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Thread: dialectics/anti-dialectics and history

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    Default dialectics/anti-dialectics and history

    Okay, the dispute has been heated at times and is now something of an inconclusive standoff. My humble suggestion is that both sides of the argument present concrete, historical examples that illustrate their own dialectical or non-dialectical approaches to human history. So, for example, what does dialectics bring to an understanding of the Russian Revolution? How did a dialectical approach undermine the Bolsheviks' understanding of their historical role? How does dialectics help us/hinder us in understanding the Spanish civil war?

    As I've stated before dialectics has no resonance with my own thinking but a more concrete debate would be more useful to most of us than an argument about live cats and dead cats.

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    I'm afraid this is the Philosophy section Louise, so you are going to get philosophical debates here!

    Quite apart from that I have no wish to show how anti-dialectics can or cannot deal with concrete issues. Since, anti-dialectics is not a theory (it is in fact an attack on a 'theory'), but dialectics is a theory, the onus is on the mystics here to show how specific dialectical concepts have any practical import.

    Now, my sole aim here is to demolish dialectics; when that has been done, I will then consider turning to a more positive approach.

    That is why I was invited here three and a half years ago, and it remains my sole purpose today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    I'm afraid this is the Philosophy section Louise, so you are going to get philosophical debates here!

    Quite apart from that I have no wish to show how anti-dialectics can or cannot deal with concrete issues.
    Surely the point is to make your views accessible to the greatest number of people.

    Both sides argue at a very high level of abstraction which, since we live in a concrete world, make both arguments impossible to assess. If historical materialism minus the dialectical obfuscation is a powerful tool of analysis it should be possible to show this with real examples.

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    Louise:

    Surely the point is to make your views accessible to the greatest number of people.
    My views are boringly like Marx's, since I agree 100% with his view of HM.

    The only ideas I have that I want to share at the moment are the negative ones I have of DM.

    Both sides argue at a very high level of abstraction which, since we live in a concrete world, make both arguments impossible to assess. If historical materialism minus the dialectical obfuscation is a powerful tool of analysis it should be possible to show this with real examples.
    That's why I always try to give down-to-earth examples when I illustrate the fatal defects of DM.

    Now, I could do the same with any concrete example taken from the class struggle, but it would take a familiar line.

    For example, consider the struggle to free Mumia. If the protest movement is to succeed, and get Mumia released, or to change his condition from being on death row, to his not being on death row, then, according to the Dialectical Holy Books, these two states (configurations of matter) must 'struggle' with one another, and they must also turn into one another!

    In order for that to happen, Mumia must not now be on death row, so that these two states can struggle with one another in the here and now! If this is not the case, then they cannot 'struggle', and so his condition can't change. On the other hand if he is out of death row now, then he cannot change anyway from being on death row to not being on death row, since he is already not on death row!

    Either way, we/he cannot change his condition.

    But, then if that is so, if he is not now on death row, why the campaign to get him out of death row?

    And it is little use pointing to the campaign to get him off death row as the centre of this 'struggle', since the Dialectical Gospels tell us that things that 'struggle' inevitably turn into one another.

    In that case, any of the activists now 'struggling' to get Mumia off death row will inevitably change into Mumia on death row, and vice versa!

    So, if I were to choose a concrete example, the form of the argument would not change (no pun intended!).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Louise:

    My views are boringly like Marx's, since I agree 100% with his view of HM.

    The only ideas I have that I want to share at the moment are the negative ones I have of DM.

    That's why I always try to give down-to-earth examples when I illustrate the fatal defects of DM.

    Now, I could do the same with any concrete example taken from the class struggle, but it would take a familiar line.

    For example, consider the struggle to free Mumia. If the protest movement is to succeed, and get Mumia released, or to change his condition from being on death row, to his not being on death row, then, according to the Dialectical Holy Books, these two states (configurations of matter) must 'struggle' with one another, and they must also turn into one another!

    In order for that to happen, Mumia must not now be on death row, so that these two states can struggle with one another in the here and now! If this is not the case, then they cannot 'struggle', and so his condition can't change. On the other hand if he is out of death row now, then he cannot change anyway from being on death row to not being on death row, since he is already not on death row!

