V. I.   Lenin


Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy

( Chapter Six: Empirio-Criticism and Historical Materialism )

4. Parties in Philosophy and Philosophical Blockheads

It remains for us to examine the relation between Machism and religion. But this broadens into the question of whether there are parties generally in philosophy, and what is meant by non-partisanship in philosophy.

Throughout the preceding exposition, in connection with every problem of epistemology touched upon and in connection with every philosophical question raised by the new physics, we traced the struggle between materialism and idealism. Behind the mass of new terminological devices, behind the litter of erudite scholasticism, we invariably discerned two principal alignments, two fundamental trends in the solution of philosophical problems. Whether nature, matter, the physical, the external world should be taken as primary, and consciousness, mind,   sensation (experience—as the widespread terminology of our time has it), the psychical, etc., should be regarded as secondary—that is the root question which in fact continues to divide the philosophers into two great camps. The source of thousands upon thousands of errors and of the confusion reigning in this sphere is the fact that beneath the envelope of terms, definitions, scholastic devices and verbal artihces, these two fundamental trends are overlooked. (Bogdanov, for instance, refuses to acknowledge his idealism, because, you see, instead of the “metaphysical” concepts “nature” and “mind,” he has taken the “experiential”: physical and psychical. A word has been changed!)

The genius of Marx and Engels consisted in the very fact that in the course of a long period, nearly half a century, they developed materialism, that they further advanced one fundamental trend in philosophy, that they did not stop at reiterating epistemological problems that had already been solved, but consistently applied—and showed how to apply—this same materialism in the sphere of the social sciences, mercilessly brushing aside as litter and rubbish the pretentious rigmarole, the innumerable attempts to “discover” a “new” line in philosophy, to invent a “new” trend and so forth. The verbal nature of such attempts, the scholastic play with new philosophical “isms,” the clogging of the issue by pretentious devices, the inability to comprehend and clearly present the struggle between the two fundamental epistemological trends—this is what Marx and Engels persistently pursued and fought against throughout their entire activity.

We said, “nearly half a century.” And, indeed, as far back as 1843, when Marx was only becoming Marx, i.e., the founder of scientific socialism, the founder of modern materialism, which is immeasurably richer in content and in comparably more consistent than all preceding forms of materialism, even at that time Marx pointed out with amazing clarity the basic trends in philosophy. Karl Grün quotes a letter from Marx to Feuerbach dated October 20, 1843,[8] in which Marx invites Feuerbach to write an article for the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher[9] against Schelling. This Schelling, writes Marx, is a shallow braggart with his claims to having embraced and transcended   all previous philosophical trends. “To the French romanticists and mystics he [Schelling] says: I am the union of philosophy and theology; to the French materialists: I am the union of the flesh and the idea; to the French sceptics: I am the destroyer of dogmatism.”[1] That the “sceptics,” be they called Humeans or Kantians (or, in the twentieth century, Machians), cry out against the “dogmatism” of both materialism and idealism, Marx at that time already realised; and, without letting himself be diverted by any one of a thousand wretched little philosophical systems, he was able through Feuerbach to take the direct materialist road as against idealism. Thirty years later, in the afterword to the second edition of the first volume of Capital, Marx just as clearly and definitely contrasted his materialism to Hegel’s idealism, the most consistent and developed idealism of all; he contemptuously brushed Comtean “positivism” aside and dubbed as wretched epigoni the contemporary philosophers who imagined that they had destroyed Hegel when in reality they had reverted to a repetition of the pre-Hegelian errors of Kant and Hume.[10] In the letter to Kugelmann of June 27, 1870, Marx refers just as contemptuously to “Büchner, Lange, Dühring, Fechner, etc.,” because they understood nothing of Hegel’s dialectics and treated him with scorn.[2] And finally, take the various philosophical utterances by Marx in Capital and other works, and you will find an invariable basic motif, viz., insistence upon materialism and contemptuous derision of all obscurity, of all confusion and all deviations towards idealism. All Marx’s philosophical utterances revolve within these two fundamental opposites, and, in the eyes of professorial philosophy, their defect lies in this “narrowness” and “one-sidedness.” As a matter of fact, this refusal to recognise the hybrid projests for reconciling materialism and idealism   constitutes the great merit of Marx, who moved forward along a sharply-dehned philosophical road.

