M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru

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henry david thoreau

  • and honours are the subjects of shame."7 Thoreau classified his views regarding the grounds on which an individual can obey and disobey the state in the following words :

  • "Until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be i\tended to me in some distant southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at liome by peace­ful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs rne less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the state than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worthless in that case."8 Belief in Simple Life and Dignity of Human Labour

  • Finally, Thoreau, following in the footsteps of Rousseau and Tolstoy, stood for a simple life. He was averse 10 a complicated life. According to him, "This world is a place of business, there is no Sabbath." He further remarked : "Not the less does nature continue to fill the ear of youth with suggestions of this enthusiasm, and they are new men—if indeed I can speak in the plural number— more exactly, I will say I have just been conversing with one man, to whom no weight of adverse experience will make it for a moment appear impossible, thousands of human beings might exercise to­wards each other the grandest and simplest sentiments as well as a knot of friends, or a pair of lovers." He firmly believed in the dig­nity of human labour and tried to give a moral tinge to almost all human efforts and aspirations. He was a great friend of the indivi­dual and looked with an utmost interest for all-round development of his personality.

  • ^Qu^rt horn Political Philosopher, (Carlton House, New York, 1947),

  • p. 310. 8 Ibid.

    1. 17

    2. KARL MARX (I 8 I 8- I 883)

    3. His Life and Career

    4. Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in the city of Treves (Rhenish Prussia). His father was a lawyer, a Jew, who in 1824 adopted Protestantism. The family was well-to-do, cultured but not revolutionary. He studied jurisprudence, history and philosophy at Bonn and Berlin Universities. He concluded his course in 1841, submitting his doctoral dissertation on the philosophy of Epicurus. In his views Marx at that time was still a Hegelian idealist. In Berlin he belonged to the circle of 'Left Hegelians' (Bruno Eauer and others), who sought to draw authentic and revolutionary conclusions from Hegel's philosophy.

    5. After graduating from the University, Marx moved to Bonn, expecting to become a professor. But the reactionary policy of the government—which in 1832 deprived Ludwig Feuerbach of his chair and in 1836 refused to allow him to return to the University, and in 1841 forbade the young professor, Bruno Bauer, to lecture at Bonn —forced Marx to abandon the idea of pursuing an academic career. At that time the views of the Left Hegelians were developing very rapidly in Germany. Ludwig Feuerbach began to criticize theology, particularly so in 1836 and after, and turned to materialism which in 1841 gained the upper hand in his philosophy. Engels writes, "We (i.e., the Left Hegelians including Marx) all became at once Feuer-bachians."1 At that time some Rhenish radical bourgeois who had certain points in common with the Left Hegelians founded an opposi­tion paper in Cologne, Rhenish Gazette—the first number appeared on January 1, 1842. In October 1842, Marx became its chief editor. The revolutionary-democratic trend of the paper became more and more pronounced under Marx's editorship. But he decided to resign the editorship when, on January 1, 1843, the government took deci­sion to suppress the paper, although his resignation could not save it, which was closed down in March 1843.

      1. 1 Engels, F. : Ludwig Feuerbach, Eng. ed., 1946, p. 22. (Ed.)

      In the autumn of 1843. Marx went to Paris with a view to publishing a radical magazine abroad. In his articles in this maga­zine, he appeared as a revolutionist. He advocated the 'merciless criticism of everything existing", and in particular the 'criticism of arms', and appealed to the masses and to the proletariat.

    1. KARL MARX

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    1. In September 1844, Friederich Engels came to Paris for a few days, and from that time forth became Marx's closest friend. They both took a most active part in the then seething life of the revolu­tionary groups in Paris (of particular importance was Proudhon's doctrine, which Marx thoroughly demolished in his Poverty of Philosophy, 1847), and, vigorously combating the various doctrines of petty bourgeois Socialism, worked out the theory and tactics of revo­lutionary Proletarian Socialism, or Communism (Marxism). In the Spring of 1847 Marx and Engels joined a secret propaganda society called the Communist League, took a prominent part in the Second Congress of the League (London, November 1847), and, at its request, drew up the famous Communist Manifesto, which appeared in February 1848. With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines the new world-conception, consistent materialism which also embraces the realm of social life, dialectics, the most comprehensive and profound doctrine of development, the theory of the class struggle and of the historic revolutionary role of the proletariat—the creator of the new Communist society.

