October 26, 2019

The October Revolution and Dialectic Materialism

By A. DEBORIN

THE October Revolution is very closely connected with the Marxian theory, with the Marxian world conception, with dialectic materialism. The October Revolution could be accomplished only on condition of a correct application of a strictly scientific method, the method of materialist dialectics. 

When revisionism as represented by Edward Bernstein and his followers brought forth the idea of The Blunting and Conciliation of the class antagonisms, his first task was precisely to deny the .Marxian method, i. e. materialist dialectics.

It is remarkable that the philosophers of West-European revisionism perfectly understand the revolutionary significance of Marxian dialectics and that precisely because of that they have deliberately come out against it. 

Between revisionism and revolutionary Marxism, says the philosopher of modern revisionism, Z. Mark, there exists a difference both in respect to method as well as in respect to the conception of the world. The author openly lays stress on the fact that Revolutionary Marxism is methodologically inseparably connected with dialectics whilst revisionism is connected with the denial of dialectics. Therefore, the author surpasses even Bernstein who had the courage to come out against dialectics towards the end of the last century.

On the other hand, the greatest leader of the revolutionary proletariat, V. I. Lenin, just like Marx and Engels, did not only champion and defend materialist dialectics, seeing in it the only revolutionary, the only correct scientific method, but also applied it with marvelous skill to all great and small questions of the revolution. 

That Lenin saw in materialist dialectics the quintessence of the teachings of Marx and Engels is clearly seen, for instance, from the following: 

In characterizing the essence of Marx' and Engels' correspondence, Lenin wrote: 'If we were to try to define by one word, so to say, the focus of the correspondence, the central point to which the essence of the ideas expressed is reduced, that word would be dialectics. The application of materialist dialectics to political economy since its foundation, to history, to natural science, to philosophy, to the politics and tactics of the working class,-that is what mostly interests Marx and Engels, that is the most vital and newest elements they introduce, that is their ingenious step forward in the history of thought." 

Lenin did not only emphasize that the essence of Marxism is materialist dialectics, but was himself an ingenious dialectician and did a good deal for the further development of materialist dia-lectics; all practical successes of our revolutionary movement, the October Revolution, the proletarian conquest of power, the success-ful development of socialist construction, are a result of a dialectic study and analysis of concrete historical conditions, inherent . class antagonisms of society and a correct class struggle on the basis of study and correct application of historical materialism to social phenomena, to contemporary history. 

The strength of the proletariat is to a large extent determined by the scientific Marxian-Leninist world conception. On the other hand, all bourgeois factions and all tendencies of bourgeois thought are imbued with hatred to Marxism and adherence to idealism. 

In the countries under .bourgeois domination, even under the most democratic forms of government, all scientific institutions and establishments, all literature and the press are permeated with the spirit of .animosity and hatred to all advanced scientific ideas and tendencies, particularly to Marxism. 

Dialectic materialism can not only not become there the dominating doctrine, but is a persecuted and detested creed. But to the extent that revolutionary Marxism begins to circulate broadly and deeply, to the same extent the bourgeois ideologists try to make it obedient and harmless, to deprive it of its revolutionary virus and weaken it by idealism and liberalism. 

On the other hand, the proletariat having come to power, naturally makes its world conception, its ideology, the dominating doctrine. 

In the Soviet Union the bourgeois conception is smashed just as the bourgeoisie itself as a ruling class in the economic and socio-political sphere is smashed. The new economic and socio-political order in which the proletariat is the ruling class and where extensive Socialist construction is in progress requires the domination of proletarian ideology. In the Soviet Union, Marxism is the dominating, official, State ideology. The Socialist philistines whimper also on this score. But this cannot and should not be otherwise because the ideas of the ruling class are the dominating ideas. 

The ideological struggle, the struggle for our world conception and methodological orientation is for us n inseparable part of the struggle of the working class for Socialism. We therefore fight and will fight in the future for the domination of the Marxian theories in all spheres of knowledge, making in this respect no con-cessions to the bourgeois conception because the incomparable superiority of Marxism and its revolutionary dialectic methodology is unquestionable. Def ending Marxian science, the Marxian method of investigation, we at the same time def end the highest type of scientific knowledge. It is no secret to anyone that the bourgeois scientists really produce more or less valuable works only to the extent to which they adopt dialectic materialism. Thus, the struggle for dialectic materialism is at the same time a struggle for science. 

