Jacques Maritain Center

Moral Philosophy


Dialectical Materialism

Marx and His School

Realism and Materialism -- Marx Turns Hegel Over
1. It was by breaking completely with idealism that Marx and Engels initiated their celebrated "turning over" of the Hegelian dialectic. ". . . The dialectic of the concept itself became merely the conscious reflex of the dialectical motion of the real world and the dialectic of Hegel was placed upon its head; or rather, turned off its head, on which it was standing before, and placed upon its feet again."{1}

A return to realism, that is the primary significance of this rupture with Hegelian idealism: what first motivated the Marxist "turning over" was the realist instinct inherent in the intelligence, a strong reaction of common sense, convinced of the primacy of the thing over the idea, and not doubting that the object of the human intellect was extra-notional reality. But from the very beginning, and without the least suspicion of the philosophical problem involved therein, this realism was conceived as a materialism; extra-mental reality was confused with matter.{2} What was the source of this confusion?

In a general sense, its source lies in the evolution of philosophy in the two preceding centuries, philosophers having got into the habit, beginning with Malebranche and Spinoza, of regarding the subject-object opposition or dichotomy as equivalent to the thought-matter opposition or dichotomy. But in a much more specific sense the confusion in question derives in the case of Marx "from a kind of vengeful apperception of the importance of material causality, that is to say, in a general way, of the role of material factors in the course of nature and of history. This material causality takes first place, becomes, while being integrated into the dialectic, the mother-activity."{1} The apperception of which I am speaking, taken in itself, could have been conceptualized in a kind of Aristotelian form-matter or hylomorphist perspective. And who knows what role a certain Aristotelianism, with its notion of a material causality and a formal causality in interaction, may have played in the background of Marx's thought, but without ever being accepted or crossing the threshold of conceptual formulations accepted by him. For Marx, a conceptualization of this kind was simply impossible: because, on the one hand, his aversion for any transcendence forbade him to recognize the autonomy of the spiritual element in man and human history; and because, on the other hand, in injecting the Hegelian dialectic into extra-notional reality, it was in the perspective of the self-movement of discourse that he sought to understand the dynamism of reality. Therefore the relation of reciprocal causality in the Aristotelian sense was eliminated, replaced by the dialectical relation in which matter is the term originally posited and the factors pertaining to human consciousness simply an answer, a response whose action can only be secondarily determinant. Moreover, in the Marxist perspective, the dialectical process itself is concerned principally and above all with matter, or the infra-structure, that is, the contradictions and antagonisms engendered by the system of production. And although there may be reciprocal action between the infra-structure and the super-structure, the latter from the moment that all transcendent reality and all transcendent value from which it might derive an autonomous consistency are eliminated -- has its first principle of determination only in the infra-structure to which it reacts, and only therein finds its real meaning for human life. "Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life."{1}

If, then, the economic factor is not the unique factor, it is nevertheless the significant and primarily determinant factor, and the one which the will of the collective Titan keeping pace with history must first of all take hold of. "The materialist conception of history, according to which the conditions and forms of production determine the formation and the evolution of human societies, constitutes the capital element of the doctrine of Karl Marx."{2} As we have written in another work,{3} what distinguishes Marxism is not only the fact that it teaches the preponderance of the economic, but the fact that it makes all forms of httman life, with all their values and all their efficacy, not denied but vassalized, depend on this material absolute (this human material absolute) in dialectical movement. Hence the singular degradation which Marxism imposes upon philosophical controversy. Instead of offering the fecund insights which it would have been possible to propound in analyzing the real but accidentally determining dependence of philosophical doctrines (and especially of their success with the public) upon social behavior and the "economic basis", it holds this dependence to be not only real but essentially determining. As a result, it can do nothing more than reconstruct these doctrines and their history from without and as a dependent variable of social conditions, with an incredibly arbitrary naiveté. And in order to register its disagreement with one philosophical school or another, Marxism finds no other supremely critical characterization than the label reactionary (or "counter-revolutionary", or "in the service of bourgeois interests"), which is pinned, moreover, quite inevitably, upon everything which is not consistent with the particular Marxist orthodoxy of the moment.

To return to the notional lexicon of Aristotle, let us say that material causality has become purely and simply primary causality.

Marxist Atheism
2. Thus Marx opens his mouth to say "realism" and he pronounces "materialism". A mistake of the same kind can be observed at a more vital and profound juncture in Marxist thought.{1} I refer to the moral revolt which gives the Marxist "turning over" of the Hegelian dialectic all its importance and all its significance.

