”Rosa Liebknecht”: ” Essay Two: DIACLECTIC MATERIALISM -- Imposed On The World, Or Read From It? ”

RK: ”ROSA LIEBKNECHT”, joka edustaa ”evoluutiofeminististä" "ajattelua", on koonnut ANTI-DIALECTICS-sivuston ”osoittakseen materialistisen dialek-tiikan (mahdollisuudenkin) hölynpölyksi. Tässä hän ei onnistu, mutta sivusto on hyödyllinen, kun sinne on kasattu pirusti dialektiikan liepeillä pyörivää materiaalia ja kootaan yhteen oppeja, joilla sitä yritetään ”kumota”.

Se, mitä tuollainen ”kumoaminen” tarkoittaisi, olisi muodollisen logiikan absolutisointia MATERIAN RAKENNEOMINAISUUDEKSI, kun taas materialisti- nen dialektiikka näkee sen ajattelavan subjektin työkaluksi, joka LUON- TOON absolutisoituna aiheuttaa myös ylipääsemättömiä ongelmia.

Otsikko osoittaa heti, että ”RL” ei ymmärrä mitään tieteestä eikä tieteelli- sestä metodologiasta, eivätkä ne ole hänelle myöskään millään tavalla tär- keitä: Varsinkin tässä asiassa tätä pitäisi verrata kysymykseen ”onko MUO- DOLLINEN LOGIIKKA ”pakotettu luontoon” vai ”luettu siitä”? Oikea vastaus on, että SE on PUHTAASTI (ja harkitusti, kun tieteellisiä ollaan) PAKOTETTU siihen, koska se on puhtaasti formaalista:kielen,jolla kohde on kuvattu, omi- naisuus, ja jonka vastaavuus itse kohteen minkään ominaisuuksien kanssa on monimutkaista ja kaukaa haettua eikä aina kovin välttämätöntäkään.

Mitä taas tulee jonkin tieteenalan olemassaolon mahdollisuuteen, se yhte- nee kyseisen tieteenalan joltakin osin omalakisen OBJEKTIIVISEN TUTKI-MUSKOHTEEN OLEMASSAOLON kanssa.

Sovjetskaja entsiklopedijan mukaan objektiivisen dialektiikan tutkimuskoh- de on ns. aito objektiivinen EMERGENSSI eli luonnonlakien tietynlainen (r)evolutionaarinen kehitys,jossa jotakin ns.emergenssirajaa ylemmät ilmiöt eivät ole periaatteessakaan tyhjentävästi palautettavissa eli redusoitavissa kyseisen rajan alapuolisiin lakeihin (Engels: materian liikemuodot), ilman että noita alemman emergenssitason lakeja siellä ylemmällä ”kumottai-siin”. Nuo siirtymät muodostavat sellaisen tutkimuskohteen, jota minkään erityistieteen muodollisloogisrakenteiset teoriat eivät pysty periaatteessa- kaan tyhjentävästi ”loogillistamaan” eikä matematisoimaan erityistieteelli- siksi teorioiksi.

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Dialectics+of+Nature

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/dialectics

Dialectic  -  (also, dialectics), the doctrine of the most general principles of emergence and development, whose internal source is viewed as the unity of and conflict between opposites.

In this sense dialectic, beginning with Hegel, is contrasted with metaphysics — the mode of thought that considers things and phenomena as unchanging and indepen- dent of each other. As characterized by V.I.Lenin, dialectic is a doctrine of develop- ment in its most complete and profound form, free from one-sidedness; a doctrine concerning the relativity of human knowledge (which provides us with a reflection of eternally developing matter).

... ”

Eli puhdasta paskaa on ”Rosalta” luvassa posken täydeltä...

(Tapaus vertautuu mielenkiintoisesti Jussi Halla-ahon asettamuksiin juridi- sesta ihmis-arvosta, että ”sitä ei voi sellaisenaan mitata”, joten muka ”sellaista ei ole olemassa”:

http://hameemmias.vuodatus.net/blog/3025951/halla-ahon-hyokkays-ihmisarvoaksioomaa-vastaan-osoittaa-etta-han-ei-ymmarra-tieteen-menetelmia/  ”

”Rosa”: ” Readers should take note of the fact that this Essay does not represent my final view on any of the issues raised. It is merely 'work in progress'.

This particular Essay is intended to set-up the rest of those published at this site, but particularly Essay Three Parts One to Five,and Essay Twelve Parts One to Six, where the most controversial allegations advanced below (i.e., that dialecticians have bought into a ruling-class view of the world), will be explained and substantia- ted. [That particular argument is summarised here and here.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Twelve-Part-01.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Rest_of_Summary_of_Twelve.htm]

It's worth emphasising that my main objection to DM is not that it reproduces key areas of ruling-class ideology, but that it makes no sense. That serious allegation is substantiated in Essays Three through Thirteen. ”


RK: Tuollainen väite on ontologiassa melko tyhjä, sillä tiede ei tutki ensisi-jaisesti ”järkeä” vaan objektiivista todellisuutta. Varsinaiset selvät järjettö-myydet tapahtuvat teorianmuodostuksessa muodollisen logiikan kanssa, kun käytetään loogisesti sisäisesti ristiriitaisia käsittelyjä tai käsitteitä (kuten vaikka Kantin ”das Ding an sich”). ”järkevyys tarkoittaa loogista yhtäpitä-vyyttä aikaisemmin totena pidetyn tiedon kanssa.

Todella uudet keksinnöt ovat olleet ”järjettömiä” ihan perusfysiikassakin suhteessa aikaisempaan tietoon,kuten että ”Maa pyörisi avaruudessa” (eikä ”taivas Maan ympäri”), saati että Maa vielä pyörisi Auringonkin ympäri, puhumattakaan fotonien va- kionopeudesta kaikkien massallisten objektien suhteen!

Tieteessä tulee varmaan vastakin vastaan ”järjettömyyksiä”. ja NIIHINKIN on kunnon tieteenfilosofian osattava varautua!

Katsotaan sitten se konkreettinen kritiikki, mutta yleisellä tasolla tuo ”Järjettömyysargumentti” menee armotta ohi maalin...


”Rosa”: ” Nevertheless, one problem with the material I have amassed below -- in order to demonstrate that, despite what they say, dialecticians do in fact impose their ideas on the world -- is that even though I have included literally hundreds of quotations to show that they do in- deed do this, in discussion, several comrades have argued that these are just "passing remarks", taken out of context, or that they are merely "hypothetical", etc.

First the question whether or not they are "hypothetical" is dealt with below (mainly, but not exclusively, here

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm#Note%201b ).

Second: had I included every dogmatic passage there is in the DM-classics (and in lesser works), this Essay would have been many hundreds of thousands of words longer than it is. To prove this is not mere hyperbole, I have added an Appendix to this Essay where I intend to post just some of this material over the next few years.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm#Appendix

[To that end, I have now added dozens of examples from just the first half of Engels's Anti-Dühring [AD]. This block of new quotations is over 5000 words long, confirming that Engels was a 23-carat, a priori dogmatist to rank with the best. More material will be added later.]

So, these are not just "passing remarks", and the reader can easily check that they are in context. [On this, see here.] ”


RK: Tämä aivopoeru ”Engelsistä aprioristisena dogmatistina” johtuu puh- taasti siitä, että tieteellisesti sivistymätön kynäilijä ei ymmärrä aksiooman käsitettä epiirisesti teorian kautta testavana hypoteesina, eikä ”dogmina teorianmuodostuksessa”.

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Axiom ”


”Rosa”: ” Moreover,it's also worth pointing out that in what follows the truth or falsity of the dogmatic passages I have quoted is not the main issue -- merely whether DM-theorists are consistent in their claim not to have imposed their ideas on reality. Why this is important in itself will also be explained below.

Of course, in other Essays posted at this site (especially Essays Three through Thirteen), the truth or falsehood of DM-theses will be the issue.

This project began as a lengthy criticism of John Rees's book The Algebra of Revo- lution,so it's with that work that I begin - however,I do so only to show that he too is operating in a long-standing, boss-class tradition, that of imposing a philosophical theory on nature and society. I subsequently extend my criticism to the works of the dialectical classicists themselves (Engels,Plekhanov,Lenin, Trotsky, Mao etc.), and then to a dozen or more secondary dialectical texts, in order to substantiate this allegation.

It's also worth pointing out that a good 50% of my case against Dialectical Materialism [DM] has been relegated to the End Notes.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm#Notes

Indeed,in this particular Essay,most of the supporting evidence is to be found there. This has been done to allow the main body of the Essay to flow a little more smoothly. This means that if readers want to appreciate fully my case against DM, they will need to consult this material. In most cases, I have added much more detail and supporting evidence; I have even raised objections (some obvious, many not - and some that will have occurred to the reader) to my own arguments -- which I have then neutralised. [I explain why I have adopted this tactic in Essay One.]

If readers skip this material, then my answers to any objections they might have to my arguments will be missed. [Since I have been debating this theory with com- rades for over 25 years I have heard all the objections there are! Many of the more recent debates are listed here.]

As of May 2012,this Essay is just under 57,000 words long; a summary of its main ideas can be found here. http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Two.htm

Finally, throughout this Essay, readers will find me continually asking the following rhetorical question: "How could theorist A, B or C possibly know X, Y or Z?"

The answer is clear in each case: they couldn't possibly know these things by any ordinary means, which implies they must have been imposed on nature.

This question is asked continually in order to underline the fact that dialecticians en masse propound theses that can't possibly be substantiated by any conceivable body of evidence,no matter how large -- since they are held to be universally, necessarily and eternally true. [Why they do this will be revealed below, but in more detail in Essay Nine Parts One and Two.]

Hard to believe? Then read on...”


RK: Tässä on arvatenkin taas vain kysymys ”Rosan” aksioomaongelmasta.

Teoriaa muodostettaessa kaikista aksioomista ei todellakaan tiedetä, ovatko ne todella totta vai eivät. Filosofian aksioomat sikäli vielä erikoisia, että niitä testataan (muiden, omien ohella) MUIDEN TIETEIDEN TEORIOISSA.

Sellaisetkin tutut peruskäsitteet,joita on tähän asti ollut piru määritellä,mutta helppo mitata, kuten aika, avaruus ja vaikkapa informaatio, kiitävät lujaa kohti vain teorian kautta testattavissa olevia käsitteitä, kun tietämys niistä syve- nee, ja välitön havainto, jolaista ”Rosa” peräänkuuluttaa, voi johtaa raskaasti harhaan.

LENININ OPPI OBJEKTIIVISESTA JA KONKREETTISESTA TIETEELLISESTÄ TOTUUDESTA

Oliko Lenin "objektiivinen idealisti" vai dialektinen materialisti? (2008)


”Rosa”: ” Quick Links

Anyone using these links must remember that they will be skipping past supporting argument and evidence set out in earlier sections.

If your Firewall has a pop-up blocker, you will need to press the "Ctrl" key at the same time or these and the other links here won't work!

(1) Introduction

(2) Radical Politics -- Conservative Philosophy

(a) Dialectics: Consistently Inconsistent

(3) Dialectics Isn't A Master Key -- Or So The Official Brochure Says

(a) Dialectical Idealism?

(b) Imposition Number One: Reality Is Dialectical After All

(4) Dialecticians Show Their True Colours

(a) Throwing Caution To The Wind

(b) Tested In Practice?

(5) The Dialectical Chorus Line

(a) Rees Imposes His Theory On Reality

(b) Dialectical Classicists Follow Tradition

(i) Engels Ignores His Own Declaration

(ii) Lenin Finds The 'Master-Key'

(iii) Bukharin The Bold

(iv) Trotsky's Traditionalism

(v) Plekhanov, The Apriorist

(vi) Stalin Murders A Theory -- For A Change

(vii) Mao's Great 'Leap' Backwards

(viii) Hegel's Dogmatic Non-Dogmatism

(6) A Priori Super-Science

(a) The Norm Not The Exception

(7) The Dialectical Fig-Leaf

(8) Changeless Particles?

(9) The Lesser Dialectical Chorus Line

(a) They're All At It

(b) Dietzgen

(c) David Hayden-Guest

(d) Edward Conze

(e) August Thalheimer

(f) George Novack

(g) Woods And Grant

(h) Harry Nielsen

(i) Gerry Healy

(j) Maurice Cornforth

(k) Ira Gollobin

(l) Paul McGarr

(m) Potpourri

(n) Sean Sayers

(10) Notes

(11) References

(12) Appendix One -- Open And Honest Mystics

(a) The Kybalion

(13) Appendix Two

(a) Engels In Dogmatic Hyperdrive

Abbreviations Used At This Site


Introduction


Dialecticians often insist that their theory has not been imposed on nature, simply read from it. 1) And yet, it is far from clear how any theory could be read from nature -- at least, unambiguously. Not only have countless inconsistent theories been 'inferred' from reality, the idea itself trades on the misleading metaphor that the world is like a book, and that on it (or in it) have been inscribed countless secrets just waiting for humanity to uncover.


1) http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm#Note%201


1.The Dialectical Fig-Leaf


[This forms part of Note 1.]


Here are several quotations from different DM sources to that effect. The first few are from Engels:


"Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Engels (1976), p.13. Bold emphasis added.]


In Essay Seven we will find him commenting thus on the 'laws' he says he derived from Hegel:


"All three are developed by Hegel in his idealist fashion as mere laws of thought: the first, in the first part of his Logic, in the Doctrine of Being; the second fills the whole of the second and by far the most important part of his Logic, the Doctrine of Essence; finally the third figures as the fundamental law for the construction of the whole system. The mistake lies in the fact that these laws are foisted on na- ture and history as laws of thought, and not deduced from them. This is the source of the whole forced and often outrageous treatment; the universe, willy-nilly, is made out to be arranged in accordance with a system of thought which itself is only the product of a definite stage of evolution of human thought." [Engels (1954), p.62. Bold emphasis alone added.]


Indeed, Engels even went as far as to say that science (and that must include DM) should be verified by experiment wherever possible:


"We all agree that in every field of science, in natural and historical science, one must proceed from the given facts, in natural science therefore from the various material forms of motion of matter; that therefore in theoretical natural science too the interconnections are not to be built into the facts but to be discovered in them, and when discovered to be verified as far as possible by experiment.


"Just as little can it be a question of maintaining the dogmatic content of the Hege- lian system as it was preached by the Berlin Hegelians of the older and younger line." [Ibid., p.47. Bold emphasis alone added.]


But, as we will see in this Essay, this is exactly what Engels did: dogmatically impose DM on nature.


From recently published Preparatory Writings for Anti-Dühring, we find the following seemingly reasonable comment from Engels:


"The general results of the investigation of the world are obtained at the end of this investigation, hence are not principles, points of departure,but results, conclusions. To construct the latter in one's head, take them as the basis from which to start,and then reconstruct the world from them in one's head is ideology, an ideology which tainted every species of materialism hitherto existing... As Dühring proceeds from 'principles' instead of facts he is an ideologist, and can screen his being one only by formulating his propositions in such general and vacuous terms that they appear axiomatic, flat. Moreover, nothing can be concluded from them; one can only read something into them...." [Marx and Engels (1987), Volume 25, p.597. Italic emphases in the original; bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


And yet, as we will see, Engels is himself guilty of doing precisely what he has just accused Dühring of doing.


John Rees argues similarly:


"[The laws of dialectics] are not, as Marx and Engels were quick to insist, a substi- tute for the difficult empirical task of tracing the development of real contradictions, not a suprahistorical master key whose only advantage is to turn up when no real historical knowledge is available." [Rees (1998), p.9. Bold emphasis added.]


"'[The dialectic is not a] magic master key for all questions.' The dialectic is not a calculator into which it is possible to punch the problem and allow it to compute the solution. This would be an idealist method. A materialist dialectic must grow from a patient, empirical examination of the facts and not be imposed on them…." [Ibid., p.271. Bold emphases alone added.]


Likewise, Trotsky pointed asserted that:


" The dialectic does not liberate the investigator from painstaking study of the facts, quite the contrary: it requires it." [Trotsky (1986),p.92.Bold emphasis added.]


"Dialectics and materialism are the basic elements in the Marxist cognition of the world.But this does not mean at all that they can be applied to any sphere of know- ledge, like an ever ready master key. Dialectics cannot be imposed on facts; it has to be deduced from facts, from their nature and development…." [Trotsky (1973), p.233. Bold emphasis added.]


"Whenever any Marxist attempted to transmute the theory of Marx into a universal master key and ignore all other spheres of learning, Vladimir Ilyich would rebuke him with the expressive phrase 'Komchvanstvo' ('communist swagger')."[Ibid]


George Novack argues as follows:


"A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philo- sophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice...." [Novack (1965). Bold emphasis added.]


HM: Periaatteet ja LAIT eroavat nimeomaan siinä, että lait ovat luonnossa, kun taas periaatteet kuten MUODOLLINEN LOGIIKKA ovat ennen kaikkea ajattelussamme!



RL: Here, too, is Cornforth:


"Our party philosophy, then, has a right to lay claim to truth. For it is the only philo- sophy which is based on a standpoint which demands that we should always seek to understand things just as they are…without disguises and without fantasy….


"Marxism, therefore, seeks to base our ideas of things on nothing but the actual investigation of them, arising from and tested by experience and practice. It does not invent a 'system' as previous philosophers have done, and then try to make everything fit into it…." [Cornforth (1976). Bold emphases added.]


Several recent, on-line examples of this phenomenon include the following:


"It has been said many times that the method of Marxism is to first study the facts of a subject, and then to draw out its processes and its connections.This describes not only the method of Marxism but also the method of science (and Marxism is a science) - not to impose an arbitrary idea, but to study a subject from all angles and to find and generalise the underlying processes that are taking place. Then to use that theoretical insight as a guide to action, to learn from further experience, and to refine and develop the theory as a guide to further action." [Harry Nielsen, quoted from here. Bold emphasis added.]


"Thus, for Marx and Engels, thoughts were not passive and independent reflections of the material world, but products of human labour, and the contradictory nature of our thoughts had their origin in the contradictions within human society. This meant that Dialectics was not something imposed on to the world from outside which could be discovered by the activity of pure Reason, but was a product of human labour changing the world;its form was changed and developed by people and could only be understood by the practical struggle to overcome these contra-dictions -- not just in thought, but in practice." [Marxist Internet Archive Glossary of terms. Bold emphasis added.]


"Gollobin provides a clear exposition,with numerous illustrations,of the key aspects of the laws of dialectics: the unity and conflict of opposites, the transition of quality into quantity and quantity into quality, and the negation of the negation. Of course, these 'laws' of dialectics are not prescriptive rules imposed on thinking any more than the laws of nature are rules imposed on matter by some super-natural law-giver. The laws of dialectics are formulations of our understanding of the nature of things.There can 'be no question,' as Engels put it,'of building the laws of dialectics into nature, but of discovering them in it and evolving them from it.'"

[Review of Gollobin (1986) by William Ash. Bold emphasis added; quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]

HM: Dialektiikan lait kuvaavat luonnon todellisia ominaisuuksia, mutta eivät tieten- kään alistu suoralle kokeelliselle todentamiselle, kuten eivät esimerkisi matematii-kankaan lait.Matematiikan lait pitää ensin todostaa metematiikan aksiomatiikassa, ja sitten osoittaa, että koko sillä akaiomatiikalla ON TULKINTA LUONNOSSA sitä soveltavan erityistieteellisen teorian muodossa. Dialektiikan lait ovat yhtä abstrak- teja vielä suhteesa matemaatiikkaankin kuin matematiikan lait ovat suhteessa fysiikkaan.
Dialektikan laeissa on subjektiivinen ominaisuus kuten logiikan laeissakin, koska ne on määritelty suhteessa muodolliseen logiikkaan ja niitä tarvitaan sen aiheutta- mien ansojen torjumiseen teoriasyteemien muodotuksessa, mutta ne myös kerto- vat, että ITSE LUOTOON EI KUULU MUODOLLINEN LOGIIKKA minään "perimmäisenä metafyysisenä elemnttinä"!



RL:And, here's another recent example:


"Engels unashamedly bases himself on Georg Hegel (1770-1831). But -- and it is a big but -- he set out to put the great philosopher onto his feet. Whereas Hegel idealistically developed the dialectic 'as mere laws of thought', Engels insisted that it is rooted in, and must be deduced from, the underlying dialectic found in the world of matter itself....


"Engels emphasises that it would be entirely wrong to crudely read the dialectic into nature. The dialectic has to be discovered in nature and evolving out of nature....


"Of course, that does not mean we should impose some a priori dialectical construct upon nature. The dialectic, as Engels explains time and again, has to be painstakingly discovered in nature....


"Engels did not make the laws of nature dialectical. He tried, on the contrary, to draw out the most general dialectical laws from nature. Not force artificial, preconceived, inappropriate notions onto nature." [Jack Conrad, Weekly Worker, 30/08/07. Bold emphasis alone added.]


And yet, on the same page Conrad went on to say this:


"Engels moves on to discuss dialectical categories such as necessity and chance, essence and appearance, causality and interaction, freedom and necessity. Formal and dialectical logic are also touched upon and shown to have a relationship. Dia- lectical logic is, needless to say, far superior. Like the moving image of film com- pared to a single-frame photograph.Dialectical logic grasps totality, interconnection, movement and the constancy of change." [Ibid.]


But, these theses certainly look "preconceived" (as indeed they were -- by earlier mystics, including Hegel). As we have seen, Engels was perfectly happy to impose his 'Laws' on nature. And Conrad does a little of this himself:


"Subject and object interpenetrate, are in a process of constant movement, and time and again become their opposites." [Ibid.]


As we will also see, not all things change into their "opposites" (nor yet even because of them), but Conrad is nevertheless happy to impose this thesis on nature.


Here are Woods and Grant:


"Hegel's idealism necessarily gave his dialectics a highly abstract, and arbitrary character. In order to make dialectics serve the 'Absolute Idea,' Hegel was forced to impose a schema upon nature and society, in flat contradiction to the dialectical method itself, which demands that we derive the laws of a given phenomenon from a scrupulously objective study of the subject-matter...."

[Woods and Grant (1995), pp.43-44. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


Alan Woods also had this to say in the Preface to the new edition of the above book:


"This does not mean, of course, that philosophy -- any philosophy -- must dictate to science, as did the Church in the Middle Ages, or as the bureaucracy in Stalinist Russia. Science has its own methods of investigation, observation and experiment, and must follow these and these alone. Engels writes in The Dialectics of Nature:


'All three are developed by Hegel in his idealist fashion as mere laws of thought: the first, in the first part of his Logic, in the Doctrine of Being; the second fills the whole of the second and by far the most important part of his Logic, the Doctrine of Essence; finally the third figures as the fundamental law for the construction of the whole system. The mistake lies in the fact that these laws are foisted on nature and history as laws of thought, and not deduced from them. This is the source of the whole forced and often outrageous treatment; the universe, willy-nilly, is made out to be arranged in accordance with a system of thought which itself is only the product of a definite stage of evolution of human thought. If we turn the thing round, then everything becomes simple, and the dialectical laws that look so extremely mysterious in idealist philosophy at once become simple and clear as noonday.' (My emphasis, AW.)


"Scientists necessarily approach their subject matter with certain assumptions, of which they are usually unaware. These assumptions invariably have a philosophical character. Behind every hypothesis there are always many assumptions, not all of them derived from science itself. For example, what led geneticists to conclude that humans possessed far more genes than is, in fact, the case? It is the method of reductionism, which flows from the mechanical assumption that nature knows only purely quantitative relations. Biological determinism considers humans as a collection of genes, and not as complex organisms, processes, the product of a dialectical interrelation between genes and the environment." [Quoted from here. Bold emphasis alone added.]


Readers will no doubt have noticed that Woods first acknowledges that Philosophy shouldn't dictate to science, but then he excuses his own dogmatism in this regard on the grounds that scientists also impose their ideas on the subject matter! The latter may or may not be true, but then why say that you are not going to do something when you fully intend to do it?


[Examples of Woods and Grant's own brand of 'non-dogmatic' dogmatism are given below in Note 7.]


The Internet is, of course, full of such material, but here is a particularly egregious example:


"Things change,sometimes slowly,sometimes suddenly.When they change enough whether slowly or suddenly, they may change into something else. Things are con- nected to other things, to an extent that we can't imagine but can find out, and we won't go far wrong if we imagine that everything is connected to everything else."

In other words, everything has a history, and everything has a context. For practical reasons we may have to think about things as if they weren't changing, and as if they were separate things, just there by themselves. But when we're trying to really understand how the world works, we have to remember that our ideas about things may have been formed by leaving aside the changes going on in them, and the connections between them. And we have to bring history and context back into our thinking about the things, and that may mean changing our ideas about them.

"And that's dialectical materialism.No scientist would disagree with it,though scien- tists (like other people) often forget it. I get outraged by the way some Marxists think they can pronounce, on the basis of their supposed all-embracing phi- losophy, on particular questions of science. They're behaving exactly like clerics of a church that thinks its theology is the queen of the sciences." [Ken McLeod, 18/07/11; quoted from here. Bold emphases alone added.]

And yet, this author is quite happy to so pronounce.


As noted above,it could be objected that scientists make general statements about reality all the time, so why aren't they guilty of dogmatism, too? On this, see Note 3, below.


More will be said about the difference between science and dogmatic metaphysics (of the sort indulged in by dialecticians) in Essay Twelve Part One and in Essay Thirteen Part Two (which is wholly devoted to science and DM, to be published sometime in 2013).


1a. Throughout this Essay, readers will find me continually asking the following rhetorical question: "How could DM-theorist A, B or C possibly know X, Y or Z?"


The answer is clear in each case: they couldn't possibly know these things by any ordinary means, but only by means of bogus a priori legislation --, which means they must have been imposed on nature; that is, along these lines:


"A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are valida- ted by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this." [Novack (1965), p.17. Bold emphasis added.]


This question is asked continually in order to underline the fact that dialecticians en masse propound theses that cannot possibly be substantiated by any concei- vable body of evidence, no matter how large -- since they are universal, necessary and eternally true.


Why DM-acolytes do this is revealed in Essay Nine Part One and Two, but more particularly in Essay Twelve -- Part One has already been published, but this exposé runs right though that Essay (summary here).


1b. Indeed, in AD Engels pointedly calls scientific theories "hypothetical" while the laws of dialectics are deemed completely universal and not the least bit provisional:


"The mechanical theory of heat, according to which heat consists in a greater or lesser vibration, depending on the temperature and state of aggregation, of the smallest physically active particles (molecules) of a body - a vibration which under certain conditions can change into any other form of motion - explains that the heat that has disappeared has done work, has been transformed into work. When ice melts, the close and firm connection between the individual molecules is broken, and transformed into a loose juxtaposition; when water at boiling point becomes steam a state is reached in which the individual molecules no longer have any noti- ceable influence on one another, and under the influence of heat even fly apart in all directions. It is clear that the single molecules of a body are endowed with far grea- ter energy in the gaseous state than they are in the fluid state,and in the fluid state again more than in the solid state. The tied-up heat, therefore,has not disappeared; it has merely been transformed, and has assumed the form of molecular tension. As soon as the condition under which the separate molecules are able to maintain their absolute or relative freedom in regard to one another ceases to exist -- that is, as soon as the temperature falls below the minimum of 100° or 0°,as the case may be, this tension relaxes, the molecules again press towards each other with the same force with which they had previously flown apart; and this force disappears, but only to reappear as heat, and as precisely the same quantity of heat as had previously been tied up. This explanation is of course a hypothesis, as is the whole mechanical theory of heat, inasmuch as no one has up to now ever seen a molecule, not to mention one in vibration. Just for this reason it is certain to be full of defects as this still very young theory is as a whole, but it can at least explain what happens without in any way coming into con- flict with the indestructibility and uncreatability of motion, and it is even able to account for the whereabouts of heat during its transformations. Latent,or tied-up, heat is therefore in no way a stumbling-block for the mechanical theory of heat. On the contrary, this theory provides the first rational explanation of what takes place, and it involves no stumbling-block except in so far as physicists continue to describe heat which has been transformed into another form of molecular energy by means of the term "tied-up", which has become obsolete and unsuitable. [Engels (1976) p.79. Bold emphases added.]


"For that matter, there is absolutely no need to be alarmed at the fact that the stage of knowledge which we have now reached is as little final as all that have preceded it.It already embraces a vast mass of judgments and requires very great specialisation of study on the part of anyone who wants to become con- versant with any particular science.But a man who applies the measure of genuine, immutable, final and ultimate truth to knowledge which, by its very nature, must either remain relative for many generations and be completed only step by step, or which, as in cosmogony, geology and the history of mankind, must always contain gaps and be incomplete because of the inadequacy of the historical material - such a man only proves thereby his own ignorance and perversity, even if the real thing behind it all is not,as in this case,the claim to personal infallibility.Truth and error, like all thought-concepts which move in polar opposites,have absolute vali- dity only in an extremely limited field, as we have just seen,and as even Herr Dühring would realise if he had any acquaintance with the first elements of dialectics, which deal precisely with the inadequacy of all polar opposites.

As soon as we apply the antithesis between truth and error outside of that narrow field which has been referred to above it becomes relative and therefore unserviceable for exact scientific modes of expression, and if we attempt to apply it as absolutely valid outside that field we really find our- selves altogether beaten: both poles of the antithesis become transformed into their opposites, truth becomes error and error truth. Let us take as an example the well-known Boyle's law. According to it, if the temperature remains constant, the volume of a gas varies inversely with the pressure to which it is sub- jected. Regnault found that this law does not hold good in certain cases. Had he been a philosopher of reality he would have had to say: Boyle's law is mutable, and is hence not a genuine truth, hence it is not a truth at all, hence it is an error. But had he done this he would have committed an error far greater than the one that was contained in Boyle's law; his grain of truth would have been lost sight of in a sand-hill of error; he would have distorted his originally correct conclusion into an error compared with which Boyle's law, along with the little particle of error that clings to it would have seemed like truth.But Regnault, being a man of science, did not indulge in such childishness, but continued his investigations and discovered that in general Boyle's law is only approximately true, and in particular loses its validity in the case of gases which can be liquefied by pressure, namely, as soon as the pressure approaches the point at which liquefaction begins. Boyle's law therefore was proved to be true only within definite limits. But is it absolutely and finally true within those limits? No physicist would assert that. He would main- tain that it holds good within certain limits of pressure and temperature and for certain gases; and even within these more restricted limits he would not exclude the possibility of a still narrower limitation or altered formulation as the result of future investigations. This is how things stand with final and ultimate truths in physics, for example. Really scientific works therefore, as a rule, avoid such dogmatically moral expressions as error and truth, while these expressions meet us everywhere in works such as the philosophy of reality, in which empty phrasemongering attempts to impose itself on us as the most sovereign result of sovereign thought." [Ibid., pp.113-14. Bold emphases added.]


"It goes without saying that my recapitulation of mathematics and the natural sciences was undertaken in order to convince myself also in detail -- of what in ge- neral I was not in doubt -- that in nature, amid the welter of innumerable changes, the same dialectical laws of motion force their way through as those which in history govern the apparent fortuitousness of events; the same laws which similarly form the thread running through the history of the development of human thought and gradually rise to consciousness in thinking man; the laws which Hegel first developed in all-embracing but mystic form,and which we made it one of our aims to strip of this mystic form and to bring clearly before the mind in their complete simplicity and universality." [Ibid., pp.11-12. Bold emphases added.]


"With this assurance Herr Dühring saves himself the trouble of saying anything fur- ther about the origin of life, although it might reasonably have been expected that a thinker who had traced the evolution of the world back to its self-equal state, and is so much at home on other celestial bodies, would have known exactly what's what also on this point.For the rest, however,the assurance he gives us is only half right unless it is completed by the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations which has already been mentioned.In spite of all gradualness,the transition from one form of motion to another always remains a leap, a decisive change. This is true of the transition from the mechanics of celestial bodies to that of smaller masses on a particular celestial body; it is equally true of the transition from the mechanics of masses to the mechanics of molecules -- including the forms of motion investigated in physics proper: heat, light, electricity, magnetism. In the same way, the transition from the physics of molecules to the physics of atoms -- chemistry -- in turn involves a decided leap; and this is even more clearly the case in the transition from ordinary chemical action to the chemism of albumen which we call life. Then within the sphere of life the leaps become ever more infrequent and imperceptible. -- Once again, therefore, it is Hegel who has to correct Herr Dühring." [Ibid., pp.82-83. Bold emphases added.]


