A Rational Critique of Marxism and Communism -I
I. Selections from the book: ‘POLITICS POWER AND PARTIES’
1. “Notwithstanding the pragmatically proved errors and inadequacies of the Marxist political theories and social doctrines, I was confirmed in the conviction that Materialism is the only possible philosophy. But my conviction is based on intellectual Judgment; it is not a dogmatic faith. Therefore, it did not prevent me from admitting the force of the recent challenges to Materialism, particularly to its cosmology. It is also contended that Materialism cannot have an ethics; that there is no logical relation between a philosophy of nature and a moral philosophy; that even if Materialism could successfully meet the challenge to its cosmology, that would not quality it to offer a logically deduced system of ethics, and therefore, materialist philosophy could not indicate the way out of the crisis of our time, which is a moral crisis. But I submit that a secular, rationalist system of ethics can be logically deduced from a materialistic cosmology. A moral philosophy which can do without a transcendental and super-sensual sanction is the crying need of our time.” (Pages 2,3)
2.“The scientific mode of thought, having driven religion from pillar to post, is meeting the final assault of the vanquished adversary. The sophisticated philosophies waging war against Materialism with “scientific” weapons, are all in the last analysis rationalized religion;Denying the possibility of man ever knowing anything, they preach a neo-mysticism and revive the teleological view of life, which is the expression of Man’s loss of faith in himself. That is the central feature of the crisis of our time. To come out of it, mankind must therefore have a philosophy which places man in the centre of the Universe, as the maker of his destiny, and celebrate the final triumph of science over religion.” (Pages 3, 4)
3.“Ever since the ancient thinkers abandoned physical enquiry for metaphysical speculation, philosophy was vitiated by the fallacy of dualism. Modern science finally enabled Materialism, a naturalist system of ideas, to conceive a monistic picture of the world. If the Universe is a cosmos, it is arbitrary to break it up into matter and mind. A monistic naturalism does not allow evolutionary ethics to distinguish a world of values from a world of facts. A monistic philosophy cannot have a dualist ethics. Values are sui generis; they are born in our conscience; they are not deduced from facts; they are facts.” (Page 10)
4. “Different branches of science had surveyed various aspects of nature. The object of each branch of scientific knowledge was not the whole of reality. The fallacy was to make the partial view of physics, for example, a picture of the whole of reality. That picture was to be sought in an integration of knowledge acquired by the different branches of science. To build that picture of reality was the function of philosophy. But academic philosophy, except in the short period of Enlightenment, had never fully broken away from religious or metaphysical traditions. Therefore, it failed when the time came for it to take over the leadership of human progress. The root of the crisis of our time is to be traced in that failure of philosophy to justify itself. Therefore I call it an intellectual crisis; intellectually bankrupt men are naturally demoralized. Having lost faith in themselves, they project their moral crisis on to the world.” (Pages 13, 14)
5. “Modern science knows a good deal about man’s emotions, and can trace them wholly to physico-chemical processes. Once you know these processes, you can actually change the emotions of men. We can therefore make the hypothetical assertion that emotions have no extra-physical origin or significance. Of the soul, however, nothing is known for the obvious reasons that there is no such thing. But if it is identified with man’s highest emotions, then it is reduced to a part of man’s psycho-physiological nature.
Much emphasis is laid in modern theories on instincts and intuitions. On which moral judgment is supposed to be based in preference to man’s reason and intelligence. But if we trace the biological development of man back beyond the appearance of the human species, you can find rudimentary forms of the power of thinking and reasoning and even of moral judgment already in the lower animals. Instinct and intuition are nothing mysterious, but an undifferentiated form of rationalism, which can however teach us a good deal about the working of man’s reason. So long as the cortex in the cerebral processes was not sufficiently differentiated, these functions took place in the neural system as a mechanical biological reaction. Therefore they cannot be analysed in terms of conscious thought. But the cerebral activity was there in elementary form even before the appearance of homo sapiens.” (Page 137)
6. “But scientific knowledge as learned in schools and colleges is not enough to make a Humanist. You may learn something about physics and yet not be a scientist. There may be even recognized scientists who have not necessarily imbibed the scientific spirit. Knowledge in our days has become departmentalized. But true scientific knowledge presupposes an understanding and coordination of all the departments of science. The function of philosophy is precisely that. It must supply a coherent picture of the various branches of knowledge acquired by human experience at a given time. An integrated picture of the knowledge of modern science leads to an integral scientific Humanism, because it can explain man.” (Page 136, 137)
7. “We can trace the biological evolution of man further through the entire process of natural evolution back to inorganic matter. There is supposed to be a hiatus somewhere. This hiatus is, so to say, the last leg on which the doctrine of creation stands today, of which the assumption of the soul is a part. Assuming that there is a “missing link’, the problem is of an adequate hypothesis. Two hypotheses are possible. One is the old hypothesis of creation, according to which a God took it in his head to create the world. The other hypothesis is that, out of the background of inanimate nature, life evolved through a certain combination of material substances under particular circumstances and conditions. This hypothesis is logically more plausible and there is more empirical evidence in its favour than for the former hypothesis, even if it is not yet conclusively proved.” (Page 138)
8. “All the religious philosophers of the Middle Ages were frank dualists. The rationalist rebels against theology – Descartes, Leibnitz, Kant – also could not get out of the vicious circle of dualism. Entangled in that vicious circle, you cannot conceive of man being free. In the context of a dualist philosophy, the only logically consistent ideology which can offer security is religion, and the religious man must always bow before the will of God or the moral law of a teleological order. Morality is equated with absence of freedom.” (Page 10)
9. “Religion can be very sophisticated; it may do away with the anthropomorphic conception of God and reduce deity to a disembodied cosmic consciousness. Yet, religion is not religion unless it assumes some superhuman existence. The basic principle of Humanism is the primacy of man. Manhood is the beginning of human existence, and man is an end in himself. Evidently, Humanism cannot be based on the belief that there is something higher than man.” (Page 104)
10. “The naturalist Humanism of the Renaissance was also ultimately defective. It represented man’s conscious or unconscious revolt against God, yet could not explain man. The belief in God was replaced by a belief in man. Man became the object of belief, not an object of knowledge. God was dethroned, to be replaced by Man, conceived as a mystic entity, essentially not different from the metaphysical concept of Soul deduced from the belief in God.
The naturalist Humanism of the Renaissance was certainly an advance on the religious Humanism of the earlier period. But because of its mystic implication, because human being and becoming could not as yet be placed in the context of the physical world, it also could not satisfy the human mind. Subjected to the searching skepticism of seventeenth century rationalism, it was again relegated to the lumber-room of history. Ultimately, the tradition of the naturalist yet mystic Humanism found a fresh expression in Feuerbach, the disciple of Hegel, who became the spiritual father of Karl Marx.” (Pages 104, 105)
11. “The evolution of life having been traced into the depths of physical nature, and the animal ancestry of the human species established, man ceased to be a mystic and mysterious phenomenon specially created by God as a vehicle for the operation of the Providential Will.
At that moment, Karl Marx stepped in with his partially valid criticism of Feuerbach; but instead of improving upon him he buried Humanism for a long time to come. Karl-Marx seized on that defect of Feuerbach’s philosophy and tried to set it right. He said that man was a social being, having his being and becoming in society. An effort to improve on Feuerbach ultimately led to the burial of the individual man, who was submerged in the collective being of society.
Yet, Marx began as a Humanist, pursuing the age-old idea towards a point where development of the individual would mean development for all. The humanist tradition of modern civilization was too strong for a prophetic reformer to ignore. But a correct rejection of the mystic conception of man led him to a negation of his own ideal. Man is a social animal; he cannot have his being and becoming in isolation; ergo, argued the Hegelian, social reorganization is the condition for the liberation of man. The perverted utopia of Communism became a new religion; an imaginary collective ego-social interest or social progress-replaced the old God, to be propitiated by the sacrifice of the individual. Man must surrender his freedom as an individual to regain it in a collective existence.
That was a throwback. Modern political theories, developed in the seventeenth century, all started from the individual. The problem was regarding the origin of society; how was civil society founded? The creation of modern political institutions was to be guided by the knowledge of the origin of civil society. In the last analysis, the problem was about the nature of man. The origin of society was explained variously by the different thinkers who applied themselves to the problem. They all assumed, implicitly, the rationality of man. The doctrine of Social Contract ultimately became the Bible of democracy. Philosophically, it was interpreted differently. Rousseau’s interpretation differed from that of Locke. Liberalism based on Locke’s doctrine retained the humanist principle of the sovereignty of the individual. But Rousseau became the prophet of totalitarianism, which was heralded by his doctrine of the General Will, deduced from the hypothesis of an original contract.
Thus, a metaphysical concept of popular sovereignty replaced the mediaeval doctrine of the Diving Right of Kings. If kings ruled by divine right, Rousseau’s democracy also rested on a metaphysical sanction, which ultimately led to a situation in which the creation had greater importance than the creator, to the extent that it was entitled to claim the creator for its first victim.”(Pages 105, 106)
12. “The Marxian theory is also teleological: history is made by the operation of the productive forces; there is little man can do about it; he must recognize necessity and then he is free. Once you realise that you cannot be free, that you are bound hand and foot to some mysterious forces of production, then you are free! The Marxist conception of freedom means slavery for the individual, and a society composed of voluntary slaves can never be free, except in imagination or propaganda literature. As a matter of fact, by the conversion to the modern faith of Marxism, man willingly surrenders his right to freedom, and cultivates a cynical attitude to morality. The exposure of the contradiction between the theories and practice of the optimistic nineteenth century helped the spread of Marxism, and the spread of this Jesuitic cult has aggravated the crisis of our time. It has discredited Materialism as antagonistic to moral behavior and ethical values and has thus played into the hands of the prophets of a religious revivalism.” (Pages 8, 9)
13. “According to Marxism, dialectics is believed to be the spring of all progress. Dialectics is process by contradiction. Applied to society, dialectics means that the contradiction between classes is the cause of all social progress. Karl Marx went to the extent of saying that human history is the history of class struggle.
Now, if we visualise that after the establishment of Socialism or Communism classes will disappear, what will be the logical corollary to that in terms of dialectis? Dialectics itself would cease to operate, and social progress would come to a standstill! So, if we are consistent dialecticians, we shall have to say that, on the attainment of Communism, humanity commits suicide; because if mankind does not progress any more, if there is to be no further room for social evolution, then there is stagnation, and under conditions of stagnation life disintegrates.
As that theoretical deduction from a certain Marxian hypothesis could not be corroborated by the actualities of life, social development did not take place as predicted by Karl Marx, even after the working-class captured power and established its dictatorship in one sixth of the earth.” (Pages 25, 26)
14. “Humanism is an old philosophy. Humanists have always approached all problems of life from the assumption of the sovereignty of man. But man remained unexplained, veiled in mystery. Now we know approximately what makes man a man, what is the source of his sovereignty, his creativeness. It is his capacity of knowing, as distinct from the common biological property of being aware; and knowledge endows him with power – not to rule over others, but to create for the benefit of the race, and pursue the ideal of freedom further and further. As the content of knowledge is truth, the enlightened man finds in himself the sanction of the moral values cherished by him. The humanist mission, therefore, is the pursuit of knowledge and dissemination of knowledge already acquired.” (Pages 12, 13)
15. “Man must regain faith in himself if the civilized world is to get out of the crisis of our time. But he cannot be self-reliant unless he outgrows the time-honoured prejudice that, if he is ever to shine, he can do so only in the reflection of a Divine Light. New Humanism maintains that modern science, particularly the science of life and man, that is, biology, has destroyed the foundation of this prejudice. The foundation was ignorance. The light of scientific knowledge has revealed the truth about human nature. Man is essentially a rational being. His basic urge is not to believe, but to question and to know. He gropes in the darkness of ignorance, a helpless victim of blind faith in forces beyond his control, until the light of knowledge illumines his path. The only truth accessible to man is the content of his knowledge. Anything beyond the reach of his knowledge is nothing-an illusion.”(Pages 107, 108)
16. “To spread enlightenment in all the dark corners of our social life, where superstitions lurk and prejudice breeds, is the most fundamental task of all. It is the precondition for any better society, particularly for a democratic society and for a higher cultural level. If authoritarian mentality is so prevalent, it is because of the cultural backwardness of the people. If we want to avoid the danger of totalitarianism, we must change that mentality of the people. That can be done only if those who are at least partially enlightened, conscious of their own responsibility contribute to this effort.” (Page 178)
17. “There are people who are above corruption. But politics as it is practiced today repels them. They stay out of the scramble for power because it might corrupt even the best of men. Nevertheless, they are not necessarily unconcerned with public affairs. They try to do small things in their quiet manner, and the cumulative effect of their silent endeavour may keep the morale of society from a complete collapse. To raise politics above corruption, it must be free from the lust for power. A constitutional structure based upon an even distribution of power alone can purify politics, and such a genuine democratic system is possible if the individual is restored to his place of primacy.” (page 184)
18. “What is clear in our minds can be expressed in clear and plain words. We must speak the language of the people, look at problems from their point of view, from the experience of daily life. Scientific knowledge and its significance for them can be brought to them in simple language. The old theories of the nineteenth century may be naïve for the highbrow who cannot see the relation between science and life. Steam still creates power; electricity can be harnessed for the benefit of man; medicine cures and prevents disease; biology explains a whole lot of things of daily experience; Darwinism is still to go to the masses, particularly in backward countries; psychology throws light on the mysteries of mental life. The people, particularly in our country, require this kind of knowledge. It will give them a sense of power, the power to do, to act; their moral stamina will be reinforced in proportion as knowledge liberates them from the traditional bondage of ignorance fostered on the authority of religion.
Nor is it necessary for the people to grasp the intricate problems of sociology ; the breakdown of the economic system is a matter of their daily experience. It is not necessary for them to understand economic theories. They experience want in the midst of plenty. Once they are made conscious of their experience, they will feel the need for a reconstruction of the present state of affairs. Political problems can be made similarly accessible to them through their experience. Finally, we shall show them how they can take things in their own hands. But all these seemingly easy steps presuppose man’s faith in himself. They will gain that faith in the experience of doing things.
The crisis is a creation of those people who were to lead mankind. They have failed. A mighty resurgence of the common men and women only can save modern civilization. To inspire that resurgence, organize it, guide it to fruition-that is the mission of a new humanism of our time.” (Pages 14,15)
19. “Philosophy could not claim the honour of a science, which it does claim, unless it was monistic, unless it could cover all the various aspects of life under its logical system of thought. To my knowledge, only materialist philosophy can substantiate that claim. The synthesis which is possible on the basis of philosophic Materialism, in so far as it recognizes the objective validity of ideas, provides a new philosophy which can satisfy the modern man. With this new philosophy it should be possible to convince even the more intelligent among the followers of Karl Marx, if they really know their prophet.