It will be useful to return to Hegel for a moment here. We know that because history for him was the growth of truth, Hegel held that philosophy was intrinsically measured by history, since in itself philosophy consisted of the achievement of self-consciousness and the manifestation of the spirit of the time. He thus erected into the supreme rule of the effort towards wisdom, to the great relief of our thinkers, that inner whispering which the zeal of philosophers obeys so willingly: you are a child of time, bow down to time, take as the substance of your thought whatever recent authors have said that is most conformable to the coming moment, with the sole view to making it still more conformable. But Hegel believed that he came at the end of all the ages, as a consummation of human history. In fact, he came at the end of an age, as a consummation of three centuries of European history. And there is no philosophy of which one can say so truly as one can say of his that it fulfills his own requirement that philosophy must be the becoming aware and the manifestation of the spirit of the time. Hegelian philosophy was the mirror and the guiding light of all that was to be victorious, imperial, and sure of itself in the period following the French Revolution, when the science of phenomena and capitalism in its golden age launched anthropo-centric humanism on its conquest of the earth. Hegelian idealism was perfectly adapted to a state of the world in which the Sign everywhere took precedence over Reality, and which, in an absolute self-confidence of order and of the State, guaranteed in heaven by God and here below by the armies -- still cherished the vastest and firmest hopes in the imperative of an unshakeable Sittlichkeit or social morality. It was a philosophy in which the final satisfaction of conscience and of thought was to be found in the world such as we make it; "as a justification of the principle", this philosophy was, as he put it, "general appeasement and general reconciliation".{1} Everything was maintained for the comfort of man, that is, for the comfort of those among men who enjoyed the privileges of freedom and could play an active role in the movement of history -- in so-called "Christian" submission to the immanentist God who justified evil as well as good.

No doubt this philosophy recognized the "working of the negative". It was a philosophy which included disquieting possibilities, and its dialectic of the master and the slave was to be interpreted later in a revolutionary way. But for Hegel himself, who detested revolutionary impatience, this dialectic signified rather that, because the slave did not dare to face death in order to achieve "recognition", he deserved his fate and had not yet crossed the threshold of authentic humanity. If at the same time it was true that the future belonged to him, it was because he was in his turn to emerge victorious by suppressing and surpassing the master, to arrive finally at the superior synthesis of the soldier-citizen. Thus Hegel was like the bird of Minerva, looking at all this dialectic in the evening twilight -- in other words from the point of view of what had come about at each successive stage, as memory contemplates it (whereas Marx was to look at it from the opposite point of view, in order to act upon what will come about). Hegel is always on the side of the winner, and at each stage sanctions the success of the strongest, because it is real, and therefore necessary in itself: Was wirklich ist ist in sich notwendig.{2}

It is quite true, moreover, that Hegelian optimism has nothing in common with a Christian Science point of view. It does not deny the existence of misery and tears, doubt, deception, anguish, or the agonies of the unhappy conscience, or the tragic element in life. It rather feeds upon these things. It is from these things that it takes its departure and by means of them that it makes its way: but only in order to absorb all this victoriously into the peace which the world gives, to have done once for all with the infirmity of pity, of revolt, or of scruple. No one succeeded better than Hegel in inducing the sleep of the just in the powerful and prosperous who might be tormented by a vague anxiety concerning evil done or consented to, in reassuring the troubled conscience, and, by causing it to renounce any wish for an illusory "ought to be", in setting it up in a state of perfect self-confidence, armed and ready for combat, in the actually existing order of things, which will perish to-morrow and be succeeded by another order and then another, all equally blessed by God in their turn, up to the final order to which man will accede when History shall be accomplished (or, as Marx would say, when man shall have mastered his History). Perfect Befriedigung is the mark of the sage, and his supreme conquest.{1} Say to the just that all is well.{2} it is when he looks at the world and the Emperor of this world that Hegel's sage hears these words, or rather addresses them to himself. After having swallowed the world, the serpent of dialectical gnosis digests it; he is free, sated, desirous only of himself. Having arrived at the stage of absolute knowledge, the spirit returns into itself enriched by all its falls and alienations and by all the misery and all the wars of the contingent, and feels at home in the low places as in the high places of human existence. Not without effort, but at last, and by dint of courage, the spirit is content, with itself and with everything.

