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Western takes on Mao's Contradiction from Althusser to Zizek

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Post 15 Jul 2019, 19:21
Wang Zhenmin: Interpretation of "On Contradiction" from the Perspective of the Development History of Foreign Marxism
Wang Zhenmin 2019-01-19 Browse: 678
Compared with foreign "Chinese Studies Fields", the interpretation of "Contradictions" in the history of foreign Marxism development is more profound in terms of value interest, research paradigm, and theoretical depth. The theoretical logic embedded in different philosophical schools in the West, the speculative nature is stronger than the practice, the emergence of the "crisis" in Marxism, and the revival of Marx's dialectic is its basic theoretical feature; its history of more than 50 years Logically traced back to the three unique appearances of the "Contradictions" in Althusser's scientism interpretation mode, and the humanistic paradigm represented by Lefebvre and Levin, which is based on anti-Artsianism. Interpretation, followed by the theoretical care of the new dialectical school represented by Hunter, is now in the value of the radical leftist revival of materialist dialectics with Zizek as the vanguard. Correctly view the "theoretical cross-border" phenomenon in its discourse system, critically interpret the research results, and absorb and draw on its useful research methods, which is of great benefit to the innovation and development of the Chinese-style Marxist dialectics.
Wang Zhenmin: Interpretation of "On Contradiction" from the Perspective of the Development History of Foreign Marxism

Whether in the historical evolution of the change of Marxist dialectics from "single righteousness" to "polysemy", or in the picture of foreign Marxists defending the scientific struggle of Marxism, it is in the post-revolution of the New Left. In the era of questioning the alternatives of capitalism or the exploration of the theory and reality of the possible socialist revolution in the context of capitalist globalization, Mao Zedong's dialectics with "Contradictory Theory" as its core is undoubtedly one of the important theoretical resources. Conversely, when we are committed to building a Marxist discourse system with Chinese characteristics and developing innovative Chinese-style Marxist dialectics with the times, it is extremely important to profoundly summarize and critically interpret the relevant research results of foreign Marxists. .

I. General theoretical characteristics of foreign "Contradictions" research
The so-called general theoretical characteristics refer to the dependence characteristics of "Contradictions" in the theoretical framework and logic of foreign Marxists and the basic characteristics that result. After all, the different foreign Marxist schools have great differences in the cognitive framework of Marxism—the interpretation of the theoretical basis of the Theory of Contradiction. Specifically, it is mainly manifested in the following aspects:

1. The interpretation of "The Theory of Contradiction" is not simply explained by the "orthodox" Marxism at the time, but embedded in the social thoughts and philosophical schools of the time in the West, with a strong era. And diversity. For example, Althusser’s interpretation of The Theory of Contradiction is closely related to structuralism, Freud’s psychoanalysis of “transplantation” and “condensation”, and Spinoza’s “structural causality”. Together, in this era, a refreshing explanation was given to Marxism. And Ian Hunter is based on the "new dialectic" academic background, relying on "double true law" combined with Masacia's contradictory view (Hunt thinks it is the inheritance and development of Mao Zedong's contradictory view), The Theory of Contradiction was interpreted. As for Lefebvre, Levin, Dunaevskaya and others, the theory of contradiction is constructed in the theoretical logic of existentialism, humanism or new Hegelian Marxism. Zizek intervened in the interpretation of Contradiction in Lacan's psychoanalysis and Hegelian philosophy.

2. The theoretical point of interpretation of "The Theory of Contradiction" is not based on seeking to overthrow capitalism, nor on defending the legitimacy and legitimacy of the Chinese revolution, but more on the historical background of specific Western society. An academic discourse system. Although this discourse has the formal characteristics of resisting capitalist society, it still belongs to the category of speculative philosophy. It has basically lost the revolutionary and practical nature of Contradiction as a dialectics of practice. Like Lefebvre’s concern for Contradiction, the most fundamental thing is to criticize the “new sectarian ideology”. Althusser’s “superdetermination” is “a clever and fragile adulteration”, namely Obey the purpose of academic debate. When Lefebvre held high the banner of daily life critical theory, its theoretical value of interest has been far from the theme of human liberation through social revolution, and it is branded with the value of Western cultural critical theory. Even for the interpretation of "Contradictory Theory" by the red man Zizek, who is now called the most radical left wing, when he critically rethinks the "Contradictory Theory", he regards "doing nothing" as the most radical. In the intervention, John Gray pointed out that this criticism of existing capitalism is fundamentally empty and empty. For the Althusserian theoretical revolution, the search for "true Marx" is its first value dimension, and "critical capitalism" is at least invisible in its approval of methodological ideology. This interpretation ultimately unconsciously falls into the paradox of the essentialism of political and cultural determinism.