Entirely in the spirit of Marx, and in close collaboration with him, Engels in all his philosophical works briefly and clearly contrasts the materialist and idealist lines in regard to all questions, without, either in 1878, or 1888, or 1892,[11] taking seriously the endless attempts to “transcend” “one-sidedness” of materialism and idealism, to proclaim a new trend—“positivism,” “realism,” or some other professorial charlatanism. Engels based his whole fight against Dühring on the demand for consistent adherence to materialism, accusing the materialist Dühring of verbally confusing the issue, of phrasemongering, of methods of reasoning which involved a compromise with idealism and adoption of the position of idealism. Either materialism consistent to the end, or the falsehood and confusion of philosophical idealism—such is the formulation of the question given in every paragraph of Anti-Dühring ; and only people whose minds had already been corrupted by reactionary professorial philosophy could fail to notice it. And right down to 1894, when the last preface was written to Anti-Dühring, revised and enlarged by the author for the last time, Engels continued to follow the latest developments both in philosophy and science, and continued with all his former resoluteness to hold to his lucid and firm position, brushing away the litter of new systems, big and little.

That Engels followed the new developments in philosophy is evident from Ludwig Feuerbach. In the 1888 preface, mention is even made of such a phenomenon as the rebirth of classical German philosophy in England and Scandinavia, whereas Engels (both in the preface and in the text of the book) has nothing but the most extreme contempt for the prevailing Neo-Kantianism and Humism. It is quite obvious that Engels, observing the repetition by fashionable German and English philosophy of the old pre-Hegelian errors of Kantianism and Humism, was prepared to expect some good even from the turn to Hegel (in England and Scandinavia), hoping that the great idealist and dialectician would help to disclose petty idealist and metaphysical errors.[12]

Without undertaking an examination of the vast number of shades of Neo-Kantianism in Germany and of Humism in England, Engels from the very outset refutes their fundamental deviation from materialism. Engels declares that the entire tendency of these two schools is “scientifically a step backward.” And what is his opinion of the undoubtedly “positivist,” according to the current terminology, the undoubtedly “realist” tendencies of these Neo-Kantians and Humeans, among whose number, for instance, he could not help knowing Huxley? That “positivism” and that “realism” which attracted, and which continue to attract, an infinite number of muddleheads, Engels declared to be atb e s ta philistine method of smuggling in materialism while abusing and abjuring it publicly! One has to reflect only very little on such an appraisal of Thomas Huxley—a very great scientist and an incomparably more realistic realist and positive positivist than Mach, Avenarius and Co.—in order to understand how contemptuously Engels would have greeted the present infatuation of a group of Marxists with “recent positivism,” the “latest realism,” etc.

Marx and Engels were partisans in philosophy from start to finish, they were able to detect the deviations from materialism and concessions to idealism and fideism in each and every “new” tendency. They therefore appraised Huxley exclusively from the standpoint of his materialist consistency. They therefore rebuked Feuerbach for not pursuing materialism to the end, for renouncing materialism because of the errors of individual materialists, for combating religion in order to renovate it or invent a new religion, for being unable, in sociology, to rid himself of idealist phraseology and become a materialist.