    2. From 1848 to his death in 1883, Marx lived a very hard life. He was banished from Belgium in February 1848, from Germany in May 1849, and from Paris in June 1849. He then went to London, where he lived to the day of his death. He suffered dire poverty. Had it not been for Engels's constant and self-sacrificing financial support, Marx would not only have been unable to bring his work on Capital to a conclusion, but would have inevitably perished from want. Moreover, the prevailing doctrines and trends of petty bourgeois Socialism, and of non-proletarian Socialism in general, forced Marx to carry on a continuous and merciless fight and some­times to repel the most savage and monstrous personal attacks. Holding aloof from the circles of political exiles, Marx developed his materialist theory in a number of his historic works, devoting his efforts chiefly to the study of political economy. Marx revolutionized this science in his Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859) and Capital (Vol. I, 1867).

    3. His strenuous work in the International and his still more strenuous theoretical occupations completely undermined Marxs's health. He continued his work on the reshaping of political economy and the completion of Capital, for which he collected a mass of new material and studied a number of languages (Russian, for instance) ; but ill-health prevented him from finishing Capital.

    4. On December 2, 1881, his wife died. On March 14, 1883, Marx peacefully passed away in his arm-chair. He lies buried with his wife and Helene Demuth, their devoted servant, who was almost a member of the family, in Highgate Cemetery, London.

    5. As a Scientific Socialist

    6. Marx was not, of course, the first socialist writer of the 19th

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    1. century. There was a rich crop of socialist ideas before he wrote : St. Simon and Guizot were spreading the idea of class war : Proudhon spread the notion that property is theft; Fourier put forward the conception of the middle classes as commercial despots ; Sismondi pointed out the inevitability of crisis, booms and slumps ; Owen advanced his hope that the new factory era would be of co-operation in place of competition. Marx called them in scorn 'Utopian' socialists, because they attacked (it was his belief) the wrongs in the capitalist system, and not the system itself. He was of the view that their Utopias were without definite programmes, and, as such, he questioned the possibility of their final attainment. Though they popularized the idea of a socialist society and they elaborated the labour theory of value, yet they failed as Utopians. Marx succeeded as a scientific propounder of political and economic theory. He was convinced of the rottenness of western civilization.

    2. From 1844-45 on, when his views took shape, Marx was a materialist, in particular, a follower of Ludwig Feuerbach, whose weak sides he even later considered to consist exclusively in the fact that his materialism was not consistent and comprehensive enough. Marx regarded the historic and 'epoch-making' importance of Feuerbach to be that he had resolutely broken away from Hegelian idealism and had proclaimed materialism, which already "in the eighteenth century, especially in France, had been a struggle not only against the existing political institutions and against. . . .religion and theology, but also. . . .against all metaphysics." In full conformity with this materialist philosophy of Marx's, and expounding it, Friedrich Engels wrote in Anti-Duhring (which Marx read in manuscript):

      1. Hen Eugen Dultrlng's Revolution in Science (Anti-Duhring), Eng. ed„ 1934, P. 54. (Ed.)

      2. Ibid., p. 71. (Ed.)

      3. Ibid., pp. 44-45. (Ed.)

      "The unity of the world does not consist in its being. . . .The real unity of the world consists in its materiality, and this is proved ... .by a long and tedious development of philosophy and natural science. . . ."8 "Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion," "motion without matter," "nor can there be. . . "If the. . . .question is raised : what then are thought and consciousness, and whence they come, it becomes apparent that they are products of the human brain and that man himself is a product of nature, which has been developed in and along with its environment; whence it is self-evident that the pro­ducts of the human brain, being in the last analysis also products of nature, do not contradict the rest of nature but are in correspondence with it."'

