This book is a consideration of the essence of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, its central propositions and problems, its historical role and significance in the complex world of today.
We are witnessing, and participating in, enormous changes, changes that affect the very foundations of human existence, that have drawn into the revolutionary process peoples who one after the other are freeing themselves from centuries of social and national oppression and attaining high levels of national and class consciousness. These revolutionary changes in society are moving in step with ever more frequent and breathtaking discoveries in various spheres of science and technology. Contemporary science has become a powerful and direct transforming force in production and spurred into life a great scientific and technological revolution.
Socialist society, free from exploitation of man by man, is being built in accordance with a strictly scientific social theory—Marxism-Leninism, whose philosophical basis is dialectical materialism. Marxist-Leninist philosophy has throughout its history been inseparably and openly connected with the revolutionary struggle of the working class, of all working people for their intellectual, social and national emancipation—in this sense it is a committed philosophy. The philosophy of Marx was a turning-point in the development of world philosophical thought. Its great innovation was to make philosophy into a science, to remould the very purpose of philosophical knowledge, which as it became established not only explained but helped to transform the world. Marxist philosophy, as Lenin put it, has the integrity of something forged out of a single piece of steel. It is a harmonious, consistent system of materialist views on nature, society and the mind, on the general laws of their development.
This system was formed by generalising the greatest achievements of human thought and the practice of the oppressed classes' revolutionary struggle against their oppressors as an effective instrument for establishing the highest ideals to which humanity had aspired throughout the ages.
The foundations were laid by the great thinkers Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. It was they who formulated the basic propositions of the theory which was to become the banner of the struggle for socialism, for true humanism, for the free development of every individual as a condition for the free development of all members of society.
In the new historical conditions, when capitalism had entered the stage of imperialism, the scientific feat of the founders of Marxism was continued by Lenin, who, proceeding from the creative principles of their theory, analysed hitherto unknown processes, drew general conclusions concerning their future course, and thus delineated the road into the future. Lenin's work signalled a new stage in the development of Marxist philosophy as an eternally living and creative theory.
Marxist-Leninist philosophy, though essentially partisan, committed, is at the same time consistently objective. Subjectivism, voluntarism and dogmatism are entirely alien to it. Its propositions are based on analysis of the objective laws of world development, of the essence and dialectics of social processes. It defends the highest human values in the interests of the progressive forces. The invincibility of its conclusions is implicit in objective social development.
Communism's ideological opponents, expressing the class interests of the bourgeoisie, have tried to discredit Marxist-Leninist philosophy by presenting it as an obsolete, dogmatic and therefore allegedly impotent theory when faced with the crucial problems confronting modern man. In the final analysis these attacks are orchestrated to win space for a reactionary world-view justifying and defending the world of capitalism. Many of its ideologists, however, acknowledge that they are compelled to battle with an adversary armed with one of the greatest of world philosophies, derived from the deepest sources of contemporary life and thought. Today, when the struggle for democracy and socialism, for the peaceful coexistence of different social systems stands in the forefront of the confrontation between irreconcilable ideologies, a mastery of the scientific world-view helps us to gain an understanding of the complex and contradictory processes that are shaking the modern world, without which the basic practical problems facing mankind cannot conceivably be overcome.
The significance of Marxist-Leninist philosophy further increases in a situation where the very existence of man, of mankind as a whole, of all civilisation is threatened. The 26th Congress of the CPSU proclaimed, "to safeguard peace— no task is more important now on the international plane for our Party, for our people and, for that matter, for all the peoples of the world". The Congress formulated a concrete programme for the defence of peace, which expressed the essential needs of contemporary social development and which can be realised only on the basis of the creative application and development of the principles of Marxist-Leninist theory and its philosophy by the communist and workers' parties, by all the progressive forces.
At various international forums, in outspoken dialogues between representatives of various spheres of knowledge and trends in philosophy advocates of dialectical materialism speak from obviously more advantageous positions when discussing the fundamental scientific and social problems, the global problems of the struggle for peace and for overcoming the ecological, energy, demographic and other crises that threaten humanity.
The realistic ways and means of establishing a just social order revealed by Marxist-Leninist philosophy make it a profoundly humane philosophy. It elevates the dignity and rights of man, uncovers the objective conditions, ways and factors that have to be considered to achieve his social emancipation and all-round, harmonious development. It defends humane ideals and provides a theoretical substantiation for the peoples' struggle for peace and for the peaceful coexistence of different social systems.
The present book is an attempt to expound the basic principles and ideas of this philosophy in a compressed form. Its range encompasses philosophy and art, man and his existence in the world, the creative power of human reason, man and culture and many other problems that are not usually examined in similar courses on Marxist-Leninist philosophy.
Documents and Resolutions. The 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1981, p. 40.