"And so, what is the negation of the negation? An extremely general -- and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important -- law of development of nature, history, and thought; a law which, as we have seen,holds good in the animal and plant kingdoms,in geology, in mathematics,in history and in philosophy -- a law which even Herr Dühring, in spite of all his stubborn re- sistance, has unwittingly and in his own way to follow. It is obvious that I do not say anything concerning the particular process of development of, for example, a grain of barley from germination to the death of the fruit-bearing plant, if I say it is a negation of the negation. For,as the integral calculus is also a negation of the ne- gation, if I said anything of the sort I should only be making the nonsensical state- ment that the life-process of a barley plant was integral calculus or for that matter that it was socialism. That, however, is precisely what the metaphysicians are constantly imputing to dialectics. When I say that all these processes are a negation of the negation, I bring them all together under this one law of motion, and for this very reason I leave out of account the specific peculia-rities of each individual process. Dialectics, however, is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought." [Ibid., pp.179-80. Bold emphases added.]


So, for Engels scientific principles like Boyle's Law are "hypothetical" whereas dialectical 'laws' are applicable everywhere and everywhen. They are "nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought", and enjoy "complete...universality". Indeed, they can be used to criticise all other forms of thought.


Moreover, the 'tentative' nature of such 'laws' can be seen from the fact that if sub- sequent dialecticians try to alter or reject them, they are one and all branded "Revi-sionists" -- and, in my case, subjected to endless abuse --,their status as Marxists thrown into doubt.


Only when dialectics is being sold to the unsuspecting public, to novices and new recruits is it described as a reasonable "assumption"; in practice it is regarded by the inner core of the faithful as the foundation stone of Marxism, to be defended at all costs.


However, experience has taught me that when MD is criticised on the internet, especially when its deleterious effects have been exposed, a significant minority of comrades reply with a "Well, this theory isn't really all that central to Marxism", despite being told that leading Marxists (like Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and Trotsky) all considered it the lifeblood of Marxist theory and practice.


1c. The tiny amount of evidence that dialecticians have scraped together to try to show that their 'laws' enjoy universal instantiation will be destructively analysed in the other Essays posted at this site -- especially here.


”Rosa”: ” Of course, if it were true that the universe had such 'messages' encoded into it, that would imply that it was the product of Mind, and ultimately perhaps that it was just one 'Big Idea'. As the record clearly shows, traditional Philosophers found it difficult to resist such inferences. That fact is, of course, well-known; less widely appreciated perhaps are the class forces that have encouraged Idealist conclusions of this sort, even among dialecticians. These will be explored in more detail in other Essays posted here (particularly Nine Part One and Two, Twelve Parts One to Seven (summary here), and Fourteen Part One (summary here)).


Radical Politics -- Conservative Philosophy


As will soon become apparent, for all their claims to be radical, when it comes to Philosophy DM-theorists are surprisingly conservative -- and worryingly incapable of seeing this, even after it has been pointed out to them. [An excellent example of this phenomenon, and one that is highly influential on how DM-theorists receive this particular criticism, can be found here.] At a rhetorical level, this conservatism is camouflaged behind what at first appear to be a set of disarmingly modest denials --, which are then promptly flouted.


The quotations recorded below (and in Note 1) show that DM-theorists are anxious to deny that their system is wholly or even partly a priori, or that it has been imposed on the world and not merely read from it. However, the way that dialecticians actually phrase their ideas contradicts these superficially honest-looking claims, showing quite clearly that the opposite of this is in fact the case.


This inadvertent dialectical inversion -- wherein what DM-theorists say about what they do is the reverse of what they actually do with what they say -- neatly mirrors the distortion to which traditional philosophy has subjected language for the last two millennia (outlined in Essay Three Parts One and Two, and in Essay Twelve Part One).


However, unlike dialecticians, traditional metaphysicians were quite open and honest about what they were doing; indeed, they brazenly imposed their a priori theories on reality and hung the consequences.


Because dialecticians have a novel (but nonetheless defective) view both of Meta- physics and FL (on these,see here and here),they are oblivious of the fact that they are just as ready as traditional metaphysicians ever were to impose their ideas on the world, and equally blind to the fact that in so-doing they are aping the alienated thought-forms of those whose society they seek to abolish.


Naturally, this means that their 'radical' guns were spiked before they were even loaded; with such weapons, it's small wonder then that DM-theorists fire nothing but philosophical blanks.


[FL = Formal Logic; DM = Dialectical Materialism.]


Dialectics is a conservative theory precisely because its adherents have adopted the distorted methods, a priori thought-forms and meaningless jargon of traditional Philosophy.


Now, these accusations might seem far easier to make than they are to substantiate. In fact, the reverse is true, as we shall now see.


DM: Consistently Inconsistent


Given the fact that DM-theorists see contradictions everywhere, one would be for- given for thinking that they would welcome a few more to add to the list. However, if the past is anything to go by, it's  a reasonably safe bet that dialecticians will not be overly happy with the many that will be brought to light in the Essays posted here -- especially if the majority of them show that their theory is not so much consistently inconsistent, as fatally so.


Dialecticians claim that even though their system has been derived from Hegel's AIDS, the materialist flip they say they have imposed on it means that their theory is not the least bit Idealist, but thoroughly materialist, having been refined and tested in practice for over 150 years.


[AIDS = Absolute Idealism.]


That is, of course, what the official brochure says.


But, is it an accurate picture of DM? As we shall soon see, it is as close to the truth as certain dodgy Iraq dossiers were.


DM -- Not A "Master Key"


Dialectical Idealism?


The claim that abstract concepts underlie our knowledge of the world has obvious Idealist implications (on this, see below, and Essay Three Parts One and Two) -- those that an aspiring materialist has pressing need to defuse. The question is: How do DM-theorists manage to do this?


[TAR = The Algebra Of Revolution, i.e., Rees (1998).]


For one, John Rees argues that human knowledge grows because it has:


"[Brought] to it a framework composed of our past experiences; what we have learned of others' experience, both in the present and in the past; and of our later reflections on and theories about this experience…. Concepts and theories are necessary to interpret the world." [Rees (1998), p.63.]


These observations form part of a criticism of Hegel's belief that:


"[A]ll real knowledge of the world is theoretical knowledge… [and] the development of knowledge primarily depends on the further elaboration of concepts." [Ibid.,p.63.]


However, Rees then argues that it would be a mistake for us to try to:


"[D]educe directly particular events from general rules or to assume that general laws can be directly inferred from specific, empirical observations." [Ibid., p.107.]


But, this further requires us to:


"[M]ake an abstraction from the inessential and accidental features of reality to grasp more clearly its key features." [Ibid., p.110.]


Rees also points out that the danger here is that this might reintroduce Hegel's own errors, luring Marxists into a familiar Idealist trap. This can be avoided by ensuring that:


"Testing by facts or by practice…is…found in each step of the analysis." [Ibid., p.113; quoting Lenin (1961), p.318 -- not p.320 as TAR suggests.]


In that case:


"Constant empirical work is therefore essential to renew both the concrete analy- ses and the dialectical concepts that are generalized from these analyses." [Ibid.]


Moreover, general concepts cannot be seen as:


"[A] substitute for the difficult empirical task of tracing the development of real contradictions, not as a suprahistorical master key whose only advantage is to turn up when no real historical knowledge is available." [Ibid., p.9.]


And later, in a discussion of Trotsky's views on DM, Rees reminds his readers that Trotsky himself warned that the dialectic is not:


"'[A] magic master key for all questions.' The dialectic is not a calculator into which it is possible to punch the problem and allow it to compute the solution. This would be an idealist method. A materialist dialectic must grow from a patient, empirical examination of the facts and not be imposed on them…." [Ibid., p.271; quoting Trotsky (1973), p.233. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site. Italic emphases in the original.]


Even though the metaphor of the garden has now replaced that of the book, it is clear that the author of TAR accepts the standard line that DM mustn't be imposed on nature, but must derived from a scientific study of it, and that not only should it be checked at every stage, it must be thoroughly tested in practice.


The question is: Does this succeed in avoiding the Idealist trap mentioned above? Even more to the point: Is this an accurate picture of what DM-theorists actually do, as opposed to what they merely say they do? Is this even an accurate account of what Rees himself does?


Reality Is Dialectical After All


Clearly not, for just two lines later Rees added this revealing aside:


"A dialectical method is only possible because reality itself is dialectically structured." [Ibid., p.271.]


But, this is quite remarkable! One minute we are being soothed with reassuring words that DM must not be imposed on reality, merely derived from it, the very next we are told that reality itself is dialectically structured.


But, how on earth could Rees possibly know this? Clearly, unless DM had already been imposed on reality, he couldn't conceivably know that it is dialectically structured. What would be the point of stressing that DM must not be imposed on reality, just read from it, if nature is already dialectically structured? That would be as pointless as insisting that we shouldn't impose greenness on grass, or oddness on the number three. And yet, what else could Rees's claim amount to except an imposition onto reality of something we were told should only emerge as a result of a "patient empirical examination of the facts"?1a


Surely, the most that could legitimately be claimed here is that up to now the available evidence supports a dialectical view of reality. It plainly shouldn't be that this widely touted 'cautious approach' is only possible because "reality itself is dialectically structured." If that were the case, caution could be thrown to the wind.


Of course, it could be objected here that Rees's conclusion is quite reasonable since it is based on a careful consideration of the available scientific evidence.


But, Rees's claim goes much further than this; he asserts that "reality itself" (that is, not just a part of it, or even most of it, nor yet that of which we have some knowledge, but the entire universe, at every level, for all of time -- i.e., reality itself) is dialectically structured.


Even if we took into account all the available evidence (which evidence isn't condu- cive to DM, anyway, as we shall see in later Essays), the inference that "reality itself" is dialectically structured goes way beyond this. As seems plain, the claim that reality itself is dialectically structured could only ever amount to a reading into nature something that might not be there. And it certainly isn't justified on the basis of the meagre evidence dialecticians have so far scraped-together.


This is all the more so if we take into account the fact that DM-theorists also claim that human knowledge is not only partial and relative, it will only ever remain in this state. In fact, since DM-theorists believe that the pursuit of knowledge is an infinite quest, and that the gap between Absolute and current knowledge will always be infinite, humanity will only be in a position to agree with dialecticians about "reality itself" at the end of an "infinite" epistemological journey. Now it is plain, I take it, that Rees has not yet completed such a task, nor is he ever likely to (and neither is humanity), so the conclusion that realty itself is dialectically structured cannot form part of human knowledge, now or ever. Which, means it must have been imposed on reality.


Again, it might be objected that Rees's claim is in fact a working hypothesis which has so far been reasonably well-confirmed. However, as we will see, this is not how Rees frames his ideas, nor is it the way that other DM-theorists have phrased their ideas over the last 150 years.As this Essay unfolds,it will become abundantly clear that dialecticians adopt a thoroughly traditional approach to Philosophy, deriving a priori theses from laughably thin evidence, which they then happily impose on nature. 1b


Impertinent claims like these are, as it turns out, quite easy to substantiate. Anyone who doubts this should read on.


'Materialists' In Traditional Clothing


Throwing Caution To The Wind


So, this is not a reassuring way for Rees to demonstrate the "careful" application of the "dialectical method" -- which is aimed, let us recall, at persuading the rest of us that DM is not just another form of Idealism.


However, Rees's justification for the correct application of the dialectical method to reality is that reality is in fact so structured. That is, he appeals to the alleged fact that reality is as he says it is to account for the applicability of the dialectical method:


"A dialectical method is only possible because reality itself is dialectically structured." [Ibid., p.271.]


But if, as we were told,this is merely an example of the cautious approach to know- ledge (necessary to avoid accusations of Idealism), the direction of justification should proceed the other way. It would surely go something like this: "Because the dialectical method is so successful, we may conclude that those parts of nature and society to which it has so far been applied are dialectically structured." By no stretch of the imagination should we conclude that the method works because "reality itself" is dialectical. That inference is not cautious but dogmatic.


[As we will see, Rees is merely copying Engels.]


Now, the fact that Rees argues this way round strongly suggests that the legenda- ry dialectical spin that DM-theorists are supposed to have inflicted on Hegel's sys- tem (allegedly putting it "back on its feet") was perhaps less successful than we have been given to believe -- either that, or Hegel's system remains Idealist in forward or reverse gear, the right way up or upside down.


[AIDS = Absolute Idealism.]


If so, this might be enough to show that DM is not in fact a materialist doctrine after all, but an example of upside-down AIDS.


But is it?


The rest of this Essay, and several others posted at this site, are aimed at answering that question and greatly strengthening this suspicion.


Tested In Practice?


At this point, it might be objected that DM has in fact been tested in practice, which fact alone confirms that reality is dialectically structured. It also proves that DM is not at all an Idealist theory --, or so it could be alleged.


Unfortunately however, not only has practice not confirmed DM, the exact opposite is in fact the case. [Substantiation for that allegation can be found in Essay Ten Part One.] If the evidence of the last hundred and thirty odd years is anything to go by, it is clear that dialectics has been tested in practice and has so far been disproved. Indeed, history has delivered an almost unambiguously negative verdict upon it.


Sad to say, but revolutionary socialism and success are almost total strangers. In that case, it would be unwise of DM-theorists to continue to appeal to practice as a test of their theory, or of its materialist credentials.


But, even if this were not the case, even a thousand years of revolutionary practice would be insufficient to show that "reality itself" is dialectically structured. At best, this would merely confirm that human history might be. It should not need pointing out, but the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 in no way confirms that the outer fringes of the Galaxy are dialectical or that every photon in the entire universe suffers from "internal contradictions".1c


The Dialectical Chorus Line


Rees Imposes His Views On Reality


Again, in response to this, it could be argued that the above passage from TAR is atypical, or that it does not really represent its author's considered views, or that it does not imply what the above says it does, or that Rees is neither a leading nor a typical DM-theorist, etc., etc. But, as we shall soon see, not only is this rejoinder wrong in particular (in that this passage does indeed reflect Rees's view), it is incor- rect in general. It is typical of DM authors to talk this way;they all do it, all the time!


Rees's comments are in fact part of a long tradition; DM-theorists regularly impose their a priori concepts on nature, just like the traditional thinkers from whom they inherited this Idealist method.


Lenin admitted as much when he said:


"The history of philosophy and the history of social science show with perfect clari- ty that there is nothing resembling 'sectarianism' in Marxism, in the sense of its be- ing a hidebound, petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the high road of the development of world civilisation. On the contrary,the genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the fore- most minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.


"The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition,reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as repre-sented by German philosophy,English political economy and French socialism."

[Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphases alone added.]


Of course, the influence of earlier thinkers is not something dialecticians deny, but it is quite clear they have failed to appreciate its significance.


[However, Lenin's claims about sectarianism will be shown to be wildly inaccurate in Essay Nine Part One and Part Two.]


Nevertheless, the fact that Rees's claim was not a mere slip of the word-processor can be seen from several other things he says:


"Totality refers to the insistence that the various seemingly separate elements of which the world is composed are in fact related to one another." [Rees (1998), p.5. Emphasis added.]


Again, how is it possible for Rees to insist on something while claiming that he has not imposed on nature whatever it was he had just insisted upon? Of course, he and others might choose to believe such things -- he and they could even claim support for such a belief from the available data -- but, as should seem obvious, an "insistence" of this sort could only ever be justified if the pretence that dialectics has not been imposed on reality has been quietly forgotten.


And, there is more:


"[The] natural and social world [form] a single totality developing over time as a result of…internal contradictions…. [N]ature is an interconnected system that developed for millions of years before humans." [Ibid., pp.285-86.]


But, how could Rees possibly know that the natural and social world is a single Totality, as opposed to being, say, two Totalities, or ten thousand --, or perhaps none at all? And how could he possibly know that everything is interconnected, contradictory and changing all the time? Or even that development is always and everywhere the result of "internal contradictions"?


To be sure, he could claim to know this if DM had been imposed on nature, but that is the only way he could know this.


[What little evidence and/or argument DM-apologists have offered in support of such over-blown claims will be examined in Essays Five, Seven, Eight Parts One and Two, and Eleven Parts One and Two.]


As if this were not enough, Rees has several more things he wants to impose on reality:


"…[A] dialectical approach…presupposes the parts and the whole are not reducible to each other. The parts and the whole mutually condition, or mediate, each other." [Ibid., p.7.]


"In a dialectical system, the entire nature of the part is determined by its relation- ships with the other parts and so with the whole. The part makes the whole, and the whole makes the parts…. In this analysis, it is not just the case that the whole is more than the sum of the parts but also that the parts become more than they are individually by being part of a whole…. [F]or dialectical materialists the whole is more than the simple sum of its parts." [Rees (1998), pp.5, 77.]


But, is a presupposition any different from an imposition? And, where is all the "patiently collected" evidence that confirms that every single atom in the universe "mediates", and is "mediated" in return by everything else or every other atom? How could Rees possibly know, for example, that the whole "mediates" each and every part? He may perhaps surmise this from the evidence available to date (which he failed to produce anyway), but his hyper-bold claims cannot be part of current human knowledge (and if DM-epistemology is anything to go by, it never will be).


Indeed, it is not easy to see how anyone could confirm whether, say, a humble car- rot is or is not mediated by Galaxy M100,or even Galaxy NGC1365,and vice versa. And what sort of spooky influence is a mediation,anyway,for goodness sake? What would anyone be looking for in order to confirm that these ill-defined 'influences' (these "mediacies") actually exist? Is there any way for a single human being to detect, let alone study, these strange 'effects'? How could they possibly register on scientific instruments? And yet, if the existence and nature of such things are not capable of being confirmed (and if no one is able to say what their confirmation would even look like), then we surely only have Hegel's word for it that they exist.


Of course, this helps explain why Rees found he had to impose such things on nature.


And how does Rees know that every single whole that has ever existed in the entire history of the universe up until now is more than the sum of its parts? Or that the entire nature of any part is determined in the way he says?


Naturally, this introduces factors connected with the elusive DM-"Totality". As we will see in Essay Eleven Part One and Part Two (where it will be shown that the above claims are not even factually correct) the "Totality" is an impenetrable mystery -- even to dialecticians!


[The argument Rees actually uses to counter objections like these (i.e., the one based on his analysis of 'friendship' (pp.109-10)), will be examined in detail in Essay Three Part Four.]


More to the point, however, how does Rees know that parts and wholes are not re- ducible to each other? Can he say with total confidence that not a single whole (in the many thousands of millennia to come) will never be reduced to its parts? If he does so attest now -- and in advance of the evidence -- how is that different from imposing this view on reality?


Nevertheless, Rees is the one who wants to reduce all change to "internal contra-dictions" -- which, for all the world, look like they are the 'logical atoms' of DM. [Those who doubt that assertion should consult this Essay.]


In fact, Rees's only apparent objection to reductionism is not that there is a mountain of evidence that demands its rejection, but that it would lead to something Hegel called a "bad infinity":


"Hegel described this kind of account as 'bad infinity',because it postulated an end- less series of causes and effects regressing to 'who knows where?' The defect of all such approaches is that they leave the ultimate cause of events outside the events they describe. The cause is external to the system. A dialectical approach seeks to find the cause of change within the system. And if the explanation of change lies within the system, it cannot be conceived on the model of linear cause and effect, because this will simply reproduce the problem we are trying to solve. If change is internally generated, it must be a result of contradiction, of instability and development as inherent properties of the system itself." [Ibid., p.7. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


But, why should we accept Hegel's view? Hegel wasn't a scientist. The record fails show he was well known for carrying out any experiments. But, perhaps to compensate for this failing, he probably holds the world record for the number of theses foisted onto nature by one human being in a single lifetime.


He is not, therefore, a terribly good witness for the defence.


Naturally, Hegel had his own Idealist reasons for rejecting such infinities, but is there any material evidence that "bad infinities" are quite as evil as he (or Rees) seems to think? If there is, they both unwisely failed to bring it to our attention.


This suggests that Rees accepted this rather odd Hegelian caveat for Idealist rea- sons himself -- that is, he acknowledged that such infinities should be rejected as "bad" even though that conclusion was not itself based on material evidence of any sort (and despite his earlier claim that that particular requirement was not an optional extra).


Clearly then, Rees seems quite happy to foist these Hegelian fancies on reality.


In addition, how could Rees possibly know that there isn't in fact an endless series of causes and effects responsible for any particular change in the natural world? Or that change cannot be externally-induced - or even that all change is driven by "in- ternal contradictions"? For all he knows, there could be parts of the universe where dialectics just does not apply.It might not apply at the centre of the earth,or it might not have worked for a few years during the Permian age, or before humanity evolved -- it might cease to work the other side of the Crab Nebula, or nearer to home in a million years time. How could Rees rule out any of these and countless other possibilities?


[UO = Unity of Opposites.]


Of course, when faced with this sort of objection, dialecticians often reach for other tried but not very well tested Hegelian concepts - such as: all change occurs through "internal contradiction", because of the existence of UOs everywhere --, arguing that if all change is indeed a result of such things, then there is no way that DM could not have applied at all times and places -- in the Permian, for example, or at the centre of the earth.


But, that response merely confirms the main thesis if this Essay: that DM-fans are happy to impose their abstract schemas on reality, even when there is no conceivable way that such things could be confirmed.


Now, should any reader be tempted along similar lines, that too will confirm a claim made earlier in this Essay:


As will soon become apparent, for all their claims to be radical, when it comes to Philosophy DM-theorists are surprisingly conservative -- and worryingly incapable of seeing this, even after it has been pointed out to them. At a rhetorical level, this conservatism is camouflaged behind what at first appear to be a set of disarmingly modest denials --, which are then promptly ignored.


And, as is the case with other traditionalists, DM-fans slip into a priori dogmatics impressively quickly.


[We will see, too, in Essays Five through Eight Part Two, these DM-principles do not even work closer to home, with respect to such mundane things as bags of sugar and ambulatory felines, let alone in distant regions of space and time.]


Now, Rees may wish to believe the things he says, but if dialectics can only grow from a "patient" examination of the evidence (etc.), it is quite clear that he cannot know all of these things, given the present (or indeed any foreseeable) state of knowledge.


In fact, as it turns out, he will never know any of these; not only do "internal contra-dictions" not explain change, they can't. Indeed, as is surprisingly easy to demon-strate, the idea that change can only arise from "internal contradictions" is itself inconsistent with other DM-principles, and with what we already know about nature and human society.2


There are many more suspiciously Idealist passages like this in TAR; here is another:


"If nature forms a totality, which it must unless we depart from materialism comp- letely and become believers in the supernatural, and if this totality develops, as evolutionary theory indicates, then are we not obliged to picture this as self-deve-lopment powered by internal contradiction?" [Ibid., p.78. Bold emphasis added.]


Once more, Rees's only argument in favour of the idea that nature forms a "totality" seems to be that to deny that it does would leave space for the supernatural. But that isn't evidence. He certainly wouldn't accept a converse argument for the exis- tence of God: that to deny it would create a materialist 'bad infinity' (in that it would leave the physical world unaccounted for on purely rational grounds), one that is itself backed up with no evidence at all, either. In that case, and once again, Rees's claim certainly looks like an imposition.


But,what if evidence one day turned up to show that there are indeed things beyond this universe, which either are or are not causally dependent upon it? Dialecticians like Rees are just going to have to come to terms with that -- but they can only rule that possibility out now by imposing their current beliefs on nature (the latter per- haps justified or not by several more a priori, idealist 'arguments' lifted from Hegel, but plainly not based on "patiently" collected evidence).


Rees also claims that alternative approaches depart from materialism; indeed they stand in danger of lapsing into theism. But as we will see, DM-theorists' own under-standing of what counts as matter actually allows place for the existence of 'God'. Hence, if "carefully" collected evidence one day turned up showing that 'God' does indeed exist, what could dialecticians like Rees say? Given their own defective understanding of the nature of the material world (on this, see Essay Thirteen Part One), and their weak gesture at the acceptance of evidence-based science, dialec-ticians could only rule this possibility out now by imposing DM on reality. [In fact, Rees's own use of the word "obliged" in the above passage inadvertently concedes this point, one feels.]3


Finally, in a recent article in Socialist Review, Rees endorsed Engels's first 'Law' unreservedly; so, on the basis of just one example (the hardy perennial, water freezing and/or boiling) he was happy to assert the following:


"Indeed this is a feature of many different sorts of change, even in the natural world. Water that rises in temperature by one degree at a time shows no dramatic change until it reaches boiling point when it "suddenly" becomes steam. At that point its whole nature is transformed from being a liquid into a vapour.


"Lower the temperature of water by a single degree at a time and again there is no dramatic change until it reaches freezing point, when it is transformed from a liquid into a solid -- ice.


"Dialecticians call this process the transformation of quantity into quality. Slow, gradual changes that do not add up to a transformation in the nature of a thing suddenly reach a tipping point when the whole nature of the thing is transformed into something new." [Rees (2008), p.24.]


From that, Rees "suddenly leaps" to this conclusion:


"This is why Marx described the dialectic as 'an abomination to the bourgeoisie' and why Lenin said of this method that it 'alone furnishes the key to "self-move- ment" of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to "leaps", to the "break in continuity"...to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new'". [Ibid. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


So, here we have yet more a priori dogmatism, based on little or no evidence in this case, as we will see in Essay Seven Part One.


And, careful readers will note, too, that Rees tells us in one breath that DM is not a "master key" -- but, here he is quoting Lenin that dialectics alone furnishes the key to the movement of "everything existing". And yet, what else can that be but a "master key"?


DM-'Radicals' copy Traditional thought-Forms


Engels Ignores His Own Declaration


The projection of DM-theses onto nature is not just an aberration of modern-day dialecticians; every DM-classicist has indulged extensively in the sport. For example, this approach can be found right throughout Engels's writings. True to form he tells us the following:


"Finally,for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialec- tics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Engels (1976), p.13. Bold emphasis added. Several more quotations along similar lines from Engels and others can be found in Note 1.]


Also true to form, he then proceeds to do the opposite. For instance, in his classic text, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, he had this to say (which is from where Rees copied this idea, not from a scientific analysis of nature):


"Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically." [Engels (1892), pp.407, repeated in Engels (1976), p.28.]


To this may be added the following comment:


"Dialectics…prevails throughout nature…. [T]he motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites…determines the life of nature." [Engels (1954), p.211. Bold emphasis added.]


But, how could Engels possibly have known all of this? How could he have known that nature does not operate "metaphysically", say, in distant regions of space and time, way beyond the edges of the known Universe of his day? Indeed, how could he have been so sure that, for example, there are no changeless objects anywhere in the entire universe?4 How could he have been so certain that the "life of nature" is indeed the result of a "conflict of opposites" -- or that some processes (in the whole of reality, for all of time) were/are not governed by non-dialectical factors? Where is his "carefully" collected evidence about every object and event in nature, past, present and future?5


Notice that Engels did not say that "all the evidence collected" up until his day supported these contentions,or that "those parts of the world of which scientists" of his day were aware behaved in the way he indicated; he just referred to nature tout court, without qualification (i.e., "throughout nature" and "everywhere in nature"). In line with other DM-theorists, Engels signally failed to inform his readers of the whereabouts of the large finite set of "careful observations" upon which these wild generalisations had been based. [On this see Note 1b, and the Appendix below.]


To be sure, he did say that nature itself confirms DM, but that looks more like a manifesto claim than a summary of the evidence -- especially if the evidence he actually bothered to produce is watery thin anyway, and does not in fact support his theses -- as we will see in later Essays (especially here).


And Engels didn't stop there; he made equally bold statements about other fundamental aspects of nature:


"Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been mat- ter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconcei- vable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and inde- structible as matter itself; as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it, the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created; it can only be transmitted….


"A motionless state of matter therefore proves to be one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]


"The great basic thought that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but a complex of processes, in which things apparently stable…, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away…." [Engels (1888), p.609. Bold emphases added.]


"Dialectics as the science of universal interconnection….


"The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa…[operates] in nature, in a manner fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or quantitative subtraction of matter or motion….


"Hence, it is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or sub- traction of matter or motion…. In this form, therefore, Hegel's mysterious principle appears not only quite rational but even rather obvious.


"Motion in the most general sense, conceived as the mode of existence, the inherent attribute of matter, comprehends all changes and processes occurring in the universe


"Dialectics, so called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature…. [M]otion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites…determines the life of nature….


"The whole theory of gravity rests on saying that attraction is the essence of mat- ter. This is necessarily false. Where there is attraction, it must be complemented by repulsion. Hence already Hegel was quite right in saying that the essence of matter is attraction and repulsion….


"The visible system of stars, the solar system, terrestrial masses, molecules and atoms, and finally ether particles, form each of them [a definite group]. It does not alter the case that intermediate links can be found between the separate groups…. These intermediate links prove only that there are no leaps in nature, precisely because nature is composed entirely of leaps." [Engels (1954), pp.17, 63, 69, 211, 244, 271. Bold emphases added.]


Once more, Engels forgot to say how he knew all these things were true. For example, how could he possibly have known that:


"Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]


Neither matter without motion nor motion without matter is inconceivable, contrary to what Engels says. [This allegation is substantiated in Essays Five and Twelve Part One.]In fact, the contrary doctrine that matter is naturally motionless was itself imposed on nature by Aristotle; Engels's obverse imposition is no less unimpressive, and no less Idealist.


Consider another passage, this time taken from a letter written by Engels:


"The identity of thinking and being, to use Hegelian language, everywhere coincides with your example of the circle and the polygon. Or the two of them, the concept of a thing and its reality, run side by side like two asymptotes, always approaching each other but never meeting. This difference between the two is the very difference which prevents the concept from being directly and immediately reality and reality from being immediately its own concept. Because a concept has the essential na- ture of the concept and does not therefore prima facie directly coincide with reality, from which it had to be abstracted in the first place, it is nevertheless more than a fiction, unless you declare that all the results of thought are fictions because reality corresponds to them only very circuitously, and even then approaching it only asymptotically…. In other words, the unity of concept and phenomenon manifests itself as an essentially infinite process, and that is what it is, in this case as in all others." [Engels to Schmidt (12/03/1895), in Marx and Engels (1975), pp.457-58, and Marx and Engels (2004), pp.463-64.]


There are several puzzling things about this quotation (which will have to be left until later), but how could Engels possibly have known that concepts and things interrelate in the way he alleges? In fact,if he were right,in order for him to conclude what he does about "things" (about which he admits the knowledge of his (and perhaps that of any other) day never coincides), he must have extrapolated way beyond the state of knowledge in the late nineteenth century -- and, as the next passage below reveals, way beyond any conceivable state of knowledge.


Worse still: if things never "coincide" with their own concepts, then on that basis alone Engels couldn't possibly have known that even this much was the case. Plainly, if he did know this, then at least one concept -- namely the one Engels was using here -- would in fact have coincided with its object!


Clearly, such semi-divine confidence could only have arisen from: (1) Engels's own imposition of this a priori thesis on nature, and/or from (2) The a priori, Idealist principles Engels admits he lifted from Hegel -- but not from (3) Perusing the 'book' of nature, or from collecting evidence, either "patiently" or impatiently.


As should seem obvious, if reality is permanently beyond our grasp then anything that anyone says about 'it' must of necessity be imposed on 'it' (that is, if we insist on depicting things in such an obscure way).6


The next passage from Engels simply underlines this point:


"'Fundamentally,we can know only the infinite.' In fact all real exhaustive knowledge consists solely in raising the individual thing in thought from individuality into parti-cularity and from this into universality, in seeking and establishing the infinite in the finite, the eternal in the transitory…. All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, and essentially absolute…. The cognition of the infinite…can only take place in an infinite asymptotic progress." [Engels (1954), pp.234-35. Italic emphasis in the original; bold emphasis added.]


But, if no concept (ever) matches reality fully, how could Engels have known any of this? How could he possibly know that "All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, or that it is essentially absolute..."? Either he was in possession of such absolute knowledge already when he wrote this (which would have meant, once again, that at least one concept matched reality, namely this one), or he was himself infinitely wrong!


Of course, we know the answer to this question already: Engels was able to foist all this on reality because that is exactly what Hegel did, and it is exactly what traditional Philosophers have always done; he simply copied them. [Why he did this is explained here.]


However, no doubt the infinite (or even extremely large finite) body of evidence that Engels meant to include in Dialectics of Nature, which would have been necessary to justify these quasi-theological claims, and which has been mislaid in the meantime, will turn up one day.


Lenin Finds 'The Master-Key'


There is a passage similar to this in Lenin's Notebooks:


"Cognition is the eternal, endless approximation of thought to the object." [Lenin (1961), p.195.]


Once more, how on earth could Lenin possibly have known this for a fact? Clearly, he can't have known that this process is endless -- since the claim to know that al- leged fact could only have been based on the successful completion of an endless process itself,if what Lenin actually said were correct.Whatever else we might think of Lenin, he was not, I take it, an eternal being. Certainly, no amount of evidence could show that this ambitious claim of his was true, or even approximately true. No finite body of data, no matter how large, even so much as roughly approximates to an infinite amount.


