2. Philosophical Revisionism

Submitted by libcom on July 30, 2005

Modern leftism, in that it is an attempt to renew the theory and practice of revolution, can only be a success if it engages in a ruthless critique of the Marxist-Leninist system, that system which has monopolized revolutionary thinking since 1917. More than this, leftism is first and foremost the absolute negation of any revolutionary ideology (ideology being understood in the sense of 'false consciousness'). The first obstacle is encountered at the level of the Soviet social system; this presented itself to the world as the epitome of socialism. The picture was marred somewhat by the analysis of the bureaucratic class. It was further spoilt by contrasting Marxist thought with the model pretending to incarnate it. This confrontation with the facts led to a philosophical revisionism of Marxism itself, an attempt to return to the original springs of Marxism. In the past, any work which aimed at re-launching revolutionary thought came up against the totalitarian pretensions (in the etymological sense) of 'orthodox' Marxism, which presented itself as a closed, scientific and final system. Not only all social life but all the sciences were contained by this veritable cosmogony, with its own holy writ, its official priesthood, its deviations and its heresies. The important thing was to break the vicious circle, to crack the monopoly of theory held by the high priests of communism. Revision, then, consists of Marxist self-questioning; an application of Marxist methods to the very content of the doctrine. In France this work is associated with the name of the journal Arguments, founded at the beginning of 1957. In fact, of course, the Arguments team had no monopoly of doubt on the subject of theoretical Marxism, and moreover the solid content of its revisionism is very poor. On the other hand, this journal put the problem very clearly and its chief merit lay in having enabled the French public to become familiar with the experiments in revisionism carried out in Central Europe in the twenties and thirties. So it was not so much a matter of revising as of evoking a revision already carried out thirty years earlier, of presenting and translating texts hitherto unpublished in France.

This time-lag is an interesting phenomenon. Why did it take such an unconscionable time to tackle the basic philosophical problem, which consisted in surpassing Marx's economic analysis, the strategic and tactical thinking of Lenin, the totalitarian dictatorship of Stalin in order to arrive at the philosophical level reached by Marx and Engels in the period from 1843 to 1848 ? The delay was primarily due to Marxism's late introduction into France, and to the simplified and schematic form in which this took place. [1] It is also due to the existence of an authentically French socialist tradition which was very deep-rooted in the urban proletariat. The great majority of militants only knew of Marxism through the October Revolution. Subsequently, in the course of the nineteen-twenties, a whole constellation of left-wing intellectuals discovered Marx via Hegel and deepened the philosophical dimensions of his teaching. [2]

However, their membership of the Communist Party marks the cessation of all philosophical thought throughout the thirties, forties and fifties, the years of 'glaciation' as E. Morin calls them. [3]

The chief reason for the time-lag was thus the Party's absolute authority in matters of ideology. Not until the liberation of France was there any attempt at philosophical revisionism.

Merleau-Ponty was by that time asking questions of Marxism which were truly philosophical, examining the finality of Stalinist violence and, on the eve of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, writing that in order to understand the famous Stalinist 'degeneration' it was necessary to go back, not to the origins of Bolshevism, but to the well-springs of Marxism itself. [4] This he was himself to do, basing his attitude on the writings of G. Lukács and K. Korsch and ending up by denying dialectical materialism. But Merleau-Ponty's analysis was that of a disappointed man, who was ultimately to seek a 'reconciliation' with bourgeois liberalism. Les Aventures de la dialectique contains the seed of all future debates, but it was not until the Twentieth Congress. Poznan, the workers' councils of Hungary and the intervention of Soviet tanks that a mass of communist intellectuals were to give in to a kind of collective catharsis which enabled them to denounce the gods they had previously adored.