    Either way, we/he cannot change his condition.

    But, then if that is so, if he is not now on death row, why the campaign to get him out of death row?

    And it is little use pointing to the campaign to get him off death row as the centre of this 'struggle', since the Dialectical Gospels tell us that things that 'struggle' inevitably turn into one another.

    In that case, any of the activists now 'struggling' to get Mumia off death row will inevitably change into Mumia on death row, and vice versa!

    So, if I were to choose a concrete example, the form of the argument would not change (no pun intended!).
    Great, thank you Rosa. Can someone now explain how dialectics adds to or explains what we should do to free Mumia?

    The truth is that theories are useful or not in practical politics.

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    Louise, I wouldn't hold your breath if I were you!

    I have been here for three-and-half years, and despite being told countless times how wonderful dialectics is at explaining this or that, or how it is useful in this or that way, we have yet to be given a single example (or one that goes beyond a few vague gestures).

    Now, us materialists have been asking for as long as I have been here; all we get from the mystics is abuse (for having the temerity to ask!) followed prolonged bouts of dialectical sulking.

    Here is the latest example of the vaguaries these mystics dole out:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/group.php?...cussionid=1635

    Bottom of the page.

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    Okay, and now how has DM helped to explain specific historical events?

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    Louise, first of all in your original post , you confused Dialectical Materialism with Historical Materialism. In order to understand the dialectics behind the Russian Revolution, I will give you some examples.
    Even the best idea, with a few changes can turn into its opposite. That happened with the idea of Marxism-Leninism, which turned by the Stalinists to its opposite. (See socialism in one country etc).

    Also another application is the way the revolution happened. It did not happen in a linear fashion. If that was the case it would have happened way before 1917. The movement of the proletariat moves in a dialectical manner (ie not linear), therefore we have ups and downs etc. Through dialectical and historical materialist understanding we are able to understand those ups and downs and also predict them, as Trotsky predicted that the proletariat would leave the political arena en masse after the failed revolution of 1905 , even though there was a huge economic recession.

    This is how dialectics are applied , if you want some real life examples.
    I will not engage in debate with people that don't understand/agree with dialectical materialism as it is too abstract for my tastes .

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    Trotsky II:

    Louise, first of all in your original post , you confused Dialectical Materialism with Historical Materialism. In order to understand the dialectics behind the Russian Revolution, I will give you some examples.
    Even the best idea, with a few changes can turn into its opposite. That happened with the idea of Marxism-Leninism, which turned by the Stalinists to its opposite. (See socialism in one country etc).
    But, as we now know, this would mean that change is impossible:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...4&postcount=23

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...5&postcount=24

    Also another application is the way the revolution happened. It did not happen in a linear fashion. If that was the case it would have happened way before 1917. The movement of the proletariat moves in a dialectical manner (ie not linear), therefore we have ups and downs etc. Through dialectical and historical materialist understanding we are able to understand those ups and downs and also predict them, as Trotsky predicted that the proletariat would leave the political arena en masse after the failed revolution of 1905 , even though there was a huge economic recession. This is how dialectics are applied , if you want some real life examples.

    I will not engage in debate with people that don't understand/agree with dialectical materialism as it is too abstract for my tastes .
    But, what do you mean by 'linear'? Dialecticians (like Woods and Grant) use this word all all the time (even though the word is foreign to Hegel, Marx, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and Trotsky), but confuse it with linear and non-linear equations in mathematics.

    Even if this were how you are using this term, this would not make this explanation of yours (which is vague as I predicted it would be) uniquely 'dialectical'. Idealists can and do use this word, where it means little too.

    And as far as this is concerned:

    I will not engage in debate with people that don't understand/agree with dialectical materialism as it is too abstract for my tastes
    Good job Engels did not take this view with Duhring, or Trotsky with Burnham.

    But, in my experience, dialecticians who say things like this do not understand the theory themselves.