3. It was against this universe of idealist satisfaction and its implacable Jupiter, wounded and triumphant, that Kierkegaard revolted in the name of subjectivity (in other words, in the name of the human person), and by placing himself at the center of its spiritual anguish. Marx revolted in the name of human work, and the dispossessed human masses, in the name of the "proletariat of all times", by placing himself at the center of its economic and social claims. But it is not just a certain system of production that he denounces; it is the whole world with which Hegelian idealism is in complicity from the beginning, and the full acceptance of this world demanded by a wisdom which thinks history after the fact and which believes it has already arrived at the final achievement. Marx wants none of the Befriedigung meted out by the God of this philosophy.{3} It is against the God of Hegel, against the Emperor of this world that he, like Kierkegaard, is in rebellion. And this rebellion was in itself a protest of human dignity, an act of breaking away from resignation to evil, to injustice, to the false order by which oppression and eternal slavery are maintained. This rebellion might have been Christian -- and who knows what messianic passion, rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it obscurely stirred in Marx? In fact, it was atheistic with him.

If the Kierkegaardian rebellion against the false God of Hegel was the rebellion of faith, the Marxist rebellion was that of atheism, pure atheism, positive and absolute. Here is the second great and irreparable misapprehension: Marx mistook the God of Hegel for God. In rejecting the God of Hegel, it was God Himself, the true God, whom he rejected, as explicitly, as decisively, as totally as possible, thus tapping the spring from which the paradoxical religion of militant atheism was to flow out upon modern history.

For Marx, atheism is a primary datum, the philosophical elaboration of which he derived from Feuerbach,{1} but which had for him the value of an axiom. We have pointed out in True Humanism the essential part played by resentment against the Christian world in Marxist atheism and not only against the Christian world but against Christianity itself. Thoroughly instructed by Hegel to dismiss as null and void the saying of Christ concerning the coin marked with the effigy of Caesar, how would Marx have distinguished between Christianity -- which, pertaining to the spiritual order or the "things that belong to God", transcends every form of culture or civilization -- and the Christian world, which pertains to the temporal order or the "things that belong to Caesar", and acquires its character from the collective comportment of the peoples or social strata of Christian denomination in the social and cultural realm at such or such given moments? During twenty centuries of history the Christian world has had numerous opportunities to be false, more or less generally, to its own principles, and it can be said that it has rarely failed to take advantage of them. In the nineteenth century it did so in a peculiarly striking manner, doubtless because by then it was hardly Christian except nominally, or "decoratively". But for a mind nourished on Hegel, the fact that a world composed of sinners is, as a rule, false to that very Christianity whose articles of faith it still professes or seems to profess (and which has its own city elsewhere) is a sure sign that Christianity is nothing but an ineffectual ought-to-be which has not been able to thrust itself into being, a kind of compensatory superstructure.

Hence the accusation hurled by Marx against Christianity and the Christian love of one's neighbor. ". . . When experience teaches that in 1800 years this love has not worked, that it was not able to transform social conditions, to establish its own kingdom, then surely it clearly follows that this love which could not conquer hate does not offer the vigorous energy necessary for social reforms. This love wastes itself in sentimental phrases which cannot do away with any real, factual conditions; it lulls men to sleep by feeding them lukewarm sentimental pap. "{2}

One may know very well that Christianity has a primary object which does not pertain to the terrestrial order and which has nothing to do with the temporal structures of the world; one may know very well also that Christianity, however, has unceasingly worked gradually to transform these structures by its repercussion on them and by its impact on secular consciousness;{1} yet one cannot help being hurt by Marx's diatribe, however vile the rhetoric it employs -- not only because one thinks of the inhuman material conditions in which a tremendous mass of human beings have languished from time immemorial and about which we shall never do enough, but also because one thinks of the opportunity which Christianity tragically lost at the very period in which Marx was writing. I refer to the period of the first great crisis of growth of the industrial revolution, when there appeared at the same time the worst abuses to which the social-temporal structures of the modern world had subjected human life, and the forces which at long last afforded the means of changing these very structures, thanks to resources of technical organization and especially to the development of the labor movement. The fact remains, however, that the lines we have quoted from the young Marx indicate a curious ignorance or a curious blindness.{2} Marx did not know, and never came to know, that whereas the lukewarm sentimental pap of which he speaks was the specialty of the domesticated religion of the Hegelian-Christian-State, it is, on the contrary, the sword and the fire which Christ came to bring among us, and that love is the only force active enough not to allow what it brings into existence to be corrupted. He did not know, and did not want to know, that his own anger was aroused (we shall return to this point) by a desire for justice,{3} and that this desire for justice which devoured him, and which he warped by incorporating it into the Manichean myth of the Revolution, and by substituting war for justice, had been awakened in the heart of modern anguish by the ancient faith of Israel and by the Christian faith making their way in the underground of history. He had no idea of the intrinsic forces of the spiritual, or of its law of action.{1} He never glimpsed that which constitutes the mainspring of human history, that struggle between God and evil of which we have spoken above, and in which man's freedom either co-acts with God, being activated by Him, or, through its lapses, condemns history to have the tares grow along with the wheat up to the end of time.

