Give me diamat or give me death

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sat Dec 2 12:53:25 MST 1995


On Sat, 2 Dec 1995, Alex Trotter wrote:
> 
> positions on philosophy, materialism, etc? The thing about MAEC that gets 
> me is that it is, above all, a *polemical*, not a scientific, work. Its 
> purpose is political--to legitimize the Bolshevik Party, and Lenin's 
> control of that party. And yes, the theories about epistemology and 
> consciousness were tied to the ideology that class consciousness could 
> only come from the professtional revolutionaries as interpreters of the 
> laws of scientific socialism conceived as "dialectical materialism."

Louis: Bogdanov and his followers tried to blend Empirocriticism and 
Marxism and Lenin attacked them in "Materialism and Empiriocritism" (MAEC).

However, Bogdanov's philosophy was attacked by other politicians as 
well. Plekhanov was even nastier to Bogdanov: "That you are outside the 
confines of Marxism is clear for all those who know that the whole edifice 
of this teaching rests upon dialectical materialism, and who realize 
that you, as a convinced Machist, do not and cannot hold the materialist 
viewpoint...While not a Marxist yourself, you would like nothing better than 
that we Marxists should accept you as our comrade...You are not only *very far* 
from 'being a good Marxist,' but you are fated to acquire the unenviable 
bliss of attracting all those who, while claiming the title of Marxist, 
want to adapt their outlook to suit the palate of our contemporary little 
bourgeois supermen."

Lenin was a creampuff compared to Plekhanov. In MAEC, Lenin said, "Let 
Bogdanov, accepting in the best sense and with the best intentions all 
the conclusions of Marx, preach the 'identity' of social being and social 
consciousness, we shall say: Bogdanov minus 'empiriomonism' (or rather, 
minus Machism) *is* a Marxist."

Alex Trotter, whose recent posts are much more seemly than those of a few 
months ago, probably has as much use for Plekhanov as Lenin. He is an 
anarchist who is too pure for the anarchists, and a Marxist who is too 
pure for us as well. That is what he thinks, at any rate. But his attack on 
Lenin in this context hardly seems radical to me at all. After all, the 
anticommunist Leonard Schapiro has described MAEC as a "smokescreen of 
philosophy" used to cover a grubbier conflict over who would control the 
Bolshevik party, a conclusion identical to that of the pristine, 
freedom-loving Alex Trotter.


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