The last of Karl Marx’s famous Theses on Feuerbach was that until now philosophers had only interpreted the world in different ways ; now had come the time for philosophers to remake the world. It is possible that the world can be remade in various ways. But if the standard is that of freedom to be enjoyed by individual human beings, then we are interested only in that way which will lead to such freedom, and to achieve that we must have a philosophy to guide us on that way. Such a monistic materialist-realist philosophy leads in the sphere of social theory to a Humanist Radicalism, or Radical Humanism. It recognises the dynamics of ideas and the decisive role which the dynamics of ideas has played throughout the entire history of social evolution, and reconciles these with the dialectics of economic and social development.” (Page 31)
‘POLITICS POWER AND PARTIES’
(First Edition : April 1960,Reprint : January 1981)
Ajantha Books International,
I – U. B Javahar Nagar, Bangalow Road,
Delhi – 110 007.
II. Selections from the book: “POLITICS POWER AND PARTIES” -2
1. “Of course, there can never be such a thing as an entirely new philosophy, There is a continuity in the history of philosophic thought, which has been evolving ever since the dawn of civilization. In various stages of that process of evolution, epoch-making contributions have indeed been made, from time to time. Those contributions mark the stages and emergence of various systems or schools of philosophy.
This process can be divided very roughly into three big periods. The period of religious philosophy or theological thought; the period of naturalist philosophy, associated with the development of modern science since the days of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton; and finally, in our time there developed what is called social philosophy, that is, the attempt to apply the results of abstract thinking to the solution of problems of social existence of the human race.
But there was one continuous under-current of generally evolving ideas throughout the successive stages of the development of philosophical thought, common to them all, and of a cumulative and abiding value. However we may respond to the present crisis, we can be moved and inspired in our thinking only by linking up with that heritage of human civilization. In so far as we can appreciate that heritage, in so far as we can recognize the abiding values of human civilization, will it be possible for us to react to the present crisis effectively and make our own contribution, be it large or small, to the solution of its problems. And through this effort, going on all over the world, and in which we are participating, we may contribute to raise human thought onto a higher level and open up a new vista of human progress.
We see the way out of the contemporary crisis in a philosophy of Humanism in the tradition of philosophical Radicalism. But the New Humanism is in certain respects clearly distinct from the philosophy of Radicalism of the 18th and 19th centuries.” (Pages 16, 17)
2. “I believe that the object of all political thinking, the object of social philosophy as well as of political practice, is to ensure the freedom of the individual in society. But when we come to examine the relation between the individual and the State, we are dealing with a different problem. The State is not necessarily identical or coterminous with society. At the same time, if the State is to be regarded as the political organization of society, as it should be, then there is no reason why the State should not be coterminous with society. And if the State can be coterminous with society, the conflict between man and State should be no more difficult of solution than the apparent contradiction between the individual and society.” (Pages 18, 19)
3. “Although the problem of reconciling the apparent contradiction of man and State has occupied political thought ever since antiquity, the eclipse of the individual at the cost of growing emphasis on the State, first under theocracy, later in monarchies, yet later in parliamentary democracies, not to mention the modern dictatorships, is one of the outstanding features of history. The 19th century held out hope for the triumph of the individual. But the two concepts with which it was heralded were defective. They were, parliamentarism in the political field, and laisser faire in economics. Parliamentary democracy formally recongnised the sovereignty of the individual, but in practice deprived all but a privileged few of effective use of that sovereignty. The sovereign individual became a legal fiction. For all practical purposes, most individuals were deprived of all power and even of their dignity.
In the economic field, the doctrine of laisser faire gave unbridled liberty to a small minority to exploit the vast majority of the people everywhere. Free enterprise meant freedom of a few to exploit many. That being the practical manifestation of 19th century Radicalism – the political expression of which was Liberalism – it was bound to be discredited and lead to a new period of crisis.” (Pages 19, 20)
4. “But once we reject the idea of parliamentary democracy, the claim to dictatorship may be advanced from various sides. Therefore, the first reaction to the Russian Revolution was the rise of Fascism. The world entered into a conflict between two sets of reaction to the older form of political thought. The old form of political thought could no longer command people’s adherence and they were now asked to choose between two forms of dictatorship. Whether we choose the one or the other, we shall have to say good-by to the whole concept of democracy; we shall have to say that the whole evolution of political thought since Plato was a mistake, and we shall have to dismiss the individual as a fiction. We shall have to accept society as something given, an amorphous organism which has a collective ego, and sacrifice the constituents of society on the altar of that collective entity.” (Page 21)
5. “These collectivist ideas have had yet another consequence. They have resulted in a certain mental attitude, a habit of thinking, which completely disregards considerations of ethics, of morality in social behavior. They have led to confusion about the relation of means and end. On the one hand, an end is made of the means. On the other, any means is believed to be good enough to achieve a desired end. For the last hundred years, a growing section of mankind had come to believe that Socialism, or Communism as it came to be called subsequently, is necessary for establishing freedom and progress, and ultimately it came to be believed that Socialism or Communism as such is the goal. But why should Socialism or Communism be our goal? Presumably because we believe that under Socialism or Communism we shall have greater freedom and happiness. Thus it is obvious that Socialism or Communism is only an instrument, a means to an end, and not an end in itself.” (Pages 22, 23)
6. “If again we cast a glance back to the beginning of human civilization, it is not at all difficult to see that the most basic urge of human existence is the search, the unending quest for freedom. This urge expressed itself at the pre-human level of biological evolution in the form of the struggle for survival. When the very existence of the biological organism which came to be called man, was hemmed in on all sides by frightening natural phenomena threatening the new organism with extinction, the new species tried to free itself from those manifold dangers and threatening calamities, in order to continue to exist. In other words, existence was conditional upon the success of the biological organism called man in freeing itself from the pressures of its physical environments.
My contention is that the social struggle for human progress, the entire process of social evolution, is nothing but the continuation of the struggle for existence on a higher level, where that struggle is no longer guided by instinct and natural selection, but by intelligence, choice and reasoning.” (Pages 23, 24)
7. “There is no reason to believe that any mere change represents progress. A succession of changes can be characterized as progress only if we can discern in every successive stage a direction, an approximation to a certain goal. And that cannot be proved unless we have a clear idea about the ends of human existence, and a criterion of progress.
Let us not be utopians. Ideals are never completely attained. We can only achieve a greater or lesser approximation towards an ideal. The end of the basic human urge is to approximate to the greatest possible extent the ideal of freedom. If freedom is defined as the progressive elimination of all restrictions on the unfoldment of the potentialities latent in man, it ceases to be an abstraction, and can be intimately and concretely related with the daily affairs of human life.” (Page 24)
8. “Previously, those who rejected parliamentary democracy did so on the ground – and it was a valid ground – that through parliamentary democracy political power was monopolized by a small class of people with certain economic privileges. Consequently, as long as the majority of people was deprived of the power which goes with those privileges, the sovereignty which in parliamentary democracy is supposed to rest in the people, never really belonged to the people, in such a way that they could have made use of it.
The ideologists of the new class of proletarians went one step further and said that the virtual dictatorship of one class, which was a minority, monopolizing the power under parliamentary democracy should be replaced by the actual dictatorship of another class, which was supposed to form the majority of society. This proposition was backed up by a very plausible and attractive argument, namely, that dictatorship should be merely a transition stage. One class should capture power with the object of abolishing all other classes, or rather all classes as such, and in doing so it could hardly be called a dictatorship, being the dictatorship of the poor and exploited majority of the people. Together with the classes, the dictatorship also would disappear, and the State as such, that instrument of coercion, wither away in the end.” (Pages 24, 25)
9. “What happens after the exploited working class captures power? The economic structure of society would be remodeled; society would cease to be divided into property owning and dispossessed classes, and consequently, in the end, there should be no necessity any more for any class to exercise its dictatorship. If things would take place in this ideal and simplified way, it might be very desirable. But experience has shown that that process does not take place automatically, It does not take place at all in this way, and that is so because there is a logical flaw in this theory.” (Page 25)
10. “It goes without saying that physical existence is the basic precondition of social existence. In the present world, the vast majority of mankind cannot satisfy the elementary necessities of physical existence. Unless that is ensured, unless adequate physical existence is guaranteed to every man, woman and child, there is no use talking of developing their potentialities, It is also recognized that under an economic system which has already broken down in most parts of the world, and which has plunged the world into two devastating world wars, that cannot be done.
The world must be economically reorganized. Not only the Socialists or Communists, but the Capitalists also have recognized that fact and are trying to adjust themselves to the new reality. But even a more egalitarian economic reorganization by itself will not produce the desired result, unless it is accompanied by the largest measure of political democracy. And that depends on the possibility of the diffusion of power in a State which will be coterminous with entire society. The State being the political organization of society, the widest diffusion of power makes it coterminous with society.” (Pages 27, 28)
11. “The so-called spiritual or idealist philosophies have brought the world to its present state. The collectivist ideologies have wrongly been attributed to materialist philosophy. But philosophical Materialism is a more rational and consistent system of philosophical thought than other schools of philosophy. If the object of philosophy is to explain nature, explain existence, explain the world, and if for explaining the world we have to go beyond the world into regions of which nothing is and can be known, that would not be an explanation. Materialism is the only philosophy which has tried to explain the world without having to transcend this physical universe. A reasonable philosophy cannot possibly have unreasonable results as its logical consequence unless it is misinterpreted and misapplied.” (Page 29)
For a more rational reconstruction of the social order of this world, we should not have to break away from a materialist philosophy. On the other hand, certain ill-conceived formulations of some aspects of materialist philosophy have vitiated its social thinking. For instance, one fallacy of the social theory of materialist philosophy is the economic interpretation of history, or Economic Determinism. The climax of this line of thought is to declare that all ideologies, philosophies, art, cultural values, and ethical systems have no objective existence of their own, but are mere super-structures of economic relations, or to be more precise, connected with the means and modes of production, determined by them and meant to perpetuate them by giving them moral or spiritual sanction.
Apart from the inadequacy of this appraisal of ideas and cultural values, this has led to notions of ethical relativism which have played havoc in our time. All the ethical relativists swear by the concept of the Economic Man, which derives its sanction from Economic Determinism. But curiously enough, this concept belongs to the bourgeois Radicals, to those Liberals whom all the collectivists condemn. They have rejected bourgeois Liberalism, but they have taken over its basic concept, the Economic Man.
If we want to put man in the centre of the stage and measure all social progress by the degree of progress and freedom enjoyed by the individuals in society, we shall have to discard this vulgar concept of the Economic Man and replace it by the concept of a Moral Man, a man who can be moral because he is rational. This can be done consistent with materialist philosophy. Materialism does not really discard epistemological Idealism, or idealist epistemology. It points out that ideas are not born by themselves in the air, irrespective of man’s physical existence. On the contrary, it traces ideas to the common denominator of physical existence. But at the same time, intelligent Materialism refuses to run counter to the accumulated store of scientific knowledge by denying an objective reality to ideas, by denying the dynamics of ideas, once they are conceived by men.
Therefore, philosophically, 20th century humanist Radicalism proposes to make a synthesis between the history of material progress and the dynamics of ideas, regarding the development of ideas also as a process: once ideas are created, they have a logic of their own, and go on serving as incentive for further development, including the dialectics of economic development. These two parallel lines which go throughout history are continually influencing each other, new ideas leading to new material developments, and material developments giving rise to new ideas. I believe such a synthesis is possible.” (Pages 29, 30, 31)
12.“In politics, Radical Humanism points out that democracy can be possible, that economic planning is reconcilable with the freedom of the individual; that is to say, Radical Humanism tries to present itself as a philosophy which covers the entire field of human existence from abstract thought to social and political reconstruction. It is an attempt to evolve a system of thought which would be able to react effectively to the crisis of our time, which would be able to offer a more sensible approach to the problems which are baffling the modern world.
The hopeful feature of these efforts is that they can be taken up and spread by ordinary intelligent and decent men and women everywhere. In that process, the ideas necessarily will be perfected and worked out in greater detail to their logical conclusions and practical consequences, and thus they can take effect and go into the making of ever newer ideas and greater freedom in days to come.” (Pages 31, 32)
‘POLITICS POWER AND PARTIES’
(First Edition : April 1960
Reprint : January 1981)
Ajantha Books International,
I – U. B Javahar Nagar,
Bangalow Road, Delhi – 110 007
III. Selected Passages from the book: “New Orientation”
“Emotion is one of the forms of biological activities which cannot yet be measured mathematically. Therefore, it is so very difficult to lay down very rigid laws of political practice. But, on the other hand, unless we have some guide, practice will be groping in the dark; it may even be like madmen running amock. And as a matter of fact, politics has degenerated to such a state, not only in India, but in other parts of the world also. Therefore, in order to practice politics with a minimum measure of guarantee of its leading to positive results, it is necessary to have some guiding principles which may claim the validity of scientific propositions.
In the first Dehradun Camp, we tried to arrive at some such principles. We had a long discussion on the relation of classes in Indian Society. By examining things as they are in India, we came to the conclusion that our previous notions of class relation, acquired from text books written on the basis of experience in other countries, did not quite fit in with the realities in our country. Now, politics is a form of human activity; having for its object the administration of public affairs so as to guarantee the greatest good to the greatest number. Therefore, the interrelation of the various groups constituting a particular community necessarily determines the form of political practice. When we discovered that the relation of classes in our country was very much different from the relation of classes in other countries, and when we further discovered that the relation of classes in our country did not fit in with that pattern which was the basis of certain political practices, until then believed by us to be revolutionary, not only had we to formulate new principles of political theory; we also adjusted our political activity to those theories.” (Pages – 11, 12)
1. “The principles of political theories and practice as well as the ideals of revolution, which emerged from the discussions of the first Dehradun Camp were generically called by us scientific politics. The term scientific politics was not new. It is generally admitted that, being a branch of social science, politics is also a science. Political theories are considered to be scientific theories.