And whatever particular mistakes he committed in his exposition of dialectical materialism, J. Dietzgen fully appreciated and took over this great and most precious tradition of his teachers. Dietzgen sinned much by his clumsy deviations from materialism, but he never attempted to dissociate himself from it in principle, he never attempted to hoist a “new” standard and always at the decisive moment he firmly and categorically declared: I am a materialist; our philosophy is a materialist philosophy. “Of all parties,” our Joseph Dietzgen justly said, “the middle   party is the most repulsive. . . . Just as parties in politics are more and more becoming divided into two camps . . . so science too is being divided into two general classes (Generalklassen): metaphysicians on the one hand, and physicists, or materialists, on the other.[3] The intermediate elements and conciliatory quacks, with their various appellations—spiritualists, sensationalists, realists, etc., etc.—fall into the current on their way. We aim at definiteness and clarity. The reactionaries who sound a retreat (Retraiteblaser) call themselves idealists,[4] and materialists should be the name for all who are striving to liberate the human mind from the metaphysical spell. . . . If we compare the two parties respectively to solid and liquid, between them there is a mush.”[5]

True! The “realists,” etc., including the “positivists,” the Machians, etc., are all a wretched mush; they are a contemptible middle party in philosophy, who confuse the materialist and idealist trends on every question. The attempt to escape these two basic trends in philosophy is nothing but “conciliatory quackery.”

J. Dietzgen had not the slightest doubt that the “scientific priestcraft” of idealist philosophy is simply the antechamber to open priestcraft. “Scientific priestcraft,” he wrote, “is seriously endeavouring to assist religious priestcraft” (op. cit., p. 51). “In particular, the sphere of epistemology, the misunderstanding of the human mind, is such a louse-hole” (Lausgrube) in which both kinds of priests “lay their eggs.” “Graduated flunkeys,” who with their talk of “ideal blessings” stultify the people by their tortuous (geschraubte) “idealism” (p. 53)—that is J. Dietzgen’s opinion of the professors of philosophy. “Just as the antipodes of the good God is the devil, so the professorial priest (Kathederpfaffen) has his opposite pole in the materialist.” The materialist theory of knowledge is “a universal weapon against religious   belief” (p. 55), and not only against the “notorious, formal and common religion of the priests, but also against the most refined, elevated professorial religion of muddled (benebelter) idealists” (p. 58).

Dietzgen was ready to prefer “religious honesty” to the “half-heartedness” of freethinking professors (p. 60), for “there at least there is a system,” there we find integral people, people who do not separate theory from practice. For the Herr Professors “philosophy is not a science, but a means of defence against Social-Democracy . . .” (p. 107). “All who call themselves philosophers, professors, and university lecturers are, despite their apparent freethinking, more or less immersed in superstition and mysticism . . . and in relation to Social-Democracy constitute a single . . . reactionary mass” (p. 108). “Now, in order to follow the true path, without being led astray by all the religious and philosophical gibberish (Welsch), it is necessary to study the falsest of all false paths (der Holzweg der Holzwege), philosophy” (p. 103).

Let us now examine Mach, Avenarius and their school from the standpoint of parties in philosophy. Oh, these gentlemen boast of their non-partisanship, and if they have an antipodes, it is the materialist . . . and only the materialist. A red thread that runs through all the writings of all the Machians is the stupid claim to have “risen above” materialism and idealism, to have transcended this “obsolete” antithesis; but in fact the whole fraternity are continually sliding into idealism and are conducting a steady and incessant struggle against materialism. The subtle epistemological crotchets of a man like Avenarius are but professorial inventions, an attempt to form a small philosophical sect “of his own”; but, as a matter of fact, in the general circumstances of the struggle of ideas and trends in modern society, the objective part played by these epistemological artifices is in every case the same, namely, to clear the way for idealism and fideism, and to serve them faithfully. In fact, it cannot be an accident that the small school of empirio-criticists is acclaimed by the English spiritualists, like Ward, by the French neo-criticists, who praise Mach for his attack on materialism, and by the German immanentists! Dietzgen’s expression, “graduated flunkeys of fideism,” hits   the nail on the head in the case of Mach, Avenarius and their whole school.[6] [6] Here is another example of how the widespread currents of reactionary bourgeois philosophy make use of Machism in practice. Perhaps the “latest fashion” in the latest American philosophy is “pragmatism”[15] (from the Greek word “pragm”—action; that is, a philosophy of action). The philosophical journals perhaps speak more of pragmatism than of anything else. Pragmatism ridicules the metaphysics both of idealism and materialism, acclaims expericnce and only experience, recognises practice as the only criterion, refers to the positivist movement in general, especially turns for support to Ostwald, Mach, Pearson, Poincaré and Duhem for the belief that scicnce is not an “absolute copy of reality” and . . . succcssfully deduces from all this a God for practical purposes, and only for practical purposes, without any metaphysics, and without transcending the bounds of experience (cf. William James, Pragmatism. A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, New York and London, 1907, pp. 57 and 106 especially). From the standpoint of materialism the difference between Machism and pragmatism is as insignificant and unimportant as the difference between empirio-criticism and empirio-monism. Compare, for example, Bogdanov’s definition of truth with the pragmatist definition of truth, which is: “Truth for a pragmatist becomes a class-name for all sorts of definite working values in expericnce” (ibid., p. 68). —Lenin

