V. I.   Lenin

What the “Friends of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats

(A Reply to Articles in Russkoye Bogatstvo Opposing the Marxists)


Part I

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  currently it has pages 129–187.

Russkoye Bogatstvo[16] has launched a campaign against the Social-Democrats. Last year, in issue No. 10, one of the leading lights of this magazine, Mr. N. Mikhailovsky, announced a forthcoming “polemic” against “our so-called Marxists, or Social-Democrats.”[17] Then followed Mr. S. Krivenkos article “Our Cultural Free Lances” (No. 12), and Mr. N. Mikhailovsky’s “Literature and Life” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1894. Nos. 1 and 2). As to the magazines own views on our economic realities, these have been most fully expounded by Mr. S. Yuzhakov in the article “Problems of Russia’s Economic Development” (in Nos. 11 and 12). While in general claiming to present the ideas and tactics of true “friends of the people” in their magazine, these gentlemen are arch-enemies of Social-Democracy. So let us take a closer look at these “friends of the people,” their criticism of Marxism, their ideas and their tactics.

Mr. N. Mikhailovsky devotes his attention chiefly to the theoretical principles of Marxism and therefore makes a special investigation of the materialist conception of history. Alter outlining in general the contents of the voluminous Marxist literature enunciating this doctrine, Mr. Mikhailovsky opens his criticism with the following tirade:

First of all,” he says, “the question naturally arises: in which of his works did Marx expound his materialist conception of history? In Capital he gave us an example of the combination of logical force with erudition, with a scrupulous investigation of all the economic literature and of   the pertinent facts. He brought to light theoretician of economic science long forgotten or unknown to anybody to day, and did not overlook the most minute details in factory inspectors reports or experts evidence before various special commissions; in a word, he examined this enormous mass of factual material, partly in order to provide arguments for his economic theories and partly to illustrate them. If he has created a completely new conception of the historical process, if he has explained the whole past of mankind from a new viewpoint and has summarised all hitherto existing theories on the philosophy of history, then he has done so, of course, with equal zeal: he has, indeed, reviewed and subjected to critical analysis all the known theories of the historical process, and worked over a mass of facts of world history. The comparison with Darwin, so customary in Marxist literature, serves still more to confirm this idea. What does Darwin’s whole work amount to? Certain closely interconnected generalising ideas crowning a veritable Mont Blanc of factual material. But where is the appropriate work by Marx? It does not exist. And not only does no such work by Marx exist, but there is none to be found in all Marxist literature, despite its voluminous and extensive character.”

The whole tirade is highly characteristic and helps us to understand how little the public understand Capital and Marx. Overwhelmed by the tremendously convincing way he states his case, they bow and scrape before Marx, laud him, and at the same time entirely lose sight of the basic content of his doctrine and quite calmly continue to sing the old songs of “subjective sociology.” In this connection one cannot help recalling the very apt epigraph Kautsky selected for his book on the economic teachings of Marx:

Wer wird nicht einen Klopstock loben?
Doch wird ihn jeder lesen? Nein.
Wir wollen weniger erhoben,
Und fleissiger gelesen sein!

Just so! Mr. Mikhailovsky should praise Marx less and read him more diligently, or, better still, give more serious thought to what he is reading.

In Capital Marx gave us an example of the combination of logical force with erudition,” says Mr. Mikhailovsky. In this phrase Mr. Mikhailovsky has given us an example of a brilliant phrase combined with lack of substance—a certain Marxist observed. And the observation is a very just one. How, indeed, did this logical force of Marx’s manifest itself? What were its effects? Reading the above tirade by Mr. Mikhailovsky, one might think that this force was concentrated entirely on “economic theories,” in the narrowest sense of the term—and nothing more. And in order to emphasise still further the narrow limits of the field in which Marx manifested the force of his logic, Mr. Mikhailovsky lays stress on “most minute details,” on “scrupulosity,” on “theoreticians unknown to anybody” and so forth. It would appear that Marx contributed nothing essentially new or noteworthy to the methods of constructing these theories, that he left the bounds of economic science where the earlier economists had them, without extending them, without contributing a “completely new” conception of the science itself. Yet anybody who has read Capital knows that this is absolutely untrue. In this connection one cannot but recall what Mr. Mikhailovsky wrote about Marx sixteen years ago when arguing with that vulgar bourgeois, Mr. Y. Zhukovsky.[18] Perhaps the times were different, perhaps sentiments were fresher—at any rate, both the tone and the content of Mr. Mikhailovsky’s article were then entirely different.

“’...It is the ultimate aim of this work, to lay bare the law of development (in the original: das oekonomische Bewegungsgesetz—the economic law of motion) of modern society, Karl Marx says in reference to his Capital, and he adheres strictly to this programme.” This is what Mr. Mikhailovsky said in 1877. Let us examine this programme more closely, which—as the critic admits—has been strictly adhered to. It is “to lay bare the economic law of development of modern society.”

The very formulation confronts us with several questions that require explanation. Why does Marx speak of “modern”   society, when all the economists who preceded him spoke of society in general? In what sense does he use the word “modern,” by what features does he distinguish this modern society? And further, what is meant by the economic law of motion of society? We are accustomed to hear from economists—and this, by the way, is one of the favourite ideas of the publicists and economists of the milieu to which the Russkoye Bogatstvo belongs—that only the production of values is subject to solely economic laws, whereas distribution, they declare, depends on politics, on the nature of the influence exercised on society by the government, the intelligentsia and so forth. In what sense, then, does Marx speak of the economic law of motion of society, even referring to this law as a Naturgesetz—a law of nature? How are we to understand this, when so many of our native sociologists have covered reams of paper to show that social phenomena are particularly distinct from the phenomena of natural history, and that therefore the investigation of the former requires the employment of an absolutely distinct “subjective method in sociology.”

All these perplexities arise naturally and necessarily, and, of course, only an absolute ignoramus would evade them when speaking of Capital. To elucidate these questions, we shall first quote one more passage from the same Preface to Capital—only a few lines lower down:

“[From] my standpoint,” says Marx, “the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history.”[19]

It will be sufficient to compare, say, the two passages just quoted from the Preface in order to see that it is here that we have the basic idea of Capital, pursued, as we have heard, with strict consistency and with rare logical force. First let us note two circumstances regarding all this: Marx speaks of one “economic formation of society” only, the capitalist formation, that is, he says that he investigated the law of development of this formation only and of no other. That is the first. And secondly, let us note the methods Marx used in working out his deductions. These methods consisted, as we have just heard from Mr. Mikhailovsky, in a “scrupulous investigation of the pertinent facts.”

Now let us examine this basic idea of Capital, which our subjective philosopher so adroitly tried to evade. In what, properly speaking, does the concept of the economic formation of society consist? and in what sense can and must the development of such a formation be regarded as a process of natural history?—such are the questions that now confront us. I have already pointed out that from the standpoint of the old (not old for Russia) economists and sociologists, the concept of the economic formation of society is entirely superfluous: they talk of society in general, they argue with the Spencers about the nature of society in general, about the aim and essence of society in general, and so forth. In their reasonings, these subjective sociologists rely on arguments such as—the aim of society is to benefit all its members, that justice, therefore, demands such and such an organisation, and that a system that is out of harmony with this ideal organisation (“Sociology must start with some utopia”—these words of Mr. Mikhailovsky’s, one of the authors of the subjective method, splendidly typify the essence of their methods) is abnormal and should be set aside. “The essential task of sociology,” Mr. Mikhailovsky, for instance, argues, “is to ascertain the social conditions under which any particular requirement of human nature is satisfied.” As you see, what interests this sociologist is only a society that satisfies human nature, and not at all some strange formations of society, which, moreover, may be based on a phenomenon so out of harmony with “human nature” as the enslavement of the majority by the minority. You also see that from the standpoint of this sociologist there can be no question of regarding the development of society as a process of natural history. (“Having accepted something as desirable or undesirable, the sociologist must discover the conditions under which the desirable can be realised, or the undesirable eliminated”—“under which such and such ideals can be realised”—this same Mr. Mikhailovsky reasons.) What is more, there can be no talk even of development, but only of various deviations from the “desirable,” of “defects” that have occurred in history as a result . . . as a result of the fact that people were not clever enough, were unable properly to understand what human nature demands, were unable to discover the conditions for the realisation of such a rational system. It is obvious that Marx’s basic idea   that the development of the social-economic formations is a process of natural history cuts at the very root of this childish morality which lays claim to the title of sociology. By what means did Marx arrive at this basic idea? He did so by singling out the economic sphere from the various spheres of social life, by singling out production relations from all social relations as being basic, primary, determining all other relations. Marx himself has described the course of his reasoning on this question as follows:

The first work which I undertook for a solution of the doubts which assailed me was a critical review of the Hegelian philosophy of right....[20] My investigation led to the result that legal relations as well as forms of state are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life, the sum-total of which Hegel, following the example of the Englishmen and Frenchmen of the eighteenth century, combines under the name of civil society, that, however, the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy. . . . The general result at which I arrived . . . can be briefly formulated as follows: in the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations . . . relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum-total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or—what is but a legal expression for the same thing—with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed.   In considering such transformations, a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the conditions of production, which should be established in terms of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic—in short, ideological—forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. . . . In broad outlines Asiatic, ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production can be designated as progressive epochs in the economic formation of society.”[21]

This idea of materialism in sociology was in itself a stroke of genius. Naturally, for the time being it was only a hypothesis, but one which first created the possibility of a strictly scientific approach to historical and social problems. Hitherto, not knowing how to get down to the simplest primary relations such as those of production, the sociologists undertook the direct investigation and study of political and legal forms, stumbled on the fact that these forms emerge from certain of mankind’s ideas in the period in question—and there they stopped; it appeared as if social relations are consciously established by men. But this conclusion, fully expressed in the idea of the Contract social[22] (traces of which are very noticeable in all systems of utopian socialism), was in complete contradiction to all historical observations. It never has been the case, nor is it so now, that the members of society conceive the sum-total of the social relations in which they live as something definite, integral, pervaded by some principle; on the contrary, the mass of people adapt themselves to these relations unconsciously, and have so little conception of them as specific historical social relations that, for instance, an explanation of the exchange relations under which people have lived for centuries was found only in very recent times. Materialism removed this contradiction by carrying the analysis deeper, to the origin of mans social ideas themselves; and its conclusion that the course   of ideas depends on the course of things is the only one compatible with scientific psychology. Further, and from yet another aspect, this hypothesis was the first to elevate sociology to the level of a science. Hitherto, sociologists had found it difficult to distinguish the important and the unimportant in the complex network of social phenomena (that is the root of subjectivism in sociology) and had been unable to discover any objective criterion for such a demarcation. Materialism provided an absolutely objective criterion by singling out “production relations” as the structure of society, and by making it possible to apply to these relations that general scientific criterion of recurrence whose applicability to sociology the subjectivists denied. So long as they confined themselves to ideological social relations (i.e., such as, before taking shape, pass through mans consciousness[2] ) they could not observe recurrence and regularity in the social phenomena of the various countries, and their science was at best only a description of these phenomena, a collection of raw material. The analysis of material social relations (i.e., of those that take shape without passing through mans consciousness: when exchanging products men enter into production relations without even realising that there is a social relation of production here)—the analysis of material social relations at once made it possible to observe recurrence and regularity and to generalise the systems of the various countries in the single fundamental concept: social formation. It was this generalisation alone that made it possible to proceed from the description of social phenomena (and their evaluation from the standpoint of an ideal) to their strictly scientific analysis, which isolates, let us say by way of example, that which distinguishes one capitalist country from another and investigates that which is common to all of them.

Thirdly, and finally, another reason why this hypothesis for the first time made a scientific sociology possible was that only the reduction of social relations to production relations and of the latter to the level of the productive forces, provided a firm basis for the conception that the development of   formations of society is a process of natural history. And it goes without saying that without such a view there can be no social science. (The subjectivists, for instance, although they admitted that historical phenomena conform to law, were incapable of regarding their evolution as a process of natural history, precisely because they came to a halt before mans social ideas and aims and were unable to reduce them to material social relations.)

Then, however, Marx, who had expressed this hypothesis in the forties, set out to study the factual (nota bene) material. He took one of the social-economic formations— the system of commodity production—and on the basis of a vast mass of data (which he studied for not less than twenty five years) gave a most detailed analysis of the laws governing the functioning of this formation and its development. This analysis is confined exclusively to production relations between members of society: without ever resorting to features outside the sphere of these production relations for an explanation, Marx makes it possible to discern how the commodity organisation of social economy develops, how it becomes transformed into capitalist organisation, creating antagonistic classes (antagonistic within the bounds of production relations), the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, how it develops the productivity of social labour, and thereby introduces an element that becomes irreconcilably contradictory to the foundations of this capitalist organisation itself.

