immediate situation and to see the broader picture." [Rob Sewell, quoted from here. Bold emphases added.]
    It looks, therefore, like this rather low grade opiate is continuing to do its job, finding new pushers and yet more junkies by the week.

    Nevertheless, for all their major differences, Trotsky and Stalin both loved the 'dialectic'.

    Ethan Pollock records a revealing incident in the Kremlin just after the end of World War Two:

    "In late December 1946 Joseph Stalin called a meeting of high-level Communist Party personnel.... The opening salvos of the Cold War had already been launched. Earlier in the year Winston Churchill had warned of an iron curtain dividing Europe. Disputes about the political future of Germany, the presence of Soviet troops in Iran, and proposals to control atomic weapons had all contributed to growing tensions between the United States and the USSR. Inside the Soviet Union the devastating effects of the Second World War were painfully obvious: cities remained bombed out and unreconstructed; famine laid waste to the countryside, with millions dying of starvation and many millions more malnourished. All this makes one of the agenda items for the Kremlin meeting surprising: Stalin wanted to discuss the recent prizewinning book History of Western European Philosophy [by Georgii Aleksandrov -- RL]. [Pollock (2006), p.15. Bold emphasis added.]
    Pollock then outlines the problems Aleksandrov had experienced over his interpretation of the foreign (i.e., German) roots of DM in an earlier work, and how he had been criticised for not emphasising the "reactionary and bourgeois" nature of the work of German Philosophers like Kant, Fichte and Hegel --, in view of the fight against Fascism (when, of course, during the Hitler-Stalin pact a few years earlier, the opposite line had been peddled). Pollock also describes the detailed and lengthy discussions the Central Committee devoted to Aleksandrov's earlier work years earlier at the height of the war against the Nazis!

    It is revealing, therefore, to note that Stalin and his henchmen considered DM to be so important that other more pressing matters could be shelved or delayed in order to make way for discussion about it. In this, of course, Stalin was in total agreement with Trotsky and other leading Dialectical Marxists.

    Once more, Marx's comments about religious consolation (see below) make abundantly clear why this is so.

    We can see something similar occurring in the case of Nikolai Bukharin. Anyone who reads Philosophical Arabesques [Bukharin (2005)] will be struck by the semi-religious fervour with which he defends dialectics. In view of Bukharin's serious predicament, this is hardly surprising. But it is nonetheless revealing, since it confirms much of the above: this theory holds the dialectical personality together even in the face of death.

    The old saying, "There are no atheists in a foxhole", may be incorrect, but it looks like there might not have been many anti-dialecticians in the Lubyanka waiting on Stalin's mercy. Even hard-headed dialecticians need some form of consolation.

    As Helena Sheehan notes in her introduction:

    "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about his text is that it was written at all. Condemned not by an enemy but by his own comrades, seeing what had been so magnificently created being so catastrophically destroyed, undergoing shattering interrogations, how was he not totally debilitated by despair? Where did this author get the strength, the composure, the faith in the future that was necessary to write this treatise of Philosophy, this passionate defense of the intellectual tradition of Marxism and the political project of socialist construction?

    "Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was a tragic true believer...." [Sheehan (2005), pp.7-8. Bold emphases added.]
    Once again, Marx, I think, had the answer:

    "Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification....

    "...Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions...." [Bold emphases added.]
    [Substitute "dialectics" for "religion" in the above to see the point.]

    The fact that this doomed comrade chose to spend his last weeks and days expounding and defending this Hermetic theory** (albeit, one that had been given a bogus materialist flip) -- pleading with Stalin not to destroy this work --, just about says it all.
    References, links and more details can be found here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm
    **On Hermeticism, see the next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 9th April 2010 at 16:23.
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    It might prove instructive, too, to compare several of the central tenets of this 'theory' with openly mystical systems of thought.

    Here are few section from The Kybalion, the third most important work of Hermetic Mysticism -- and it's worth recalling that Hegel was a fully paid-up Hermeticist:

    "CHAPTER X

    "POLARITY

    "'Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.'

    "The great Fourth Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Polarity-embodies the truth that all manifested things have 'two sides; 'two aspects'; 'two poles'; a 'pair of opposites,' with manifold degrees between the two extremes. The old paradoxes, which have ever perplexed the mind of men, are explained by an understanding of this Principle. Man has always recognized something akin to this Principle, and has endeavoured to express it by such sayings, maxims and aphorisms as the following: 'Everything is and isn't, at the same time'; 'all truths are but half-truths'; 'every truth is half-false'; 'there are two sides to everything'; 'there is a reverse side to every shield,' etc., etc.

    "The Hermetic Teachings are to the effect that the difference between things seemingly diametrically opposed to each is merely a matter of degree. It teaches that 'the pairs of opposites may be reconciled,' and that 'thesis and antithesis are identical in nature, but different in degree'; and that the 'universal reconciliation of opposites' is effected by a recognition of this Principle of Polarity...

    "Then passing on to the Physical Plane, they illustrate the Principle by showing that Heat and Cold are identical in nature, the differences being merely a matter of degrees. The thermometer shows many degrees of temperature, the lowest pole being called 'cold,' and the highest heat.' Between these two poles are many degrees of 'heat' or 'cold,' call them either and you are equally correct.

    "The higher of two degrees is always 'warmer, while the lower is always 'colder.' There is no absolute standard-all is a matter of degree. There is no place on the thermometer where heat ceases and cold begins. It is all a matter of higher or lower vibrations. The very terms 'high' and 'low,' which we are compelled to use, are but poles of the same thing-the terms are relative. So with 'East and West'-travel around the world in an eastward direction, and you reach a point which is called west at your starting point, and you return from that westward point. Travel far enough North, and you will find yourself travelling South, or vice versa.