3. The timing of his interpretation of The Theory of Contradiction is basically at the time of the “crisis” of Marxism in the world or region. Therefore, the interpretation of "Contradiction" has a certain effect, that is, the intention to reconstruct or revive Marxism. For example, Althusser’s “excessive determinism” benefiting from the “Contradictory Theory” was elucidated at the time when the West tried to completely hegeize Marxism. Some scholars have pointed out that Althusser used Mao Zedong's philosophy as a starting point when "rethinking Marxism." Ian Hunter believes that Marxism has intervened in the interpretation of "Contradictory Theory" in the theoretical and practical disparity, in order to analyze the structure of Marxist dialectics and restore the "original face" of Marxist dialectics. Zizek was concealed in the 21st century Marxist theory of class struggle by the absurdity theory of "modernity substitution", the decisive role of the economy was neglected, and the value of Marxism was pointed out - when the overthrow of capitalism was downplayed, the appeal was contradicted. Reinterpretation of the theory.

4. Hegel's dialectics or Marx's dialectics has become the theoretical intermediary for interpreting Contradiction. This is a remarkable feature of this interpretation. Its basic purpose is to "return to the historical image of Marx's dialectics" and activate the vitality of Marxism. For Althusser, he criticized the concept of universality of teleology and metaphysics in Hegelianism with the help of Mao Zedong's universal concept, and relied on the concept of "contradictory instability" - Mao Zedong on the economy The discussion of the relationship between foundation and superstructure opposes economic determinism, and at the same time opposes essentialism and reductionism in Hegelian philosophy, relying on the contradiction of imbalance, and then defines the dialectic between Marxism and Hegel's dialectics. The "fracture", even in the late period of Althusser, euphemistically acknowledged the influence of Hegelian philosophy on Marx's dialectics, and constructed an influential structural dialectics. To Levin, on the contrary, he has always insisted that Hegelian philosophy has a "key role" in the development of Marxism. Especially after "the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the main feature of the new era of Marxism is the re-hegelization of Marx", and then through Lenin's dialectics, especially the historical destiny of "philosophical notes" and the historical effect of Mao Zedong's dialectical theory of political practice. "Compatible with" logic to perform, only truly "return to Hegel" can re-develop Marxism. Hunter and Zizek also hold similar theoretical logic.

Second, the historical logic of the study of foreign "Contradictions": from Althusser to Zizek
In the historical pedigree of foreign Marxism from humanism to postmodernism or from Western Marxism to Marxism, "The Theory of Contradiction" has more or less left its own footprint in the schools of thought in different historical periods. Some Western scholars pay attention to the object. Luva once said that compared with "Practice Theory", Western scholars are more "preferential" and "contradictory theory", and their comments are most appropriate.

1. The Theory of Contradiction under the Scientism Paradigm

In the 1960s, Althusser’s interpretation of The Theory of Contradiction was the most typical and striking in the process of countering the bourgeois ideology such as humanism and defending the scientific nature of Marxism. It can be said that the influence of "The Theory of Contradiction" on Althusser is obvious. Jameson believes that the two concepts in Althusserism - the concept of production mode (that is, the multi-level structure of unbalanced relationship) and the concept of dominant structure are structuralist rewrites of the concepts related to "Contradiction". Alan Lipiez also believes that Althusser’s structural dialectics is similar to Mao Zedong’s dialectic concept in The Theory of Contradiction, that is, they are all anti-Hegelian, and they have not reduced dialectics to an “original Organic whole." If you carefully sort out Althusser's text, you can find that the four core concepts of "Contradiction" in the different contexts before and after Althusser's philosophy - problem, epistemological break, ideology, and symptom reading are present. In short, there are three appearances and different value implications.

