2) Anti-Düring and the Marxism systemization
The Gotha Congress and the corresponding fusion with the lassallianism meant an important ideological decay of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In the Congress in the same year, 1875, Marx and Engels had already noticed a particularly negative influence in the Party leadership. It is related to the theoretical formulations, pseud-socialist and pseud-scientific ones-, of a Berlin University philosophy professor, Eugene Düring, who had recently proclaimed himself a “communist”. Besides this proclamation Düring composed an extense theoretical system that encompassed philosophy, economy and social theory. He proclaimed his system as a “revolutionary science” and meant to correct supposed lapses in Marx thought.
From the beggining, even the main left-wing leaders of the Social-democracy, Bebel and Liebknecht, evaluated Düring self-proclamation as a “communist” as positive. Nevertheless, they have quickly corrected their stances and started from Engels’ letters. In turn, the Social-democracy right-wing saluted effusively Düring’s theory, aiming at supporting it for replacing Marxism and its revolutionary “inconveniences”. The right-wing could achieve a great victory in the Gotha Congress and intended, then, to launch an offensive against the Party’s left-wing. Among Düring’s propagandists was Eduard Bernstein, a social-democrat leader who, after Engels’s death, in 1895, became the main theoretical of the first revisionist formulations.
Düring’s figure was insignificant for the International Communist Movement (MCI). However, it was with the intention to demolish the line of right-wing in the Social Democracy in Germany that Engels developed the greatest theoretical oeuvre Anti-Düring. This was quite evident in the following excerpts of the correspondence between Engels and Marx, in 1875:
Engels: “One question if it will not be the time to take into consideration our attitude with regard to these gentlemen”.
Marx: “ My opinionion is that the ‘attitude with respect to these gentlemen can only be taken by criticising Düring without further ado.”. (Correspondences, Marx and Engels, our bold).
“These gentlemen” were just the representatives of the right-wing: Bernstein, Most and Viereck.
Engels will dedicate part ot 1876 to study the extensive oeuvre of Düring and prepare his reply. As he affirms, all manuscripts had been read before by Marx who did several suggestions and wrote some chapters on the Political Economy chapter. The publication of Anti-Düring was made in chapters in SPD’s theoretical newspaper. The publication of the first part happened on January, 1877, and the last one, on July, 1878. In the same year it was edited a book with the range of articles entitled: Revolutioning of the Science by Mister Eugen Düring. Philosophy, Political Economy, Socialism. But it will be as Anti-Düring that the oeuvre will continue being well-known in ICM from now on.
The publication of Anti-Düring coincides with the publication of the Anti-socialist Law of the emperor Bismarck. The book, as well as the whole social-democrat advertisement, was censored resulting, in Engels words, in the tripling of the sales. However, not only the emperor tried to prevent its circulation. At the SPD Congress, in 1877, the right-wing line proposed the ceasing of the publication of Engels’ book chapters in the party newspaper. Such a proposition was rejected by Liebeknecht and was nearly approved.
Such a hatred from the opportunism and the reaction had its explantaiton. The Anti-Dühring after The Capital was one of the most complete works of Marxism. Actually, despite being a controvery book, permeated by the questioning to the arguments of his opponent, Engels’ Anti-Dühring is the first systematic exposition of Marxism on its three constitutive parts: the marxist philosophy, the marxist political economy and the scientific socialism. These three parts constitute the three sections of the book.
Therefore, the Anti-Dühring, more than a debatable oeuvre is, according to Lenin, o bedside book of all revolutionary workers. The Political Economy section, for instance, represents an important preparation for studying The Capital. The socialism section is so clarifying and accessible that, by request of the Working Party of France, Paul Lafargue, it was published separately, it is about the famous oeuvre From the Utopic Socialism to the Scientific Socialism.
The Philosophy section, in turn, has an enormous importance. Since the Misery of Philosophy, 1847 and the Preface to the Critique of the Political Economy, 1859, there has not been a Marxist oeuvre dedicated to the philosophical questions. This systematic apresentation of the Marxist philosophy, the historical and dialectial materialism, will be done by Engels in Anti-Dühring, 1875, and complemented years later, in 1886, with Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of the German Classical Philosophy. These texts are broadly cited by Lenin on his great philosophical oeuvre Materialism and Empiriocriticism, 1909. Another very important Engels’ philosophical work that Lenin could not know about, since it would only be published in the Soviet Union in 1925, is the Nature Dialectics which till then had only been preserved as a manuscript.
