Communist Party of Labor (PCT)

On dialectics and its importance for the revolutionary struggle

I. To be or not to be dialectical, that is the question

This is not the place to discuss the validity of dialectics as a method to interpret social and natural phenomena, because we assumed it as valid some time ago; but we insist on its importance as a weapon at hand for revolutionary activity. This is one of the great achievements of human thought and it took a long time to arrive at the generalization that is confirmed by social events and the most significant discoveries to date.

Several generations of thinkers since antiquity have continuously advanced the thinking about this method of analysis, based on the needs of their respective historical periods, and Marxism acknowledges that each one did what he could.

According to Engels, no single individual could arrive at materialist dialectics, and the explanation of the course of humanity using it. It needed the successive contributions of various generations and the emergence of the right period, in this case, that of the capitalist system that, among its many results, simplified class contradictions into two groups facing each other directly: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

This task fell to Karl Marx who, in the words of Lenin, synthesized the most advanced that human thought had achieved up to the 19th century.

In any case, it is not correct to assume that dialectics has already been given to us, and that it is sufficient to have a general understanding of its laws and categories of analysis; the most important matter is to be dialectical in every moment or situation, particularly the historical, that we must consider. Dialectics itself is a frequent critic, revises and is constantly affirming.

II. Lenin, a model of a militant armed with dialectics

Lenin himself, whose advocacy of the ideas of Marx and Engels has never been called into question, had to return to the study of dialectical materialism after the defeat of the Russian Revolution of 1905. After that defeat many intellectuals renounced Marxism and dedicated themselves to promoting idealist philosophical conceptions, with negative consequences for political activity, art and literature. If one studies the book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, it shows that Lenin made philosophical study and debate a condition of the first order to open the way for revolutionary political activity and party activity amidst the general despondency that the defeat led to.

Later, in the midst of the First World War and during the revolution of 1917, he made a “materialist reinterpretation” of the philosophical work of Hegel, unsatisfied with the way that the Russian Marxists, particularly Plekhanov, explained dialectical materialism. In 1914 and 1915, he continuously studied Hegel’s philosophical system, even though he was a proven advocate of the ideas of Marx and Engels.

One should call attention to the fact that the book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, appeared in 1917; that is, shortly after his “materialist reinterpretation” of the philosophical work of Hegel, most notably his ideas on dialectics, and in the year of the October Revolution.

For in this book, first, starting from the Marxist method, Lenin concluded that capitalism had advanced to another level of development, that capitalism itself was no longer that of free competition, in which capitalist business owners in the developed countries were mainly engaged in the “export of commodities”. However, while they continued this activity, it was no longer the main one; the “export of capital” was now the main activity, leading to monopolies as one of the forms of existence of capital.

The export of capital and monopolies were barely noticeable at the time when Marx studied capitalism, although his work and especially his method of analysis allowed for the consideration of this tendency of capital. It fell to Lenin to study and generalize conclusions on the imperialist stage of capitalism.

On the other hand, and using dialectics as a theoretical weapon, Lenin concluded that in this new phase of capitalism, the revolution would have this mark. The theory of the revolution developed by Lenin is a development of the one outlined by Marx and Engels; it contains elements of identity with this, but it is different in other respects.

II. 1. The phases of development and dialectics, their importance for politics

The Leninist analysis of imperialism and his political conclusion, the Leninist theory of the revolution, makes clear that development takes place in continuous phases which follow one after the other, so that each subsequent phase has something of the former, but basically it supersedes it, negating it, incorporating different elements.

The acceptance of dialectics as a method of analysis, as a theoretical weapon for the revolutionary political struggle, implies analyzing what is peculiar in each phase, each moment, each situation, highlighting the contradiction to be resolved in each circumstance, and the political tasks which arise accordingly.

If Lenin had been a slave of what was already written, of what was literally established by Marx and Engels, if he had not based himself on principles and the dialectical logic of their thought, with which he analyzed concretely the imperialist stage of capitalism, it is very likely that the October Revolution would not have taken place. Because the Russian communists and revolutionaries had expected that the thesis of Marx and Engels would be fulfilled, according to which the proletarian revolution would take place more or less simultaneously in the developed capitalist countries.

We know that the first socialist revolution took place in Russia, a backward country, and the “weakest link in the imperialist chain”, as Leninism concluded.

