Monday, 09:51 28-03-2022

The Scientific, Revolutionary, and Humanistic Nature of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy

Marxism and Leninism Monday, 09:51 28-03-2022
Abstract: Marxist-Leninist philosophy, founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, was successfully actualized and developed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. It opened a new era in political thought and initiated an era of transition from capitalism to socialism worldwide. Currently, taking advantage of the collapse of the socialist model in the Soviet Union and some Eastern European countries, many reactionary forces have rejected Marxism-Leninism which considered the ideology of the working class and the ideological foundation of Communist Parties in the world including Vietnam. This article clarifies the lasting value of Marxist- Leninist philosophy including its doctrine of unity of scientific, revolutionary, and humanistic values, thereby contributing to protecting the ideological foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam. It also outlines the fight against wrong and hostile views against Vietnam.

1. The scientific nature of Marxist-Leninist philosophy

First, Marxist-Leninist philosophy contains many historical and contemporary scientific achievements. The scientific nature of Marx’s philosophy was founded based on the breakthrough discoveries of natural science namely Darwin’s theory of evolution, cellular theory, the law of energy conservation and transformation etc. It can be said that these achievements contribute to establishing the foundation of the revolution in the scientific perception of nature. These achievements have supported and been a touchstone of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. The realization of the philosophy is based on the achievements in the long-lasting and challenging development of its philosophy including the history of natural science through to contemporary times.

 

Second, Marxist-Leninist philosophy correctly reflects the objective reality of the world, the objective rules of politics and the development of the world through a system using scientific categories, and rules. Based on dialectical materialism, Marxist-Leninist philosophy correctly shows that the world is composed of matter, and therefore is united in its substance. There is only one world, the physical world. Diverse phenomena and processes are just different forms and processes of matter. The physical world is infinite and eternal. Consciousness is the dynamic and creative reflection of objective reality into the human mind and “the subjective image of the objective world.” Marxist- Leninist philosophy has scientifically explained the relationship between matter and consciousness and has affirmed that matter precedes consciousness, and matter determines consciousness. However, consciousness also has its relative independence and impacts on matter.

 

Marxist-Leninist philosophy outlined popular laws of the movement and development of nature, society, and thought by materialist dialectics. These principles of materialist dialectics have affirmed the universal connection and the eternal development of the world. The rules of the materialist dialectics have included the origin, motivation, manner, and trend of development. The dialectics’ pairs of categories have outlined the common relationships of things; 1) the relationship between the general and the particular, their cause and effect and, 2) the nature and phenomena, the possibility and the reality, the content and the form, the world’s nature and its randomness. With the dialectical materialist cognitive theory, Marxist-Leninist philosophy has defined the nature of man’s cognitive process as a positive, self-conscious, and creative reflection of objective reality based on practice.

 

The scientific value of Marxist cognitive theory primarily affirms the role of reality in perception and theory that has overcome the most significant limitation of Pre-Marxism - materialism. Marxist-Leninist philosophy also points out that the dialectical path of perception seen from vivid intuition to abstract thought and from abstract thought to practice is the dialectical path of true perception, according to Vladimir Lenin. Marxist-Leninist philosophy affirms that truth is knowledge that accurately reflects the objective reality of the world, one that is tested by human practice. It also affirms the relationship between theory and practice, in which practice determines theory, but in which theory also affects reality, thereby improving the practical level of people. “A nation that wants to firmly stand on the pinnacle of science can’t lack theoretical thought,” according to Friedrich Engels.

 

With historical materialism, Marxist-Leninist philosophy has outlined the most popular law of the historical development of human society. The theory of socio-economic form has pointed out that the regularity of history is one of the features of the interchangeability of socio-economic forms seen from low to high, from the simple to the complex, and from imperfect to the perfect. The development of socio-economic forms is a natural-historical process, according to Marx, one that obeys objective laws and does not depend on people’s subjective will. Marxist-Leninist philosophy also affirms that class struggle is a primary factor in developing a highly stratified society. Class struggle certainly leads to the proletariat dictatorship that is a major transition toward a classless international  society.  Regarding  the  theory  of  the  state, Marxist-Leninist philosophy points out that the nature of the state as it has developed until now is the product of irreconcilable class conflicts. As a result, the overarching function of the state is the function of class dominance. Among the types of state, Marxist-Leninist philosophy confirms that the proletarian state is the most progressive in which there is a unity between the class and its citizens. It plays a vital role for all workers and laborers in successfully building socialism. The historical materialism of Marxist-Leninist philosophy confirms the social nature of people. In reality, however, human nature is the ensemble of social relations, according to Marx. Marxist-Leninist philosophy considers man as both the subject and the product of history and affirms that the role of the creator of history is played by the masses. Historical materialism has also correctly verified the relationship between social existence and social consciousness, in which social existence determines social consciousness, but in which social consciousness paradoxically is also relatively independent and in turn impacts social existence.