Nevertheless, political practice is very largely a matter of emotion, and that is particularly so in our country. Political theories are also very largely determined by emotion, by our wishes, by our desires. In any case, we should admit in the very beginning that political practice is really a matter of emotion. Politics as a branch of social science is a science, but at the same time, political science is practiced by human beings. Human beings can be the object of scientific examination in more than one way. Yet, the basic urge of all human activity is emotional. Therefore, it is quite correct to say that political practice is very largely emotional, and it is very difficult to practice politics scientifically.” (Pages – 11)
2. “Once a dictatorship is established, it does not wither away. Experience oompels us to discard another dogma of Marxism which contradicts Marxism itself. The State is the political organization of society. Will a communist society cease to be politically organized? A highly complicated industrialized society must have a highly complicated political organization. Therefore, a State must be there. If we hold on to yet another dogma of Marxism, that the State is an engine of coercion, then, we must admit that even a communist society will require an instrument of coercion. A class dictatorship may disappear, but it will be replaced by the dictatorship of a party; proletarian dictatorship will be replaced by a bureaucratic dictatorship.” (Pages – 100, 101)
3. “Once a State is established, it becomes a vested interest. Power is not voluntarily transferred. The pattern of Marxist theory does not provide for any transfer of power; it visualizes withering away of the State; in other words, political power will cease to be a factor in social organization. Here is something worse than a fallacy; it is an absurdity. The State is the political organization of society. It can never disappear unless human society will revert to the state of savagery. The Russian experience calls for a revision also of the fundamental political principles of Marxism. If dogmatism prevents us from facing the issue, then as orthodox Marxists we must accuse the Russian Communist Party of having betrayed the revolution. I would rather follow Lenin, who echoing Goethe said: “Theory is grey, but ever green is the tree of life.” (Pages – 99, 100)
4. “The contention that collectively men can have a very high degree of freedom at the cost of individual freedom, is logically fallacious; it is a sophistry. Freedom of society must be the totality of the freedom of the individuals. If you reduce freedom of the individual, the totality of freedom is also reduced. Therefore, the doctrine that the individual should sacrifice for the benefit, welfare and progress of society, is fallacious. That is not a liberating, but an enslaving doctrine, and that doctrine is not to be found in Marxism. One can trace that doctrine in Marxism only by isolating Marxism from its antecedents. All these false, mistaken, opportunist, vulgarized ideas result from the inability to see Marxism in its historical perspective. I want to save Marxist philosophy by dissociating it from decadent Communism. Only then it can be placed in the proper historical perspective and fully appreciated. With that purpose, I attach supreme importance to the individual, and desire to save the positive values of Liberalism. Marxism will still supply us the faith if we can amplify it as the philosophy not of a class, but of a free humanity. By its own nature, Marxism admits of such amplification. Orthodox Marxists think that the entire history of the past was obliterated by a new history on the day KarI Marx was born. The Marxist theory of history has been traced to Hegel, to Hegelian dialectics. That is not quite true. Indeed, it is wrong. The fundamental principle of historical determinism was conceived two hundred years before Karl Marx. Orthodox Marxists are ignorant, illiterate and uneducated. Otherwise, they should know that in the middle of the seventeenth century, the Italian historian Vico, who originally laid down the fundamental principle of the philosophy of history, formulated it in two words which can still be our guide, namely: “History is humanity creating itself.” Has Marx said anything more than that? History is humanity creating itself. Discard the un-Marxist belief that Marxism is the final truth revealed to Karl Marx by God Almighty, and you will be able to trace the roots of Marxism throughout the entire process of the evolution of ideas since the dawn of civilization. Marxism has a rich past; therefore it can be the philosophy of a bright future. Human ideas have always been liberating. Ideas are never reactionary. Ideas become reactionary when a stage of human development heralded by certain ideas comes to an end. Immediately, a new system of ideas develops. But it develops from the old ideas. That is how Marxism developed. Socialism grows in the womb of capitalism; the corollary to that doctrine obviously is that the roots of the ideology of Socialism can be traced in the bourgeois philosophy. Marx’s ideas were heralded by thinkers who are branded as the ideologists of the bourgeoisie. Indeed, no philosophy belongs to a particular class. Successive philosophical systems represent stages of the entire process of human development. Man is the maker of the social world; therefore it belongs to him. That is the moral sanction of Socialism. Similarly, man is also the maker of the ideal world. Philosophy as a whole is a human heritage.
If Marxism justified a pattern of social reconstruction advancing the absurd claim of being the final stage of human progress, to revolt against that vulgarization of the philosophy of revolution would be a revolutionary virtue – the duty of revolutionaries. Every revolution in history ultimately established a new status quo, and human progress demands that every status quo must be subverted. Otherwise, history would have come to a stop. There is no reason to believe that it will be different with the Russian Revolution. It is now a matter of experience that Communism in practice creates a new status quo, under which the human individual has precious little freedom. Therefore, if freedom is the ideal of human life, we must look beyond communism. Revolution, that is, subversion of the status quo, and reorganization of society on the basis of more equitable and equalitarian relations, remains a necessity. But it must find a new way. The Marxist scheme of revolution postulates dictatorship that is, abolition of liberty, as a condition for success. Experience has exposed the danger inherent in the facile belief in the scheme; at the same time, experience has also proved that there are alternative ways of revolution. Professed Communists are actually travelling that way. But being still wedded to a false philosophy, which disparages humanism and denies freedom to the individual, they cannot harmonise their practice with their theory; the result is moral depravity, intellectual dishonesty and deceitfulness in political behavior and international relations.” (Pages – 102, 103, 104)
5. “There is only one philosophy which has evolved continuously since the dawn of civilization, heralding, from time to time, successive stages of social development and enriching itself by the experiences thereof. What is necessary to-day is to draw inspiration from the store of the civilized man’s spiritual heritage. That alone can guide the steps of mankind out of the present impasse and towards a still unexplored future believed to be full of promise. Marxism tried to do that; therefore, for nearly a century, it served as the incentive for revolutionary action. But once its votaries accomplished the revolution in one country, they naturally became defenders of the new status quo. Marxism ceased to be the philosophy of the future; its function became to explain the status quo, to provide it with a theoretical justification. A new orthodoxy has thus grown out of the philosophy of revolution.” (Pages – 104, 105)
6. “We may be only ten; our ideas may be unpopular; and therefore it may be very difficult for us to become twenty soon enough. But nothing can prevent the ten from becoming more clear about their ideas, and develop a greater degree of fervor, initiative, zeal, fanaticism. Yes, fanaticism, to propagate them.” (Page – 108)
7. “Revolution is not inevitable. Only objective conditions and even historical necessity do not make a revolution successful. Fundamental changes in the structure of society take place only when there is a group of individuals who feel the necessity, who see the possibility of fulfilling it, and who can develop an adequate amount of will to bring about the changes which are both necessary and possible. In absence of such a group of people revolution is not only inevitable, but even when it is necessary, it does not take place. The history of the world is littered with unsuccessful revolutions. Revolutions fail as a rule. Successful ones are exceptions to the rule. There have been very few such exceptions in entire history.
So, let us not count on the maturity of objective conditions or rely on the fatalistic view of class relations: Capitalist exploitation will sharpen the class antagonism; gradually, the oppressed classes will come in the camp of revolution; all the reactionaries will go to the other side; and suddenly God will beat the drums of revolution, there will be a clash, power will be captured by the revolutionary, there will be a clash, power will be captured by the revolutionary class, who will usher in a new order. History never falls in that neat pattern of the text – book of revolution. In reality, movements of history are much more complicated. Those accustomed to think (rather believe) and talk in terms of the masses, ignore the human factor which is the basic factor of history, and it can be properly appreciated only in individual behavior. Man must be man, individually conscious of his dignity and creativeness, before he can make history. Man makes history, not the masses. Man’s ability to make history depends on his skill to forge the instrument.” (Pages – 113, 114)
8. “It is a mistake to say that revolution is all masses, and counter-revolution is supported only by the upper classes and perverted individuals. Whenever counter-revolution succeeds, it commands the support of the masses. Fascism succeeded as a mass movement in Italy and Germany. Fascism did not succeed in England because the masses could not be attracted by it. Why? Because of the tradition of Liberalism and democracy which made the British working class and the masses in general immune against the danger of Fascism.” (Page – 117)
9. “When Hitler captured power, he said: Now we have made only the first revolution – the national part of it; we shall have to wait some time for the second revolution – the socialist phase. But the second revolution never took place in Germany; nor will it take place in India. Perhaps the left wing of Indian Fascism will eventually get impatient and demand the second revolution, and meet the fate of their kind in the ranks of German Fascism. You remember Hitler’s blood bath of 1934, which drowned the dream of the second – the Socialist – revolution. The orthodox Marxists in this country may suffer that fate, and that will only be the penalty for their stupidity.” (Pages – 117, 118)
10. “And why do you think that only slaves can be revolutionaries? Why can you not imagine that free men can be greater revolutionaries? I mean, spiritually free men, men who can think for themselves, who do not need any authority to rely upon, nor any dogma to dictate their behavior.” (Page – 121)
11. “Propaganda must precede the political offensive. And our propaganda will be addressed mainly to the educated men and women who are destined to lead the revolution in India in the given situation. Both in Germany and Italy, the Communist Parties failed to realize that, and therefore, they could not stop the rise of Fascism. Belief in a one class party persuaded them to neglect the middle class, which even in capitalist countries plays a decisive role. So it provided the storm-troopers of Fascism, and when Fascism in power threw some crumbs to the proletariat, they also followed Fascism.
We must appeal to that class of people which is capable of appreciating some human values, which can be moved by ideals greater that bread and butter, whose politics is not entirely determined by the selfishness of one particular class which is hungry. We must get over the idea that we are the chosen people of God. If we can appreciate high ideas, there are others who can also do so. We shall place before them not the ideal of proletarian dictatorship and classless society, but the ideal of human freedom. We shall tell them that, if you allow yourselves to be hypnotized by Ramdhun you will have to send your wife to the kitchen and not allow your daughters to go to college. I have no doubt that there are many who will appreciate your ideas.” (Page – 134)
12. “As far as I am concerned, the programme of the party can be stated in one word; it is, freedom; and freedom is not an abstract concept. It means the right of individuals to choose how best each can unfold his or her creativeness and thus make the greatest contribution to common welfare and social progress. The philosophical connotation of this programme is evident. It can be intelligently accepted and effectively acted upon only by men and women who can see that ethical values are greater than economic interests, and revolt against economic exploitation and inequities as immoral practices.” (Page – 135)
13. “A little reflection makes it clear that the idea of the proletarian dictatorship can be accepted by honest and intelligent fighters for freedom only if it is conceived as a new version of the Platonic idea of philosopher kings. Of course, the term “kings” was determined by the prevailing political notions of the time; it has no application to-day; we are concerned with the idea. The dictatorship of the proletariat is supposed to be the political institution of the transitional period. It must be composed of thoroughly declassed individuals, if proletarian dictatorship is to serve purpose it is expected to; otherwise, it is bound to establish the rule of another class. The people composing the dictatorship, because they come from the proletarian class, may have no scruples in destroying the established bourgeois social order. But as proletarians, representing the interest of a class, which has captured power, they cannot be trusted to abolish their own class. Experience has proved that the revolutionary State, the proletarian dictatorship, does not wither away. Whatever may be the nature of economic reconstruction, a class mentality is fostered as moral sanction for the dictatorial regime. Hypothetically, the dictatorship may usher in a higher type of democracy, if only it is wielded by individuals who are completely differentiated from all classes. Only such men can establish a classless society. Of course, in that case it would not be a dictatorship. It is absurd to expect that one particular class can ever establish a classless society. The abolition of capitalism may abolish the proletariat as such; but it is highly doubtful, psychologically, if it is not metamorphosed into a new ruling class.
We talk glibly about declassed intellectuals, meaning that, unless the intellectuals fully differentiate themselves, spiritually, from the bourgeoisie, they cannot be revolutionaries – advocates of a new social order. Is it not only logical that the same test should be applied to those who are to wield dictatorial power during the transition period? If the proletariat cannot throw up individuals who will also be declassed, its dictatorship cannot possibly usher in a classless society. De-classed intellectuals usually attach themselves to another class – the proletariat; they develop the proletarian mentality. Power in the hands of people having no vested interest alone can guarantee the reconstruction of society as a co-operative commonwealth. It is easy to see that only philosophers, as individuals, can be completely disinterested. The proletariat in power will have as much of vested interest as the bourgeoisie. When the proletariat captures power, it also wants to keep it in its own hand; and if that will mean, in the hands of a few people who also belong to that class, then proletarian dictatorship will be a permanent feature; it will never wither away.” (Pages – 142, 143)
14. “We must take it for granted that Karl Marx honestly believed that under Socialism class distinctions would disappear, and therefore the State as a class organization wither away. But one cannot help feeling that that was a naïve belief; it was wishful thinking. How could a keen intellect be reconciled to such a belief? The zeal to prove that Communism was not a utopia which Iured Marx away towards the uncertain ground of speculation, and he made a dogma out of speculative thought. So long as a stateless society remained inconceivable, Communism could not be anything but a utopia. Therefore, for the sake of his “Scientific” Socialism, Marx had to postulate the withering away of the State. Either, at the point, Marx came very near to anarchism – also a utopia – or he did not think hard enough. The State is the political organization of society. How could a complicated, centralized, industrial society be ever without a State? This question should have occurred to Marx while he was casting the horoscope of humanity. As it is, he set up a number of hypotheses, and these are getting exploded. Is it, then, still Marxism to stick to those hypotheses as final truths? That is not Marxism. If Marx returned in our midst, he would say that, a hundred years ago, he anticipated history to move according to a certain pattern, but since that did not happen, and things developed differently, what he said a hundred years ago does not hold good any longer and is to be rejected.” (Page – 147)
15. “The free individual discharges social obligations not under any compulsion, nor as a homage to the exacting god of a collective ego, but out of a moral conviction which grows from the consciousness of freedom. The idea of dictatorship, on the contrary, marks a complete break from the cultural heritage of modern civilization. It is a negation of all the social and ethical values which have given expression to the liberating urge of mankind ever since the man of the Renaissance rose in revolt against spiritual regimentation under the banner of the Christian Church, and temporal totalitarianism of the Holy Roman Empire.” (Page – 161)
16. “The theory and practice of dictatorship, even as the means to an end, is repugnant. But, on the other hand, the limitations of parliamentary democracy can no longer be ignored. Under it, civil liberties can be reduced to mere formalities. Without accepting the Marxist view that parliamentary democracy is also a class dictatorship (of the bourgeoisie), a view which cannot be easily disposed of, critical students of modern history should be able to see that the inadequacies of parliamentary democracy are inherent in itself. In the highly complicated modern industrial society, individual citizens particularly, those belonging to the majority laboring under economic disadvantages, have very little chance of exercising effectively the sovereign right which formally belongs to them. Law gives them little protection, particularly in critical times. It is an indisputable fact that under the parliamentary system democracy cannot control the executive. Between two elections, it is completely out of the picture. During that period, a party having a majority in the parliament can legally assume dictatorial power. The guarantee against such a possible abuse of power, attainable with democratic sanction, is not legal. The guarantee is provided by the moral sense of the majority party. Thus, parliamentarism as such cannot defend democracy, and guarantee civil liberties, under all circumstances.” (Pages – 161, 162)
17. “While, true to its humanist tradition, Liberalism proclaims freedom of the individual, its economic doctrine of laisser faire, with the political corollary, places the individual in a helpless position in the wilderness of cut-throat competition. In such circumstances, individualism becomes a mere word. The political and social practice of Liberalism having negativated the moral excellence of its philosophy, parliamentary democracy was bound to be discredited. If that was not the case, the stormy rise of Fascism could not be rationally explained. Fascism grew out the crisis of parliamentary democracy, within the limits of which the social and economic problems confronting Europe in the inter-war period could not be solved. In order to survive Fascism, democracy must out grow the limitations of formal parliamentarism based on an atomized and therefore helpless electorate. An organized democracy, in a position to wield a standing control of the State, should be the political foundation of the new social order. By reorientating itself in this direction, democratic Socialism will open up before the modern progressive humanity a new vista of political and economic reconstruction, which will neither postulate an indefinite period of blood and tears, nor be clouded by doubts about the alternative course of peaceful development.” (Pages – 162, 163)
18. “The store of cultural values, piled up since the dawn of civilization, is far from being exhausted. That precious heritage of the past provides a solid foundation for the magnificent structure of the future dreamt alike by romanticists or revolutionaries, idealists or utopians. If the germs of Socialism or Communism grew in the womb of the capitalist society, then the inspiration for a truly liberating philosophy for the future should also be found in the moral and spiritual values of the so-called bourgeois culture. No Marxist could disagree, without belying the master. To be true to their liberal tradition, the democratic Socialists should also find the ways and means to enable individual citizens to stand out in sovereign dignity, which is not attainable within the limits of formal parliamentarism based on atomized electorates.” (Pages – 163, 164)
19. “Politics cannot be divorced from ethics without jeopardizing the cherished ideal of freedom. It is a fallacy to hold that the end justifies the means. The truth is that immoral means necessarily corrupt the end. This is an empirical truth.” (Page – 164)
20. “Democratic practice which is no more than mere counting of heads is, in the last
analysis, also a homage to the collective ego. It allows scope neither for the individual, nor for intelligence. Under the formal democratic system, unscrupulous demagogues can always come to the top. Intelligence, Integrity, wisdom, moral excellence, as a rule, count for nothing. Yet, unless the purifying influence of these human values is brought to bear upon the political organization of society, the democratic view of life cannot be realized.