    "Light and Darkness are poles of the same thing, with many degrees between them. The musical scale is the same-starting with 'C' you moved upward until you reach another 'C,' and so on, the differences between the two ends of the board being the same, with many degrees between the two extremes. The scale of color is the same-higher and lower vibrations being the only difference between high violet and low red. Large and Small are relative. So are Noise and Quiet; Hard and Soft follow the rule. Likewise Sharp and Dull. Positive and Negative are two poles of the same thing, with countless degrees between them." [Quoted from here. Spelling altered to agree with UK English. ]
    And:


    CHAPTER IX

    VIBRATION

    "'Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.'

    The great Third Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Vibration-embodies the truth that Motion is manifest in everything in the Universe-that nothing is at rest-that everything moves, vibrates, and circles. This Hermetic Principle was recognized by some of the early Greek philosophers who embodied it in their systems. But, then, for centuries it was lost sight of by the thinkers outside of the Hermetic ranks. But in the Nineteenth Century physical science re-discovered the truth and the Twentieth Century scientific discoveries have added additional proof of the correctness and truth of this centuries-old Hermetic doctrine.

    "The Hermetic Teachings are that not only is everything in constant movement and vibration, but that the 'differences' between the various manifestations of the universal power are due entirely to the varying rate and mode of vibrations. Not only this, but that even THE ALL [the hermetic equivalent of the "Totality" -- RL], in itself, manifests a constant vibration of such an infinite degree of intensity and rapid motion that it may be practically considered as at rest, the teachers directing the attention of the students to the fact that even on the physical plane a rapidly moving object (such as a revolving wheel) seems to be at rest. The Teachings are to the effect that Spirit is at one end of the Pole of Vibration, the other Pole being certain extremely gross forms of Matter. Between these two poles are millions upon millions of different rates and modes of vibration.

    "Modern Science has proven that all that we call Matter and Energy are but 'modes of vibratory motion,' and some of the more advanced scientists are rapidly moving toward the positions of the occultists who hold that the phenomena of Mind are likewise modes of vibration or motion. Let us see what science has to say regarding the question of vibrations in matter and energy.

    "In the first place, science teaches that all matter manifests, in some degree, the vibrations arising from temperature or heat. Be an object cold or hot-both being but degrees of the same things -- it manifests certain heat vibrations, and in that sense is in motion and vibration. Then all particles of Matter are in circular movement, from corpuscle to suns. The planets revolve around suns, and many of them turn on their axes. The suns move around greater central points, and these are believed to move around still greater, and so on, ad infinitum. The molecules of which the particular kinds of Matter are composed are in a state of constant vibration and movement around each other and against each other. The molecules are composed of Atoms, which, likewise, are in a state of constant movement and vibration. The atoms are composed of Corpuscles, sometimes called 'electrons,' 'ions,' etc., which also are in a state of rapid motion, revolving around each other, and which manifest a very rapid state and mode of vibration. And, so we see that all forms of Matter manifest Vibration, in accordance with the Hermetic Principle of Vibration.

    "And so it is with the various forms of Energy. Science teaches that Light, Heat, Magnetism and Electricity are but forms of vibratory motion connected in some way with, and probably emanating from the Ether. Science does not as yet attempt to explain the nature of the phenomena known as Cohesion, which is the principle of Molecular Attraction; nor Chemical Affinity, which is the principle of Atomic Attraction; nor Gravitation (the greatest mystery of the three), which is the principle of attraction by which every particle or mass of Matter is bound to every other particle or mass. These three forms of Energy are not as yet understood by science, yet the writers incline to the opinion that these too are manifestations of some form of vibratory energy, a fact which the Hermetists (sic) have held and taught for ages past.

    "The Universal Ether, which is postulated by science, without its nature being understood clearly, is held by the Hermetists to be but higher manifestation of that which is erroneously called matter-that is to say, Matter at a higher degree of vibration-and is called by them 'The Ethereal Substance.' The Hermetists teach that this Ethereal Substance is of extreme tenuity and elasticity, and pervades universal space, serving as a medium of transmission of waves of vibratory energy, such as heat, light, electricity, magnetism, etc. The Teachings are that The Ethereal Substance is a connecting link between the forms of vibratory energy known as 'Matter' on the one hand, and 'Energy or Force' on the other; and also that it manifests a degree of vibration, in rate and mode, entirely its own." [Quoted from here.]

    Bold added in both cases.

    Compare the above with a typical DM-text:

    "The Unity and Interpenetration of Opposites

    "Everywhere we look in nature, we see the dynamic co-existence of opposing tendencies. This creative tension is what gives life and motion. That was already understood by Heraclitus (c. 500 B.C.) two and a half thousand years ago. It is even present in embryo in certain Oriental religions, as in the idea of the ying and yang in China, and in Buddhism. Dialectics appears here in a mystified form, which nonetheless reflects an intuition of the workings of nature. The Hindu religion contains the germ of a dialectical idea, when it poses the three phases of creation (Brahma), maintenance or order (Vishnu) and destruction or disorder (Shiva). In his interesting book on the mathematics of chaos, Ian Stewart points out that the difference between the gods Shiva, 'the Untamed,' and Vishnu is not the antagonism between good and evil, but that the two principles of harmony and discord together underlie the whole of existence....

    "In Heraclitus, all this was in the nature of an inspired guess. Now this hypothesis has been confirmed by a huge amount of examples. The unity of opposites lies at the heart of the atom, and the entire universe is made up of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. The matter was very well put by R. P. Feynman: 'All things, even ourselves, are made of fine-grained, enormously strongly interacting plus and minus parts, all neatly balanced out....'