    Of course, you can always prove me wrong...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trotsky II View Post
    I will not engage in debate with people that don't understand/agree with dialectical materialism as it is too abstract for my tastes .
    So why are you debating with me? Either DM helps to understand reality or it's a religion.What other possibilities are there?

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    Good job Engels did not take this view with Duhring, or Trotsky with Burnham.

    But, in my experience, dialecticians who say things like this do not understand the theory themselves.
    haha! Trotsky and Engels had nothing else to do but engage in theoretical discussions and revolutionary activity. When I become a professional revolutionary and when anti-dialectics become relevant I will engage discussions with you. Or who knows I might get a factory like Engels . Seriously I have better things to do than debate dialectics on the internet.

    Of course, you can always prove me wrong...
    Wait a couple of years till I become a full-timer for an organization

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    So why are you debating with me? Either DM helps to understand reality or it's a religion.What other possibilities are there?
    I am not debating with you. I gave examples to you about how dialectics is applied.
    Read Trotsky's ABC of dialectical materialism on marxists.org he can explain it better than I can do.

    Dialectics is not a religion, as there is no dialectician "God" haha. Really dialectics is a method, not a religion.

    It's like saying, Oh shit I can't understand communism, then communism must be a religion!! This is obviously not the case.

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    Trotsky II:

    haha! Trotsky and Engels had nothing else to do but engage in theoretical discussions and revolutionary activity. When I become a professional revolutionary and when anti-dialectics become relevant I will engage discussions with you. Or who knows I might get a factory like Engels . Seriously I have better things to do than debate dialectics on the internet.
    You have a very odd understanding of Engels's very busy political life, and that of Trotsky too. And yet they took time out to try to defend this theory (unsuccessfully, but at least they tried).

    Anyway, you are just like the scores of other dialecticians here who refuse to explain this rather odd theory of yours, which, if it were true, it would mean that change is impossible.

    In your predicament, I would run away too...

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    Just because something can turn into its opposite, that doesn't negate motion through contradiction
    Your scope is a bit formalistic and static.

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    Trotsky !!:

    Just because something can turn into its opposite, that doesn't negate motion through contradiction
    I'm afraid it does.

    According to the Dialectical Classicists, qoted here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...4&postcount=23

    objects and process change because of a 'struggle of opposites', and they also inevitably turn into those opposites.

    So, consider an object or process like a living cat (and what it does). In order for it to become a dead cat one day (its opposite), it has to 'struggle' with that opposite, if we are to believe the Dialectical Classics.

    But, that can only mean that a living cat must 'struggle' with the dead cat it will one day become.

    Again, this must mean that the dead cat that a living cat one day becomes must exist at the same time as the living cat from which it supposedly arose!

    But, if the dead cat already exists, then that living cat cannot turn into it, for it already exists. If it did not already exist, the living cat could not 'struggle' with it.

    In that case, if the Dialectical Classics are right, living cats cannot change into dead cats!

    And what is true of cats is also true of all living things.

    So, this 'wonderful' theory, this 'world-view of the proletariat' implies that nothing can die!

    Your scope is a bit formalistic and static.
    Not so, since I refer to objects and processes in change, as you will note.

    You just can't answer my argument!

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    objects and process change because of a 'struggle of opposites', and they also inevitably turn into those opposites.
    There is a synthesis .... What the hell are you talking about ?

    I said an idea with some change can turn into its opposite, not something struggling with something else will turn to its opposite. Of course this idea does not just turn into its opposite without motion.

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    Trotsky:

    There is a synthesis .... What the hell are you talking about ?
    As you would know if you read the Dialectical Holy Books more carefully, I am merely working out the absurd consequences of this rather odd 'theory' of yours.

    And what do you mean 'synthesis'?

    I said an idea with some change can turn into its opposite, not something struggling with something else will turn to its opposite. Of course this idea does not just turn into its opposite without motion.
    Once more you need to read the Dialectical Gospels.