After all let us see what the bourgeois conception of the world now represents. Is it not thoroughly permeated with idealism and religious and mystical elements? Why then should an openly obscure doctrine enjoy special patronage here No, the liberation of the proletariat, and together with it of all toilers from the fetters of material slavery presupposes also the emancipation of humanity from spiritual slavery. Socialism is just as incompatible with religious, mystical and idealist conceptions of the world, as it is incompatible with primitive technique. Socialism is possible only if science and technique are broadly developed and flourishing. But the possibility of full realization of Socialism also presupposes a revolution in the consciousness of the toiling masses, and particularly the proletariat. For the first time in the history of the human race is a scientific conception of the world becoming the conception not of the selected few but of the broad masses of the people. This revolution in the conception of the world is of world historical significance and a necessary conditions and guarantee for the realization of Socialism. 

International revisionism has long since abandoned, as I already pointed out, both the Marxian world conception and the Marxian method in the form of a criticism of "Hegelism" and "Hegelian schemes" in Marxism. 

But revolutionary Marxism sees in the method of dialectic materialism an instrument of revolution and Socialist construction. Under the proletarian dictatorship, dialectic materialism naturally becomes the dominating ideology. In the course of the last two years, Marxism played a leading role in the Soviet Union both in the theoretical life as well as in the economic and political practice. Marxism en joys undivided rule in all Soviet social science, beginning from philosophy and ending with the tactics of the working class. Marxism is not a lifeless dogma there, but a living science, developing alongside of social life. Under the conditions of the new social order Marxism has been enriched by most valuable works insofar as we have to give concrete replies to new ,problems brought forth by the development of Socialist relations among us. 

Marxism discovered the basic laws of development and decline of capitalism. After the establishment of the dictatorship of the U. S. S. R., history placed them in an unusual position, the process of development of the transition period from capitalism to Communism has never been studied by anyone because here are absolutely new period, a new epoch in history which set in for the first time. The Soviet Union has to cover new roads as yet unknown in history, unknown to any of the social systems. As it is a question of building up a Socialist society, of the transition to a new higher type of society, of breaking up of all relics of the old order, the profound and keen interest in the method of Marxian dialectics can be under-stood. The new historical epoch requires not a dogmatic, bookish approach, but a profound study of concrete conditions and their historical peculiarities. In this great process of social reconstruction materialist dialectics serves as a powerful lever. But the mechanical carrying over of ready-made results from one social formation into an entirely di rent formation is inadmissible from the point of view of materialist dialectics. Materialist dialectics is not a scheme which is simply applied to one sphere of knowledge or another; it demands a concrete study of reality, it is based on the broad foundation of experience.

The peculiarities of our epoch imperatively demand from the Soviet Union the deepening and development of this science--materialist dialectics. This is so because they meet in ,prac'ti.ce everyday the question as to how to approach one new problem or another, and they have an innumerable multiple of problems, new problems, never considered by Marxism and Socialism before. 

Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the method- the ways and means of investigation-acquires especial significance as the new historical road can be corrected, illuminated, and sounded only if they properly wield the method of materialist dialectics, studying with its help the laws of the transition epoch and Socialist society.

That is why the problems of methodology have acquired here foremost positions in all spheres of knowledge and action. And that is also why international revisionism is so vehement concerning the special "Soviet Marxism" and "Soviet world conception", without understanding the profound meaning and significance of these words. Yes, there is a special "Soviet Marxism"! It is the revolutionary doctrine of Marx and Engels enriched by Lenin's teachings, the experience of the October Revolution and a whole decade of struggle and Socialist construction. "Soviet Marxism" is Marxism on a higher stage of historical development of society and the proletarian class struggle. The "philosophers" of revision-ism are incapable of understanding that. 

In no bourgeois country has Marxism attained such splendid successes, such unusual development as in the U. S. S. R., both from the point of view of its circulation among the broad masses and from the point of view of its leading role in all spheres of knowledge. The most valuable addition to the theory and practice of Marxism was naturally made by Lenin. His classical works on the question of dialectics, the theory of materialism, proletarian revolution and dictatorship of the working class, his criticism of international revisionism and reformism are not of transitory significance and constitute an acquisition of the international prole-tariat. Whole generations of revolutionaries will learn from them. The extraordinary and undivided influence of Lenin on modem theoretical thought, his unquestioned authority in all spheres of sociology is based on the fact that he penetrated the very essence of the Marxian method, the essence of materialist dialectics better than anyone else, ingeniously applying it to all spheres of knowl-edge. Our decade passed under the banner of Leninism which is understood as a continuation and further development of revolutionary Marxism under the conditions of struggle for the prole-tarian dictatorship and the construction of Socialism. 