The most dazzling first appearance in the text "Defending Marx". Althusser believes that "Contradiction" is a special issue of Marxist dialectics - not a reversal of Hegel's dialectics, not a "shell and core" relationship, but a completely different structure, a fundamental creation - - The theoretical solution. With the characteristics of the structuralist approach, he reinterprets Mao Zedong's universality-speciality, thus demonstrating the heterogeneity of Marxist theoretical practice process and Hegel's dialectical movement process, and clarifying the uniqueness of Marxist philosophy. The special difference has laid the epistemological foundation for the construction of excessive determinism.

The second time is in the situation of symptom reading - mainly presented in "Reading Capital". Here, "The Theory of Contradiction" is first incorporated into Althusser's critically reflective and "sickness reading" book in the form of the theoretical existence of political practice of Marxist philosophy. When "The Theory of Contradiction" was placed in the sight of "symptoms" reading, it was used as a symptomatic work to completely demarcate Marx's dialectics and Hegel's dialectics and to clarify the break between Marxist philosophy and ideology philosophy. When "Contradiction" is regarded as a typical work of Marxist dialectics in the state of practice and rises to the theory, it is a reflective description of the structure of Marxist dialectics in political practice. It is a redefinition of materialism for Althusser. Dialectics, that is, Marxist philosophy, emerged as a theory of theoretical practice.

The third time appeared in the context of the theory of ideology and self-reflection after the Althusser philosophy turned. On the one hand, Althusser borrows from Mao Zedong’s concept of non-confrontational contradictions, that is, the contradictions that will continue to prevail in the future society after the revolution, not only contradictions but also the universality and permanence of ideology itself. That is, ideology "has no history" because it always exists in all forms. On the other hand, Althusser reconsidered the past rationalism by relying on the contradictory concepts or analytical methods elaborated in The Theory of Contradiction. He used Mao Zedong's contradictory views as a cognitive model for avoiding binary opposition and evaluated the only correct starting point for any philosophy and any philosophical position. However, when he uses the main tendency and the secondary tendency concept, it also contains the meaning of defending his early views. In his view, the existence of secondary tendencies is the "rejection" that is mainly inevitable.

2. The Contradiction Theory under the New Hegelianism (Humanism) Paradigm

Because of the important position of "The Theory of Contradiction" in the dialectic of structuralism, some humanistic Marxists have to deal with their basic views on "Contradiction" when they engage in theoretical debates with Althusser, especially Answer the relationship between Mao Zedong's dialectics and Hegel's dialectics. Although Lefebvre et al. made some interpretations of this issue in the 1970s, it was systematically expressed in the 1980s that its representative was the new Hegelian Levin. Although Levin, a new Hegelian, has a relationship with humanistic Marxism, there are still some differences. First, he believes that it is not enough to attribute Marxism to merely the principles of humanitarianism or methodology. Marxism must finally become political practice, otherwise it can only become the intellectual ideology and go to death. Second, Levin believes that Marxist Hegelization is a synthesis of Marxism that must go to Hegelization and Marxism must be Hegel.

Levin's research on "The Theory of Contradiction" is multi-faceted, including reasons, sources, content analysis, evaluation and other issues. In Levin's view, the "Contradictory Theory", which is a refinement of dialectics, not only "opens up a new world of social methodology," "making it a better 'seismic instrument' that describes the uniqueness and difference of various historical conditions." Moreover, this methodology also has an important contribution to the departure of the new philosophy and strategy that began in Western Europe. The reason for the writing of The Theory of Contradiction, Levin believes that Mao Zedong needs a kind of Chineseization and scientificization that can confirm his Marxism. The theoretical new dialectical philosophy as a weapon to continue to oppose Wang Ming; as for the source of "Contradiction", he believes that there are both the writings of Mi Ding, Lenin's "philosophical notes", and the ancient Chinese yin and yang views, and even It also includes documents from the International Executive Committee.