 

Third, Marxist-Leninist philosophy has unified the scientific   worldview of dialectical materialism and scientific   methodology in its natural form of dialectical materialism. Based on the dialectical materialist worldview, Marxist-Leninist   philosophy   has   pointed   out   that   the   most   general methodical  principles  for  the  practical  perception  of  humans  and  their activities include the objective principle, the comprehensive principle, the specific   historical principle, the development principle, and the unification principle between the theory and practice. These methodological principles are the basis for promoting human thought to a new level called scientific dialectical thought.

 

Fourth, Marxist-Leninist philosophy is an open system, constantly evolving with reality. In the current context, the scientific revolution continues to take place at a higher and deeper level and the achievements of modern science continue to affirm Marxist philosophy’s scientific characteristics that simultaneously provide new suggestions for the development of Marxist philosophy in a new context. The classic Marxist-Leninist philosophers never considered their doctrine an invariable and permanent system but one that constantly evolves over time with the reality of a changing world. Truth is concrete; however, world reality is the criterion of the truth being both absolute yet relative. It is sufficient to not fall into skepticism and agnosticism, to not regard the truth as absolute and eternal according to Lenin.

 

Fifth, the scientific nature of Marxist-Leninist philosophy has been verified by the steadfast and practical development of society and science. In practice the development of both society and science throughout history has proven the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The Russian October Revolution of 1917 opened a new era of transition from capitalism to socialism on a global scale marking a brilliant milestone in human history. Modern achievements of science also prove and support the dialectical materialist view of the world. All of these concepts have proven the scientific nature of Marxist- Leninist philosophy.

 

2. The revolutionary nature of Marxist-Leninist philosophy

Based on the scientific theory, Marxist-Leninist philosophy has been effectively exercised in the practical struggle of the masses toward liberation from class and emancipation of mankind. Specifically, the revolutionary nature of Marxist-Leninist philosophy can be summarized as follows.

 

First, Marxist-Leninist philosophy is a revolutionary theory and methodology that explains and reforms man’s view of the world, builds a communist society which releases people from oppression, exploitation, and injustice, and ultimately fully unleashes human potential. The dialectic- materialism of Marxist-Leninist philosophy is essentially a theory of revolution that states that nature and society are constantly in a developmental process that negates the current modality to develop a new method.

 

Historical materialism is the direct scientific basis for the theory of the socialist revolution making it the greatest revolution in history. It has initiated a new socio-economic form called the communist socio-economic form, of which the first stage is socialism. The current times are still in the transition period from capitalism to socialism worldwide. This process started from the Russian October Revolution of 1917.

 

Second, Marxist-Leninist philosophy expresses the spirit of revolutionary criticism that is not only evidenced in its thought but also in its reality that the criticism needs to be constructive and dialectical. Criticism as a process is associated with the legacy of the previous methods but is designed to remove the limitations created by the old. Therefore, besides criticizing capitalism, Marx and Engels also affirmed capitalism’s significant contributions and achievements to human development. The bourgeoisie had played a revolutionary role in history. In the course of its nearly century-long domination of class structure, it created a more massive means of production than all previous generations combined, as written in the “Communist Manifesto” by Marx and Engels.

 

Inheriting this spirit, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) affirms that Vietnam’s path to socialism is a direct transition bypassing capitalism which in more typical situations dominates the production system and superstructure. But Vietnam has accomplished this by the historical narrative of inheriting all the achievements in the development of its means of production, in science and technology, and in a culture that would have developed normally under capitalism. Vietnam’s initial negation of capitalism is a dialectical negation, not a metaphysical negation.

 

3. The humane character of Marxist-Leninist philosophy

 

Being a scientific and revolutionary doctrine, Marxist-Leninist philosophy is imbued with communist humanism as a doctrine for the people. It serves as a voice of the people protecting workers from oppression in the old society while liberating them from oppression and injustice while the new society is formed.

 

From a humane perspective, Marx’s theory in its formation and development was filled with a profound humanity. The formation of Marx’s humane ideology was admired even while he was still at school. In Marx’s high-school graduation thesis, he included a discussion on a young man’s thoughts of choosing a career. Marx wrote, “History proves those who make themselves noble by dedicating to the common cause, are great people; the experience praises the person who brings happiness to the most people, he is the happiest person”.(1) Thus, while still in school, Marx showed his deep interest in human issues and realized that the noble value of goodness is bringing happiness to people whenever possible. These emotions support our belief that people can bring happiness to people with solutions from the people themselves, by upholding the power of the working class. That thought reveals the germ of his profound humanism which was revealed in his later work.

