Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Marx, Engels and Lenin on Dialectics Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


The old philosophy served those in power and supported the status quo. It denied change. To Marx and Engels a new philosphy was needed for revolutionaries. As Marx said, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point is to change it." For this purpose Marx and Engels helped develop the philosphy of dialectics.

Marx and Engels were greatly influenced by the scientific discoveries that were shaking up the world in the 19th Century: "Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials increasingly daily, and thus has shown that, in the last resort, Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically; that she does not move in the eternal oneness of a perpetually recurring circle, but goes through a real historical evolution. In this connection, Darwin must be named before all others. He dealt the metaphysical conception of Nature the heaviest blow by his proof that all organic beings, plants, animals, and man himself, are the products of a process of evolution going on through millions of years."

In the popular pamphlet the Engels prepared with the help of Marx, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Engels devoted a chapter to dialectics. He criticized those who believe that the the world doesn't change. Instead, he said, everything is changing. He used the example of the "human body: every moment, it assimilates matter supplied from without, and gets rid of other matter; every moment, some cells of its body die and others build themselves anew; in a longer or shorter time, the matter of its body is completely renewed..."

To understand change, he went on, we need to think in terms of opposing processes, i.e. "thesis" and "antithesis": "the two poles of an antithesis, positive and negative, ... are as inseparable as they are opposed, and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate."

For Engels, everything is both cause and effect: "we find, in like manner, that cause and effect are conceptions which only hold good in their application to individual cases; but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and then, and vice versa.

In contrast to those who believe that things don't change, "Dialectics, on the other hand, comprehends things and their representations, ideas, in their essential connection, concatenation, motion, origin and ending. Such processes as those mentioned above are, therefore, so many corroborations of its own method of procedure."

Marx used a dialectical approach in writing his most important scholarly work, Capital, which analyzed the relation of economics history, politics and revolution. The initial notebook for Capital explains that he seeks to understand the "rich totality of many determinations and relations" and the word "relation" or "relationship" appears no less than 94 times in this first notebook.

Lenin, also, studied the philosophy of dialectics. He summarized the dialectics of Marx and Engels as six basic principles of development:

* a development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis ("the negation of the negation"),

* a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line;

* a development by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions; - breaks in continuity";

* the transformation of quantity into quality;

* inner impulses towards development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society;

* the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon

For further detail, see Lenin's notes on Hegel's dialectic.

Dialectics continues to be used by Marxists throughout the world. For example, in his writings, Mao Tse-Tung says, "Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man's thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change ... The analytical method is dialectical. By analysis, we mean analyzing the contradictions in things."

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Friedrich Engels on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism