Dialectical materialism considers that one thing can turn into its opposite. However, it is essential not to consider this to be some sort of displacement. Thus, the following diagram is wrong.
This diagram is wrong, because it implies that a thing is different from its opposite and that thus, turning into its opposite, there would be a transformation, a modification, a displacement.
According to dialectical materialism, what happens is that the opposite of a thing is, at the same time, that thing. Thus, there is no “transformation” when one thing becomes its opposite.
This is obviously tricky to grasp. It was not until Mao Zedong that dialectical materialism understood this process sufficiently. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is the fruit of this understanding: given that there is no “barrier” between a socialist China and a revisionist China, one should not imagine that revisionism would be based on a transformation, a modification, a displacement. The struggle was actually internal to Chinese society.
Hence the multiple aspects of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Stalin, in the USSR, considered that revisionism would pass through points of fixation, which would initiate a displacement, a modification, a transformation. This was not the case and his mistake was his insufficient understanding, due to historical reasons, of the process of causing one thing to turn into its opposite.
In the diagram showing the flawed approach, the arrows symbolize the problem. If we say, when something turns into its opposite, that there is a modification, then we say that a thing is absolutely separate from its opposite. To become its opposite, a phenomenon would have to know a whole operation, a whole movement.
We are so led to value the place of “passage”, we are obliged to consider that, for something to be able to change, there would need a “place”, an airlock, a point of connection.
And this is foreign to dialectical materialism. It is even quite precisely, from a historical point of view, the theoretical justification of God.
Before dialectical materialism, the hypothesis of God was unavoidable for mankind. Incapable of grasping the movement of matter, of grasping the contradiction (especially between quantity and quality), of grasping unequal development… mankind idealistically founded its reflection on the principle of creation, action and reaction.
For something to exist, for something to happen, in this conception, there needs to be an “ideal” moment, a pure situation, a momentum (and indeed an outcome).
Hence the notion of the “divine” inspiration of the artistic or scientific “genius”, proceeding by “creation”, from nothing. This notion of creation implies that there is a “beginning” and an “end” to things that would be logically separated, isolated, different, unique, since “created.
Everything being what it is, and nothing else, for it to be able to change into its opposite (even admitting that it is possible), there needs to be a ground for it, an action. The conditions must be created.
In reality, one thing is also its opposite. This is true of socialism, which will be the same, even if reversed, of capitalism for a while, then of communism afterwards.
Socialism is indeed an overtaking of capitalism, that is to say its prolongation and its negation; at the same time, socialism is contrary to communism as it represents a more developed stage, towards which it naturally tends.
Communism itself will undergo transformations, becoming ever more complex with a series of internal oppositions. This is quite clear if we see the relationship with Nature, humanity having experienced an unequal development, leading it to be the opposite of Nature, and being at the same time this opposite, and becoming it again entirely again, in a more developed way.
Everything is always the opposite of something, being this opposite as well. The child has the adolescent he becomes as an opposite, the adolescent obtaining the fact of being an adult as the opposite, and so on. The adolescent is not the adult but at the same time he is it too, despite being his opposite.
We can see here that a multitude of derailments in human behavior stem from a misunderstanding of these qualitative differences and from a confusion aabout reality. Desires are directed towards a thing which is the opposite of a thing, with an assimilation of both, when in reality it is and is not this thing.
The adult man who turns to an adolescent derails because he confuses the adolescent with the woman, being in complete confusion about the thing and its opposite; the contradiction between man and woman can also be misunderstood and lead to disorientation where the thing is confused with its opposite.
There is of course also, even above all, a fetishistic attention to the notion of center, point of reference, reference frame. There is an inordinate value to the consideration that any phenomenon would have a “peak” corresponding to the transition from a one-sided rise to a unilateral descent.
There is an obsession with the search for a center, as in the Cartesian representation of a function (with values 0 and 0 on both axes). This is reproduced socially with the fascination for the one-sided leader, in the negation of the dialectical movement between the center and the base, but above all in the rejection of the universality of each thought which, ultimatelyreflects matter in motion.
This whole approach in terms of center, point of reference, frame of reference… is in fact used to reduce the complexity of phenomena, not to study their substance, to skirt the fact that any process, in its internal movement, obeys its own particular features, in a universal process of contradiction.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, with its multiple aspects, was precisely in China an operation to understand the modalities of the process of the transformation of red China into black China, in order to launch a counter-restoration to capitalist restoration. Its failure at the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 is a reminder that a counter-restoration can itself turn into its opposite, a counter-counter-restoration.
That this happened when Mao Zedong died may indicate that the error consisted in making him a center, a point of reference, a reference frame in the revolutionary apparatus, by failing to consider that it is a question of grasping all aspects of the transformation.
This question of changing from one thing to its opposite, of the absence of a place where to “move”, will require great attention in the future; it will make it possible to grasp essential aspects that are still not understood, such as viruses which are at the “crossroads” of living and dead by virtue of their qualities, forming a sort of nexus between life and death, without being able to be a center, a point of reference, a reference frame.
We have here the expression of a contradiction between the particular and the universal, but also the question of a deeper understanding of the fundamental interrelation of all the things which form, concretely, one and the same reality, an infinite and eternal universe composed of multiple layers like an onion, with movements like echoing waves.