But when Marx reproached Christianity for not having been able to "establish its kingdom here below", what he was thinking of was a kingdom of God on earth which, in his perspective, was the kingdom of Man become the ultimate end in place of God. It is here that we come upon the deepest root of Marxist atheism. On the intellectual level, this root is an immanentism, doubtless not more profound (that is impossible) but less equivocal than that of Hegel, and frankly taken to its logical extremes, an immanentism for which the very God of Hegel is intolerable because, while needing man in order fully to realize Himself, He still dominates man by His majesty and His infinity. For though the God of Hegel be the prince of all false gods, he was still God for Hegel: Hegel's seriousness is never more pronounced than when he is speaking of God. M. Alexander Kojève offers us an atheistic exegesis of the system only because he sees with devastating clarity what Hegel did not see at all -- that is, that a God who has absolutely lost all transcendence is absolutely not God. He has thus disengaged one of the most fundamental virtual meanings of Hegelian philosophy. But as for its actual and real meaning in the mind of Hegel himself and those who listened to him, this exegesis is untenable. It is clear that for Hegel the Spirit is Freedom (Autonomy), on which everything else depends, and which is infinite; and while in his view man dies forever, the Spirit only passes through death for a series of metamorphoses in which it continues endlessly to be and to act. We must agree with Karl Barth when he writes: "It is a question of whether the definitions with which Hegel surrounded his method allow us to recognize that which he intended and achieved, as knowledge of God. There can be no denying that knowledge of God was what he meant, and that he was speaking from very close to the heart of the matter."{1} "Its intention is to give the honour as expressly as possible to God and not to man; and this it expresses quite directly and consistently not only in the form of a most naive human self-confidence, but also in this form, as explicitly as possible."{2}

At the same time it is true that the system of Hegel is anthropotheistic, and that when God shall have consummated His divinity in and through man, man will have succeeded in making himself man and in making himself God. But in the meantime, the historical labor by which he helps God to make Himself subjects man to a universal Will which, for all that it inhabits not heaven but the web of becoming, must nonetheless either be worshipped in the popular and symbolic perspective of Religion, or, finally, be recognized in the real and veridical perspective of Philosophy as possessing and exercising absolute and infinite rights; and man must bend himself to the will of a master who, while losing all his transcendence in order to become Emperor of the world, requires that everything be sacrificed to his own becoming. There is an appearance of transcendence here, of a false transcendence, which Marx was logically determined to reject. And what, after all, is a God who becomes conscious of Himself in man? In reality, it is man who will free all things, by becoming the sovereign master of nature and of history. It is man and not God who is the final goal of the development. The anthropotheism of Hegel and the a-theism of Marx are both tributary to Judeo-Christian esehatology. But for the latter, time and history are in ontological discontinuity with the beyond-history; they give way to a new earth and new heavens, to the universe of the resurrection. The anthropotheism of Hegel, on the contrary, signifies that Man finally becomes equal with God at the end of History -- on the seventh day of History, when, having succeeded in engendering God, History will rest, in a beyond-history in continuity with history, in which time will continue. And the a-theism of Marx signifies that Man has taken the place of God as the ultimate goal of History, and that there is no beyond-history, even in continuity with History. History will continue, like time,{3} but Man will direct it as his reason pleases.

4. It was thus the logic of immanentism, followed out to the end without equivocation or compromise, that was at the root of Marxist atheism on the intellectual level. I believe, however, that the intellectual level is not the only one involved here, and that it is necessary to dig deeper. Everything leads one to think that, on the moral level, a certain primary option of the will, which appears to me generally characteristic of absolute atheism, must have played a decisive role in the case of Marx himself. "If," as I have written elsewhere,{1} "at the moment when he takes stock of himself and decides upon the whole direction of his life, a man confuses the transition from youth to manhood with the refusal not only of childhood's subordinations but of any subordination whatsoever; if he thus considers the rejection of any transcendent law as an act of moral maturity and emancipation; and if he decides to confront good and evil in a totally and absolutely free experience, in which any ultimate end and any rule coming from above are cast aside forever -- such a free moral determination, dealing with the primary values of existence, will mean that this man has entirely excluded God from his own universe of life and thought. Here is, in my opinion, the point at which absolute atheism begins in the depths of a man's spiritual activity. But what is this I have just been describing if not a kind of act of faith, an act of faith in reverse gear," whose content is a refusal of God and a decision for combat against God in which the whole soul is engaged?