It is the misfortune of the Russian Machians, who under took to “reconcile” Machism and Marxism, that they trusted the reactionary professors of philosophy and as a result slipped down an inclined plane. The methods of operation employed in the various attempts to develop and supplement Marx were not very ingenious. They read Ostwald, believe Ostwald, paraphrase Ostwald and call it Marxism. They read Mach, believe Mach, paraphrase Mach and call it Marxism. They read Poincaré, believe Poincaré, paraphrase Poincaré and call it Marxism! Not a single one of these professors, who are capable of making very valuable contributions in the special fields of chemistry, history, or physics, can be trusted one iota when it comes to philosophy. Why? For the same reason that not a single professor of political economy, who may be capable of very valuable contributions in the field of factual and specialised investigations, can be trusted one iota when it comes to the general theory of political economy. For in modern society the latter is as much a partisan science as is epistemology. Taken as a whole, the professors of economics are nothing but learned   salesmen of the capitalist class, while the professors of philosophy are learned salesmen of the theologians.

The task of Marxists in both cases is to be able to master and adapt the achievements of these “salesmen” (for instance, you will not make the slightest progress in the investigation of new economic phenomena unless you have recourse to the works of these salesmen) and to be able to lop off their reactionary tendency, to pursue your own line and to combat the whole alignment of forces and classes hostile to us. And this is just what our Machians were unable to do, they slavishly follow the lead of the reactionary professorial philosophy. “Perhaps we have gone astray, but we are seeking,” wrote Lunacharsky in the name of the authors of the Studies. The trouble is that it is not you who are seeking, but you who are being sought ! You do not go with your, i.e., Marxist (for you want to be Marxists), standpoint to every change in the bourgeois philosophical fashion; the fashion comes to you, foists upon you its new surrogates got up in the idealist taste, one day à la Ostwald, the next day à la Mach, and the day after à la Poincaré. These silly “theoretical” devices (“energetics,” “elements,” “introjections,” etc.) in which you so naïvely believe are confined to a narrow and tiny school, while the ideological and social tendency of these devices is immediately spotted by the Wards, the neo-criticists, the immanentists, the Lopatins and the pragmatists, and it serves their purposes. The infatuation for empirio-criticism and “physical” idealism passes as rapidly as the infatuation for Neo-Kantianism and “physiological” idealism; but fideism takes its toll from every such infatuation and modihes its devices in a thousand ways for the benefit of philosophical idealism.

The attitude towards religion and the attitude towards natural science excellently illustrate the actual class use made of empirio-criticism by bourgeois reactionaries.

