Lesson #6 : The Dialectic (con’d) : Georg Hegel, Karl Marx and Mao Zedong

Dialectic: the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions. In our most recent lesson (#5) we saw that the process associated with the dialectic was used by Karl Marx in the 19th century to explain how history progresses or moves forward towards some ultimate end, final goal, or end state, which would appear in the guise of the Marxian ideal Communist society.
Marx believed in a history which unfolds linearly from one stage to the next as shown here:
Capitalism — Revolution of the Working Class — Dictatorship of the Proletariat — Withering way of the State — Ideal Communism
The dialectical interplay among thesis, antithesis, and synthesis is responsible for the progress from each of these individual stages to its successor. The very existence of an end-state in itself would seem to imply that historical progress ends there. That is one interpretation anyway.

Mao Zedong who led his forces to victory over Chiang’s Nationalists established a Communist state, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, with Chiang’s Nationalists being consigned to the island of Formosa, Taiwan today.

Mao introduced a non-antagonistic dimension to Marx’s dialectic. Once ideal Communism was achieved, or so goes the argument, the presence of a non-antagonistic element within the dialectical process would then logically allow for history to continue as we strive for the ultimate in perfectibility, more freedom, more equality and even more perfection. Certain philosophers believe that humans are imperfect by definition and hence not perfectible.
So basically what we have here is the fact that Marx adapted the Hegelian dialectic to the material plane, moving it from the mental and spiritual, from the realm of ideas to the sphere of materialism, to the world of economics. Mao then introduced a non-antagonistic element into Marx’s dialectic.

Tomorrow, Lesson #7 in the series AJuicyLessonperday will deal with the dialectical process and how this can be applied to what our province, Quebec, has been going through since the election of Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois last September. Then we’ll move on to something else. I promise.

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