What led them to re-examine hitherto unquestioned standpoints was the 'exploding' of Stalinism. as it was called by the editorial to the first issue of Arguments. [5] The editorial team's first intention had been to seek, under the innumerable layers of the Marxist-Leninist palimpsest, the first, original script. This meant going back to first principles, denouncing scholasticism, 'de-dogmatizing' knowledge, questioning Marx's thought by applying his own method to it. [6] But the effects of the grand revisionist design entertained by Arguments did not entirely measure up to expectations; notably the philosophical discussions never reached a level comparable with that of the pre-war German school; the revisionism of Arguments was entirely one of form and not of content, for which one had to consult Lukács, Adorno and Marcuse. The old vigour was missing, Marxism was too compromised, associated as it was with totalitarian forms of government, and it seemed as though no philosophical renewal could imbue it with new life. [7]

In order to understand the meaning of the philosophical revision of Marxism, and remembering that the stakes were the emergence of a new theory of the proletarian movement, it should not be forgotten that orthodox Marxism had set itself up as a 'scientific' system well before the advent of Stalinism.

It was therefore not enough to demonstrate the extreme poverty of Stalinist philosophy, it was still necessary to go back to its roots. This meant the necessity of applying to Marxism its own analytical concepts, in fact to undertake the same operation as Marx : did when he examined the meaning of the German philosophy of his day. Now Marx's critical method is that of his philosophical writings, where he used the dialectic as a category of logic. It was therefore vitally necessary to re-examine the philosophical writings of the young Marx, his Hegelian origins and, of course, his development.

But in the years which followed the Russian Revolution, this kind of undertaking was by no means an obvious necessity, since the 'official' Marxism that had come to be accepted was that of Capital and Engels's Anti-Düring. The heritage which had been assimilated was that of the critique of political economy, the enunciation of laws governing trends (fall in the rate of profitability, concentration of capital, proletarization of the masses, inevitability of economic crisis). Marxism had been turned into an economic determinism of universal validity; a science of society and social development; a set of laws which need only be consulted in order to determine whether or not a revolution has any chance of success, or whether a party is opportunist, adventurist or simply counter-revolutionary. This system, as has been said, was something of a cosmogony, since it even applied to the natural sciences : the dialectic, which had become the supreme science, governed the development of things (dialectical materialism) as well as of beings. Consequently it was possible to have anti-Marxist sciences, or, on the other side of the fence, Marxist interpretations of genetics (Lysenko).

The 'scientistic' and economic interpretation of Marxism goes back, without doubt, to the last period of the writings of Marx and Engels. It is not necessary to consider here the validity of 'Marxian' theories according to which Marx is supposed to have been betrayed by his epigones, starting with Engels, and again according to which the economist Marx had never renounced the philosophical work of his youth, etc. [8] What is of chief interest here, by contrast, is to establish the origin of the 'scientistic' trend.

There is certainly no doubt that Engels had been attracted by the natural sciences all his life, and had shown marked positivist tendencies. It was he, therefore, who gave the most complete account of dialectical materialism, and although Marx declared himself to be in entire agreement with it, it was in fact Engels's text which provided the work of reference for the German Marxists of the end of the nineteenth century. Engels regarded the dialectic as the science of the general laws of movement and development of nature, of human society and of thought. Its central principle he saw as negation, and he gives concrete examples, even extending into mathematics (the multiplication of two negative values gives a positive value :[-X] X [-X] = +X2). [9]

Besides this, Engels predicted the consequences of the economic development of advanced capitalist régimes (the United States, France, Great Britain) and came to the conclusion that socialism would come about of itself, by the natural and necessary process of evolution. [10]

By virtue of this approach, he broke very explicitly with the voluntarist period of Marxism, that of the Communist Manifesto, but also broke off relations with Blanqui, and put forward a determinist and evolutionist theory which applied as much to things as to thinking beings. On the philosophical level, this expressed itself in the form of a rather sketchy materialism, in which matter becomes a category apart, an absolute of which consciousness is only the reflection. The dialectic, having become the science of nature, was removed from the dimension of philosophy and gave way to the concept of the 'reflection'.