    Clearly you haven't. Here they are:

    "If, for instance, the Sophists claimed to be teachers, Socrates by a series of questions forced the Sophist Protagoras to confess that all learning is only recollection. In his more strictly scientific dialogues, Plato employs the dialectical method to show the finitude of all hard and fast terms of understanding. Thus in the Parmenides he deduces the many from the one. In this grand style did Plato treat Dialectic. In modern times it was, more than any other, Kant who resuscitated the name of Dialectic, and restored it to its post of honour. He did it, as we have seen, by working out the Antinomies of the reason. The problem of these Antinomies is no mere subjective piece of work oscillating between one set of grounds and another; it really serves to show that every abstract proposition of understanding, taken precisely as it is given, naturally veers round to its opposite.

    "However reluctant Understanding may be to admit the action of Dialectic, we must not suppose that the recognition of its existence is peculiarly confined to the philosopher. It would be truer to say that Dialectic gives expression to a law which is felt in all other grades of consciousness, and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite." [Hegel (1975), pp.117-18.]

    "Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in earth, neither in the world of mind nor nature, is there anywhere an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things with then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence the acid persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realize what it potentially is. Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world." [Ibid., p.174.]

    "The law of the interpenetration of opposites.... Mutual penetration of polar opposites and transformation into each other when carried to extremes...." [Engels (1954), pp.17, 62.]

    "Dialectics, so-called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature, and so-called subjective dialectics, dialectical thought, is only the reflection of the motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites and their final passage into one another, or into higher forms, determines the life of nature. Attraction and repulsion. Polarity begins with magnetism, it is exhibited in one and the same body; in the case of electricity it distributes itself over two or more bodies which become oppositely charged. All chemical processes reduce themselves -- to processes of chemical attraction and repulsion. Finally, in organic life the formation of the cell nucleus is likewise to be regarded as a polarisation of the living protein material, and from the simple cell -- onwards the theory of evolution demonstrates how each advance up to the most complicated plant on the one side, and up to man on the other, is effected by the continual conflict between heredity and adaptation. In this connection it becomes evident how little applicable to such forms of evolution are categories like 'positive' and 'negative.' One can conceive of heredity as the positive, conservative side, adaptation as the negative side that continually destroys what has been inherited, but one can just as well take adaptation as the creative, active, positive activity, and heredity as the resisting, passive, negative activity." [Ibid., p.211.]

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Ibid., pp.212-13.]

    "Further, we find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an antithesis positive and negative, e.g., are as inseparable as they are opposed and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate. And we find, in like manner, that cause and effect are conceptions which only hold good in their application to individual cases; but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and then, and vice versa." [Engels (1976), p.27.]

    "Already in Rousseau, therefore, we find not only a line of thought which corresponds exactly to the one developed in Marx's Capital, but also, in details, a whole series of the same dialectical turns of speech as Marx used: processes which in their nature are antagonistic, contain a contradiction; transformation of one extreme into its opposite; and finally, as the kernel of the whole thing, the negation of the negation. [Ibid., p.179.]

    "...but the theory of Essence is the main thing: the resolution of the abstract contradictions into their own instability, where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone than it is transformed unnoticed into the other, etc." [Engels (1891), p.414.]

    "And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite…." [Plekhanov (1956), p.77.]

    "[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?]….

    "In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics….

    "The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….

    "The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing….

    "The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute…." [Lenin (1961), pp.221-22, 357-58.]

    "Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Lenin (1961), pp.196-97.]

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing, each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995), pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]

    "Development is the 'struggle' of opposites." [Lenin, Collected Works, Volume XIII, p.301.]

    "Why is it that '...the human mind should take these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, transforming themselves into one another'? Because that is just how things are in objective reality. The fact is that the unity or identity of opposites in objective things is not dead or rigid, but is living, conditional, mobile, temporary and relative; in given conditions, every contradictory aspect transforms itself into its opposite....

    "In speaking of the identity of opposites in given conditions, what we are referring to is real and concrete opposites and the real and concrete transformations of opposites into one another....

    "All processes have a beginning and an end, all processes transform themselves into their opposites. The constancy of all processes is relative, but the mutability manifested in the transformation of one process into another is absolute." [Mao (1961b), pp.340-42.]

