I generally tend to agree with most of Lenin's ideas, especially because they are more pragmatic than most of the second international. However his delving into philosophy seems to come off as shallow.
I am referring specifically to his writings on empirocriticism. He doesn't seem to understand, or have made any attempt to understand the arguments of the empirocritics and his argument consists of claiming merely that his opponent's views serve the bourgeoisie (even though the empirocritics' conclusions were much more radical than Lenin's and used as arguments for atheism), and a few tacky quotes from Engels, who was a poor philosopher himself.
Did anyone else find this?
I am drawn to Bogdanov's conclusion that it would allow for development of proletarian culture, although it certainly was too radical for the time of Lenin.
I guess you have to ask yourself what should be the main memory of Lenin, his philosophy or his actions? I believe his actions should speak the loudest especially considering he bought hope and prosperity to so many.
I am a Marxist Leninist and I will be one until the last day of my life.- Fidel Castro
Yea, a bit.
Yeah well, please refrain from posting one-liners. sp
I'm in chapter one atm, and I've actually found his arguments very convincing so far. But here...
I don't quite understand Lenin's condescension and arrogance with which he dismisses this. To me this seems like an appealing dialectic and I'm afraid he hasn't quite managed to make it look entirely unappealing to me...
I took a look at your quote in context at the MIA. It seems Lenin is referring to the old "if a tree falls and no one hears it" dilemma. Lenin quotes the empirocrit as saying " In the Archean period the woods were verdant . . . yet there was no man"
"That means that the inseparable can be separated! Is that not “natural"? 5) “Yet from the standpoint of the theory of knowledge, the question of the object in itself is absurd” (p. 148). Of course! When there were no sentient organisms objects were nevertheless “complexes of elements” identical with sensations!"
From a purely historical perspective Lenin is undoubtedly correct that objective matter preceded mind. Thus it is not necessary for mind to create the environment.
But I must admit that I too have often found the Marxist-Leninist focus on materialism far less fruitful and interesting than dialectics. And having read a great deal of Soviet literature, and in fact it goes back the 2nd International and Engels himself, the focus is too strongly on the "two camps" of idealism vs materialism. Precisely because materialism is so commonsensical, it is far less interesting to me than dialectics. Certainly western-hegelian Marxists have put much more emphasis on a dialectical feedback loop between subject and object, as opposed to the absolute objectivism of Leninism. But for the most part that is because they simply assume the truth of materialism is the physical world, and thus concentrate more on the dialectics of the social world.
Common sense realism actually has an interesting history coming out of the Scottish Enlightenment, and can be considered the official philosophy of the early American Republic. The influence isn't really played up in histories of the American Revolution, part it was more directly influential on the American leadership than the superstars of the Enlightenment. The democratic kernel of common sense epistemology is that Truth is whatever the majority believes to be true. Thomas Reids' defense of the intuition of the common man against philosophers, played a progressive part in its' time and is a foundation of democracy. Unfortunately in the 20th and 21st century, common sense realism plays a rather reactionary role for the right-populism of Palins and Becks. In fact the Evangelical Fundamentalist movement to the extent that it has philosophy has adapted common sense realism through the Presbyterian connection to Scotland. So in the philosophy of common sense one can really see the evolution of American politics from the progressive bourgeois revolutionary democracy of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the reactionary center of imperialism of today.
Oh God yes. The book is beginning to bore me to death. I've accepted materialism, now please let's talk about dialectics... can you recommend one of these western-hegelian Marxists? That sounds much more interesting than "Leninist objectivism." (A nice term!)
Endless diatribes about Bazarov's misrepresentations of Engels over such an absurd question as whether materialism is true are just neither entertaining nor interesting nor educating, just boring.
edit: I just skimmed Chapter 2 and begun reading chapter 3 and it only gets worse.
Lenin denies this. That's ridiculous. This is basic dialectics. I mean I tolerated the endless talking about materialism because I was thinking, okay, maybe such an overdone defense of materialism was necessary in the discourse of these days, but if he does it against dialectics it starts to really make me angry. The non-self (the observed world) is inseparable from the self... as evidenced by the simple fact that a humanless world can never be observed, only theoretically reconstructed! Likewise, the thinker and his thoughts are inseparable. This is plain obvious. Why is Lenin being so incredibly stupid to deny this? Or am I being stupid here?
Melanie Klein was born too late. Sigh.
Hmm. At least he admits the significance here.
edit: ...oh dear, in the causality section he actually makes me wish I could just read his opponents instead because they're more interesting... I don't think a critique, especially a polemic, can fail any harder. Like he quotes an awesomely intriguing passage and then just declares it to be trash.
Kevin Anderson's Lenin, Hegel, and. Western Marxism, goes into a lot of detail about the relationship between Lenin and dialectics. He is pretty dismissive of M and EC, as a work of vulgar mechanistic materialism. Anderson argues that Lenin essentially abandoned those simplistic views in his commentaries on Hegel's logic, which shows a much more profound appreciation of the dialectical relation between subject and object. Following in the tradition of Dunayevskaya, Anderson essentially claims that Marx and Lenin were
entirely Hegelian, and that Hegel's "idealism" is identical to Marx's "materialism". It was in his Philosophical Notebooks that Lenin wrote that "Intelligent idealism is closer to intelligent materialism than stupid materialism".
As for Western Marxist works on dialectics, there is a pretty big difference in the Western approach to dialectics as well as materialism. Soviet diamat, presents it as a scientific systematic project. Western dialectics tends to be more piecemeal, simple applying the methodology to specific problems. And dialectics of nature is entirely rejected. Dialectics is entirely social in nature, and thus inseparable from historical materialism. At its' worst, western marxism can be Marxism with its' teeth taken out, and thus re-appropriate Marx as a safe literary and sociological critic completely removed from revolutionary struggle.
But it is a shame that so few Soviet philosophical publications (at least in English) are devoted to dialectics, with the focus entirely on materialism. This is long after Lenin, well into the Brezhnev era. To be fair, Engels deserves the blame just as much as Lenin in defining the basic question of philosophy as materialism. An interesting work critiquing this trend written within the USSR is Evald Ilyenkov 1979
Leninist Dialectics and the Metaphysics of Positivism. Ironically Evald criticizes the trend by identifying the positivists with the empirocritics. So he claims to be upholding Lenin's Materialism and Empirocriticism. At the same time he is criticizing the scientism/positivism that focuses purely on physical science, while ignoring the complexities of dialectics.
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