    "The question is: how does it happen that a plus and a minus are 'neatly balanced out?' This is a contradictory idea! In elementary mathematics, a plus and a minus do not 'balance out.' They negate each other. Modern physics has uncovered the tremendous forces which lie at the heart of the atom. Why do the contradictory forces of electrons and protons not cancel each other out? Why do atoms not merely fly apart? The current explanation refers to the 'strong force' which holds the atom together. But the fact remains that the unity of opposites lies at the basis of all reality.

    "Within the nucleus of an atom, there are two opposing forces, attraction and repulsion. On the one hand, there are electrical repulsions which, if unrestrained, would violently tear the nucleus apart. On the other hand, there are powerful forces of attraction which bind the nuclear particles to each other. This force of attraction, however, has its limits, beyond which it is unable to hold things together. The forces of attraction, unlike repulsion, have a very short reach. In a small nucleus they can keep the forces of disruption in check. But in a large nucleus, the forces of repulsion cannot be easily dominated....

    "Nature seems to work in pairs. We have the 'strong' and the 'weak' forces at the subatomic level; attraction and repulsion; north and south in magnetism; positive and negative in electricity; matter and anti-matter; male and female in biology; odd and even in mathematics; even the concept of 'left and right handedness' in relation to the spin of subatomic particles. There is a certain symmetry, in which contradictory tendencies, to quote Feynman, 'balance themselves out,' or, to use the more poetical expression of Heraclitus, 'agree with each other by differing like the opposing tensions of the strings and bow of a musical instrument.' There are two kinds of matter, which can be called positive and negative. Like kinds repel and unlike attract....

    "Moreover, everything is in a permanent relation with other things. Even over vast distances, we are affected by light, radiation, gravity. Undetected by our senses, there is a process of interaction, which causes a continual series of changes. Ultra-violet light is able to 'evaporate' electrons from metal surfaces in much the same way as the sun’s rays evaporate water from the ocean. Banesh Hoffmann states: 'It is still a strange and awe-inspiring thought, that you and I are thus rhythmically exchanging particles with one another, and with the earth and the beasts of the earth, and the sun and the moon and the stars, to the uttermost galaxy....'

    "The phenomenon of oppositeness exists in physics, where, for example, every particle has its anti-particle (electron and positron, proton and anti-proton, etc.). These are not merely different, but opposites in the most literal sense of the word, being identical in every respect, except one: they have opposite electrical charges—positive and negative. Incidentally, it is a matter of indifference which one is characterised as negative and which positive. The important thing is the relationship between them....

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

    "The opposing tendencies can exist in a state of uneasy equilibrium for long periods of time, until some change, even a small quantitative change, destroys the equilibrium and gives rise to a critical state which can produce a qualitative transformation. In 1936, Bohr compared the structure of the nucleus to a drop of liquid, for example, a raindrop hanging from a leaf. Here the force of gravity struggles with that of surface tension striving to keep the water molecules together. The addition of just a few more molecules to the liquid renders it unstable. The enlarged droplet begins to shudder, the surface tension is no longer able to hold the mass to the leaf and the whole thing falls." [Woods and Grant, Reason in Revolt (1995), pp.64-68.]

    "'Everything Flows'

    "Everything is in a constant state of motion, from neutrinos to super-clusters. The earth itself is constantly moving, rotating around the sun once a year, and rotating on its own axis once a day. The sun, in turn, revolves on its axis once in 26 days and, together with all the other stars in our galaxy, travels once around the galaxy in 230 million years. It is probable that still larger structures (clusters of galaxies) also have some kind of overall rotational motion. This seems to be a characteristic of matter right down to the atomic level, where the atoms which make up molecules rotate about each other at varying rates. Inside the atom, electrons rotate around the nucleus at enormous speeds....

    "The essential point of dialectical thought is not that it is based on the idea of change and motion but that it views motion and change as phenomena based upon contradiction. Whereas traditional formal logic seeks to banish contradiction, dialectical thought embraces it. Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of matter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites...." [Ibid, pp.45-47. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at my site.]
    Bold added.

    As Glenn Magee notes:

    "Another parallel between Hermeticism and Hegel is the doctrine of internal relations. For the Hermeticists, the cosmos is not a loosely connected, or to use Hegelian language, externally related set of particulars. Rather, everything in the cosmos is internally related, bound up with everything else.... This principle is most clearly expressed in the so-called Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which begins with the famous lines 'As above, so below.' This maxim became the central tenet of Western occultism, for it laid the basis for a doctrine of the unity of the cosmos through sympathies and correspondences between its various levels. The most important implication of this doctrine is the idea that man is the microcosm, in which the whole of the macrocosm is reflected.

    "...The universe is an internally related whole pervaded by cosmic energies." [Magee (2001), p.13. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at my site. More on this topic here.]
    Hard to slip a party card between them, isn't it?

    Incidentally, the factual basis of the above assertions (advanced by Woods and Grant) are all called into question at my site, here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2004.htm

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2005.htm

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2008_01.htm

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2008_02.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 9th April 2010 at 16:27.
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    In its current incarnation, dialectical materialism is more like an ideology than a religion in that an ideology has an answer, actually the same answer, for everything, while a religion insists that it doesn't have the answer for everything, and everything must be accepted on faith.

    Minor discrepancy, but it might come in handy some day.
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    Well many religions do think they have answers, but I take your point. However, as I noted, I am following Marx's typology here, in that this theory provides those held in its thrall with consolation, just as it puts each of its acolytes at the very centre of the meaning universe. By that I mean that this theory informs each of its adepts that, under the influence of 'subjective dialectics', they can be part of the cosmic drift of the entire universe (objective dialectics). In this way it endows of each of its disciples with its own form of cosmic significance.