Take the first question. Do you think it is an accident that in a collective work directed against the philosophy of Marxism Lunacharsky went so far as to speak of the “deification of the higher human potentialities,” of “religious atheism,” etc.?[7] If you do, it is only because the   Russian Machians have not informed the public correctly regarding the whole Machian current in Europe and the attitude of this current to religion. Not only is this attitude in no way similar to the attitude of Marx, Engels, J. Dietzgen and even Feuerbach, but it is the very opposite, beginning with Petzoldt’s statement to the effect that empirio-criticism “contradicts neither theism nor atheism” (Einführung in die Philosophie der reinen Erfahrung, Bd. I, S. 351), or Mach’s declaration that “religious opinion is a private affair” (French trans., p. 434), and ending with the explicit fideism, the explicitly arch-reactionary views of Cornelius, who praises Mach and whom Mach praises, of Carus and of all the immanentists. The neutrality of a philosopher in this question is in itself servility to fideism, and Mach and Avenarius, because of the very premises of their epistemology, do not and cannot rise above neutrality.

Once you deny objective reality, given us in sensation, you have already lost every one of your weapons against fideism, for you have slipped into agnosticism or subjectivism—and that is all fideism wants. If the perceptual world is objective reality, then the door is closed to every other “reality” or quasi-reality (remember that Bazarov believed the “realism” of the immanentists, who declare God to be a “real concept”). If the world is matter in motion, matter can and must be infinitely studied in the infinitely complex and detailed manifestations and ramifications of this motion, the motion of this matter; but beyond it, beyond the “physical,” external world, with which everyone is familiar, there can be nothing. And the hostility to materialism and the showers of abuse heaped on the materialists are all in the order of things in civilised and democratic Europe. All this is going on to this day. All this is being concealed from the public by the Russian Machians, who have not once attempted even simply to compare the attacks made on materialism by Mach, Avenarius, Petzoldt and Co., with the statements made in favour of materialism by Feuerbach, Marx, Engels and J. Dietzgen.

But this “concealment” of the attitude of Mach and Avenarius to fideism will not avail. The facts speak for   themselves. No efforts can release these reactionary professors from the pillory in which they have been placed by the kisses of Ward, the neo-criticists, Schuppe, Schubert-Soldern, Leclair, the pragmatists, etc. And the influence of the persons mentioned, as philosophers and professors, the popularity of their ideas among the “educated,” i.e., the bourgeois, public and the specific literature they have created are ten times wider and richer than the particular little school of Mach and Avenarius. The little school serves those it should serve, and it is exploited as it deserves to be exploited.

The shameful things to which Lunacharsky has stooped are not exceptional; they are the product of empirio-criticism, both Russian and German. They cannot be defended on the grounds of the “good intentions” of the author, or the “special meaning” of his words; if it were the direct and common, i.e., the directly fideistic meaning, we should not stop to discuss matters with the author, for most likely not a single Marxist could be found in whose eyes such statements would not have placed Anatole Lunacharsky exactly in the same category as Peter Struve. If this is not the case (and it is not the case yet), it is exclusively because we perceive the “special” meaning and are fighting while there is still ground for a fight on comradely lines. This is just the disgrace of Lunacharsky’s statements—that he could connect them with his “good” intentions. This is just the evil of his “theory”—that it permits the use of such methods or of such conclusions in the pursuit of good intentions. This is just the trouble—that at best “good” intentions are the subjective affair of Tom, Dick or Harry, while the social significance of such statements is undeniable and indisputable, and no reservation or explanation can mitigate it.

One must be blind not to see the ideological affinity beiween Lunacharsky’s “deification of the higher human potentialities” and Bogdanov’s “general substitution” of the psychical for all physical nature. This is one and the same thought; in the one case it is expressed principally from the aesthetic standpoint, and in the other from the epistemological standpoint. “Substitution,” approaching the subject taciitly and from a different angle, already deifies   the “higher human potentialities,” by divorcing the “psychical” from man and by substituting an immensely extended, abstract, divinely-lifeless “psychical in general” for all physical nature. And what of Yushkevich’s “Logos” introduced into the “irrational stream of experience”?