Levin's "Contradictory Theory" studies mainly focus on clarifying three issues: Marx's main methodology, Engels' influence on Lenin, and Hegel's decisive significance in understanding dialectics. In the final analysis, he tried to demonstrate the opposition between Marx and Engels, Materialism and Empirical Criticism and Philosophical Notes, Mao Zedong and Stalin, by making it clear that Lenin was the first in the 21st century to re-emphasize Marxism to Hegel. The propositions of Marxist philosophers and Mao Zedong's eternalization of Hegelian Leninism endeavor to prove the necessity of Marxist Hegelization. As he pointed out, Mao Zedong’s idea of ​​using contradictory ideas as the axis of social analysis can get rid of Stalinist Bolshevism and complete criticism of economic determinism and dogmatism. The most fundamental thing is that Mao Zedong was resurrected. Hegelian Leninism emphasizes subjective dialectics and realizes the sinicization of Marxist dialectics.

3. "Contradictions" under the "New Dialectics" Paradigm

In the 1990s, the dialectic of Marxism was accompanied by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the call for the end of history was abandoned by many Western intellectuals. In particular, the Marxism analyzed at that time discarded Marx's dialectics as the primary factor of unconstrained, vague or outdated in Marxism. From the standpoint of the Western Marxist "New Dialectic School", Hunter began a debate with it. "Contradiction" also entered Hunter's vision in this context and was used to explain Marx's dialectic structure. It is worth noting that Hunter recognizes Marx, including in Capital, the inheritance of Hegel's legacy, and the distance between Althusser and Hegel's dialectical monism and Marxist dialectical dualism. There are differences and therefore different from Levin.

Hunter has three main concerns about "Contradictions": First, it explores the relationship between "Contradictions" and Masachia's contradictions. He believes that Mao Zedong's dialectic model is close to or consistent with Masacchia's model, especially the latter's main aspects of contradiction, the unity and contradiction of contradictions, and the resolution of contradictions are undoubtedly influenced by the Contradiction Theory. With the dialectic model of Masacia, which was further developed as a model of dialectic of Mao Zedong, he wants to explain that although Mao Zedong's dialectic model has the characteristics of a complex beyond the model of a simple process, it is not universally applicable. Second, Hunter mainly interprets Mao Zedong's statement about the unity of opposites. On the one hand, he believes that Mao Zedong's account of the unity of opposites and its conditions shows that the focus of the unity of opposites lies in the "transformation of opposites" rather than their coexistence in a unified entity. The transformation of the opposite side is actually the transformation of the position of the opposite sides. The transformation of the opposite side bears the dual task of the disintegration of the old process and the emergence of the new process. In a nutshell, "Mao Zedong's 'unification of the opposite' is the opposite of two opposing aspects, their continuation and struggle, the ultimate disintegration of their unity and being replaced by a new 'unification of the opposite'." On the other hand, he believes that Mao Zedong's "unification of opposites" does not exactly state the specific form that it requires when the changing power gains dominance. The third is that Hunter compares the dialectic model of Mao Zedong and Marx, and believes that Mao Zedong’s dialectic model only clearly grasps the “intermediary” and does not grasp the “direct identity” and differences between the opposite sides of the real “surface”. Nor did they grasp the "indirect identity" between the support and the surface phenomenon. His conclusion is that Marx's dialectical materialism is not as Mao Zedong said, because of the universality of contradiction in all processes and things.