    As I noted above:

    The founders of this quasi-religion weren't workers; they came from a class that educated their children in the classics and in philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there is a hidden world, accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

    This way of seeing things was invented by ideologues of the ruling class, who viewed reality this way. They invented it because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

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

    Another way is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers" and administrators, at least) that the present order either works for their benefit, is ordained of the 'gods', or that it is 'natural' and cannot be fought, reformed or negotiated with.

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

    So, these non-worker founders of our movement, who had been educated to believe there was just such a hidden world that governed everything, looked for principles in that invisible world that told them that change was inevitable, and part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of a ruling-class mystic called Hegel.

    2) That allowed the founders of this quasi-religion to think of themselves as special, as prophets of the new order, which workers, alas, could not quite grasp because of their defective education and their reliance on ordinary language and 'common sense'.

    Fortunately, history has predisposed these prophets to ascertain the truth about reality for the rest of us, which means that they are our 'naturally-ordained' leaders. That in turn meant these 'leaders' were also teachers of the 'ignorant masses', who could 'legitimately' substitute themselves for the unwashed majority -- in 'their own interests', you understand. This is because the masses are too caught up in 'commodity fetishism' to see the truth for themselves.

    And that is why DM is a world-view.

    It is also why dialecticians cling on to this theory like grim death (and become very emotional (and abusive!) when it is attacked by yours truly), since it provides them with a source of consolation that, despite outward appearances to the contrary, and because this hidden world tells them that Dialectical Marxism will one day be a success, everything is in fact OK, and nothing in the core theory needs changing -- in spite of the fact that that core theory says everything changes! Hence, it is ossified into a dogma, and imposed on reality. A rather nice unity of opposites for you to ponder.

    So, this 'theory' insulates the militant mind from the facts; it tells such comrades that reality 'contradicts' outward appearances. Hence, even if Dialectical Marxism appears to be a long-term failure, those with a the equivalent of a dialectical 'third eye' can see the opposite is in fact the case: Dialectical Marxism is a ringing success!

    In that case, awkward facts can either be ignored or they can be re-configured into their opposite.
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    Well many religions do think they have answers, but I take your point. However, as I noted, I am following Marx's typology here, in that this theory provides those held in its thrall with consolation, just as it puts each of its acolytes at the very centre of the meaning universe. By that I mean that this theory informs each of its adepts that, under the influence of 'subjective dialectics', they can be part of the cosmic drift of the entire universe (objective dialectics). In this way it endows of each of its disciples with its own form of cosmic significance.
    Well, this is your interpretation and I've yet to see this explicitly set down in any non-antagonistic writing on the material dialectic. Perhaps you'd like to furnish us with some quotes where the "cosmic significance" of the adherents of this theory is made explicit?
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin

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    Lets define our terms. What is a religion? My personal belief is anything that gives an credence to an outside idealistic force explaining why and how things are. So obviously we have everything from Christianity to Zen that is obviously a religion. But lets take for example objectivity, which I believe is a religion. It is a religion because it stipulates that for the individual to achieve true 'individuality,' to understand the "why" and "how" of their life potential, it must focus on things that are without, not within. When an individual fetishizes any outside entity, God or not, as being ones only key to a fulfilling life, or the only thing that can give purpose to life, it becomes a religion. Say what you want about the "mysticism" of dialectical materialism, it does none of this. First, you'd have to assert that materialism is a religion. This is very possible because when one depends on the interaction of atoms and sub-atomic particles to give purpose to life it becomes a religion. But most scientific materialists are able to ask the right question. If you don't know something about something, don't ask "why" ask "how?" No matter how "mystical" dialectics are or are not, the same can be said about them. Dialectical Materialism doesn't answer the "why" question, it answers the "how question." Religions always seek to first answer the "why" and supplement it with the how. The authentic person seeks to understand the how and then supplement a subjective "why?"
    Last edited by A.R.Amistad; 10th April 2010 at 15:17.
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    BTB:

    Well, this is your interpretation and I've yet to see this explicitly set down in any non-antagonistic writing on the material dialectic. Perhaps you'd like to furnish us with some quotes where the "cosmic significance" of the adherents of this theory is made explicit?
    I have done this before, and you just ignore them.

    You can find scores, if not hundreds of them, here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm
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    It's about as much a religion as christian-rock is "music".
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    AR Amistad:

    Lets define our terms. What is a religion? My personal belief is anything that gives an credence to an outside idealistic force explaining why and how things are. So obviously we have everything from Christianity to Zen that is obviously a religion. But lets take for example objectivity, which I believe is a religion. It is a religion because it stipulates that for the individual to achieve true 'individuality,' to understand the "why" and "how" of their life potential, it must focus on things that are without, not within. When an individual fetishizes any outside entity, God or not, as being ones only key to a fulfilling life, or the only thing that can give purpose to life, it becomes a religion.
    I prefer Marx's characterisation.

    Say what you want about the "mysticism" of dialectical materialism, it does none of this. First, you'd have to assert that materialism is a religion. This is very possible because when one depends on the interaction of atoms and sub-atomic particles to give purpose to life it becomes a religion. But most scientific materialists are able to ask the right question. If you don't know something about something, don't ask "why" ask "how?" No matter how "mystical" dialectics are or are not, the same can be said about them. Dialectical Materialism doesn't answer the "why" question, it answers the "how question." Religions always seek to first answer the "why" and supplement it with the how. The authentic person seeks to understand the how and then supplement a subjective "why?"
    And yet, as I have shown, Dialectical Materialism [DM] is a source of consolation for its acolytes. In that sense, it functions in a way that makes it analogous to religious belief, as I alleged.

    Dialectical Materialism doesn't answer the "why" question, it answers the "how question."
    But it doesn't answer 'how' questions. For example, it's supposed to be the theory of change, but if it were true, change would be impossible, as I have shown.