The contemporary world is not poor in men and women incorporating those values of the humanist tradition. But disdaining demagogy, they can never come to the helm of public affairs. On the other hand, a dictatorial regime, even if established as the means to a laudable end, discourages the rise of that type. Thus, between formal democracy and dictatorship, humanity is deprived of the benefit of having its affairs conducted by spiritually free individuals, and is consequently debarred from advancing towards the goal of freedom.” (Pages – 165, 166)
21. “Moral sanction, after all, is the greatest sanction. It has been shown above that the real guarantee of parliamentary democracy is not law, but the moral conscience of the majority in power. In the last analysis, dictatorship also rests on a moral sanction; it claims to be the means to an end. But group morality is a doubtful guarantee against the temptation of power. Values operate through the behavior of individuals. Therefore, government composed of spiritually free individuals, accountable to their respective conscience, is the only possible guarantee for securing the greatest good to the greatest number.” (Page – 166)
22. “Even if elections are by universal suffrage, and the executive is also elected, democracy will still remain a formality. Delegation of power, even for a limited period, stultifies democracy. Government for the people can never be fully a Government of the people and by the people, and the people can have a hand in the Government of the country only when the pyramidal structure of the State will be raised on a foundation of organized local democracy. The primary function of the latter will be to make individual citizens fully conscious of their sovereign right and enable them to exercise the right intelligently. The broad basis of the democratic State, coinciding with the entire society, will be composed of a network of political schools, so to say. The right of recall and referendum will enable organized local democracy to wield a direct and effective control of the entire state machinery. They alone will have the right to nominate candidates for election. Democracy will be placed above parties representing collective egos. Individual men will have the chance of being recognized. Party loyalty and party patronage or other forms of nepotism will no longer eclipse intellectual independence, moral integrity and detached wisdom.
Such an atmosphere will foster intellectual independence dedicated to the cause of making human values triumph. That moral excellence alone can hold a community together without sacrificing the individual on the altar of the collective ego, be it the nation or the class. People possessed of that great virtue will command the respect of an intelligent public, and be recognized as the leaders of society automatically, so to say.” (Page – 167)
23. “Until the intellectual and moral level of the entire community is raised considerably, election alone cannot possibly bring its best elements to the forefront, and unless the available intellectual detachment and moral integrity are brought to bear on the situation, democratic regimes cannot serve the purpose of promoting freedom.” (Page – 168)
Ajanta Publications (India)
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IV. Selected Passages from the book: ‘Beyond Communism’
1. “The philosophical point of departure of our politics is derived from the eleventh thesis of Karl Marx on Feuerbach: until now, philosophers have interpreted the world; now they must remake it. So, to have some clearly defined philosophical principles as the basis of a political theory is not deviation from Marxism. Commenting upon Marx, we say that until now politics has been practiced by loafers and charlatans; now some principles will have to be introduced in it by men who are guided by a philosophy.” (Page : 25)
2. “The Marxist analysis ignored the numerous and important middle class in capitalist society. In the period of decry, the middle class loses its faith in capitalism, but it is not proletarianised, not in the intellectual and cultural sense, at any rate. It remains loyal to the values of bourgeois culture even when losing faith in capitalist economy. It also demands, at least feels the necessity of, a social revolution, though not of the proletarian type. This change in the social orientation of the middle class is the conclusive evidence of the decomposition of the capitalist order. It is the Nemesis – own blood turning against oneself.
Exactly that is happening to-day. But because this very significant process was not visualized in the Marxist scheme of the dissolution of bourgeois society and the resulting revolutionary crisis, orthodox Marxists of our time blinded by their orthodoxy, would not take notice of it, even when it takes place under their very nose. The middle class, though still loyal to the tradition of the so-called bourgeois culture, is actually revolting against the economic relations and political practices of the passing bourgeois society. It has become an active factor of the impending social revolution. The middle class is dissatisfied with the established order. They do not want to rehabilitate it. But they are not prepared to accept orthodox Marxist ideals: they are repelled particularly by communist political practice, and the negative attitude to cultural tradition and ethical values.
Proper appreciation of this development, which no longer permits of the doctrine that the proletariat is the only revolutionary class, is the crying need of the moment. The army of revolution has swelled; but the unexpected (by Marxist orthodoxy) accession of strength must be properly evaluated and skillfully integrated. That cannot be done on the basis of an antiquated theory of the relation of forces in the social crisis of our time. Marxist economism cannot move the middle class towards the ideal of social reconstruction. The cultural tradition of modern civilized mankind and universal ethical values must be given their due importance in the philosophy of the revolution of our time. Nobody has as yet raised the philosophical platform on which the greatly swelled army of revolution can stand together.” (Pages : 27, 28)
3. “Freedom is a human ideal, whereas truth is a metaphysical category. How can we deduce the one from the other? Quest for freedom in human evolution is purposive. The struggle for existence is no longer carried on by mechanical adaptation. On the human level, it is carried on by purposive efforts for the conquest of nature. What differentiated man from his immediate ancestor? ……………………………………………………… ……………………..The moment an ape discovered that he could break a branch and pluck fruits with it, the process of mechanical evolution ended; purposiveness became the basic feature of the subsequent biological evolution. Man’s struggle for the conquest of nature began. The struggle of existence became quest for freedom. From that very modest beginning, we have come to the twentieth century with its modern technology; powerful instruments for conquering nature, all invented by man, no longer for mere existence, but in quest, from freedom. Science is a search for truth, and it is the result of man’s quest for freedom. Therefore we say that search for truth is the corollary to the quest for freedom. In quest of freedom, ever since biological evolution became purposive, man strove for the conquest of nature; knowledge of nature was a precondition for the success of that striving. Science was thus a by-product of man’s quest for freedom, and science reveals truth.” (Pages : 30, 31)
4. “Truth is correspondence with objective reality. Scientific knowledge does give us at least an approximate picture of what we are studying, either of the whole of nature or of any particular sector thereof. Therefore we say that truth is the content of knowledge. We have the knowledge that two plus two is four. That is a truth. You can take any two things and add two more things, the result will always be four things. That is an invariable phenomenon. It happens under all circumstances. We might say that truth is a mathematical concept. But mathematics is only a manner of measuring things, otherwise immeasurable, of judging statements of facts beyond the reach of direct experience. Thus, quest for freedom does result in knowledge, and the content of knowledge is truth; knowledge always is acquaintance with reality. Truth being correspondence with reality, the content of knowledge is truth.” (Page : 31)
5. “A physiological process can be reduced to chemical and physical processes, and they again, ultimately, to atoms or electrical fields. So the origin of mental activities can be traced in the physical background of the living world. Ideas are not sui generis metaphysical entities which somehow interject themselves into the material make-up of man; nor are they a priori ethereal forms pre-existing or existing simultaneously with the events of the material world. So, as regards the origin of ideas, there is no dualism in our philosophy. As foundation of a philosophy, monism is preferable, but it would be naïve to apply it to the multifarious manifestations of the phenomena of life. In formulating the fundamental principles of our philosophy, we only say that, while ideas do not grow by themselves, they can be traced to the background of the physical Universe; once they are formed, they have an existence of their own. After the generation of ideas, the single basic current of physical events bifurcates, so to say; the biological world, on the higher levels of evolution, is composed of a double process – dynamics of ideas and succession of physical facts. Mind and matter can be reduced to a common denominator; but, as such, they are two objective realities. Descartes went halfway – as far as to recognize the objective reality of matter; but he failed to find the bridge over the apparent gulf between mind and matter. Ever since, scientific philosophy was vitiated by dualism. Reading Descartes more closely, we learn that he did discover the bridge; but courage failed him at the bridgehead. He would not go over it. He went as far as to declare that animals were machines. Are not human beings also animals? Descartes begged the question, because he could not reasonably give a negative answer. It is not generally known that one of his disciples carried the master’s revolutionary thought to its logical consequence. De la Metrie wrote a whole book called “L’ Homme Machine” (Man is Machine). Biological knowledge, vastly enriched since the days of Descartes, has made his arbitrary dualism utterly untenable.
With the help of scientific knowledge, philosophy can go beyond Descartes, abolish his arbitrary dualism, and build the bridge over the gulf which seems to separate the mental world from the material world. But even with scientific knowledge, philosophy could not break out of the vicious circle of dualism, unless and until it was realized that monism did not exclude the pluralism of the phenomenal world. We show that by saying that ideas once formed, exist independently as objective realities, governed by their own laws. Any attempt to deny the objective reality of ideas only vulgarizes monism. The problem was to explain the genesis of ideas without going outside the physical world. We have solved the problem by tracing the double process (mental and physical) of the biological world, including the process of social evolution, to a common origin.” (Pages : 32, 33)
6. “To the extent that Idealism claims autonomy for the mental world, we agree. Without denying the creativeness of the human mind, the objective reality of ideas cannot be disputed. Monism cannot be strictly applied to history from the economic point of view, you see only one aspect of it. History must be studied as the process of integral human evolution – mental, intellectual, social. We must trace the parallel currents of ideal and physical events. Connecting new ideas causally to eatablished economic relations, we put things on their head. It is an experience of history that invariably a new ideology rises to herald a new social order. New ideas inspire action for the destruction of established economic relations and the creation of new ones. Karl Marx himself could not deny that. So, we shall have to answer the question: How does a new revolutionary ideology develop? A new system of ideas grows out of older systems. That is to say, ideas have a history of their own. The relation between the growth of a new ideology and the rise of a new social class is not causal, either way; it is accidental. A new ideology expresses the urge for human progress. The same urge also expresses itself in social dynamics through the rise of a new class, which finds in the new ideology a justification for its strivings and incentive for action.” (Page : 34)
7. “Materialist philosophy; as I understand it, does not warrant the contention that ideas do not have an independent existence of their own: we can trace the development of ideas as a logical process from the birth of humanity until our days, without referring it anywhere causally to social movements. I categorically reject the view that ethical values, cultural patterns, movements of ideas, are mere ideological super-structures raised to justify established economic relations. It has been asserted that causal relations between ideas and historical events can be established. Yes, but in the reverse direction, not in the Marxist sense. If you mean that sort of causal connection, where ideas have the causative force, then you throw away the economic interpretation of history.”(Pages : 37, 38)
8. “Once again, I say, I am a confirmed, unmitigated, materialist, philosophically. I am of the opinion that Materialism is the only philosophy possible; any other philosophy, in the last analysis, takes us outside the physical Universe, into the wilderness of a mystical metaphysics over which presides God; it makes no difference if creation out of nothing is conceived mathematically (a contradiction in terms) or anthropomorphically, or pantheistically, or in any other of the subtle and sophisticated ways which modern men in search of God imagine to have discovered. The result in each case is the end of man’s freedom on this earth. If philosophy, that is, an explanation of being and becoming, cannot free us from the freezing grip of fate, why not remain satisfied with the honest religious mode of thought? All systems of philosophy other than Materialism are dishonest religion; they smuggle religiosity in through the backdoor; perhaps their founders and propounders do not realize that; but that does not alter the significance of their intellectual gymnastics. Once the significance dawns on them, and they have the intellectual honesty, all non-materialist or ant-materialist philosophers must echo Kant’s famous declaration: philosophy ultimately reaches a point where it must yield place to faith. Perhaps that admirable intellectual honestly of Kant is to be traced to the materialist point of departure of his philosophy also.
But prejudice apart, Materialism has been brought to disrepute by its fanatical defenders who are simply incapable of thinking philosophically, because they cannot appreciate the supreme importance of the human spirit (please note the word, human) and implicitly deny the creativeness of man’s mind. Materialism must be raised above the level of the vulgarity of dogmatic orthodoxy, and developed so as to conform with the advancing knowledge of nature, from physics to psychology, if it is to carry conviction to all thinking minds, and be generally accepted as the gospel of freedom – of course, only by the lovers of freedom.” (Pages : 38, 39)
9. “Much evidence can be adduced in support of the contention that gaps in social and political history can be filled in by deductions from the history of thought. That can be done because movements of thought always preceded epoch-making social and political events. Let it be repeated that, at no point of history, ideas were divinely inspired. From any point of their history, ideas can be traced back to their biological origin, which is embedded in the background of the physical Universe. To illustrate my argument, I may refer to the history of the Renaissance and Reformation. Both are considered to be bourgeois movements. That is to say, those ideological ferments were produced by the rise of the commercial classes. That is simply not true historically. Genoa was the most prosperous trading Republic of the time; it did not produce a single man of the Renaissance. It was untouched by the spirit of Humanism. So was Venice until the late Renaissance. On the other hand, Florence, where the great Men of the Renaissance were born, was not a trading Republic. The Medicis were not bourgeois; socially, they were classical representatives of medievalism. There was no connecting link, no causal connection, between Renaissance Humanism and the rising bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie of the time did not support the Renaissance. Therefore, some modern sociologists have condemned the Renaissance as a reactionary aristocratic movement. But if we want to regard history as a progressive process, we shall have to look for the source of inspiration of the Renaissance. It was in the ancient pagan culture of Greece and Rome. The Renaissance was the revolt of man against God; as such, it heralded the modern civilization and the philosophy of freedom, Materialism.”(Pages : 40, 41)
10. “Malinovski or Westermark define superstition as misapplied rationalism; economic interpretation of history similarly is often misapplied determinism. Two things happen together, and it is maintained that one is caused by the other. Great confusion is created consequently.” (Page : 41)
11. “As against the exploded Marxist Utopia of a stagnant society or the reality of a permanent dictatorship, we revert to the humanist ideal of freedom. I am not ashamed to say that I derive my inspiration from the Renaissance. Karl Marx was also a humanist. His followers have forgotten that he declared man to be the root of mankind. I do not think that anything more can be said with reference to the doubt about the relation between the movement of ideas and the operation of material social forces. As a materialist, I regard them as two currents in the integral process of human evolution; the two together constitute human evolution. In so far as our philosophy traces the origin of human evolution to the background of the physical Universe, it is Materialism. But it differentiates itself from Marxist materialist determinism by recognizing the autonomy of the mental world, in the context of physical nature. In building up a social philosophy on the basis of Materialism, we do not allot a subsidiary role to ideas. Originating in the pre-human stage of biological evolution, emotion and intelligence are decisive factors of social and historical progress. The behavior of human beings is determined by the autonomous movement of ideas as well as the dynamics of social evolution. They influence each other continuously; history can be regarded as an organic process only in that sense.” (Pages: 42, 43)
12.“In biology, we come up against such terms as instinct, intuition, impulse, etc. Are they all elementary indefinables? Are they just given a priori? Materialism knows no elementary indefinable. It reduces everything to the common denominator of the physical Universe, subject to its fundamental law. Not finding a rational explanation of reason in biology, I go farther. The entire physical Universe is a determined process – of becoming. Therefore, I identify reason with determinism in nature. All biological processes, including man’s mental activities, take place in the context of the physical Universe, being integral parts thereof. So reason is a property of physical existence. It is neither metaphysical nor a mystic category.