Such is the skeleton of Capital. The whole point, however, is that Marx did not content himself with this skeleton, that he did not confine himself to “economic theory” in the ordinary sense of the term, that, while explaining the structure and development of the given formation of society exclusively through production relations, he nevertheless everywhere and incessantly scrutinised the superstructure corresponding to these production relations and clothed the skeleton in flesh and blood. The reason Capital has enjoyed such tremendous success is that this book by a “German economist” showed the whole capitalist social formation to the reader as a living thing—with its everyday aspects, with the actual social manifestation of the class antagonism inherent in production relations, with the bourgeois political superstructure that protects the rule of the capitalist class, with   the bourgeois ideas of liberty, equality and so forth, with the bourgeois family relationships. It will now be clear that the comparison with Darwin is perfectly accurate: Capital is nothing but “certain closely interconnected generalising ideas crowning a veritable Mont Blanc of factual material.” And if anybody has read Capital and contrived not to notice these generalising ideas, it is not the fault of Marx, who, as we have seen, pointed to these ideas even in the preface. And that is not all; such a comparison is correct not only from the external aspect (which for some unknown reason particularly interests Mr. Mikhailovsky), but also from the internal aspect. Just as Darwin put an end to the view of animal and plant species being unconnected, fortuitous, “created by God” and immutable, and was the first to put biology on an absolutely scientific basis by establishing the mutability and the succession of species, so Marx put an end to the view of society being a mechanical aggregation of individuals which allows of all sorts of modification at the will of the authorities (or, if you like, at the will of society and the government) and which emerges and changes casually, and was the first to put sociology on a scientific basis by establishing the concept of the economic formation of society as the sum-total of given production relations, by establishing the fact that the development of such formations is a process of natural history.

Now—since the appearance of Capital—the materialist conception of history is no longer a hypothesis, but a scientifically proven proposition. And until we get some other attempt to give a scientific explanation of the functioning and development of some formation of society—formation of society, mind you, and not the way of life of some country or people, or even class, etc.—another attempt just as capable of introducing order into the “pertinent facts” as materialism is, that is just as capable of presenting a living picture of a definite formation, while giving it a strictly scientific explanation—until then the materialist conception of history will be a synonym for social science. Materialism is not “primarily a scientific conception of history,” as Mr. Mikhailovsky thinks, but the only scientific conception of it.

And now, can you imagine anything funnier than the fact that there are people who have read Capital without discovering   any materialism there! Where is it?—asks Mr, Mikhailovsky in sincere perplexity.

He has read the Communist Manifesto and failed to notice that the explanation it gives of modern systems—legal, political, family, religious and philosophical—is a materialist one, and that even the criticism of the socialist and communist theories seeks and finds their roots in such and such production relations.

He has read The Poverty of Philosophy and failed to notice that its analysis of Proudhon’s sociology is made from the materialist standpoint, that the criticism of the solution propounded by Proudhon’s for the most diverse historical problems is based on the principles of materialism, and that the authors own indications as to where the data for the solution of these problems are to be sought all amount to references to production relations.

He has read Capital and failed to notice that he had before him a model of scientific, materialist analysis of one—the most complex—formation of society, a model recognised by all and surpassed by none. And here he sits and exercises his mighty brain over the profound problem: “In which of his works did Marx expound his materialist conception of history?”

Anybody acquainted with Marx would answer this question by another: in which of his works did Marx not expound his materialist conception of history? But Mr. Mikhailovsky will probably learn of Marx’s materialist investigations only when they are classified and properly indexed in some sophistical work on history by some Kareyev under the heading “Economic Materialism.”

But the funniest of all is that Mr. Mikhailovsky accuses Marx of not having “reviewed (sic!) all the known theories of the historical process.” This is amusing indeed. Of what did nine-tenths of these theories consist? Of purely a priori, dogmatic, abstract discourses on: what is society, what is progress? and the like. (I purposely take examples which are dear to the heart and mind of Mr. Mikhailovsky.) But, then, such theories are useless because of the very fact that they exist, they are useless because of their basic methods, because of their solid unrelieved metaphysics. For, to begin by asking what is society and what is progress, is to begin   at the end. Where will you get a conception of society and progress in general if you have not studied a single social formation in particular, if you have not even been able to establish this conception, if you have not even been able to approach a serious factual investigation, an objective analysis of social relations of any kind? This is a most obvious symptom of metaphysics, with which every science began: as long as people did not know how to set about studying the facts, they always invented a priori general theories, which were always sterile. The metaphysician-chemist, still unable to make a factual investigation of chemical processes, concocts a theory about chemical affinity as a force. The metaphysician-biologist talks about the nature of life and the vital force. The metaphysician-psychologist argues about the nature of the soul. Here it is the method itself that is absurd. You cannot argue about the soul without having explained psychical processes in particular: here, progress must consist precisely in abandoning general theories and philosophical discourses about the nature of the soul, and in being able to put the study of the facts about particular psychical processes on a scientific footing. Therefore, Mr. Mikhailovsky’s accusation is exactly similar to that of a metaphysician-psychologist, who has spent all his life writing “investigations” into the nature of the soul (without knowing exactly how to explain a single psychical phenomenon, even the simplest), and then starts accusing a scientific psychologist of not having reviewed all the known theories of the soul. He, the scientific psychologist, has discarded philosophical theories of the soul and set about making a direct study of the material substratum of psychical phenomena—the nervous processes—and has produced, let us say, an analysis and explanation of some one or more psychological processes. And our metaphysician-psychologist reads this work and praises it: the description of the processes and the study of the facts, he says, are good; but he is not satisfied. “Pardon me,” he exclaims excitedly, hearing people around him speak of the absolutely new conception of psychology produced by this scientist, of his special method of scientific psychology. “Pardon me,” the philosopher cries heatedly, “in what work is this method expounded? Why, this work contains nothing but facts. There is no trace   in it of a review of all the known philosophical theories of the soul. It is not the appropriate work at all!”

In the same way, of course, neither is Capital the appropriate work for a metaphysician-sociologist who does not realise the sterility of a priori arguments about the nature of society and does not understand that such methods, instead of contributing to a study and elucidation of the problem, only serve to insinuate into the concept “society” either the bourgeois ideas of the British shopkeeper or the petty-bourgeois socialist ideals of the Russian democrat—and nothing more. That is why all these theories of the philosophy of history arose and burst like soap-bubbles, being at best a symptom of the social ideas and relations of their time, and not advancing one hairs breadth mans understanding of even a few, but real, social relations (and not such as “harmonise with human nature”). The gigantic step forward taken by Marx in this respect consisted precisely in that he discarded all these arguments about society and progress in general and produced a scientific analysis of one society and of one progress—capitalist. And Mr. Mikhailovsky blames him for beginning at the beginning and not at the end, for having begun with an analysis of the facts and not with final conclusions, with a study of particular, historically-determined social relations and not with general theories about what these social relations consist of in general! And he asks: “Where is the appropriate work?” O, most wise subjective sociologist!!

If our subjective philosopher had confined himself to mere perplexity as to where, in which work, materialism is substantiated, it would not have been so bad. But, despite the fact that he did not find even an exposition, let alone a substantiation, of the materialist conception of history anywhere (and maybe just because he did not), he begins to ascribe to this doctrine claims which it has never made. He quotes a passage from Blos to the effect that Marx proclaimed an entirely new conception of history, and without further ado goes on to declare that this theory claims to have “explained to mankind its past,” to have explained “the whole (sic!!?) past of mankind,” and so on. But this is utterly false! The theory only claims to explain the capitalist social organisation, and no other. If the application of materialism to the analysis   and explanation of one social formation yielded such brilliant results, it is quite natural that materialism in history already ceases to be a mere hypothesis and becomes a scientifically tested theory; it is quite natural that the necessity for such a method extends to other social formations, even though they have not been subjected to special factual investigation and detailed analysis—just as the idea of transformism, which has been proved in relation to quite a large number of facts, is extended to the whole realm of biology, even though it has not yet been possible to establish with precision the fact of their transformation for certain species of animals and plants. And just as transformism does not at all claim to explain the “whole” history of the formation of species, but only to place the methods of this explanation on a scientific basis, so materialism in history has never claimed to explain everything, but merely to indicate the “only scientific,” to use Marx’s expression (Capital ), method of explaining history.[23] One may therefore judge how ingenious, earnest and seemly are the methods of controversy employed by Mr. Mikhailovsky when he first misrepresents Marx by ascribing to materialism in history the absurd claims of “explaining everything,” of finding “the key to all historical locks” (claims which were, of course, refuted by Marx immediately and in very biting style in his “Letter”[24] on Mikhailovsky’s articles), then pulls faces at these claims of his own invention, and, finally, accurately citing Engels’ ideas—accurately because in this case a quotation and not a paraphrase is given—to the effect that political economy as understood by the materialists “has still to be brought into being” and that “such economic science as we possess up to the present is limited almost exclusively to” the history of capitalist society[25]—draws the conclusion that “these words greatly narrow the field of operation of economic materialism”! What infinite naïlveté, or what infinite conceit a man must have to count on such tricks passing unnoticed! First he misrepresents Marx, then pulls faces at his own pack of lies, then accurately cites precise ideas—and now has the insolence to declare that they narrow the field of operation of economic materialism!

The kind and quality of Mr. Mikhailovsky’s twisting may be seen from the following example: “Marx nowhere substantiates   them”—i.e., the foundations of the theory of economic materialism—says Mr. Mikhailovsky. “True, Marx and Engels thought of writing a work dealing with the history of philosophy and the philosophy of history, and even did write one (in 1845-1846), but it was never published.[26] Engels says: The finished portion [of this work] consists of an exposition of the materialist conception of history which proves only how incomplete our knowledge of economic history still was at that time. Thus,” concludes Mr. Mikhailovsky, “the fundamental points of scientific socialism and of the theory of economic materialism were discovered, and were then expounded in the Manifesto, at a time when, as one of the authors himself admits, they were poorly equipped with the knowledge needed for such a work.”

A charming way of criticising, is it not? Engels says that their knowledge of economic “history” was poor and that for this reason they did not publish their work of a “general” character on the history of philosophy. Mr. Mikhailovsky garbles this to make it mean that their knowledge was poor “for such a work” as the elaboration of “the fundamental points of scientific socialism,” that is, of a scientific criticism of the “bourgeois” system, already given in the Manifesto. One of two things: either Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot grasp the difference between an attempt to embrace the whole philosophy of history, and an attempt to explain the bourgeois regime scientifically, or he imagines that Marx and Engels possessed insufficient knowledge for a criticism of political economy. In that case, it is very cruel of him not to acquaint us with his views on this insufficiency, and with his amendments and additions. The decision by Marx and Engels not to publish their work on the history of philosophy and to concentrate all their efforts on a scientific analysis of one social organisation is only indicative of a very high degree of scientific conscientiousness. Mr. Mikhailovsky’s decision to twist this by the little addition that Marx and Engels expounded their views while themselves confessing that their knowledge was inadequate to elaborate them, is only indicative of methods of controversy which testify neither to intellect nor to a sense of decency.

Here is another sample: “More was done by Marx’s alter ego, Engels, to substantiate economic materialism as a theory   of history,” says Mr. Mikhailovsky. “He wrote a special historical work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in the Light of (im Anschluss) the Researches of Morgan. This Anschluss is truly noteworthy. The book of the American Morgan appeared many years after Marx and Engels had announced the principles of economic materialism and entirely independently of it.” And then, says Mikhailovsky  “the economic materialists associated themselves” with this book; moreover, since there was no class struggle in prehistoric times, they introduced an “amendment” to the formula of the materialist conception of history indicating that, in addition to the production of material values, a determining factor is the production of man himself, i.e., procreation, which played a primary role in the primitive era, when the productivity of labour was still very undeveloped.

Engels says that “Morgan’s great merit lies in having... found in the groups based on ties of sex of the North American Indians the key to the most important, hitherto insoluble, riddles of the earliest Greek, Roman and German history.”[27]

And so,” quoth Mr. Mikhailovsky in this connection, “at the end of the forties an absolutely new, materialist and truly scientific conception of history was discovered and proclaimed, and it did for historical science what Darwin’s theory did for modern natural science.” But this conception—Mr. Mikhailovsky once more repeats—was never scientifically substantiated. “Not only was it never tested in a large and varied field of factual material” (Capital is “not the appropriate” work: it contains only facts and painstaking investigations!), “but was not even sufficiently motivated by at least a criticism and exclusion of other systems of the philosophy of history.” Engels’ book—Herrn E. Dührings Umwälzung der Wissenschaft[3] —represents “only witty attempts made in passing,” and Mr. Mikhailovsky therefore considers it possible to ignore completely the mass of essential questions dealt with in that work, despite the fact that these “witty attempts” very wittily show the emptiness of sociologies which “start with utopias,” and despite the fact that this work contains a detailed criticism   of the “force theory,” which asserts that political and legal systems determine economic systems and is so zealously professed by the gentlemen who write in Russkoye Bogatstvo. Of course, it is much easier, is it not, to utter a few meaning less phrases about a work than to make a serious examination of even one of the problems materialistically solved in it. And it is also safe, for the censor will probably never pass a translation of that book, and Mr. Mikhailovsky may, without fear for his subjective philosophy, call it a witty book.