A single claw ensnared, and the bird is lost. And our Machians have all become ensnared in idealism, that is, in a diluted and subtle fideism; they became ensnared from the moment they took “sensation” not as an image of the external world but as a special “element.” It is nobody’s sensation, nobody’s mind, nobody’s spirit, nobody’s will—this is what one inevitably comes to if one does not recognise the materialist theory that the human mind reflects an objectively real external world.


[1] Karl Grün, Ludwig Feuerbach in seinem Briefwechsel und Nachlass, sowie in seiner philosophischen Charakterentwicklung, I. Bd., Leipzig 1874, S. 361. —Lenin

[2] Of the positivist Beesly, Marx, in the letter of December 13, 1870, speaks as follows: “Professor Beesly is a Comtist and as such obliged to think up all sorts of crotchets.”[13] Compare this with the opinion given of the positivists of the Huxley type by Engels in 1892.[14]Lenin

[3] Here again we have a clumsy and inexact expression: instead of “metaphysicians,” he should have said “idealists.” Elsewhere Dietzgen himself contrasts the metaphysicians and the dialecticians. —Lenin

[4] Note that Dietzgen has corrected himself and now explains more exactly which is the party of the enemies of materialism. —Lenin

[5] See the article, “Social-Democratic Philosophy,” written in 1876, Kleinere philosophische Schriften, 1903, S. 135.] —Lenin

[6] THIS FOOTNOTE has been moved into BODY OF DOCUMENT.

[7] Studies, pp. 157, 159. In the Zagranichnaya Gazeta[16] the same author speaks of “scientific socialism in its religious significance”   (No. 3, p. 5) and in Obrazovaniye,[17] 1908, No. 1, p. 164, he explicitly says: “For a long time a new religion has been maturing within me.” —Lenin

[8] See Early Writings of K. Marx and F. Engels, 1956, Russian edition, pp. 257-58.

[9] Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (German-French. Yearbooks)—an annual published in Paris in German, edited by Karl Marx and Arnold Ruge. Only the first, double number was issued in Feb ruary 1844. It contained Marx’s works “The Jewish Question” and “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Bight. Introduction”, as well as Engels “Outlines of a Criticism of Political Economy” and “The Position of England. Thomas Carlyle. ‘Past and Present’\thinspace”. These works mark the definitive adoption of the standpoint of materialism and communism by Marx and Engels. Marx’s disagreement in principle with the bourgeois radical Ruge was the main reason why the journal ceased to appear.

[10] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 19.

[13] See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow.1955, pp. 290, 306.

[14] See F. Engels’ “Special Introduction to the English Edition of 1892” of his Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 99-102).

[11] Lenin is referring to Engels’ works Anti-Dürhring (1878), Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1888), “Special Introduction to the English Edition of 1892” of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (see F. Engels, Anti-Dürhring and K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 358-402, 93-115).

[12] See K. Marx and F. Bagels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 359.

The turn to Hegel in the second half of the nineteenth century was characteristic of the development of bourgeois philosophy in a number of European countries and the U.S.A. In Britain it began with the appearance in 1865 of James Hutchison Stirling’s book The Secret of Hegel. The bourgeois ideologists were attracted by Hegel’s absolute idealism, which offered wide opportunities for a theoretical justification of religion. There developed a special philosophical trend which was given the name of Anglo-Hegelianism, whose representatives (Thomas Green, the brothers Edward and John Caird, Francis Bradley and others) vigorously at tacked materialism, making use of the reactionary aspects of Hegel’s doctrine.

In the Scandinavian countries, too, Hegelian philosophy became more influential in the second half of the eighteenth century. In Sweden its revival was sponsored by Johann Borelius who counterposed Hegelianism to the prevailing subjective-idealist philosophy. In Norway the Right-wing Hegelians Marcus Jacob Monrad, G. W. Ling and others interpreted Hegel’s philosophy in the spirit of mysticism, discarding its rationalism and trying to sub ordinate science to religion. In Denmark, where Hegelian philosophy   began to spread even during Hegel’s lifetime, it was criticised from the same standpoint.