The physical Universe is law-governed; nothing happens without a cause; it is rational. Thus, we place reason in the physical Universe. Only when biological processes are discovered to be a continuation of determinism in physical nature, does it become possible to explain rationally such mysterious phenomena as instinct, intuition, impulse, etc. They can be traced to their origin in the mechanism of pre-human evolution. Tracing the rational thread further downwards, we come up against the problem of another missing link in the chain of evolution: the origin of life. How does life grow out of the background of inanimate nature? Unless that problem is solved, you cannot reduce reason to determinism in the physical Universe. The problem is no longer baffling, even if we take an extremely skeptical attitude towards the suggested solution. The first appearance of life out of certain chemical processes can be theoretically conceived, though it may not yet be experimentally demonstrated.
There is an unbroken chain connecting the elementary indefinables of psychology with physics; it runs through physiology, cytology and chemistry. Once the rationality (determinateness) of the mysterious phenomena of instinct, intuition, impulse, etc., is revealed, the chain can be traced to the other direction also – to the highest expressions and greatest creations of the human mind. There is an unbroken chain of evolution from the vibratory mass of electric currents to the highest flights of human intelligence, emotion, imaginanation – to abstract philosophical thought, recondite mathematical theories, the sublimest poetry, the master works of arts. Only the materialist philosophy, call it by any other name you may prefer – such as Physical Realism, Scientific Rationalism, Materialist Monism – can trace this red thread of unity running through the entire cosmic system of being and becoming. Unless that is done, we cannot explain history. If we cannot explain man, if we cannot show that man is an instinctively, naturally, rational being, history cannot be explained. History is a rational process because it is made by man. If you can never know how man will behave in a given situation, you cannot make a science of history.”(Pages : 44, 45)
13. “To eliminate the present inequities of life, society should be economically reconstructed in a certain manner. But we do not assert dogmatically that abolition of private ownership, nationalization of the means of production, planned economy, will necessarily establish an equalitarian social order; and remove all restrictions for the unfolding of human potentialities. The misgiving is no longer theoretical; there is the Russian experience to learn from. Our critical attitude to Russia is entirely objective. Personally, I would go to the extent of saying that the Russians could not do anything else. But the fact remains that they have done what has actually happened, not what was desired, nor as is still imagined by blind believers. After that experience, it will be sheer dogmatism to say that, if Indian society was reconstructed according to a certain plan, the pattern of the future would be predetermined. The variables of the equations of social science are not infinite, but they are innumerable. It is not possible to take them all into account at any given moment. Therefore, with all the concreteness of a political programme and economic plan, one cannot foresee exactly what will be the relation of forces after the revolution, how the post-revolutionary society will be actually constructed; numerous uncalculated and contingent forces having come into operation in the meantime, what will be the ambition of men at that time? How can we say now if then there will be one or ten political parties? We can only say that we shall not be there.”(Pages : 48, 49)
14. “Political practice need not be motivated by the lust for power. The Radical Democratic State, being based on the widest diffusion of power, power actually wielded by the entire people, will leave no opportunity for any party to capture power in the name of the people or a particular class. A party working for the establishment of such a political order will naturally be composed of detached individuals. Why is it so difficult to imagine a detached individual? In Marxist parlance, we have the word declassed individuals. You come from the bourgeois class. You break away from that class and join another class. The proletariat. But then you are no longer declassed. You attach yourself to a new class. Karl Marx was not so primitive. He could not elaborate the idea. The idea of declassed or detached individuals can be traced back to Plato, who was the first to realize that a society could be ideal if it had completely detached individuals for its rulers – the so-called Philosopher-Kings. The Marxian scheme of proletarian dictatorship had a striking resemblance with the Platonic utopia. According to Karl Marx, the Communist Party was to be composed of the philosophers of the proletariat. Revolutionary vanguard of the class is not just a verbal cliché. Their purpose would be to establish an ideal society. The utopian idea of the State withering away has a profound significance which has been missed by its protagonists. It was that the proletarian State was not to be a vested interest; it should be only the means to an end – an instrument in the hand of detached individuals who did not wish to hang on to power. As soon as the end of communist society was reached, the instrument should be thrown away. That supreme act of sacrifice could be performed only by individuals with no attachment, by philosophers pursuing the urge for freedom. Therefore, Marx expressly wrote that the time had come for philosophy to remake the world. Only through philosophers could philosophy perform the mission Marx entrusted to her.
Unfortunately, carried away by his idea of class struggle, Marx used wrong words to express his great idea of power being vested in detached individuals during the transition period. If a class captured power to suppress other classes, it can never be divested of power. Therefore, dictatorship of the proletariat was a palpably inappropriate term to express Marx’s idea; it was bound to defeat its end. Exactly that has happened. The Communist Party did not rise as an association of philosophers, acting as instruments of philosophy remaking the world; to reconstruct the world rationally as a common-wealth of free moral men replacing the greedy economic men of the modern fable. Instead of becoming an association of spiritually free men striving to make others conscious of the urge for freedom inherent in themselves, the Communist Party was fascinated by the prospect of capturing power and wielding it dictatorially in the name of the proletariat. A party deliberately forged as the instrument for capturing power could not possibly help its members to grow up to the stature of free men. Thirsting for dictatorial power, it voluntarily submitted itself to an internal dictatorship. The magic word “discipline” did the trick. The individuality of its members was sacrificed at the altar or the collective ego of the party; and a party is the archetype of the society it proposes to build.”(Pages : 49, 50, 51)
15. “The future society which we propose to establish will depend on the number of detached individuals who have inherited the humanist tradition. I believe that is possible. The decisive factor is education. Such a high degree of education cannot be obtained before the revolution for all individuals; not before the Radical Democratic State is established. But in a vast country like India, a sufficiently large number of men and women, moved by the urge for freedom, can educate themselves. And once that preliminary condition is created the process will accelerate under its own momentum. The revolution will take place as a matter of course.” (Page : 51)
M.N.Roy and Philip Spratt
(First Edition: December,1947
Third Reprint: October, 1986)
Ajanta Publications (India), Jawahar Nagar,
Bungalow Road, Delhi, 110007
V. Selected Passages from the book:
‘Humanism, Revivalism and the Indian Heritage’
1. “History teaches us that no great change in political institutions, in legal systems and economic organizations is possible before the community requiring such a social revolution undergoes what can be called a philosophical revolution. An impending revolution is heralded by the more forward-looking spirits, who realize the necessity of a change and also have the courage to challenge the moral sanction of the established social order. In other words, a change in the mental outlook of a sufficiently large number of members of a community is the precondition for a successful and constructive change in the material conditions of life.
The ideal of freedom, for instance, is as old as mankind. But through the ages, it was conceived differently according to the intellectual atmosphere and cultural pattern of a given period. Its sanction was derived, now from religion, then from metaphysical speculations: in certain times. It was a transcendental concept, in others a moral principle. As human knowledge grows, mental horizons broaden, new visions of freedom rise before our mind. A new vision of freedom transcends the limitations of the established social order; the new concept cannot be fitted into its cultural pattern. Then it becomes necessary to challenge the sanctions of the established social order, be they religious, transcendental, metaphysical or moral, according to the preconceived notions of religion, metaphysics and morality of the period.
The spread of such a critical attitude towards traditional values – established forms of thought, venerable beliefs and blind faiths is called a philosophical revolution: it heralds a change in the mentality of mankind. It is learned from history that in the successive stages of human evolution, changes in the social, economic and political conditions of mankind were heralded by such philosophical revolutions; whenever the standard of philosophical revolution raised by the pioneers of a new era attracted a sufficiently large number of members of a community. It also experienced a social revolution; social relations, economic systems and political institutions were overhauled so as to expand the frontiers of freedom, to give greater scope to human creativeness.” (Pages : 10,11)
2. “But the philosophical revolution which will prepare the ground for the social revolution cannot be brought about by people engrossed in the present politics. It is the task of men who refuse to participate in the vulgar scramble for power, and would try to raise political practice on a moral level. Their efforts will create the Renaissance movement, a humanist movement, which will think in terms of the rise, progress and welfare of man. The main function of the movement will be to awaken in man, in as many men as possible, the urge for freedom, That is a work of education of enlightenment. At present, we are still in the stage of educating the educators, to create a sufficiently large number of them, we shall have the help of modern science. Our old culture and scriptures won’t help us in that task. It is only in the light of modern science that we can show that man has unlimited potentialities of development. It is in that light that God is revealed as a creation of man. It is in the power of the creator to destroy his creation or recreate it. Only this belief, this confidence, can awaken in man the urge for freedom and the zeal to work for his freedom. And this confidence is created by modern scientific knowledge.” (Pages : 20, 21)
3. “History must be studied scientifically, and historical research should also be guided by philosophy. There is a philosophy of history. Indeed, true historians are philosophers. One of the leading philosophers of our time, I mean Croce, has gone a step further and said that historians are poets. I do not know if that is true. Personally, I am afraid of these distinctions. I am interested in history as well as in philosophy. But I am certainly not a poet. I am even inclined to think that we must discard the poetic element in our approach to history, because it may lead us to depicting things of the past more beautifully than they really were.”(Page : 26)
4. “The fundamental principle of the philosophy of history is humanist. History is the record of man’s evolution. Man’s evolution out of his biological background is not a part of history proper. History is very largely social history. It records the events of man’s life as a social being. There is a very large gap between the appearance of homo sapiens, the appearance of the human species, and the origin of society. That is a very long period, which has to be counted in terms of geological time. Events taking place during that period generated the driving forces of social evolution. The investigation into the earliest stages of social evolution belongs to anthropology, the science of man. How did man as an anthropological phenomenon develop before he became a social being? Then follows the development of particular groups of men: how a herd of homo sapiens, a herd of biological beings who were removed from other animals, but not yet quite human, develop into an organized unit called society? Instincts, intuition and such other mystic human properties grew in the context of the process of biological evolution during that period of the early history of mankind, which may be called the prehistoric period. It is quite evident that, unless we understand the mechanism of the mysterious forces called instincts and intuition, it will not be possible for us to understand how events took place in history as they did and not otherwise.
In order to dig out the roots of human society, we need not only to study anthropology; we shall have to beyond: to study biology and geology. In the opposite direction, anthropology throws light in the dark corners of psychology, and the latter merges into physiology. That leads us to an understanding of the entire structure of the human body and the various branches of science which have developed from the understanding of the human organism, including the brain, the seat of thinking and all the properties which distinguish man from the lower animals.”(Pages : 27, 28)
5. “The crucial point in the philosophy of history is: What are the forces which primarily motivate the social actions of mankind? Social action being the spring, the motive force of history. In the middle of the 19th century, there was a divergence of opinion on this point. A comprehensive philosophy of history was for the first time elaborated by Hegel. He declared that the history of civilization ultimately was the history of philosophy. As an idealist philosopher, he held that the ability to think being the most distinctive human feature, ideas were the prime motive of history. As against the Hegelian idealistic interpretation of history, there were other views which all referred to Vico’s theory that history is created by man. If history was created by man, but there is no underlying motive common in all human action, history would be a chaos, and it would not be possible to explain why history has taken the course it did.
Various scholars carried on researches to find out the prime motive of human action. One of them was Karl Marx: he offered a philosophy of history as against Hegel’s idealist conception. He came to the conclusion that man’s activities, his behavior and actions, were determined by the tools with which he earned his livelihood. His reasoning was as follows: Like all other animals, man also is primarily engaged in a struggle for existence. He separates himself from the lower biological forms by the ability to create tools, which supplement the efforts of his limbs in his quest for food and the struggle against nature. The ability to manufacture tools being the distinctive feature of man, human history is determined by the kind of tools made by man at any given time. The evolution of the means of production explains human history.
In the 19th century, scientific thought was based on the generally accepted principle that nothing was to be taken for granted. Scepticism was the prevailing spirit. Hegel’s view was largely rejected: and the Marxist interpretation of history developed and prevailed in various shades. Ultimately, it came to be more or less generally accepted in the later, 19th and early 20th centuries.”(Pages : 28,29)
6. “Historical research must be guided by the totality of scientific knowledge, which throws light on the dark corners of the process of mental evolution, thus explaining the social and individual behavior of man from the dawn of history. We must have a coherent view of the development of Indian thought before we can undertake a fruitful study of Indian history.
The behavior of mankind and its social condition in prehistoric times will have to be deduced logically from what is known about its thought. Hegel was not right when he said that a World Spirit was operating through man. But it is true that after all ideas, man’s thought, are the incentive of human action. Any physical action is preceded by a movement in man’s brain. What appear to be automatic actions are not exceptions. Even when you will step out of this hall, go down the stairs and walk on the streets, the movements of your limbs will be preceded by the will to do so. You may not be conscious of the mental act: it will take place. In this sense. Hegel is sounder. But on the other hand, Marxian economic determinism is an important pointer.
You cannot simply take man for granted. You have to explain man also: why man established society? Why society established a political organization? Why this took the forms we know? These question can be answered to a certain extent by the materialist interpretation of history, that the material conditions of life, to a large extent, influence man’s thought and thereby his action.
But Karl Marx committed the same mistake for which he criticized Hegel. His premise was dogmatic. Therefore, the conclusions deduced from it were fallacious. It is true that the ability to make tools and use them separates man from the pre-human animals. But what enables man to make tools? Man’s mind differentiates him from that of the ape before he can invent the first tool. Karl Marx forgot that the brain also is a tool, and man differentiated himself from his animal ancestors and invented the device of mechanical ways of solving the problems of his life, only when man’s brain was differentiated from the brain of the pre-human species. In other words, the idealistic interpretation of history goes a little further than the economic interpretation. Therefore, historical research should not be restricted by any dogmatic premises.”(Pages : 35, 36)
7. “There is one school which considers civilization as the basis of culture. It defines culture as the process of the development of what is called the finer human attributes. From that is deduced that, unless the physical existence of the human being, meaning the social circumstances and material civilization under which men live, have attained a certain level of comfort and amenities, it is not possible for them to develop the finer sides of human existence.