    In fact, from a set of dogmas that no one is allowed to alter (which is odd, given their commitment to universal change), dialecticians have developed a world-view that does what I allege above, and in my first two posts. And it does provide them with a "why" -- in that it puts each of its novitiates right at the centre of the meaning universe, in contact with a process that governs everything in reality, for all of time, and of which they can become a part. Each dialectical disciple can become one with a cosmic process that has only one outcome (via the 'negation of the negation'), as I argue in one of my essays:

    The Opiate Of The Party

    Method -- Or Methadone?

    It is maintained here that DM satisfies the contingent psychological needs of certain sections of the revolutionary movement: those comrades who, because of their class origin/position, and because of the constant failure of Dialectical Marxism, cling to DM in ways that make a drowning man look positively indifferent toward any straws that might randomly drift his way.

    [Any who doubt this should try arguing with comrades who are in thrall to this theory. On that, see here.]

    As noted earlier, this is because dialectics provides consolation in a way that is analogous to the comfort and reassurance that religious dogma supplies believers: that is, DM provides solace for unrealised hopes, supplies both a psychological defence against disillusion and a handy way of re-configuring defeat as its exact opposite. This is again similar to the way that theists manage to persuade themselves that despite appearances to the contrary, death, disease and suffering is not only beneficial, it confirms the goodness of 'God'! Each system provides its acolytes with a convenient excuse for denying the facts.

    In other words, DM is the "opiate" of the Party, the heart of a seemingly hopeless cause.

    For the Dialectical Classicists, who lived in a world that is divorced from the day-to-day life and struggle of ordinary workers -- i.e., professional revolutionaries who are not involved in the material world of toil --, HM was clearly not fundamental enough. In fact, such individuals, who (for whatever reason) were cut-off from the world of labour, clearly required their own distinctive world-view, one that has itself been abstracted (cut-off) from the world of 'appearances', and thus from material reality, too.

    This world-view must be a theory that adequately represents the (now) alienated experience of these erstwhile 'radicals': it must not only be divorced from ordinary language and common experience, it must be distinguished from working class and/or materialist forms-of-thought. In addition, it must rationalise and confirm the pre-eminent position such individuals arrogate to themselves -- that is, it must ratify their status as leaders of the class.

    To that end, it must be a theory that they alone "understand".

    Even then, they use this theory to 'prove' that the leaders of other Marxist groups either (1) do not "understand" dialectics or (2) they misuse it. [On that, see here.]

    What better theory, then, to fit the bill than the incomprehensible system Hegel concocted (upside down or 'the right way up)?

    DM is thus beyond workers' experience -- not by accident --, but because it's meant to be that way.

    Naturally, this not only renders DM immune from refutation, it also transforms it into an ideal intellectual device for getting things the wrong way round (or, indeed, upside down). It is indeed an ideal tool for keeping 'reality' Ideal. Moreover, this 'theory' helps insulate militant minds from the setbacks revolutionaries constantly face.

    DM is thus not just the opiate of the party, it expresses the soul of the professional revolutionary. Abstracted not just from the class, but also from humanity itself, this faction within the labour movement naturally finds abstraction conducive to the way it sees the material world, and to the way it regards the working class: as an abstract object of theory, not the subject of history.

    That explains, at least, the motivation underlying the belief that DM is the "world-view" of the proletariat -- plainly these 'workers' are now members of an abstract class of proletarians (most of whom, in the concrete world, have never of this theory, and never will)!

    Of course, this accounts for its long-term lack of impact on workers.

    Fragmentation And The Petty-Bourgeois Personality

    The above frame of mind is connected with the way that such individuals find their way into the revolutionary movement.

    Unlike most worker-revolutionaries, 'professional' revolutionaries have joined, or have been recruited into the socialist movement (by-and-large) as an expression of their rebellious personality, as a result of their own personal commitment, because of individual alienation from the system, from reading books, or for some other contingent psychological or biographical reason --, but not as a direct result of the class war. That is, they become revolutionaries through their own individual efforts, or those of some other individual (such as a parent, partner or friend) and not (in general) through participation in collective action, or in strikes (etc.) at their own places of work -- if they work.

    This means that from the beginning (again, by-and-large), because of their class position and non-working class upbringing, such comrades act and think like individuals. This (1) affects the ideas they form, (2) colours their attitude toward such ideas, (3) affects their activity inside the movement/party, and (4) slants the relationships they form with other revolutionaries.

    Indeed, no less an authority than Lenin quotes Kautsky to this effect:

    "The problem...that again interests us so keenly today is the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the proletariat. My colleagues [Kautsky is himself an intellectual, a writer and editor] will mostly be indignant that I admit this antagonism. But it actually exists, and, as in other cases, it would be the most inexpedient tactics to try to overcome the fact by denying it. This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes, not to individuals. The individual intellectual, like the individual capitalist, may identify himself with the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his class, that we shall mainly speak of in what follows. Unless otherwise stated, I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual who takes the stand of bourgeois society, and who is characteristic of the intelligentsia as a class. This class stands in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.

    "This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. The intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois, and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he is compelled to sell the product of his labour, and often his labour-power, and is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalist. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.

    "...Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He does not fight by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability, his personal convictions. He can attain to any position at all only through his personal qualities. Hence the freest play for his individuality seems to him the prime condition for successful activity. It is only with difficulty that he submits to being a part subordinate to a whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the mass, not for the elect minds. And of course he counts himself among the latter...." [Kautsky quoted in Lenin (1947) One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward, pp.121-23.]
    To be sure, Lenin is describing hostile intellectuals, but much of what he says applies to those who become revolutionaries; indeed, this class analysis also applies to Lenin himself, and other petty-bourgeois Dialectical Marxists.