Even more characteristic and edifying (as an illustration to the saying that man was given a tongue to conceal his thoughts—or to lend vacuity the form of thought) are his comments on Marx’s Capital: “There are brilliant pages of history in Capital, but” (that wonderful “but”! It is not so much a “but,” as that famous “mais,” which translated into Russian means “the ears never grow higher than the forehead”) “by virtue of the very purpose of the book they are devoted to only one definite historical period, and not so much affirm the basic propositions of economic materialism as simply touch on the economic aspect of a certain group of historical phenomena.” In other words, Capital—which is devoted solely to a study of capitalist society—gives a materialist analysis of that society and its superstructures, “but” Mr. Mikhailovsky prefers to pass over this analysis. It deals, don’t you see, with only “one” period, whereas he, Mr. Mikhailovsky, wants to embrace all periods, and to embrace them in such a way as not to speak of any one of them in particular. Of course, there is only one way to achieve this aim—i.e., to embrace all periods without practically dealing with any one of them, and that is by uttering commonplaces and phrases, “brilliant” and empty. And nobody can compare with Mr. Mikhailovsky in the art of dismissing matters with phrases. It seems that it is not worth dealing (separately) with Marx’s investigations because he, Marx, “not so much affirms the basic propositions of economic materialism as simply touches on the economic aspect of a certain group of historical phenomena.” What profundity! “Does not affirm,” but “simply touches on”! How simple it really is to obscure any issue by phrase-mongering! For instance, when Marx repeatedly shows how civil equality, free contract and similar principles   of the law-governed state are based on relations among commodity producers—what is that? Does he thereby affirm materialism, or “simply” touch on it. With his characteristic modesty, our philosopher refrains from replying on the substance of the matter and directly draws conclusions from his “witty attempts” to talk brilliantly and say nothing.

No wonder,” the conclusion runs, “that forty years after the announcement of the theory which claimed to elucidate world history, ancient Greek, Roman and German history were still unsolved riddles for it; and the key to these riddles was provided, firstly, by a man who had absolutely no connection with the theory of economic materialism and knew nothing about it, and, secondly, with the help of a factor which was not economic. A rather amusing impression is produced by the term production of man himself, i.e., procreation, which Engels seizes upon in order to preserve at least a verbal connection with the basic formula of economic materialism. He was, however, obliged to admit that for many ages the life of mankind did not proceed in accordance with this formula.” Your method of controversy is indeed a “wonder,” Mr. Mikhailovsky. The theory was that in order to “elucidate” history one must seek the foundations not in ideological, but in material social relations. Lack of factual material made it impossible to apply this method to an analysis of certain very important phenomena in ancient European history—for instance, that of gentile organisation[28]—which in consequence remained a riddle.[4] But then, the wealth of material collected by Morgan in America enabled him to analyse the nature of gentile organisation; and he came to the conclusion that its explanation must be sought not in ideological (e.g., legal or religious), but in material relations. Obviously, this fact is a brilliant confirmation of the materialist method, and nothing more. And when Mr. Mikhailovsky flings the reproach at this doctrine that, firstly, the key to very difficult historical riddles was found by a man “who had absolutely no connection” with the theory of economic materialism, one can only wonder at the degree to which people can fail to distinguish what speaks in their favour from what severely trounces them. Secondly—argues our philosopher— procreation is not an economic factor. But where have you read in the works of Marx or Engels that they necessarily spoke of economic materialism? When they described their world outlook they called it simply materialism. Their basic idea (quite definitely expressed, for instance, in the passage from Marx quoted above) was that social relations are divided into material and ideological. The latter merely constitute a superstructure on the former, which take shape independent of the will and consciousness of man as (the result) the form of mans activity to maintain his existence. The explanation of political and legal forms—Marx says in the passage quoted—must be sought in “the material conditions of life.” Mr. Mikhailovsky surely does not think that procreation relations are ideological? The explanation given by Mr. Mikhailovsky in this connection is so characteristic that it deserves to be dwelt on. “However much we exercise our ingenuity on the question of procreation,” says he, “and endeavour to establish at least a verbal connection between it and economic materialism, however much it may be interwoven in the complex web of phenomena of social life with other, including economic, phenomena, it has its own physiological and psychical roots.” (Are you telling babes and sucklings, Mr. Mikhailovsky, that procreation has physiological roots!? Who do you think you are fooling?) “And this reminds us that the theoreticians of economic materialism failed to settle accounts not only with history, but also with psychology. There can be no doubt that gentile ties have lost their significance in the history of civilised countries, but this can hardly be said with the same assurance of directly sexual and family ties. They have, of course, undergone considerable modification under the pressure of the increasing complexity of life in general, but with a certain amount of dialectical dexterity it might be shown that not only legal, but also economic relations themselves constitute a superstructure on sexual and family relations.   We shall not dwell on this, but nevertheless would at least point to the institution of inheritance.”

At last our philosopher has been lucky enough to leave the sphere of empty phrase-mongering[5] and approach facts, definite facts, which can be verified and make it less easy to “fool” people about the essence of the matter. Let us then see how our critic of Marx shows that the institution of inheritance is a superstructure on sexual and family relations. “What is transmitted by inheritance, argues Mr. Mikhailovsky, “is the products of economic production” (“the products of economic production”!! How literate! How sonorous! What elegant language!) “and the very institution of inheritance is to a certain degree determined by the fact of economic competition. But, firstly, non-material values are also transmitted by inheritance—as expressed in the concern to bring up children in the spirit of their fathers.” So the upbringing of children is part of the institution of inheritance! The Russian Civil Code, for example, contains a clause saying that “parents must endeavour by home upbringing to train their” (i.e., their childrens) “morals and to further the aims of government.” Is this what our philosopher calls the institution of inheritance?—“and, secondly, even confining ourselves solely to the economic sphere, if the institution of inheritance is inconceivable without the products of production transmitted by inheritance, it is just as unthinkable without the products of procreation, without them and without that complex and intense psychology which directly adheres to them.” (Do pay attention to the language: a complex psychology “adheres to” the products of procreation! That is really exquisite!) And so, the institution of inheritance is a superstructure on family and sexual relations, because inheritance is inconceivable without procreation! Why, this is a veritable discovery of America! Until now everybody believed that procreation can explain the institution of inheritance just as little as the necessity for taking food can explain the institution of   property. Until now everybody thought that if, for instance, in the era when the fief system[29] nourished in Russia, the land was not transmissible by inheritance (because it was regarded as conditional property only), the explanation was to be sought in the peculiarities of the social organisation of the time. Mr. Mikhailovsky presumably thinks that the explanation of the matter is simply that the psychology which adhered to the products of procreation of the fief holder of that time was distinguished by insufficient complexity.

Scratch the “friend of the people”—we may say, paraphrasing the familiar saying—and you will find a bourgeois. Really, what other meaning can attach to Mr. Mikhailovskys reflections on the connection between the institution of inheritance and the upbringing of children, the psychology of procreation, and so on, except that the institution of inheritance is just as eternal, essential and sacred as the upbringing of children? True, Mr. Mikhailovsky tried to leave himself a loophole by declaring that “the institution of inheritance is to a certain degree determined by the fact of economic competition,” but that is nothing but an attempt to avoid giving a definite answer to the question, and a futile attempt at that. How can we give this statement our consideration when we are not told a single word as to exactly what “certain degree” inheritance depends on competition, and when absolutely no explanation is given on what in fact gives rise to this connection between competition and the institution of inheritance? Actually, the institution of inheritance presumes the existence of private property, and the latter arises only with the appearance of exchange. Its basis is in the already incipient specialisation of social labour and the alienation of products on the market. So long, for instance, as all the members of the primitive American Indian community produced in common all the articles they required, private property was impossible. But when division of labour invaded the community and its members proceeded, individually, to engage in the production of some one article and to sell it on the market, this material isolation of the commodity producers found expression in the institution of private property. Both private property and inheritance are categories of a social order in which   separate, small (monogamous) families have already been formed and exchange has begun to develop. Mr. Mikhailovskys example proves exactly the opposite of what he wanted to prove.

Mr. Mikhailovsky gives another factual reference—and this too is a gem in its way! “As regards gentile ties,” he says, continuing to put materialism right, “they paled in the history of civilised peoples partly, it is true, under the rays of the influence of the forms of production” (another subterfuge, only more obvious still. Exactly what forms of production? An empty phrase!), “but partly they became dissolved in their own continuation and generalisation—in national ties.” And so, national ties are a continuation and generalisation of gentile ties! Mr. Mikhailovsky, evidently, borrows his ideas on the history of society from the tales taught to school children. The history of society—this copybook maxim runs—is that first there was the family, that nucleus of every society,[6] then—we are told—the family grew into the tribe, and the tribe grew into the state. If Mr. Mikhailovsky with a solemn air repeats this childish nonsense, it merely shows—apart from everything else— that he has not the slightest notion of the course taken even by Russian history. While one might speak of gentile life in ancient Rus, there can be no doubt that by the Middle Ages, the era of the Moscovite tsars, these gentile ties no longer existed, that is to say, the state was based on associations that were not gentile at all, but local: the landlords and the monasteries acquired peasants from various localities, and the communities thus formed were purely territorial associations. But one could hardly speak of national ties in the true sense of the term at that time: the state split into separate “lands,” sometimes even principalities, which preserved strong traces of the former autonomy, peculiarities of administration, at times their own troops (the local boyars went to war at the head of their own companies), their own tariff frontiers, and so forth. Only the modern period of   Russian history (approximately from the seventeenth century) is characterised by the actual amalgamation of all such regions, lands and principalities into one whole. This amalgamation, most esteemed Mr. Mikhailovsky, was brought about not by gentile ties, nor even by their continuation and generalisation: it was brought about by the increasing exchange among regions, the gradually growing circulation of commodities, and the concentration of the small local markets into a single, all-Russian market. Since the leaders and masters of this process were the merchant capitalists, the creation of these national ties was nothing else than the creation of bourgeois ties. By both his factual references Mr. Mikhailovsky has only belaboured himself and given us nothing but examples of bourgeois banality; “banality,” because he explained the institution of inheritance by procreation and its psychology, and nationality by gentile ties; “bourgeois,” because he took the categories and superstructures of one historically definite social formation (that based on exchange) for categories as general and eternal as the upbringing of children and “directly” sexual ties.

What is highly characteristic here is that as soon as our subjective philosopher tried to pass from phrases to concrete facts he got himself into a mess. And apparently he feels very much at ease in this not over-clean position: there he sits, preening himself and splashing filth all around him. He wants, for instance, to refute the thesis that history is a succession of episodes of the class struggle, and so, declaring with an air of profundity that this is “extreme,” be says: “The International Working Mens Association,[30] formed by Marx and organised for the purposes of the class struggle, did not prevent the French and German workers from cutting each others throats and despoiling each other”—something, he avers, which proves that materialism has not settled accounts “with the demon of national vanity and national hatred.” Such an assertion reveals the critics utter failure to understand that the very real interests of the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie constitute the principal basis of this hatred, and that to talk of national sentiment as an independent factor is only to obscure the essence of the matter. Incidentally, we have already seen what a profound idea   of nationality our philosopher has. Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot refer to the International except with the irony of a Burenin.[31] “Marx was the head of the International Working Mens Association, which, it is true, has fallen to pieces, but is due to be resurrected.” Of course, if the nec plus ultra of international solidarity is to be seen in a system of “fair” exchange, on which the chronicler of home affairs expatiates with philistine banality in No. 2 of Russkoye Bogatstvo, and if it is not understood that exchange, fair or unfair, always presupposes and includes the rule of the bourgeoisie, and that the cessation of international clashes is impossible unless the economic organisation based on exchange is destroyed, then it is understandable that there should be nothing but sneers for the International. Then one can understand that Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot grasp the simple truth that there is no other way of combating national hatred than by organising and uniting the oppressed class for a struggle against the oppressor class in each separate country, than by uniting such national working-class organisations into a single international working-class army to fight international capital. As to the statement that the International did not prevent the workers from cutting each others throats, it is enough to remind Mr. Mikhailovsky of the events of the Commune, which showed the true attitude of the organised proletariat to the ruling classes engaged in war.