After Marx's death, Engels set about propagating the whole of this bundle of concepts, transmitting them notably to his spiritual heir, Karl Kautsky. Lenin in turn took Kautsky as his model, 'guided' in this by the philosophical conceptions of Gyorgy Plekhanov. In his great philosophical work of 1908, Materialism and Empiriocriticism, he was to prove much more of a materialist than a dialectician, and his ideas reflected, as we shall see, the scientistic positivism of the nineteenth century. [11]

The symmetry between the Kautskyist and the Leninist interpretations of Marxism stops, however, at the philosophical level. Both were convinced that dialectical and historical materialism represented the realization of philosophy which Marx had prophesied. But on the political scale, or if one prefers on the level of revolutionary praxis, Kautsky (and German social democracy with him) remained the circumspect evolutionist, waiting for the time when German society would of its own emerge into the Democratic Republic, [12] while Lenin, by contrast, proved to be an ultra-voluntarist, the natural successor to traditional Blanquism. In other words, Lenin broke all ties between doctrine and political action, whereas his 'orthodoxy' in matters of philosophy enabled him systematically to underestimate the independent role of the proletariat, since the strict determinism to which he attached himself gave the right to interpret the laws of the historical dialectic to the 'guardians of bourgeois science'. [13]

The mechanistic materialism of Lenin. who saw the origin of all phenomena in matter (understood in the physical sense), had the further consequence of entirely separating being and consciousness, of making one the reflection of the other, and hence of denying all class consciousness that was independent of and did not flow from those who knew how to interpret the laws of scientific socialism -- the professional revolutionaries. [14]

It will be seen that such a conception, which freezes the dialectical processes (and which, it should be noted, represents a return to the Kantian thing-in-itself) resolves itself, in the last analysis, into a simple causal determinism, the precise image of the positivist conceptions of the last half of the nineteenth century. It makes it possible to enunciate eternal laws (dogmas), specifying at the same time that they may only be accepted or rejected en bloc (the latter alternative being necessarily counter-revolutionary). Here, then, is the seed of ideological totalitarianism, and it only remained for Lenin's successors to pursue the propositions contained in this 'orthodox Marxism' to their logical conclusion.

When, in 1923, Georg Lukács published a volume of studies on Marxian dialectics, it was not his intention to contradict the extollers of 'scientific' Marxism, but to apply the dialectic to social phenomena, and first and foremost to class consciousness. [15] Nor was Karl Korsch, in his Marxism and Philosophy published the same year, any more concerned to criticize the Authorized Version directly : he simply put the question of the link between the philosophy of the proletariat and the social revolution. [16]

In the last analysis, these two books have the same object : to apply Marxist (dialectical) method to the development of Marxism : consequently, and to simplify this account, we shall give a schematic analysis of this, for the features which are of concern in the present work are the conclusions that were subsequently to be drawn by the leftists with regard to the problem of revolutionary theory.

Both attack the materialist notions of contemporary Marxists, which separate matter from spirit, making one a simple reflection of the other. This philosophical assertion, which provides the basis for the primacy of the substructure over the superstructure, is not dialectic, for the conscious activity of an individual is on the objective side of the process, a datum which Lukács contrasts with both being and consciousness. [17] Only the process is an objective reality, for in it subject and object, being and consciousness are united. 'We find the subject and object of the social process coexisting in a state of dialectical interaction. [18] So much so that even the simple fact of the knowledge produces an objective change in its object. To stop at the reality of the mere object would be to grasp only the appearance of things, and this would mean staking everything on their immediacy.

The only valid philosophical category is totality, and only by dialectical method can totality be appreciated, whereas the method which Lukács calls 'reflective' only apprehends a false objectivity. The latter is the logical method of the bourgeoisie, which cannot transcend immediacy because it is the prisoner of its position, whereas the proletariat, by the specific dialectic of its class situation, is moved to find a way out of it, since it alone possesses the understanding of the process, hence of the totality. In this conception, consciousness is not a simple reflection of the process of history, but is truly the agent by which history may be transformed : at the moment of revolution the separation between subject and object disappears completely; a fraction of humanity perceives the totality and thus raises itself to the level of self-consciousness.