    "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics....

    "As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development....

    "The universality or absoluteness of contradiction has a twofold meaning. One is that contradiction exists in the process of development of all things, and the other is that in the process of development of each thing a movement of opposites exists from beginning to end.... [Ibid., pp.311-18.]

    "Second, and just as unconditionally valid, that all things are at the same time absolutely different and absolutely or unqualifiedly opposed. The law may also be referred to as the law of the polar unity of opposites. This law applies to every single thing, every phenomenon, and to the world as a whole. Viewing thought and its method alone, it can be put this way: The human mind is capable of infinite condensation of things into unities, even the sharpest contradictions and opposites, and, on the other hand, it is capable of infinite differentiation and analysis of things into opposites. The human mind can establish this unlimited unity and unlimited differentiation because this unlimited unity and differentiation is present in reality." [Thalheimer (1936), p.161.]

    "So far we have discussed the most general and most fundamental law of dialectics, namely, the law of the permeation of opposites, or the law of polar unity. We shall now take up the second main proposition of dialectics, the law of the negation of the negation, or the law of development through opposites. This is the most general law of the process of thought. I will first state the law itself and support it with examples, and then I will show on what it is based and how it is related to the first law of the permeation of opposites. There is already a presentiment of this law in the oldest Chinese philosophy, in the of Transformations, as well as in Lao-tse and his disciples -- and likewise in the oldest Greek philosophy, especially in Heraclitus. Not until Hegel, however, was this law developed.

    "This law applies to all motion and changes of things, to real things as well as to their images in our minds, i.e., concepts. It states first of all that things and concepts move, change, and develop; all things are processes. All fixity of individual things is only relative, limited; their motion, change, or development is absolute, unlimited. For the world as a whole absolute motion and absolute rest coincide. The proof of this part of the proposition, namely, that all things are in flux, we have already given in our discussion of Heraclitus.

    "The law of the negation of the negation has a special sense beyond the mere proposition that all things are processes and change. It also states something about the most general form of these changes, motions, or developments. It states, in the first place, that all motion, development, or change, takes place through opposites or contradictions, or through the negation of a thing.

    "Conceptually the actual movement of things appears as a negation. In other words, negation is the most general way in which motion or change of things is represented in the mind. This is the first stage of this process. The negation of a thing from which the change proceeds, however, is in turn subject to the law of the transformation of things into their opposites." [Ibid., pp.170-71.]

    "The second dialectical law, that of the 'unity, interpenetration or identity of opposites'…asserts the essentially contradictory character of reality -– at the same time asserts that these 'opposites' which are everywhere to be found do not remain in stark, metaphysical opposition, but also exist in unity. This law was known to the early Greeks. It was classically expressed by Hegel over a hundred years ago….

    "[F]rom the standpoint of the developing universe as a whole, what is vital is…motion and change which follows from the conflict of the opposite." [Guest (1963), pp.31, 32.]

    "The negative electrical pole…cannot exist without the simultaneous presence of the positive electrical pole…. This 'unity of opposites' is therefore found in the core of all material things and events." [Conze (1944), pp.35-36.]

    "This dialectical activity is universal. There is no escaping from its unremitting and relentless embrace. 'Dialectics gives expression to a law which is felt in all grades of consciousness and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being inflexible and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by the dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural being, and to turn suddenly into its opposite.' (Encyclopedia, p.120)." [Novack (1971), 94-95; quoting Hegel (1975), p.118, although in a different translation from the one used here.]

    "Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of matter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites….

    "In dialectics, sooner or later, things change into their opposite. In the words of the Bible, 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first.' We have seen this many times, not least in the history of great revolutions. Formerly backward and inert layers can catch up with a bang. Consciousness develops in sudden leaps. This can be seen in any strike. And in any strike we can see the elements of a revolution in an undeveloped, embryonic form. In such situations, the presence of a conscious and audacious minority can play a role quite similar to that of a catalyst in a chemical reaction. In certain instances, even a single individual can play an absolutely decisive role....

