Thursday, February 13, 2020

Reading notes: An Introduction to the Logic of Marxism by George Novack

An Introduction to the Logic of Marxism by George Novack

Lecture IX

From Capitalist Ignorance to Socialist Enlightenment

....In order to become a Marxist every worker has to revolutionize his political mentality. This change in his thinking does not and cannot take place all at once. It comes as the climax of a protracted process of development that includes manifold experiences in the class struggle and passing through various stages of political understanding.

....Every contradiction presents an opportunity, no less than an obstacle, if it is properly understood and handled. The crying objective contradiction between the organization of the workers for independent action on the industrial arena and their political subordination to capitalist parties and policies provides the motive force for the next stage of their development. How is this great contradiction to be overcome? That is the theoretical question, posed in and by practice, which confronts the mass of American workers today.

....A break with the capitalist parties is the prerequisite for a different kind of party and politics. It is a negative indication of the positive fact that the workers are driven to realize that they need and want their own class party. They are beginning to move toward a declaration of political independence….

....1. The process developed by way of contradictions, as a whole and in each separate phase. The entire process was a contradictory passage from complete identity of interests to absolute opposition, and from ignorance to scientific knowledge. The mentality of the workers became transformed into its opposite through the objective unfolding and the corresponding intellectual recognition of the existence of opposing and irreconcilable class interests.

2. The various forms of judgment reflected successive stages in the comprehension of the real facts formulated in the logical categories and represented a widening and deepening of real social relations together with the knowledge of them. They were both objective and subjective in nature.

3. These forms of judgment, which reflected the successive stages of social and mental development, issued out of one another in a reasonable manner according to the extent and depth of the experience involved. From an isolated case, to a group of cases, then on to the whole class, then from the whole class inward to a grasp of the social basis and material interests of that class. Such was the process taken on the plane of social development. This objective social process had its logical expressions in the singular, the particular, and the universal, and ultimately the crowning judgment of the necessary and universal law. The serial phases of social development of the class and its consciousness has its corresponding reflections in the process of logical thought. These two processes are essentially interlinked with each other.

4. These judgments provide the basis for practical activity. "Theory is a guide to action." There can be no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory. 

5. Dialectics is the highest type of scientific knowledge of real processes. On the practical side it is the consummation and condensation of the rich and ripe experience of the working-class movement, embracing the widest range of forms and phases of the concrete struggles and experiments. On its theoretical side it is the highest product of scientific brainwork and investigation. Such knowledge comes as the reward of struggle and of labor.

The process of social and mental evolution which has here been ascribed to an individual worker likewise occurs among the entire class of workers, especially in its most advanced sections. Through their struggles the working masses become progressively aware, as they pass through rising levels of apprehension, of their real relations to the capitalist exploiters. At any given moment in this process, different parts of the same class stand upon different heights of consciousness. While the most backward can remain stuck at the stage of class collaboration, the most advanced can have marched forward under the spur of necessity and reached, and even surpassed, the point of irrepressible revolutionary conflict. The Russian as against the American workers in 1922, for example; the Cuban versus the American people in 1962.

When a sufficient number of workers emerge from the primitive state of absolute subservience and begin to differentiate themselves in theory and in practice and to oppose themselves to the capitalists, a change begins to take place in the social and political consciousness of that class. But for the class as a whole there has not yet occurred a qualitative leap in their political mentality. There is progress toward that end-but not yet enough change to produce a revolutionary transformation into its opposite.

Such a revolutionary change in class consciousness takes place only when the dominant section of the workers, aided and led by the Socialist Workers Party, becomes convinced of the utter incompatibility of their vital interests with the capitalist regime and proceeds to act upon that theoretical conviction. At a certain point in the development of the class struggle and in the class education of the workers, this critical point is inevitably attained. Then a qualitative change in the class consciousness of the workers, a revolutionary leap, takes place. From having been more or less capitalist-minded, the advanced workers become really proletarian-minded; from having been more or less reactionary, they become revolutionary in thought and deed. This is the necessary law of the class struggle manifesting itself inexorably during this death agony of capitalism.

At a specific stage in the course of this process a dialectical reversal takes place. What had been an effect of the class struggle, the growing class consciousness of the workers' vanguard, expressed in the growth of the revolutionary party and its influence, becomes in turn a cause of the acceleration and maturing of the class struggle. The objective logic of events is made explicit and realized through the conscious understanding and political intervention of the socialist-minded workers. Their subjective grasp of the logic of events, produced by their experiences in the class struggle and by their Marxist education, becomes an effective and indispensable link in the chain of causes leading to the socialist revolution….

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