This represents a positive return to the younger Marx, still impregnated with the philosophy of Hegel, who rejected the Kantian distinction between 'is' and 'ought'. The question for him, and for Marx, is resolved in the notion of historical 'presence' (Dasein). [19]

The identity of subject and object in the process is categorically opposed to the materialism of a Kautsky, a PIekhanov or a Lenin. It is true that Lukács does not make a frontal attack on Lenin, aiming rather at the German reformists, whose theory of evolution without revolution is a direct consequence of the separation of the dialectic from historical materialism. But by accusing Engels of 'ambiguity' in his notion of the thing-in-itself, of having considered concepts the reflections of 'real' objects, he called in question the whole basis of 'scientific socialism'. He does not hesitate to write that the dialectic of nature leads on to a pre-Hegelian materialism which becomes a form of 'inverted Platonism'. [20] on this point, Korsch is more explicit in accusing Lenin of returning purely and simply to Kant. By separating being and consciousness, not only does Lenin deny any dialectical relationship between theory and practice, but he also makes being, the 'is', into an absolute -- and ideal -- category. [21]

It is evident that the philosophical argument boiled down to an assessment of the revolutionary movement, and of whether it is or is not an independent agent of the historical dialectic; it is the very primacy of the Party which is here in question, since it is the proletariat as a class which is able to grasp and overcome historical realities, starting with its own alienation. [22] In other words, the essential element in historical evolution does not consist in the contradictions between the forces of production and the relationships of production, but in the proletariat's consciousness of this. The proletariat's awareness of the contradictions is not direct; it appreciates them only through its own alienation. The decisive factor in social change is therefore alienation (or, as Lukács calls it, 'reification'). It is no longer a question of objective, observable factors which may be deduced from the laws of the dialectic, as the orthodoxies (whether Leninist or Kautskyist) maintain, but of a factor of consciousness, a superstructure. This is very important, and not just in order to understand the vigour of communist attacks on Lukács but to the very comprehension of leftism itself, which, as will be seen, places very great importance on alienation in its vision of capitalist society and its overthrow, both as a universal, omnipresent phenomenon and as one which is directly communicated to the consciousness of the workers, without benefit of any privileged intermediary. [23]

In rediscovering the philosophical dimension of Marxism, revisionism also questions the very meaning of revolutionary theory. Korsch is far more explicit than Lukács, but his reasoning follows on from their common conception of philosophy as the spiritual expression of the world. Theory, says Korsch, is nothing other than the general expression of the real movement of history. [24] Ideology, on the other hand, is thought congealed into a fixed pattern, which no longer expresses a living reality. This definition, drawn directly from Hegel's definition of philosophy ('an epoch captured in a thought') and which Marx : was to apply to the movement of thought in his own time, enables Korsch to apply himself to a dialectical examination of Marxism. Is it still a theory of the development of the proletariat, or is it, by contrast, an ideology in the Marxian sense (false consciousness) in that it disguises true social relationships and the true course of historical development ?

The importance of this distinction must be emphasized at once; it makes it possible to unmask a supposedly immutable system, and hand down to leftism the Korschian concept of revolutionary theory, defined as the current praxis of the proletariat. At the time when he was writing his Marxism and Philosophy in 1923, Korsch limited himself to applying this concept to the history of Marxism, in which he distinguished three phases. The period from 1843 to 1848 was that in which Marxism expressed the revolutionary tendencies of the European proletariat; 1848 up to the end of the century corresponded to the rise of reaction and the weakening of the class struggle. Marxism then became critical of political economy and enunciated the theses relating to peaceful evolutionism. From the end of the nineteenth century an attempt was made to return to revolutionary Marxism (Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg).