This theory of culture logically follows from the doctrine of economic determinism in history. There is a good deal to be said in favour of that view, although a quite powerful criticism can also be leveled against it. The obvious objection is that people who are considered not to be civilized may have very distinctive forms of culture. There are primitive cultures. If we distinguish the two, saying that culture is the measure of the individual development of man, and civilization the measure of his social development, the two may be harmonized. But in that sense, we cannot draw a relation of historical sequence. Certain types of culture developed before mankind entered the stage of civilization. On the other hand, a highly civilized people has opportunities of developing higher forms of culture. In discussing our cultural heritage, this point is not always borne in mind.”(Pages : 38, 39)
8. “Ever since antiquity, European culture developed as part of church. The conclusion that we can deduce from this fact is that, at some stage of development, every group of people, no matter where they live, necessarily thinks in terms of religion. That is to say, the entire intellectual and emotional history of any people during a certain period of its development is influenced by the religious mode of thought. Later on, the religious mode of thought becomes inadequate. Within the framework of that mode of thought, human intelligence, will and emotions find no further scope. Consequently, human genius, which had previously created the religious mode of thought, created a new mode of thought. That new mode of thought was the scientific mode of thought, which has dominated European intellectual history ever since the time of the Renaissance.”(Page : 40)
9. “A critical history of the development of religion reveals the fact that religion originated in the ignorance of man. The primitive man’s inability to explain natural phenomena in terms of nature, without going beyond the limits of nature, compelled him to assume super-human beings as the prime movers of various natural phenomena. Those assumed natural forces eventually came to be the gods of natural religion. The polytheism of natural religion was subsequently replaced by monotheistic religions.
One specific feature of the history of Hinduism is that Vedic polytheism was never rejected in favour of a monotheistic religion. The idea of a Supreme Being as a Super-God was conceived. But the conception lacked uniformity. The religious thought in ancient India developed from polytheism to pantheism. The concept of a personal God, as in Islam or Christianity or Judaism, is absent in Hinduism. The Avatars are not personal Gods. They are incarnations of some divine force which is impersonal. The Hindu conception of the Supreme Being was never personified. It logically led to pantheism, which identified the entire existence with God.” (Pages : 50, 51)
10. “As a matter of fact, the concern for the physical aspects of life is fundamental, common to all human beings. Religion originated in it. The urge to explain the various natural phenomena induced man to assume the existence of super-natural forces. In course of time, scientific knowledge enabled him to dispense with ad hoc assumptions which constituted the basis of religion. Consequently, the psychological necessity of religion disappeared: the foundation of the religious mode of thought was blasted. This happened in Europe several hundred years ago. The concern of European mankind reverted to the original human nature, that is, concern with the world in which he lived, concern with his power as a human being to acquire greater and greater knowledge and derive greater and greater power from this knowledge, power for still greater conquests of nature. That is the way of modern thought. It is clear to see that it is not a peculiarity of a particular race or people, but results from the ability of man to explain natural phenomena no longer by assuming super-natural forces, but in the light of ever expanding knowledge of nature.”(Pages : 55,56)
11. “Materialism does not preclude the appreciation of what is called the higher aspects of human life. It only maintains that all the so-called spiritual aspects of man’s life do not transcend this world, but are inherent in man as a biological being. In proportion as man develops intellectually, his knowledge broadens, the higher values inherent in man, the capacity of taking interest in other things than the physical existence, the cultivation of finer sentiments, arts, science, etc, become more and more possible. But the uninformed criticism of Materialism is that, believing himself only slightly differentiated from lower animals, man is concerned only with eating and drinking, and consequently degrades himself morally and spiritually. The corollary to this unfair and unfounded criticism is that modern thought being materialist, India must eschew it if she wants to preserve her spiritual integrity.” (Pages:56, 57)
12. “Scientific knowledge shows that man’s mind is capable of overcoming all his various limitations; and it is only in the light of scientific knowledge that the concept of spiritual liberation ceases to be a fantasy and becomes a real experience. It is not necessary to wait indefinitely for spiritual liberation by the grace of God or in consequence of some mystic experience. Spiritual liberation can be attained by discarding the various notions and prejudices which have weighed down the human spirit since time immemorial. It is within the reach of man: he can attain it by his own efforts. That is the essence of modern thought. If Hinduism does not make room for that, we must say that it has ceased to be something useful and elevating for human life. It has become a bondage, and the sooner we get rid of it the better.”(Page:59)
13. “Everybody who calls himself a Communist also claims to be a Democrat. That is a very dangerous idea, and we shall have to be on our guard against it. Totalitarianism is a danger, whether of the Left or of the Right.”(Page : 61)
14. “Religious revivalism in India and similar countries becomes an ally of Fascism because here the religion which is to be revived is of a positively reactionary character, a system of thinking, a system of beliefs, a system of values which once upon a time might have been of social usefulness, may even have been necessary for human existence, but today has ceased to be so. As a matter of fact, today it cannot be fitted into the pattern of human existence at all.
Therefore, Fascism in India need not – and I believe it will not take the shape and form it took in Western Europe, Perhaps this will become clear if we begin with a definition of Fascism. It has been defined in various ways. The definition which is fashionable among the most vociferous anti-fascists is that Fascism is the politics of monopoly capitalism or of the bourgeoisie in the period of decay. Fascism in Europe might be described like this, to a certain extent. But even there it will not be the whole of its content, because Fascism particularly German Fascism, had very deep cultural and philosophical roots. It could not be simply regarded as merely political fanaticism or an economic theory.
Fascism in Europe could be described as the negation of Democracy, a negation of all the values of modern civilization. From that it would be deduced that Fascism is really a revival of mediaevalism, a revival of mediaevalism on the background of all the results of the technological development of modern science. In our country, Fascism is exclusively a revival of mediaevalism, and as religion is the central point of mediaeval life and culture, Fascism in India, and the fascist danger in India, is associated with religious revivalism.”(Page : 62, 63)
15. “Dictatorship presupposes a predisposition on the part of people to accept a totalitarian rule. The experience in Europe corroborates this conclusion. Fascism succeeded in Italy and in Germany, and some other of the more culturally backward countries of Europe; but it did not make any headway in Britain or the other leading democratic countries. Even when France and other West-European countries were overwhelmed by the armed forces of International Fascism, Fascism could not take root there. As soon as the foreign factor was eliminated, Fascism ceased to be a force in those countries.”(Page : 63)
16. “There can be a non-violent Fascism. It can be a popular Fascism in the sense that there will be no popular resistance to it, and yet society can be regimented in all walks of life. In fact, the intellectual and cultural life of our country is already to a large extent regimented. It is a voluntary regimentation, and it results from the traditional mentality of accepting authority without questioning.
A people predisposed to accept some divine or supernatural authority as Mentor of life on this earth will also be very prone to be submissive to any authority of this earth. This kind of mentality can be galvanized by a movement of religious revivalism, which in our country is sailing under the colours of a cultural movement. For instance, the R.S.S. will not admit that it is a religious revivalist movement. They call it a cultural revivalism. But in mediaeval times, culture and religion were so closely associated that a revival of mediaeval culture necessarily means revival of religion. Therefore, the anti-fascist movement, or any movement for resisting the growth of Fascism, will also have to take a different form, to meet the danger.”(Page : 64)
17. “You must be aware that there is a very popular movement on the basis of the teachings of number of “modern saints”. This movement is composed of educated people. They are not advocating a religion without God and without Revelation, as their European counter-parts are doing. As a matter of fact, mysticism which is the rationalized form of religion, and which is very popular among our intellectuals, in the last analysis relies precisely on a kind of revelation. This revelation may not be the revelation of a Prophet or a Seer, but a revelation believed to be within the reach of every single individual. It means that reason, spirit of enquiry, quest for knowledge, are subordinated to a faith; that knowledge, science and all the conquests of man during the last four or five hundred years, are inferior as human values to what one can find in himself in an imaginary moment of beatitude, a state believed to be sublime, though impossible to understand, explain and know.
As far as I know, it seems that this kind of neo-mysticism or pseudo-scientific religion is gaining ground among the literary people of our country. It is almost of the same order as the popularity of dogmatic Marxism among another group of intellectuals in our country. Thus, the literary life of India seems to be getting polarized between dogmatic Marxism and cultural reaction.
Consequently, there must be room for a “Third Force” in the literary and cultural life of our country. The rise of this third force alone will be able to resist the danger of cultural reaction and Fascism, on the one side, and of dogmatic Marxism, on the other. The attention of those who are getting alarmed by the possibility of a rise of dictatorship in our country is generally directed towards the Left, against the anticipated danger of a dictatorship coming from the Left. But if you analyse the relation of political forces in our country, you will see that, if India is going to have a dictatorship, it is not so likely to be a communist dictatorship as a fascist dictatorship.
That need not mean that we shall have Storm-Troops or mass massacres, because all these things are not necessary in our country. The vast bulk of the people are so deeply predisposed to accept any authority, so eager to be regimented, so afraid of the hardship of thinking for themselves, that, if and when, for whatever reasons-political or economic – any party or group of politicians will find it necessary to establish a dictatorial regime, they will be able to do so with as much popular support as they care to whip up. Since Fascism can be established in our country with popular support, since we can practice one of the fantastic ideas of Lenin, namely, a democratic dictatorship, Fascism is clearly a very insidious danger.”(Pages : 65, 66)
‘Humanism, Revivalism and The Indian Heritage’
Renaissance Publishers Private Limited
15, Bankim Chatterjee Street
Coffee House, 2nd Floor
Calcutta, 700 073.
VI. Selections from the book:
‘Reason, Romanticism and Revolution’
1. “Marx and Engels took over from Hegel much more than “the revolutionary side of his philosophy”. The dialectic process of history can never be independent of the dynamics of thought. Therefore, the founders of dialectical Materialism inherited from Hegel a considerable element of Idealism together with the dialectical method. The feat of having reversed Hegelian dialectics so as to manufacture Materialism out of Idealism was a figment of imagination. As a matter of fact, there is little of essential difference between Hegel’s idealistic conception of the evolutionary process of history and the Marxist doctrine of historical determinism. Hegel’s philosophy of history was essentially humanist. The dynamic concept of the Idea in dialectic relation to nature and history showed the escape out of the vicious circle of metaphysical speculations, and provided a basis for action with high ideals, for participation in the affairs of the secular world with the object of remaking it, and with the conviction that the thinking man had the power to do so”. (Pages: 376, 377)
2. “Rational Idealism, as distinct from theology and teleology, was logically bound to culminate in materialist monism; similarly, materialist philosophy must include recognition of the objective reality of ideas, with their own dynamics, if it is not to degenerate into vulgarity, or relapse into Newtonian natural philosophy, which makes room even for an anthropomorphic God”.(Page: 377)
3. “The philosophical foundation of Marxism (dialectical Materialism) was laid in the years preceding the publication of the communist Manifesto. During that period Marx, ably seconded by Engels, carried on a bitter controversy with the Young Hegelians and the philosophical Radicals who called themselves “German Socialists” – all disciples of Feuerbach. In that controversy, which has become an integral part of the Marxist system, its founders defended Hegel against all his pupils who represented the materialistic and naturalist tendencies in his system against his mystic Idealism.
The implication of Hegel’s memorable reference to the French Revolution as the first effort of man to be guided by reason (*) was put in plain language by Heine. All the Hegelian Radicals – Young Hegelians and German Socialists – enthusiastically hailed the poet’s discovery of revolutionary implication of their master’s teachings. Heine declared: If we can weaken people’s faith in religions and traditions, we will make Germany a political force.” The spirit of the Renaissance at last challenged the deep-rooted influence of the Reformation in Germany. David Strauss, Feuerbach, the Baur brothers, Moses Hess. Gutzkow, Mundt, Karl Gruen, Czolbe and a whole host of radical thinkers followed Hegel’s lead.
In the earlier years of his career until he chose to assume the role of the prophet of an inevitable revolution, Marx also belonged to that distinguished company. In those early days, he believed that an industrially and politically backward country like Germany in the middle of the nineteenth century could contribute nothing to the advance of European civilization except a philosophical understanding of human aspirations and historical processes, Yet, later on, he bitterly attacked the German Socialists exactly for holding this view.”(Pages: 384, 385)
4. “It was Feuerbach who first revolted against Hegelian idealism and blazed a new trail. He is generally recognized in the history of philosophy as the pioneer of the nineteenth century materialist revival. David Strauss shares the honour with him. Feuerbach was the first to reject the Hegelian conception of the dialectical process of history as the self- realisation of the Aboslute Idea. Searching for the origin of idea, which undoubtedly was the motive power of history, Feuerbach located it in social anthropology. He came to the conclusion that physical nature preceded spirit; that thought was determined by being, “I do not generate the object from the thought, but the thought from the object’ and I hold that alone to be an object which has an existence beyond one’s own brain.” Feuerbach’s Philosophy of the Future, therefore, came to be known as dialectical Materialism as against the dialectical Idealism of Hegel.
Though recognized as the founder of dialectical Materialism, Feuerbach would be more correctly described as an expounder of sensationalism of the eighteenth century tradition. He broadened the basis of sensibility by placing man in the context of nature as its integral part. In other words, he revived Humanism, and found the incentive in the Hegelian system. “The new philosophy makes man, including nature as the basis of man, the one universal and highest object of philosophy.” (Pages: 386, 387)
5. “Marx’s criticism of Feuerbach and his followers, as recorded in the unpublished manuscript now issued with the title “German Ideology”, is very fragmentary and incoherent. His only bias, at that time, (between 1844 and 1848), was to prove that Hegel was great and Karl Marx his only prophet; to deny that Socialism required any philosophical justification; and to disprove that there was any historical connection between the French Englightenment and the post-Hegelian philosophical Radicalism.