The spread of Hegel’s philosophy did not lead to its revival; the bourgeois epigones of Hegel “developed” (mainly in the spirit of subjective idealism) various aspects of his conservative philosophical system.. All this paved the way for the emergence at the turn of the century of neo-Hegelian—a reactionary trend of bourgeois philosophical thought in the imperialist era that attempted to adapt Hegel’s philosophy to fascist ideology.

[15] Pragmatism—a subjective-idealist trend of bourgeois (mainly American) philosophy in the imperialist era. It arose in the seven ties. of the last century in the U.S.A. as a reflection of specific features of the development of American capitalism, replacing the hitherto prevailing religious philosophy. The main propositions of pragmatism were formulated by Charles Peirce. As an independent philosophical tendency it took shape at the turn of the century in the works of William James and Ferdinand Schiller and was further developed in the instrumentalism of John Dewey.

The pragmatists consider that the central problem of philosophy is the attainment of true knowledge. However, they completely distort the very concept of truth; already Peirce looked on cognition as a purely psychological, subjective process of achieving religious belief. James substituted the concept of “usefulness”, of success or advantage, for the concept of truth, i.e., for the objectively true reflection of reality. From his point of view, all concepts, including religious ones, are true insofar as they are useful. Dewey went, even farther by declaring all scientific theories, all moral principles and social institutions, to be merely “instruments” for the attainment of the personal aims of the individual. As the criterion of the “truth” (usefulness) of knowledge, the pragmatists take experience, understood not as human social practice but as the constant stream of individual experiences, of the subjective phenomena of consciousness; they regard this experience as the solo reality, declaring the concepts of matter and mind “obsolete”. Like the Machists, the pragmatists claim to have created a “third line” in philosophy; they try to place themselves above materialism and idealism, while in fact advocating one of the varieties of idealism. In contrast to materialist monism, the pragmatists put forward the standpoint of “pluralism”, according to which there is no internal connection, no conformity to law, in the universe; it is like a mosaic which each person builds in his own way, out of his own individual experiences. Hence, starting out from the needs of the given moment, pragmatism considers it possible to give different, even contradictory, explanations of one and the same phenomenon. Consistency is declared to be unnecessary; if it is to a man’s advantage, he can be a determinist or an indeterminist, he can assert or deny the existence of God, and so on.

By basing themselves on the subjective-idealist tradition of English philosophy from Berkeley and Hume to John Stuart Mill, by exploiting particular aspects of the theories of Kant, Mach   and Avenarius, Nietzsche and Henri Bergson, the American pragmatists created one of the most reactionary philosophical trends of modern times, a convenient form for theoretically defending the interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie. It is for this reason that pragmatism spread so widely in the U.S.A., becoming almost the official American philosophy. There have been advocates of pragmatism at various times in Italy, Germany, France, Czechoslovakia and other countries.

[16] Zagranichnaya Gazetz (Gazette Etrangére)—the weekly newspaper of a group of Russian emigrants, published in Geneva from March 16 to April 13, 1908. The four numbers that appeared during this period dealt mainly with the life of Russian emigrants and carried material on events in Russia and abroad. The second number published Lenin’s speech “Lessons of the Commune” at an international meeting in Geneva on March 18, 1908. The newspaper contained propaganda for god-building and Machism (articles by A. Bogdanov and A. V. Lunacharsky).

Lenin quotes a passage from A. V. Lunacharsky’s “Sketches of Modem Russian Literature”, which was published in Nos. 2 and 3 of the newspaper.

[17] Obrazovaniye (Education)—a legal monthly literary magazine of a popular scientific and socio-political character published in St. Petersburg from 1892 to 1909. In 1902-08 it printed articles by Social-Democrats. In No. 2, 1906, the magazine printed Chapters V-IX of Lenin’s work “The Agrarian Crisis and the ‘Critics of Marx’\thinspace”.

  3. Suvorov’s “Foundations Of Social Philosophy” | 5. Ernst Haeckel and Ernst Mach  

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