Not only is the non-existent end this quotation postulates 'somewhere in the future' (and hence beyond the reach of any and all current evidence), if the length of time between now and then is itself endless, the search for the (missing) evidence which supports the claim that it is endless must be endless, too.


Here are several more 'cautious' claims Lenin advanced incautiously:


"Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete de- velopment…. Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)….


"[D]ialectical logic holds that 'truth' is always concrete, never abstract, as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel." [Lenin (1921).. Bold emphases added.]


"Flexibility, applied objectively, i.e., reflecting the all-sidedness of the material process and its unity, is dialectics, is the correct reflection of the eternal development of the world." [Lenin (1961), p.110. Bold emphasis added.]


"Thought proceeding from the concrete to the abstract - provided it is correct (NB)… -- does not get away from the truth but comes closer to it. The abstraction of matter, the law of nature, the abstraction of value, etc., in short all scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely." [Ibid., p.171. Emphases in the original.]


"The totality of all sides of the phenomenon of reality and their (reciprocal) relations - that is what truth is composed of. The relations (= transitions = contradictions) of notions = the main content of logic, by which these concepts (and their relations, transitions, contradictions) are shown as reflections of the objective world. The dialectic of things produces the dialectic of ideas, and not vice versa." [Ibid., p.196. All emphases in the original.]


"Logical concepts are subjective so long as they remain 'abstract,' in their abstract form, but at the same time they express the Thing-in-themselves. Nature is both concrete and abstract, both phenomenon and essence, both moment and relation. Human concepts are subjective in their abstractness, separateness, but objective as a whole, in the process, in the sum-total, in the tendency, in the source." [Ibid., p.208. All emphases in the original.]


And here is another revealing passage:


"Nowadays, the ideas of development…as formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of Hegel…[encompass a process] that seemingly repeats the stages already passed, but repeats them otherwise,on a higher basis ('negation of negation'), a de- velopment, so to speak, in spirals, not in a straight line; -- a development by leaps, catastrophes, revolutions; - 'breaks in continuity'; the transformation of quantity into quality; - the inner impulses to development,imparted by the contradiction and con- flict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; -- the interdependence and the closest, indissoluble connection of all sides of every phenomenon…, a connection that provides a uniform, law-governed, universal process of motion -– such are some of the features of dialectics as a richer (than the ordinary) doctrine of development." [Lenin (1914), pp.12-13. Bold emphases alone added.]


But, once again, how could Lenin possibly have known all of these things? How, for instance, could he have been so sure that "[T]he dialectic of things produces the dialectic of ideas", and not the other way round, or perhaps a bit of both (rejecting here, of course, the "either or of understanding" on 'sound' Hegelian lines)? He may indeed choose to assume the validity of these and other things, but there could be no body of evidence large enough to justify the sorts of claims Lenin makes in the above passages, which he seems quite happy to foist on nature, anyway.


And, why "require" or "demand" something if science is supposed to be based on evidence? Scientists do not normally require things of nature. When was the last time they "required" copper to conduct electricity, "demanded" that dogs bark, or "insisted" that humanity evolved from an ape-like ancestor?


But worse: How could Lenin possibly have known that dialectics reflected the "eternal development of the world"?


From whom did he receive the stone tablets upon which these semi-divine verities had been inscribed?


Even though Lenin inconsistently claimed both that "truth is always concrete never abstract", and that scientific abstractions are also somehow more true (or, which allow truth to be approached more fully), just like Engels, he omitted the "carefully collected" evidence that confirmed either of these universal theses -- which evidence would have been unhelpful anyway since it would have been concrete, and hence less scientifically true, if Lenin were correct.


And it is little use arguing that scientific evidence is both abstract and concrete, for that claim itself is abstract, and thus not true (since, according to Lenin, truth is always concrete, never abstract -- nor a bit of both):


"[D]ialectical logic holds that 'truth' is always concrete, never abstract, as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel." [Lenin (1921), p.93. Bold emphases added.]


Moreover, the principles Lenin used to derive these conclusions are somewhat dubious, too. In light of the above assertion that "truth is always concrete never abstract", and since that claim is itself a non-concrete abstraction, we can surely go further: Lenin's principles could not therefore be true!


So, the claim that all truth is concrete -- since it's an abstraction, too -- can't itself be true, just as the claim that all scientific abstractions reflect nature more deeply and "truly", can't be true -- because it's not concrete!


At this point, we may console ourselves with the thought that at least here Engels (from earlier) was right: there is no way that the thesis that "truth is always con- crete never abstract" will ever coincide with reality, and hence will ever be judged true itself. Paradoxically, too, if this dialectical dogma ever does turn out to be true, it would be false on that basis, since we would then have at least one truth (namely this dialectical dogma) that wasn't concrete, but was manifestly abstract.


And, could there be a body of "patiently" gathered data large enough to confirm Lenin's claim (above) that all objects are self-developing?


[Perhaps this is all to the good, given the next point.]


But, if all objects and processes in nature do in fact influence one another, and everything in reality is interconnected, then it seems that nothing in the DM-universe could be self-developing.


Clearly, Lenin's incautious atomism here -- which sees everything as developmen- tally autonomous, and each object as an isolated, self-propelled unit -- contradicts (rather fittingly one feels) his other belief that all things are interconnected. If all objects are indeed interrelated then surely they could only develop if they were influenced by (and influenced in return) other objects and processes external to themselves. On that basis, it would not be true to say that all objects undergo self-development.


[Doubters should take a look at this object, which clearly did not "self-develop".]


On the other hand, if objects are 'self-developing', they can't be interconnected in any meaningful way.


Perhaps then it is just as well that there is no evidence that all (or even any) objects in reality are "self-developing". To be sure, DM-theorists need to pray to the 'gods' of dialectics that it never turns up, too -- or they can kiss goodbye to their interconnected "Totality".


[These controversial observations and their problematic ramifications (for DM) form the main topic of Essays Eight Part One and Eleven Parts One and Two.]


Be this as it may, is it really all that inconceivable that in the entire universe, over many aeons of time, there might be (or might have been, or might one day be) a single object that doesn't (or didn't, or won't) undergo self-development? How could Lenin rule this possibility out? Again, as seems plain, he could only do so if that thesis itself had been imposed on nature,perhaps by "requiring" - nay, "demanding" -- that all objects undergo self-development. [Oops, he already did that!]


Once more:Where is the "careful" empirical work that justifies all this "demanding", all this "insisting" --, not to mention the shed loads of data that would be needed to justify the many other universal a priori claims Lenin made about reality (listed above and below) -- something we were told had to be undertaken by materialists if they were to avoid being branded as Idealists?


And why do we find no dialecticians "requiring" -- nay, "demanding" -- of Lenin (or his epigones) that he (they) produce this evidence, or withdraw such claims?


Alas, the a priori litany continues:


"[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [E]ach thing (phenomenon, process, etc.)…is connected with every other…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other….


"In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics.


"The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….


"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclu- sive,opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature….The con- dition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing….


"The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute….


"To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., [sic] with any proposition...: [like] John is a man…. Here we already have dialectics (as Hegel's genius recognized): the individual is the universal…. Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual.Every individual is (in one way or another) a univer- sal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect,or the essence of) an indivi- dual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual ob- jects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal,etc., etc. Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of indi- viduals (things, phenomena, processes),etc.Here already we have the elements, the germs of the concept of necessity, of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence; for when we say John is a man…we disregard a number of attributes as contingent; we separate the essence from the appearance, and counterpose the one to the other….


"Thus in any proposition we can (and must) disclose as a 'nucleus' ('cell') the germs of all the elements of dialectics, and thereby show that dialectics is a property of all human knowledge in general." [Lenin (1961), pp.221-22, 357-58, 359-60. Italic emphases in the original; bold emphases added.]


Lest we are tempted to search back through the archives to find the countless container-loads of missing evidence Lenin had "carefully" marshalled in support of these dramatic claims, a consideration of the next passage will at least relieve us of that onerous task. Here, at last, Lenin is disarmingly honest about where he obtained these sweeping generalisations:


"Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature….[W]hat constitutes dialectics? …. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Lenin (1961), pp.196-97. Emphases in the original.]


Lenin is quite open about his sources in these private notebooks;dialectics derives not from a "patient empirical examination of the facts", but from studying Hegel! As far as evidence goes, that is it. That's all there is! The search for evidence begins and ends with dialecticians leafing through Hegel's Logic. That is the extent of the evidence Lenin offered in support of his assertions about "all notions" without exception, about "all phenomena and processes in nature", and concerning nature's "eternal development", etc., etc.


As the rest of this Essay and other Essays posted here will show, this cavalier approach to the 'science of dialectics' is shared by every other DM-theorist.


To be sure, Lenin did add the following comment (however, on this see here):


"The correctness of this aspect of the content of dialectics must be tested by the history of science." [Ibid., p.357.]


Many dialecticians make similar claims,or at least pay lip-service to them.However, as we have noted several times already, the other things they say flatly contradict this seemingly modest admission. The theses Lenin and others advance go way beyond the available evidence (and way beyond any conceivable body of evidence); they transcend the listing of mere examples.


Indeed, since Lenin also claimed that human knowledge will only ever be partial and incomplete, neither he nor even the most pedantically thorough and patient of dialectical sleuths will ever be in a position to justify the sweeping a priori claims we find him (and others) regularly making -- like those about the "eternal development of the world", for instance.


How could anything from the entire history of science (past, present, and future) confirm something like that?


Moreover, Lenin himself admitted as much in the very next few sentences:


"This aspect of dialectics…usually receives inadequate attention: the identity of opposites is taken as the sum total of examples…and not as a law of cognition (and as a law of the objective world)." [Ibid., p.357. Emphasis in the original]


Hence,the need to provide mere evidence is in fact a distraction,one that dedicated dialecticians should rightly eschew. In this particular case, the thesis that UOs exist everywhere in nature and society, and which govern every single example of change right across the universe, expresses a "law of cognition" and a "law of the objective world", and it's these laws themselves that legitimate the imposition of dialectical dogma on nature.


And, as we will see here and here, this "Law of cognition" is in fact no law at all, since it is based on a series of crass logical and argumentative blunders committed by Hegel.


[UO = Unity of Opposites.]


Nevertheless, in the next few sections of his Notebooks Lenin went on to describe this DM-thesis in the following terms:


"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclu- sive,opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement',in their spon- taneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of oppo- sites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing…." [Ibid. Bold emphasis added.]


Now, the uncommitted reader might be forgiven for thinking that the claim (recorded earlier) that DM does not provide a "master-key" to everything - to which denial once again all aspiring dialecticians at least pay lip-service -- has here been rescin- ded by Lenin. In this passage, Lenin describes the struggle of opposites as "the key to the self-movement of everything existing" (and, note, it is not a key, but "the key"). This "everything" must surely have included the countless things that were way beyond the science of his day (or, indeed,of both ours and future generations), and which thus transcend any conceivable form of experience, or body of evidence. If this principle covers "everything existing", it must surely encompass, say, the behaviour of elementary particles at the outermost fringes of space and time, far beyond anything humanity will ever encounter, and much else besides.


Compare these words of Lenin's with what John Rees had earlier claimed:


" The dialectic is not a ['magic master key for all questions'] [or a] calculator into which it is possible to punch the problem and allow it to compute the solution. This would be an idealist method. A materialist dialectic must grow from a patient, em- pirical examination of the facts and not be imposed on them…." [Rees (1998), slightly edited; quoting Trotsky (1973), p.233.]


But, we have just seen Lenin inform us that a belief in the universal existence of UOs is indeed "the key" to understanding everything in existence, flatly contradicting what Rees (and Trotsky) had said.


Now, if Lenin is right, it's perfectly clear why the need to provide evidence is a dis- traction; the a priori approach to knowledge that DM-theorists have inherited from traditional Philosophy means that evidence is not only unnecessary, it is to be avoided wherever possible.6a


As these two authors note:


"Empirical, contingent truths have always struck philosophers as being, in some sense, ultimately unintelligible. It is not that none can be known with certainty…; nor is it that some can't be explained…. Rather is it that all explanation of empirical truths rests ultimately on brute contingency -- that is how the world is! Where science comes to rest in explaining empirical facts varies from epoch to epoch, but it is in the nature of empirical explanation that it will hit the bedrock of contingency somewhere, e.g., in atomic theory in the nineteenth century or in quantum mecha- nics today.One feature that explains philosophers' fascination with truths of Reason is that they seem,in a deep sense,to be fully intelligible.To understand a necessary proposition is to see why things must be so, it is to gain an insight into the nature of things and to apprehend not only how things are, but also why they can't be otherwise. It is striking how pervasive visual metaphors are in philosophical discus- sions of these issues.We see the universal in the particular (by Aristotelian intuitive induction);by the Light of Reason we see the essential relations of Simple Natures; mathematical truths are apprehended by Intellectual Intuition, or by a priori insight. Yet instead of examining the use of these arresting pictures or metaphors to determine their aptness as pictures, we build upon them mythological structures.


"We think of necessary propositions as being true or false, as objective and inde- pendent of our minds or will. We conceive of them as being about various entities, about numbers even about extraordinary numbers that the mind seems barely able to grasp…, or about universals, such as colours, shapes, tones; or about logical entities, such as the truth-functions or (in Frege's case) the truth-values. We natu- rally think of necessary propositions as describing the features of these entities, their essential characteristics. So we take mathematical propositions to describe mathematical objects…. Hence investigation into the domain of necessary propo-sitions is conceived as a process of discovery. Empirical scientists make discove- ries about the empirical domain,uncovering contingent truths; metaphysicians, logi- cians and mathematicians appear to make discoveries of necessary truths about a supra-empirical domain (a 'third realm'). Mathematics seems to be the 'natural his- tory of mathematical objects' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.137], 'the physics of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1976), p.138; however these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.139 -- RL] or the 'mineralogy of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.229]. The mathematician, e.g., Pascal, admires the beauty of a theorem as though it were a kind of crystal.Numbers seem to him to have wonderful properties;it is as if he were confronting a beautiful natural phenomenon [Wittgenstein (1998), p.47; again, these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.41 -- RL]. Logic seems to investigate the laws governing logical objects. Metaphysics looks as if it is a description of the essential structure of the world. Hence we think that a reality corresponds to our (true) necessary propositions. Our logic is correct because it corresponds to the laws of logic….


"In our eagerness to ensure the objectivity of truths of reason, their sempiternality and mind-independence, we slowly but surely transform them into truths that are no less 'brutish' than empirical, contingent truths. Why must red exclude being green? To be told that this is the essential nature of red and green merely reiterates the brutish necessity. A proof in arithmetic or geometry seems to provide an expla-nation, but ultimately the structure of proofs rests on axioms. Their truth is held to be self-evident, something we apprehend by means of our faculty of intuition; we must simply see that they are necessarily true…. We may analyse such ultimate truths into their constituent 'indefinables'. Yet if 'the discussion of indefinables…is the endeavour to see clearly,and to make others see clearly,the entities concerned, in order that the mind may have that kind of acquaintance with them which it has with redness or the taste of a pineapple' [Russell (1937), p.xv; again these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.v -- RL], then the mere intellectual vision does not penetrate the logical or metaphysical that to the why or wherefore…. For if we construe necessary propositions as truths about logical, mathematical or metaphy- sical entities which describe their essential properties, then, of course,the final pro- ducts of our analyses will be as impenetrable to reason as the final products of physical theorising, such as Planck's constant." [Baker and Hacker (1988),pp. 273 -75. Referencing conventions in the original have been altered to conform to those adopted here.]


Which is underlined, too, by this source:


"Already with Fichte the idea of the unity of the sciences,of system,was connected with that of finding a reliable starting-point in certainty on which knowledge could be based. Thinkers from Kant onwards were quite convinced that the kind of knowledge which came from experience was not reliable. Empirical know- ledge could be subject to error, incomplete, or superseded by further obser-vation or experiment. It would be foolish, therefore, to base the whole of knowledge on something which had been established only empirically. The kind of knowledge which Kant and his followers believed to be the most secure was a priori knowledge, the kind embodied in the laws of Nature. These had been formulated without every occurrence of the Natural phenomenon in question being observed, so they did not summarise empirical information, and yet they held good by necessity for every case; these laws were truly universal in their application." [White (1996), p.29. Bold emphasis added.]


This is the ancient tradition, which long predates Kant and Fichte, DM-fans have bought into. So, no wonder they see no problem with all that a priori thesis-mongering.


Clearly, in the minds of many dialecticians, the acceptance of an evidence-based science is a sop to 'crude materialism' (or even worse, it is a compromise with -- shock horror! --'empiricism').


In fact, when I demand of dialecticians evidence to justify their a priori claims, they accuse me of being an "empiricist", or a "positivist" -- or, they special plead, arguing that their theory doesn't need any, despite what George Novack argued:


"A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are valida- ted by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other sub- jective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice..." [Novack (1965). Bold emphasis added.]


Such special pleading is, of course,an indirect admission that the above allegations are correct -- that is, that DM-theses are dogmatic and a priori.


In stark contrast, however, opponents of DM are given a hard time if they can't supply any, or adequate, evidence in support of their criticisms of dialectics. In that case, the demand for evidence itself can't be sufficient to brand an individual an "empiricist" -- since dialecticians demand this of their opponents. It must be this: "Any critic who has the temerity to hold dialecticians to account and demand that they be consistent with their boast that their theory has not been forced onto nature, but has been derived from the evidence, is bang out of order." In that case, the DM-expletives "empiricist" and "positivist" must be synonymous with "annoying critic who can't see that there is no contradiction between the claim that dialectics has not been imposed on nature and actually imposing dialectics on nature".


Contrast this with Marx's attitude in the German Ideology:


"The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way....


"The fact is, therefore, that definite individuals who are productively active in a defi- nite way enter into these definite social and political relations. Empirical obser-vation must in each separate instance bring out empirically, and without any mystification and speculation, the connection of the social and political structure with production. The social structure and the State are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, but of individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people's imagination, but as they really are; i.e. as they operate, produce materially, and hence as they work under definite material limits, presup-positions and conditions independent of their will." [Marx and Engels (1970)]


Was Marx an 'empiricist' for appealing to empirical evidence? Was Engels an 'empiricist' when he wrote this?


"We all agree that in every field of science, in natural and historical science, one must proceed from the given facts, in natural science therefore from the various material forms of motion of matter; that therefore in theoretical natural science too the interconnections are not to be built into the facts but to be discovered in them,and when discovered to be verified as far as possible by experiment." [Engels (1954), p.47. Bold emphases alone added.]


However, when we look more closely at the way that dialecticians depict their the- ses, we find they are not in fact based on evidence, but are based on "objective" laws, on "laws of cognition", on "dialectical logic", on "axioms" (as Trotsky himself depicts things, recorded below), and on assorted "insistences", "demands" and "requirements".


Hence, the request for evidence is dialectically demeaning; small wonder then that DM-fans take umbrage when it's requested.


In this way, therefore, we see Hegel's system -- even when inverted -- takes over. Indeed, rather like the capitalist system will tend to re-assert itself if it is not eradi- cated in its entirety, this boss-class, a priori theory does the same. Ruling-class thought cannot be reformed, any more than it's possible to reform their rotten system and turn it into a socialist society.


Plainly, therefore, DM/MD is "objective" for believers since their world is ultimately Ideal, its logical form having been constructed in thought by Hegel and his mystical forbears long before the required evidence was even available. However, since DM- theorists possess the Ideal Master Key, they can unlock untold secrets concerning the "eternal development of the world". Hence, the materialist aims of these erst- while negators of ruling-class thought are themselves negated; they end up adop- ting the traditional thought-forms of the class enemy, these "ruling ideas", as Marx noted:


"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental pro- duction, so that thereby, generally speaking,the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant ma- terial relationships grasped as ideas;hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one,therefore,the ideas of its dominance.The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think.

Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch." [Marx and Engels (1970)]


Reformism in Philosophy is, therefore, just as misguided as it is in politics.6b


It seems perfectly obvious, therefore, that we have indeed located the Dialectical Master Key --, a key that opens the "doors of perception"/cognition, and which ex- plains why so few dialecticians ever bother to provide adequate, or any(!), evidence in support of their universal, omni-temporal theses, and express genuine surprise when they are required to produce it.6c


Bukharin 'The Bold'


In this respect, Lenin's approach mirrors that of other prominent dialecticians. Indeed, we find Bukharin asserting the following:


"There are two possible ways of regarding everything in nature and in society; in the eyes of some everything is constantly at rest, immutable…. To others, however, it appears that there is nothing unchanging in nature or in society…. This second point of view is called the dynamic point of view…; the former point of view is called static. Which is the correct position?... Even a hasty glance at nature will at once convince us that there is nothing immutable about it….


"Evidently…there is nothing immutable and rigid in the universe…. Matter in motion: such is the stuff of this world…. This dynamic point of view is also called the dialectic point of view….


"The world being in constant motion,we must consider phenomena in their mutual relations, and not as isolated cases. All portions of the universe are actually related to each other and exert an influence on each other…. All things in the universe are connected with an indissoluble bond; nothing exists as an isolated object, independent of its surroundings….


"In the first place, therefore, the dialectic method of interpretation demands that all phenomena be considered in their indissoluble relations; in the second place, that they be considered in their state of motion….


"Since everything in the world is in a state of change, and indissolubly connected with everything else, we must draw the necessary conclusions for the social sciences….


"The basis of all things is therefore the law of change,the law of constant motion. Two philosophers particularly (the ancient Heraclitus and the modern Hegel…) for- mulated this law of change, but they did not stop there. They also set up the question of the manner in which the process operates. The answer they disco- vered was that changes are produced by constant internal contradictions, internal struggle. Thus, Heraclitus declared: 'Conflict is the mother of all happe-nings,' while Hegel said: 'Contradiction is the power that moves things.'


"There is no doubt of the correctness of this law.A moment's thought will convince the reader. For, if there were no conflict, no clash of forces, the world would be in a condition of unchanging stable equilibrium,i.e.,complete and absolute permanence, a state of rest precluding all motion.As we already know that all things change, all things are 'in flux', it is certain that such an absolute state of rest cannot possibly exist. We must therefore reject a condition in which there is no 'contra-diction between opposing and colliding forces' no disturbance of equilibrium, but only an absolute immutability….


"In other words, the world consists of forces, acting many ways, opposing each other. These forces are balanced for a moment in exceptional cases only. We then have a state of 'rest', i.e., their actual 'conflict' is concealed. But if we change only one of these forces, immediately the 'internal contradictions' will be revealed, equi- librium will be disturbed, and if a new equilibrium is again established, it will be on a new basis, i.e., with a new combination of forces, etc. It follows that the 'conflict,' the 'contradiction,' i.e., the antagonism of forces acting in various directions, determines the motion of the system….


"Hegel speaks of a transition of quantity into quality….


"The transformation of quantity into quality is one of the fundamental laws in the motion of matter; it may be traced at every step both in nature and society…" [Bukharin (1925), pp.63-67, 72-74, 80. Bold emphases added.]


Here we have yet another dialectician happily 'deriving' his theses from a few hasty 'thought experiments' and from the a priori speculations of earlier Idealists.


In this regard, it's worth noting that Bukharin attributes the invention of the so-called "law of change" to Heraclitus, a theorist who himself happened on that idea without the benefit of too much supporting evidence (since he lived at a time when little was known about the entire universe, let alone about the tiny fraction he inhabited). Indeed, Heraclitus's all-embracing claim was partly based on what he thought was true about the possibilities of stepping into the "same river"! Naturally, this did not stop him from pontificating about all of reality, for all of time --, when for example he declared that "everything flows" -- just like his latter-day dialectical progeny.


Admittedly, Bukharin did make some attempt to provide his readers with a few pa- ges of 'evidence' to back up his claim that these laws (which he "demands" should operate on all phenomena) are true everywhere, and for all of time (ibid.). But, most of his 'data' was copied from other DM-sources (and, of course, from Hegel). Now, if this wasn't quite so serious, Bukharin's superficial gesture at providing adequate proof to back up his assertions would be a joke. For example, how could he pos- sibly have known that "all portions of the universe" are interrelated? [Indeed, there are strong theoretical reasons for saying they can't be.]


In fact, his supporting evidence looks thinner than an anorexic flatworm. Small wonder then that I have called this 'dialectical' approach to substantiation, Mickey Mouse Science.


All that Bukharin offered his bemused readers by way of support for that particular claim (i.e., that all parts of the universe are interconnected) was the following extremely brief thought experiment:


"I am now writing on paper with a pen. I thus impart pressures to the table;the table presses on the earth,calling forth a number of further changes. I move my hand, vib- rate as I breathe, and these motions pass on in slight impulses ending Lord knows where.The fact that these may be but small changes does not change the essential nature of the matter. All things in the universe are connected with an indissoluble bond…." [Ibid., p.66. Emphasis added.]


Those who are tempted to conclude that this 'argument' is sufficient to establish the above truths about everything in the entire universe, for all time (underpinned, no doubt, by means of yet another prayer to the "Lord"), should now remind them- selves (by consulting a dictionary) what the words "evidence" and "sufficient" mean, and then perhaps think again.


Indeed, even if we were to be extremely charitable to Bukharin here, and count this charade as evidence,the very best it might show is that some things in the universe are connected - but how it shows they are interconnected Bukharin kept annoyingly to himself.


Bukharin also argued that with respect to change there are in fact just two choices before us:

(1) The view that nothing changes at all, and

(2) The thesis that all things change all the time. But, he failed to consider a third option (thus excluding it):

(3) That some things change while others do not. An acceptance of this third alter-native would at least have the merit of undermining Bukharin's own un-dialectical use of the "either-or of understanding, and commonsense", to rule out that particular excluded middle. [Irony intended.]


Even so, on what basis could Bukharin have been so sure that there is absolutely nothing changeless in entire universe, for all of time? [Did he really finish checking the outer fringes of the galaxy, before he concluded this?] Surely, the rational thing to do here would be to wait for the development of scientific knowledge, not lay down hard and fast, immutable laws about a mutable universe. Of course, Bukharin was not to know that scientists would conclude one day that there are indeed such (perhaps eternally) changeless objects in reality, and that there are countless trillions of them in every microgram of matter.


As is pointed out in Note 4, each proton, for example, is estimated to have a life- span of 1032 years (it may turn out to be entirely changeless since that estimate was only advanced by scientists to make this 'particle' accord with the Standard Model and the BBT). Apparently, electrons and photons are, if anything, even more un-dialectical.


[BBT = Big Bang Theory.]


Clearly, the scientific thing to do here is not to issue dialectical "demands", "insis-tences" and caveats that nature must conform to this or that a priori law - imposing a certain, favoured structure on a recalcitrant world --, but to study nature and draw conclusions from it.


Now, where have we heard that before?


Trotsky's Traditionalism


Turning to another DM-classicist, Trotsky; his comments on the universal applica-bility of DM (beyond all available, or even conceivable evidence) are equally unambiguous. Consider the following:


"[A]ll bodies change uninterruptedly in size,weight, colour etc. They are ne- ver equal to themselves…. [T]he axiom 'A' is equal to 'A' signifies that a thing is equal to itself if it does not change, that is, if it does not exist….For concepts there also exists 'tolerance' which is established not by formal logic…, but by the dia- lectical logic issuing from the axiom that everything is always changing…. Hegel in his Logic established a series of laws: change of quantity into qua- lity, development through contradiction, conflict and form, interruption of continuity, change of possibility into inevitability, etc…." [Trotsky (1971)]


"Every individual is a dialectician to some extent or other, in most cases, uncon-sciously. A housewife knows that a certain amount of salt flavours soup agreeably, but that added salt makes the soup unpalatable. Consequently,an illiterate peasant woman guides herself in cooking soup by the Hegelian law of the transformation of quantity into quality…. Even animals arrive at their practical conclusions …on the basis of the Hegelian dialectic. Thus a fox is aware that quadru- peds and birds are nutritious and tasty…. When the same fox, however, encounters the first animal which exceeds it in size, for example, a wolf, it quickly concludes that quantity passes into quality, and turns to flee. Clearly, the legs of a fox are equipped with Hegelian tendencies, even if not fully con- scious ones. All this demonstrates, in passing, that our methods of thought, both formal logic and the dialectic, are not arbitrary constructions of our reason but rather expressions of the actual inter-relationships in nature itself. In this sense the universe is permeated with 'unconscious' dialectics." [Ibid.]


"It must be recognized that the fundamental law of dialectics is the conversion of quantity into quality, for it gives [us] the general formula of all evolutionary processes -– of nature as well as of society.


"…The principle of the transformation of quantity into quality has universal significance, insofar as we view the entire universe -- without any exception -- as a product of formation and transformation….


"In these abstract formulas we have the most general laws (forms) of motion, change, the transformation of the stars of the heaven, of the earth, nature and human society.


"…Dialectics is the logic of development. It examines the world -- completely without exception -– not as a result of creation, of a sudden beginning, the realisation of a plan, but as a result of motion, of transformation. Everything that is became the way it is as a result of lawlike development." [Trotsky (1986), pp.88, 90, 96. Bold emphases added.]


Once again, how could Trotsky possibly have known all this? Can he read the minds of peasant women and foxes?


As we found was the case with Lenin's own unlimited access to the otherwise restricted areas of the 'Divine' knowledge of "Being", these questions need not detain us for too long; Trotsky answered them for us. His conclusions were based -- not on evidence --, but on the "axiom" that "everything is always changing".


[Anyway, as we will see in Essay Seven Part One (here), and Essay Nine Part One (here), Trotsky's 'argument' (i.e., the one involving peasant women and foxes, etc.) is so full of holes, it would shame a colander.]


Now, if something is an axiom, supporting evidence ("patiently" collected or other- wise) is irrelevant. Only a hopelessly confused mathematician, for example, would seek empirical evidence to justify the axiom that "a + b = b + a".


Again, like Lenin, Trotsky was quite open about where he obtained these "laws"; they were not derived from careful work done in a laboratory, nor were they based on tests carried out in the field, nor yet on surveys of workers' attitudes and the views of peasant women -- or even on the 'beliefs' of foxes --, they were copied from Hegel's Logic. And, as far as can be ascertained, Hegel himself did no experiments (on peasants, soup or foxes). In fact, we already know where Hegel derived most of his own ideas: from the writings and speculations of Hermetic mystics and religious fanatics littering the Germany of his day, and in earlier centuries. Indeed, he tells us this himself.


[This sordid history will exposed in Essay Fourteen Part One (summary here).]


Nothing New In Plekhanov


Not to be outdone, other DM-classicists have joined this a priori chorus-line. Here is Plekhanov:


"According to Hegel, dialectics is the principle of all life…. [M]an has two qua- lities: first being alive,and secondly of also being mortal. But on closer examination it turns out that life itself bears in itself the germ of death,and that in general any phenomenon is contradictory, in the sense that it develops out of itself the elements which, sooner or later, will put an end to its existence and will transform it into its opposite.Everything flows,everything changes;and there is no force capable of holding back this constant flux,or arresting its eternal movement. There is no force capable of resisting the dialectics of phenomena….


"At a particular moment a moving body is at a particular spot, but at the same time it is outside it as well because, if it were only in that spot, it would, at least for that moment, become motionless. Every motion is a dialectical process, a living contradiction, and as there is not a single phenomenon of nature in explaining which we do not have in the long run to appeal to motion, we have to agree with Hegel, who said that dialectics is the soul of any scientific cognition. And this applies not only to cognition of nature….


"And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite


"When you apply the dialectical method to the study of phenomena, you need to remember that forms change eternally in consequence of the 'higher development of their content….'


"In the words of Engels, Hegel's merit consists in the fact that he was the first to regard all phenomena from the point of view of their development, from the point of view of their origin and destruction….


"[M]odern science confirms at every step the idea expressed with such genius by Hegel, that quantity passes into quality….


"[I]t will be understood without difficulty by anyone who is in the least capable of dialectical thinking...[that] quantitative changes, accumulating gradually, lead in the end to changes of quality, and that these changes of quality represent leaps, interruptions in gradualness…. That's how all Nature acts…." [Plekhanov (1956)]


"Hegel goes on to show by a number of examples how often leaps take place in Nature and in history….


"This dialectical view of Hegel's as to the inevitability of leaps in the process of development was adopted in full by Marx and Engels….


"Thus [Engels] indicated that the transition from one form of energy to another cannot take place otherwise than by means of a leap…. Generally, speaking, he found that the rights of dialectical thinking are confirmed by the dialectical properties of being….