Whereas in the first period the Marxist critique was a totality (philosophical, economic, political and ideological), in the second period it gave special weight to the economic element, becoming a scientific critique of the economy of a bourgeois State but not necessarily leading to a revolutionary praxis. To convince oneself of this, says Korsch, one need only compare the Communist Manifesto with the programmes of the European socialist parties, both East and West. [25]

Subsequently, Korsch, having broken with the KPD (German CP), pushed his analysis even further, showing that Marxism was tainted with Jacobinism from the start, because it stemmed from the philosophy of the bourgeois revolution. [26] Because it remained faithful to the political forms of the bourgeois revolution, because it overestimated the ability of the State to act as the decisive instrument of social revolution and because it identified the development of the capitalist economy with the social revolution of the working class, Marxism became a brake on the revolution; from being a revolutionary theory, it became a pure ideology. [27]

While the transformation of Marxism into a scientific system based on economic evolution still expressed a degree of reality in the course of the second phase, the 'congealing' of this line of thought from the end of the nineteenth century onwards was to establish a final divorce between Marxism and reality. According to Korsch, Bernstein's reformism better expressed the reality of the German labour movement before the First World War than did Kautsky's intransigent and 'orthodox' scientism. Similarly, in the interwar period, Marxism became estranged from social struggle : it had built itself up into a State philosophy, while 'proletarian communism', as a theory of the real labour movement, only seemed to survive thanks to isolated thinkers or groups like the council communists. [28]

The full importance of Lukács's and Korsch's revisionism is evident : most significant is the return to philosophical analysis which resulted from it, i.e. to reflection on Marxism using its own concepts (the dialectic). The outcome of this was a relativization of revolutionary ideologies which produced the exact opposite of Marxism-Leninism : whereas the latter presented itself as the revolutionary theory, incontrovertible because scientific, Korsch saw all revolutionary thought in a dialectical relationship with the real class movement, so defining it as necessarily changeable as that movement changed. [29]

While Korsch and Lukács were making a philosophical critique of Lenin's materialism, it is interesting to compare it with the epistemological theories of the times (the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth). This analysis is all the more valuable for the fact that it was carried out by Anton Pannekoek, whose political notions of working-class praxis are central to the current theoretical renewal, and whose scientific credentials have never been questioned. [30]

Pannekoek, an astronomer with a world reputation, shows in a very concise study of Dietzgen, Mach and Avenarius carried out in the light of modern epistemological notions (the theory of relativity) that the matter which provides the key concept of Lenin's work is a mere abstraction. Consequently Lenin, who criticizes Mach and Avenarius for their subjectivism (according to which reality is composed of purely mental sensations or elements), has failed to reach the level of their systems. Avenarius considers the dualism between the central nervous system and the sensations, which, according to him, are only variations of it; Lenin regresses in time, by comparison with this notion, by identifying nature with physical matter and by creating an absolute opposition between matter and ideal, energy and consciousness. [31] But the whole development of modern physics, says Pannekoek, rejects the material notion of matter (which refers to ether, atoms and molecules), imposing an abstract concept instead, one of energy, waves and light. In short, the thing-in-itself is nothing without the representation of it we ourselves make : matter is everything which actually exists, whether in nature or in our own minds.

Lenin, following Plekhanov, regresses towards a realist concept of matter as a thing which may be touched, apprehended with the senses. That is to say he returns to the simplistic notion of matter entertained by the bourgeois materialists such as Feuerbach and Büchner, ridiculed by Marx in his philosophical writings.

Pannekoek, it is true, does not content himself with demonstrating the distance between Materialism and Empiriocriticism and the concepts of modern physics; he explains why Lenin does not counter Mach and Avenarius with the results of the theory of relativity (developed in 1905 before the publication of Lenin's book), but with the simplistic and outdated materialism of the bourgeois ideologues. The latter was founded on the natural sciences, on which capitalism had constructed the whole of its system of production (and hence of exploitation); what the proletariat needs, on the other hand, is historical materialism, the science of society which reveals to it the true relationships within the capitalist system and hence its own class position.