 

Another prominent feature of Marxist humanism is that it germinated from his love and sympathy for the suffering of the oppressed and exploited working masses. In the first steps of his career, while working as a writer and editor at the Rheinische Zeitung (Rheinland News), Marx had made his sympathies clear through articles such as “Humanitarian debates on the prohibition of timber theft.” Marx also reported on the heavily alienated and exploited life of the working class and laborers in the “Economic-Philosophical Manuscript of 1844.” Because of laws governing private property, workers were separated from the means of production and the product of their labors thus being alienated physically and mentally under the exploitative capitalist regime. He identified the cause of this social dissociation as the notion of private property. At this time Marx proposed abolishing private property to overcome this alienation of the proletariat. This manuscript marked the transition of Marx’s viewpoint from revolutionary democracy to communism.

 

Due to their love and sympathy for the exploited workers, Marx, Engels, and Lenin devoted their lives fighting for human liberation and for a way of life that liberates workers from oppression, exploitation, and alienation. This marked the next step in the maturing of Marxist humanism. That step would be the association of humanism with the struggle for liberation of the proletariat in particular and human liberation in general. Marx has said that attaining the ideal of happiness was a struggle. Here, too, Marx wanted to include the struggle for liberating the workers from the oppression, exploitation, injustice, and struggle against human dehumanizing alienation. The struggle came to include protecting the freedom and democratic right of people, as well as the struggle of bringing a better society for all people. In the “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” later known as “The Communist Manifesto,” Marx and Engels declared, “In that revolution, the proletariat lost nothing, except the chains that bound them”.(2) The communist revolution is the struggle liberating workers from the chains of oppression and exploitation. This philosophy shows Marx’s humanist spirit. Humanism is directly associated with human liberation, the protection of fundamental human rights, and especially the majority of workers in society.

 

Marx and his comrade, Engels having learned from their research and practice, pointing to the force behind human liberation as the working class. They wrote, “All other classes decay and perish along with the development of great industry, but the proletariat is itself the product of great industry”.(3) “The collapse of the bourgeoisie and the rise of the proletariat are equally inevitable”.(4) Approached from a humanist perspective this shows that Marx found that the power of human liberation in contemporary society lay with the advancement of the working class to becoming a dominant force in capitalist society. In their philosophy the working class was a progressive force which created all wealth but it was also made up of the most exploited people. After that time and throughout his life, Marx pursued the awakening of the proletariat to become the revolutionary force that stood up to liberate society and the people from oppression and exploitation. The socialist revolution that took place at the beginning of the 20th Century has shown the power of the proletariat in social development. The awakening of man’s power is the major task  of  humanist  thought  movements.  Moreover,  in  this  respect,  Marxist theory remains the most humanist of theories.

 

Humanism is only the departing point in examining the relationships among people in society, but Marxist-Leninist theory is also humanistic in examining the relationship between man and nature. According to Marxism- Leninism, man and nature are united. Man is the most superior result of the long history of natural evolution. Therefore, man’s attitude towards nature should not be absolute and brutal domination of nature, but rather to live in harmony with nature. In this way humanism demonstrates the relationship between man and nature.

 

Marx and Engels used to make the following statements. “The natural world is man’s inorganic body… the body with which man must remain in constant communication to survive. Saying that the human physical and mental life is related to the natural world simply means that man is a part of nature”.(5) Another statement they frequently used was, “For every victory we have against nature, nature will come back to take revenge on us,” (from “Nature’s Dialectics”). In the present age, man moves toward sustainable development, which is the harmonious development between economy, society, and the environment. This defines humanity in a healthy relationship with nature. This is also an essential feature of humanism in Marxist-Leninist doctrine.

 

In short, Marxist-Leninist theory is a complete, objective, scientific, and revolutionary form of humanism. The unification of science, revolution, and humanity in Marxist-Leninist philosophy has contributed to updating to a new vitality in Marxist-Leninist theory today. Inheriting and promoting the scientific, revolutionary, and humanistic spirit is an essential mission of our future revolutionary generations./.

 

(1) H. Zhemkov (2000), Our life (Biography of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels), National Political Publishing House, p. 8.

(2), (3), (4) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (2004), Selected works, National Political

Publishing House, Vol.1, pp. 748, 715, 717.

(5) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Complete works, National Political Publishing House, Vol.42, p. 135.


Source: Journal of Political Theory and Communication (English), No 6-2021

Tran Hai Minh

Assoc. Prof. PhD, Academy of Journalism and Communication

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