Dialectical and Historical Materialism

Dialectical and Historical Materialism

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Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" is a central text within Soviet political theory.

The work first appeared in 1938, and draws heavily upon both Lenin's philosophical works, and the then-new Short Course in the History of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks); it was to become the state doctrine of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....


Outline of the Book

Stalin's writing is divided into three parts, and very systematically presented:

A: outline of the Marxist dialectical method, in contrast to metaphysics
  1. Nature is a unified whole
  2. Nature is perpetual motion
  3. The development of nature is the transition of quantity into quality
  4. Natural phenomena possess internal contradictions as part of their struggle, and cannot be reformist, but rather revolutionary

B: outline of the Marxist philosophical materialism in contrast to idealism
  1. The world is materialistic in nature
  2. Being is objective reality, thinking is a reflection of matter, contributing ideas back to being.
  3. The knowledge of natural laws is examined by the practice, laws of social development, objective truth, analog biology, socialism is a science

C: Historical materialism
  1. What characterizes "last resort" [Engels] society? The mode of production of material goods and not the geographical environment or the growth of the population.
  2. The "real" party of the proletariat controls the laws of development of production
  3. A schematic picture of the story:

A. Primitive communal / primitive communism
B. Slavery
C. Feudalism
D. Capitalism
E. Socialism (where evolution instead of revolution)

Dialectical materialism, historical materialism as a law of nature

Basis in Marx and Engels

Obviously, a rather unique reading of Marx was required in both Leninist, but more so Stalinist, Marxism. Marx is rather clear concerning revolution as a process of development, following evolving stages of consciousness. However, even Lenin's work remains true to the largest parts of dialectical thought, Stalin's work reemphasizes Historical Materialism. In addition, Stalin reverses Marx's use of the term "ideology", presenting it as merely the official "Party line", as a part of revolutionary doctrine and science. Marx's original use of the word is negative, a form of social reproduction of consciousness that obfuscates real consciousness. What follows is a synthesis that place all subjects as equal a part of the objective Progress of History, a perversion of Marx's "cunning of Reason".