The revolutionary intellectuals, Lenin among them, struggled in Russia against tsarist absolutism, whose religion provided a secular support; it was a first priority to attack this religion, oppose it with earthly, material and scientific truths. The proletariat had first to complete the work of an inadequate middle class, it had to struggle against feudalism and its prejudices -- it was necessary to find a philosophy suited to the needs of practical activity. The struggle of the Bolsheviks was similar to that previously carried out by the bourgeoisie of Western Europe, and it is therefore not surprising that the conceptions propagated by Lenin should be similar to those of a man like Feuerbach. [32]

This attack on the orthodox version of Marxism, this confrontation with the Bolshevik ideology both on the level of a dialectic critique and on that of the development of the natural sciences also form, if not the framework, at least the outline of what has come to be called French revisionism. But we should hasten to add that the latter came into being at a very peculiar time, at a time when many illusions which might still have been legitimate in 1920-30 had been destroyed. French revisionism was the direct consequence of de-Stalinization, but at the same time it is the work of one-time Stalinists. Hence its demands (total revision), hence also its limitations. Revisionism adds nothing to Marxism, but by reviving the Central European revisionism of the twenties and given the context of the fifties and sixties, it was to make its own contribution to the grand enterprise of philosophical liberation.

Marxism-Leninism regarded itself as a cosmogony, a total scientific system, that is to say, it presented itself as the embodiment of the philosophy which Marx proclaimed in his 11th thesis on Feuerbach, as the final reconciliation between theory and practice. By showing that far from embodying it, the communists had perpetuated it in a mock-scientific form (in the USSR, in China, in the people's democracies) [33] and transformed it into an ideology (or, in the Marxian sense, a false consciousness), revisionism 'unblocked' revolutionary thought, at least in so far as it presented itself as a totality. Hence, revolutionary thought was enabled to start functioning again. For revisionism was a radical phenomenon : it wished to return to the root of things, to go over the Marxist critique once more in all its stages. [34] It may be said that it overshot its mark : its original aim, to rediscover a 'pure and primitive Marxism', was never achieved. Arguments 'surpassed' Marxism in a non-revolutionary sense; modern leftism, for its part, used it as one of many stars in its theoretical firmament.

The end of theoretical Marxism in France was almost contemporaneous with its propagation : the paradox is only apparent, if one considers that revisionism coincided with de-Stalinization, the workers' councils in Poland and Hungary with 'peaceful coexistence', a thoroughgoing nonsense from the point of view of revolutionary theory. [35]

This destruction of Marxism opened the way to new projects on the level of pure theory. We have seen that Socialisme ou Barbarie had been engaged in such projects since 1949. But the group had remained the prisoner of its Trotskyist origins and the atmosphere of its time (the Cold War). The end of the fifties, in contrast, opened new horizons : the multiplicity of new journals and groups, the appearance of new ideas bear witness to the fact.

The movement from a critique of Marxism to the development of a critique of society and a theory of revolution was to take place gradually, almost unnoticed, starting with the revisionist project and the analysis of Russian bureaucracy. The most obvious novel feature of this new thinking was the break with the old obsession with economic factors. Here again, revisionism contributed to demonstrating that the suppression of economic alienation does not bring about the disappearance of all alienation. [36] In other words, the whole heritage of economic determinism was to be rejected, even to the extent that the development of facts and of the sciences had failed to confirm the hypotheses of Das Kapital.

In place of the economism popularly attributed to the last period of Marx's life, and which ignores the conscious part played by classes and by men while at the same time providing nourishment for an 'ideology of commandment', [37] leftism was to put the freedom of choice of the alienated man to seek his liberation within everyday life.


[1] See the latest work on the subject : M. Dommanget, L'Introduction du marxisme en France (Paris, 1969).