    "This universal phenomenon of the unity of opposites is, in reality the motor-force of all motion and development in nature…. Movement which itself involves a contradiction, is only possible as a result of the conflicting tendencies and inner tensions which lie at the heart of all forms of matter....

    "Contradictions are found at all levels of nature, and woe betide the logic that denies it. Not only can an electron be in two or more places at the same time, but it can move simultaneously in different directions. We are sadly left with no alternative but to agree with Hegel: they are and are not. Things change into their opposite. Negatively-charged electrons become transformed into positively-charged positrons. An electron that unites with a proton is not destroyed, as one might expect, but produces a new particle, a neutron, with a neutral charge.

    "This is an extension of the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites. It is a law which permeates the whole of nature, from the smallest phenomena to the largest...." [Woods and Grant (1995), pp.43-47, 63-71.]

    "This struggle is not external and accidental…. The struggle is internal and necessary, for it arises and follows from the nature of the process as a whole. The opposite tendencies are not independent the one of the other, but are inseparably connected as parts or aspects of a single whole. And they operate and come into conflict on the basis of the contradiction inherent in the process as a whole….

    "Movement and change result from causes inherent in things and processes, from internal contradictions….

    "Contradiction is a universal feature of all processes….


    "The importance of the [developmental] conception of the negation of the negation does not lie in its supposedly expressing the necessary pattern of all development. All development takes place through the working out of contradictions -– that is a necessary universal law…." [Cornforth (1976), pp.14-15, 46-48, 53, 65-66, 72, 77, 82, 86, 90, 95, 117; quoting Hegel (1975), pp.172 and 160, respectively.]

    "Opposites in a thing are not only mutually exclusive, polar, repelling, each other; they also attract and interpenetrate each other. They begin and cease to exist together.... These dual aspects of opposites -- conflict and unity -- are like scissor blades in cutting, jaws in mastication, and two legs in walking. Where there is only one, the process as such is impossible: 'all polar opposites are in general determined by the mutual action of two opposite poles on one another, the separation and opposition of these poles exists only within their unity and interconnection, and, conversely, their interconnection exists only in their separation and their unity only in their opposition.' in fact, 'where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone then it is transformed unnoticed into the other....'" [Gollobin (1986), p.115; quoting Engels (1891), p.414.]

    "The unity of opposites and contradiction.... The scientific world-view does not seek causes of the motion of the universe beyond its boundaries. It finds them in the universe itself, in its contradictions. The scientific approach to an object of research involves skill in perceiving a dynamic essence, a combination in one and the same object of mutually incompatible elements, which negate each other and yet at the same time belong to each other.

    "It is even more important to remember this point when we are talking about connections between phenomena that are in the process of development. In the whole world there is no developing object in which one cannot find opposite sides, elements or tendencies: stability and change, old and new, and so on. The dialectical principle of contradiction reflects a dualistic relationship within the whole: the unity of opposites and their struggle. Opposites may come into conflict only to the extent that they form a whole in which one element is as necessary as another. This necessity for opposing elements is what constitutes the life of the whole. Moreover, the unity of opposites, expressing the stability of an object, is relative and transient, while the struggle of opposites is absolute, ex pressing the infinity of the process of development. This is because contradiction is not only a relationship between opposite tendencies in an object or between opposite objects, but also the relationship of the object to itself, that is to say, its constant self-negation. The fabric of all life is woven out of two kinds of thread, positive and negative, new and old, progressive and reactionary. They are constantly in conflict, fighting each other....

    "The opposite sides, elements and tendencies of a whole whose interaction forms a contradiction are not given in some eternally ready-made form. At the initial stage, while existing only as a possibility, contradiction appears as a unity containing an inessential difference. The next stage is an essential difference within this unity. Though possessing a common basis, certain essential properties or tendencies in the object do not correspond to each other. The essential difference produces opposites, which in negating each other grow into a contradiction. The extreme case of contradiction is an acute conflict. Opposites do not stand around in dismal inactivity; they are not something static, like two wrestlers in a photograph. They interact and are more like a live wrestling match. Every development produces contradictions, resolves them and at the same time gives birth to new ones. Life is an eternal overcoming of obstacles. Everything is interwoven in a network of contradictions." [Spirkin (1983), pp.143-46.]