In going over to the conquests in the sphere of various objects, we will be justified in emphasizing first of all that in the sphere of world conception the Soviet Union secured one of the greatest victories. Idealism has been crowded out almost entirely without leaving a trace behind and has absolutely no influence whatever either in their universities or in scientific literature. The idealist offspring of the old world hid its countenance from the light of day, not wanting to be the object of ridicule and to show openly its· reactionary nature · The bourgeois idealist "Sector'' of ideology being a reflection of the capitalist sector @f economy keeps some-where in the backyards. The proletarian mia,terialist ideological "sector" on the contrary, occupies leading key positions owing to its immeasurable scientific superiority and ts oneness with the interests of the proletariat. 

What has the bourgeois ideological sector to offer in opposition to our world conception? The most gloomy medievalism ! Here i what the so-called Eurasians write about their ideology. "The Communist ideology must be countered by an ideology not less but more valuable than theirs. This more valuable ideology is orthodox Christianity. If we want to find an ideology which is absolutely true, absolutely unquestionable in its fundamentals, we must seek these fundamentals in religion, in faith. The true religion is orthodox Christianity". This White Guard piffle truly sounds like a voice from· the grave of history and cannot find an echo in our country. 

The vast majority of scientists in the Soviet Union have either definitely adopted the basis of ·the materialist conception of the world, or are under its influence. In the sphere of philosophic materialism their achievements during the past ten years have found expression in an enormous demand for materialist literature. We have at the present time almost all classics of international materialist thought in the Russian language. Alongside with that the Soviet Union is working out a special . history· of materialism. During the recent years, a series of monographs on various great materialists, such as Feuerbach, Diderot, Hobbes, Helvetius, Epicurus and- others, besides the works dedicated to Lenin as a philosopher, have been· published. The institutions of the Soviet Union have published the collected works of Lenin and Plekhanov circulated in tens and hundreds of thousands of copies. 

Materialist dialectics, for reasons indicated · above, have • conquered a central position in the · theoretical work of the Soviet Union. In this sphere can be recorded great achievements. Dialectics is now really being worked out from all sides, just as Lenin wanted. On the other hand, it is everywhere being applied in the capacity of a higher method of thought and research in all spheres of knowledge, which means that it is always being tested in practice. Apart from that, dialectics is being studied by the Soviet Union in the light of historical development. 

Marxian science in the Soviet Union has been enriched during the recent years in the sphere of dialectics by the most valuable, classical works of Lenin and Engels. The publication of the "Dialectics of Nature" by Engels, marked a great event in the Marxian literature of the Soviet Union. The very fact of the appearance of this remarkable work of Engels, 30 years after the author's death, on Soviet territory, is highly noteworthy. 

The theoretical bankruptcy and impotence of revisionism was expressed in the "concession" of the literary heritage of Marx and Engels to the Russian Communists in the person of Riazanov) who secured the exclusive right to publish the complete works of the founders of Marxism. The first volume of the International Academic Publishers of the collected works of Marx and Engels was out in Frankfurt exactly on the eve of the Tenth Anniversary of the October Revolution. This monumental publication is to be published in 42 volumes and it will be a splendid monument which the Soviet Union, the first workers' State, in the world, will erect to the great founders of our science. This is so, because since the October Revolution the centre of the international labor and Socialist movements and also the centre of proletarian Marxian science and thought have transferred to the Soviet Union. 
Very much has been done by Lenin in the sphere of historical materialism as a method of sociology as every one of his articles, books or speeches is a brilliant example of the application of historical materialism to concrete problems. 

On the other hand it should be pointed out that the works which appeared during the recent years on historical materalism are in one way or another based on Lenin's works endeavoring to summarize and generalize the richest experience of our revolution and the epoch of proletarian dictatorship. The problem of productive forces, the class problem, the problem of ideology, the "ripening" of Socialism, and the proletarian dictatorship as instruments of socialist construction, etc.,-all these problems serve as an object of investigation both in the schools and literature of the Soviet Union.

In the sphere of psychology there was at the beginning a struggle going on against the subjective method and philosophic idealism upon which that method is based. As a result of that struggle, materialism, as the basic methodological orientation in the Soviet Union conquered also here a leading position. However, at first it was not dialectic but mechanical materialism, regarding all complex forms as simple mechanical combinations of reflexes that tried to take the place of idealism. Naturally, such orientation had to lead to the denial of the reality of consciousness, "the qualitative characteristic of psychical phenomena", and of the behavior of man. Marxian psychology aims at overcoming, on the basis of dialectic materialism, both subjective and objective one-sidedness in psychol-ogy, and producing a synthesis. The main formula of Marxian psychology says: "Self-observation under the control of objective methods". (Kornilov). 