[2] The best-known of these included Lefebvre, Politzer, Guterman and Friedmann, all members of the 'Philosophies' group. All went over to the Communist Party and abandoned their philosophical research. Cf. Jean Touchard. Le Mouvement des idées politiques dans la France contemporaine (Paris : Cours IEP, 1968), which sheds valuable new light on the subject, notably on pp. 22 and 170. Cf. also the memoirs of H. Lefebvre in La Somme et le reste (Paris, 1959).

[3] We should not overlook Alexandre Kojève's lectures (1933-9) entitled Introduction a la lecture de Hegel, or the works of Lucien Goldmann. However, their impact at the time was minimal.

[4] Les Adventures de la dialectique (Paris, 1955), p. 116.

[5] Arguments, December 1956-January 1957. The editorial board of the French edition included C. Audry, R. Barthes. J. Duvignaud, E. Morin. These were later joined by K. Axelos and P. Fougeyrollas.

[6] J. Duvignaud : 'Marxisme : idéologie ou philosophie', Arguments, 2 (February-March 1957); E. Morin, 'Révisons le révisionnisme', ibid.

[7] In fact, there were a number of phases : up until 1960, the aim was revision properly speaking (the expression was first used by E. Morin in Autocritique (Paris, 1959), p. 241, in which he speaks of 'total revisionism'), after which Marxism was quite simply abandoned and a new search for a 'planetary' system of thought integrating the acquired knowledge of the social sciences into its conceptual apparatus was set in motion; cf. 'L'Evolution d'Arguments' by Y. Bourdet in Communisme et marxisme (Paris, 1963).

[8] The best presentation of Marxism as a system hinging on a number of different phases is still that by George Lichtheim, Marxism (Routledge, 1964), which distinguishes a 'pre-Marxist' Marx who develops, after 1860, towards economism.

[9] F. Engels, Anti-Dühring (Paris, 1950; Lawrence & Wishart, 1955); cf. esp. Chapter 13. The book first appeared in German in 1878, and was more widely read than Capital. It was through Anti-Düring that a whole generation of German socialists first became acquainted with Marxism. Actually, Engels states that Marx had never applied the dialectic to anything but history, but he adds that 'it[the dialectic] would seem to be a self-evident feature of the natural sciences'.

[10] F. Engels, 'Critique of the Draft Erfurt Programme' (1891), in Marx-Engels, Critique of the Socialist Programmes of Gotha and Erfurt (Paris : Spartacus, 1948), p. 73.

[11] It is true that Lenin, in his Notes on Hegel's Dialectic, returns, after Plekhanov, to a more Hegelian view of the dialectic : but it may be noted that all he, or Plekhanov, retained of Hegel was the attempt to found a dialectical philosophy of nature, not its application to the world of the mind.

[12] As Engels had taught; cf. the 'Critique of the Draft Erfurt Programme' already quoted.

[13] His ideas on political organization and action, which derive from the position analysed above, may be found in What is to be Done ? (1902).

[14] It is significant that from 1919, the Bolsheviks insisted on presenting the programme of the Russian Communist Party as having a 'scientific character', drawn from Marx's correct observation of the capitalist régimes (which he is supposed to have examined as one might examine a clock, the defective functioning of which enables one to predict that it will shortly stop) : N. Bukharin, G. Preobrazhensky, The ABC of Communism (Penguin, 1969), pp. 66-7.

[15] History and Class Consciousness (Merlin Press, 1971). Lukács contrived at the same time to maintain that Lenin was a great philosopher, which is difficult to reconcile with his trenchant critique of dialectical materialism.

[16] K. Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy (New Left Books, 1970). In the first edition (1923) he was extremely prudent, and refrained from attacking any interpretation; in the second (1930), on the other hand, he launched a frontal attack on Lenin's materialism. For the purposes of the present account, there is no need to give a chronological chart showing the development of his thinking. Consequently we shall henceforth refer to the second edition, that of 1930.

