‏Lesson #5: The Dialectic

Dialectic: the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions. Marx and Mao both had a dialectical view of history. (As far as I know, this term was introduced by the philosopher, Georg Hegel.) According to Karl Marx, history progresses dialectically as follows: antagonism between a thesis, and its antithesis resulting in the creation of a synthesis combining the positive elements from both the original thesis and its antithesis. The process then starts again with a new thesis (call it T1) which is in fact the synthesis from the previous step, a new and different antithesis (A1), which leads to the production of a new synthesis (S1) . Then it’s T2 (the old S1) conflicting with A2 and producing, as a result of the antagonism between these two – T2 and A2 – a higher synthesis (S2) and so on until ultimate perfection is reached. For example, in Marxist terms, a first thesis would be the land-owning aristocracy as well as the bourgeoisie, the middle class business owners in 19th century Europe; the first antithesis would, in this case be, the proletariat, the factory workers with the first synthesis being a new form of government, the Communist State. This Communist State would evolve as the result of a proletarian revolution against the wealthy land and factory owners. Government would exist in the person of the Marxist Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The final and ultimate synthesis would be the ideal Communist society with no government required. Other elements of the Marxist ideal society would be no money, no private property, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, with everyone responsible for the consequences of their own actions.

‏In reality if Marx had been alive, he would have say that the Communist revolutions in the USSR, the PRC, and Cuba, among others, got stuck in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat stage. He might have attributed this to the fact that if power corrupts, then absolute power corrupts absolutely. Due to this, rulers in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat stage refused to surrender their power which would then theoretically allow for the evolution into ideal Communism, where there is no need for a government.

‏See Sunday’s AJuicyLessonperday (#6) for how this dialectical process was adapted by Mao Zedong. A future JuicyLessonperday will discuss how Marx’s antagonistic dialectic and Mao’s non-antagonistic one may be applied to the discussion regarding the present political situation in Quebec.

Planning to take Saturdays off.

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