Marx on mystical consciousness

Extract from a letter from Karl Marx to Arnold Ruge, in which Marx formulates the general aims of a new journal the pair were working on.

Submitted by jahbread on February 7, 2015

....In that case we do not confront the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle: Here is the truth, kneel down before it! We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.

The reform of consciousness consists only in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in awakening it out of its dream about itself, in explaining to it the meaning of its own actions. Our whole object can only be – as is also the case in Feuerbach’s criticism of religion – to give religious and philosophical questions the form corresponding to man who has become conscious of himself.

Hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form. It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realising the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work.

In short, therefore, we can formulate the trend of our journal as being: self-clarification (critical philosophy) to be gained by the present time of its struggles and desires. This is a work for the world and for us. It can be only the work of united forces. It is a matter of a confession, and nothing more. In order to secure remission of its sins, mankind has only to declare them for what they actually are.

The complete letter can still be found on the Marxist Internet Archive.

Comments

arminius

9 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by arminius on February 8, 2015

What's the date of this letter?

arminius

9 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by arminius on February 8, 2015

Thanks for that.

westartfromhere

3 months 1 week ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 14, 2024

Hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form.

On this "mystical consciousness", the "divine wind":

The spirit (breath) of God [hod], which creates and gives life, Gn 1:2; 2:7 +, lays hold on men [and women] to endow them with superhuman power. Gn 41:38; Ex 31:3; 1 S 16:13, particularly the prophets, Jg 3:10 +, The characteristic of the messianic age is to be an extraordinary outpouring of the spirit, Zc 4:6b; 6:8, on all men [and women], endowing them with special graces, Nb 11:29;Jl 3:1-2; Ac 2:16-21 +. But, more mysteriously, for each receiver the spirit will be the principle of an inward renewal making possible a faithful observance of the law of God. Ezk 36:26-27; 37:14; 11:19; Is 32:15-19; Zc 12:10; thus the spirit will be the principle inspiring of the new covenant, Jr 31:31 + ; like life-giving water it will nourish fruits of integrity and holiness, Is 44:3; Jn 4:1 + , which in turn will guarantee the favour and protection of God [god] for man [Man], Ezk 39:24-29. This effusion of the spirit will be effected through the Messiah ["bond of union"] who will be the first recipient of it, to be able to accomplish his saving work, Is 11:1-3; 42:1; 61:1; cf. Mt 3:16.

Note f to chapter 36, Ezekiel, Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition, 1966.

Apologies for inclusion of this Christian dogma but despite its idolism of "our Lord and Saviour" it provides insight into this conception, mystical consciousness.

All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.

Karl Marx, from Thesis VIII on Feuerbach