4. The Contradiction Theory under the Lacanian Marxist Paradigm

In the 21st century, the leader of the new left, Zizek, in his introduction to the English translation of the 2007 edition of "Practice Theory and Contradiction", his "the contradiction" was interpreted "critically" by his own theoretical paradigm. The intersection of Zizek and The Theory of Contradiction arises from the triple situation: First, the alternative to the existing order of capitalism in the modern left--making capitalism more human, more democratic, more just, more tolerant--has entered a dead end Under the circumstances, it is imperative to explore the real emancipation plan in the era of global capitalism. The key point is to restore and interpret Marxist materialist dialectics. The dialectics with "Contradictory Theory" as the core is an important achievement in the historical pedigree of Marxist philosophy, both at the practical level and at the theoretical level. Second, Zizek and Althusser, Badiou and others all unanimously acknowledged the influence of Mao Zedong Thought on them. Even Zizek called himself an admirer of Mao Zedong. In particular, they all praised the "cultural revolution consciousness" contained in the discourse on the relationship between economic base and superstructure in "Contradiction Theory", which is in line with the core essence of their social and cultural critical theory. Third, Zizek realized that in the post-revolutionary era, relying on the traditional Marxist theoretical framework could not solve Western social problems. Therefore, it is inevitable that creative development of Marxism to adapt to the Western historical situation. The new thinking and new ideas contained in Mao Zedong's dialectics also gave Qi Zeke some inspiration. From the definition of the revolutionary subject alone, when Zizek regarded the "different actor" composed of marginalized groups such as the proletariat as an important liberating force from the ontological level, when Zizek uttered the subject of the Chinese revolution When the peasants are the mainstay, the metaphor is self-evident. That is, since the worker to the peasant is a great inheritance, the concept from the traditional proletarian concept to the "substantial subject" should also be an objective condition. Call of.

Zizek's interpretation of The Theory of Contradiction can be grasped from the dominant logic under the control of implicit logic. On the dominant level, on the one hand, he advocates Mao Zedong's anti-dogmatism position and scientific analysis of capitalist society and the specific contradictions of Chinese society. And through the careful study of the main arguments in "Contradiction", namely the two aspects of contradiction - the primary and secondary contradictions and the primary and secondary aspects of contradiction - "the universality of contradiction exists in the particularity of contradiction" The idea that the secondary aspect of contradiction can be expressed as the main decision under certain conditions is the key point of Contradiction. On the other hand, he jumped out of the boundary of the text of "Contradiction" and made an expansive interpretation. He believes that Mao Zedong's mistake lies in opposing the "negation of negation" as the basic law of dialectics, and "not sure that the negation of negation is not a compromise of affirmation and absolute negation, but rather a true negation." Mao Zedong’s own "negative dialectics", "does not advance to Hegel's opposite of the opposite", he did not realize that the revolution in the violence has opposition and attempts to eliminate its own essence."

The reason why Zizek interprets the theory of contradiction is also the inevitable driving of his theoretical logic. Zizek believes that to get rid of the dilemma of Western left-wing theory and practice and return to Marxism in a way of "retelling Lenin", it is necessary to revolutionize the important intermediary of Hegelian philosophy. One of the key points is to emphasize the decisive status of special universality through the transformation of Hegel's concept of "universality". In his debate with Laclau on "universality", Zizek made a unique approach from Hegel's "spirit is the skull" and "physical is the subject" and other propositions, form, universality and history are "specific" ", "living", in a nutshell, is "specific universality." It can be said that his relevant expression of "universality and particularity" in "The Theory of Contradiction" is mainly used to support this point of view. Another key point is through the interpretation of Hegel's "negative negation" law, that is, highlighting the inherent "negative" dimension in Hegel's dialectics, for his alleged revolutionary "action" The legality of the theory is explained. It is also in this sense that he does not agree with Mao Zedong's understanding of "negation of negation."

Third, reflective evaluation
In the "transnational travel" of "Contradiction", we can see that the modes of interpretation are diverse, and the focus of scholars' attention is also different, even if the views or views on the same issue are quite different. So how do you view the portraits of "Contradictions" in the mathematical logic of foreign Marxism, which in turn inspire us to further reflect on ourselves and deepen and expand the study of "Contradictions", which are worthy of our deep thinking.

The basis for judging the interpretation of Contradiction by Western scholars in their respective theoretical frameworks or discourse systems can only be Marxism in the Chinese field. The contrasting system of judging can only be the historical field of Contradiction itself. area. In general, the interpretation of Western scholars in the context of the support of pluralism theory has the exoticism of “don't make a difference”, but there is also a normalized “theoretical cross-border” phenomenon. Based on this, make a brief evaluation of each interpretation paradigm:

The interpretation under the scientism paradigm is undoubtedly profound, but it is already an "over-interpretation" under "a one-sided superstructure explanation." Among them, leaving the "Practice Theory" to try to understand that Mao Zedong's dialectics is one of its basic flaws. Although Luva once said that Althusser’s theory of practice is consistent with Mao Zedong’s analysis and definition in Practice, and perhaps even from this, Althusser has fundamentally split the two arguments. The link between: In order to avoid any remnants of anthropology, he questioned all the doctrines of practice, and the concept of practice disappeared. The process of non-subjects derived from it, the view of the history of no one has run counter to the value intention of "The Theory of Contradiction".