Due to the importance of the philosophical section of Anti-Dühring and the limits of space for our article, we will only approach this part of the oeuvre that is divided into 13 chapters. Throughout them, the great Engels fully disassembles Dühring’s “original” philosophy. Dühring’s philosophical objective was to overcome the “uniteralism” of both philosophical schools: materialist and idealist; for that he formulates an ontology in which he expatiates on the being different properties: in its beginning, nature, society and thoughts. Engels will contrast to this Marxist ontology, the dialectical materialism, on these four aspects. In the chapter Apriorism and Schematism, Engels will dissamble the so called Dühring’s “logical properties of being”. In the chapter Philosophy of Nature he will refute the division Dühring makes of the movement and matter, as well as the defense of Darwin’s discoveries. In the chapter Right and Moral he will defend the historical materialist concepts as the class basis of all moral, inexistence of “eternal truths” or a “eternal justice”, disconnected of historical processes of the humankind; in chapter Dialectics, Engels will defend the universality of contradiction, refuting Dühring who affirms it would be, at most, restricted to the thought.
In a general way, Dühring’s thinking was part of the German philosophical movement of the second half of the 19th century known as the reurn to Kant. In Dühring this clearly appears on its aprioristic character ( from a priori,that is, prior to experience) of certain logical categories and, as well, of the reduction of the dialectics to the human rationality and non recognition of the nature contradictions or in the things per se. Dühring, for his eclecticism, mixes the mystifying aspects of the Hegel’s Logic especially his notion of the existence of a concept as previous to the nature itself and to the human society. However, the aspect of greater relevance of his philosophy which will serve as the basis for the philosophical grounds of Bernstein and Kautsky’s revisionism, is just his neo-Kantian concept. The importance of Kant philosophy as the reasoning of revisionism was highlighted by Lenin in his great work Materialism and Empiriocriticism. If Proudhon and Lassalle’s petty-bourgeois socialism was based – the first on a bad understanding of Hegel and the second on an academicist knowledge of Hegel as well -, Bernstein will be based on Kant. Dühring as a classical representative of the “cathedra socialism” was the responsible by the beginning of the neo-Kantism diffusion in the Social-Democracy in Germany. Engels, in refuting his ontology, is systematizing the Marxist phylosophy in Two-line Struggle against the roots of the first manifestation of revisionism. That is why Engels’ work has, in this regard, a universal character. As we have affirmed, our analysis will be concentrated less in the controversy and more in the positive aspects it brings for the systematization of Marxism, mostly of its philosophy.
2.1 Marxist philosophy: the dialectical materialism
Engels, in his Anti-Dühring, fulfilling the task of systematising Marxism, has contributed with an important synthesis on its constitution into three parts: Scientific Socialism, Political Economy and Marxist Philosophy. As to the Socialism: it was in this oeuvre that for the first time the term scientific socialism was coined; as to the Political Economy, the added-value was highlighted as the main discovery made by Marx; and as to the Marxist Philosophy, it was defined as modern materialism essentially dialectical. This philosophical synthesis is of utmost importance since, till then, Marx and Engels had treated their philosophical concept as historical materialism. Finally, as coherent and rigorous scientists they were, they delimited their philosophical conception to the branch of sciences to which they had dedicated themselves and achieved their utmost discoveries. Nowadays, we know the Marxist philosophy as dialectical materialism but this superior synthesis is a result of the development of the scientific ideology of the proletariat as Marxism-leninism-maoism.
The classical definition of the Marxist philosophy as dialectical materialism is comrade Stalin’s decision in his important oeuvre: On the Dialectical Materialism and the Historical Materialism, 1938, published by the first time as a chapter of Compendium of the History of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of the USSR. In this work, comrade Stalin quotes a passage of the Philosophical Writings of comrade Lenin in which he uses the expression “dialectical materialism”. Comrade Lenin in Materialism and Empiriocriticism had already characterized the Marxist philosophy as “ dialectical materialism” and the theory of the Marxist knowledge as “dialectical materialist”. By being endorsed by it, comrade Stalin defends correctly that the dialectical materialism is the Marxist philosophy, which development happened from the formulation of the materialist theory of history by Marx and Engels.
This important Stalin’s justification, however, had a limit since considered materialism as a concept of the world and dialectics as a method of thinking. Approaching the dialects only as a method, comrade Stalin reduced its ideological and revolutionary character. Chairman Mao moves forward brightly in this matter and emphasises dialectics as well as a world concept, the only one consequently revolutionary. This Maoist formulation appears in the monumental work On the Contradiction, in its first part: Two conceptions of the world, in which he opposes the dialectics to metaphysics. As Chairman Gonzalo emphasizes, it is in this oeuvre where it is established, for the first time, that the contradiction, as nucleus of dialectics, is the only fundamental law of the everlasting matter in its constant movement and transformation. The definition of the universality and the particularity of the contradiction law, its absolute and relative character is among the main Maoist contributions to the Marxism development.
As we will try to demonstrate, as much comrade Stalin’s correct synthesis that the Marxist philosophy is the dialectical materialist, as chairman Mao’s that the dialectics as a world concept and the absolute universality of contradiction can find assertive foundations in Engels’ systematization on the Marxist philosophy.