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    1. Rejection of Idealism

    2. Marx decidedly rejected not only idealism, always connected in one way or another with religion, but also the views, especially wide­spread in our day, of Hume and Kant, agnosticism, criticism, positi­vism in their various forms, regarding such a philosophy as a "reac­tionary" concession to idealism and at best a "shame-faced way of surreptitiously accepting materialism, while denying it before the world." On this question, we can see a letter of Marx to Engels dated December 12, 1868, in which Marx, referring to an utterance of the well-known naturalist Thomas Huxley that was "more mate­rialistic" than usual, and to his recognition that "as long as we actually observe and think, we cannot possibly get away from mate­rialism," at the same time reproaches him for leaving a "loophole" for agnosticism, for Humeism. It ;s especially important to note Marx's view on the relation between freedom and necessity : "Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood." "Freedom is the appre­ciation of necessity." This means the recognition of objective law in nature and of the dialectical transformation of necessity into freedom. Marx and Engels considered the fundamental limitations of the "old" materialism, including the materialism of Feuerbach, to be : (1) that tbis materialism was "predominantly mechanical", failing to take account of the latest developments of chemistry and biology ; (2) that the old materialism was non-historical, non-dialectical, and did not adhere consistently and comprehensively to the standpoint of deve­lopment ; (3) that it regarded the "human-essence" abstractly and not as the "ensemble" of "social relations," and therefore only "interpreted" the world, whereas the point is to "change" it; that is to say, it did not understand the importance of "revolutionary practi­cal activity."

    3. Hegelian dialectics, as the most comprehensive, the most rich in content, and the most profound doctrine of development, was re­garded by Marx and Engels as the greatest achievement of classical German philosophy. They considered every other formulation of the principle of development, of evolution, one-sided and poor in content, and distorting and mutilating the real course of development in nature and in society. Marx and Engels, as the latter writes, tried to rescue conscious dialectics and apply it in the materialist concep­tion of nature.

    4. Dialectical Materialism

    5. Nowhere, unfortunately, did Marx tell us what he meant by materialism. But at least he made it clear that his materialism was dialectical, not mechanical. In mechanical materialism evolution is the path taken by material things under the pressure of their environ­ment. In dialectical materialism, evolution is the development of matter from within, environment helping or hindering, but neither originating the evolutionary process nor capable of preventing it from

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    1. reaching its inevitable goal. Matter, to the dialectical materialist, is active, not passive, and moves by an inner necessity of its nature. Therefore, dialectical materialism is more interested in motion than in matter, in a vital energy within matter inevitably driving it towards perfect human society just as Hegel's demiurge drove forward to the perfect realization of spirit. As Engels said : "The dialectical method grasps things and their images, ideas, essentially in their sequence, their movement, their birth and death."

    2. Tnis motion, to the dialectical materialist who follows Hegel very closely here, is made possible by the conflict of opposites. Each stage reached in the march to the classless society, the thesis, calls into being its opposite or antithesis, and from the clash between the two a new synthesis emerges in which what was true in both thesis and antithesis is preserved and which serves as a starting point for the whole process again until the classless society has been achieved.

    3. How closely Marx followed Hegel is quite clear. For Hegel the universal substance was Spirit; for Marx it was Matter. Both Spirit and Matter need to develop themselves and both do so by means of an inner dialectic. For Hegel the inevitable goal was the Idea fully conscious of itself; for Marx the goal was the classless society, per­fectly organized for production, sufficient for itself. Lenin was justi­fied in saying how impossible it is to understand Marx without having studied Hegel. "Tn Hegel's writings, dialectic stands on its head. You must turn it right way up again if you want to discover the rational kernel that is hidden away within the wrappings of mystifica­tion." (Das Capital). "It is not consciousness of men that determines their existence but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness." Moreover, the third of his theses on Feuerbach runs : "The materialistic doctrine that men are the products of cir­cumstances, and education and that changed men are therefore the products of other circumstances and a changed education, forgets that circumstances are changed by man and that the educator must him­self be educated."

    4. It seems, therefore, clear that Marx had an idea that man could become the master of his own destiny, though he persuaded many that he meant the exact opposite, that history is wholly predeter­mined. Engels also later admitted that he and Marx had overstated the extent to which economic causes could be found for political and legal institutions. Yet Engels maintained that the economic situation "is in the last instance the determining factor of history."