"Herzen was right in saying that Hegel's philosophy…was a genuine algebra of revolution


"[W]e may say that this dialectic was the first to supply a method necessary and competent to solve the problem of the rational causes of all that exists….


"The motion of matter lies at the root of all natural phenomena. But motion is a contradiction. It should be judged in a dialectical manner…. Only the motion of matter is eternal, and matter itself is indestructible substance….


"'All is flux, nothing is stationary,' said the ancient thinker from Ephesus. The combinations we call objects are in a state of constant and more or less rapid change…. In as much as they change and cease to exist as such, we must address ourselves to the logic of contradiction….


"…[M]otion does not only make objects…, it is constantly changing them. It is for this reason that the logic of motion (the 'logic of contradiction') never relinquishes its rights over the objects created by motion….


"With Hegel, thinking progresses in consequence of the uncovering and resolution of the contradictions inclosed (sic) in concepts. According to our doctrine…the contradictions embodied in concepts are merely reflections, translations into the language of thought, of those contradictions that are embodied in phenomena owing to the contradictory nature of their common basis, i.e., motion….


"…[T]he overwhelming majority of phenomena that come within the compass of the natural and the social sciences are among 'objects' of this kind…[:ones in which there is a coincidence of opposites]. Diametrically opposite phenomena are united in the simplest globule of protoplasm, and the life of the most undeveloped society…." [Plekhanov (1908), pp.35-38, 92-96. Bold emphases alone added.]


"We know that Hegel called his method dialectical; why did he do so?


"In his Phänomenologie des Geistes he compares human life with dialogue, in the sense that under the pressure of experience our views gradually change, as hap- pens to the opinions of disputants participating in a discussion of a profound intel-lectual nature. Comparing the course of development of consciousness with the progress of such a discussion,Hegel designated it by the word dialectics, or dialec- tical motion. This word had already been used by Plato, but it was Hegel who gave it its especially profound and important meaning. To Hegel, dialectics is the soul of all scientific knowledge. It is of extraordinary importance to comprehend its nature.

It is the principle of all motion, of all life, of all that occurs in reality.

According to Hegel, the finite is not only limited from without,but by virtue of its own nature it negates itself and passes into its own opposite. All that exists can be ta- ken as an example to explain the nature of dialectics. Everything is fluid, every- thing changes, everything passes away. Hegel compares the power of dia- lectics with divine omnipotence. Dialectics is that universal irresistible force which nothing can withstand. At the same time dialectics makes itself felt in each separate phenomenon of each separate sphere of life. Take motion. At a given moment,a body in motion is at a given point,but at the very same moment it is also beyond that point too,since if it remained only at the given point it would be motion- less. All motion is a living contradiction; all motion is a dialectical process. But the whole life of nature is motion; so that in the study of nature it is ab- solutely essential to adopt the dialectical viewpoint. Hegel sharply condemns those naturalists who forget this. But the main reproach he addresses to them is that in their classifications they put a wide and impassable gulf between things which in fact pass into one another in obedience to the irresistible force of the law of dialectical motion. The subsequent triumph of transformism in biology clearly demonstrated that this reproach had a quite sound theoretical basis.Exactly the same is being demonstrated by the remarkable discoveries in chemistry which are proceeding before our very eyes....


"The following,however,should be noted. Hegel's viewpoint was that of development. But development may be understood variously. Even now there are naturalists who reiterate with an air of importance: 'Nature does not make leaps.' Sociologists, too, frequently say:'Social development is accomplished through slow,gradual changes.' Hegel, on the contrary, affirmed that just as in nature so also in history, leaps are inevitable...." [Plekhanov (1917), pp.601-02. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site. Bold emphases alone added.]


[In fact, if all of Plekhanov's dogmatic and a priori assertions were included in this Essay, it would be tens of thousands of words longer. Some of these will be added to the Appendix at a later date.]


True-to-form, Plekhanov disarms the reader with the usual claim that his theses have merely been derived from nature, not read into it:


"Hegel's logic is not at all the creation of pure thought; it is the outcome of anticipa- tory abstraction from nature....In Hegel's dialectic, almost everything is derived from experience, so that were experience to take away from dialectic all that the latter had borrowed from it, dialectics would be reduced to penury." [Plekhanov (1908)]


Perhaps Plekhanov had in mind these 'cautious' observations of Hegel's:


"Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and oppo- sition in itself. The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence bet- ween their immediate being,and what they essentially are.Thus,in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words, its only being con- sists in its relation to its other. Hence also the acid is not something that persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realise what it potentially is." [Hegel (1975), p.174; Essence as Ground of Existence, §119. Bold emphasis added.]


Of course, exactly how Hegel derived all of this from 'experience' both he and Plekhanov left shrouded in mystery (and there it remains to this day). [Hegel's comments are reduced to the absurdity they contain here, here and here.]


Nevertheless, whatever it was that Hegel did or did not manage to do, Plekhanov then proceeded to do the exact opposite of what he attributes even to this over-ima- ginative Idealist, extrapolating DM way beyond the limited confines of the scanty evidence he offered in support,imposing this doctrine on reality like a seasoned pro.


Beyond admitting that he lifted many of his ideas from Hegel and Heraclitus, how Plekhanov knew that motion was eternal, that no force could hold back change, or that "all that exists" has a "rational cause", he took to his grave. After all,what else could a "dialectic [that is] the first to supply a method necessary and competent to solve the problem of the rational causes of all that exists" be but the Master Key that unlocks the secret to everything in reality -- er..., which we were told the dialectic isn't?


Stalin Murders A Theory -- For A Change


Stalin is not known for his theoretical sophistication (except, that is, among his few remaining 'groupies' in the various hardcore Communist parties around the world, some of whom are even now trying to rehabilitate this monster) -- a serious defect he more than made up for in other ways, such as imposing his will (or rather, impo- sing the collective will of the bureaucracy he led) on the former USSR, and impo- sing dialectics on nature in like manner (as we will see here, these two were not unconnected):


"Dialectical materialism is the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party....


"The dialectical method therefore holds that no phenomenon in nature can be understood if taken by itself....; and that, vice versa, any phenomenon can be understood and explained if considered in its inseparable connection with surrounding phenomena, as one conditioned by surrounding phenomena.


"Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that nature is not in a state of rest and immobility, stagnation and immutability, but a state of continuous movement and change, of continuous renewal and development....


"The dialectical method therefore requires that phenomena should be considered not only from the standpoint of their interconnection and interdependence, but also from the standpoint of their movement and change....


"Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that internal contradictions are inhe- rent in all things and phenomena of nature, for they all have their negative and positive sides...; and that the struggle between these opposites, the struggle bet- ween the old and the new, between that which is dying away and that which is be- ing born..., constitutes the internal content of the process of development, the inter- nal content of the transformation of quantitative changes into qualitative changes....


"If there are no isolated phenomena in the world, if all phenomena are inter-connected and interdependent, then it is clear that every social system and every social movement in history must be evaluated not from the standpoint of 'eternal justice'....


"Contrary to idealism..., Marxist philosophical materialism holds that the world and its laws are fully knowable,that our knowledge of the laws of nature,tested by expe- riment and practice,is authentic knowledge having the validity of objective truth, and that there are no things in the world which are unknowable, but only things which are as yet not known, but which will be disclosed and made known by the efforts of science and practice." [Stalin (1976b), pp.835-46. Bold emphases added.]


I can't find anywhere in Stalin's writings where he says that DM must not be im- posed on nature, but it's quite clear from the above that he does this nonetheless. I doubt that anyone lived long enough to challenge him on this point anyway, even if they had the courage to do so.


Once more: how, for instance, could Stalin possibly know that there are no things in the world which are unknowable? This is reminiscent of some rather odd things that Dietzgen said; Stalin perhaps copied this idea from him.


Hence, it seems that 'Uncle Joe' was as traditional in his views as, say, St Bonaventure -- only far more dangerous, of course.


Mao's Great Leap Backwards


Another of the dialectical 'giants', Mao Tse-Tung, was no less traditional, no less repetitive. Again, true to form, Mao begins by noting how undogmatic he proposes to be:


"The criticism to which the idealism of the Deborin school has been subjected in Soviet philosophical circles in recent years has aroused great interest among us. Deborin's idealism has exerted a very bad influence in the Chinese Communist Party, and it cannot be said that the dogmatist thinking in our Party is unrelated to the approach of that school. Our present study of philosophy should therefore have the eradication of dogmatist thinking as its main objective." [Mao (1937), p.311. Bold emphasis added.]


But, then he ruins it by arguing as follows:


"The reason the dogmatist and empiricist comrades in China have made mistakes lies precisely in their subjectivist,one-sided and superficial way of looking at things. To be one-sided and superficial is at the same time to be subjective. For all objec- tive things are actually interconnected and are governed by inner laws, but instead of undertaking the task of reflecting things as they really are some people only look at things one-sidedly or superficially and who know neither their intercon-nections nor their inner laws, and so their method is subjectivist." [Ibid.]


But, where is Mao's proof (empirical or otherwise) that all "objective things are actually interconnected and are governed by inner laws"? As I noted earlier:


As will soon become apparent, for all their claims to be radical, when it comes to Philosophy DM-theorists are surprisingly conservative -- and worry- ingly incapable of seeing this, even after it has been pointed out to them.... At a rhetorical level, this conservatism is camouflaged behind what at first appear to be a set of disarmingly modest denials --, which are then promptly flouted.


Even while he accuses others of "dogmatism", Mao is quite happy to impose (in the very same paragraph!) a few dogmatic ideas of his own,


And, there is more:


"The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics....


"As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the develop- ment of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement,while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it.

The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development....


"The universality or absoluteness of contradiction has a twofold meaning. One is that contradiction exists in the process of development of all things, and the other is that in the process of development of each thing a movement of opposites exists from beginning to end....


"...There is nothing that does not contain contradictions; without contradiction nothing would exist....


"Thus it is already clear that contradiction exists universally and is in all processes, whether in the simple or in the complex forms of motion, whether in objective phenomena or ideological phenomena....


"...Contradiction is universal and absolute, it is present in the process of the development of all things and permeates every process from beginning to end...." [ibid., pp.311-18. Bold emphases added.]


I have cut this passage short since I fear that if I continue, my sanity will suffer, to say nothing of the mental health of those who have made it this far. But similar repetitive, dogmatic and baseless statements can be found right throughout the above work.


[Mao's bogus distinction between 'primary' and secondary' contradictions will be examined in a later Essay.]


And, as can be seen from this and the other quotations given here, dialecticians more than make up for the lack of evidence supporting their bold assertions by the number of times they feel constrained to repeat them. [Why they do this will be examined in Essay Nine Part Two.]


Moreover,as was the case with Stalin,I can find no evidence in Mao's writings where he says DM must not be imposed on nature (however, as noted above, Mao does attempt to castigate dogmatism;on this see Note 6d), but if he believed in scientific practice (which he elsewhere said he did; e.g., of Mao (1964)), then the convoy of trucks containing the mountains of "carefully collected evidence" that would be needed to justify the above semi-divine pronouncements must have been mislaid somewhere --, perhaps during the Long March?6d


Given the unprecedented adulation paid to the last two Dialectical Gurus by their groupies, the 'depth' of their analyses poses its own quirky sort of 'internal contra-diction': how can such 23 carat dross be regarded by so many as genuine philoso- phical gold?


As we will see in Essay Nine Part Two, this conundrum can be answered by consi-dering something Marx once said about Alchemy, and about the reasons so many human beings turn to religion (and, of course, by recalling the substitutionist and opportunistic requirements of Realpolitik).


Hegel's Non-Dogmatic Dogmatism


The above dialecticians were, after all, merely slotting into an age-old tradition: one that is happy to propound dogmatic theses about fundamental aspects of 'Being' based on little other than an idiosyncratic use of language. However, these dialec-ticians were also rather unique in their open disavowal of a priori dogmatism (even if they then promptly did the opposite), and in this they were following in Hegel's foot- steps, too. First of all, in the Shorter Logic, we encounter the by-now-familiar self- effacing modesty:


"We can assume nothing and assert nothing dogmatically." [Hegel (1975)]


[And many of Hegel's commentators will tell you with a straight face that he did in- deed begin with no presuppositions, a bit like DM-fans who tell us the DM-classics weren't full of a priori dogma.]


But then, on the very same page, we find this 'non-dogmatic' statement:


"God and God only is the Truth." [Ibid.]


Followed a few pages later by this:


"...we must presuppose intelligence enough to know, not only that God is actual, that He is the supreme actuality, that He alone is truly actual...." [Ibid.]


The rest of the book is a veritable catalogue of a priori dogmatic pronouncements. Here are just a few examples:


"This immediate knowledge, consists in knowing that the Infinite, the Eternal, the God which is in our Idea, really is: or, it asserts that in our consciousness there is immediately and inseparably bound up with this idea the certainty of its actual being." [Ibid., p.99, §64.]


"Pure Being makes the beginning:because it is on the one hand pure thought, and on the other immediacy itself, simple and indeterminate; and the first beginning cannot be mediated by anything, or be further determined.


"All doubts and admonitions, which might be brought against beginning the science with abstract empty being, will disappear if we only perceive what a beginning natu- rally implies. It is possible to define being as 'I = I',as 'Absolute Indifference' or Iden- tity, and so on. Where it is felt necessary to begin either with what is absolutely certain, i.e. certainty of oneself, or with a definition or intuition of the absolute truth, these and other forms of the kind may be looked on as if they must be the first. But each of these forms contains a mediation, and hence cannot be the real first: for all mediation implies advance made from a first on to a second, and proceeding from something different. If I = I,or even the intellectual intuition, are really taken to mean no more than the first, they are in this mere immediacy identical with being: while conversely, pure being, if abstract no longer, but including in it mediation, is pure thought or intuition.


"If we enunciate Being as a predicate of the Absolute, we get the first definition of the latter. The Absolute is Being. This is (in thought) the absolutely initial definition, the most abstract and stinted. It is the definition given by the Eleatics, but at the same time is also the well-known definition of God as the sum of all realities. It means, in short, that we are to set aside that limitation which is in every reality, so that God shall be only the real in all reality, the superlatively real. Or, if we reject reality, as implying a reflection, we get a more immediate or unreflected statement of the same thing, when Jacobi says that the God of Spinoza is the principium of being in all existence." [Ibid., pp.124-25, §114.]


"Self-relation in Essence is the form of Identity or of reflection-into-self, which has here taken the place of the immediacy of Being. They are both the same abstraction -- self-relation.


"The unintelligence of sense, to take everything limited and finite for Being, passes into the obstinacy of understanding, which views the finite as self-identical, not inherently self-contradictory.


"This identity, as it descended from Being, appears in the first place only charged with the characteristics of Being, and referred to Being as to something external. This external Being, if taken in separation from the true Being (of Essence), is cal- led the Unessential.But that turns out to be a mistake.Because Essence is Being- in-self,it is essential only to the extent that it has in itself its negative, i.e. reference to another,or mediation. Consequently,it has the unessential as its own proper see- ming (reflection) in itself. But in seeming or mediation there is distinction involved: and since what is distinguished (as distinguished from identity out of which it ari- ses,and in which it is not, or lies as seeming) receives itself the form of identity, the semblance is still not in the mode of Being, or of self-related immediacy.


"The sphere of Essence thus turns out to be a still imperfect combination of imme- diacy and mediation.In it every term is expressly invested with the character of self- relatedness, while yet at the same time one is forced beyond it. It has Being -- ref- lected being, a being in which another shows, and which shows in another. And so it is also the sphere in which the contradiction, still implicit in the sphere of Being, is made explicit.


"As this one notion is the common principle underlying all logic, there appear in the development of Essence the same attributes or terms as in the development of Be- ing, but in reflex form. Instead of Being and Nought we have now the forms of Posi- tive and Negative; the former at first as Identity corresponding to pure and uncont-rasted Being, the latter developed (showing in itself) as Difference. So also, we have Being represented by the Ground of determinate Being: which shows itself, when reflected upon the Ground, as Existence." [Ibid., pp.165-66, §114.]


"Instead of speaking by the maxim of Excluded Middle (which is the maxim of abstract understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature,is there any- where such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains.Whatever exists is concrete,with difference and opposition in itself.The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being,and what they essentially are....


"Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world: and it is ridiculous to say that contradiction is unthinkable.The only thing correct in that statement is that contradiction is not the end of the matter,but cancels itself. But contradiction, when cancelled, does not leave abstract identity;for that is itself only one side of the con- trariety. The proximate result of opposition (when realised as contradiction) is the Ground, which contains identity as well as difference superseded and deposited to elements in the completer notion." [Ibid., p.174, §119. Bold emphases added. I have used the on-line versions in the above.]


Page after page after page of this stuff; there's even more of it in the Science of Logic! Unsurprisingly, one will search long and hard, and to no avail, for any proof of these hyper-bold assertions (other than perhaps a perfunctory 'derivation' from yet another paragraph of a priori assertions) -- and even less evidence offered in their support -- in Hegel's writings.


While the above Marxist dialecticians could easily have dogmatised for their count- ries, Hegel is surely the one we'd choose to represent Earth in an Inter-Planetary Dogmathon, and expect to win Gold.


A priori Super-Science: Putting The Cart Before The Cart


The Norm, Not The Exception


Indiscriminate thesis-mongering like this is the norm, not the exception, in the wri- tings of DM-classicists. Not surprisingly, this idiosyncratic disregard of "careful em- pirical work" is copied ad nauseam in the work of secondary DM-theorists, despite their own (by now familiar) vociferous claims to the contrary.7


Consequently, in view of all the a priori legislation, all the "insisting", "demanding", "presupposing", "obligating", "requiring", and cosmic key-cutting going on, it now looks like TAR's earlier claim should be re-written along the following, but far more honest, lines:


"[Dialectics] is a substitute for the difficult empirical task of tracing the develop- ment of real contradictions, and it is a suprahistorical master key whose… advan- tage is to turn up when no real…knowledge is available." [Deliberate misquotation of Rees (1998), p.9. Bold emphases added.]


This underlines the tensions at work in DM. On the one hand, its theorists con- stantly claim that their ideas are based on a thorough analysis of the evidence, while on the other their theses are worded in ways that indicate the exact opposite is the case.


In the main, therefore, DM-theses represent universal and a priori truths about reali- ty, change, causality and development in their entirety, valid for all of space and time. These are then casually projected onto nature by any dialectician capable of mastering the "difficult empirical task" of copying a page or two from Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Trotsky.


Hence, Trotsky was quite happy to tell us that all bodies are constantly changing, and that they are "never the same", even though he (and the entire human race) could only ever have experienced a tiny fraction of those that are, and have. Under-standably, that is why he had to call this idea of his an "axiom"; it certainly isn't an empirical truth (nor is it one that humanity could ever verify). In fact, it has been imposed on nature, not read from it.


Similarly, TAR itself is happy to tell us what "must" be the case in connection with "change through contradiction". Had this view been based on empirical work, the word "must" would surely have been out of place; a more tentative "is" being more appropriate. Indeed, John Rees himself had to resort to an "insistence" (in relation to the nature of the DM-Totality) in place of a more restrained "postulate" or "hypothesis".


Lenin's words are even less equivocal. He talks about "all phenomena and proces- ses of nature" being contradictory,and how dialectical principles govern the "eternal development of the world". There is no hint in what he said that these bold claims had been derived from a commensurately large set of observations (indeed, he seems to indicate the opposite), nor does he make any attempt to restrict their scope. His comments on core DM-theses were totally unqualified, even though he elsewhere declared that our knowledge of reality will only ever be relative and in- complete. And, as we saw, in his private notebooks Lenin made the claim that DM does indeed provide the key that Trotsky assured us it did not.


Other DM-classicists are equally bold in what they tell us, and in what they then impose on nature. [Exactly why they all do this will be examined in Essays Nine Part Two and Twelve Part One.]


So,the accusations made earlier that dialecticians are thoroughly conservative, that they emulate the a priori thought-forms pioneered by ruling-class hacks, has more than adequately been confirmed by the "careful" empirical work recorded here.


All this strongly supports the claim that dialectics is just another form of Idealism; the remaining Essays posted at this site are aimed at further substantiating that serious allegation.


What can we conclude from this trawl through the wastelands of Dialectical Dog- ma? Clearly that all wings of Dialectical Marxism, from street-wise activists to the high priests of theory,from the chief executives of Sectariana to the DM-classicists, from Tankies to Trots, from Maoists to Militants: all are confirmed dogmatic apriorists.


Was Marx right then to say that at all times the ruling ideas are those of the ruling-class?


Who can now doubt it?


Notes


2. This will be demonstrated in detail in Essays Five, Seven and Eight Parts One and Two, but especially here.


3. It needs emphasising that these comments do not mean that I believe in the existence of 'God'! The opposite is in fact the case. However, unlike the 'arguments' constructed by dialecticians, my case against belief in 'God' is water-tight. [Even so, that bold assertion will not be substantiated anywhere at this site.]


It's also worth reminding the reader once again that the truth or falsity of any and all of the DM-theses mentioned here is not the main issue in this Essay, merely whether DM-theorists are consistent in their claim not to have imposed their ideas on reality.


Of course, in other Essays the truth or falsehood of those theses will be the issue.


Moreover, an appeal to the scientific method --, as a way of defending the a priori claims advanced by DM-theorists --, would be to no avail, either. The mountains of evidence scientists amass in support of their ideas,and the vastly superior nature of scientific theory, dwarfs the pathetic molehills DM-fans have constructed, just as it shames their sloppy approach to detail.In fact,as if to take pride in superficiality,de- tailed work is often derided by DM-fans as so much "pedantry"! [On that, see here.]


And, as will be agued in Essay Eleven Part One, and in other Essays posted here, DM is not a science, nor is it even remotely like a science. [In fact, I describe it in later Essays as "Mickey Mouse Science"; that is, it a 'science' in name only, and a joke at that.]


Finally, scientists do not go about the place "demanding" and "insisting" on this or that feature of reality, nor do they talk about the "eternal development of the world" --, still less do they derive their ideas from mystics. [On this, see Essay Twelve Part One.]


4. Have Physicists Found Changeless Particles?

[This forms part of Note 4.]


In fact,the half-life of a proton is reckoned to be in excess of 1032 years (estimates vary, but this is approximately 1020 times longer than the age of the known uni- verse, if current theory is correct). Experimental evidence suggests its half-life is probably longer than that. Apparently, electrons are even less 'dialectical'.

Predicted proton decay has so far not been observed. In that case, there could in fact be more changeless objects in nature than there are changeable. The point is, of course, that this is an empirical matter, not -- as Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and Trotsky seem to have thought -- an a priori truth based on the musings of an Idealist who died over 2500 years ago (i.e., Heraclitus)!


As far as protons are concerned, we are told the following:


"Along with neutrons, protons make up the nucleus, held together by the strong force. The proton is a baryon and is considered to be composed of two up quarks and one down quark.


"It has long been considered to be a stable particle, but recent developments of grand unification models have suggested that it might decay with a half-life of about 1032 years. Experiments are underway to see if such decays can be detected. Decay of the proton would violate the conservation of baryon number, and in doing so would be the only known process in nature which does so." [Quoted from here.]


Wikipedia adds:


"In particle physics, proton decay is a hypothetical form of radioactive decay in which the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles, usually a neutral pion and a positron. Proton decay has not been observed. There is currently no evidence that proton decay occurs."


Of course, it could be objected to this that particles such as protons (i.e., hadrons) are composed of even more fundamental particles, which do enjoy a contradictory life of their own 'inside' each host 'particle'; their interactions would therefore mean that apparently changeless protons are in fact changing 'internally' all the time. But, this response simply pushes the problem further back, for these other, more funda-mental particles (i.e., quarks --, in the case of protons, two "up" and one "down" quark), are themselves changeless, as far as is known. [They certainly have no 'in- ternal contradictions' to worry them.] Moreover,since protons are baryons - i.e.,they are composed of three quarks --, it's not easy to view their inner lives as in any way 'contradictory' (with three terms?).Even more difficult to account for dialectically are electrons and photons (which are leptons and gauge bosons respectively), since they have no known internal structure. Unless acted upon externally, their 'lifespan' is, so we are told, infinite; hence, if they change, it 's not because of any 'internal contradictions'.


[An appeal to antiquarks here,to save the dialectical day,would be to no avail,either. That is because quarks do not turn into antiquarks, nor vice versa, which is what the Dialectical Holy Books tell us should happen to all such 'opposites'. On that, see here and here. (Anyway, since there is apparently very little antimatter in the entire universe, so we are told, this is an academic question.) Moreover, DM-theo- rists equivocate over the meaning of "internal". Sometimes they intend this word logically, while at others they intend it spatially.]


It seems, therefore, that the picture of reality painted by dialecticians is more of a Jackson Pollock than it's a Van Eyck.

Figure One: The DM-View of Nature

[1] Figure Two: Science Pictures Nature Rather More Precisely[2]

On protons,see here,here,and here;on electrons,here; leptons, here; photons, here.

On this topic in general, cf., Perkins (2000), and French and Krause (2008) - but more specifically Saunders (2006). See also Ladyman and Bigaj (2010), and Essay Six, here.

In fact there appear to be two schools at work here, those who hold that all such particles are identical and indiscernible (rather like the dollars/pounds in your bank account, not the dollars/pounds in your wallet or pocket), and those who claim they are identical and discernible. On this see the above references and Muller and Seevinick (2009), and Muller and Saunders (2008).


Naturally,dialecticians might want to object to the above on the lines that electrons, for example,are not really particles -, or that they are probability waves, or that they are this or they are that. Perhaps so, but, once again, whatever they are, they are identical with that,and they change equally quickly as they themselves do. Further- more, if they change, they do not do so as a result of their 'internal contradictions'.


[This comment puts paid to much of the confused ruminations on sub-atomic 'par- ticles' found in, for example, Woods and Grant (1995). More details on this will be posted in Essay Seven Part Two at a later date. On change though 'internal contradiction', see Essay Eight Parts One, Two and Three.]


Of course, the above considerations will only be of offence to those who, for some odd reason, might want to foist dialectics on nature.


But, who on earth would want to do that?


Finally, it could be claimed that since the relations between particles are always altering then, even if certain particles are seemingly changeless, they will be undergoing change all the time.


This issue is discussed in more detail in Essays Six, Seven, Eight Part One, and Eleven Part Two. Suffice it to say here that (1) If this contention were correct, most of the elementary objects in the universe wouldn't be self-developing, but would be affected by external causes. In that case, this particular claim would support one strand of DM by torpedoing another. Indeed, it would also introduce into nature a "bad infinity" (as Hegel would have called it) as these external causes stretch off into the blue beyond. In that case, and once again, yet another a priori dialectical thesis will have been holed well below the waterline as a result. [On Hegel and the infinite, see Houlgate (2006).]


And (2), there is no evidence that every particle in nature has an effect on every other, which changes it or them. [So-called "Quantum Entanglement" is discussed here.]


If, on the other hand, change is defined in such a way that an alteration to the relations between objects also counted as a change to those objects themselves (these are often called "internal relations" by Idealists and DM-fans alike) then that re-definition would amount to an imposition onto nature of something that might not be true. If dialecticians have any evidence that there are indeed such "internal relations" in nature and society (or that affect everything in the universe in this way), then they need to produce it, or resist making such claims.


Of course, there are DM-theorists (mainly of the High Church persuasion) who at- tempt to deploy a handful of 'arguments' (culled from the aforementioned Idealists) aimed at showing that such relations do indeed exist between objects/processes; but they would,wouldn't they? They are Idealists.They prefer 'conceptual arguments' over material proof any day of the week (as Novack noted).


Indeed, the more they try to defend "internal relations" with a priori arguments, the more they confirm Novack's allegation.


Plainly, such bogus reasoning wouldn't be needed if DM-fans had any scientific evidence to back up these ancient, mystical ideas.


It is, of course, a Hermetic Idea that everything is interconnected, and is a union of opposites, as Magee noted:


"Another parallel between Hermeticism and Hegel is the doctrine of internal relations. For the Hermeticists, the cosmos is not a loosely connected, or to use Hegelian language, externally related set of particulars. Rather, everything in the cosmos is internally related, bound up with everything else.... This principle is most clearly expressed in the so-called Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which begins with the famous lines "As above, so below." This maxim became the central tenet of Western occultism, for it laid the basis for a doctrine of the unity of the cosmos through sympathies and correspondences between its various levels. The most important implication of this doctrine is the idea that man is the microcosm, in which the whole of the macrocosm is reflected.


"...The universe is an internally related whole pervaded by cosmic energies." [Magee (2001), p.13. More on this here, and here.]


Bertell Ollman's recent book is just the latest example of this mystical genre: Ollman (2003). Ollman's work will be analysed in more detail in Essay Three Part Two.


"Internal relations" will form the main topic of Essay Four Part Two, when it is published.


5.Admittedly, Engels gestured at producing such evidence in AD and DN; this 'evi- dence' will be examined in detail in Essays Five, Seven, Eight Parts One and Two, and Eleven Part Two. In advance of that, it's worth noting that even if this 'evidence' were uncontroversial, the amount produced by Engels (and other dialecticians) is insufficient to substantiate even the local application of DM-theses to earth-bound processes, never mind their universal extrapolation to all of reality, for all of time.


[AD = Anti-Dühring; DN = Dialectics of Nature; DM = Dialectical Materialism; LF = Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.]


6. It could be argued that these and other comments made by Engels appear in unpublished works, and because of that he shouldn't be held to account for them. This is not even remotely true; Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, LF and AD were quoted earlier, and will be quoted again presently. They were all published works.


Moreover, similar claims are constantly being made by other dialecticians, and in works that have been published, as this Essay demonstrates. [On this, see also Note 7.]


6a. This sweeping claim will need to be qualified somewhat as these Essays prog- ress. However, the reason for this approach to a priori knowledge (equally apparent in the writings of traditional metaphysicians and DM-fans alike), and the denigration of material evidence that accompanies it,will be revealed in Essay Twelve Part One.


Some might take exception to the claim that dialecticians denigrate material evi- dence, but any who react this way have not faced the accusation - as I have repea- tedly --, that to demand just such material evidence (in order to substantiate the cosmically-over-bold claims dialecticians often make) is to brand oneself an "empiricist", or worse, a "positivist".


However, and in addition to this, with respect to the need to produce material evi- dence in support of their theories, I distinguish between two sorts of dialectician: High Church and Low Church.


It seems that for the former, grubbing around in the physical world seeking material evidence in support of their a priori theses is beneath them.In its place,however, we find something far worse:wall-to-wall jargon -,spruced up with endless commenta- ries on the jargon produced by other High Church Theologians, refreshed with a re- gular stream of equally obscure neologisms. This is the intellectual world inhabited by these Dialectical Monks: Systematic Theology replaced by Systematic Dialectics.


In contrast, Low Church urchins at least make some sort of an effort to scrape to- gether what little support they can find in nature and society for the hyper-bold the- ses that DM-classicists have inflicted on Marxism --, although after the usual hardy perennials (such as: seeds negating themselves, heads turning bald, water boiling/ freezing, rubber bands snapping, soup tasting too salty, a character from Molière speaking prose all his life, wave/particle duality, the ambivalent combative skills of the Mamelukes, "Yeah Yeah" and "Nay, Nay", etc.) have been given their ten thousandth airing, the 'evidence' peters out alarmingly quickly.


Of course, negative evidence/argument --, detailed in Essays Three to Eleven Part Two --, is either ignored, or ignored even more, just for good measure.


Now, anyone who has engaged in genuine scientific research will know how much evidence is needed (and how precise it has to be) even to settle minor side issues, let alone initiate a breakthrough into new areas of knowledge. In comparison, the watery-thin evidential gruel served up by Low Church urchins in support of their the- ses is rather pathetic: a few paragraphs here and there, a few pages sometimes, the odd essay or perhaps several sections in the odd book. Even at its 'best' (say, in Woods and Grant (1995), or Gollobin (1986)), the contrast between DM and genuine science is stark indeed.


In fact, you have to 'understand' more dialectics than is good for you to miss it.


[More on Woods and Grant, and Gollobin, later.]


Can you imagine the howls of derision a scientist would face if he or she attempted to, say, resurrect Caloric theory based on a book that contained a hundred or so pages of semi-anecdotal, secondary and tertiary 'evidence' (some of it twisted to fit, most of it irrelevant, all of it specially-selected and reminiscent of the methods Creationists use to 'prove' that the Bible is infallible, etc.) --, with no primary data, no experimental evidence, and no original research?


Well, that sums up Woods and Grant's book, as it does Gollobin's.