    Such comrades thus enter the movement committed to the revolution as an idea, as an expression of their own personal integrity, idiosyncratic alienation and individual goals in life. They are not revolutionaries for proletarian/materialist reasons --, that is, as a result of their direct experience of collective action, or as a direct consequence of working class response to exploitation --, but for individualist (albeit, often very noble) reasons.

    This is not to malign them, but to remind readers that this is a class issue.

    So, when these comrades encounter DM, it is quite 'natural' for them to latch on to its a priori theses. This is because, as Lenin noted, their class position has already delivered them up as atomised, isolated individuals with no collective identity. This non-negotiable fact is further compounded by the additional fact that these individuals have had their heads filled with "ruling ideas" -- which is plainly the result of the 'superior education' they receive because of their class origin. Hence, ruling ideas dominate their thought almost from the beginning:

    "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch." [Marx and Engels (1970) The German Ideology, pp.64-65.]
    As we will see in Essay Twelve Part One, and the rest of Essay Twelve (summary here), a common thread that runs through the diverse world-views that are conducive to, and patronised by the various ruling-classes that have parasitized humanity over the last five or six thousand years, is the idea that there is an invisible world anterior to experience, underlying 'appearances', which is more real that the world we see around us, and which is accessible to thought alone. Because of this, such ideas have had to be imposed on reality in a dogmatic and a priori manner ever since (plainly because they cannot be read from reality, not least because the world is not a book).

    In which case, when these individuals -- who have already been educated to see the world this way before they've even heard of Marxism -- encounter DM, they appropriate its dogmatic a priori theses with ease. The thought-forms this theory encapsulates appear to them to be at once both philosophical and certain (i.e., a priori, and thus self-certifying), in the traditional manner. Moreover, because DM-theses originate from within what seems to them to be a radical philosophical/political tradition they also seem radical -- alas, here they are quite happy to accept appearances at face value!

    Manifestly, dialectical concepts could only have arisen from traditional sources (workers do not dream up such nostrums), which sources had already been tainted by countless centuries of ruling-class thought-forms (as Marx noted). This is plainly because traditional thought the only source of developed 'high theory', and these individuals are attracted to this way of seeing things since it promotes the sort of ideas to which these erstwhile radicals are most susceptible. The class background and education such individuals receive mean that ruling-class ideas have already been inserted into their heads, "from the outside", even before they reach their late teens. In that case, this new, Dialectical/Hermetic batch hardly raises an eyebrow. Indeed, it alights on ready soil.

    Initially, very little specialist knowledge is needed to 'comprehend' this theory; indeed, no expensive equipment or time-consuming experiments are required. And yet, within hours this superscientific 'world-view' can be grasped by most eager novices (once more, since it relies on thought alone, and thus appears to be 'self-evident'). Literally, in an afternoon, an initiate can study and learn a handful of theses that purport to explain all of reality for all of time.

    Just try learning Quantum (or even Newtonian) Mechanics that quickly!

    One only has to look at most revolutionary internet sites, for example, to see how they claim to be able to reveal nature's deepest secrets (which are true for all of reality, for all of time) in page or two of homespun 'logic', loose phraseology, and Mickey Mouse Science.

    Contrast that with the many months, or even years of hard work it takes to grasp the genuine science of Marxist economics, for example. Contrast it too with the detailed knowledge one requires in order to understand, say, the class structure and development of the ancient world, or medieval society. No 'self-evident' truths here!

    Moreover, because this 'theory' is connected with wider historic, or even romantic aims (explored briefly below), such comrades soon become wedded (nay, super-glued) to this doctrine. They become converts. True Believers.

    This subjective response to such an easily accessible 'door of perception' now connects dialectics with the revolutionary ego, for it is this theory which guarantees for each of these individuals that their anger at injustice and all the hard work they devote to the cause are not in vain.

    On the contrary, this theory guarantees that the life of each of its adepts is capable of assuming cosmic significance. Dialectics places the militant mind at the very centre of the meaning universe -- for it seems to give such social atoms universal meaning, with a set of eternal 'truths'/'laws' to prove it. We might even call this the "Ptolemisation of The Militant Mind" [PTMM], since around this 'theory' all of reality now revolves, put into neat logical order by a few trite a priori theses.

    The heady romance of being both a revolutionary and an active participant in the cosmic drift of the entire universe now takes over. Indeed, for all the world, these comrades seem to fall in love with this 'theory'! [This surfaces in the irrational and emotional way they all defend it, when it's attacked -- see below, and here.]

    But, the revolutionary ego can only ascend to the next blessed level if it becomes a willing vehicle for the tide of history, a slave to 'the dialectic'.

    The dialectic now expresses in its earthly incarnation cosmic forces that have governed material reality from the beginning of time and which are thus written into the fabric of nature, like the word of 'God'.

    A Dialectical Logos, if you will.

    Or, at least, that's how the DM-Faithful picture it to themselves (on that, see here).

    Indeed, the dialectic governs the nature of everything in existence, including even the thoughts of these, the 'least' of its servants -- a process otherwise known as "subjective dialectics".

    By becoming slaves to the mysterious 'mediations' that emanate forth from the "Totality" (which, like 'God', cannot be defined, and which works in mysterious ways), through revolutionary 'good works' ("activity") and pure thoughts ("non-Revisionism"), by joining a movement that cannot fail to alter fundamentally the course of human history, the petty-bourgeois ego is 'born again' to a higher purpose, and with a cosmic mandate.

    The dialectical novitiate now emerges as a professional revolutionary --, sometimes even with a shiny new name to prove it. But, certainly with a new persona.

    The scales now drop from its eyes.