What is particularly disgusting in all this polemic of Mr. Mikhailovskys is the methods he employs. If he is dissatisfied with the tactics of the International, if he does not share the ideas in the name of which the European workers are organising, let him at least criticise them bluntly and openly, and expound his idea of what would be more expedient tactics and more correct views. As it is, no definite and clear objections are made, and all we get is senseless jibes scattered here and there among a welter of phrase-mongering. What can one call this but filth, especially if we bear in mind that defence of the ideas and tactics of the International is not legally allowed in Russia? Such too are the methods Mr. Mikhailovsky employs when he argues against the Russian Marxists: without taking the trouble to formulate any of their theses conscientiously and accurately, so as to subject them to direct and definite criticism, he prefers to fasten   on fragments of Marxist arguments he happens to have heard and to garble them. Judge for yourselves: “Marx was too intelligent and too learned to think that it was he who discovered the idea of the historical necessity and conformity to law of social phenomena. . . . The lower rungs” (of the Marxist ladder)[7] “do not know this” (that “the idea of historical necessity is not something new, invented or discovered by Marx, but a long established truth”), “or, at least., they have only a vague idea of the centuries of intellectual effort and energy spent on the establishment of this truth.”

Of course, statements of this kind may very well make an impression on people who hear of Marxism for the first time, and in their case the aim of the critic may be easily achieved, namely, to garble, scoff and “conquer” (the word used, it is said, about Mr. Mikhailovskys articles by contributors to Russkoye Bogatstvo ). Anybody who has any knowledge at all of Marx will immediately perceive the utter falsity and sham of such methods. One may not agree with Marx, but one cannot deny that he formulated with the utmost precision those of his views which constitute “something new” in relation to the earlier socialists. The something new consisted in the fact that the earlier socialists thought that to substantiate their views it was enough to show the oppression of the masses under the existing regime, to show the superiority of a system under which every man would receive what he himself had produced, to show that this ideal system harmonised with “human nature,” with the conception of a rational and moral life, and so forth. Marx found it impossible to content himself with such a socialism. He did not confine himself to describing the existing system, to judging it and condemning it; he gave a scientific explanation of it, reducing that existing system, which differs in   the different European and non-European countries, to a common basis—the capitalist social formation, the laws of the functioning and development of which he subjected to an objective analysis (he showed the necessity of exploitation under that system). In just the same way he did not find it possible to content himself with asserting that only the socialist system harmonises with human nature, as was claimed by the great utopian socialists and by their wretched imitators, the subjective sociologists. By this same objective analysis of the capitalist system, he proved the necessity of its transformation into the socialist system. (Exactly how he proved this and how Mr. Mikhailovsky objected to it is something we shall have to refer to again.) That is the source of those references to necessity which are frequently to be met with among Marxists. The distortion which Mr. Mikhailovsky introduced into the question is obvious: he omitted the whole factual content of the theory, its whole essence, and presented the matter as though the whole theory amounts to the one word “necessity” (“one cannot refer to this alone in complex practical affairs”), as though the proof of the theory is that this is what historical necessity demands. In other words, saying nothing about the content of the doctrine, he seized only on its label, and again started to pull faces at that which was “simply the worn-out coin,” he had worked so hard to transform into Marx’s teaching. We shall not, of course, try to follow up his clowning, because we are already sufficiently acquainted with that sort of thing. Let him cut capers for the amusement and satisfaction of Mr. Burenin (who not without good reason patted Mr. Mikhailovsky on the back in Novoye Vremya),[32] let him, after paying his respects to Marx, yelp at him from round the corner: “his controversy with the utopians and idealists is one-sided as it is,” i.e., as it is without the Marxists repeating its arguments. We cannot call such sallies anything else but yelping, because he does not adduce one single factual, definite and verifiable objection to this polemic, so that however willing we might be to discuss the subject, since we consider this controversy extremely important for the settlement of Russian socialist problems—we simply cannot reply to the yelping, and can only shrug our shoulders and say:

Mighty must the pug-dog be, if at the elephant barketh he![33]

Not without interest is the next thing Mr. Mikhailovsky has to say about historical necessity, because it reveals, if only partly, the real ideological stock-in-trade of “our well-known sociologist” (the title enjoyed by Mr. Mikhailovsky, equally with Mr. V. V., among the liberal members of our “cultured society”). He speaks of “the conflict between the idea of historical necessity and the significance of individual activity”: socially active figures err in regarding themselves as active, when as a matter of fact they are “activated,” “marionettes, manipulated from a mysterious underground by the immanent laws of historical necessity”— such, he claims, is the conclusion to be drawn from this idea, which he therefore characterises as “sterile” and “diffuse.” Probably not every reader knows where Mr. Mikhailovsky got all this nonsense about marionettes and the like. The point is that this is one of the favourite hobby-horses of the subjective philosopher—the idea of the conflict between determinism and morality, between historical necessity and the significance of the individual. He has filled reams of paper on the subject and has uttered an infinite amount of sentimental, philistine nonsense in order to settle this conflict in favour of morality and the role of the individual. Actually, there is no conflict here at all; it has been invented by Mr. Mikhailovsky, who feared (not without reason) that determinism would cut the ground from under the philistine morality he loves so dearly. The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys mans reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real question that arises in appraising the social activity of an individual is: what conditions ensure the success of his actions, what guarantee is there that these actions will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter of contrary acts? This also is a question answered differently by Social-Democrats and by the other Russian socialists: how must actions aimed at bringing about the socialist system attract the masses in order to yield serious fruits? Obviously, the answer to this question depends directly and immediately on the way in which the grouping of social forces in Russia and the class struggle which forms the substance of Russian reality are understood; and here too Mr. Mikhailovsky merely wanders all round the question, without even attempting to formulate it precisely and furnish an answer. The Social-Democratic answer to the question is based, as we know, on the view that the Russian economic system constitutes a bourgeois society, from which there can be only one way out, the one that necessarily follows from the very nature of the bourgeois system, namely, the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Obviously, criticism that is serious should be directed either against the view that ours is a bourgeois system, or against the conception of the nature of this system and the laws of its development; but Mr. Mikhailovsky does not even dream of dealing with serious questions. He prefers to dispose of matters with vapid phrase-mongering about necessity being too general a bracket and so on. But then, Mr. Mikhailovsky, any idea will be too general a bracket if you treat it like an egg from which you throw out the meat and then begin playing with the shell! This outer shell, which hides the really serious and burning questions of the day, is Mr. Mikhailovskys favourite sphere, and with particular pride he stresses the point, for example, that “economic materialism ignores or throws a wrong light on the question of heroes and the crowd.” Pray note—the question which are the conflicting classes that make up contemporary Russian reality and what is its basis, is probably too general for Mr. Mikhailovsky, and he evades it. On the other hand, the question of what relations exist between the hero and the crowd—whether it is a crowd of workers, peasants, factory owners, or landlords, is one that interests him extremely. Maybe these questions are “interesting,” but to rebuke the materialists for devoting all their efforts to the settlement of problems that directly concern the liberation of the labouring class is to be an admirer of philistine science, nothing more. Concluding his “criticism” (?) of materialism,   Mr. Mikhailovsky makes one more attempt to misrepresent the facts and performs one more manipulation. Having expressed doubt about the correctness of Engels opinion that Capital was hushed up by the official economists[34] (a doubt he justifies on the curious grounds that there are numerous universities in Germany!), Mr. Mikhailovsky says: “Marx did not have this particular circle of readers” (workers) “in view, but expected something from men of science too.” That is absolutely untrue. Marx understood very well how little impartiality and scientific criticism he could expect from the bourgeois scientists and in the Afterword to the second edition of Capital he expressed himself very definitely on this score. There he says: “The appreciation which Das Kapital rapidly gained in wide circles of the German working class is the best reward of my labours. Herr Mayer . . . who in economic matters represents the bourgeois point of view, in a pamphlet published during the Franco-German War, aptly expounded the idea that the great capacity for theory (der grosse theoretische Sinn), which used to be considered a hereditary German possession, had almost completely disappeared amongst the so-called educated classes in Germany, but that amongst its working class, on the contrary, that capacity was celebrating its revival.”[35]

The manipulation again concerns materialism and is entirely in the style of the first sample. “The theory (of materialism) has never been scientifically substantiated and verified.” Such is the thesis. The proof: “Individual good pages of historical content in the works of Engels, Kautsky and some others also (as in the esteemed work of Blos) might well dispense with the label of economic materialism, since” (note the “since”!), “in fact” (sic!), “they take the sum-total of social life into account, even though the economic note predominates in the chord.” And the conclusion—“Economic materialism has not justified itself in science.”

A familiar trick! To prove that the theory lacks foundation, Mr. Mikhailovsky first distorts it by ascribing to it the absurd intention of not taking the sum-total of social life into account, whereas quite the opposite is the case: the materialists (Marxists) were the first socialists to raise the issue of the need to analyse all aspects of social life,   and not only the economic[8] —then he declares that “in fact” the materialists have “effectively” explained the sum-total of social life by economics (a fact which obviously demolishes the author)—and finally he draws the conclusion that materialism “has not justified itself.” Your manipulations, however, Mr. Mikhailovsky, have justified themselves magnificently!

This is all that Mr. Mikhailovsky advances in “refutation” of materialism. I repeat, there is no criticism here, it is nothing but empty and pretentious babbling. If we were to ask anybody at all what objections Mr. Mikhailovsky has raised against the view that production relations form the basis of all others; how he has refuted the correctness of the concept of the social formation and of the natural-historical development of these formations elaborated by Marx using the materialist method; how he has proved the fallacy of the materialist explanations of various historical problems given, for instance, by the writers he has mentioned—the answer would have to be that Mr. Mikhailovsky has raised no objections, has advanced no refutation, indicated no fallacies. He has merely beaten about the bush, trying to cover up the essence of the matter with phrases, and in passing has invented various paltry subterfuges.

We can hardly expect anything serious of such a critic when he continues in No. 2 of Russkoye Bogatstvo to refute Marxism. The only difference is that his inventiveness in the sphere of manipulations is already exhausted and he is beginning to use other peoples.

He starts out by holding forth on the “complexity” of social life: why, he says, even galvanism is connected with economic materialism, because Galvanis experiments “produced an impression” on Hegel, too. Wonderful wit! One could just as easily connect Mr. Mikhailovsky with the Emperor of China! What follows from this, except that there are people who find pleasure in talking nonsense?!

The essence of the historical process,” Mr. Mikhailovsky continues, “which is elusive in general, has also eluded the doctrine of economic materialism, although this apparently rests on two pillars: the discovery of the all determining significance of the forms of production and exchange and the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process.”

And so, the materialists rest their case on the “incontrovertibility” of the dialectical process! In other words, they base their sociological theories on Hegelian triads.[36] Here we have the stock method of accusing Marxism of Hegelian dialectics, an accusation that might be thought to have been worn threadbare enough by Marx’s bourgeois critics. Unable to advance any fundamental argument against the doctrine, these gentlemen fastened on Marx’s manner of expression and attacked the origin of the theory, thinking thereby to undermine its essence. And Mr. Mikhailovsky makes no bones about resorting to such methods. He uses a chapter from Engels Anti-Dühring[37] as a pretext. Replying to Dühring, who had attacked Marx’s dialectics, Engels says that Marx never dreamed of “proving” anything by means of Hegelian triads, that Marx only studied and investigated the real process, and that the sole criterion of theory recognised by him was its conformity to reality. If, however, it sometimes happened that the development of some particular social phenomenon fitted in with the Hegelian scheme, namely, thesis—negation—negation of the negation, there is nothing surprising about that, for it is no rare thing in nature at all, and Engels proceeds to cite examples from   natural history (the development of a seed) and the social sphere—as, for instance, that first there was primitive communism, then private property, and then the capitalist socialisation of labour; or that first there was primitive materialism, then idealism, and then scientific materialism, and so forth. It is clear to everybody that the main weight of Engels argument is that materialists must correctly and accurately depict the actual historical process, and that insistence on dialectics, the selection of examples to demonstrate the correctness of the triad, is nothing but a relic of the Hegelianism out of which scientific socialism has grown, a relic of its manner of expression. And; indeed, once it has been categorically declared that to “prove” anything by triads is absurd, and that nobody even thought of doing so, what significance can attach to examples of “dialectical” processes? Is it not obvious that this merely points to the origin of the doctrine and nothing more? Mr. Mikhailovsky himself sees it when he says that the theory should not be blamed for its origin. But in order to discern in Engels arguments something more than the origin of the theory, proof should obviously be offered that the materialists have settled at least one historical problem by means of triads, and not on the strength of the pertinent facts. Did Mr. Mikhailovsky attempt to prove this? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, he was himself obliged to admit that “Marx filled the empty dialectical scheme so full with factual content that it can be removed from this content like a lid from a bowl without changing anything” (as to the exception which Mr. Mikhailovsky makes here— regarding the future—we shall deal with it anon). If that is so, why is Mr. Mikhailovsky making so much fuss about this lid that changes nothing? Why does he say that the materialists “rest” their case on the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process? Why, when he is combating this lid, does he declare that he is combating one of the “pillars” of scientific socialism, which is a downright untruth?