In contrast, and with respect to HM (in, say, economic, political and social theory), even Low Church Urchins make a genuine attempt to support their analyses with copious amounts of up-to-date, often primary data and evidence. But, in relation to DM they appear to suffer from a dialectically-induced blind spot, compounded by a Hermetic softening of the brain. The contrast here is so stark that we must look for other, social psychological reasons to explain this selective blindness. That will be attempted in Essay Nine Part Two.


And this selective blindness seems to have afflicted what few scientists there are, or have been, who are High or Low Church-goers themselves (for example, Richard Lewontin, J D Bernal and J B S Haldane). Their genuine commitment to Marxism appears to have severely impaired their scientific judgement - and to such an extent that, while they seem happy to accept what little evidence there is in support of DM as adequate 'proof', in contrast they would fail any of their students who dared to submit comparable (or quite so amateurishly-constructed) theses as part of an undergraduate course, let alone a more advanced degree. [I have said much more about these 'DM-scientists', here.]


[Similar episodic attacks of tunnel vision affect scientists who are also supporters of 'Intelligent Design', etc., and probably for the same reason.]


Small wonder then that High Church Dialecticians (who,in contrast,give the impres- sion they at least know something about 'the' scientific method) look upon their Low Church Brethren with pity, scorn, and no little alarm. Indeed, more than one or two find it hard to believe such Dialectical Dinosaurs still exist, or that they matter even if they do. Several have contacted me (since this material first appeared on the Internet) to inform me that in these Essays I am attempting to slay the already dead. Plainly, for High Church-goers, to be Low Church is to cease to exist.


However, the fact that RIRE can sell many thousands of copies more than the most popular book ever written by anyone from the High Church Faction (and receive praise from Hugo Chavez, no less -- if we are to believe Alan Woods -- on this see Woods (2006), pp.97-98, and here), combined with the additional fact such High Priests of the Dialectic know nothing of this (so divorced it seems have they now become from grubby material reality), says far more than I think I can about their irrelevance to the class struggle. As far as the class war is concerned, HCDs (as a group) have themselves ceased to exist. Guided by their radar, at least, the Owl of Minerva appears to have flown straight into the Bermuda Triangle.


[Of course, as individuals some of these Professional Dialectical Theologians may still be involved in the aforementioned struggle, but their High Theory can't inform their own revolutionary practice (or, more often than not, lack of it), for reasons examined in later Essays (but these reasons are not unobvious!). And yet they still bang on about the dialectical relation between theory and practice, the latter word apparently now meaning little more than the practice of reading the works of rival HCDs, and then writing even more obscure responses of their own. (See also Chomsky's comments about 'High Theory', here.)]


[RIRE = Reason in Revolt, or Woods and Grant (1995); HCD = High Church Dialectician.]


Worse still, the fact that so many Low Church urchins think so highly of RIRE (and some likewise of Gollobin's book), while clearly knowing little of the stringent requirements of proof needed in the hard sciences -- and even less about logic -- suggests that human stupidity does not end at the door of the local Gospel Hall.


Not 150 years ago, the UK Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli bemoaned the fact that the 'Queen's Realm' was made up of two Nations; one living in total ignorance of the other. The same might well be said of our High and Low Church brethren.


May the non-existent 'Deity' have no mercy on their contradictory souls.


6b. For High Church Dignitaries (on this, see the previous Note), the Master Key is clearly Hegel's Logic,which is perhaps the only key in existence that is vastly more complex than the door it was meant to open -- and which even fails to fit the lock!


For Low Church Urchins, their key is to be found the DM-classics, the sophisti-cation of which is sometimes pitched just above the level of Janet and John books.


[Don't believe me? Then check this out.]


Low Key Dialectics is alas rather scriptural in its approach, and although it is mind- numbingly repetitive, it is easy to learn. High Key Dialectics, in comparison, is lar- gely incomprehensible,studiously esoteric,and highly ritualised - adepts must show proof they can produce fluent jargon by the cartload,and on demand - anything less is simply sneer reviewed, as I have found to my cost.


And, it has now found a permanent home in the journal Historical Materialism.


There alone the analogy with High Church Anglicanism is uncannily accurate, one feels.


[As we shall see later (in Essay Fourteen -- summary here), Clavis was the title of an influential book written by Jakob Boehme, one of the most important mystical influences on Hegel. "Clavis" means "key", which was in fact a central concept in Hermetic Theosophy.]


6c. Lest anyone think this unfair, these sweeping statements will be fully justified throughout this site. In fact, on examination, what little 'evidence' DM-fans have pro- duced in support of their 'theory' achieves the exact opposite of what was intended. On this, see Essays Three through Thirteen.


6d. Mao at least made a gesture in the direction of anti-Idealism, in the following passage:


"Our comrades must understand that we study Marxism-Leninism not for display, nor because there is any mystery about it, but solely because it is the science which leads the revolutionary cause of the proletariat to victory. Even now, there are not a few people who still regard odd quotations from Marxist-Leninist works as a ready-made panacea which, once acquired, can easily cure all maladies. These people show childish ignorance,and we should enlighten them. It is precisely such ignorant people who take Marxism-Leninism as a religious dogma. To them we should say bluntly, 'Your dogma is worthless.' Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin have repeatedly stated that our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action. But such people prefer to forget this statement which is of the greatest, indeed the utmost, importance. Chinese Communists can be regarded as linking theory with practice only when they become good at applying the Marxist-Leninist stand, view- point and method and the teachings of Lenin and Stalin concerning the Chinese re- volution and when,furthermore, through serious research into the realities of China's history and revolution,they do creative theoretical work to meet China's needs in dif- ferent spheres. Merely talking about linking theory and practice without actually do- ing anything about it is of no use, even if one goes on talking for a hundred years. To oppose the subjectivist,one-sided approach to problems, we must demolish dog- matist subjectiveness and one-sidedness." [Mao (1965b)]


However, Mao speaking against dogmatism is perhaps on a par with Tony Blair speaking against "the use of force for political ends" --, except, of course, if you disagreed with Mao, you either disappeared or died.


Not so much dogmatic, as dog meat, then.


[On the other hand, if you agreed with Blair, you got hit by "American Friendly Fire"!]


7. Lesser Dialectical Apriorists


They're All At It


[This forms part of Note 7.]


Below, readers will find a (greatly shortened!) selection of equally dogmatic state- ments produced by several DM-theorists (from different wings of Marxism), theses that supposedly depict fundamental aspects of reality, in many cases true of all of space and time, and which lie way beyond substantiation by any conceivable body of evidence. These comrades are clearly oblivious of the glaring inconsistency bet- ween their claim that DM has not been imposed on reality and their attempt to do just that.


Apologies must of course be given in advance for two things:

(1) The length of many of these quotations, and

(2) Their extremely repetitive nature. The first of these is alas a necessary evil in order to bury once and for all the belief that DM-theorists do not try to impose their ideas on reality. It's also necessary, since DM-fans who read this material still refuse to accept these passages are representative. The only way to prove to them that they are is to quote them extensively. But,even then,DM-fans often come back with the "You have taken them out of context!" defence. Now, if anyone can show that the passages quoted here have been taken 'out of context', I'd like to hear from them! [However,when asked to show that I have done this, such objectors invariably go very quiet. So, I won't hold my breath expecting any contact from them.]


Precisely what sort of 'context' will show the following, for example, aren't a priori and dogmatic?


"Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been mat- ter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconcei- vable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and inde- structible as matter itself; as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it, the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created; it can only be transmitted….


"A motionless state of matter therefore proves to be one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]


"'Fundamentally,we can know only the infinite.' In fact all real exhaustive knowledge consists solely in raising the individual thing in thought from individuality into parti-cularity and from this into universality, in seeking and establishing the infinite in the finite, the eternal in the transitory…. All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, and essentially absolute…. The cognition of the infinite…can only take place in an infinite asymptotic progress." [Engels (1954), pp.234-35. Italic emphasis in the original; bold emphasis added.]


"Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete development…. Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)….


"[D]ialectical logic holds that 'truth' is always concrete, never abstract, as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel." [Lenin (1921), pp.90, 93. Bold emphases added.]


"Flexibility, applied objectively, i.e., reflecting the all-sidedness of the material process and its unity, is dialectics, is the correct reflection of the eternal development of the world." [Lenin (1961), p.110. Bold emphasis added.]


"[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory ten- dencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites….[E]ach thing (phenome- non, process, etc.)…is connected with every other…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other….


"In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics….


"The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….


"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclu- sive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…The con- dition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing….


"The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute….


"To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., [sic] with any proposition...: [like] John is a man…. Here we already have dialectics (as Hegel's genius recognized): the individual is the universal…. Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual.Every individual is (in one way or another) a univer- sal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect, or the essence of) an indi- vidual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual ob- jects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal, etc., etc.

Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of individuals (things, phenomena, processes), etc. Here already we have the ele- ments, the germs of the concept of necessity,of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence; for when we say John is a man…we disregard a number of attributes as contingent; we separate the essence from the appearance, and counterpose the one to the other….


"Thus in any proposition we can (and must) disclose as a 'nucleus' ('cell') the germs of all the elements of dialectics, and thereby show that dialectics is a property of all human knowledge in general." [Lenin (1961), pp.221-22, 357-58, 359-60. Italic emphases in the original; bold emphases added.]


Or, the countless other similar passages posted in this Essay?


The second will be used later in an endeavour unmask the real nature and purpose of DM-ideology, which exposé itself partly depends on the fact that DM is traditional in form, dogmatic, highly repetitive and thus thoroughly ritualistic.


A full list of examples of this a priori style-of-thought, culled from every DM-text that even I have access to,would easily run into hundreds,possibly thousands, of pages --, all saying practically the same sort of thing. That this is no exaggeration may easily be confirmed by anyone who has access to the many textbooks and articles on DM produced over the years by its acolytes -- and, of course, plenty of Prozac.


Finally, once more, whether or not the following comrades are correct in what they say is not at issue here, merely their consistency: do they or do they not impose their ideas on nature?


[Of course, the validity of what DM-theorists actually say will be questioned in other Essays posted at this site (for example, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), but, naturally, that's a separate issue.]


Dietzgen


Beginning with Joseph Dietzgen:


"Scientific socialists apply the inductive method. They stick to facts. They live in the real world and not in the spiritualist regions of scholasticism....


"Indeed, where we have to deal with concrete phenomena, or, as it were, with pal- pable things,the method of materialism has long since reigned supremely (sic).Yet, it needed more than practical success: it needed the theoretical working-out in all its details in order to completely rout its enemy, the scholastic speculation or deduction....


"Scientific 'laws' are deductions drawn by human thinking from empiric material...."  [Dietzgen (1906), pp.81-84. Bold emphases added.]


So much for the by-now-familiar initial disarming modesty.Now the mailed metaphy- sical fist, hidden inside the self-effacing velvet glove, emerges to pound the non- dialectical table:


"Nothing more is meant by these deductions than this: the world is a unity, that is, there is only one world….


"...[R]eason makes of all existence one order.To enroll (sic) under this order all the phenomena of the world as different species,is to follow nature.Because the intellect can do this, because it divides everything into orders and species,into sub- jects and predicates so that finally only one order remains, only one subject, Being or the Given Premises of which mind and body,reason,fancy, matter, force, etc., are predicates or species -- because of that there cannot possibly remain in the world any impassable gulf. Everything must reduce itself to a theoretical harmony, to one system....


"I should like to make the reader understand what the professors, so far as I know them, have not yet understood, viz.,that our intellect is a dialectical instrument, and instrument which reconciles all opposites. The intellect creates unity by means of the variety and comprehends the difference in the equality. Hegel made it clear long ago that there is no either-or, but as well as...." [Ibid., pp.246-48. Bold emphases added.]


Exactly how Dietzgen "deduced" all this from "empiric material" he forgot to say,but the reader should note that even while he was helpfully upgrading our non-dialecti- cal minds with words of wisdom empirically copied from Hegel's Logic (i.e., to the effect that there is no "either-or") he neglected to apply the rules he found there to his own non-empiric musings. Plainly, if there is no "either-or", then the world must be both a unity and not a unity (but not the one or the other), just as it must also be true that "the intellect", as a "dialectical instrument", both reconciles and does not reconcile all opposites (but not the one or the other).


Dietzgen clearly failed to note,too, that material reality (captured in the conventions of ordinary language) resists the imposition on it of Idealist nostrums like these;any attempt to do so rapidly backfires. In this case, it becomes clear that neither Dietz- gen nor any other dialectician is free to reject the LEM while wishing to assert any- thing determinate about anything whatsoever -- even about that 'law' itself.


[Why this is so will be detailed in Essay Four.]


So, even Dietzgen had to ignore Hegel to make his point!


[LEM = Law of Excluded Middle.]


But, there is more:


"Before Philosophy could enter the innermost of the mind-function, it had to be shown by the practical achievements of natural science how the mental instrument of man possesses the hitherto doubted faculty of illuminating the innermost of Nature. The physicists do not close their eyes to the fact that there are many un- known worlds. Still some of them have yet to learn that the Unknown,too, is not so totally unknown and mysterious. Even the most unknown world and the most mysterious things are together with the known places and objects of one and the same category, namely,of the universal union of Nature.Owing to the con- ception of the Universe virtually existing, as a kind of innate idea, in the hu- man mind,the latter knows a priori that all things, the heavenly bodies inclu- ded, exist in the Universe, and are of universal and common nature.." [Ibid.]


It should perhaps have occurred to Dietzgen's 'empiric' mind that if there are indeed "unknown worlds" then humanity can have no knowledge of them. How, therefore, such bold conclusions about them could be drawn in advance of such knowledge having emerged only those similarly lost in dialectical mist will perhaps be able to tell us. But even they might falter when it comes to explaining to those who are not quite so lost just how such 'knowns' can be derived with confidence from all those 'unknowns'. Still more might they wonder how Dietzgen's earlier rejection of 'scholasticism' squares with his new-found liking for such a priori impostures.


The incoherent ramblings of the ex-US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, about "known unknowns", come to mind here:


"As you know, there are known knowns. There are things that we know we know. We also know that there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know that there are some things that we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know." [Quoting from Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies. The True History of the Iraq War, p.163, who was citing the UK Guardian, 03/05/03. A video of this can be found here.]


When card-carrying members of the ruling-class come up with prize 'thoughts' like these we generally know how to respond. However, when dialecticians utter the same inanities, some of us unwisely nod approvingly at their 'profundity'.


But from where do such epistemological gems originate? Dietzgen is keen to tell us (while still doing his faux Rumsfeld impersonation):


"How then do we know that behind the phenomena of Nature, behind the relative truths, there is a universal, absolute Nature which does not reveal itself completely to man?....


"It is innate; it is given to us with consciousness. The consciousness of man is the knowledge of his personality as part of the human species, of mankind, and of the Universe. To know is to form pictures in the consciousness that they are pictures of things which all, both the pictures and the things, possess a general mother from which they have issued and to which they will return. The mother is the absolute truth; she is perfectly true and yet mystical in a natural way, that is, she is the inexhaustible source of knowledge and consequently never entirely to be comprehended.


"All that is known in and of the world is, however, true and exact, only a known truth, therefore a modified truth, a modus or part of truth. When I say that the consciousness of the endless, absolute truth is innate in us, is one and the only knowledge a priori, I am confirmed in my statement also by the experience of this innate consciousness...." [Dietzgen (1906), pp.283-84. Italic emphases in the original; bold emphases added.]


So, the laws of Dietzgen's brand of 'Rumsfeldian superscience' still follow from ex- perience -, except it's from the inner experience of "innate consciousness". On that basis, presumably,we could conclude, if we were so minded, that Saddam Hussein did possess Weapons of Mass Destruction, despite the absence of 'empiric evi- dence'. Indeed, we could if we based this convenient piece of 'knowledge' on an 'inner intuition' to that effect, and went on to support an imperialist invasion of Iraq as a result. Who could object? Only those who doubt the existence of those "unknown unknowns", perhaps?


[Readers familiar the history of Mother-Nature worship and Hermetic Philosophy will no doubt recognize the provenance of much of Dietzgen's ruminations, espe- cially those highlighted in bold. (It might be worth finding out if Rumsfeld ever read Dietzgen, or even the Hermetic Kybalion. Since the latter was (possibly?) written by three Masons, this is in fact highly likely!)]


There are many more passages like this in Dietzgen's rambling, almost aimless writings.


Exactly why Marx thought so highly of him is therefore a complete mystery!


David Hayden-Guest


In a similarly dogmatic vein, David Hayden-Guest had this to say:


"Here it is the great service of Hegel to have conceived history as exhibiting a process of development….


"Dialectical materialism appears at first sight to be a return to the original Greek view of the world from which philosophy started. And, indeed, like this Greek materialism, it sees the world as a single interconnected whole in endless motion….


"The 'dialectical laws of motion'…are the most general laws possible….


"The second dialectical law, that of the 'unity, interpenetration or identity of oppo- sites'…asserts the essentially contradictory character of reality -– at the same time asserts that these 'opposites' which are everywhere to be found do not re- main in stark, metaphysical opposition, but also exist in unity. This law was known to the early Greeks. It was classically expressed by Hegel over a hundred years ago….


"[F]rom the standpoint of the developing universe as a whole, what is vital is…motion and change which follows from the conflict of the opposite.


"The Law of the Negation of the Negation…. This law states one of the most cha- racteristic features of evolutionary process in all fields -– that development takes place in a kind of spiral, one change negating a given state of affairs and a succee- ding change, which negated the first, re-establishing (in a more developed form, or 'on a higher plane'…) some essential feature of the original state of affairs….


"This law of dialectical process is like the others in that it cannot be arbitrarily 'foisted' on Nature or history. It cannot be used as a substitute for empirical facts, or used to 'predict' things without a concrete study of the facts in question….


"Everything is not only part of the great world process but is itself essentially in process….


"Development is always the result of internal conflict as well as of external relations, themselves including conflict. It can only be explained and rationally grasped to the extent that the internal contradictions of the thing have been investigated….


"Every 'thing' is itself vastly complicated, made up of innumerable sides and aspects, related in various ways to every other thing." [Guest (1963), pp.31, 32, 38, 40, 42, 45. Bold emphases added.]


Careful readers will note that while Guest makes the usual, hackneyed claim that DM has not been imposed on reality, he then proceeds to do just that. Exactly how he knew that reality was "essentially" contradictory, for instance, he forgot to inform his bemused readers.


Edward Conze


The quasi-Stalinist and latter-day Buddhist, Edward Conze, put things similarly:


"Scientific method is not a body of ready-made statements which can be learnt by heart. It gives no mystical formulae from which we can easily deduce reality without the trouble of examining the facts…[it is not] a reverential pondering over quotations….


"Scientific method demands that we should study things in their inter-relation with one another….


"…Each thing stands in some relation to everything else in the world. It is thus fully understood only if its relations are known. Therefore it has been said to know one thing completely is to know everything….


"The philosopher sums up -– Everything is inter-related with everything else….


"That everything should be studied in its development and changing forms is the demand of the second rule of scientific method….


"Everything in this world is subject to perpetual change. Everything in the world once had a beginning;and there is no part of the universe that will not perish


"The scientific method demands that the world should be studied as a complex of processes and events and not as a complex of ready-made things....


"The third law or rule of scientific method is that opposites are always united, that they are in unity…." [Conze (1944), pp.11,14-15, 25-26, 35. Bold emphases added; italic emphases in the original.]


Once more, the puzzled reader will doubtless wonder where all the evidence supporting these brave theses has gone in the intervening years. Into the 'unknown' maybe? They will similarly wonder what happened to these sensible caveats:


"Scientific method is not a body of ready-made statements which can be learnt by heart. It gives no mystical formulae from which we can easily deduce reality without the trouble of examining the facts…[it is not] a reverential pondering over quotations….[Ibid.]


However, in a rare moment of honesty, Conze admitted:


"I know of no general reason why opposites always must be united. The study of scientific method has not yet advanced to give us a proof of this kind…. The reader must be warned against using the law as a mystical formula…." [Ibid., p.36. Emphasis in the original.]


Nevertheless, this eminently reasonable plea has not stopped dialecticians ever since using this "mystical formula" as just such a talisman.


Sad though it is to report, but in Conze's case the above caveat represented a false dawn, for on the very same page we find the following:


"The negative electrical polecannot exist without the simultaneous presence of the positive electrical pole…. This 'unity of opposites' is therefore found in the core of all material things and events." [Ibid., pp.35-36. Bold emphasis alone added.]


How this comrade knew that negative poles could not exist apart from positive poles, he kept to himself.


Despite this, Physicists are still looking for the famed magnetic monopole, foolishly having paid no attention to those who daily impose dialectics on nature. Of course, if the poles of a magnet were logically linked, as dialecticians appear to believe, then Physicists would not even have tried to look for this monopole -- any more than they would attempt to find Longitude 360 degrees North (no, that's not a misprint!).


Added May 2009: Some scientists now claim to have found the elusive monopole, or something like it:


"They seem magical: magnets, every child's favourite science toy. Two otherwise ordinary lumps of metal draw inexorably closer, finally locking together with a satis- fying snap. Yet turn one of them round and they show an entirely different, repulsive face: try as you might to make them, never the twain shall meet.


"If magnets seem rather bipolar, that's because they are. Every magnet has two poles,a north and a south. Like poles repel, unlike poles attract. No magnet breaks the two-pole rule -- not the humblest bar magnet, not the huge dynamo at the heart of our planet. Split a magnet in two, and each half sprouts the pole it lost. It seems that poles without their twins -- magnetic 'monopoles' -- simply do not exist.


"That hasn't stopped physicists hunting. For decades they have ransacked every- thing from moon rock and cosmic rays to ocean-floor sludge to find them. There is a simple reason for this quixotic quest. Our best explanations of how the universe hangs together demand that magnetic monopoles exist. If they are not plain to see, they must be hiding.


"Now, at last, we have might have spied them out. The first convincing evidence for their existence has popped up in an unexpected quarter. They are not exactly the monopoles of physics lore, but they could provide us with essential clues as to how those legendary beasts behave.


"So what attracts physicists to monopoles? Several things. First, there's symmetry -- a purely aesthetic consideration, true, but one that for many physicists reveals a theory's true worth. For over a century, we have known that magnetism and electri- city are two faces of one force: electromagnetism. Electric fields beget magnetic fields and vice versa.


"Accordingly, the classical picture of electromagnetism, formulated in the late 19th century, is pretty much symmetrical in its treatment of electricity and magnetism. But although positive and negative electric charges can separate and move freely in electric fields, magnetic 'charge' remains bound up in pairs of north and south poles that cancel each other out. 'No monopoles' is another way of saying that there is no such thing as a freely moving magnetic charge.


"In 1931, this puzzling asymmetry caught the attention of the pioneering quantum physicist Paul Dirac. He pointed out that quantum theory did not deny the possibi- lity of monopoles; on the contrary, they could be quite useful. His calculations showed that monopoles existing anywhere in the universe would explain why elect- ric charge always comes in the same bite-size chunks, or quanta.


"Even so, monopoles were little more than a curiosity, and the lack of any obvious examples nearby dampened the enthusiasm for the chase. That all changed in the 1960s with the wide acceptance of the big bang theory -- the idea that the universe began in a fireball governed by a single force that has since splintered into the fun- damental forces we see today. The great ambition of physics became to construct a theory that would reunite these forces.


"There are many different approaches to this goal, and almost all have an odd fea- ture in common: they say that chunks of magnetic charge must have been created in the very first fraction of a nanosecond of the universe's existence.Some theories, like Dirac's original idea, suggest these monopoles are very massive, with a mass around 1016 times that of a proton.Other approaches suggest more modest beasts with a mass only a few thousand times the mass of the proton. But all predict they should be there.


"Suddenly monopoles assumed a new significance. Not only would the detection of magnetic monopoles be a major boost for grand unified theories of how the universe began, but finding the mass of a monopole would help distinguish which of those theories were on the right track. 'The search has a low chance of paying off, but a very high importance if it did,' says Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1979 for his work on force unification.


"Sheldon Glashow of Harvard University, who also took a share of the 1979 prize, took the monopole idea a stage further. That same year, he suggested that beefy, Dirac-type monopoles might also be the answer to one of cosmology's most impor- tant unsolved problems: they might be the identity of the unseen dark matter that is thought to make up most of the universe and to have formed the structures that led to galaxies.


"Physicists thus had a wealth of reasons to believe that these 'cosmic' monopoles must exist somewhere. But where? Besides the odd tantalising glimpse, no expe- riment has yet produced convincing evidence of their existence (see Race for the pole').


"There are reasons to believe they never shall. According to the inflationary theory of the universe's origin, which has gained wide currency since the 1980s, the cos- mos expanded enormously fast just after the big bang. This expansion should have carried most, if not all, of the monopoles created in the first instants of the universe to a patch of the cosmos so distant that they, and information about them, will probably never reach us. Game over?


Perhaps not,if the latest research is anything to go by. Monopoles might have been under our noses for a while, in a strange type of solid known as spin ice. When this material was reported in 1997 by physicists Mark Harris of the University of Oxford, Steve Bramwell of University College London and their colleagues (Physical Review Letters, vol. 79, p 2554), monopole searches were not high on the agenda. The researchers were looking at something else entirely -- an odd property of certain solids known as magnetic frustration....


"'Suddenly, there was a community of physicists who became monopole hunters,' says Peter Holdsworth of the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, one of the people bitten by the bug. Together with his colleague Ludovic Jaubert, he has produced independent confirmation of the monopole idea. In a paper published last month (Nature Physics, vol 5,p 258), the pair revisit an experiment reported in 2004 by a group led by Peter Schiffer at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Schiffer's team had shown that when a magnetic field was applied to spin ice at low temperatures and then removed, the spins were surprisingly slow to revert to their original state (Physical Review B, vol. 64, p 064414). Jaubert and Holdsworth calculated that monopoles explain this perfectly: at low temperatures, monopoles do not have enough energy to move freely, and so make the magnetic response of the entire system sluggish by just the amount the experiments had found.


"It seems the elusive monopoles have been pinned down at last. But Blas Cabrera, who looked for monopoles in cosmic rays passing through his laboratory at Stan- ford University in the 1980s, sounds a note of caution. The monopoles discovered in spin ice are rather different beasts from those he and others were looking for. For a start, they are some 8000 times less magnetic and are free to move only within the spin ice, not to roam the wider universe. So they are not really analogous to electric charges, and it doesn't look as if they are going to solve the dark matter problem.


"Do they count at all? Quite possibly. When Dirac dreamed up his cosmic mono- poles, he imagined a vacuum as the lowest possible energy state that free space could assume. Monopoles then represented a higher-energy 'excitation' of a va- cuum, in much the same way that the low-energy two-in, two-out spin-ice state is excited to create monopoles. The new research even borrows elements of Dirac's description of free-space monopoles -- such as the invisible 'strings' he envisaged between pairs of poles that have separated. The similarities mean that the inter-actions of spin-ice monopoles could provide a way to learn about cosmic mono- poles by proxy -- for example, how they might have interacted in the early universe.


"'Quite apart from that, the more down-to-earth monopoles might turn out to be practically useful', says Tchernyshyov. Most computer memories store information magnetically, and the ability to use magnetic rather than electric charges to read and write bits to and from those stores could have great advantages in speed and flexibility. What's more, the three-dimensional configuration of spin ice might allow for memories of much higher density than is currently possible.


"That's for the future. For Holdsworth, the mere fact that we have found monopoles somewhere -- anywhere -- is reason enough to make a song and dance about them. 'These might not be exactly the monopoles that Dirac dreamed of, but that doesn't mean they're not remarkable.'" [Reich (2009), pp.28-31. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site. See also here.]


Even more worrying for dialecticians hooked on a priori dogmatism is this recent comment:


"We have moved a step closer to finding cosmic monopoles -- magnetic poles without their opposite. Two experiments using strange stuff called spin ice have provided the best evidence yet that monopoles really are out there.


"Nearly 80 years ago, physicist Paul Dirac said it must be possible for magnetic north and south poles to exist separately. But despite decades of searching, not one has been found. Last year, researchers demonstrated that certain states of the crystalline material spin ice would create monopoles that rove about the crystal (New Scientist, 9 May, p 28). They would be seen as disturbances moving through the spins of atoms within the crystal.


"Now two separate groups claim to have spotted just that. Tom Fennell and his col- leagues at the Laue-Langevin Institute in Grenoble, France, recorded the disturban- ces when they fired a beam of neutrons at a spin ice crystal to see how it affected the neutrons' energy (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177582).


"Meanwhile, Jonathan Morris of the Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy in Berlin, Germany,and his colleagues watched how atoms within the crystals fell into alignment along trails through the lattice. These trails are known as 'Dirac strings', because Dirac predicted that cosmic monopoles would have just such a connection between them (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178868).


"'To my mind there's now no question: we have overwhelming evidence that these things are real,' says Steve Bramwell of University College London." [New Scien- tist, 203, 2725, 12/09/2009). Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


Nevertheless, Conze's obvious good sense forced its way to the surface once more, leading him to make the following confession:


"I have had some 'dialecticians' assure me that they did not know what the struc- ture of the atom would turn out to be,but they had not the shadow of doubt that it would be found to be 'dialectical'. This is not the language of science, but of religion…. We should beware of putting the dialectical method on the same level with the revelations of God. There is nothing ultimate about scienti- fic theories…. Too frequently do we petrify the science of yesterday into the dogma of tomorrow. Science demands an elastic and critical spirit." [Ibid.]


This passage should be made required reading for all dialectical dogmatists (but check out comrade Thalheimer below, whom Conze might well have had in mind).


Not that it will do much good, for on the same page we find Conze himself arguing once again:


"Both attraction and repulsion are necessary properties of matter. Each attraction in one place is necessarily compensated for by a corresponding repulsion in an- other place…." [Ibid., p.36. Bold emphases added; italic emphases in the original.]


Conze's non-standard meander through the wastelands of dialectical dogma is inst- ructive enough -- witness how, when his own theses are immediately contradicted, they turn into more cautious antitheses, which are then contradicted right back again to become dogmatic theses once more. Hence, and true-to-form, he back sasses all the way in this passage:


"A material contradiction means that one concrete process contains two mutually incompatible and exclusive, but nevertheless equally essential and indispensable parts or aspects….


"In some cases we can observe that a thing moves and destroys itself. This is the case with radium and uranium…. Since [their] disintegration is not due to external causes, but to the constitution  of radium itself, we would assume the presence of a contradiction in radium. At the moment, however, we are incapable of pointing out what that contradiction is….


"We find clearer examples in…[Biology]. Engels pointed out that a living being is at any given moment the same and yet another…Its life consists in that it simul- taneously performs two contradictory processes, breaks down and builds itself up again…." [Ibid., p.52. Bold emphases added; italic emphasis in the original.]


Conze is clearly an odd mixture of regulation-issue-dialectical-dogmatism and recklessly un-dialectical reasonableness, with the former often dominating over the latter --, which is itself a consequence of the aprioristic tradition that has shaped all of Western Philosophy since Greek times imposing itself on him. So, as part of that tradition, Conze naturally felt he did not need to say precisely how he knew that contradictions were capable of causing change or how they power living cells. Just quoting Engels and/or Hegel was sufficient, apparently:


"Scientific method is not a body of ready-made statements which can be learnt by heart. It gives no mystical formulae from which we can easily deduce reality without the trouble of examining the facts…[it is not] a reverential pondering over quotations….[Ibid. Bold emphasis added.]


Clearly, in this mystical madhouse, it is.


August Thalheimer


Moving on;here are the thoughts of comrade Thalheimer,recorded (it has to be said) in one of the best and most intelligent introductions to DM there is (no sarcasm in- tended!) -- but here speaking with all the ex cathedra authority 'Being' has conferred on those who sit atop that holy mountain on the edge of the universe, all of reality laid out in front of them, the location of which Empyrean realm is known only to Dialectical Mystics:


"The most general and the most inclusive fundamental law of dialectics from which all others are deduced is the law of permeation of opposites. This law has a two- fold meaning: first,that all things, all processes, all concepts merge in the last analysis into an absolute unity, or,in other words, that there are no opposites, no differences which cannot ultimately be comprehended into a unity.Second,and just as unconditionally valid, that all things are at the same time absolutely dif- ferent and absolutely or unqualifiedly opposed. The law may also be referred to as the law of the polar unity of opposites. This law applies to every single thing, every phenomenon, and to the world as a whole. Viewing thought and its method alone, it can be put this way: The human mind is capable of infinite condensation of things into unities,even the sharpest contradictions and opposites, and, on the other hand, it is capable of infinite differentiation and analysis of things into opposites. The human mind can establish this unlimited unity and unlimited differentiation because this unlimited unity and differentiation is present in reality." [Thalheimer (1936)]


At first sight, it might look like Thalheimer is foisting DM onto nature, but it is important not to be mislead here: he is doing precisely that!


