From Marxism to Dialectical Materialism

Marxism was born with the workers’ movement; it consists of the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but also of their political action, with the First International and the birth of German social democracy. What we are talking about here are particular people, in a particular country, with particular ideas. And because of the dimension of these ideas of these people in this country, it is the universal that has prevailed and throughout the world, Marxism has been recognised as right by the workers’ movement. As right, not just for Germany, but for all countries.

Other ideas appeared and were added to Marxism, placing themselves within it, developing it through obstacles, difficulties and conflicts. Similarly, ideas developed in Russia and China have been recognized as having value not just for those countries, but for all countries. Lenin and Mao were references throughout the world.

Is it so then that we have to consider that the process could go on like this ad infinitum, that others could be added, that Marxism would continue to develop in this way? Of course, but then we have to recognize that this is no longer Marxism. Marxism would still be the basis, but there would be so many additions, so many deepenings, that Marxism would be unrecognisable.

It would be Marxism, but transformed. Already at the time of Lenin, Marxism had been profoundly transformed compared to the time of Marx, and it’s the same with Mao.

There was an interesting discussion on this subject in the 1990s between French Maoists and representatives in France of the Communist Party of Peru. The latter explained that to understand Marxism, you first had to understand Maoism, because Maoism was the most advanced form of Marxism. For the French communists, it seemed to be the other way round: it was by understanding Marxism well that one arrived, quite naturally, at Maoism. In a sense, both are naturally right, because it is a contradiction. However, if it is a contradiction, then it is a productive one.

It is precisely by turning towards this productive nature that we can overcome the separations between Marxism, Leninism and Maoism and grasp the unity of substance, which allows us to see that they are one and the same thing, and not three things with which we have to « come to terms ».

Mao Zedong had already foreseen what we must call the death of Marxism, not in the sense that it would be outdated, useless and had had its day, but in the sense that it was now material that had become part of something more developed.

Mao Zedong said with profound accuracy and a far-reaching historical perspective that:

« The world is infinite.

Both in time and space, the world is infinite and inexhaustible. Beyond our solar system, there are many stars that together form the Milky Way. Beyond this galaxy, there are many other galaxies.

Viewed globally, the universe is infinite, and viewed narrowly, the universe is also infinite.

Not only is the atom divisible, but so is the atomic nucleus, and it can be divided ad infinitum (…).

All individuals and all specific things have their births, their developments and their deaths.

Every person dies because he is born. Human beings must die, and Chang San (editor’s note: equivalent to Smith) being a man, he must die.

No one can see Confucius, who lived 2,000 years ago, because he had to die.

Humanity was born, and therefore humanity must also die. The Earth was born, and so it too must die.

However, when we say that humanity will die and the Earth will die, that’s different from what Christians say about the end of the world.

When we talk about the death of humanity and the death of the Earth, we mean that something more advanced than humanity will replace it, and this is a higher stage in the development of things.

I said that Marxism also had its birth, its development and its death. That may sound absurd.

But since Marx said that all things that develop have their death, how could that not be applicable to Marxism itself?

To say that it will not die is metaphysics.

Naturally, the death of Marxism means that something higher than Marxism will come to replace it. »

The death of Marxism that Mao Zedong is talking about here is the birth of dialectical materialism. Does this mean that dialectical materialism itself will die, disappear? Of course it does; dialectical materialism will suffer the same fate as Marxism: it will fade away to make way for a deeper understanding of the world. It will be dialectical materialism that has undergone a qualitative leap.

When will this happen? Most certainly in the decades following the unification of humanity and the systematisation of dialectical materialism at world level. There will be then such a deepening, such a development of nuances, that differences will appear and the law of contradiction will apply to dialectical materialism itself.

But we are not there yet, of course. What we need, for the time being, is for humanity to assimilate the fundamentals of dialectical materialism and to know how to apply them in practice, or rather: for dialectical materialism to be taken up as a world view by more and more people, until it is generalized throughout society.

Socialism will triumph when the proletariat understands the contradiction which both binds and opposes it to the bourgeoisie, and when the law of contradiction is grasped in everyday life, in scientific experimentation and the sciences, in industrial production and its conception, in the arts and letters.

This is a new era in which, the more connections are understood, the more connections are developed, the qualitative leap reaches maturity and is realized.

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