It goes without saying that I shall not examine how Mr. Mikhailovsky analyses the examples of triads, because, I repeat, this has no connection whatever either with scientific materialism or with Russian Marxism. But there is one interesting question: what grounds had Mr. Mikhailovsky for so distorting the attitude of Marxists to dialectics?   Two grounds: firstly, Mr. Mikhailovsky, as the saying goes, heard the tolling of a bell, but whence it came he could not tell; secondly, Mr. Mikhailovsky performed (or, rather, borrowed from Dühring) one more piece of subterfuge.

Ad 1)[9] When reading Marxist literature, Mr. Mikhailovsky constantly came across references to the “dialectical method” in social science, “dialectical thinking,” again in the sphere of social problems (which alone is in question), and so forth. In his simplicity of heart (it were well if it were only simplicity) he took it for granted that this method consists in solving all sociological problems in accordance with the laws of the Hegelian triad. Had he been just a little more attentive to the matter in hand he could not but have become convinced of the absurdity of this notion. What Marx and Engels called the dialectical method—as against the metaphysical—is nothing else than the scientific method in sociology, which consists in regarding society as a living organism in a state of constant development (and not as something mechanically concatenated and therefore permitting all sorts of arbitrary combinations of separate social elements), an organism the study of which requires an objective analysis of the production relations that constitute the given social formation and an investigation of its laws of functioning and development. We shall endeavour below to illustrate the relation between the dialectical method and the metaphysical (to which concept the subjective method in sociology undoubtedly also belongs) by Mr. Mikhailovskys own arguments. For the present we shall only observe that anyone who reads the definition and description of the dialectical method given either by Engels (in the polemic against Dühring: Socialism: Utopian and Scientific) or by Marx (various comments in Capital, in the Afterword to the second edition, and in The Poverty of Philosophy)[38] will see that the Hegelian triads are not even mentioned, and that it all amounts to regarding social evolution as the natural historical process of development of social-economic formations. In confirmation of this I shall cite in extenso the description of the dialectical method given in Vestnik Yevropy, 1872, No. 5 (in the article “The Standpoint   of Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy”),[39] which Marx quotes in the Afterword to the second edition of Capital. Marx says that the method he employed in Capital had been poorly understood. “German reviews, of course, shriek out at Hegelian sophistics.” And in order to illustrate his method more clearly, Marx quotes the description of it given in the article mentioned. The one thing of importance to Marx, it is there stated, is to find the law governing the phenomena he is investigating, and of particular importance to him is the law of change, the development of those phenomena, of their transition from one form into another, from one order of social relations to another. Consequently, Marx is concerned with one thing only: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of the given order of social relations, and to establish, as fully as possible, the facts that serve him as fundamental points of departure. For this purpose it is quite enough if, while proving the necessity of the present order of things, he at the same time proves the necessity of another order which must inevitably grow out of the preceding one regardless of whether men believe in it or not, whether they are conscious of it or not. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intentions, but, rather, on the contrary, determining the will, consciousness and intentions of men. (This for the information of the subjectivist gentlemen, who separate social evolution from the evolution of natural history merely because man sets himself conscious “aims” and is guided by definite ideals.) If the conscious element plays so subordinate a part in the history of civilisation, it is self-evident that a critique whose subject is civilisation, can least of all take as its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the external, objective phenomenon alone can serve as its point of departure. Criticism must consist in comparing and contrasting the given fact with another fact and not, with the idea; the one thing of moment is that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, in respect of each other, different moments of development; but most important of all is that an equally accurate investigation be made of the whole series of known states,   their sequence and the relation between the different stages of development. Marx rejects the very idea that the laws of economic life are one and the same for the past and the present. On the contrary, every historical period has its own laws. Economic life constitutes a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. Earlier economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Setting himself the task of investigating the capitalist economic organism from this point of view, Marx thereby formulates, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in disclosing the special (historical) laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, and death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher organism.

Such is the description of the dialectical method which Marx fished out of the mass of magazine and newspaper comments on Capital, and which he translated into German, because this description of the method, as he himself says, is absolutely correct. The question arises, is so much as even a single word said here about triads, trichotomies, the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process and suchlike nonsense, which Mr. Mikhailovsky battles against so valiantly. Following this description, Marx says plainly that his method is the “direct opposite” of Hegel’s method. According to Hegel the development of the idea, in conformity with the dialectical laws of the triad, determines the development of the real world. And it is only in that case, of course, that one can speak of the importance of the triads, of the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process. “With me, on the contrary,” says Marx, “the ideal is nothing but the reflection of the material.” And the whole matter thus amounts to an “affirmative recognition of the existing state of things and of its inevitable development”; no other role is left for the triads than that of the lid and the shell (“I coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to Hegel,” Marx says in this same Afterword), in which only philistines could be interested. How, then, we may ask, should   we judge a man who set out to criticise one of the “pillars” of scientific materialism. i.e., dialectics, and began to talk about all sorts of things, even about frogs and Napoleon, but not about what dialectics is, whether the development of society is really a process of natural history, whether the materialist concept of social-economic formations as special social organisms is correct, whether the methods of objective analysis of these formations are right, whether social ideas really do not determine social development but are themselves determined by it, and so forth? Can one assume only a lack of understanding in this case?

Ad 2)[10] After this “criticism” of dialectics, Mr. Mikhailovsky imputes these methods of proving things “by means of” Hegelian triads to Marx, and, of course, victoriously combats them. “Regarding the future,” he says, “the immanent laws of society are based purely on dialectics.” (This is the exception referred to above.) Marx’s arguments on the inevitability of the expropriation of the expropriators by virtue of the laws of development of capitalism are “purely dialectical.” Marx’s “ideal” of the common ownership of land and capital “in the sense of its inevitability and indubitability rests entirely at the end of the Hegelian three term chain.”

This argument is taken in its entirety from Dühring, who expounds it in his “Kritische Geschichte der Nationaloekonomie und des Sozialismus"(3-te Aufl., 1879. S. 486–87).[11] But Mr. Mikhailovsky says not a word about Dühring. Perhaps, incidentally, he arrived independently at this way of garbling Marx?

Engels gave a splendid reply to Dühring, and since he also quotes Dührings criticism we shall confine ourselves to Engels reply.[40] The reader will see that it fully applies to Mr. Mikhailovsky.

“’This historical sketch’ (of the genesis of the so-called primitive accumulation of capital in England) ’is relatively the best part of Marx’s book,’” says Dühring, “and would be even better if it had not relied on the dialectical crutch to   help out its scholarly crutch. The Hegelian negation of the negation, in default of anything better and clearer, has in fact to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past. The abolition of “individual property,” which since the sixteenth century has been effected in the way indicated above, is the first negation. It will be followed by a second, which bears the character of a negation of the negation, and hence of a restoration of “individual property,” but in a higher form, based on common ownership of land and of the instruments of labour. Herr Marx calls this new “individual property” also “social property,” and in this there appears the Hegelian higher unity, in which the contradiction is supposed to be sublated” (aufgehoben—a specific Hegelian term), “that is to say, in the Hegelian verbal jugglery, both overcome and preserved. . . .”

“’According to this, the expropriation of the expropriators is, as it were, the automatic result of historical reality in its materially external relations. . . . It would be difficult to convince a sensible man of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital, on the basis of credence in Hegelian word-juggling such as the negation of the negation.... The nebulous hybrids of Marx’s conceptions will not, however, appear strange to anyone who realises what nonsense can be concocted with Hegelian dialectics as the scientific basis, or rather what nonsense must necessarily spring from it. For the benefit of the reader who is not familiar with these artifices, it must be pointed out expressly that Hegel’s first negation is the catechismal idea of the fall from grace, and his second is that of a higher unity leading to redemption. The logic of facts can hardly be based on this nonsensical analogy borrowed from the religious sphere.... Herr Marx remains cheerfully in the nebulous world of his property which is at once both individual and social and leaves it to his adepts to solve for themselves this profound dialectical enigma.’ Thus far Herr Dühring.

So,” Engels concludes, “Marx has no other way of proving the necessity of the social revolution, of establishing the common ownership of land and of the means of production produced by labour, except by using the Hegelian negation of the negation; and because he bases his socialist theory on these nonsensical analogies borrowed from religion, he arrives at   the result that in the society of the future there will be dominant an ownership at once both individual and social, as the Hegelian higher unity of the sublated contradiction.[12]

But let the negation of the negation rest for the moment, and let us have a look at the ownership which is at once both individual and social. Herr Dühring characterises this as a nebulous world, and curiously enough he is really right on this point. Unfortunately, however, it is not Marx but again Herr Dühring himself who is in this nebulous world.. . . He can put Marx right á la Hegel, by imputing to him the higher unity of a property, of which there is not a word in Marx.

Marx says: ’It is the negation of the negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisitions of the capitalist era; i.e., on co-operation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production. The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialised production, into socialised property.’ That is all. The state of things brought about through the expropriation of the expropriators is therefore characterised as the reestablishment   of individual property, but on the basis of the social ownership of the land and of the means of production produced by labour itself. To anyone who understands German” (and Russian too, Mr. Mikhailovsky, because the translation is absolutely correct) “this means that social ownership extends to the land and the other means of production, and individual ownership to the products, that is, the articles of consumption. And in order to make the matter comprehensible even to children of six, Marx assumes on page 56” (Russ. ed., p. 30)[41] “a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour-power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour-power of the community, that is, a society organised on a socialist basis; and he continues: The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this portion among them is consequently necessary. And surely that is clear enough even for Herr Dühring. . . .

The property which is at once both individual and social, this confusing hybrid, this nonsense which necessarily springs from Hegelian dialectics, this nebulous world, this profound dialectical enigma, which Marx leaves his adepts to solve for themselves—is yet another free creation and imagination on the part of Herr Dühring. . . .

But what role,” Engels continues, “does the negation of the negation play in Marx? On page 791 and the following pages” (Russ. ed., p. 648 et seq.)[42] “he sets out the final conclusions which he draws from the preceding 50” (Russ. ed., 35) “pages of economic and historical investigation into the so-called primitive accumulation of capital. Before the capitalist era, petty industry existed, at least in England, on the basis of the private property of the labourer in his means of production. The so-called primitive accumulation of capital consisted there in the expropriation of these immediate producers, that is, in the (dissolution of private property based on the labour of its owner. This became possible because the petty industry referred to above is compatible only with narrow and primitive   bounds of production and society and at a certain stage brings forth the material agencies for its own annihilation. This annihilation, the transformation of the individual and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, forms the prehistory of capital. As soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, the further socialisation of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production” (into capital), “and therefore the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the concentration of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this concentration, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil; the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialised labour. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. Capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and nourished along with, and under it. Concentration of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

And now I ask the reader: where are the dialectical frills and mazes and conceptual arabesques; where the mixed   and misconceived ideas according to which everything is all one and the same thing in the end; where the dialectical miracles for his faithful followers; where the mysterious dialectical rubbish and the maze in accordance with the Hegelian Logos doctrine, without which Marx, according to Herr Dühring, is unable to put his exposition into shape? Marx merely shows from history, and here states in a summarised form, that just as formerly petty industry by its very development, necessarily created the conditions of its own annihilation . . . so now the capitalist mode of production has likewise itself created the material conditions from which it must perish. The process is a historical one, and if it is at the same time a dialectical process, this is not Marx’s fault, however annoying it may be to Herr Dühring.

It is only at this point, after Marx has completed his proof on the basis of historical and economic facts, that he proceeds: The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the negation—and so on (as quoted above).

Thus, by characterising the process as the negation of the negation, Marx does not intend to prove that the process was historically necessary. On the contrary: only after he has proved from history that in fact the process has partially already occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he in addition characterises it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite dialectical law. That is all. It is therefore once again a pure distortion of the facts by Herr Dühring when he declares that the negation of the negation has to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past, or that Marx wants anyone to be convinced of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital . . . on the basis of credence in the negation of the negation” (p. 125).

The reader will see that Engels’ splendid rebuttal of Dühring applies in its entirety to Mr. Mikhailovsky, who also asserts that with Marx the future rests exclusively   at the end of the Hegelian chain and that the conviction of its inevitability can be founded only on faith.[13]

The whole difference between Dühring and Mr. Mikhailovsky reduces itself to the following two small points: firstly, Dühring, despite the fact that he could not speak of Marx without foaming at the mouth, nevertheless considered it necessary to mention in the next section of his History that Marx in the Afterword[43] categorically repudiated the accusation of Hegelianism. Mr. Mikhailovsky, however, has nothing to say about the (above quoted) absolutely definite and clear statements by Marx on what he conceives the dialectical method to be.