That is how Marx began his ideological war. His completely negative attitude to the positive outcome of the Hegelian era is remarkable because it betrays a woeful lack of historical sense. His failure to grasp the historical significance of the religious mode of thought is also surprising. Because of that defect in his historical sense, Marx was unable to appreciate the importance of religious criticism. Religion provided the moral sanction for the continuation of the political and social status quo. To undermine its authority, therefore, was a revolutionary act of fundamental significance. The Young Hegelians did that. But Marx failed to appreciate the revolutionary significance of their bold attack on religious tradition and ecclesiastical orthodoxy. He scornfully dismissed their endeavour, which was a precondition for the revolt against the established order incited by Marx in the Communist Manifesto. “The entire body of German philosophical criticism from Strauss to Striner is confined to criticism of religious conceptions.” [Karl Max, German Ideology] Undoubtedly, it was so, and therein lies the importance of the intellectual efforts of the Hegelian Radicals. In the tradition of the Renaissance, they raised the standard of a philosophical revolution, which was to create the ideological preconditions for political and social revolution. But Marx did not really believe that man was the maker of his destiny; his view of history and social evolution was essentially teleological, fatalistic. Therefore, he combated Feurbach’s Humanism disseminated by his followers who called themselves “true Socialists”, and developed by a succession of brilliant scientists.” (Pages: 389, 390)
6. “To fight philosophical Radicalism which approached the problems of political revolutions and social reconstruction from the humanist point of view, Marx was compelled to defend his French and English forerunners of Socialism, whom he later on ridiculed as utopians.”(Page: 391)
7. “Marx rejected Feuerbach’s humanist Materialism on the ground that it regarded man as an isolated individual. The criticism was entirely uncalled for. “The individual man by himself does not contain the nature of man in himself, either in himself as a moral or as a thinking being. The nature of man is contained only in the community, in the unity of man with man. Isolation is finiteness and limitation; community is freedom and finality.”[Feuerbach, Philosophie der Zukunft]. This is clear enough to prove that Feuerbach’s Humanism did not deny the necessity of organization; but being the logical outcome of man’s age long struggle for freedom, it would not subordinate the sovereign individual, the creator of the civilized society, to his creation, to an imaginary collective ego of the community. While Feuerbach really went further than Hegel, Marx took over his organic conception of society, which denies the possibility of individual freedom.”(Pages : 391, 392)
8. “The essence of religion is primitive rationalism; man creates gods as hypotheses for an explanation of natural phenomena. Because man is rational by nature, rationalism is the essence of man. To have discovered this real essence of man was a great advance in the struggle for freedom. The aggregate of social relations presupposes existence of individuals, who entered into relation. They did that because of their essence of rationality; obsessed with the Hegelian organic conception of society, Marx ignored the self-evident truth that society is an association of individuals. That obsession led him to take society as simply given, as if by Providence, and regard social relations as the ultimate reality. Social relations result from the activities of individuals constituting the society. Being human creations, they can be altered by man. Human will and human action are the primary factors of social existence.” (Page: 392)
9. “In its formative stage, Marxism was a defence of Hegelian Idealism as against the materialist naturalism which the Young Hegelians and the philosophical Radicals deduced from the system of the Master. The fascination for dialectics drove youthful Marx to reject the scientific naturalism of the eighteenth century as mechanical and unhistorical. The implication of his criticism was that the Enlightenment did not take a fatalistic view of history, but recognized the creative role of man.”(Page: 393)
10. “In his controversy with the Young Hegelians and the followers of Feuerbach, Marx allowed no place to mental activity in the process of social evolution; indeed not even in the process of development of man himself. “Man can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion, or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence – a step which is conditioned by their physical organization.” [Karl Max, German Ideology]. The brain indeed is a part of the physical organization; and sensation and perception can be explained as physical functions. But conceptual thought is a purely mental phenomenon, and it distinguishes the most primitive man from the highest animal. The discovery of fire might have been an accidental physical act without any thought. But subsequent application of fire for the purposes of the most primitive human existence presupposes mental activity. Therefore, even a nodding acquaintance with anthropology should not permit the assertion quoted above.” (Page : 393)
11. “On the authority of Hegelian Idealism, (#) Marx denied that there was anything stable in human nature, and asserted that human nature is the ensemble of social relations. “The eighteenth century idea of human nature was defective; traditionally, it was deduced from the doctrine of Natural Law; scientifically, it was based upon pre-Darwinian biology, which still believed in unchanging species, and the classical dictum natura non facet saltus. Marx not only rejected it, but also combated Darwinian gradualism, which contradicted his theory of revolution. The rejection of the eighteenth century belief in human nature thus was not brought about by a greater biological knowledge, but on the authority of Hegelian idealism.
Marx found in Hegelian dialectics philosophical support for his theory of revolution. Therefore, dialectics became his sole criterion for judging all other philosophies; and dialectics is admittedly an idealistic conception. Revolutions are not brought about by men; they take place of necessity, that is to say, are predetermined. The dialectical Materialism of Marx, therefore, is Materialist only in name; dialectics being its cornerstone, it is essentially an idealistic system. No wonder that it disowned the heritage of the eighteenth century scientific naturalism and fought against the humanist Materialism of Feuerbach and his followers.”(Pages : 394, 395)
12. “Man, according to Marx, being a physical organization, his relation to matter is the relation of one material entity to other material entities. Where does consciousness and intelligence appear in the interaction of dead matter? In other words, what makes man different from a lump of dead matter? Begging all these crucial questions, which materialism must answer to be convincing, Marx simply takes man for granted as an elementary undefinable, as the “personification” of the Hegelian Absolute Idea.”(Page : 395)
13. “The “economic man”, whose appearance coincides with the production of his means of subsistence, may be nothing more than the ensemble of social relations. But the human species has a much older history, which vanishes in the background of the process of subhuman biological evolution. Marx entirely ignored that entire process of the becoming of man before he entered into social relations. Consequently, Marx knows nothing of the human nature which underlies the ensemble of social relations, and induces men to enter into those relations.
That substratum of human nature is stable; otherwise the world of men could not be differentiated from the world of animals, ruled by the laws of the jungle. That rock bottom of human nature antedates the economic and political organization of society. The origin of mind is tobe traced in his physical and biological history. In that sense mental activities are determined in the earlier stages by physical existence and thereafter by social conditions. But the becoming of man involves the parallel process of mental and physical activities. The relation between the two is not that of causality, but of priority. From primitive consciousness mind evolves in the context of a biological organism. The latter being an organization of matter, the priority of being must be conceded to matter.
Marx did not carry the analysis of mental phenomena far enough, beyond the dawn of social history. Therefore, on the one hand, his Materialism is dogmatic, unscientific and, on the other hand, the negation of a constant element in human nature leads to the negation of morality. Without the recognition of some permanent values, no ethics is possible. If they are not to be found in human nature, morality must have a transcendental sanction. The choice for Marxist Materialism, therefore, was between the negation of abiding moral values and relapse into religion. Theoretically, it chose the first, although in practice dogmatism eventually also put on it a stamp of religious fanaticism.” (Pages : 395, 396)
1. (*) “For the first time since the sun appeared in the heavens, and the planets began to revolve around it, man took up his stand as thinking animal and began to base his view of the world on reason” (Hegel).
“As a student, he shared with Schelling a highly critical attitude towards the political and ecclesiastical lassitude of his country and subscribed to the doctrine of liberty and reason. There is a story that after the battle of Jena, the two young enthusiasts, Schelling and Hegel, one morning went out to the neighbouring forest and danced around a “tree of liberty” which they had planted there”.(Pp-374, Pp-375, RRR)
2. (#) “There is nothing which is not an intermediate position between being and non-being.” (Hegel). (Pp-398, RRR)
‘Reason Romanticism and Revolution’
Ajanta Books International,
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Bungalow Road, Delhi – 110007
VII. Selections from the book: ‘New Humanism – A Manifesto’
1. “As an economist, Marx was a critic. There is nothing of social engineering or technology in his voluminous writings. Any planning of the future was utopia, which he so severely condemned. While defending his “New Economic Policy”, Lenin said that in the works of Marx there was not a word on the economics of Socialism.
Nor did Marx write anything about post-revolutionary political practice. He postulated proletarian dictatorship as the instrument for breaking down the resistance of the dethroned bourgeoisie. What would happen thereafter, how the post-revolutionary society would be politically organized and administered – that again was all left to the operation of the determined and yet incalculable forces of history. He evaded the political issue by setting up the utopia of the State withering away”.(Page:11)
2. “The post-revolutionary political practice and economic reconstruction in Russia have been purely pragmatic. They have no theoretical foundation, no bearing upon the ideological system of Marxism. Therefore it is arbitrary to call them Socialist or Communist. On the other hand, since the prophet did not prescribe how the new order should be built, not held out any picture even in broad outlines, the label can be attached to anything, and nobody can prove that the Soviet State and Soviet economy are not Communist”.(Page:12)
3. “The non-proletarian ‘periphery’ was alienated, seriously weakening the Communist movement, which became completely subservient to the pragmatism of the Soviet State. Its function was no longer to promote world revolution, but to do whatever was necessary for the opportunist policy of the new Russian National State, which claimed to be Socialist.
The Communist International, forged as the instrument of the coming world revolution, was the first victim of the crisis. It was torn asunder by the contradictions between the problems of pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary Communisms; between the theory and practice of Communism. By virtue of being the only party in power, the Russian Communists monopolized the leadership of the International. The parties in other countries voluntarily forfeited the freedom of reacting intelligently to the pre-revolutionary conditions under which they had still to operate. The Russian Communists were recognized as the authority not only of Communist practice, but also of theory. Pragmatic practice under unforeseen post-revolutionary circumstances provided the sanction for the dogmatic degeneration of the theoretical pre-suppositions of Marxisms. The interest of the State established by the first proletarian revolution militated against the possibility of world revolution. Socialism in one country precluded the realization of the ideal of international Communism.”(Pages:13, 14)
4. “The “economic man” is a liberal concept; and it is the point of departure of the Marxian interpretation of history. The labour theory of value is the corner-stone of Marxian economics. It was inherited from Ricardo. The theory of surplus value was a logical deduction from the labour theory of value. The idea of surplus value had, indeed, occurred to early English Socialists, such as Gray, Hodgskin, Thompson and others. On the whole, it cannot be denied that Marx drew upon the doctrines of classical English political economy, which he so severely criticized. His was a truly constructive criticism, the object of which was to free the criticized system of ideas from its fallacies, so that its positive essence might be the foundation of a more advanced theoretical structure. Adam Smith had expressed the view that “the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments”. The father of bourgeois political economy anticipated the Marxian doctrine that man’s ideas are determined by the tools with which they earn their livelihood.” (Page:19)
5. “The philosophical Radicals approached moral problems from the individualist point of view. They disputed the morality of asking the individual to sacrifice for the interests of society. Deprecating the virtues of obedience and humility, they held that general prosperity and well-being were promoted only by the defence of individual rights and interests. Moral order resulted necessarily from an equilibrium of interests. Running counter to his own Humanist conviction, marx, however, rejected the liberating doctrine of individualism as a bourgeois abstraction.” (Page:20)
6. “The producer not receiving the full value of his labour is not a peculiarity of the capitalist system. Social progress, particularly of the capitalist system. Social progress, particularly, development of the means of production, since the dawn of history, has been conditional upon the fact that the entire product, at any time, of the labour of the community was not consumed,. The margin can be called social surplus, which has through the ages been the lever of all progress. What is called surplus value in Marxist economic language, is the social surplus produced under capitalism.” Page:22)
7. “Economically, a demand for the abolition of surplus value will be impractical, indeed suicidal. Social surplus will disappear if production of surplus value is ever stopped; then, with the disappearance of the lever of progress, society will stagnate and eventually break down. Ancient civilizations disappeared owing to inadequacy or shrinkage of social surplus.” (Page:22)
8. “Blinking at the fact that production of social surplus represents “exploitation” of labour, in the sense that the producer does not get the full value of his labour, and disregarding the consideration that under any economic system, if it is not to stagnate, surplus must be produced, Marx held that under capitalism production of surplus value represented exploitation of labour because it is appropriated by one class. As a corollary to that fallacious view, he demanded that the class appropriation of social surplus should stop; that expropriation of the expropriators was the condition for the end of the exploitation of man by man.”(Page:23)
9. “No, revolution has not been betrayed. It has unfolded itself according to the dogmas of the orthodox neo-Marxism of Lenin and Stalin. The fallacies and inadequacies of the old philosophy of revolution are thus exposed by experience to inspire efforts for blazing the trail of a new revolutionary philosophy.”(Pages:24,25)
10. “Society undoubtedly was always divided into classes, and the classes had conflicting interests. But at the same time, there was a cohesive tendency, which held society together. Otherwise,, it would have disintegrated, time and again, and there would be no social evolution. The refusal of the contemporary capitalist society to be polarized into two classes according to Marxist prediction throws doubt on the theory of class struggle. As regards the past, with some ingenuity, facts may be fitted into any preconceived theoretical pattern.”(Page:25)
11. “Marxism certainly is wrong as regards the role of the middle class in the capitalist society. The prophesy that the middle class would disappear in course of time has not been borne out by history. On the contrary, the intellectual and political importance of the middle class proved to be decisive in the critical period ushered in by the First World War, The concentration of the ownership of the means of production in fewer hands necessarily enlarged the middle class. But all those who are deprived of the privileges of capitalist exploitation are not proletarianised. Economically, they may be so described; but in other matters of decisive importance, such as culture and education, they remain a distinct social factor capable of influencing events. As a matter of fact, between capital and labour, the middle class numerically grows, potentially as an enemy of the status quo.
Socialism, indeed, is a middle class ideology, Detached from both the antagonistic camps – of capital and labour – and possessed of the requisite intellectual attainments, the middle class alone could produce individuals who saw beyond the clash of immediate economic interests and conceived the possibility of a new order of social justice and harmony. The decacy of capitalism economically ruined the middle class. The result was quickening of their will for the subversion of the status quo, which made no place for them, and the striving for a new order. Because of economic destitution, the middle class was prepared to join the protetariat in the fight for Socialism, by which they meant not State Capitalism, but a more equitable social order. They were, however, not culturally proletarianised. They were capable of appreciating cultural and moral values as the positive outcome of human civilization, and would not sacrifice the precious heritage at the shrine of the revolutionary Providence of economic determinism. The result was a split of the forces of revolution. Marxist dogmatism attached supreme importance to economic considerations. That, together with a cynical attitude to moral and cultural values, alienated the middle class, seriously weakening the forces of revolution intellectually. Selfish economism eclipsed the moral appeal of Socialism.”(Page: 25, 26)
12. “Lenin saw the mistake of ignoring the middle class,and tried to rectify it, but only in the field of organization. In theory, the proletariat still remained the chosen people of the Marxist world, Yet, while discussing the organizational problem of the revolutionary party, Lenin admitted that the proletariat by themselves could not develop a social-democratic consciousness, which must be brought to them from outside – by middle – class intellectuals. Emphasising this significant view, Lenin further said that, spontaneously, the working class did not become Socialist, but trade unionist. That revealed the contradiction between Marxist economism and the theory that the proletariat was the builder of the new order.
Lenin generalized his theory: Not only in Russia, but everywhere, the working class was unable to work out an independent ideology; it followed either the bourgeoisie or middle – class Socialist intellectuals. That was a clear admission that the ideal of Socialism and the theory of the proletarian revolution were not born out of the experience of the working class; the one was conceived and the other created by middle – class intellectuals. According to Marxism, the emotions and thoughts of the middle-class intellectuals must have been determined by the experience of that class. The glorification of the proletariat as the herald and builder of Socialism was obviously unwarranted. The credit belongs to the middle – class, which is so very woefully maligned and totally ignored in the orthodox Marxist scheme of revolution.”(Pages:26,27)
13. “Lenin corrected a mistake as regards organization; but theoretically he was the most intolerant defender of orthodox Marxism. He pointed out the ideological limitations of the proletariat with an entirely different purpose – to expound his theory of party and its role. Since Socialism had to be injected in the proletariat by middle – class intellectuals, the party of the proletariat should be composed of professional revolutionaries who, by the nature of things, could hail only from the middle-class. Yet, theoretically, Lenin would not recognize the revolltionary significance of the middle class. The result of his realistic evaluation of the working class was to superimpose the party on the class which it claimed to represent. But in no way was the party a part of the class. It was the self-appointed leader of the class, incorporating its imaginary collective ego. Subsequently, the Fascists made much of the “leadership” principle. But the dogmatic, uncompromising Marxist Lenin was the theoretician of the principle which came to be the cardinal article of faith of the Communist movement.