There then follows a few pages of anecdotal 'evidence' (of the usual Mickey Mouse sort) offered up in support of these universal pronouncements, most of which will be reviewed in Essay Seven, followed by this a priori 'deduction':


"Or take the smallest components of matter: two electrons which form part of the atomic system can never be absolutely identical. We can say this with cer- tainty even though we are not yet in a position to know anything about the individual peculiarity of electrons.... This is based on the proposition of the per- meation of opposites, the proposition which says that the identity of things is just as unlimited as their difference.The capacity of the mind infinitely to equate things as well as to differentiate and oppose, corresponds to the infinite identity and difference of things in nature.... We have previously shown that being and non- being exist simultaneously in becoming, that they constitute identical elements of becoming...." [Ibid., pp.167-68. Bold emphasis added.]


Now the evidence comrade Thalheimer quotes in support of his claims would be considered a joke if this were hard science, but dialectics is perhaps the softest science there is (even Creationists supply more and better evidence in support of their whacky ideas!) -- a melted marshmallow sort of science, where a few pages of superficial anecdotal evidence and secondary data 'allow' adepts to predict what must be true, for instance, of every electron in the entire universe, for all of time.


[However, as we will see in Essay Six, there is now good reason to disagree with Thalheimer about the identity of all electrons.]


However, Thalheimer had a sure-fire method of proof (one he copied from Hegel), which meant that evidence was irrelevant:


"This law of the permeation of opposites will probably be new to you, something to which you have probably not given thought. Upon closer examination you will disco- ver that you cannot utter a single meaningful sentence which does not comprehend this proposition.... Let us take a rather common sentence: 'The lion is a beast of prey.' A thing, A, the lion is equated with a thing B. At the same time a distinction is made between A and B. So far as the lion is a beast of prey, it is equated with all beasts of that kind. At the same time, in the same sentence, it is distinguished from the kind.It is impossible to utter a sentence which will not contain the formula, A equals B. All meaningful sentences have a form which is conditioned by the per- meation of opposites.This contradiction [is] contained in every meaningful sentence the equation and at the same time differentiation between subject and predicate...." [Ibid.]


We shall meet this rather odd 'argument' again later (in Essay Three, Part One) where it will be identified as one of the main sources of Hegelian dialectics, and thus of DM. We will see there how a grammatical dodge (which is never justified) 'allows' dialecticians to turn the simple "is" of predication into an "is" of identity, creating the spurious 'contradiction' out of which murky pool much of dialectics has since slithered. In that case, DM arises not from a scientific view of nature, or even from the experience of individuals or the revolutionary party -- nor yet from revolutio- nary practice -- but from a crass error over the verb "to be"!


This impressive 'scientific method' was invented, so far as we know,by Parmenides, who it seems, 'genius' though he was, had serious problems with other participles of the same verb.


From this simple mistake evolved the subsequent and neurotic fascination with "Being", an obsession which has gripped most of Western Philosophy since (Hegel and Heidegger being its most notorious recent victims): Parmenides's misunder-standing of the present participle of the verb "to be"!


Can you imagine a genuine science being based on a misconstrued present participle?


Two thousand five hundred years of wasted effort thanks to a misinterpreted verb!


[How and why this 'confusion' arose, and was later adopted by DM-theorists, will be detailed in Essay Three Parts One and Two, Essays Eight Part Three, Twelve and Fourteen -- a brief outline of this argument can be found here.]


Suffice it to say that even though comrade Thalheimer was clearly a highly intelli- gent man, it is almost inexplicable how he forgot about ordinary sentences like, "Thalheimer writes well", which under no stretch of the imagination is of the form "A = B" -- and neither is "Thalheimer failed to make his case", or "Thalheimer ignored this example", nor even "Thalheimer, following Hegel, misconstrued the 'is' of predication with the 'is' of identity".


This is not to say that several of the above sentences cannot be forced into this dialectical boot -- as in, say, "Thalheimer is someone who failed to make his case", but even then there would be problems interpreting this as "Thalheimer is identical with someone who has failed to make his case." In that case: just who is that per- son that Thalheimer is identical with? [And do not even ask what the highlighted "is" that sentence means! Given this theory it can only mean that that sentence must become: "Thalheimer is identical with identical with someone who has failed to make his case" as that "is" is replaced with what it allegedly means:"is identical with". And with respect to that sentence, too, awkward question would similarly arise over this new highlighted "is", and so on.]


And try doing the same 'dialectical switch' with this: "Someone told Thalheimer his watch was broken", or this: "Everyone who reads Thalheimer's book knows some- one who hasn't read anything written by those who take Hegel seriously."


The subject/predicate form that Thalheimer (and Hegel) relied on is an Indo-Euro- pean invention, and even then it captures only a tiny fraction of the meaningful indi- cative sentences that can be formed in that language group. The fact that Thalhei- mer could read such universal verities from the peculiarities of language alone (and fail to spot the significance of the fact that he even thought he could do this, and from such simplistic and unrepresentative examples) underscores the claim made here that DM is just another form of LIE (and not a very impressive form, at that) -- i.e., an attempt to derive universal truths from discourse alone.


[On the intimate connection between Indo-European Grammar and the subject-pre- dicate form in language, see Kahn (2003), pp.1-2; although Kahn takes a different view of its implications. This is, of course,something Nietzsche also noticed (Nietz- sche (1997), pp.20-21), and it's also part of the so-called Sapir-Whorf thesis, but the acceptance or rejection of that theory does not affect the point I am making.]


[LIE = Linguistic Idealism. This is explained here.]


Thalheimer must have used countless sentences every day that gave the lie to his theory; exactly why he and all other dialecticians ignore the material language of everyday life will be exposed in Essay Nine Parts One and Two, and Essay Twelve (summary here).


Thalheimer continues in the same vein for another fifteen pages or so. I might add a few more of his a priori musings at a later date, if I can summon up the will, and can down enough bottles of wine, first.


George Novack


We turn now to consider the thoughts of a comrade who was an intellectual and political enemy of Stalinism: George Novack. Oddly enough, and despite what he had elsewhere said about it, instead of opposing dogmatism he aped it, laying down the law like any other born-again dogmatist:


"Everything in motion is continually bringing forth this contradiction of being in two different places at the same time, and also overcoming this contradiction by proceeding from one place to the next….


"A moving thing is both here and there simultaneously. Otherwise it is not in motion but at rest….


"Nothing is permanent. Reality is never resting, ever changeable, always in flux. This unquestionable universal process forms the foundation of the theory [of dialectical materialism]….


"According to the theory of Marxism, everything comes into being as a result of material causes, develops through successive phases, and finally perishes….


"Dialectics is the logic of movement, of evolution, of change. Reality is too full of contradictions, too elusive, too manifold, too mutable to be snared in any single form or formula. Each particular phase of reality has its own laws….These laws…have to be discovered by direct investigation of the concrete whole, they cannot be excogitated by the mind alone before material reality is analysed. Moreover, all reality is constantly changing, disclosing ever new aspects….


"If reality is ever changing, concrete, full of novelty, fluent as a river, torn by oppositional forces, then dialectics…must share the same characteristics….


"Nature cannot be unreasonable or reason contrary to nature. Everything that exists must have a necessary and sufficient reason for existence….


"The material base of this law lies in the actual interdependence of all things in their reciprocal interactions…. If everything that exists has a necessary and sufficient reason for existence, that means it had to come into being. It was pushed into existence and forced its way into existence by natural necessity…. Reality, rationality and necessity are intimately associated at all times….


"If everything actual is necessarily rational, this means that every item of the real world has a sufficient reason for existing and must find a rational explanation….


"But this is not the whole and final truth about things…. The real truth about things is that they not only exist, persist, but they also develop and pass away. This passing away of things…is expressed in logical terminology by the term 'negation'. The whole truth about things can be expressed only if we take into account this opposite and negative aspect….


"All things are limited and changing…. In logical terms, they not only affirm themselves. They likewise negate themselves and are negated by other things…. Such a movement of things and of thought is called dialectical movement….


"From this dialectical essence of reality Hegel drew the conclusion that consti- tutes an indispensable part of his famous aphorism: All that is rational is real….


"[M]ovement…from unreality into reality and then back again into unreality, constitutes the essence, the inner movement behind all appearance….


"Everything generates within itself that force which leads to its negation, its passing away into some other and higher form of being….


"This dialectical activity is universal. There is no escaping from its unremit- ting and relentless embrace. 'Dialectics gives expression to a law which is felt in all grades of consciousness and in general experience.Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of dialectic.We are aware that everything finite, instead of being inflexible and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by the dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural being, and to turn suddenly into its opposite.' (Encyclopedia, p.120)."

[Novack (1971), pp.41, 43, 51, 70-71, 78-80, 84-87, 94-95; quoting Hegel (1975), p.118, although in a different translation from the one used here. Bold emphases added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]


Novack's book is chock full of dogmatic statements like these, practically all of which he backs up -- not with data or evidence --, but with quotations from Hegel and other assorted DM-luminaries! As far as this aspect of Novack's work is concerned, DM might just as well stand for "Dogmatic Materialism".


[Compare that with Novack's warning about dogmatism, here.]


[OT = Orthodox Trotskyist.]


Woods And Grant


Two other OTs not to be outdone in this respect are Woods and Grant (in Reason In Revolt [RIRE]); first they soften the reader up with the usual disarming banter:


"Hegel was forced to impose a schema upon nature and society, in flat contra-diction to the dialectical method itself, which demands that we derive the laws of a given phenomenon from a scrupulously objective study of the subject matter…[and which should not be]…arbitrarily foisted on history…." [Woods and Grant (1995), pp.43-44. Bold emphasis added.]


Then, over the next few pages (and, indeed, throughout the rest of their book) they reveal their true colours:


"Dialectics…sets out from the axiom that everything is in a constant state of change and flux….


"The fundamental proposition of dialectics is that everything is in a constant process of change, motion and development. Even when it appears to us that nothing is happening, in reality, matter is always changing….


"Everything is in a constant state of motion, from neutrinos to super-clusters….


"Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of mat- ter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites….


"The law of the transformation of quantity into quality has an extremely wide range of applications, from the smallest particles of matter at the subatomic level to the largest phenomena known to man.


"Positive is meaningless without negative. They are necessarily inseparable. Hegel long ago explained that 'pure being' (devoid of all contradiction) is the same as pure nothing…. Everything in the real world contains positive and negative, being and not being, because everything is in a constant state of movement and change….


"Moreover, everything is in permanent relation with other things. Even over vast distances, we are affected by light, radiation, gravity. Undetected by our sen- ses,there is a process of interaction,which causes a continual series of changes


"This universal phenomenon of the unity of opposites is,in reality the motor- force of all motion and development in nature…Movement which itself involves a contradiction, is only possible as a result of the conflicting tendencies and inner tensions which lie at the heart of all forms of matter." [Ibid.]


The above quotations represent a mere fraction of the many that are to be found in RIRE; indeed, if every dogmatic a priori passage had been quoted from that work alone, this Essay would have been tens of thousands of words longer!


As is now becoming boringly familiar, these two comrades failed to reveal how they obtained the "axiom" that everything is in a constant state of change, how they knew that motion arises only from contradictions, or which "scrupulous" exami-nation of the evidence supports the view that contradictions are an "essential fea- ture of all being". Moreover, they forgot to tell their readers what the negative and positive internal aspects of electrons and photons are, if, as they claimed, every- thing is made of opposites -- positive and negative. These cannot be protons, or positrons, nor yet antiphotons (although it is controversial whether there can be antiphotons), since they are external to electrons and photons. The same question can be posed in relation to quarks, geodesics, Branes, and more besides.


[This introduces an equivocation mentioned earlier: DM-fans vacillate between a logical and a spatial interpretation of "internal", Woods and Grant included.]


Of course, there are those who think that positrons are electrons travelling back- wards in time,and that such particles are their own "self-opposites",but even if such enigmatic talk were correct, this can lend no support to DM since such opposites do not 'struggle' with each other, as we are assured they must do by the Dialectical Gospels. Moreover, such talk is no more 'dialectical' than would be that of someone who regarded forwards as the 'self-opposite' of backwards (forgetting, perhaps about sideways).


Indeed, there are dialecticians who dote on this sort of talk; their arguments will be demolished in Essay Seven, and Eight Parts One and Two.


Now, it's entirely possible that Woods and Grant temporarily forgot what the word "foisted" meant when they declared the following:


"Hegel was forced to impose a schema upon nature and society, in flat contra-diction to the dialectical method itself, which demands that we derive the laws of a given phenomenon from a scrupulously objective study of the subject matter…[and which should not be]…arbitrarily foisted on history…." [Ibid., p.43.]


To be fair to these two, they do spend a significant proportion of their book trying desperately to show that dialectical principles apply to nature and society, using examples drawn from everyday life and from the sciences, quoting prominent researchers and theorists in support. Nevertheless, and to be brutally honest, their zeal and methodology resembles that found in books and articles written by Funda-mentalist Christians in their attempt to 'prove' the Bible is not only correct, but scientifically accurate through-and-through.All that these two have to offer, however, is page after page of the selective quotation of carefully chosen examples, highly repetitive sarcasm (mostly aimed at FL), and acres of distortion and special-plea- ding. The 'evidence' Woods and Grant present the reader is in a populist format -- they quote no original research papers, and offer no primary data. In fact, their book is impressionistic, superficial and comfortably situated in the soft, melted-butter Mickey Mouse world of 'dialectical science', mentioned above.


[FL = Formal Logic.]


Many of the examples Woods and Grant use are highly fanciful (in general, these are the ones they lifted from Engels and Hegel), others perhaps less so. Several of the latter will be discussed in Essays Four and Seven, where the highly repetitive, ill-informed and largely fabricated comments these two make about FL will also be exposed for what it is. [No exaggeration, but in relation to FL, this book contains easily the worst examples of fabrication I have ever seen in a DM-text;this is some- thing I have taken up with one of the authors. He has promised to correct some of them in the second edition. Added in 2008: some of them have been corrected, but not all.]


Reason in Revolt? More like Reason in Remission!


Even so, a thousand-volume Encyclopaedia would not contain enough evidence to justify the intergalactically over-ambitious "foistings" and declarations on behalf of all "being" promulgated by these two. [Their many errors will be exposed in Essay Seven Part Two, when it is published. Some have already been outlined here.]


Harry Nielsen


Here is another recent example of disarming modesty linked to a (by now familiar and hackneyed) a priori imposition:


"It has been said many times that the method of Marxism is to first study the facts of a subject,and then to draw out its processes and its connections. This describes not only the method of Marxism but also the method of science (and Marxism is a science) - not to impose an arbitrary idea, but to study a subject from all angles and to find and generalise the underlying processes that are taking place. Then to use that theoretical insight as a guide to action, to learn from further experience, and to refine and develop the theory as a guide to further action....


"Modern theoretical physics overwhelmingly emphasises deduction as the way to develop ideas about the universe, deriving predictions from more general ideas. But there is also another approach, philosophical induction, in which ideas and genera-lisations are derived from observations. Scientists, and Marxists, in reality use both approaches to learn about the world,from data to ideas and from ideas to data, wor- king in both directions,simultaneously. First data (but according to an idea, a hypo- thesis to test, a direction to look), from which more ideas, then more tests, more ideas, and so on. This is induction and deduction, simultaneously, in parallel and in sequence - a union and interpenetration of opposites, out of which comes the growth and development of scientific ideas." [Harry Nielsen, a Woods and Grant fellow-traveller. Bold emphasis added.]


Whereas on another page at the same site he had this to say:


"That the quantity of matter and motion is conserved in any process is a central and fundamental part of our knowledge of the physical world. And if matter and motion exist now then they always have and always will exist - not simply to the last syllable of recorded time but both before and beyond that time, whether recorded or not. For human beings to understand the abstraction infinity is difficult when it is so far outside of our experience and seems to have little practical meaning. Yet the existence now of matter and energy is the clearest evidence we have that they have always existed and always will. If we start with the physics that we know, then we have to conclude that the universe has no beginning, has no end, and that time is infinite.


"But the universe is not static. Everywhere, at all scales, from the very small to the very large, there is change, motion and development. Galaxies, clusters of galaxies, evolve and change. Stars and planets are born, grow and die...." [Harry Nielsen. Bold emphases added.]


But, these universal and infinitary conclusions cannot follow from what little evi- dence even modern Physics has amassed, let alone from the sub-set of which the above author is aware. How could Nielsen possibly know that time is infinite, for example? Or that universe will never end? And, how can the following be extrapola- ted beyond anything we do know now, or could possibly know in the future: "And if matter and motion exist now then they always have and always will exist -- not simply to the last syllable of recorded time but both before and beyond that time, whether recorded or not"?


And it's little point replying that scientists do this all the time, since they do not shoot themselves in the foot by first saying they will never impose their ideas on nature, as do dialecticians. And, except when they pass an opinion in their popular work, scientists tend to leave out references to "eternity", and "infinity".


Recall that the truth or falsity of DM-theses is not at issue here (even if it will be later on); the main points of this Essay are (1) To expose the glaring inconsistency between the claims made by DM-theorists not to have imposed their ideas on nature, and the fact that they invariably proceed to do just that, and (2) To suggest they do this because it is thoroughly traditional to do it.


Finally, in connection with the first of the above quotations, it is worth noting that Nielsen's assertion that the use of deduction and induction is a "union and interpe- netration of opposites", is itself an a priori imposition onto logic of something that is manifestly not the case.


Deductive logic has no opposite (in any clear sense of that word); it just has diffe- rent branches. And, inductive logic is merely a loose form of reasoning, mainly about probabilities.


Gerry Healy


The late Gerry Healy was certainly no stranger to this aprioristic tradition; in fact, if anything, he was the Dialectical Daddy:


"Dialectical Materialists get to know the world initially through a process of Cog- nition. It affects the sensory organs, producing sensation in the form of indetermi- nate mental images.


"As forms of the motion and change of the external world, these images are pro- cessed as concepts of phenomena. Upon negation their dissolution from the posi- tive sensation into their abstract negative, they are negated again as the nature of semblance into positive semblance which is the theory of knowledge of a human being. During this interpenetration process, the images as thought forms are analysed through the science of thought and reason which is Dialectical Logic….


"…Thus, the everlasting material properties of thought in Dialectical Logic in self- relation between subject and object,coincide materially with the theory of knowledge.


"The category of 'Appearance' exists initially in the theory of knowledge as negative self-mediation. It is the movement of antithesis apprehended in its unity before Negative semblance interpenetrates Positive semblance, thus activating the theory of knowledge and Appearance as a category. Law as a category is reflection of Appearance into identity with itself….


"…The 'whole' must be seen as an inner force which will strive to manifest itself in external reality as essence which must appear. Real 'wholes' must have elements bound together by the interaction of 'parts' and 'whole'. Since the 'parts' and 'whole' are constantly changing, the 'whole' as such can never be a sum total of its 'parts'. It is instead the sum total and unity of opposites in constant change, which are simultaneously not only single 'wholes' but many 'wholes'. Thus 'wholes' change into 'parts' and 'parts' into 'wholes'." [Healy (1982), pp.1-3, 57-58. Bold emphases in the original; italic emphases added. Recall that these articles originally appeared in Newsline, the daily paper of the old WRP!]


"In his book 'In Defence of Marxism' Trotsky emphasised that Hegel in 'Logic' 'established a series of laws', amongst them 'development through contradiction'....


"We reproduce for the benefit of the anti-Hegel, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky brigade the following quotations on contradiction....


[There then follows a series of quotations from Lenin, but no data. That should put this 'brigade' in their place!  -- RL]


"Contradiction, therefore, cannot be regarded as an 'empty word form' or a 'subjec- tive' external impression, because it is contained within the very essence  of all ma- terial objects and processes. It is the dialectical unity of external and internal contradiction. Thus the infinite self-movement of matter is contradictory.


"...The development of Contradiction in the essence of objects manifests itself as IDENTITY of the infinite source of sensation in the external world." [Healy (1990), pp.7-8. Emphases and capitalisation in the original. Underlining added. Parts of this can be found here.]


It is, therefore, a marvel that Healy managed to achieve so much in his life, having surely spent most of it examining every atom of matter in the entire universe, and every human mind, in order to confirm the startling results above.


Readers will no doubt note how Healy 'derives' more than his fair share of universa- list conclusions -- not from nature --, but from Lenin and Trotsky's references to Hegel! The fact that he proceeds as if this were the most natural thing in the world indicates how deep traditional thought-forms had seeped into Healy's ultra-secta- rian brain. This is no accident; the connection between Healy's sectarianism, the personality cult set up around him, and the bullying tactics he used, will be linked (in Essay Nine Part Two) to the ruling-class ideas that dominate the thought of dia- lectical dinosaurs like him --, in this case clearly compounded by the impenetrably obscure ideas he had been cultivating for years.


Exhibit A for the prosecution:


"The IDENTITY of the objective source of our sensation in the 'external world' is a quantitative infinite, law-governed process of dialectical nature, human society (the class struggle) and thought.


"Its self-related negation into qualitative finite DIFFERENCE in Subjective thought as a 'particular' or 'part' is the interpenetration of opposites (Object into subject).The 'antithesis' is the unity of negative infinity (IDENTITY) into finite (DIFFERENCE) and is a negative with a positive image, which as a result of the first negation con- tains contradiction. The 'antithesis' whose unity of negative and positive is the essence of 'something' whose source is in the external world.


"...OTHER to OTHER is infinity to infinity or IDENTITY to IDENTITY, with self-rela- ted Qualitative finite Difference omitted, or incorporated into an eclectic 'unity.'


"'Speculative thought' is prepared to consider the 'infinite' as a 'Unity' with the finite but ignores their inseparable self-related connection.


"....As a new unity of opposites consisting of a variety of 'parts' builds up, 'the reg- ressive, rearward confirmation of the beginning' 'and its progressive further determi-nation coincide and are the same'. A new 'whole' consisting of the new parts as a unity of opposites is ready to appear in the form of 'Essence-in-Existence'. [Ibid., pp.18-20. Emphasis and capitalisation in the original. Again, parts of this can be found here.]


Once more, this represents only a tiny fraction of similar dogmatic and a priori passages in Healy's work; if every similar passage had been quoted, this Essay would have been half as long again.


It can only be hoped that there is a 'next life', and that it affords the indominatible Healy sufficient time to try to scrape together enough evidence to prove that "negative infinity" is indeed "IDENTITY" -- with or without the use of capital letters.


I have been unable to find a clear statement in Healy's writings that he felt there was a need to gather evidence in support of truly impressive Dialectical-Super-science like the above, but because he was a mega-OT it's reasonably certain that he must at least have paid lip-service to this minimal scientific ideal at some point, in view of Trotsky's gesture in that direction. Be this as it may, Healy's devotion to the scientific method (aimed perhaps at confirming the radically 'innovative' psycho- logy found in the quotation above) unfortunately stretched only as far as perusing Hegel's Logic, Engels's AD and DN, and Lenin's PN and MEC.


No doubt, he did this extremely "carefully".


Nevertheless, after dozens of pages of quotations from Lenin, Engels and Trotsky, Healy did write this:


"The pragmatic eclecticist preselects abstract quotations from Marxist and transforms them into dogma." [Ibid., p.61.]


To be frank, this is rather like the Apostle Paul complaining about misogyny, or Exxon about pollution.


Moreover, in an introduction to Lenin's PN, Cliff Slaughter (Healy's side-kick until the two fell out over Healy's 'use' of female comrades -- more on this in Essay Nine Part Two) had this to say (and he certainly would not have published it without Healy's approval):


"Lenin lays great stress on Hegel's insistence that Dialectics is not a master-key; a sort of set of magic numbers by which all secrets will be revealed. It is wrong to think of dialectical logic as something that is complete in itself and then 'applied' to particular examples. It is not a model of interpretation to be learned, then fitted on to reality from the outside; the task is rather to uncover the law of development of the reality itself." [Cliff Slaughter, here. Bold emphasis added.]


Apparently, just as he failed to notice Healy's long-term sexual abuse, Slaughter failed to spot Healy's, Lenin's and Trotsky's apriorism.


[PN = Philosophical Notebooks; MEC = Materialism and Empirio-Criticism; STD = Stalinist Dialectician; OT = Orthodox Trotskyist.]


Maurice Cornforth


Inconsistent ruminations like these are not confined to OT-gurus, or, indeed, OT- groupies. Generations of STDs have shown that they, too, are quite capable of mat- ching anything revolutionaries have ever tried to "foist" on nature, as anyone foolish enough to trawl through their writings can well attest. Here are some of the thoughts of comrade Cornforth:


"Our party philosophy, then, has a right to lay claim to truth. For it is the only philo- sophy which is based on a standpoint which demands that we should always seek to understand things just as they are…without disguises and without fantasy….


"Marxism, therefore, seeks to base our ideas of things on nothing but the actual investigation of them, arising from and tested by experience and practice. It does not invent a 'system' as previous philosophers have done, and then try to make everything fit into it….


"Nothing exists or can exist in splendid isolation, separate from its con- ditions of existence, independent from its relationships with other things…. When things enter into such relationships that they become parts of a whole, the whole cannot be regarded as nothing more than the sum total of the parts…. [W]hile it may be said that the whole is determined by the parts it may equally be said that the parts are determined by the whole….


"Dialectical materialism understands the world, not as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes, in which all things go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away.


"Dialectical materialism considers that matter is always in motion, that motion is the mode of existence of matter, so that there can no more be matter without motion than motion without matter….


"Dialectical materialism understands the motion of matter as comprehending all changes and processes in the universe….


"Dialectical materialism considers that…things come into being, change and pass out of being, not as separate individual units, but in essential relation and interconnection, so that they cannot be understood each separately and by itself but only in their relation and interconnection….


"Dialectical materialism considers the universe,not as static, not as unchan- ging, but as in a continual process of development. It considers this develop- ment, not as a smooth,continuous and unbroken process,but as a process… inter- rupted by breaks in continuity, by the sudden leap from one state to another. And it seeks for the explanation, the driving force, of this universal movement… within material processes themselves -– in the inner contradictions, the opposite conflicting tendencies, which are in operating in every process in nature and society….


"When we think of the properties of things, their relationships, their modes of action and interaction, the processes into which they enter, then we find that, generally speaking, all these properties, relationships, interactions and processes divide into fundamental opposites….


"As Hegel put it: 'In opposition, the different is not confronted by any other, but by its other' (Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences: Logic, section 119)….


"The dialectical method demands first, that we should consider things, not each by itself, but always in their interconnections with other things….


"The employment of the Marxist dialectical method does not mean that we apply a pre-conceived scheme and try to make everything fit into it. No, it means that we study things as they really are, in their interconnection and movement….


"All change has a quantitative aspect…. But quantitative change cannot go on indefinitely. At a certain point it always leads to qualitative change; and at that critical point (or 'nodal point', as Hegel called it) the qualitative change takes place relatively suddenly, by a leap, as it were….


"Thus we see that quantitative changes are transformed at a certain point into qualitative changes…. This is a universal feature of development….


"The general conclusion [is] that whenever a process of development takes place, with the transformation in it of quantitative changes into qualitative changes, there is always present in it the struggle of opposites –- of opposite tendencies, opposite forces within the things and processes concerned….


"This struggle is not external and accidental…. The struggle is internal and ne- cessary, for it arises and follows from the nature of the process as a whole. The opposite tendencies are not independent the one of the other, but are inseparably connected as parts or aspects of a single whole. And they operate and come into conflict on the basis of the contradiction inherent in the process as a whole….


"Movement and change result from causes inherent in things and processes, from internal contradictions….


"Contradiction is a universal feature of all processes….


"The importance of the [developmental] conception of the negation of the negation does not lie in its supposedly expressing the necessary pattern of all development. All development takes place through the working out of contradictions - that is a necessary universal law…." [Cornforth (1976); quoting Hegel (1975)]


But, how is it possible for someone not to have imposed a theory on reality (as a "pre-conceived scheme" -- with everything made to "fit into it", as Cornforth says) --, if, in fact, they have done just that?


Despite the usual preliminary gestures at theoretical modesty, Cornforth, in true form, is soon telling us that change is "not external and accidental…[it] is internal and necessary," that "contradiction is a universal feature of all processes," and that "all development takes place through the working out of contradictions," which is "a necessary universal law….", without once informing the reader from where he obtained this information (other than copying it from Hegel, of course). But, could there be a body of contingent evidence large enough to show that anything in nature is necessary? Or, which is capable of demonstrating that "all development" is the result of 'internal contradictions'? Or even, that all change is internally-driven?


What sort of super-duper evidence could that be?


That which was delivered to comrade Cornforth, perhaps, by the Archangel Gabriel, inscribed in mystic runes on sapphire tablets by elfin hands?


Ira Gollobin


Now, we turn to what is arguably the best book that has ever been written about DM as such, GOD --, which is itself a rather wordy version of Baghavan (1987), and an up-market version of Woods and Grant (1995) -- minus the snide remarks about FL, of course.


[GOD = Gollobin's Dialectics; i.e., in these Essays this stands for Gollobin (1986).]


Having said that, the author of GOD makes all the usual moves, readily imposing dialectics on nature while failing to ask of his 'theory' the sorts of questions raised at this site. Indeed, as far as can be ascertained, Gollobin doesn't even bother to cover his rear and argue that DM must grow from a patient examination of the evidence. This is up-front apriorism then, straight out of the starting blocks!


A few weeks after writing the above, however, I discovered this comment:


"'Not a single principle of dialectics can be converted into an abstract schema from which, by purely logical means, it would be possible to infer the answer to concrete questions. These principles are a guide to activity and scientific research, not a dogma.'" [Gollobin (1986), p.409, quoting the Soviet Encyclopedia.]


And several pages later he even quotes Engels:


"And finally, to me there could be no question of building the laws of dialectics into nature, but of discovering them in it and evolving them from it...." [Engels (1976), p.13, quoted in Gollobin (1986), p.414. Bold emphasis added.]


Without a hint of irony, Gollobin then quotes a passage from Engels where the latter does the opposite of what he has just said!


"Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials increasing daily, and thus has shown that, in the last resort, nature works dialectically and not metaphysically." [Engels (1976), p.28, quoted in Gollobin (1986), p.414. Bold emphasis added.]


Hence, it's quite clear that Gollobin is either blind to the fact that Engels imposed this view on nature,or he is being deliberately disingenuous. Once more, how could Engels possibly have known that nature works dialectically -- and not metaphysi- cally --, say, in parts of the universe that the scientists of his day hadn't studied (let alone even knew existed)? As should be clear, he couldn't possibly have known this, but he was quite happy to "build" this view into nature.


And, as we are about to see, Gollobin is no less reluctant to do the same.


Oddly enough, much of the 'evidence' that GOD lists in support of the many things it alleges comes from Piaget (whom Gollobin seems to think is an authority on everything and anything), or from earlier DM-classicists (particularly Engels, Lenin and Mao), whom he also quotes in the place of scientific data, as if their word is law -- and it must be said, in direct contradiction to this clear statement of Mao's:


"Our comrades must understand that we study Marxism-Leninism not for display, nor because there is any mystery about it, but solely because it is the science which leads the revolutionary cause of the proletariat to victory. Even now, there are not a few people who still regard odd quotations from Marxist-Leninist works as a ready-made panacea which, once acquired, can easily cure all maladies. These people show childish ignorance, and we should enlighten them. It is precisely such ignorant people who take Marxism-Leninism as a religious dogma." [Mao (1965b), p.42. Bold emphases added.]


Which, in view of the way that 'Mao-Tse-Tung Thought' is quoted by Maoists, isn't all that surprising after all.




Figure Three: incontrovertible Proof That Maoism Isn't A Religious Dogma


GOD also is in the habit of classifying DM-theses as genuine parts of the "scienti- fic view" of reality, failing to note that science is based on hard evidence, primary data -- and container loads of it, too --, not solely on quotations from non-experts, or even on those lifted from the writings of the dialectical classics.


In fact, for Gollobin -- just like Baghavan and Woods and Grant -- it seems that if something merely appears to confirm DM, then into the pot it goes, no matter where it comes from, or how tenuous the support it actually lends this 'theory'.


Nevertheless, it's not my aim in this Essay to discuss the countless errors GOD contains (easily far more than there are pages, and only slightly less than there are paragraphs), but to expose yet again the traditional, a priori style of reasoning found among the DM-faithful.


[However, in a later Essay (which will be focussed solely on GOD) I will respond to many of the things asserted in that work -- until then, see here.]