This does not mean that Marx and Engels were wrong. No. They just did not live during the imperialist stage of capitalism.

Lenin’s faithfulness to dialectics can also be seen in how he concluded the concept of the “revolutionary situation”. This concept began to appear, although not explicitly designated as such, during the revolution of 1905, when his view of this matter still attached great importance to the economic situation, particularly to the economic crises, in generating and deepening the political conflicts between the democratic sectors, including the working class, and the ruling sectors.

Eight years later, in the midst of a new situation of the increase in the mass struggle, in his analysis he integrates the factor of class consciousness and the demands of the masses. He makes this element an important distinction between the struggles of 1905 and those of 1913. In that year he makes clear his view that poverty and oppression are not enough for there to be a revolutionary situation. He shows that for the revolution to take place, it is not enough that “the lower classes should not want to live in the old way”. It is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable to rule and govern in the old way”. (Lenin, “May Day Action by the Revolutionary Proletariat," Vol. 19, p. 222; Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968).

He likens this situation to a national political and social crisis, which affects both the upper classes and the lower classes and the political system as a whole.

In 1915, in the midst of the First World War, confronted by the positions of the old social- democratic parties, Lenin spoke of objective and subjective conditions to characterize a revolutionary situation. The objective conditions have already been pointed out; and referring to the subjective conditions, he refers to the change that must take place in the readiness of the revolutionary class to go over to revolutionary actions, and in this aspect he incorporates the work of the party. That is, the existence and will of the party to make use of the objective conditions, and through revolutionary propaganda and agitation, to raise the consciousness of the masses and lead them into action; this is the element that completes the objective conditions for there to be a revolutionary situation.

The militant adherence of Lenin to dialectics is also observed in the concept of the “masses”. This, he states, “changes in accordance with the changes in the nature of the struggle.” In an initial stage of the struggle a handful of revolutionary men and women is sufficient, but this quality, if it is such, should contribute to thousands who are not yet active in the revolution taking part in struggle. When this happens, said Lenin, the party begins to win the masses. He added, “When the revolution has been sufficiently prepared, the concept ‘masses’ becomes different: several thousand workers [under the conditions of Russia at that time, of course] no longer constitute the masses. The concept of “masses” undergoes a change so that it implies the majority, and not simply a majority of the workers alone, but the majority of all the exploited” (Third Congress of the Communist International).

In 1920, after the victory of the October Revolution, the head of the Bolsheviks made the concept a “revolutionary situation” more concrete, that is, he added new elements. In a polemic against leftist deviations, in his book Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder, written in May of that year, he confirmed the elements that make up the concept, but he emphasized that it is not enough that there exist objective conditions and that the revolutionary class and its vanguard should express a practical disposition to struggle. He stated that “Victory cannot be won with the vanguard alone.

He argues that as long as the masses in general are under the influence of right- wing or opportunist parties, it is inconceivable to consider the revolution, and this is supported by the experience of the Bolsheviks during the first phase of the Russian Revolution, in February of 1917, in which the Soviets supported the bourgeois government of Kerensky after the overthrow of the Tsarist regime.

Let us make a general view of the context of February 1917 in Russia, and draw from this a practical lesson in dialectics. The Bolsheviks were the most consistent political and ideological expression of the working class and the working people in general. There were also bourgeois parties such as Kerensky’s which were opposed to the Tsarist regime. The working class and the masses in general wanted to get rid of Tsarism and to a large degree were under the political and ideological influence of bourgeois liberal reformism. The Bolshevik party did not yet have sufficient forces.

A reading of the situation in the light of the dialectic would suggest that Tsarism was the principal aspect of the contradiction to be resolved. It was not the bourgeois-liberal positions that had to be fought in the first place. The main problem was Tsarism and they had to aim their cannons against it. This is what the Bolsheviks did with Lenin at their head; they made tactical political compromises with Kerensky, they gathered forces to overthrow the Tsarist regime.

The first phase of the Russian Revolution of February 1917 was a democratic revolution and from it there emerged a government headed by Kerensky, not by Lenin.

Between February and October 1917 a change took place in the attitude of the working masses and the party of Lenin was there, close to them to lead them to the socialist revolution in this month and last year. In eight months the bourgeois-democratic revolution changed character and became a socialist revolution.