Secondly, another peculiarity of Mr. Mikhailovsky’s is that he concentrated all his attention on the use of tenses. Why, when he speaks of the future, does Marx use the present tense?—our philosopher demands with an air of triumph. You may find the answer to this in any grammar, most worthy critic: you will find that the present tense is used in stead of the future when the future is regarded as inevitable and undoubted. But why so, why is it undoubted?— Mr. Mikhailovsky anxiously asks, desiring to convey such profound agitation as would justify even a distortion. But on this point, too, Marx gave an absolutely definite reply. You may consider it inadequate or wrong, but in that case you must show how exactly and why exactly it is wrong, and not talk nonsense about Hegelianism.

Time was when Mr. Mikhailovsky not only knew himself what this reply was, but lectured others on it. Mr. Zhukovsky, he wrote in 1877, had good grounds for regarding Marx’s conception of the future as conjectural, but he “had no moral right” to ignore the question of the socialisation of labour, “to which Marx attributes vast   importance.” Well, of course! Zhukovsky in 1877 had no moral right to evade the question, but Mr. Mikhailovsky in 1894 has this moral right! Perhaps, quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi?![14]

I cannot help recalling here a strange notion of this socialisation once expressed in Otechestvenniye Zapiski.[44] In No. 7, 1883, this magazine published “A Letter to the Editor,” from a certain Mr. Postoronny[45] who, like Mr. Mikhailovsky, regarded Marx’s “conception” about the future as conjectural. “Essentially,” this gentleman argues, “the social form of labour under capitalism amounts to this, that several hundreds or thousands of workers grind, hammer, turn, place on, place under, pull and perform numerous other operations under one roof. As to the general character of this regime it is excellently expressed by the saying: Every man for himself, and God for all. Where does the social form of labour come in?”

Well, you can see at once that the man has grasped what it is all about! “The social form of labour” “amounts” to “working under one roof”!! And when such preposterous ideas are expressed in one of the, so far, best Russian magazines, they still want to assure us that the theoretical part of Capital is generally recognised by science. Yes, as it was unable to raise the slightest serious objection to Capital, “generally recognised science” began to bow and scrape to it, at the same time continuing to betray the most elementary ignorance and to repeat the old banalities of school economics. We must dwell on this question somewhat in order to show Mr. Mikhailovsky what is the essence of the matter which he, by force of habit, has passed over entirely.

The socialisation of labour by capitalist production does not at all consist in people working under one roof (that is only a small part of the process), but in the concentration of capital being accompanied by the specialisation of social labour, by a decrease in the number of capitalists in each given branch of industry and an increase in the number of separate branches of industry—in many separate production processes being merged into one social production process. When, in the days of handicraft weaving, for example, the small producers themselves spun the yarn and made it into cloth, we had a few branches of industry (spinning and weaving were merged). But when production becomes socialised by capitalism, the number of separate branches of industry increases: cotton spinning is done separately and so is weaving; this very division and the concentration of production give rise to new branches—machine building, coal mining, and so forth. In each branch of industry, which has now become more specialised, the number of capitalists steadily decreases. This means that the social tie between the producers becomes increasingly stronger, the producers become welded into a single whole. The isolated small producers each performed several operations simultaneously, and were therefore relatively independent of each other: when, for instance, the handicraftsman himself sowed flax, and himself spun and wove, he was almost independent of others. It was this (and only this) regime of small, dispersed commodity producers that justified the saying: “Every man for himself, and God for all,” that is, an anarchy of market fluctuations. The case is entirely different under the socialisation of labour that has been achieved due to capitalism. The manufacturer who produces fabrics depends on the cotton-yarn manufacturer; the latter depends on the capitalist planter who grows the cotton, on the owner of the engineering works, the coal mine, and so on and so forth. The result is that no capitalist can get along without others. It is clear that the saying “every man for himself” is quite inapplicable to such a regime: here each works for all and all for each (and no room is left for God—either as a super-mundane fantasy or as a mundane “golden calf”). The character of the regime changes completely. When, during the regime of small, isolated enterprises, work came to a standstill in any one of them, this affected only a few members of society, it did not cause any general confusion, and therefore did not attract general attention and did not provoke public interference. But when work comes to a standstill in a large enterprise, one engaged in a highly specialised branch of industry and therefore working almost for the whole of   society and, in its turn, dependent on the whole of society (for the sake of simplicity I take a case where socialisation has reached the culminating point), work is bound to come to a standstill in all the other enterprises of society, because they can only obtain the products they need from this enterprise, they can only dispose of all their own commodities if its commodities are available. All production processes thus merge into a single social production process; yet each branch is conducted by a separate capitalist, it depends on him and the social products are his private property. Is it not clear that the form of production comes into irreconcilable contradiction with the form of appropriation? Is it not evident that the latter must adapt itself to the former and must become social, that is, socialist? But the smart philistine of Otechestvenniye Zapiski reduces the whole thing to work under one roof. Could anything be wider of the mark! (I have described only the material process, only the change in production relations, without touching on the social aspect of the process, the fact that the workers become united, welded together and organised, since that is a derivative and secondary phenomenon.)

The reason such elementary things have to be explained to the Russian “democrats” is that they are so badly stuck in the mud of petty-bourgeois ideas that to imagine any but a petty-bourgeois order of things is quite beyond them.

Let us return, however, to Mr. Mikhailovsky. What objections did he make to the facts and arguments on which Marx based the conclusion that the socialist system is inevitable by virtue of the very laws of capitalist development? Did he show that in reality, under a commodity organisation of social economy, there is no growing specialisation of the social labour process, no concentration of capital and enterprises, no socialisation of the whole labour process? No, he did not advance a single argument in refutation of these facts. Did he shake the proposition that anarchy, which is irreconcilable with the socialisation of labour, is an inherent feature of capitalist society? He said nothing about this. Did he prove that the amalgamation of the labour processes of all the capitalists into a single social labour process is compatible with private property, or that some solution to the contradiction is possible   and conceivable other than that indicated by Marx? No, he did not say a word about this.

On what, then, does his criticism rest? On manipulations, distortion, and on a spate of words which are nothing more than the noise of a rattle.

How else, indeed, are we to characterise methods employed by the critic who, after first talking a lot of nonsense about triple successive steps of history, demands of Marx with a serious air: “And what next?”—that is, how will history proceed beyond that final stage of the process he has described? Please note that from the very outset of his literary and revolutionary activities Marx most definitely demanded that sociological theory should accurately depict the real process—and nothing more (cf., for instance, the Communist Manifesto on the communists criterion of theory).[46] He strictly adhered to this demand in his Capital: he made it his task to give a scientific analysis of the capitalist form of society—and there he stopped, after showing that the development of this organisation actually going on before our eyes has such and such a tendency, that it must inevitably perish and turn into another, a higher organisation. But Mr. Mikhailovsky, evading the whole substance of Marx’s doctrine, puts his stupid question: “And what next?” And he adds profoundly: “I must frankly confess that I am not quite clear what Engels reply would be.” We, however, on our part must frankly confess, Mr. Mikhailovsky, that we are quite clear about what the spirit and methods of such “criticism” are!

Or take the following argument: “In the Middle Ages, Marx’s individual property based on the proprietors own labour was neither the only nor the predominating factor, even in the realm of economic relations. There was much more besides, but the dialectical method in Marx’s interpretation” (and not in Mr. Mikhailovsky’s garbled version of it?) “does not propose returning to it. . . . It is obvious that all these schemes do not present a picture of historical reality, or even of its proportions; they simply satisfy the tendency of the human mind to think of every object in its past, present and future states.” Even your way of distorting things, Mr. Mikhailovsky, is monotonous to the point of nausea! Into Marx’s scheme, which claims to formulate nothing   but the actual process of development of capitalism,[15] he first insinuates the intention of proving everything by triads, then declares that Marx’s scheme does not conform to the plan foisted on it by Mr. Mikhailovsky (the third stage restores only one aspect of the first stage, omitting all the others), and then in the most blatant manner draws the conclusion that “the scheme obviously does not present a picture of historical reality”!

Is any serious polemic thinkable with a man who (as Engels said of Dühring) cannot quote accurately, even by way of exception? Can there be any arguing, when the public is assured that the scheme “obviously” does not conform to reality, without even an attempt being made to show its faultiness in any respect?

Instead of criticising the real content of Marxist views, Mr. Mikhailovsky exercises his ingenuity on the subject of the categories past, present and future. Engels, for instance, arguing against the “eternal truths” of Herr Dühring, says that the “morality . . . preached to us today” is a threefold morality: Christian-feudal, bourgeois and proletarian, so that the past, present and future have their own theories of morality.[47] In this connection, Mr. Mikhailovsky reasons as follows: “I think that it is the categories past, present and future that lie at the basis of all triple divisions of history into periods.” What profundity! Who does not know that if any social phenomenon is examined in its process of development, relics of the past, foundations of the present and germs of the future will always be discovered in it? But did Engels, for instance, think of asserting that the history of morality (he was speaking, we know, only of the “present”) was confined to the three factors indicated, that feudal morality, for example, was not preceded by slave morality, and the latter by the morality of the primitive-communist community? Instead of seriously criticising Engels attempt to elucidate modern trends in   moral ideas by explaining them materialistically, Mr. Mikhailovsky treats us to the most empty phrase-mongering!

In respect of such methods of “criticism” employed by Mr. Mikhailovsky, criticism which begins with the statement that he does not know where, in what work, the materialist conception of history is expounded, it would perhaps be worth while to recall that there was a time when the author knew one of these works and was able to appraise it more correctly. In 1877, Mr. Mikhailovsky expressed the following opinion of Capital: “If we remove from Capital the heavy, clumsy and unnecessary lid of Hegelian dialectics” (How strange! How is it that “Hegelian dialectics” were “unnecessary” in 1877, while in 1894 it appears that materialism rests on “the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process”?), “then, apart from the other merits of this essay, we shall observe in it splendidly elaborated material for an answer to the general question of the relation of forms to the material conditions of their existence, and an excellent formulation of this question for a definite sphere.” “The relation of forms to the material conditions of their existence”—why, that is the very problem of the interrelation between the various aspects of social life, of the superstructure of ideological social relations on the basis of material relations, a problem whose well-known solution constitutes the doctrine of materialism. Let us proceed.

In point of fact, the whole ofCapital’” (my italics) “is devoted to an inquiry into how a form of society, once it has emerged, continues to develop and accentuates its typical features, subjecting to itself and assimilating discoveries, inventions and improvements in methods of production, new markets and science itself and compels them to work for it, and of how, finally, the given form cannot stand up against further changes in material conditions.”

An astonishing thing! In 1877, “the whole of Capital” was devoted to a materialist inquiry into a particular form of society (what else does materialism consist in, if not in explaining forms of society by material conditions?), whereas in 1894 it appears that it is not even known where, in what work, an exposition of this materialism should be sought!

In 1877, Capital contained an “inquiry into” how “a particular form” (the capitalist form, is it not?) “cannot” (mark that!) “stand up against further changes in material conditions,"—whereas in 1894 it turns out that there has been no inquiry at all and that the conviction that the capitalist form cannot withstand any further development of the productive forces—rests “entirely at the end of the Hegelian triad”! In 1877, Mr.Mikhailovsky wrote that “the analysis of the relations of the given form of society to the material conditions of its existence will for ever ” (my italics) “remain a monument to the authors logical powers and vast erudition,” whereas in 1894 he declares that the doctrine of materialism has never and nowhere been scientifically verified and proved.

An astonishing thing! What does it really mean? What has happened?

Two things have happened. Firstly, the Russian, peasant socialism of the seventies—which “snorted” at freedom because of its bourgeois character, fought the “clear-browed liberals” who zealously covered up the antagonistic nature of Russian life, and dreamed of a peasant revolution—has completely decayed and has begotten that vulgar, philistine liberalism which discerns an “encouraging impression” in the progressive trends of peasant farming, forgetting that they are accompanied (and determined) by the wholesale expropriation of the peasantry. Secondly, in 1877 Mr. Mikhailovsky was so engrossed in his task of defending the “sanguine” (i.e., revolutionary socialist) Marx from the liberal critics that he failed to observe the incompatibility of Marx’s method and his own. And then this irreconcilable contradiction between dialectical materialism and subjective sociology was explained to him—explained by Engels articles and books, and by the Russian Social-Democrats (one often meets with very apt comments on Mr. Mikhailovsky in Plekhanovs writings)—and Mr. Mikhailovsky, instead of seriously sitting down to reconsider the whole question, simply took the bit between his teeth. Instead of welcoming Marx (as he did in 1872 and 1877)[48] he now barks at him under cover of dubious praise, and rages and splutters against the Russian Marxists for refusing to rest content with the “defence of the economically weakest,” with warehouses   and improvements in the countryside, with museums and artels for handicraftsmen, and similar well-meaning philistine ideas of progress, and for wanting to remain “sanguine” people, advocates of social revolution, and to teach, guide and organise the really revolutionary elements of society.