I emphasized above that the point of view of the Soviet Union, the scientific orientation, i. e. methodology, is very closely connected with the working class struggle. It is now directly connected with the changes in the material property relations also by the fact that the proletariat has become the ruling class. Society has, so to speak, jumped off its old tracks, got out of its old orbit, and began to revolve around a new axis-the proletariat. Naturally, the Soviet Union regards the old facts in a new light, from a new methodological point of view. This is particularly noticeable in the sphere of the science of history.

M. M. Pokrovsky pointed out absolutely correctly that the most important thing gained from the experience of 190 5 is the "transformation of dialectics of the historical process from an abstract literary term into a live, tangible and concrete fact, a fact which is not only observed with our own eyes but a fact which was experienced  . . . That constitutes a new phase in the development of historical materialism in Russia exactly corresponding with the new historical phase which the historical life of our country entered." These words of Comrade Pokrovsky concerning 1905 are to a much larger degree true of the ten years which the Soviet Union has now experienced. Historical materialism since 1 91 7 has entered a still higher phase of development. That is why Comrade Pokrovsky is again right when he says that "historical materialism of our days is more intricate and complex than the historical materialism of 1917, let alone 1897." 

As far as so-called "economic materialism" which frequently distorts and narrows down the foundation of historical materialism is concerned, it underwent a process of vital "corrections", first of all on the part of the objective dialectics of history. The Revolution compelled the Soviet Union to deepen the historical-materialist conception, bringing forth, so to speak, its dialectical sides. Only correctly understood Marxian methodology, i. e., materialist dialectics, can s ve us from all these errors and short-comings. On this path we have already great successes to record. Marxian historical research is now on a considerably higher theoretical level than it was in the period of 190 5-191 7. 

The Soviet Union has considerable successes in the sphere of literature and art. The pre-October literature was primarily literature of the nobility, the bourgeoisie and the middle class. The workers and peasants, not being the masters of life, were not en-joying equal rights as objects of artistic representation. The literary men and artists, in their vast majority, were materially and spiritually in the clutches of the bourgeoisie which was the ruling class. Therefore the people, i. e. the workers and peasants figured in the works of art, primarily as decorations beautifying the life of the masters. Proletarian and peasant literature began to develop, it is true, within the womb of old society but it began to bloom only during the rule of the Soviet Union. With the change of correlation of classes in society, the class composition of the writers as well as the objects of literary works also changes. The "class which rules at a given time in society also dominates in literature and art" -says Plekhanov.

Literature constitutes a highly intricate and complex form of reflection of the class struggle in modern society. The whole intricate complex of problems connected with literary and art creation, the discovery of its social foundations, the connections between certain form of artistic creation and its socio-economic formations, the questions of inter-relations between form and content, etc., in the epoch of shifting of· classes in society and the growth of a new proletarian and peasant literature,-all that com-bined brought forth a great interest to questions of methodics in the given sphere. The Marxian method in the sphere of the theory of literature and art make one conquest after another. 

There are a few words still to be said concerning Soviet economics. In connection with the process of the cardinal reconstruction of our economy, the content of the basic economic laws and conceptions also changes. Soviet economy already reveals its specie features and peculiar laws of development. The fundamental methodological questions connected with the specific character of Soviet economy serve as an object of polemic and controversy. Only a correct employment of the method of materialist dialectics can give a correct orientation on the question. 

It stands to reason that we have not the slightest chance of enumerating all problems now facing Soviet economy. The fol-lowing very interesting figures show how hard and intensively theoretical thought is working in the economic sphere. During the recent years about 500 books devoted to questions of planning and the theory of Soviet economy have been published. About 2,200 journalistic essays have been written on these questions during the last 5-6 years. During the first four-five years of the revolution only several tens of works were written on this subject. 

Many journalistic articles are devoted to the utilization of the method of comparative research work in capitalist and socialist economy on questions of the organic composition of capital, the falling rate of profit, the laws of rent, the law of equal rates of profit, the law of value, reproduction of capital and crises. 

I have given a brief outline of the achievements of Marxian methodology in the social sciences. But in the facts here presented every impartial man must recognize that there is a powerful development and tremendous achievements in Marxian science. Marxism is now playing a leading role in all spheres of sociology. But our achievements both in the sphere of socialist construction as in all concrete sciences greatly enrich our theory on the basis of the law of inter-action, raising it to a higher level. This is especially felt in the sphere of philosophical Marxism. There are few who understand that pure theoretical controversies around dialectic or one form of materialism or another are merely a reflection of the profound processes of change now taking place in our country. 

The Marxian method has splendidly vindicated itself both as a theory of the conception of the world and as an instrument in changing it, as an instrument of revolution.

November 1929
Communist Issue