    The Hermetic virus has found another victim.

    There is now no way back...

    As Max Eastman noted:

    "Hegelism is like a mental disease -- you cannot know what it is until you get it, and then you can't know because you have got it."
    This now provides such comrades with well-known social psychological motivations, inducements and reinforcements. These, in turn, help convince these Hermetic victims that:

    (1) They as individuals can become key figures in history -- actually helping to determine the next direction social evolution will take.

    (2) Their personal existence is, after all, not meaningless or for nought.

    (3) Whatever it was that caused their alienation from bourgeois society can be rectified, reversed or redeemed through the right sort of acts, thoughts and deeds -- reminiscent of the way that Pelagian forms of 'muscular Christianity' taught that salvation might be had through pure thoughts, good works, and severe treatment of the body.

    Dialectics now takes on a role analogous to that which religion assumes in the minds of the masses, giving cosmic significance and consolation to these, its very own petty-bourgeois victims. Same social cause, similar palliative drug.

    However, because they have not been recruited from the working class, these social atoms need an internally-generated unifying force -- one provided by a set of self-certifying ideas -- to bind them to the international workers' movement, and the Party. As such, they need a Cosmic Whole to make sense of their social fragmentation. This is where the mysterious "Totality" comes into its own -- but, just like 'God', so mysterious is this "Totality" that not a single one of its slaves can tell us of its nature, even though they all gladly bend the knee to its Contradictory Will.

    In stark contrast, workers involved in collective labour have unity forced on them by well-known, external material forces. These compel workers to combine; they do not persuade them to unite as a result of some theory or other. Workers are thus forced to combine out of material necessity, with unity externally-imposed upon them, since this unifying force is a material, not an Ideal force.

    In contrast, once more, while history shows that the class war forces workers to unite, it also reveals that it drives these petty-bourgeois revolutionaries apart. In that case, dialectical theory has to replace material struggle as their sole unifying principle; petty-bourgeois/de-classé Marxists are thus supposedly united by a set of ideas. The forces that operate on them are thus quintessentially individualistic, unquestionably ideal and dangerously centrifugal (as Lenin noted earlier, and as we will soon see). But, without this 'theory', the rationale underlying the romantic idea that these comrades stand right at the philosophical centre of the dialectical universe [PTMM] would disappear.

    Moreover, because dialectics provides such comrades with an apparently coherent, but paradigmatically traditional picture of reality (i.e., as an a priori theory, dogmatically imposed on reality), it supplies each one with a unique set of motivating factors. Indeed, because this theory is represented individualistically inside each brain, it helps further divide each 'dialectical disciple', one from the next (for reasons explored below).

    Militant Martinets

    Dialectics, the theory of universal opposites, goes to work on militant minds and helps turn each into a dedicated sectarian and fanatical faction fiend.

    Collective discipline is paramount inside Bolshevik-style parties. But, the strong-willed, petty-bourgeois militant that this style of politics attracts is not used to this form of externally-imposed regimentation (since, as Lenin noted, these comrades are attracted by internally-processed and self-certifying ideas), and so fights soon break out, often over minor, even personal issues.

    Since childhood, these comrades have been socialised think like social atoms, but in a revolutionary party they have to act like social molecules (which is a psychological feat that lies way beyond their class position). Hence, personal disputes quickly break out and are soon re-configured as political differences -- once more, these are differences over ideas --, which require, and are soon given, theoretical 'justification'.

    Unfortunately, these individuals are socially-conditioned egocentrics who, in their own eyes, have a hot-line to dialectical truth (hard-wired into each brain by those self-certifying Hegelian ideas, once more) -- and they cannot help exploiting that fact since this is what defines them as a revolutionary.

    In such an ideal environment, the DM-classics, just like the Bible and other assorted Holy Books, soon come into their own.

    Again, as Lenin points out, ruling-class theorists, 'intellectuals', have always made a name for themselves by criticising the ideas of other, rival theorists. This is, after all, part of establishing a reputation, and is an essential component in promoting each career -- or, indeed, for defending a patron or some other beneficent section of the ruling-class. Petty-bourgeois capitalists have to rely on their individual skills in order to survive in the face of Big Capital. In like manner, these unfortunate characters have to ply their trade as individual theorists, armed only with ideas. Petty-bourgeois dialecticians thus trade in similarly soiled goods.

    So, it was that the dialectical classicists, when they joined the revolutionary movement brought with them this divisive, individualist ruling-class trait. In the market for 'Marxist' ideas, those with the best critical and inventive skills often floated to the top.

    The fact that such individuals have very strong characters (otherwise they'd not survive) merely compounds the problem. In order to make their name, and advance their 'revolutionary careers', it becomes important for them to disagree with every other theorist, which they then almost invariably proceed to do. Sectarianism is thus caused by such petty-bourgeois 'atoms'.

    But the situation is aggravated by dialectics. What better theory is there then (other than Zen Buddhism, perhaps) that is capable of initiating endless disputation than one that is as contradictory and incomprehensible all in one go, as is the case with 'Materialist Dialectics'? Or, indeed, one that informs all who fall under its hypnotic spell that progress (even in ideas) may only be had through "internal contradiction"?

    For Dialectical Marxists, the drive to impose one's views on others becomes irresistible, too. Doctrinal control (i.e., the control of all those inner, privatised ideas lodged in every other atomised party skull) now acts as a surrogate for external control by material forces. Indeed, this desire to control has even been given the grandiloquent name: "democratic centralism" -- a nice 'contradiction-in-terms' for you to ponder.

    But, just as genuine religionists soon discovered, mind-control is much easier to secure if appeal is made to impenetrably mysterious doctrines that no one understands, which all must accept and which all must repeat constantly to dull the critical faculties.

    Hence, because the party cannot reproduce the class struggle inside its walls, and thus force materialist unity on its cadres externally, it can only control political thought internally (in each head) by turning it into a mind-numbing mantra, insisting on doctrinal purity, and then accusing all those who do not conform to such ideal standards of not "understanding" dialectics.

    In this milieu, an Authoritarian Personality type soon emerges in the revolutionary movement to enforce ideological orthodoxy (disguised as part of an endeavour to keep faith with "tradition", which is, un-coincidentally, a noxious trait shared by all known religions). "Tradition" now becomes a watch-word to test the doctrinal purity of party cadres -- especially those who might stray too far from the narrow path which alone leads the select few toward revolutionary salvation.

    This naturally leads to more disputes and thus more splits.

    [History has indeed shown that the inter-atomic forces of fragmentation that operate between dialectically-distracted comrades far out-weigh their frequent calls for unity.]

    All this explains why, to each DM-acolyte, the dialectic is so personal, and so intimately their own possession, and why you can almost feel their hurt when it is comprehensively trashed, as it has been at my site, and at RevLeft.

    Hence, any attack on this 'precious jewel' is an attack on the revolutionary ego itself, and must be resisted with all the bile at its command.

    And that explains, too, all the abuse you will get if you think to challenge the dialectical doctrines of a single one of these Hermetic Head Cases.
    More details here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm
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    Still yet to issue a quotation from Lenin or anyone else which says "I am part of the cosmic drift of the entire universe. In this way it endows me with cosmic significance."
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin

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    BTB:

    Still yet to issue a quotation from Lenin or anyone else which says "I am part of the cosmic drift of the entire universe. In this way it endows me with cosmic significance."
    He (they) said many things that are the equivalent of this; but you'd know that if you followed the link I posted.
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    Someone may have already addressed this in a previous post(I did not read through every page of this thread in great detail): In what way are the two (ideology and religion) mutually exclusive?
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    ^^^I think you need to start a new thread on this -- in Religion.
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    ^^^I think you need to start a new thread on this -- in Religion.
    I think you need to address the issue, given that you charge DM as being a religion rather than an ideology. What is the difference in your view and how does that view lead you to conclude that DM is a religion?
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin

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    BTB:

    I think you need to address the issue, given that you charge DM as being a religion rather than an ideology. What is the difference in your view and how does that view lead you to conclude that DM is a religion?
    And where did I allege DM is a religion?
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    BTB:



    And where did I allege DM is a religion?
    Actually you said dialectical materialism is analogous to religion, and I think it's fair to say that you indicated it shares a stronger affinity with religion that it does with the category of "ideology." Maybe I'm wrong, but if I am I know you'll correct me.

    You also said in one of your first posts:

    "Once again, Marx, I think, had the answer:

    Quote:
    "Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification....

    "...Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions...." [Bold emphases added.]
    [Substitute "dialectics" for "religion" in the above to see the point.]
    __________________________

    I didn't find anywhere in this thread where you actually state "DM is a religion."

    The point of the thread itself is to determine if DM is a religion, or shares certain traits in common with religion that would disqualify DM from being a valid mechanism for concrete analysis, is it not?

    You did claim that dialectic materialism gives a sort of false universality-- my term, my interpretation-- akin to religion and BTB is asking you to cite evidence in the works of the DMs where they proclaim this sort of "faith-based" universality-- again that's my interpretation of the current dispute between you and the BTB.

    An ideology can be wrong, false, mistaken [actually I think ideologies are inherent false, mistaken, wrong] without being religious. Science can be mistaken and still be science. Certainly persistence in ideology that history has proven false, mistaken [i.e laissez-faire economics, Friedmanism, Ayn Randism etc] devolves usually into one of two "ultimate expressions" one of faith, the other of "biology,"-- i.e. its human nature, the market is the "natural" expression of needs and wants... etc.

    Anyway I hope I've made these roiled waters even more roiled.
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    BTB:

    And where did I allege DM is a religion?
    Where do you not?
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin

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    BTB:

    Where do you not?
    I failed to deny DM was a squashed tomato, too. I suppose a idiot might then post the following:

    I think you need to address the issue, given that you charge DM as being a squashed tomato rather than an ideology. What is the difference in your view and how does that view lead you to conclude that DM is a squashed tomato?
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    S Artesian:

    You did claim that dialectic materialism gives a sort of false universality-- my term, my interpretation-- akin to religion and BTB is asking you to cite evidence in the works of the DMs where they proclaim this sort of "faith-based" universality-- again that's my interpretation of the current dispute between you and the BTB.
    I also alleged many other things of DM.

    As far as BTB is concerned: you are new here. BTB had been asking me such misguided questions for years. When I have answered him, he either fails to read what I post, or he forgets it within minutes, and asks the same things again a few weeks or months later.

    So, I now adopt a dismissive approach toward him, and merely direct him to my site (or I take the p*ss out of him). He never goes there, so nothing is lost or gained, since, even if he did, his defective memory would kick in again, and we'd be back to square one.

    An ideology can be wrong, false, mistaken [actually I think ideologies are inherent false, mistaken, wrong] without being religious. Science can be mistaken and still be science. Certainly persistence in ideology that history has proven false, mistaken [i.e laissez-faire economics, Friedmanism, Ayn Randism etc] devolves usually into one of two "ultimate expressions" one of faith, the other of "biology,"-- i.e. its human nature, the market is the "natural" expression of needs and wants... etc.
    There is little here with which I would want to take issue.
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    "Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification....

    "...Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions...."
    I'd like someone to show me how this contradicts what I said
    "It is not enough to possess the sword, one must give it an edge it is not enough to give the sword an edge, one must know how to wield it."-L. Trotsky

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