What happened that in so little time such a radical change took place? It took place because the Kerensky government did not meet the expectations of the masses of workers and working people in general and they lived through that experience. They had to live through that experience to get out of the bourgeois-liberal influence, and close by was the wisdom and courage of Lenin and the Bolshevik Party to channel this disillusionment. Neither before nor after, but just at that political moment it was clear that the masses were not willing to continue to tolerate Kerensky.

“The experience of the masses themselves” is an element that enriches the Leninist concept of the “revolutionary situation”. But this “experience of the masses themselves” is caused by the strength of the events adverse to their aspirations, but fueled by the work of propaganda and agitation of the party, which, although at one point it made an agreement with liberal democracy to overthrow Tsarism, never abandoned its strategic focus, the perspective of socialist revolution.

This is a view of dialectics as a theoretical weapon.

In circumstances such as these, the practical question is to do what Lenin recommended, “to be able to lead not only their own party, but also these masses, in their approach, their transition to the new position.

The masses, no matter under what political and ideological influence they may be, are the main thing that should matter to the communists and revolutionaries. “To be able” to lead them, wherever they may be with the aim that they pass over to a “new position”, as Lenin recommended, is the art of politicians who seek power.

III. Dialectics and we, the Dominican revolutionaries

Whether or not this self-criticism applies to the PCT: the revolutionary weapon that is dialectics does not appear really emphasized in the political views and practices of the majority of the Dominican revolutionary groups, and this is the source of their systematic errors.

One must consider whether the basis of the political thought of many of the Dominican leftists is metaphysics. Consciously or unconsciously, mainly the latter, there is a lot of metaphysics when confronting the specific political situations and certain historical projection. Thus, many proposals that are formulated do not go beyond generalities, formulated as principles, that as generalities tend to remain obvious and cannot give a correct answer to the issues of everyday practice, of tactics.

Let us take as an example a subject of great national debate. Is the Constituent Assembly elected by Popular Vote a revolutionary slogan? The answer given is yes it is or no it is not. Metaphysics cannot explain this apparent contradiction. Dialectics can explain it.

Because for metaphysics, a thing is one thing or another. As Engels said in Anti-Dühring, for the metaphysician, “...a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another....”

However, dialectics conceives events and things “in their interconnection, in their concatenation, their motion, their coming into and passing out of existence...”; in which one thing, in its development, becomes another, because in an embryonic manner it contains the second inside it, and only lacks the right conditions for the first to disappear and give way to the second, renovated.

With this understanding, the proposal for a Constituent Assembly is a democratic slogan; it enters into the camp of reform, of tactics, meaning that seen by itself it is not revolutionary. But only seen by itself, isolated from a vision of perspective, it is only democratic, not revolutionary. But, from a dialectical point of view, of the concatenation of phenomena, it enters into the perspective of the revolution, to the degree that concrete political and social reforms that open up bigger and better spaces for the emergence of the popular masses, of the left as a current, as political organization and participation in the various branches of the state, in a manner independent of the parties that have dominated the political system.

The Constituent Assembly is a democratic slogan that, put forward from a dialectical, that is, a revolutionary perspective, contributes to the accumulation of revolutionary forces. If it remains in its achievements, it is reformism. If those who promote it achieve better conditions for revolutionary work, then it is revolutionary. The struggle for reforms can degenerate into reformism, if these reforms become an end in themselves. And they lead to the revolution, if those same reforms are conceived as a necessary step for better work to push forward the revolution.

What does this political question have to do with philosophy, or more specifically with dialectics? It is completely related. “The accumulation of revolutionary forces” is a political concept. If everything that happens in nature, society and human thought can be explained by Marxist philosophy, then this concept must have a philosophical explanation.

The accumulation of revolutionary forces, as a political concept, is explained by dialectics, that is, the law of the transition from quantitative changes to qualitative ones, which generally shows that under certain conditions, after a sum of elements, events or situations linked together, one reality makes a leap to become another.

When one takes up the struggle for political reforms without this understanding, it is logical that one walks blindly, without being able to properly determine the tasks and possible political commitments that also correspond to a given context.

Revolutionary practice is blind if it is not illuminated by the categories and laws of dialectics.

Bibliography consulted:

Frederick Engels: Anti-Dühring and Dialectics of Nature;

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: The Communist Manifesto;

Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism; Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder; Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and others from his collected works.

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