After this brief excursion into the realm of the distant past, one may, we think, conclude this examination of Mr. Mikhailovsky’s “criticism” of Marx’s theory. Let us then try to sum up and recapitulate the critics “arguments.”

The doctrine he set out to demolish is based, firstly, on the materialist conception of history, and, secondly, on the dialectical method.

As to the first, the critic began by declaring that he did not know in which work materialism was expounded. Not having found such an exposition anywhere, he himself set about concocting an explanation of what materialism is. In order to give an idea of the excessive claims of this materialism, he concocted the story that the materialists claim to have explained the entire past, present and future of mankind—and when it was subsequently shown by reference to the authentic statements of the Marxists that they regard only one social formation as having been explained, the critic decided that the materialists narrow the scope of materialism, whereby, he asserts, they defeat themselves. In order to give an idea of the methods by which this materialism was worked out, he invented the story that the materialists themselves had confessed to the inadequacy of their knowledge for the elaboration of scientific socialism, despite the fact that Marx and Engels confessed only to the insufficiency of their knowledge (in 1845-1846) of economic history in general, and despite the fact that they never published the essay which testified to the insufficiency of their knowledge. After these preludes, we were treated to the criticism itself: Capital was annihilated because it dealt with only one period, whereas the critic wants to have all periods; and also because it did not affirm economic materialism, but simply touched upon it—arguments, evidently, so weighty and serious as to compel the recognition that materialism had never been scientifically   substantiated. Then the fact was cited against materialism that a man totally unconnected with this doctrine, having studied prehistoric times in an entirely different country, also arrived at materialist conclusions. To show, further, that it was absolutely wrong to drag procreation into materialism, that this was nothing but a verbal artifice, the critic proceeded to prove that economic relations are a superstructure based on sexual and family relations. The statements made thereupon by our weighty critic for the edification of the materialists enriched us with the profound truth that inheritance is impossible without procreation, that a complex psychology “adheres” to the products of this procreation, and that children are brought up in the spirit of their fathers. In passing, we also learnt that nationalities are a continuation and generalisation of gentile ties. Continuing his theoretical researches into materialism, the critic noted that the content of many of the Marxists arguments consisted in the assertion that oppression and exploitation of the masses were “necessary” under the bourgeois regime and that this regime must “necessarily” turn into a socialist regime, after which he hastened to declare that necessity is too general a bracket (if we omit what, exactly, people consider necessary) and that therefore Marxists are mystics and metaphysicians. The critic also declared that Marx’s polemic against the idealists was “one-sided,” but he did not say a word about the relation of these idealists views to the subjective method and the relation of Marx’s dialectical materialism to these views.

As to the second pillar of Marxism—the dialectical method—one push by the bold critic was enough to cast it to the ground. And the push was very well directed: the critic toiled and moiled with prodigious effort to disprove the notion that anything can be proved by triads, ignoring the fact that the dialectical method does not consist in triads at all, but that it consists precisely in the rejection of the methods of idealism and subjectivism in sociology. Another push was specially directed at Marx: with the help of the valorous Herr Dühring, the critic ascribed to Marx the incredible absurdity of having tried to prove the necessity of the doom of capitalism by means of triads—and then victoriously combated this absurdity.

Such is the epic of the brilliant “victories” of “our well known sociologist”! How very “edifying” (Burenin) it was to contemplate these victories!

We cannot refrain at this point from touching on another circumstance, which has no direct bearing on the criticism of Marx’s doctrine, but is extremely characteristic for an understanding of the critics ideals and of his conception of reality. It is his attitude to the working-class movement in the West.

Above we quoted Mr. Mikhailovsky’s statement that materialism had not justified itself in “science” (perhaps in the science of the German “friends of the people”?); but this materialism, argues Mr. Mikhailovsky, “is really spreading very rapidly among the working class.” How does Mr. Mikhailovsky explain this fact? “The success,” he says, “enjoyed by economic materialism in breadth, so to speak, and its dissemination in a critically unverified form, are chiefly due to the day-to-day practice established by prospects for the future, and not to science.” What other meaning can there be in this clumsy phrase about practice “established” by prospects for the future than that materialism is spreading not because it correctly explains reality, but because it turns away from reality towards prospects? And he goes on to say: “These prospects require of the German working class which is adopting them and of those who take a warm interest in its future neither knowledge nor the effort of critical thinking. They require only faith.” In other words, the spread of materialism and scientific socialism in breadth is due to the fact that this doctrine promises the workers a better future! But a most elementary acquaintance with the history of socialism and of the working-class movement in the West is enough to reveal the utter absurdity and falsity of this explanation. Everybody knows that scientific socialism never painted any prospects for the future as such: it confined itself to analysing the present bourgeois regime, to studying the trends of development of the capitalist social organisation, and that is all. “We do not say to the world,” Marx wrote as far back as 1843, and he fulfilled this programme to the letter, “we do not say to the world: Cease struggling—your whole struggle is senseless. All we do is to provide it with a true slogan   of struggle. We only show the world what it is actually struggling for, and consciousness is a thing which the world must acquire, whether it likes it or not.”[49] Everybody knows that Capital, for instance—the chief and basic work in which scientific socialism is expounded—restricts itself to the most general allusions to the future and merely traces those already existing elements from which the future system grows. Everybody knows that as far as prospects for the future are concerned incomparably more was contributed by the earlier socialists, who described future society in every detail, desiring to inspire mankind with a picture of a system under which people get along without conflict and under which their social relations are based not on exploitation but on true principles of progress that conform to the conditions of human nature. Nevertheless, despite the whole phalanx of very talented people who expounded these ideas, and despite the most firmly convinced socialists, their theories stood aloof from life and their programmes were not connected with the political movements of the people until large-scale machine industry drew the mass of proletarian workers into the vortex of political life, and until the true slogan of their struggle was found. This slogan was found by Marx, “not a utopian, but a strict and, in places, even dry scientist” (as Mr. Mikhailovsky called him in the long distant past—in 1872); and it was certainly not found by means of prospects, but by a scientific analysis of the present bourgeois regime, by an elucidation of the necessity of exploitation under this regime, by an investigation of the laws of its development. Mr. Mikhailovsky may, of course, assure the readers of Russkoye Bogatstvo that neither knowledge nor an effort of thinking is required to understand this analysis, but we have already seen in his own case (and shall see it to a still greater extent in the case of his economist collaborator[50]) so gross a lack of understanding of the elementary truths established by this analysis that such a statement, of course, can only provoke a smile. It remains an indisputable fact that the working class movement spreads and develops precisely where and to the extent that large-scale capitalist machine industry develops; the socialist doctrine is successful precisely when it stops arguing about social conditions that conform to   human nature and sets about making a materialist analysis of contemporary social relations and explaining the necessity for the present regime of exploitation.

Having tried to evade the real reasons for the success of materialism among the workers by ascribing the attitude of this doctrine to “prospects” in a manner directly contrary to the truth, Mr. Mikhailovsky goes on to scoff in the most vulgar and philistine way at the ideas and tactics of the West-European working-class movement. As we have seen, he was unable to adduce a single argument against Marx’s proofs of the inevitability of the capitalist system being transformed into a socialist system as a result of the socialisation of labour. And yet he jeers in the most blatant manner at the idea of an “army of proletarians” preparing to expropriate the capitalists, “whereupon all class conflict will cease and peace on earth and goodwill among men will reign.” He, Mr. Mikhailovsky, knows far simpler and surer paths to the achievement of socialism than this: all that is required is that the “friends of the people” should indicate in greater detail the “clear and unalterable” paths of the “desired economic evolution”—and then these friends of the people will most likely “be called in” to solve “practical economic problems” (see the article “Problems of Russia’s Economic Development” by Mr. Yuzhakov in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 11) and meanwhile—meanwhile the workers must wait, must rely on the friends of the people and not begin, with “unjustified self-assurance,” an independent struggle against the exploiters. Desiring to strike a deathblow at this “unjustified self-assurance,” our author waxes highly indignant at “this science that can almost fit into a pocket dictionary.” How terrible, indeed! Science—and Social-Democratic penny pamphlets that can fit into the pocket!! Is it not obvious how unjustifiably self-assured are those who value science only insofar as it teaches the exploited to wage an independent struggle for their emancipation, teaches them to keep away from all “friends of the people” engaged in glossing over class antagonisms and desirous of taking the whole business upon themselves— those who, therefore, expound this science in penny publications which so shock the philistines? How different it would be if the workers placed their fate in the hands of   the “friends of the people”! They would show them a real, voluminous, university and philistine science; they would acquaint them in detail with a social organisation that conforms to human nature, provided only—the workers agreed to wait and did not themselves begin the struggle with such unjustified self-assurance!


[1] Who would not praise a Klopstock? But will everybody read him? No. We would like to be exalted less, but read more diligently! (Lessing).—Ed.

[2] We are, of course, referring all the time to the consciousness of social relations and no others. —Lenin

[3] Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science (Anti-Dühring).—Ed.

[4] Here, too, Mr. Mikhailovsky does not miss an opportunity of pulling faces: what, says he, do you mean—a scientific conception of history, yet ancient history remains a riddle! Mr. Mikhailovsky take any textbook, and you will find that the problem of gentile organisation is one of the most difficult, and has evoked a host of theories in explanation of it. —Lenin

[5] By what other name, indeed, can one call the device by which the materialists are accused of not having settled accounts with history, without, however, an attempt being made to examine a single one of the numerous materialist explanations of various historical problems given by the materialists?—or by which the statement is made that we could prove it but we shall not bother about? —Lenin

[6] This is a purely bourgeois idea: separate, small families came to predominate only under the bourgeois regime, they were entirely non-existent in prehistoric times. Nothing is more characteristic of the bourgeois than the application of the features of the modern system to all times and peoples. —Lenin

[7] Regarding this meaningless term it should be stated that Mr. Mikhailovsky gives a special place to Marx (who is too intelligent and too learned for our critic to be able to criticise any of his propositions directly and openly), after whom he places Engels (“not such a creative mind”), next—more or less independent men like Kautsky—and then the other Marxists. Well, can such a classification have any serious value? If the critic is dissatisfied with the popularisers of Marx, what prevents him from correcting them on the basis of Marx? He does nothing of the kind He evidently meant to be witty—but his wit fell flat. —Lenin

[8] This has been quite clearly expressed in Capital and in the tactics of the Social-Democrats, as compared with the earlier socialists. Marx directly demanded that matters must not be confined to the economic aspect. In 1843, when drafting the programme for a projected magazine,[51] Marx wrote to Ruge: “The whole socialist principle is again only one aspect. . . . We, on our part, must devote equal attention to the other aspect, the theoretical existence of man, and consequently must make religion, science, and so forth an object of our criticism. . . . Just as religion represents the table of contents of the theoretical conflicts of mankind, the political state represents the table of contents of mans practical conflicts. Thus the political state within the limits of its form, expresses sub specie rei publicae (from the political standpoint) all social conflicts, needs and interests. Hence to make a most special political question—e.g., the difference between the social-estate system and the representative system— an object of criticism by no means implies descending from the hauteur des principes (the height of principles.—Ed.) since this question expresses in political language the difference between the rule of man and the rule of private property. This means that the critic not only may but must deal with these political questions (which the inveterate socialist considers unworthy of attention).” —Lenin

[9] As to the first point.—Ed.

[10] As to the second point.—Ed.

[11] A Critical History of National Economy and Socialism (3rd edition, 1879, pp. 486-87).—Ed.

[12] That this formulation of Dührings views applies fully to Mr. Mikhailovsky is proved by the following passage in his article “Karl Marx Being Tried by Y. Zhukovsky.” Objecting to Mr. Zbukovskys assertion that Marx is a defender of private property, Mr. Mikhailovsky refers to this scheme of Marx’s and explains it in the following manner. “In his scheme Marx employed two well-known tricks of Hegelian dialectics: firstly, the scheme is constructed according to the laws of the Hegelian triad; secondly, the synthesis is based on the identity of opposites—individual and social property. This means that the word individual here has the specific, purely conditional meaning of a term of the dialectical process, and absolutely nothing can be based on it.” This was said by a man possessed of the most estimable intentions, defending, in the eyes of the Russian public, the “sanguine” Marx from the bourgeois Mr. Zhukovsky. And with these estimable intentions he explains Marx as basing his conception of the process on “tricks”! Mr. Mikhailovsky may draw from this what is for him the not unprofitable moral that, whatever the matter in hand, estimable intentions alone are rather inadequate. —Lenin

[13] It is worth while, I think, to note in this connection that the entire explanation given by Engels is contained in the same chapter in which he discusses the seed, the teaching of Rousseau, and other examples of the dialectical process. It would seem that the absurdity of accusing Marxism of Hegelian dialectics would have been made quite evident by merely comparing these examples with the clear and categorical statements by Engels (and by Marx, to whom the manuscript was read before printing), and there call be no question of trying to prove anything by triads or of inserting in the depiction of the real process the “conditional members” of these triads. —Lenin

[14] What Jove may do, the bull may not.—Ed.