    5. Having realized the inconsistency, incompleteness, and onesidcd-ness of the old materialism, Marx became convinced of the necessity of "bringing the science of society. . . .in harmony with the material­ist foundation, and of reconstructing it thereupon."8 Since material-

    6. s' Engels, F. : Ludwig Feuerbach, Eng. ed., 1946, p. 34. (Ed.)

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    1. ism in general explains consciousness as the outcome of being, and not conversely, materialism as applied to the social life of man­kind has to explain social consciousness as the outcome of social being. "Technology," writes Marx in Capital (Vol. I), "discloses man's mode of dealing with nature, the process of production by which he sustains his life, and thereby also lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations, and of the mental conceptions that flow from them."

    2. Materialistic Conception of History

    3. The discovery of the materialist conception of history, or rather the consistent continuation, extension of materialism to the domain of social phenomena, removed two of the chief defects of earlier historical theories. In the first place, they at best examined only the ideological motive of the historical activity of human beings, with­out investigating what produced these motives, without grasping the objective laws governing the development of the system of social relations, and without discerning the roots of these relations in the degree of development of material production ; in the second place it was precisely the activities of the masses of the population that the earlier theories did not cover, whereas historical materialism made it possible for the first time to study with the accuracy of the natural sciences the social conditions of the life of the masses and the changes in these conditions.

    4. Marxism, then, is an optimistic doctrine of inevitable progress and of the ultimate triumph of man. "Man has only to know himself, to measure all conditions of life against himself, to judge them by his own character, to organize the worid according to the demands of his own nature in a truly human way and he will have solved all the riddles of our age," is Engels's proud claim. Marxism points the way to an all-embracing and comprehensive study of the process of the genesis, development, and decline of social-economic formations. People make their own history. But what determines the motives of people, of the mass of people, that is ; what gives rise to the clash of conflicting ideas and strivings ; what is the ensemble of all these clashes of the whole mass of human societies ; what are the objective conditions of production of material life that form the basis of all historical activity of man ; what is the law of development of these conditions—to all this Marx drew attention and pointed out the way to a scientific study of history as a uniform and law-governed process in all its immense variety and contradictoriness.

    5. His Conception of Class War

    6. As soon as mankind emerged from the primitive communist state, it was seen that at every stage of social development a particular class got control and exploited the rest. It did not happen per chance, but according to Karl Marx, it is an exorable law of history. The rise and domination of each class is as necessary as are the various pheno-

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    1. mena of history which in Hegel's vitw were needed by the Spirit on its way to its goal. Applying the dialectics, it follows that each domi­nant class develops its opposite, and from the clash between the two, baron and serf, freeman and slave, burgess and journeyman, oppressor and oppressed, the new ruling class emerges. The source of the con­flict of strivings lies in the differences in the position and mode of life of the classes into which each society is divided. "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of struggles," wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto. "Freedom and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. . . .The modern bour­geois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature : It has simplified the class antago­nisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other —bourgeoisie and proletariat."' In a number of historic works, Marx has given us brilliant and profound examples of materialist historiography, of an analysis of the position - f each individual class, and sometimes of various groups or strata within a class, showing plainly why and how "every class struggle is a political struggle." This class war, according to Marx, reaches its simplest phase when the capitalist is face to face with the proletariat. Capitalism, the thesis, calls into being its antithesis, organized labour, and from the resultant clash the final synthesis of the classless society will result. Thus Marx, with a view to determining the resultant of historical development, analyses and gives a complex network of social relations and transitional stages between one class and another, from the past to the future.

    2. His Economic Doctrine : Growth of Capital and Theory of Surplus Value

    3. The most profound, comprehensive and detailed confirmation and application of Marx's theory is his economic doctrine.

    4. "It is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society," says Marx in the Preface to Capital. The investigation of the relations of production in a given historically defined society, in their genesis, development, and decline—such is the content of Marx's economic doctrine. In capitalist society it is
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