[17] On the whole of this passage, cf. G. Lukács, op. cit., p. 165.

[18] loc. cit.

[19] On the Hegelian influence on Lukács, see G. Lichtheim's small volume Lukács (Fontana, 1970), Chapter 4.

[20] G. Lukács History and Class Consciousness, p. 202. In this passage, Lukács bases himself on the Theses on Feuerbach. Cf. the interesting reflections of L. Goldmann on Marx's monism in these theses, which throw light on the Lukácsian interpretation ('Philosophy and Sociology in the Works of the Young Marx', a text reproduced in the anthology entitled Marxisme et sciences sociales (Paris, 1970), pp. 130-50).

[21] K. Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy, p. 117.

[22] It should be pointed out that Zinoviev was right when he stated in 1924 (at the Fifth Congress of the Comintern) that the theoretical revisionism of the 'two professors' (Lukács and Korsch) represented a threat to the existence of the international communist movement. Quoted by M. Watnik : 'Relativism and Class Consciousness : Georg Lukács', in L. Labedz (ed.), Revisionism (Allen & Unwin, 1962), p. 146.

[23] In particular, we shall find how much the situationist theory of alienation owes to Lukács. There is little point in making explicit the concepts of alienation and reification as used by Lukács. The interpretation the modern leftists were to place on them is what concerns us here.

[24] K. Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy, p. 102.

[25] K. Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy, p. 57.

[26] See 'Theses sur Hegel et la révolution', Appendix to the French edition of Marxism and Philosophy : Marxisme et philosophie (Paris, 1964). The German text dates from 1932.

[27] 'Dix thèses sur le marxisme d'aujourd'hui' (1950), ibid.

[28] K. Korsch, 'The Philosophy of Lenin', article in Living Marxism (1938), reproduced as an appendix in A. Pannekoek, Lénine philosophe (Paris, 1970).

[29] It should be noted that Lukács's conception was much more dialectical, since he does not recognize any social reality separate from its theory, the one transforming the other continually so that together they form the historical process, the only objective reality.

[30] A. Pannekoek, op. cit. The text was first published in German in 1938, under the pseudonym of J. Harper.

[31] ibid., pp. 71 and 78-81. As early as 1924, Korsch had shown, without as yet questioning Lenin himself, that when the 'official' thinkers of the Comintern reasoned as materialists, the result was pure positivism. When they thought as dialecticians, their dialectics were nothing more than Hegelian idealism; cf. 'Lenin und die Komintern' in Die Internationale of 2 June 1924.

[32] A. Pannekoek, Lénine philosophe, pp. 99-102. K. Korsch also thinks that Lenin never philosophized in order to 'discover the truth' on any given question. but to settle a dispute with the enemies of the Party. 'Good philosophy' was whatever was useful to the Party. Marxism and Philosophy, pp. 109 ff.

[33] K. Axelos : 'Y a-t-il une philosophie marxiste ?' in Arguments, 4 (June-September 1957).

[34] 'From the critique of heaven down to the critique of earth', as noted in K. Papaïoannou, L'Idéologie froide (Paris, 1967), p. 187.

[35] J. Duvignaud, 'France : Neo-Marxists', in Labedz (ed.), Revisionism, p. 315. In Germany and Hungary, on the other hand, revisionism coincided with a period of revolutionary effervescence (the Hungarian revolution, the Spartakists, strikes in the Ruhr, the occupation of factories in Turin, etc.).

[36] P. Fougeyrollas. Le Marxisme en question (Paris, 1959), p. 27. On the transition between revisionism and more recent forms of theoretical criticism, cf. G. Lichtheim. Marxism in Modern France (Columbia University Press, 1966), pp. 183 ff.

[37] cf. 'L'Expérience prolétarienne', an unsigned editorial in fact written by C. Lefort in Socialisme ou Barbarie, 21 (November-December 1952).