[15] The other features of the economic system of the Middle Ages are omitted because they belonged to the feudal social formation whereas Marx investigates only the capitalist formation. In its pure form the process of capitalist development actually began—in England, for instance—with the system of small, isolated commodity producers and their individual labour property. —Lenin

[16] Russkoye Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth )—a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to the middle of 1918. In the beginning of the 1890s it became the organ of the liberal Narodniks, and was edited by S. N. Krivenko and N. K. Mikhailovsky. The magazine advocated reconciliation with the tsarist government and waged a bitter struggle against Marxism and the Russian Marxists.

In 1906 it became the organ of the semi-Cadet Popular Socialist party.

[17] The article referred to is N. K. Mikhailovskys “Literature and Life,” published in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, 1893. Marxists commented on the article in letters addressed to Mikhailovsky. Some of the letters were published in the magazine Byloye (The Past ), No. 23, 1924.

[18] The article referred to is N. K. Mikhailovskys “Karl Marx Being Tried by Y. Zhukovsky,” published in the magazine Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes ), No. 10, October 1877.

[19] See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, Preface to the first German edition, p. 10.

[20] The article referred to is K. Marx’s A Criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, written in Kreuznach in the summer of 1843. The Institute of Marxism-Leninism at the C.C. C.P.S.U. possesses the unfinished manuscript of this essay containing an exhaustive critical analysis of §§ 261-313 of Hegel’s Principles of the Philosophy of Law. Marx intended to prepare for publication an extensive essay, A Criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, following the appearance, of the Introduction to this work in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbucher (German-French Yearbooks) in 1844. He was, however, unable to carry out his intention. Marx’s manuscript was published for the first time in the language of the original in 1927, by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism.

[21] Lenin’s quotation is from the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. (See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 362-63.)

[22] Contrat Social—one of the chief works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Its full title is Du contrat social; ou, Principcs du droit politique. (The Social Contract, or the Principles of Political Law.) It was published in Amsterdam in 1762 and translated into Russian in 1906. The main idea in the book was the assertion that every social system should be the result of a free agreement, of a contract between people. Fundamentally idealistic though it was, the “social contract” theory, advanced in the eighteenth century on the eve of the French bourgeois revolution, nevertheless played a revolutionary role. It expressed the demand for bourgeois equality, the abolition of the privileges of the feudal estates, and the establishment of a bourgeois republic.

[23] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 373.

[24] Letter from Karl Marx to the Editorial Board of “Otechestzenniye Zapiski” was written at the end of 1877 in connection with N. K. Mikhailovskys article “Karl Marx Being Tried by Y. Zhukovsky.” The letter was copied and sent to Russia by Engels after Marx’s death. Engels stated that this letter “for a long time circulated in Russia in manuscript copies taken from the French original, and later a Russian translation of it was published in Vestnik Narodnoi Voli (Peoples Will Messenger ), (No. 5.—Ed.) in 1886, in Geneva and subsequently in Russia. This letter, like everything that   came from Marx’s pen aroused considerable attention in Russian circles.” (Internatonales aus dem Volksstaat (1871-1875), Berlin 1894, S: 68.) It was first published in Russian in the magazine Yuridichesky Vestnik (The Legal Messenger ), No. 10, l888. (See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, pp. 376-79.)

[25] See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Herr Eugen Dührings Revolution in Science (Part II. Political Economy, Chapter One. Subject Matter and Method), Moscow, 1954, pp. 207-8.

[26] German Ideology was written jointly by Marx and Engels in the years 1845-1846.

The manuscript, amounting to nearly 800 printed pages, was in two volumes, the first of which was mainly devoted to an elaboration of the basic theses of historical materialism and to a criticism of the philosophical views of Ludwig Feuerbach, B. Bauer and M. Stirner, and the second, to a criticism of the views of various representatives of “true socialism.”

In 1846-1847 Marx and Engels made repeated attempts to find a publisher in Germany who would issue their work. They were however, unsuccessful due to the obstacles raised by the police and because the publishers, themselves interested parties, were champions of the very trends combated by Marx and Engels and refused to handle it. Only one chapter appeared during the lifetime of Marx and Engels. That was Chapter IV, Volume II of German Ideology, which was published in the magazine Das Westphalische Dampfboot (Westphalean Steamer ), August and September 1847. The manuscript was pigeonholed for dozens of years in the archives of the German Social-Democratic Party. The German text was first published in full in 1932 by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C. C.P.S.U. A Russian translation appeared in 1933.

The characterisation of German Ideology given by Engels is taken from the Preface to his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy. (See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 359.)

[27] See F. Engels, Preface to the first German edition of “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.” (K .Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 171.)

[28] The gentile, clan organisation of society. This was the system of primitive communism, or the first social-economic formation in human history. The clan system began to take shape when the modern type of man was fully formed. The clan community was a collective unit of blood relations united by economic and social ties. In its development, the clan system passed through two periods, matriarchy and patriarchy. Patriarchy came to an end when primitive society became class society and the state emerged. The basis of production relations in the primitive-communal system was the social ownership of the means of production and the equal distribution of products. In the main this corresponded to the low level of development of the productive forces, and to their character at that period. Stone implements, and later the bow and arrow, ruled   out the possibility of men combating natural forces and wild animals individually.

On the system of primitive communism, see K. Marx’s Synopsis of L. H. Morgans “Ancient Society” and F. Engels The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.

[29] The fief (pomestye ) system—the specific system of feudal landownership that arose and became firmly established in Russia in the fifteenth, and particularly the sixteenth century. The fief system was closely bound up with the formation of a centralised state and the establishment of a centralised army. The fief lands, considered the property of the feudal ruler, were distributed by the government among those who served in the armed forces or at court. The amount of land received depended on the duties of the landholder. The fief, as distinct from the votchina, the absolute and hereditary landed property of the boyar, was the conditional and temporary property of a nobleman who had rendered these services.

From the middle of the sixteenth century the fief was gradually transformed into an hereditary estate, and increasingly approximated to the votchina. In the seventeenth century the difference between these two forms of feudal landownership disappeared, and the feudal rights of votchina and fief owners became identical. Following Peter Is ukase on inheritance issued in 1714 the fief once and for all became the private property of the landed nobility. The term fief (pomestye) continued to be used in Russia throughout the entire feudal epoch.

[30] The First InternationalThe International Working Men’s Association—the first international organisation of the proletariat, founded by Karl Marx in 1864 at an international workers conference in London convened by British and French workers. The First International was the result of years of hard work by Marx and Engels to establish a revolutionary working-class party. As V. I. Lenin noted, the First International “laid the foundation of an international organisation of the workers for the preparation of their revolutionary onslaught on capital,” “laid the foundation of the proletarian, international struggle for socialism.” (The Third International and Its Place in History. See present edition, Vol 29.)

The central directing body of. the First International was the General Council of the International Working Mens Association, of which Marx was a life member. Marx worked to overcome the petty-bourgeois influences and sectarian tendencies then prevailing in the working-class movement (craft unionism in Britain, and Proudhonism and Anarchism in the Romance countries) gathering round himself the most class-conscious members of The General Council (including F. Lessner, E. Dupont, and H. Jung) The First International directed the economic and political struggle of the workers of different countries and strengthened the bonds of solidarity between them. It played a tremendous part in disseminating Marxism, in introducing socialism into the working-class movement.

After the defeat of the Paris Commune the working class was faced with the task of organising national mass parties based on the principles advanced by the First International. “. . . As I view European conditions it is quite useful to let the formal organisation of the International recede into the background for the time being (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, p. 348.) In 1876, at a conference held in Philadelphia, the First International was officially liquidated.

[31] Lenin used the name of V. Burenin a contributor to the reactionary paper Novoye Vremya (New Times ), as a synonym for dishonest methods of controversy.

[32] Novoye Vremya (New Times )—a daily paper that appeared in St. Petersburg from 1868 to 1917, it belonged to different publishers at different times and repeatedly changed its political line. At first it was moderately liberal but from 1876 it became the organ of reactionary circles among the aristocracy and the bureaucracy. From 1905 it became the organ of the Black Hundreds. After the bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917, it gave full support to the counter-revolutionary policy of the bourgeois Provisional Government and conducted a furious campaign against the Bolsheviks. On November 8 (October 26, old style), 1917, it was closed down by the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. Lenin called Novoye Vremya a typical example of the venal press.

In an item, “Critical Notes,” published in Novoye Vremya of February 4, 1894, V. Burenin praised Mikhailovsky for fighting the Marxists.

[33] The words are from I. A. Krylovs fable “The Elephant and the Pug-Dog.”

[34] See F. Engels Preface to the first edition of “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 170.)

[35] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 13.

[51] Reference is to the journal Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (German-French Yearbooks ) published in Paris under the editorship of K. Marx and A. Ruge in the German language. Only one issue, a double number, appeared in February 1844. The main reason why publication was discontinued, was Marx’s differences in principle with the bourgeois radical Ruge. [p.162]

[36] Triad (Greek, trias )—in philosophy it is the formula of three-stage development. The idea of three-stage development was first formulated by the Greek Neo-Platonic philosophers, particularly by Proclus, and was expressed in the works of the German idealist philosophers Fichte and Schelling. The triad was however, developed most fully in the idealist philosophy of Hegel, who considered that every process of development traverses three stages—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The second stage is the negation of the first, which transformed into its opposite by transition to the second stage. The third stage is the negation of the second, i.e., the negation   of the negation, which means a return to the form exiting at the outset that is now enriched by a new content and is on a higher level. Hegel’s triad is a scheme into which reality was fitted artificially; the arbitrary construction of the triad scheme distorted the real development of nature and society. K. Marx, F. Engels and V. I. Lenin had a high opinion of the rational elements in Hegel’s dialectics, but they critically refashioned his dialectical method and created materialist dialectics, which reflect the most general laws of the development of the objective world and human thought.

[37] See F. Engels. Anti-Dühring (First Part. Philosophy. Chapter Thirteen. Dialectics. Negation of the Negation).

[38] A systematic exposition and further development of the Marxist dialectical method is given in V. I. Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, Philosophical Notebooks, Karl Marx, etc.

[39] The author of the article (I. K.-n) was Professor I. I. Kaufman of St. Petersburg University. In Marx’s view, the article was one of the best expositions of the dialectical method. (See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959. Afterword to the second edition pp. 17-19.) [p.166]

[40] Further on in the text (on pages 168-73 of the present volume) V. I. Lenin cites an extract from F. Engels Anti-Dühring (Part One. Philosophy. Chapter Thirteen. Dialectics. Negation of the Negation).

[41] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 78.

[42] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 761-63.

[43] Reference is made to the Afterword to the second edition of Volume I of K. Marx’s Capital.

[44] Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes )—a literary-political magazine that began publication in St. Petersburg in 1820. From 1839 it became the best progressive publication of its day. Among its contributors were V. G. Belinsky, A. I. Herzen, T. N. Granovsky, and N. P. Ogaryov. Following Belinskys departure from the editorial board in 1846, Otechestvenniye Zapiski began to lose its significance. In 1868 the magazine came under the direction of N . A . Nekrasov and M. Y . Saltykov-Shchedrin. This marked the onset of a period in which the magazine flourished anew, gathering around itself the revolutionary-democratic intellectuals of Russia. When Nekrasov died (in 1877), the Narodniks gained dominant influence in the magazine.

The Otechestvenniye Zapiski was continually harassed by the censors, and in April 1884 was closed down by the tsarist government.

[45] Postoronny (Outsider )—pen-name of N. K. Mikhailovsky.

[46] Reference is made to the following theses formulated by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party:

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way   based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered by this or that would-be universal reformer.

They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.” (See K. Marx and F. Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 46.)

[47] See F. Engels. Anti-Dühring (Part One. Philosophy. Chapter Nine. Morality and Law. Eternal Truths), Moscow, 1959, p. 130.

[48] Reference is made to N. K. Mikhailovsky’s articles “About the Russian Edition of Karl Marx’s Book” (Otechestvenniye Zapiski, No. 4, April 1872), and “Karl Marx Being Tried by Y. Zhukovsky” (Otechestvenniye Zapiski, No. 10, October 1877).

[49] Lenin quotes from K. Marx’s letter to A. Ruge (dated September 1843).

[50] Lenin refers to S. N. Yuzhakov, whose political and economic views he criticised more particularly in the second part of What the “Friends of the People” Are. Neither the manuscript, nor a copy of the hectographed edition of the second part of this book has been found.

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