Once more, had every aprioristic passage from GOD been included, this Essay would have been tens of thousands of words longer than it already is (no exagge-ration). Hence, I have confined the following selection to a handful of randomly chosen quotations; here are a few such (which themselves show signs they have been lifted from Mao; on that see here):


"Opposites are not only inseparably conjoined, but at any instant one of the oppo- sites comes to the fore. In their mutual relations, one opposite plays the principle role and its other the secondary role." [Gollobin (1986), p.120.]


How does Gollobin know so much about all opposites (he must mean all opposites or the above would make little sense)? Well, dear reader, you can search through his book in vain to find the answer to that one.


It seems he knows this simply because Mao says it.


The watery thin 'evidence' that GOD offers to illustrate this thesis is coloured by other Mao-isms, and can easily be re-interpreted otherwise, so that they fail to sup- port Gollobin's contentions. But, even if things were exactly as either GOD or Mao says, the two examples Gollobin quoted -- in fact they were taken from cellular bio- logy and US history; cf., p.123 -- would hardly constitute universal proof of the above.


But, if Mao (or GOD) has spoken, who are we to argue?


[And, since neither Hegel, Marx, Engels, Plekhanov nor Lenin mentioned such con- tradictions (i.e., "principle" and "secondary"), that must make the author of GOD and Mao "Revisionists"!]


"Contradictions not only have very general features, true for any time or part of the universe (e.g., the absoluteness of conflict), but also special, particular features...." [Ibid., p.131. Bold emphasis added.]


This passage sits right under the sub-heading: "Scientific Views". Impartial readers should, I suggest, contact the publishers and ask them if this is a misprint, and whether the original title actually read "Dogmatic Views".


Does GOD offer the reader any evidence that contradictions litter all of reality for all of space and time?


Are you serious?


"Dialectics as a whole, its totality, comprises two overall parts: the dialectics of the object (the very general aspects of the universe -- aspects present in nature, society, and thought), and the dialectics of the subject....


"The dialectics of the object includes laws and categories present in all proces- ses, in all things -- nature, society and thought. As regards the presence of these laws and categories, humans are like the rest of the universe." [Ibid., p.400. Bold emphases added.]


Dialectical Dogma, once more? Imposed on the world?


If you think so, you clearly do not 'understand' dialectics!


"Dialectical materialism as a whole is a synthesis of syntheses, a peak from which to take an overview of the historic ascent of consciousness to knowledge of very general aspects of the cosmos, including consciousness itself. The unity of the world is absolute in that all things objectively exist...." [Ibid., p.419. Bold emphasis added.]


From this, it seems that GOD has the merit of being both honest and thoroughly traditional all in one go (in that it openly admits the semi-divine status of DM).


With respect to "sameness and difference", GOD had this to say:


"No two things are completely alike, not matter how seemingly identical, whether they are leaves on a tree, blades of grass, fingerprints, or any other thing....


"Sameness and difference do not simply subsist side by side in mere conjunction. They cannot exist apart from each other.... Every affirmation of a thing's features is simultaneously a denial a denial of its possession of other features." [Ibid., pp.92-93. Bold emphases added.]


The 'evidence' that Gollobin offers in support of this latest a priori claim amounts to no more than a few trite examples drawn from nature, and a quote from Leibniz (which in fact expresses Leibniz's own a priori dogmatic claim about identicals and the rationality of 'God')!


That's it! On this 'basis', Mickey Mouse science like this can safely reveal to us truths about everything in existence, for all of space and time!


Unfortunately, however, for Gollobin, as we have seen, scientists have, it seems, found many identicals in nature -- and countless trillions of them in every cubic millimetre of matter. [On this, see here (this links to a PDF) and here.]


Returning to the claim made in the second paragraph above:


"Sameness and difference do not simply subsist side by side in mere conjunction. They cannot exist apart from each other...Every affirmation of a thing's fea- tures is simultaneously a denial a denial of its possession of other features." [Ibid.]


This is are no less a priori; from an alleged logical principle, GOD (following Hegel) attempts to derive a universal thesis about "sameness" and "difference" (which, na- turally,have to be nominalised for this trick to work),true everywhere and everywhen.


This principle (supposedly derived from Spinoza), which I later call "Spinoza's Gree- dy Principle" [SGP], is not the least bit logical, nor is it at all reliable. [More on that later.] But, even if it were completely trustworthy, how is this not an example of "building" dialectics into nature? [Irony intended.]


And there is more:


"At the dawn of bourgeois society, proof of the heliocentric theory vitiated the con- cept of an earth-centred closed universe. Thereafter, Newton's laws inter-related the movement of celestial bodies; Mayer and Joule formulated the general principles governing the transformation of kinds of energy from one form into another; Mende- leyev discerned a system determining the linkages between chemical elements,the periodic table;Darwin found certain ordered relationships between species;and Ein- stein's theories of special and general relativity disclosed certain basic connections of matter, energy, space and time....


"These scientific advances, and many more,demonstrate that all things are con- nected with others and that nothing exists completely sealed off, unaffected by other things...." [Ibid., p.95. Bold emphasis added.]


As we will see in Essay Eleven Parts One and Two, dogmatic attempts like this to build dialectical theses into nature (on the supposed back of advances in science) can't succeed. We shall also see that this a priori approach to reality has also been peddled by countless mystics down the ages, who themselves hit upon this idea before there was any evidence at all. Naturally, just like dialecticians (such as Gollobin), they were quite happy to "build" this dogma into nature.


Paul McGarr


From the SWP-UK, this is how Paul McGarr summed things up:


"Nature is historical at every level. No aspect of nature simply exists: it has a history, it comes into being, changes and develops, is transformed, and, finally, ceases to exist. Aspects of nature may appear to be fixed, stable, in a state of equilibrium for a shorter or longer time, but none is permanently so….


"…Engels was right to see the interconnectedness of different aspects of nature…. Parts only have a full meaning in relation to the whole….


"Engels' arguments about quantitative change giving rise at certain points to qualitative transformations are generally correct. In every field of science, every aspect of nature, one cannot but be struck by precisely this process….


"Throughout nature it seems that things which appear to have any persis-tence, any stability, for a greater or shorter time, are the result of a tempo- rary dynamic balance between opposing or contradictory tendencies. This is as true of simple physical objects like atoms as of living organisms…." [McGarr (1994).]


Admittedly,McGarr's comments are far more tentative and measured than is usual- ly the case with DM-literature (his approach is in fact reminiscent of Conze's, noted earlier); like other DM-theorists he stresses the need to check such claims against reality. However, he is just as eager as other dialecticians are to impose dialectics on reality. Hence, no qualification at all was attached to the following:


"Nature is historical at every level. No aspect of nature simply exists: it has a history, it comes into being, changes and develops, is transformed, and, finally,ceases to exist. Aspects of nature may appear to be fixed,stable,in a state of equilibrium for a shorter or longer time, but none is permanently so…." [Ibid.]


At this point, it's important to stress, once again, that the truth or falsehood of any or all of the above assertions is not being questioned here -- only the inconsistent way that the dialectical method is depicted by DM-authors.



However, as we have seen, McGarr's claims about permanence are now suspected not to be true.


Potpourri


There are scores of examples on the internet of this sort of a priori DM-"foisting" on nature. Here's a brief selection:


(1) "Every phenomenon in nature is a contradiction,a unity of opposites.Con- tradiction is an internal process and the basis of all quantitative development. Development or motion comes about through the struggle and unity of opposites....


"All phenomena are comprised of opposing poles which are mutually ex- clusive and interdependent, and in contradiction. This polarity -- the relation between the two poles –- organizes them and makes them what they are, a quality. [From here, and here. This site alone contains dozens of examples of the sort of 'foisting' that DM-fans tells us they never do. Bold emphases added.]


(2) "The world in which we live is a unity of contradictions or a unity of op- posites: cold-heat, light-darkness, Capital-Labour, birth-death, riches-poverty, posi- tive-negative, boom-slump, thinking-being, finite-infinite, repulsion-attraction, left- right, above-below, evolution-revolution,chance-necessity, sale-purchase,and so on.


"The fact that two poles of a contradictory antithesis can manage to coexist as a whole is regarded in popular wisdom as a paradox. The paradox is a recognition that two contradictory, or opposite, considerations may both be true. This is a reflection in thought of a unity of opposites in the material world.


"Motion, space and time are nothing else but the mode of existence of mat- ter. Motion, as we have explained is a contradiction, -- being in one place and an- other at the same time. It is a unity of opposites. "Movement means to be in this place and not to be in it; this is the continuity of space and time -- and it is this which first makes motion possible." (Hegel)


"To understand something, its essence, it is necessary to seek out these inter- nal contradictions. Under certain circumstances, the universal is the indivi- dual,and the individual is the universal.That things turn into their opposites, -- cause can become effect and effect can become cause -- is because they are merely links in the never-ending chain in the development of matter....


In the words of Hegel, everything which exists,exists of necessity.But, equally, everything which exists is doomed to perish, to be transformed into some- thing else. Thus what is "necessary" in one time and place becomes "unnecessa- ry" in another. Everything begets its opposite, which is destined to overcome and negate it. This is true of individual living things as much as societies and nature generally." [Rob Sewell. Bold emphases added.]


As we will see motion is not contradictory, but it's worth noting that comrade Sewell's only evidence for thinking it is, is Hegel's say-so. Even so, he is still quite happy to "foist" such ideas on to nature.


Here are several more Dialectical Dogmatists:


(3) "Dialectical thought is merely the reflection of objective dialectics: laws gover- ning the development of nature, the laws of uninterrupted change or, as Darwin discovered, the laws of evolution. According to this view, change occurs in the struggle between opposites. Nothing exists without oppo- sition. When opposites confront each other, changes occur." [Quoted from here. Bold emphasis added.]


Compare that with this passage from the Corpus Hermeticum:


"For everything must be the product of opposition and contrariety, and it cannot be otherwise." [Copenhaver (1995), p.38. Bold emphasis added.]


[The on-line translation is as follows: "For all things must consist out of antithesis and contrariety; and this can otherwise not be." (Quoted from here, Book Ten, Section Ten.)]


Back to the modern-day Hermeticists (compare these, too, with the above):


"Opposition is universal. Every process coexists with its opposite (Heracli- tus): harmony and conflict, asymmetry and symmetry, union and separation, positive and negative, male and female....


"If opposition is universal in reality,then opposition must be included in logic. In contrast, it is excluded by the principles of no contradiction (nothing is A and no-A) and of the excluded third (either A or no-A). Other formulations of logic dismiss the excluded middle...or allow the coexistence of opposites....." [Quoted from here. Bold emphasis added.]


"One -- Every thing (every object and every process) is made of opposing forces/opposing sides.


"Two -- Gradual changes lead to turning points, where one opposite overcomes the other.


"Three -- Change moves in spirals, not circles." [Quoted from the 'Dialectics For Kids' website. Bold emphasis added.]

"Dialectics is the science of the most general laws of development of nature, society, and thought. Its principal features are as follows:


"1) The universe is not an accidental mix of things isolated from each other, but an integral whole, wherein things are mutually interdependent.


"2) Nature is in a state of constant motion...


"3) Development is a process whereby insignificant and imperceptible quantitative changes lead to fundamental, qualitative changes. The latter occur not gradually, but rapidly and abruptly, in the form of a leap from one state to another.


"4) All things contain within themselves internal contradictions, which are the primary cause of motion, change, development in the world." [Quoted from here. Bold emphases added.]


"Again, matter is not only dynamic, it is dialectical. Since matter is dialecti- cal, it is dynamic. So, the reason why matter is dynamic is no longer un- known. Not only this, motion is not considered external, it is the internal property of matter arising from internal contradiction and conflict....


"It is now established that all particular matters are interrelated -- interrela- ted by unity and struggle. Contradictions, you know, are of two types -- internal and external. The contradiction within any particular matter is its internal contradiction and the contradiction between one particular matter and another is called the exter- nal contradiction. Now,the nature of relationship between the internal and the exter- nal contradiction should be understood. First, we are to understand that they help and influence each other and so the relation is what we call supplementary-comple-mentary. But it is to be understood that out of these two, the internal contradiction is the basis of change. The external contradiction influences the internal contra-diction no doubt and in some cases plays a very important role indeed.But despite this, it should be understood, when a change occurs it cannot at all come about until the internal contradiction matures. So,the point is to be understood like this that whatever influence the external contradiction might have and however important its role might be in initiating a change, it is the internal contradiction that is the basic cause of change, the basis of change." [Quoted from here, and here. Bold emphases added.]


"All things have to be understood in their interconnections and their deve- lopment, not as fixed, eternal objects isolated from one another. To achieve this, the dialectic sets out new logical laws. The three major laws of the dialectic are:

"No object or thing should ever be treated as if it is fixed or static forever. Each 'thing', in nature and society, is composed of a complex of interacting elements and forces. Contending components of a thing exist in contra-diction with one another, giving motion and development to the thing itself.


"Gradual changes which occur to an object will eventually reach a point of rupture, at which point the thing itself is abruptly transformed....

"As inner contradictions unfold,a change in the quality of an object takes place. Yet the original object is not simply obliterated by a completely separate thing which takes its place. A complex process occurs in which both the original object and the prevailing force that transforms it are themselves transcended and replaced by a higher unity incorporating aspects of both in a radically different relationship." [Quoted from the Fifth International website. Bold emphases added.]


"Since ancient limes,people have pondered the cause of changes in nature and the society, looking for their source and driving power. "Thinkers made various suppo-sitions on this point, either[3]  approaching or moving away from the truth. Thus, re- ligion attributes the changes going on in the world to God, idealists to the operation of some universal will or supernatural absolute idea, and metaphysicians look for the source of motion and change in some external force, in an initial impulse, and so end up in idealism. "The scientific answer to the question of the cause of deve- lopment given by the MarxistLeninist philosophy is expressed in the law of the unity and struggle of opposites. Lenin called that law the essence, the core of materialist dialectics. It reveals the inner cause of development, showing that its source lies in the contradictory nature of phenomena and processes, the interaction and struggle of the opposites immanent in them.

"To understand this law, one should first clear up the meaning of opposites and contradictions."Opposites are the inner aspects, tendencies or forces of an object or phenomenon which rule each oilier out while simultaneously presupposing each other. The interconnection ol opposites constitutes a contradiction...."So, all phenomena and processes of reality have opposite aspects. Everything is shot through with contradiction." [Quoted from here, Bold emphases added; numerous typos corrected.]

"Dialectics was initially a particular kind of dialogue invented in Ancient Greece in which two or more people holding different points of view about a subject seek to establish the truth of the matter by dialogue with reasoned arguments. (1) Today dialectics denotes a mode of cognition which recognizes the most general laws of motion, contradiction and new development. There exist four 'laws' to the dialectical method. They are:

"1) Everything is in a constant state of motion, development and change.

"2) Everywhere there exist opposing forces which are mutually exclusive yet cannot exist without the other. Their conflict results in movement.

"3) Change occurs suddenly, all at once. A quantitative amount of something results in a qualitative change (a 'breaking' point).

"4) Development moves in spirals, from lower to higher planes of development....


"Dialectical materialism is the recognition of a transient nature -- a physical reality in constant motion and change. What makes dialectical materialism a revolu-tionary scientific method is that it excludes all static states, all metaphysical views of reality, all one-sidedness and inflexibility. Because it recognizes the concrete and present side of things, at the same time it acknowledges that this present state is bound to end. For dialectal materialism, the only absolute is that there are no eternal absolutes....


"Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be. As we mentioned earlier, everything in nature is transient, finite, and in motion. Matter cannot exist without motion. Everything has its beginning and its end. People are born, grow and eventually pass away. Stars such as our sun eventually begin to die, either slowly burning out or self-destructing. Species evolve, adapt, or go extinct. Rain falls from the clouds, evaporates back into the clouds where it will once again rain. Human society is also part of nature and is therefore subject to the same laws....


"The principle governing all growth and development is the idea of oppo- sition and contradiction. Two mutually exclusive forces which at the same time cannot exist without each other has been a common theme in many philosophies for a long time (i.e. yin and yang) exactly because such processes occurring around us reflect this concept upon our minds...." [Quoted from here. Bold empha- ses added; quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site. Minor typos corrected.]

[Several more examples will be posted here at a later date. The above hyper-bold claims will be dissected in later Essays.

Update January 2012: However, since this Essay was first published, the number of revolutionary socialist sites promoting this failed theory have multiplied like weeds. If I were to reproduce even a tiny fraction of all the dogmatic dialectical documents one now encounters on the internet, this Essay would, once again, be more than twice its present length -- as anyone who knows how to use Google can well attest.]

A priori dogmatics like this is not confined to LCDs. In fact, if anything, HCDs are not only more dogmatic but they are less likely to admit to the crime. One guesses that this is because they either do not know when they are doing it -- or they see nothing wrong in doing it. [Here is an excellent recent example.]

In turn, this is perhaps because traditional philosophy has always encouraged this, and HCDs are keen to show how 'intellectual' and traditional they are, even if that means they have to copy and appropriate a ruling-class ideas -- as, indeed, Marx predicted they would:

"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling in- tellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal,has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one,therefore,the ideas of its dominance.The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think.

Insofar, therefore,as they rule as a class and determine the extent and com- pass of an epoch,it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers,as producers of ideas,and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch." [Marx and Engels (1970).]

Sean Sayers

We now turn to HCD-theorist Sean Sayers's impressive bid to be enrolled into this ancient, conservative philosophical fraternity (and not just this modern-day conser-vative association). First, we will note the (by now) familiar, almost de rigueur, disa- rming declaration, followed by its prompt abrogation:

"Dialectical materialism diverges from Hegelian dialectic at this point. Marx's dia- lectic is not an a priori deduction, but a summary of human knowledge. 'Nature is proof of dialectics' [Engels (1976), p.28] according to Engels. Colletti, Popper and company do not understand this. Their constant refrain is that dialectics is an a priori dogma….

"No doubt dialectical materialism can be used as a set of dogmatic principles from which to deduce things. But Marxists have been at pains to stress that dialec- tical materialism is not a universal formula which may be applied to generate significant conclusions a priori….

"Correctly understood, dialectical materialism is not a dogma. Indeed, it is rather Popper, Colletti and other such critics of dialectic who show themselves to be dog- matists by the terms of their criticisms. For they merely assert their philosophy, embodied in the principles of formal logic, and when confronted with the dialectical concept of contradiction reject it as 'absurd', and 'irrational' for failing to conform to formal logic.

"Philosophy and logic can never replace the need for a detailed investigation of the concrete and particular conditions under study. They can never replace the need for the fullest possible practical experience;and no philosophy makes this point more forcibly than dialectical materialism. According to it, philosophy is not a body of merely conceptual, logical or a priori truths. Philosophy has a two- fold character: it summarizes, at the most general level,the results of human know- ledge and experience; and it functions as a guide to further thought and action.

"There is no question here of using the principles of dialectics as 'axioms' from which to 'deduce' any concrete results. If anything, the process works the other way around, and philosophies are based upon results in the particular sci- ences…." [Sayers (1980a). Engels's reference altered to conform to the edition used here.]

This seems admirably clear and disarmingly honest: it's the critics of DM who are the dogmatists; dialecticians never impose their ideas on reality, never reason a priori. In fact, Sayers assures us that DM-theorists are the exact opposite of the caricature found in the writings of anti-dialecticians, like Popper and Colletti.

Nevertheless, when we are met with claims like the following (in this case, just two pages after the above 'modest' disavowals!), we might be forgiven for thinking that Sayers is living in some sort of dream world, alongside the rest of his conservative, dialectical peers:

"Dialectical materialism, by contrast, is a philosophy of struggle and of conflict. Nothing comes into being except through struggle; struggle is involved in the development of all things; and it is through struggle that things are negated and pass away. Conflict and contradiction are inevitable…." [Ibid., p.23. Bold emphasis added.]

How could Sayers possibly know all this? This is not a summary of experience, nor of the available evidence, but a clear imposition on reality of things it might not possess, and of processes it might not exhibit. For example, where is the evidence that "contradictions" are "inevitable", or that "nothing" comes into being "except through struggle"? To be sure, Sayers quotes passages from Hegel in support (!!), but apart from an appeal to that dubious authority, where is his evidence?

[Once more: as we shall see in Essays Three through Thirteen, the 'evidence' that some DM-fans offer in support of such cosmically over-blown theses makes the phrase "watery thin" look impressively substantial in comparison.]

With bombastic claims like these confronting the reader within pages (sometimes within a few sentences) of the familiar knee-jerk, 'modest denials' that accompany them, is it any wonder that consistent materialists accuse dialecticians of Idealist dogmatism --, and are right to do so?

And, it's to no avail pointing the finger at other traditional dogmatists (like Popper and Colletti), saying "Well, they did it first!", since that would merely confirm the accusation made here that dialecticians are indeed working in a well-entrenched, ruling-class tradition, where this sort of thing is the norm, and where it is so com- mon, that comrades (like Sayers) cannot tell when they themselves are doing it.

Nor will it do to divert attention onto the alleged dogmatism found in the use of FL to settle all questions, as Sayers tries to do. In fact, it's not clear that Colletti and Popper actually do this; but even if they did, the case against 'Materialist Dialec- tics' does not depend on such anti-DM dogmatism.

Far more importantly, however, the real problem is that time and again dialecticians misconstrue even basic FL-principles. Hence, when DM-apologists are reminded of the such principles, far from this being dogmatic, this is in fact being educational. [Or it would be if DM-fans actually got the point!]

[LOI = Law of identity; LOC = Law on Non-contradiction; LEM = Law of Excluded Middle. AFL = Aristotelian Formal Logic; MFL = Modern Formal Logic.]

As if to prove me right, here is Sayers's own misconstrual of the LOC:

"According to the logical law of non-contradiction, it is impossible for a proposition, P, and its negation, not-P, both to be true at the same time of the same thing in the same respect." [Ibid, p.24, note 6.]

First, the precise role of "not-", in "not-P", is unclear. More on that here.

Second, if the "P" used here is a propositional sign, it cannot be true or false of things.Sayers has perhaps confused his own use of this sign with that of predicate letters (or better, with proposition-forming functors). Finally, a proposition and its negation cannot both be true and cannot both be false at once. DM-fans invariably omit this second caveat, which means they often confuse contraries with contra-dictions. Sayers has clearly fallen into this trap, too; more on that in Essay Twelve.

Here is an even worse example, taken from a more recent article of his:

"In Frege-Russell logic there are valid equivalents for the traditional Aristotelian logi- cal laws: the law of identity (A = A), the law of excluded middle (A v ~A), and the law of non-contradiction (~(A & ~A)). For this reason, the Frege-Russell system is often referred to as 'standard logic'." [Sayers (1992), page reference unknown; I have used the on-line version. (This links to an RTF.)]

[As we have seen, the LOI was unknown to Aristotle, and the other two alleged 'laws' weren't laws for Aristotle either! On that, see here and here. However, it's interesting to see Sayers adopt the by-now-familiar sloppy DM-approach to AFL, let alone MFL. ]

But, the LOI concerned the supposed relation between an object and itself (or bet- ween its names, depending on how it is read), whereas the LOC and the LEM con- cern the truth-functional links that hold between propositions and their negations. So,the denotation of the letter "A"s here isn't the same.For the LOI, "A" must stand for a name or some other singular term (such as a definite description), whereas for both the LOC and the LEM,they stand for propositions or clauses.As we will see in Essay Eight Part Three, it is sloppy syntax like this that allowed Hegel to imagine that there was a connection between the LOI 'stated negatively' and the LOC, when there isn't and can't be. Indeed, it was from the egregiously sloppy syntax that the entire dialectic emerged. [Which, in short means that Hegel's work is no more to be taken seriously than Anselm's Ontological Argument; in fact less -- at least Anselm was decent logician and philosopher.]

Even so, it's instructive to see an HCD like Sayers replicate these simple, and ancient, errors.

As if that were not enough, Sayers also makes the traditional mistake of thinking that contradictions somehow 'cancel' one another (quoting Hegel to that effect, on page 11), and of thinking that they result in a "mere nothingness":

"The result of attempting to express a contradiction is supposed to be an absolute- ly self-nullifying proposition....

"[A formal contradiction]...is indeed self-annulling....Its result is mere nothingness." [Ibid., p.11.]

As we will see here, this is so far from the truth -- indeed, to paraphrase Joey Tribbiani of 'Friends' -- that the truth is a mere dot to such theorists.

Now, those who assert things like this (that contradictions are "self-annulling", or "self-cancelling")have clearly confused propositions with commands or instructions. Clearly, no proposition can annul the content of any other -- least of all its contra-dictory, otherwise it would no longer be its contradictory. Indeed, as Wittgenstein noted, a proposition and its negation share the same content (that is why they con- nect with one another in the required manner). [More on that in Essay Twelve Part One.]

In which case, the result of 'asserting' a proposition and its contradictory is not a 'nothingness', but an indication that no assertion has been made (hence the 'scare' quotes around "nothingness").

The above a priori dogmatic claims that Sayers advances are not in fact a one-off; on the contrary, they litter his article, and the next. Here is a small selection of examples:

"A dialectical process of development characterizes not only the human world, but also all natural phenomena….[p.4.]

"…This is the purpose of dialectical philosophy and this is what it means when it says that everything is contradictory. For contradiction is at the root of both the identity and relationships of things, and of their development....[p.6.]

"All concrete things are contradictory. There are tensions and conflicts within all things and in the relations between things. This is the law of contradiction. Which is the most universal expression of the philosophy of dialectics….

"It is this contradiction and negativity which must be recognized in order to compre- hend things in their movement. 'Contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality; it is only in so far as something has a contradiction within it that it moves, has an urge and activity'. [Hegel (1999), p.439; §956.]

"(1)…All determinate and concrete things are in opposition to other things. (2) The concept of contradiction is required in order to stress that such concrete opposition is not external and accidental to things, but rather essential and necessary: it is internal to things and part of their nature. Contradiction is not mere accidental conflict, but essential opposition...." [p.8.]

"The law of contradiction, however, applies to all things and not just to society." [p.9. Bold emphases added. Reference to Hegel's Logic changed to conform to the edition used at this site.]

But, theses like these cannot be derived from the phenomena; they have to be imposed on them, as they manifestly have been.

[To be sure, Sayers does attempt to respond to that criticism (i.e., to the claim that 'essential' and 'necessary' truths cannot be derived from contingent facts about nature), but his comments are restricted to Hume's objections, and hence they are badly dated. More on this in a later Essay.]

Even so, and once more, Sayers's only 'evidence' that everything is contradictory is the 'authority' of Hegel, a thinker not known for his experimental achievements.

Moreover, and contrary to what Sayers says (that dialecticians do not use DM to derive 'concrete results'), in the very next passage we find him doing just that:

"For example, to say that capitalism is contradictory does not mean that it is impossible and unreal, but rather that it is an essentially dynamic social form, and that it is ultimately destined to perish and be negated in a new social form, socialism, which will emerge from it as its result." [Ibid.]

Once again, apart from the a priori theses encapsulated in dialectics, exactly what is it that justifies the 'derivation' of socialism (indeed its "destined" emergence) from capitalism? There is no evidence which could demonstrate that, since that event still lies in the future.

As seems reasonably clear, Sayers is quite happy to use Hegel's a priori schema to derive a favoured outcome -- contrary to his stated aims:

"There is no question here of using the principles of dialectics as 'axioms' from which to 'deduce' any concrete results." [Ibid. Bold emphasis added.]

However, we will have to wait to see if nature/history plays ball,and things inevitably alter (i.e., whether they will "ultimately [be] destined to perish and be negated in a new social form, socialism, which will emerge from it as its result") in the way Sayers says they will, or whether, as Marx noted -- in a refreshingly non-dogmatic frame-of-mind, foreign to DM-fans --, the class war might in fact lead to the mutual ruin of the contending classes.

Unfortunately, Sayers has more Dialectical Dogma up his Ideal sleeve:

"This raises the question: why do dialectical philosophers insist on speaking of 'contradictions'? Why don't they instead talk of 'conflicts' and 'oppositions'…In order to understand why they nevertheless insist on the language of 'contradiction', it is crucial to see that dialectical contradiction is more than mere conflict: it is essen- tial opposition;conflict with a unity;internal conflict -- not mere external and accidental conflict. The dialectical law of contradiction asserts that conflict and opposition are necessary, essential and internal to things....

"...Nothing concrete and real is merely positive. Everything is contradictory and contains negative as well as positive aspects within it. The dialectical notion of contradiction is such that conflicts between opposed aspects are necessary and essential. [Ibid., p.16. Bold emphases alone added.]

Sayers clearly belongs to the 'parrot and then shout' school of philosophy, accor- ding to which, if you repeat something enough times, and throw in enough empha- tic words, that on its own constitutes proof.

As we will see in subsequent Essays, when the 'evidence' and the 'arguments' (that DM-fans have advanced in support of their mantra-like theses) are examined, they fall apart faster than a Humvee that has encountered an IED. [On this, see Essays Three through Thirteen, but specifically Essays Eight Parts One and Two.]

Figure Four: A Humvee 'Re-configured' By Something Other

Than Its 'Internal Contradictions'

Here we may note once more that electrons, for instance, are awkward beggars: clearly they are in receipt of a DM/Sayers exemption certificate, since they are ex- clusively negative (and, what is more, they are of a simple nature, too, having no in- ternal dynamic), with no positive aspect -- contrary to Sayers's message, beamed in from the Dialectical Mountain situated at the end of time where all truth resides. And, as if to rub it in, nature has conspired to produce positrons, too, which are si- milarly dialectically-challenged, but in an opposite sense. [And what are we to say of Neutrinos, which are neutrally charged elementary particles, so we are told?]

And it's no use appealing to the 'opposition' between these electrons and positrons, since if they meet they annihilate - they do not "sublate" - one another.[And,neither of them "contains" its opposite, as Sayers pontificated they should, nor do they turn into one another as the DM-classics assure they should.]

Later on, in Sayers's next article, we find this revealing admission:

"The philosophy of dialectic is a logical theory, which is universal in its appli-cation." [Sayers (1980b), p.80. Bold emphasis added.]

Contrast that with this earlier claim:

"No doubt dialectical materialism can be used as a set of dogmatic principles from which to deduce things. But Marxists have been at pains to stress that dialec- tical materialism is not a universal formula which may be applied to generate significant conclusions a priori…." [Sayers (1980a), p.20. Bold emphasis added.]

Clearly, Dialectical Myopia has found another victim.

Finally, we find this Hermetic gem:

"Dialectics,by contrast,maintains that nothing is simply and solely positive.Nothing has mere being. This is the essence of dialectics; it is the first and fundamental thought of Hegel's Logic. Pure being -- mere positivity -- is an abstraction which is equivalent to pure nothingness. All determinate being is a unity of being and no- thing,of positive and negative aspects.This is what Hegel argues in the famous ope- ning sections of his Logics. He says, 'Neither in heaven nor on earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract "Either-Or" as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and oppo- sition in itself.' [Hegel (1975),p.174;§199.] All concrete and determinate things con- tain negation: they are finite, limited and perishable." [Sayers (1980b), p.100. Refe- rence to Hegel's Logic modified to conform to the edition used here.Bold emphases avoided, or the whole passage would have been highlighted!]

[This sorry passage continues (in fact, it does so almost self-mockingly, since it contains nothing remotely positive -- or at least nothing positively comprehensible) for several more pages, but my obstinately materialist fingers simply refuse to type any more of it.]

Nevertheless, as we have just seen, electrons and positrons must have somehow sneaked past 'Being' when it was doling out a priori and essentialist certificates to everything in existence, according to Archangel Hegel and his latter-day disciple, Sayers.Protons are equally nonconformist:they are,as far as we know, changeless, and so do not perish. [More on this in Note 4.]

Moreover, Hegel (and Sayers) forgot to notice that the abstract "understanding" is just as bolshie as elementary particles ever were. In fact,I must now admit to being forced by my unruly "understanding" to remind Hegel (and/or Sayers) that not even he can be both right and wrong about all of this. Indeed,Hegel was either right or he was wrong in what he said.But,if he was right,then he was thereby wrong (since we would now have at least one clear "either-or",namely this one,since, in this case, in being right he was wrong,and he wasn't both right and wrong!). On the other hand, if he was wrong, then plainly he was wrong. Either way, Hegel was wrong. [There is more on the odd passage of Hegel's, here.]

In that case, Sayers himself needs to change his opinion of this Hermetic Buffoon -- which long-overdue modification will have been prompted by this ironic 'internal contradiction' in Hegel's thought, highlighted by yours truly.