    "'The contradiction, however, is the source of all movement and life; only in so far as it contains a contradiction can anything have movement, power, and effect.' (Hegel). 'In brief', states Lenin, 'dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics…'

    "The world in which we live is a unity of contradictions or a unity of opposites: cold-heat, light-darkness, Capital-Labour, birth-death, riches-poverty, positive-negative, boom-slump, thinking-being, finite-infinite, repulsion-attraction, left-right, above- below, evolution-revolution, chance-necessity, sale-purchase, and so on.

    "The fact that two poles of a contradictory antithesis can manage to coexist as a whole is regarded in popular wisdom as a paradox. The paradox is a recognition that two contradictory, or opposite, considerations may both be true. This is a reflection in thought of a unity of opposites in the material world.

    "Motion, space and time are nothing else but the mode of existence of matter. Motion, as we have explained is a contradiction, -- being in one place and another at the same time. It is a unity of opposites. 'Movement means to be in this place and not to be in it; this is the continuity of space and time -- and it is this which first makes motion possible.' (Hegel)

    "To understand something, its essence, it is necessary to seek out these internal contradictions. Under certain circumstances, the universal is the individual, and the individual is the universal. That things turn into their opposites, -- cause can become effect and effect can become cause -- is because they are merely links in the never-ending chain in the development of matter.

    "Lenin explains this self-movement in a note when he says, 'Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and how they become identical -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another.'" [Rob Sewell, quoted from here.]
    Bold emphases added.

    References and links can be found at my site, here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2007.htm

    There are dozens more dialecticians I could have quoted who say more or less the same.

    Now, this 'theory' is not workable, for the reasons I indicated.

    You need to deal with that, or abandon this whacko 'theory'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise Michel View Post
    Can someone now explain how dialectics adds to or explains what we should do to free Mumia?
    It's as absurd to seek an explanation of how to "free Mumia" by using a general and abstract theory such as dialectical materialism as to expect the special theory of relativity to explain it.

    Needless to say, Rosa has also failed to "explain how to free Mumia" using a non dialectical version of historical materialism.
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    BTB:

    It's as absurd to seek an explanation of how to "free Mumia" by using a general and abstract theory such as dialectical materialism as to expect the special theory of relativity to explain it.
    Which just goes to show that dialectics is useless when used abstractly or concretely.

    Needless to say, Rosa has also failed to "explain how to free Mumia" using a non dialectical version of historical materialism.
    Needless to say, you have too, except with your mystical version of HM.

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    Even the best idea, with a few changes can turn into its opposite. That happened with the idea of Marxism-Leninism, which turned by the Stalinists to its opposite. (See socialism in one country etc).
    But how do you show that Stalinism was the opposite of Leninism? There were aspects that were opposite (or opposed) - nationalism vs internationalism - but there were also overlaps such as industrialisation and a centralized state. If you are talking about Leninism as embodied in Lenin it's impossible to say how his specific world view would have developed had he lived another 20 years under circumstances nobody anticipated.

    Also if Leninism produced its true opposite in Stalinism doesn't DM then imply that no other outcome was possible? How can an idea or a social class have more than one possible opposite?

    Put another way, is DM just a tool of analysis that you use retrospectively or is DM a hidden process directing and controling reality through the constant production and resolution of opposites.

    It's as absurd to seek an explanation of how to "free Mumia" by using a general and abstract theory such as dialectical materialism as to expect the special theory of relativity to explain it.
    Maybe, but would it not be better to focus the debate (which I don't think will go away) on a well-known set of events such as Russia from 1905 to 1917 or maybe 1921 to 1940 where we have Trotsky's analysis to refer to?

    It's just a suggestion but I think a lot of educational possibilities are getting lost in the form the debate has assumed - not simply that it's abstract (as Rosa says this is philosophy) but because there's too much sniping going on.

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