According to economic determinism, the proletariat must be the most backward class, intellectually and culturally. Only after the establishment of Socialism could the economic conditions of their life improve, and the possibility of intellectual and cultural development be available to them. Disregarding this clear implication of its theoretical presuppositions, Marxism allots to the proletariat the honourable role of leading society towards a higher civilization. The contradiction is palpable. Communist practice has been vitiated by this theoretical contradiction. A way out of the vicious circle has been found by compelling middle-class intellectuals to sink to the intellectual and cultural level of the proletariat, as the price of the leader-ship of the party.”(Pages:27, 28)
14. “There is no intellectual freedom in the Communist movement; proud of its proletarian composition, it has no use for the capitalist culture and bourgeois morality. But until now there is no other culture and morality. Proletarian culture is a contradiction in terms; and the cardinal principle of proletarian morality is that everything is fair in love and war; the working class is in the thick of a civil war-the worst of all wars; the end justifies the means. The Communist Party is admittedly amoral, and takes a cynical attitude to cultural values. That is hardly an inspiring leadership for the contemporary world engaged in a struggle for the salvation of the total heritage of human civilization, which alone can be the foundation of a new order of greater freedom and higher culture. Caught in the throes of a moral crisis, the civilized world is looking out for a better leadership with a more rational attitude towards the problems to be solved, and a nobler philosophy.”(Pages:28,29)
15. “The proletariat by itself is not a revolutionary force. The ideal of a new order may have an appeal for it. But intellectual and cultural backwardness does not permit it, as a class, to have a long – distance view. Originally, Marxism took this basic fact into account and set up the doctrine that the historical necessity of revolution was felt by the class-conscious vanguard of the proletariat, which was to constitute the revolutionary party.
The dogma of an uncompromising class struggle, and the false expectation of a polarization of society into two classes, moved exclusively by economic incentives, led Marx and Lenin, particularly the latter, to visualize revolution taking place through an insurrection engineered by the so-called vanguard of the proletariat, to be followed by its dictatorship over the people. This theory not only defeats its purpose, as proved by the Russian experience, by creating a new system of political domination, cultural regimentation and economic enslavement, but the uniform failure of Communists all over the world, after their accidental success in Russia, proves its utter inadequacy even as a technique for the capture of power.”(Pages:29,30)
16. “Scientific inventions since the days of Marx have vastly increased the military might and coercive strength of the existing States, and have rendered the idea of a minority-insurrection impracticable and out of date. On the other hand, by virtue of their class ideology and their failure to offer anything more inspiring than proletarian dictatorship, the Communists were unable to gather together in one movement all the progressive and revolutionary forces; they remained a sectarian and dogmatic body. Even in relation to the proletariat, the Communist Parties failed to attract the culturally more advanced section, which largely remained attached to older Social – Democratic Parties. Consequently, the revolutionary appeal of Marxism was addressed largely to the most backward strata of society. Finally, Stalin went to the extent of declaring that the unemployed and the unorganized were the most revolutionary social force.
The proletariat could not make the expected revolution; nor did the mystic forces of history unfold themselves cataclysmically, as predicted. But revolution, that is to say, radical reconstruction of society, remains a pressing need of our time, felt by a much larger section of society, and more keenly and consciously, than the proletariat. The urge for a new order is a reaction of the threat for the destruction of the values of civilization. Naturally, it is felt more acutely by those who can appreciate and cherish those values. But a new philosophy of revolution, suitable for our age, is yet to arise as the beacon light for civilized humanity. The new philosophy must be able to destroy what remains of the moral sanction of the status quo, by providing an idea of a new social order to inspire all those disgusted with the present state of affairs. It must also indicate new ways of revolution appropriate to the needs of the time. While the concrete steps for social transformation must differ from place to place in accordance with prevailing conditions, the movement for freedom, if it is to succeed, must out-grow its sectarian class character and be inspired by the Humanist spirit and cosmopolitan outlook. It must, further, take the initiative of organizing the people into democratic bodies to provide the basis of the post-revolutionary order.”(Pages:30,31)
17. “The bourgeoisie versus the proletariat, capital versus labour, is no longer the central issue; indeed, it has never been, although it has been, and still is, an issue to be settled. The conflict of our age is between totalitarianism and democracy, between the all-devouring collective ego – nation or class – and the individual struggling for freedom. Continuation of the capitalist order demands substitution of Liberalism by Fascism, in practice, if not as yet in profession. On the other hand Communism in practice has also established a totalitarian regime, under which all the aspects of life are rigorously regimented. For the moment, the perspective of the fight for freedom looks like the legendary struggle between David and Goliath. But man will once again destroy the Frakenstein of his creation, and tame the Leviathan.” (Page: 31)
‘New Humanism – A Manifesto’
RENAISSANCE PUBLISHERS PRIVATE LTD
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(First Edition : August 1947
Second Edition : August 1957
Reprint : December 1961
The above quotations from : July 1974 reprint)
VIII. Selected Passages from the book: ‘Politics Power and Parties’
1. “Democracy started from the two admirable principles of individual freedom and of popular sovereignty. But having started from those unexceptionable principles, in practice democracy immediately deviated from those principles. We do not have to examine only the record of parliamentary democracy in the 19th century. We may go all the way back to the man who has been recognized in history as the prophet of modern democracy, to discover that democracy, however well conceived, was born with a crippling defect, because of which it never got a fair chance. That prophet was the French philosopher Rousseau, who is credited with having developed the ideal of democracy. Like all the leaders of the French Revolution, Rousseau also drew his inspiration from the experience of ancient Greece.
The idea of democracy, including its name, was derived from there. The ideal of democracy, as the early leaders of the French Revolution conceived it, was the direct democracy of ancient Greece. There, democracy had been practiced in small City Republics, inhabited perhaps by no more than ten to twenty- thousand people. Since it could not be practiced in 18th century Europe, where States consisted of entire countries inhabited by millions of people, Rousseau immediately came up against this fact, which was irreconcilable with the practice of direct democracy as it had been practiced in Greece; and yet, if democracy was ever to be practiced, it must indeed be direct democracy, to the largest possible extent.
Hence it was necessary to find new ways and means to practice democracy. Rousseau was a man of great imagination. He was rather a dreamer and a poet than a political thinker. Giving reign to his imagination, he arrived at the conception of a General Will, and devised a system by which the General Will of a people could be ascertained. Any institution which could claim to embody the General Will, should be considered as a democratic institution.
Starting from the conception of individual freedom, Rousseau admitted that every member of a community had individual interests, and when in operation, the individual interests of all the members of the community cancelled each other. But apart from their individual interests, according to Rousseau’s theory of the origin of society in a social contract, the members of a community alienated their individual interests and pledged themselves to work for the common interest. Once individual interests have cancelled each other, there remains a residue of general interest based on the surrender of individual rights, and out of that surrender emerged the concept of the General Will.
This concept was fraught with dangerous consequences. When democracy was to be introduced in the post-revolutionary period, that is, after the defeat of Napoleon, this metaphysical concept of a General Will, interpreted in political terms, took the form of the delegation of power from the people to some other agencies. But already during the French Revolution, the dangerous significance of this doctrine of the General Will made itself felt, and it was on the claim that he represented the General Will of the French people that Robespierre tried to establish a dictatorship through the terroristic regime which practically destroyed the positive outcome of the French Revolution” (Pages:50, 51)
2. “On the one hand, we have the mass of people, and on the other, we have parties. The individual man and his judgment, his discretion and will are nowhere in the picture. Appeals are not made to individual voters and their power of reasoning, but to the sentiment of masses. The purpose of election propaganda is to create a state of mass hysteria, to create either hatred for one or bias in favour of some other party. Consequently, when the time comes for the sovereign people to make the crucial decision of selecting persons who can be entrusted with their fate for a period of four or five years, the electorate is in a state where no discriminating judgment is at all possible, whipped up into a state of frenzy and driven like cattle to the polling stations to cast their votes. With music, brass-bands, flags and shouting, the judgment of the people is dulled and benumbed; they are placed under some spell, and in that condition they are asked to decide their fate. This is naturally more so in backward countries, but on principle it is the same everywhere.
On the other hand, when votes are canvassed for a party, once the popular vote brings a man to the parliament, his responsibility is not to the people who vote for him, but to the party machinery which has ensured his election by supplying the money and the brass-band.”(Page:53)
3. “The first criticism of this formal democracy was offered by Socialists. From the time of Karl Marx, they pointed out these defects and deficiencies of parliamentary democracy, and came to the conclusion that parliamentary democracy degenerated in this way not because of its internal contradictions or the discrepancy between theory and practice, but because it is only an instrument for one particular class to establish its dictatorship. The corollary suggests itself logically: Since formal democracy is the dictatorship of one class, therefore the other classes or the class which are suppressed and exploited are entitled to overthrow the dictatorship of the oppressing and exploiting class and establish its own dictatorship. In course of time, this alternative came to be advocated by the “revolutionary” communist school of Marxists; the “reformist” Socialists, however, did not accept it and maintained that dictatorship was not inherent in Karl Marx’s teachings.
By advocating dictatorship as an alternative to a defective form of democracy, Marxist critics did not maintain that democracy was not desirable, but only that its bourgeois parliamentary form was defective. But that was not a sufficiently strong argument for maintaining that an out and out dictatorship is better than a veiled dictatorship or a defective democracy.”(Pages:53,54)
4. “In the period between the two wars from 1920 to 1939, Democracy, attacked from two sides by advocates of dictatorship, lost ground step by step, and, except in a few countries, was replaced by some form or other of dictatorship practically all over Europe.
But even then the advocates of democracy who, in the critical days, wanted to have a democratic front against Fascism on the one side and Communism on the other, did not see the inherent defects of democracy and did not feel the necessity of broadening their concept of democracy, so that it could stand the challenge and survive the crisis of the contemporary world. If we now think of a politics for the future, it implies that we are, on the one hand, rejecting the various forms of dictatorship and, on the other, realize that Democracy as practiced so far is not adequate. It cannot sand the crisis. Therefore, democratic principles must be reorientated. Democratic ideas must be enriched by experience, and a more effective form of democratic practice must be conceived.”(Page:55)
5. “The practice of delegation of power is a negation of Democracy, because it can never establish government of the people and by the people. It can, under the best of circumstances, only establish government for the people, which, again in the best of cases, may be a benevolent dictatorship, but not Democracy. It goes without saying that in a large country, with millions of inhabitants and where all power is concentrated in a centralized government, rule of the people and by the people is not possible. Therefore, we must think of a decentralized structure which will make a more direct form of Democracy a practical proposition.”(Pages:55,56)
6. “We start from the proposition that institutions, political or economic, are created by men. They are created by man to serve his purpose, which is the purpose of having a full life, a good life, and of developing all aspects of his life and all his potentialities. Every institution is as good as the men who work it. But in the modern world the relation between individuals and institutions has been reverse. Supreme importance is attached to institutions, and man is subordinated to them. Social progress is not visualized as the resultant of the development of individuals or groups of individuals, but as structural changes imposed from above, from time to time. This reversal of relations between man and man-made institutions evidently is a denial of the fundamental concept of Democracy, because it completely eliminated man and his sovereignty from the picture of things. Therefore, if a better form of political theory and practice is to be evolved, we shall have to see if this abnormal relation can be reversed again, if man can be placed in his proper position of primacy and supremacy.”(Pages:56,57)
7. “The general belief is that the common man cannot think for himself and is incapable to judge what is good or bad, for him and in general, and therefore, the common man must be led. For this reason we need either leaders or parties to lead the people and rule the countries. They might go to the extent of guaranteeing to the people the widest suffrage, but that is all they can do because, according to that philosophy, the people are not, and will never be, capable of ruling themselves.”(Pages:57,58)
8. “It is an unfortunate fact that owing to long disuse, because traditions and social institutions never appealed to them, a large number of men have been made to forget that they are born as thinking being and endowed with the power of judgment, that they can discriminate between what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, without having to rely on any external authority for that knowledge. If the modern world is to come out of this perilous crisis, if the sovereign people is to emerge from this state of degradation, there is no other way than to make a growing number of men conscious of their essential human attributes. To awaken their self-respect and self-reliance, their pride to be men.”(Page:58)
9. “Even when democracies were composed only of a few thousand people, voters could be misled, unless they were educated. This ancient wisdom is even more true in our time. Those who are trying to give Democracy a chance to be practiced must realize that without education democracy is not possible.
But experience has proved that education measured in terms of literacy alone does not create guarantees for democratic government. What is needed is a different kind of education, an education which will not be imparted with the purpose of maintaining any given status quo, but with the sole purpose of making the individuals of a community conscious of their potentialities, help them to think rationally and judge for themselves, and promote their critical faculties by applying it to all problems confronting them.”(Pages:58, 59)
10. “Only when the monster called the masses is decomposed into its component men and women, will an atmosphere be created in which democratic practice becomes possible, in which there can be established governments of the people and by the people. In such an atmosphere, it will become possible to practice direct Democracy in smaller social groups, because to make individuals self-reliant, they must be freed from the feeling of being helopless cogs in the wheels of the gigantic machines of modern States, which allow them no other function than to cast a vote once in several years, and give them no idea of how governments function, so that they cannot even effectively help their government, if they wanted to.”(Page:59)
11. “Today, the State has become an abstraction. In the written Constitutions, the State is divided in three branches, the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. If that is all that the State is, then the States must exist only in the capitals and nowhere else. The State, supposed to be the political organization of society as a whole, has come to be completely divorced from the life of society, if you think of society in terms of the human beings constituting society. The individual has nothing to do with the State, that is, the political administration of his society. It exists only in some central place, faraway, beyond the reach and influence of the members of society, and from there makes decisions and imposes its decisions and the people has no say in them.”(Page:61)
12. “The first need is to break in our minds with the prejudice that power is the object of all politics, that anybody who wants to participate in politics and achieve anything at all, must have for his first and foremost object to come to power, on the assumption that otherwise nothing can be done, and this is the whole of politics. Party politics in our time is based on that assumption. Power must be captured in some way or other, be it by constitutional or by violent means. All schools of politics, revolutionary and otherwise, have that in common between them; they all must fight to come to power first before they can do anything in pursuance of their programmes. A party is organized with the object of capturing power. It is done with the ostensibly plausible argument that some people know just how society should be organized, and therefore the voters must vote for them so that they come to power and impose the blessings they have in mind from above on the people, who would otherwise never even think of those blessings, much less achieve them on their own.
That is why we say that party politics implies the denial of democracy; it implies that people cannot do anything by themselves; it is a denial of the potential intelligence and creativity of all men, of the sovereignty of the people. Democracy is an empty concept if sovereignty does not mean the ability of the people to do things themselves. If there must always be some-body to do things for them, it means the denial of the sovereignty of the people, the denial of the creativity and the dignity of man.”(Pages:62, 63)
13. “Against the prejudice that there can be no politics without parties and that parties can do nothing without power, there are two propositions. Firstly, power is not the primary object of politics; it is a means and there are other means; and secondly, party politics leads to concentration of power and hence carries in it the germs of the destruction of democracy. Political ends can be achieved without capturing power. Politics can be practiced without a party organization. The object of such a political practice will be to give the sovereign people the opportunity of exercising its sovereignty, to persuade the people not to surrender it by voting for anybody else expecting him to do the things they want to be done, but to vote for themselves, and do things themselves. To do those things being the function of government, by doing them themselves, they will increasingly assume the functions of government, and thereby create a government of the people and by the people.” (Page:63)
‘Politics Power And Parties’
Ajanta Publications India,
Jawahar Nagar, Delhi-110 007