But, even if this were not so, and nature displayed far less bourgeois disrespect for 'Being' than has up until now been apparent, how does the above Hegelian decla-ration (about "either-or") differ from a priori dogmatics? To be sure, Hegel concocted a lame-brained 'argument' to support some of his contentions (which will be demoli- shed in Essay Twelve (summary here)), but Sayers explicitly ruled that particular option out for Marxists, saying:

"Dialectical materialism diverges from Hegelian dialectic at this point. Marx's dia- lectic is not an a priori deduction, but a summary of human knowledge." [Sayers (1980a), p.19.]

This suggests that either the meaning of the phrase "a priori" has itself changed, or Sayers does not know what it means.

As we can now see, HCDs, despite their sophisticated use of hardcore jargon, are no less dogmatic than their conceptually-challenged LCD brethren.

[Several more examples of HCD-dogmatism will be published here at a later date.]

The above quotations (and those in the main body of this Essay) show that in this area DM-fans are consistently inconsistent. Almost invariably they disarm the rea- der by declaring how tentative DM is, how it has not been forced on nature and so- ciety, etc., etc. Then, sometimes on the same page (in some cases, in the same paragraph, or in the very next sentence) they proceed to do the exact opposite!

Many more examples of this a priori approach to knowledge are given throughout this site. In such places the associated assertions will be shown to be fanciful (at best), false or devious (at worst) -- or, more often, far too vague and confused for anyone to assess for their truth or falsehood.

What then can we conclude from this trawl through this Dustbin of Dialectical Dog- ma? Clearly that all wings of Dialectical Marxism -- from street-wise activists to the Aristocrats of High Theory, from the High Pontiffs of the Church of Sectariania to the DM-classicists, from Tankies to Trots, from Maoists to Militants, from Liberta- rians to Leninists --, all are happy to ape the a priori thought-forms invented by boss-class hacks

Was Marx right then to say that at all times the ruling ideas are those of the ruling-class?

Who can now doubt it?


Appendix One

Open And Honest Mystics

Compare the above examples of a priori dogmatics with the following examples taken from the writings of mystics who have come out of the closet:

The Kybalion

The Kybalion is supposed to be the third most revered book of Hermeticism. This is what it has to say about "Polarity":

"CHAPTER X

"POLARITY

"'Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.'

"The great Fourth Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Polarity-embodies the truth that all manifested things have 'two sides; 'two aspects'; 'two poles'; a 'pair of oppo- sites,' with manifold degrees between the two extremes. The old paradoxes, which have ever perplexed the mind of men, are explained by an understanding of this Principle. Man has always recognized something akin to this Principle, and has endeavoured to express it by such sayings, maxims and aphorisms as the follo- wing: 'Everything is and isn't, at the same time'; 'all truths are but half-truths'; 'every truth is half-false'; 'there are two sides to everything'; 'there is a reverse side to every shield,' etc., etc.

"The Hermetic Teachings are to the effect that the difference between things see- mingly diametrically opposed to each is merely a matter of degree. It teaches that 'the pairs of opposites may be reconciled,' and that 'thesis and antithesis are iden- tical in nature, but different in degree'; and that the 'universal reconciliation of oppo- sites' is effected by a recognition of this Principle of Polarity...

"Then passing on to the Physical Plane, they illustrate the Principle by showing that Heat and Cold are identical in nature, the differences being merely a matter of degrees. The thermometer shows many degrees of temperature, the lowest pole being called 'cold,' and the highest heat.' Between these two poles are many degrees of 'heat' or 'cold,' call them either and you are equally correct.

"The higher of two degrees is always 'warmer, while the lower is always 'colder.' There is no absolute standard-all is a matter of degree. There is no place on the thermometer where heat ceases and cold begins.It is all a matter of higher or lower vibrations. The very terms 'high' and 'low,' which we are compelled to use, are but poles of the same thing-the terms are relative.So with 'East and West'-travel around the world in an eastward direction, and you reach a point which is called west at your starting point, and you return from that westward point. Travel far enough North, and you will find yourself travelling South, or vice versa.

"Light and Darkness are poles of the same thing, with many degrees between them. The musical scale is the same-starting with 'C' you moved upward until you reach another 'C,' and so on, the differences between the two ends of the board being the same, with many degrees between the two extremes. The scale of colour is the same-higher and lower vibrations being the only difference between high vio- let and low red. Large and Small are relative. So are Noise and Quiet;Hard and Soft follow the rule. Likewise Sharp and Dull. Positive and Negative are two poles of the same thing, with countless degrees between them." [Quoted from here. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site. Spelling modified to agree with UK English. ]

There are several more paragraphs of Mickey Mouse 'evidence' like this, aimed at supporting a particular thesis about everything in the entire universe, for all of time -- just like the DM-fans we have encountered throughout this Essay.

And there's more:

CHAPTER IX

VIBRATION

"'Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.'

"The great Third Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Vibration-embodies the truth that Motion is manifest in everything in the Universe-that nothing is at rest-that eve- rything moves, vibrates, and circles. This Hermetic Principle was recognized by some of the early Greek philosophers who embodied it in their systems. But, then, for centuries it was lost sight of by the thinkers outside of the Hermetic ranks. But in the Nineteenth Century physical science re-discovered the truth and the Twen- tieth Century scientific discoveries have added additional proof of the correctness and truth of this centuries-old Hermetic doctrine.

"The Hermetic Teachings are that not only is everything in constant movement and vibration, but that the 'differences' between the various manifestations of the univer- sal power are due entirely to the varying rate and mode of vibrations. Not only this, but that even THE ALL [the hermetic equivalent of the "Totality" - RL],in itself, mani- fests a constant vibration of such an infinite degree of intensity and rapid motion that it may be practically considered as at rest, the teachers directing the attention of the students to the fact that even on the physical plane a rapidly moving object (such as a revolving wheel) seems to be at rest.The Teachings are to the effect that Spirit is at one end of the Pole of Vibration, the other Pole being certain extremely gross forms of Matter. Between these two poles are millions upon millions of different rates and modes of vibration.

"Modern Science has proven that all that we call Matter and Energy are but 'modes of vibratory motion,' and some of the more advanced scientists are rapidly moving toward the positions of the occultists who hold that the phenomena of Mind are likewise modes of vibration or motion. Let us see what science has to say regarding the question of vibrations in matter and energy.

"In the first place, science teaches that all matter manifests, in some degree, the vibrations arising from temperature or heat. Be an object cold or hot-both being but degrees of the same things -- it manifests certain heat vibrations, and in that sense is in motion and vibration.Then all particles of Matter are in circular movement, from corpuscle to suns. The planets revolve around suns, and many of them turn on their axes. The suns move around greater central points, and these are believed to move around still greater, and so on, ad infinitum. The molecules of which the particular kinds of Matter are composed are in a state of constant vibration and movement around each other and against each other. The molecules are composed of Atoms, which, likewise, are in a state of constant movement and vibration. The atoms are composed of Corpuscles, sometimes called 'electrons,' 'ions,' etc., which also are in a state of rapid motion, revolving around each other, and which manifest a very rapid state and mode of vibration. And, so we see that all forms of Matter manifest Vibration, in accordance with the Hermetic Principle of Vibration.

"And so it is with the various forms of Energy. Science teaches that Light, Heat, Magnetism and Electricity are but forms of vibratory motion connected in some way with, and probably emanating from the Ether. Science does not as yet attempt to explain the nature of the phenomena known as Cohesion, which is the principle of Molecular Attraction; nor Chemical Affinity, which is the principle of Atomic At- traction; nor Gravitation (the greatest mystery of the three), which is the principle of attraction by which every particle or mass of Matter is bound to every other particle or mass.These three forms of Energy are not as yet understood by science,yet the writers incline to the opinion that these too are manifestations of some form of vib- ratory energy, a fact which the Hermetists (sic) have held and taught for ages past.

"The Universal Ether, which is postulated by science, without its nature being understood clearly, is held by the Hermetists to be but higher manifestation of that which is erroneously called matter-that is to say, Matter at a higher degree of vib- ration - and is called by them 'The Ethereal Substance.' The Hermetists teach that this Ethereal Substance is of extreme tenuity and elasticity, and pervades universal space, serving as a medium of transmission of waves of vibratory energy, such as heat, light, electricity, magnetism, etc. The Teachings are that The Ethereal Sub- stance is a connecting link between the forms of vibratory energy known as 'Matter' on the one hand, and 'Energy or Force' on the other; and also that it manifests a degree of vibration,in rate and mode,entirely its own." [Quoted from here. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]

Compare this with the things Lenin and Engels said about the 'Ether' (on this see Essays Seven, Eleven Part One and Thirteen Part One), and about motion being a "mode" of the existence of matter.

Several more examples will be posted here at later date. In the meantime, check this out.


Appendix Two

Over the next few years I will be adding here page after page of examples of dog- matic statements advanced by dialecticians. Naturally, there has to be a limit to this -- if every dogmatic pronouncement DM-fans have ever made were reproduced here, this Essay would be several million words long!

Unless otherwise stated, all bold emphases have been added, italic emphasis are those in the original and quotation marks have been altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.


Engels


Here are a couple of dozen more dogmatic pronouncements Engels imposed on the facts -- taken from the first half of AD:

"It goes without saying that my recapitulation of mathematics and the natural sci- ences was undertaken in order to convince myself also in detail -- of what in gene- ral I was not in doubt - that in nature, amid the welter of innumerable changes, the same dialectical laws of motion force their way through as those which in history govern the apparent fortuitousness of events; the same laws which similarly form the thread running through the history of the development of human thought and gradually rise to consciousness in thinking man; the laws which Hegel first developed in all-embracing but mystic form, and which we made it one of our aims to strip of this mystic form and to bring clearly before the mind in their complete simplicity and universality." [Engels (1976), pp.11-12.]

"It is however precisely the polar antagonisms put forward as irreconcilable and insoluble, the forcibly fixed lines of demarcation and class distinctions, which have given modern theoretical natural science its restricted, meta- physical character. The recognition that these antagonisms and distinctions, though to be found in nature, are only of relative validity, and that on the other hand their imagined rigidity and absolute validity have been introduced into na- ture only by our reflective minds -- this recognition is the kernel of the dia- lectical conception of nature. It is possible to arrive at this recognition because the accumulating facts of natural science compel us to do so; but one arrives at it more easily if one approaches the dialectical character of these facts equipped with an understanding of the laws of dialectical thought. In any case natural science has now advanced so far that it can no longer escape dialectical generalisation." [Ibid., pp.15-16.]

"When we consider and reflect upon nature at large or the history of mankind or our own intellectual activity, at first we see the picture of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions in which nothing remains what, where and as it was, but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away. This primitive naive but intrinsically correct conception of the world is that of ancient Greek philosophy,and was first clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away." [Ibid., p.24.]

"To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are ob- jects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. 'His communication is "yea,yea; nay, nay"; for whatso- ever is more than these cometh of evil.' [Matthew 5:37 -- Ed.] For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another, cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.

"At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and even necessary as it is in a number of do- mains whose extent varies according to the nature of the particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions. In the con- templation of individual things it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose, it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees." [Ibid., p.26.]

"In like manner, every organic being is every moment the same and not the same, every moment it assimilates matter supplied from without, and gets rid of other matter; every moment some cells of its body die and others build them- selves anew; in a longer or shorter time the matter of its body is completely renewed, and is replaced by other atoms of matter, so that every organic being is always itself, and yet something other than itself.

"Further, we find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an antithe- sis positive and negative, e.g., are as inseparable as they are opposed and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate. And we find, in like manner,that cause and effect are conceptions which only hold good in their ap- plication to individual cases;but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and then, and vice versa.

"None of these processes and modes of thought enters into the framework of metaphysical reasoning. Dialectics, on the other hand, comprehends things and their representations, ideas, in their essential connection, conca-tenation, motion, origin,and ending.Such processes as those mentioned above are, therefore, so many corroborations of its own method of procedure." [Ibid.]

"Nature is the proof of dialectics, and it must be said for modern science that it has furnished this proof with very rich materials increasing daily, and thus has shown that, in the last resort, nature works dialectically and not metaphysical- ly. But the naturalists who have learned to think dialectically are few and far bet- ween, and this conflict of the results of discovery with preconceived modes of thin- king explains the endless confusion now reigning in theoretical natural science, the despair of teachers as well as learners, of authors and readers alike." [Ibid., p.28.]

"Counting requires not only objects that can be counted, but also the ability to exclude all properties of the objects considered except their number -- and this ability is the product of a long historical development based on experience." [Ibid., p.47.]

"Mathematical axioms are expressions of the scantiest thought-content, which mathematics is obliged to borrow from logic. They can be reduced to two:

"1) The whole is greater than its part. This statement is pure tautology, as the quantitatively conceived idea 'part' is from the outset definitely related to the idea 'whole', and in fact in such a way that 'part' simply means that the quantitative 'whole' consists of several quantitative 'parts'. In stating this ex- plicitly, the so-called axiom does not take us a step further.This tautology can even in a way be proved by saying:a whole is that which consists of several parts; a part is that of which several make a whole; hence the part is less than the whole -- in which the inanity of repetition brings out even more clearly the inanity of content." [Ibid., p.49.] [Those who agree with this set of dogmatic pronouncements should consult Essay Eleven Part Two, and this, and then think again.]

"This is precisely the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations, in which, at certain definite nodal points, the purely quantitative increase or decrease gives rise to a qualitative leap;for example,in the case of heated or cooled water, where boiling-point and freezing-point are the nodes at which -- under normal pres- sure - the leap to a new state of aggregation takes place,and where consequent- ly quantity is transformed into quality." [Ibid., p.56.]

"With this assurance Herr Dühring saves himself the trouble of saying anything fur- ther about the origin of life, although it might reasonably have been expected that a thinker who had traced the evolution of the world back to its self-equal state, and is so much at home on other celestial bodies, would have known exactly what's what also on this point.For the rest, however,the assurance he gives us is only half right unless it is completed by the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations which has already been mentioned.In spite of all gradualness,the transition from one form of motion to another always remains a leap, a decisive change. This is true of the transition from the mechanics of celestial bodies to that of smaller masses on a particular celestial body; it is equally true of the transition from the mechanics of masses to the mechanics of molecules -- including the forms of motion investigated in physics proper: heat, light, electricity, magnetism. In the same way, the transition from the physics of molecules to the physics of atoms -- chemistry -- in turn involves a decided leap; and this is even more clearly the case in the transition from ordinary chemical action to the chemism of albumen which we call life. Then within the sphere of life the leaps become ever more infrequent and impercep-tible. -- Once again, therefore, it is Hegel who has to correct Herr Dühring." [Ibid]

"We have already seen earlier, when discussing world schematism, that in con- nection with this Hegelian nodal line of measure relations -- in which quanti-tative change suddenly passes at certain points into qualitative transfor-mation -- Herr Dühring had a little accident: in a weak moment he himself recognised and made use of this line. We gave there one of the best-known examples - that of the change of the aggregate states of water, which under normal atmospheric pressure changes at 0°C from the liquid into the solid state, and at 100°C from the liquid into the gaseous state, so that at both these turning-points the merely quantitative change of temperature brings about a qualitative change in the condition of the water." [Ibid.]

"When we speak of being,and purely of being, unity can only consist in that all the objects to which we are referring -- are, exist. They are comprised in the unity of this being, and in no other unity, and the general dictum that they all are not only cannot give them any additional qualities, whether common or not, but provisionally excludes all such qualities from conside-ration. For as soon as we depart even a millimetre from the simple basic fact that being is common to all these things, the differences between these things begin to emerge -- and whether these differences consist in the cir- cumstance that some are white and others black, that some are animate and others inanimate, that some may be of this world and others of the world beyond, cannot be decided by us from the fact that mere existence is in equal manner ascribed to them all.

"The unity of the world does not consist in its being, although its being is a precondition of its unity, as it must certainly first be before it can be one. Being, indeed, is always an open question beyond the point where our sphere of observation ends.The real unity of the world consists in its materia- lity, and this is proved not by a few juggled phrases, but by a long and weari- some development of philosophy and natural science." [Ibid., p.54.]

"It is clear that an infinity which has an end but no beginning is neither more nor less infinite than that which has a beginning but no end. The slightest dialectical insight should have told Herr Dühring that beginning and end necessarily belong together, like the north pole and the south pole, and that if the end is left out, the beginning just becomes the end -- the one end which the series has; and vice versa.The whole deception would be impossible but for the mathema- tical usage of working with infinite series. Because in mathematics it is necessary to start from definite, finite terms in order to reach the indefinite, the infinite, all ma- thematical series, positive or negative, must start from 1, or they cannot be used for calculation. The abstract requirement of a mathematician is, however, far from being a compulsory law for the world of reality.

"For that matter, Herr Dühring will never succeed in conceiving real infinity without contradiction. Infinity is a contradiction,and is full of contradictions. From the outset it is a contradiction that an infinity is composed of nothing but finites, and yet this is the case.The limitedness of the material world leads no less to contradictions than its unlimitedness, and every attempt to get over these contradictions leads,as we have seen, to new and worse contradictions. It is just because infinity is a contradiction that it is an infinite process, unrolling end- lessly in time and in space. The removal of the contradiction would be the end of infinity. Hegel saw this quite correctly, and for that reason treated with well-merited contempt the gentlemen who subtilised over this contradiction." [Ibid.]

"Let us pass on. So time had a beginning. What was there before this beginning? The universe, which was then in a self-equal, unchanging state.And as in this state no changes succeed one another, the more specialised idea of time transforms itself into the more general idea of being. In the first place, we are here not in the least concerned with what ideas change in Herr Dühring's head. The subject at issue is not the idea of time, but real time, which Herr Dühring cannot rid himself of so cheaply. In the second place, however much the idea of time may convert itself into the more general idea of being, this does not take us one step further. For the basic forms of all being are space and time, and being out of time is just as gross an absurdity as being out of space." [Ibid., p.64.]

"The materialists before Herr Dühring spoke of matter and motion. He reduces motion to mechanical force as its supposed basic form, and thereby makes it im- possible for himself to understand the real connection between matter and motion, which moreover was also unclear to all former materialists. And yet it is simple enough. Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion,nor can there be.Motion in cosmic space, mecha- nical motion of smaller masses on the various celestial bodies, the vibration of mo- lecules as heat or as electrical or magnetic currents, chemical disintegration and combination,organic life - at each given moment each individual atom of mat- ter in the world is in one or other of these forms of motion, or in several forms at once. All rest, all equilibrium, is only relative, only has meaning in relation to one or other definite form of motion. On the earth, for example, a body may be in mechanical equilibrium, may be mechanically at rest; but this in no way prevents it from participating in the motion of the earth and in that of the whole solar system, just as little as it prevents its most minute physical particles from carrying out the vibrations determined by its temperature, or its atoms from passing through a chemical process. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter.Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself;as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it,the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created;it can only be transferred.When motion is transferred from one body to another, it may be regarded, in so far as it transfers itself, is active,as the cause of motion, in so far as the latter is transferred,is passive. We call this active motion force, and the passive, the manifestation of force. Hence it is as clear as daylight that a force is as great as its manifestation, because in fact the same motion takes place in both.

"A motionless state of matter is therefore one of the most empty and non- sensical of ideas -- a 'delirious fantasy' of the purest water.... We may turn and twist as much as we like, but under Herr Dühring's guidance we always come back again to -- the finger of God." [Ibid., pp.73-74.]

"Now Darwin would not dream of saying that the origin of the idea of the struggle for existence is to be found in Malthus. He only says that his theory of the struggle for existence is the theory of Malthus applied to the animal and plant world as a whole. However great the blunder made by Darwin in accepting the Malthusian theory so naively and uncritically, nevertheless anyone can see at the first glance that no Malthusian spectacles are required to perceive the struggle for existence in nature - the contradiction between the countless host of germs which nature so lavishly produces and the small number of those which ever reach matu- rity, a contradiction which in fact for the most part finds its solution in a struggle for existence -- often of extreme cruelty...." [Ibid., p.86.]

"Life is the mode of existence of albuminous bodies,and this mode of existence essentially consists in the constant self-renewal of the chemical constituents of these bodies." [Ibid., p.102.]

"But what are these universal phenomena of life which are equally present among all living organisms? Above all the fact that an albuminous body absorbs other ap- propriate substances from its environment and assimilates them, while other, older parts of the body disintegrate and are excreted.Other non-living,bodies also change disintegrate or enter into combinations in the natural course of events; but in doing this they cease to be what they were. A weather-worn rock is no longer a rock, me- tal which oxidises turns into rust. But what with non-living bodies is the cause of destruction, with albumen is the fundamental condition of existence. From the mo- ment when this uninterrupted metamorphosis of its constituents,this constant alter- nation of nutrition and excretion, no longer takes place in an albuminous body, the albuminous body itself comes to an end, it decomposes, that is, dies.

Life, the mode of existence of an albuminous body, therefore consists pri- marily in the fact that every moment it is itself and at the same time some- thing else; and this does not take place as the result of a process to which it is subjected from without, as is the way in which this can occur also in the case of inanimate bodies. On the contrary, life, the metabolism which takes place through nutrition and excretion, is a self-implementing process which is inherent in, native to, its bearer, albumen, without which the latter cannot exist. And hence it follows that if chemist- ry ever succeeds in producing albumen artificially, this albumen must show the phenomena of life, however weak these may be. It is certainly open to question whether chemistry will at the same time also discover the right food for this albumen. " [Ibid.]

"...Truth and error, like all thought-concepts which move in polar opposites, have absolute validity only in an extremely limited field, as we have just seen, and as even Herr Dühring would realise if he had any acquaintance with the first elements of dialectics, which deal precisely with the inadequacy of all polar opposites. As soon as we apply the antithesis between truth and error outside of that narrow field which has been referred to above it be- comes relative and therefore unserviceable for exact scientific modes of expression, and if we attempt to apply it as absolutely valid outside that field we really find ourselves altogether beaten: both poles of the antithesis become transformed into their opposites, truth becomes error and error truth...." [Ibid., p.114.]

"True, so long as we consider things as at rest and lifeless, each one by itself, alongside and after each other,we do not run up against any contradictions in them. We find certain qualities which are partly common to, partly different from, and even contradictory to each other, but which in the last-mentioned case are distributed among different objects and therefore contain no contradiction within. Inside the li- mits of this sphere of observation we can get along on the basis of the usual, meta- physical mode of thought.But the position is quite different as soon as we con- sider things in their motion, their change,their life,their reciprocal influence on one another. Then we immediately become involved in contradictions.

Motion itself is a contradiction: even simple mechanical change of position can only come about through a body being at one and the same moment of time both in one place and in another place, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continuous origination and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is." [Ibid., p.152.]

"If simple mechanical change of position contains a contradiction this is even more true of the higher forms of motion of matter, and especially of organic life and its de- velopment. We saw above that life consists precisely and primarily in this -- that a being is at each moment itself and yet something else. Life is there- fore also a contradiction which is present in things and processes them- selves, and which constantly originates and resolves itself; and as soon as the contradiction ceases, life, too, comes to an end, and death steps in. We likewise saw that also in the sphere of thought we could not escape contra-dictions, and that for example the contradiction between man's inherently unlimited capacity for knowledge and its actual presence only in men who are externally limited and possess limited cognition finds its solution in what is -- at least practically, for us -- an endless succession of generations, in infinite progress.

"We have already noted that one of the basic principles of higher mathematics is the contradiction that in certain circumstances straight lines and curves may be the same. It also gets up this other contradiction: that lines which intersect each other before our eyes nevertheless, only five or six centimet- res from their point of intersection, can be shown to be parallel, that is, that they will never meet even if extended to infinity. And yet, working with these and with even far greater contradictions, it attains results which are not only correct but also quite unattainable for lower mathematics." [Ibid., pp.153-54.]

"But even lower mathematics teems with contradictions. It is for example a con- tradiction that a root of A should be a power of A,and yet A1/2 = [the square root of A -- RL]. It is a contradiction that a negative quantity should be the square of anything, for every negative quantity multiplied by itself gives a positive square. The square root of minus one is therefore not only a contradiction, but even an absurd contradiction, a real absurdity. And yet [the square root of minus one -- RL] is in many cases a necessary result of correct mathematical ope- rations. Furthermore, where would mathematics -- lower or higher -- be, if it were prohibited from operation with [the square root of minus one -- RL]?

"In its operations with variable quantities mathematics itself enters the field of dialectics, and it is significant that it was a dialectical philosopher, Descartes, who introduced this advance. The relation between the mathematics of variable and the mathematics of constant quantities is in general the same as the relation of dialectical to metaphysical thought. But this does not prevent the great mass of mathematicians from recognising dialectics only in the sphere of mathema- tics, and a good many of them from continuing to work in the old, limited, metaphysical way with methods that were obtained dialectically." [Ibid.]

"...Elementary mathematics, the mathematics of constant quantities, moves within the confines of formal logic, at any rate on the whole; the mathema- tics of variables, whose most important part is the infinitesimal calculus, is in essence nothing other than the application of dialectics to mathematical relations.In it,the simple question of proof is definitely pushed into the background, as compared with the manifold application of the method to new spheres of re- search. But almost all the proofs of higher mathematics, from the first proofs of the differential calculus on, are from the standpoint of elementary ma- thematics strictly speaking, wrong. And this is necessarily so, when, as hap- pens in this case, an attempt is made to prove by formal logic results obtai- ned in the field of dialectics...." [Ibid., pp.171-72.]

"...Let us take a grain of barley. Billions of such grains of barley are milled, boiled and brewed and then consumed. But if such a grain of barley meets with conditions which are normal for it, if it falls on suitable soil, then under the influence of heat and moisture it undergoes a specific change, it germi-nates; the grain as such ceases to exist, it is negated, and in its place ap- pears the plant which has arisen from it, the negation of the grain. But what is the normal life-process of this plant? It grows, flowers, is fertilised and fi- nally once more produces grains of barley, and as soon as these have ri- pened the stalk dies, is in its turn negated. As a result of this negation of the negation we have once again the original grain of barley, but not as a single unit, but ten-, twenty- or thirtyfold. Species of grain change extremely slowly, and so the barley of today is almost the same as it-was a century ago. But if we take a plastic ornamental plant, for example a dahlia or an orchid, and treat the seed and the plant which grows from it according to the gardener's art, we get as a result of this negation of the negation not only more seeds, but also qualitati- vely improved seeds, which produce more beautiful flowers, and each repetition of this process, each fresh negation of the negation, enhances this process of perfection.

"With most insects, this process follows the same lines as in the case of the grain of barley. Butterflies, for example, spring from the egg by a negation of the egg, pass through certain transformations until they reach sexual maturity, pair and are in turn negated, dying as soon as the pairing process has been completed and the female has laid its numerous eggs. We are not concerned at the moment with the fact that with other plants and animals the process does not take such a simple form, that before they die they produce seeds, eggs or off- spring not once but many times; our purpose here is only to show that the negation of the negation really does take place in both kingdoms of the organic world. Fur- thermore, the whole of geology is a series of negated negations, a series of successive shatterings of old and deposits of new rock formations...." [Ibid.]

"It is the same in mathematics. Let us take any algebraic quantity whatever: for example, a. If this is negated, we get -a (minus a).If we negate that negation, by multiplying -a by -a, we get +a^2, i.e., the original positive quantity, but at a higher degree, raised-to its second power. In this case also it makes no difference that we can obtain the same a^2 by multiplying the positive a by itself, thus likewise getting a^2. For the negated negation is so securely en- trenched in a^2 that the latter always has two square roots, namely, a and -a. And the fact that it is impossible to get rid of the negated negation, the negative root of the square, acquires very obvious significance as soon as we come to quad- ratic equations. -- The negation of the negation is even more strikingly obvious in higher analysis,in those "summations of indefinitely small magnitudes" {D.Ph. 418} which Herr Dühring himself declares are the highest operations of mathematics,and in ordinary language are known as the differential and integral calculus. How are these forms of calculus used?In a given problem,for example,I have two variables, x and y, neither of which can vary without the other also varying in a ratio determined by the facts of the case. I differentiate x and y, i.e., I take x and y as so infinitely small that in comparison with any real quantity, however small, they disappear, that nothing is left of x and y but their reciprocal relation without any, so to speak, mate- rial basis, a quantitative ratio in which there is no quantity. Therefore, dy/dx,the ratio between the differentials of x and y,is dx equal to 0/0 but 0/0 taken as the expres- sion of y/x. I only mention in passing that this ratio between two quantities which have disappeared, caught at the moment of their disappearance, is a contradiction; however, it cannot disturb us any more than it has disturbed the whole of mathema- tics for almost two hundred years. And now, what have I done but negate x and y, though not in such a way that I need not bother about them any more, not in the way that metaphysics negates, but in the way that corresponds with the facts of the case? In place of x and y, therefore, I have their negation, dx and dy, in the formulas or equations before me.I continue then to operate with these formulas, treating dx and dy as quantities which are real, though subject to certain exceptio- nal laws, and at a certain point I negate the negation, i.e., I integrate the dif- ferential formula, and in place of dx and dy again get the real quantities x and y, and am then not where I was at the beginning, but by using this method I have solved the problem on which ordinary geometry and algebra might perhaps have broken their jaws in vain." [Ibid., pp.174-75.]                

"...[P]rocesses which in their nature are antagonistic, contain a contradic- tion; transformation of one extreme into its opposite; and finally, as the ker- nel of the whole thing,the negation of the negation.And though in 1754 Rous- seau was not yet able to speak the Hegelian jargon {D.K.G. 491}, he was certainly, sixteen years before Hegel was born, deeply bitten with the Hegelian pestilence, dialectics of contradiction, Logos doctrine, theologies, and so forth...." [Ibid.,p.179.]

"And so, what is the negation of the negation? An extremely general -- and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important -- law of development of nature, history, and thought; a law which, as we have seen,holds good in the animal and plant kingdoms,in geology,in mathematics, in history and in philosophy -- a law which even Herr Dühring, in spite of all his stubborn re- sistance, has unwittingly and in his own way to follow. It is obvious that I do not say anything concerning the particular process of development of, for example, a grain of barley from germination to the death of the fruit-bearing plant, if I say it is a negation of the negation. For,as the integral calculus is also a negation of the ne- gation, if I said anything of the sort I should only be making the nonsensical state- ment that the life-process of a barley plant was integral calculus or for that matter that it was socialism. That, however, is precisely what the metaphysicians are con- stantly imputing to dialectics.When I say that all these processes are a negation of the negation, I bring them all together under this one law of motion, and for this very reason I leave out of account the specific peculiarities of each individual process. Dialectics, however, is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought." [Ibid.]

"...Long ago Spinoza said: Omnis determinatio est negatio - every limitation or determination is at the same time a negation. And further: the kind of nega- tion is here determined, firstly, by the general and,secondly,by the particular nature of the process. I must not only negate, but also sublate the negation. I must therefore so arrange the first negation that the second remains or becomes possible. How? This depends on the particular nature of each individual case. If I grind a grain of barley, or crush an insect, I have carried out the first part of the action, but have made the second part impossible. Every kind of thing therefore has a peculiar way of being negated in such manner that it gives rise to a development, and it is just the same with every kind of conception or idea. The infinitesimal calculus involves a form of negation which is different from that used in the formation of positive powers from negative roots. This has to be learnt, like everything else. The bare knowledge that the barley plant and the infinitesimal calculus are both governed by negation of negation does not enable me either to grow barley successfully or to differentiate and integrate; just as little as the bare knowledge of the laws of the determination of sound by the dimensions of the strings enables me to play the violin." [Ibid., pp.180-81.]

"Once again, therefore, it is no one but Herr Dühring who is mystifying us when he asserts that the negation of the negation is a stupid analogy invented by Hegel,bor- rowed from the sphere of religion and based on the story of the fall of man and his redemption {D.K.G.504}. Men thought dialectically long before they knew what dialectics was, just as they spoke prose long before the term prose existed. [An allusion to Molière's comedy Le Bourgeois gentilhomme,Act II, Scene 6 -- Ed.] The law of negation of the negation, which is unconsciously opera- tive in nature and history and, until it has been recognised, also in our heads, was only first clearly formulated by Hegel. And if Herr Dühring wants to operate with it himself on the quiet and it is only that he cannot stand the name, then let him find a better name. But if his aim is to banish the process itself from thought, we must ask him to be so good as first to banish it from nature and his- tory and to invent a mathematical system in which -a x -a is not +a^2 and in which differentiation and integration are prohibited under severe penalties." [Ibid.]

[In the above, I have used the on-line version of AD, but the page numbers of the Foreign Languages Edition. I have also had to alter several mathematical symbols since the editor I have used does not have the ones Engels used.]

All this, of course, makes Engels an Olympic Standard, A Priori Dogmatist.

More to follow...


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Latest Update: 03/05/12