The interpretation of the new Hegelian paradigm can be based on the promotion of Marxism in China, using text research methods, comparative analysis methods, etc., combined with "Practical Theory" to comprehensively examine "Contradictions" and the "Contradictions" and Leninism's comparatively unique interpretation of the Hegelian dialectic of intermediaries is basically commendable. However, because it always emphasizes Hegel's decisive role in Marxism-Leninism, trying to eliminate dialectical materialism and historical materialism will inevitably lead to the ridiculous consequence of the blackening of Mao Zedong's dialectics, which will inevitably solve the existence of "Contradiction". Internal tension problem.

For the paradigm of interpretation of the new dialectics, although in the Western Marxist works, the core issues of Mao Zedong’s contradictory view are rarely discussed in the same way as Hunt, but when he interprets Mao Zedong’s dialectics with the metaphysical view of Masacchia Interpret the transformation of Mao Zedong's contradiction as a simple transposition of the contradictions or a "repetition of a specific cycle", while ignoring the principle of contradictory transformation - the specific analysis of specific problems, the category - the identity in the particularity of contradiction, and that Mao Zedong When the dialectic model is only about the universal model of reality, it cannot be said that this is a major flaw in his interpretation.

For the Lacanian Marxist interpretation paradigm, although Zizek’s "three loyalty" and the dogmatism in the opposition to the left-wing theory are basically the same as those in the writing of "Contradiction", there is a very Great heterogeneity. Although Zizek accurately grasped the theoretical points of "The Theory of Contradiction" and its significance to the Chinese revolution and even in the history of Marxist dialectics, when he used the Lacanian Marxist theoretical logic for "innovative" interpretation, Inevitably, there is a "fracture" in understanding. Especially when he interprets Mao Zedong's dialectics through his transformation of Hegel's dialectics as "negative dialectics", it has been a fundamental misunderstanding. And when the concept of "action" in its radical discourse system often becomes "do not act, just think" when the crisis is critical, he does not intentionally or unconsciously ignore the conditionality of Mao Zedong's emphasis on subjective dialectics and the main face of the Chinese revolution at that time. The problem is different from the problems encountered by capitalist society in the context of globalization today.

Of course, the "theoretical travel" of "Contradiction Theory" inevitably has a "theoretical cross-border". The main reasons are as follows: First, Western scholars' research on Mao Zedong's philosophical thoughts often cannot get rid of the premise of "Orientalism". "There is no recognition or unwillingness to admit that they also have the same cultural limitations." Second, Western scholars have not been able to maintain vigilance against the habit of using Western philosophical concepts and explaining the habits of Mao Zedong's dialectics. Third, there is a fundamental difference between the historical background of the creation of "The Theory of Contradiction" and the specific historical situation in which the interpreter is located. Fourth, if the relationship between "reader" and "text" is in fact, any text is not only "poly-sense", but its true value can only be revealed by giving contemporary interpretation. Fifth, the above genres basically have objections to Engels's dialectics, or they are silent. In any case, "The Theory of Contradiction" has nothing to do with Engels' dialectics. Therefore, under different "prisms", the "Contradictions" in the eyes of Western scholars must be pluralistic and even conflicting. This is the basic premise for evaluating the "cross-border" phenomenon of "Contradictions" in cross-context. But what is more important to emphasize here is that the purpose of evaluation is not only academic dialogue, but more importantly, mining the “over-interpretation” or “misunderstanding” may leave us with inspiration in research methods and perspectives, combined with historical conditions. The changes have been made to complete Mao Zedong's rewriting of the "Contradictions" and to build a Marxist dialectics with Chinese characteristics.

[Wang Zhenmin, associate professor at the School of Marxism at Northwestern University, is mainly engaged in the study of Marxism in China. This article was originally published in "The Study of Mao Zedong Thought", No. 4, 2018]
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