Leading Principles of Marxism: A Restatement
 

 

Leading Principles of Marxism: A Restatement

Korsch, Karl
http://www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Docs/CX8012-Korsh-MarxismRestatement.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/korsch/1937/restatement.htm

Publisher:  Marxist Quarterly
Year Published:  1937  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX8012

Marx's study of society is based upon a full recognition of the reality of historical change. Marx treats all conditions of existing bourgeois society as changing, ie more exactly, as conditions in the process of being changed by human actions. Bourgeois society is not, according to Marx, a general entity which can be replaced by another stage in a historical movement. It is both the result of an earlier phase and the starting point of a new phase, of the social class war which is leading to a social revolution.

Abstract: 

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Excerpts"
Communistic society in its 'first phase', as it is just emerging from the womb of bourgeois society after long labour pains, is still in many ways, in its economic, political, legal, intellectual and moral structure, determined by bourgeois principles. Communistic society in its 'second phase', where it has already developed on its own basis, will be as far remote from the principles of present-day bourgeois society, as, in the other direction, the classless and stateless 'primitive communism' of the earliest epochs of human society is removed from contemporary society. Communistic society, when it is fully developed, will have left the narrow bourgeois horizon far behind and will ultimately realise the slogan which, in an abstract form, was first annunciated by the 'utopian' pioneers on the threshold of the nineteenth century: 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' To the philosophical dialectic of Hegel, which he otherwise regarded as the perfected installment of a developmental investigation of society, Marx raised the objection that, in the 'mystified form' in which it became fashionable in Germany, it seemed to glorify existing conditions. On the other hand, the new and rational form in which this Hegelian dialectic reappears in Marxist social research, has became 'a scandal and abomination to the bourgeoisie and its doctrinaire spokesmen; because it includes in its positive understanding of existing conditions at the same time an understanding of their negation and of their necessary disintegration; because it conceives of every form manifested as being in the flux of movement, ie also from its transitory aspect; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and because it is essentially critical and revolutionary'. The outstanding difference between Marx and Hegel in this respect, is evident without a more detailed analysis. Hegel, who glorified existing institutions and moderate progress within the narrow confines of the contemporary Prussian State, explicitly limited the validity of his dialectical principle to the past development of society and consigned future progress in a purposely irrational manner to the 'mole, burrowing below the surface'.

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It is here that we face the most important consequence of the total destruction of bourgeois evolutionary metaphysics which is implied in Marx's materialistic criticism of the Hegelian idealist dialectic. Marx's study of society is based upon a full recognition of the reality of historical change. Marx treats all conditions of existing bourgeois society as changing, ie more exactly, as conditions in the process of being changed by human actions. Bourgeois society is not, according to Marx, a general entity which can be replaced by another stage in a historical movement. It is both the result of an earlier phase and the starting point of a new phase, of the social class war which is leading to a social revolution.

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