It is in the light of this act of atheist faith that the Marxist theory of alienation must be viewed (in its Feuerbachian form, alienation of man by the idea of God into which he projects his own essence, and then, in its properly Marxist form, alienation of man by private property, which appropriates the fruits of his labor in order to subjugate him, and which is the real alienation of which the other is a reflection). It is in this light also that we must view the declaration with which Marx began his whole work, and which his youthful enthusiasm only renders more profoundly significant: "In the philosophical calendar, Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr";{2} "as long as a drop of blood pulses in its world-vanquishing, absolutely free heart, philosophy will never cease to cry out, with Epicurus, against its adversaries: 'The blasphemer is not the one who holds the gods of the crowd in contempt, but the one who adheres to the idea that the crowd has of the gods.' Philosophy does not conceal the fact. The credo of Prometheus is its own: 'In a word, I hate all the gods.' And this is its proper motto against all the gods of heaven and earth who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme divinity."{3}

"Man is the supreme being for man," Marx wrote two years later.{4}

I The Ethics of Dialectical Connivance with History, in the Atheist Rebellion Against The Emperor of This World

The Marxist Dialectic
5. If Marx turned Hegelianism over, it was at the price of a reaction against Hegel that was doubtless more profound and more violent than is ordinarily admitted; but he remained deeply attached to the dialectical conception of becoming, which he accepted as a definitively acquired discovery, and he carried Hegelian immanentism and anthropocentrism to certain of their most radical extremes. Marx never freed himself of Hegel, remained always under his spell.{1} And in the vital depths of his thought, it is from dialectic as recast by Hegel{2} that he derived his essential weapons and his combat strength; this dialectic is the never-resting genius of Marxism.

It would be well to note here the particular importance of what went on in Marx's mind at the moment of what might be called his incomplete emancipation from Hegel. In his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law (1843 -- Marx was then twenty-five years old), Marx saw clearly that in causing realities like the family, society, the State, and the "political constitution" to be derived not from the nature of things but from the logical movement of concepts, Hegelian dialectic was performing a kind of "mystification".{1} But he believed that it was only by virtue of its being idealist that the Hegelian dialectic was responsible for this "mystification"; he did not see that it was precisely in virtue of being dialectic that Hegelian dialectic was responsible for it.{2} And thus in transporting the Hegelian dialectic into his own materialist realism, he also, without realizing it, transported the "mystification".

The great secret, the supreme arcanum, is always to seek knowledge in dialectic, that is, through the logical ens rationis or being of reason. This time, it is true, the operation no longer consists in forcing the logical being of reason by inserting the real and experience into it; it consists rather in forcing reality, by inserting the logical being of reason and the process of discourse into it, like a ghost by which it will be possessed. But the result remains the same: it is always the self-movement of the logical being of reason which is supposed to explain the real. Marxist "realism" only adds a new ambivalence. "We comprehended the concepts in our heads once more materialistically -- as images of real things instead of regarding the real things as images of this or that stage of development of the absolute concept. Thus dialectics reduced itself to the science of the general laws of motion -- both of the external world and of human thought -- two sets of laws which are identical in substance, but differ in their expression insofar as the human mind can apply them consciously, while in nature and also up to now for the most part in human history, these laws assert themselves unconsciously in the form of external necessity in the midst of an endless series of seeming accidents."{1} The dialectic was reduced to the science of the general laws of movement, Engels says, and he no doubt believed it,{2} but only by dint of fooling himself, and not without assuring us that the laws of the real and those of thought are in the last analysis the same laws. In other words, the "ideas of our brains" being the "reflections" of "real objects", if there is a dialectical process in our thought, it is the reflection therein of a dialectical process in extra-mental reality, or matter: the self-movement of the real world, caused by the internal contradictions and oppositions of matter, is the primary fact to which the self-movement of thought, caused by the internal contradictions and oppositions of concepts or ideas, corresponds in the mirror of our brain. There we have the dialectic carried over into extra-notional reality. But by the same token we see the weakness of the system, I mean the lack of critical spirit, the surprising simplism which is at the origin of the operation. Unlike any philosophically authentic realism, Marxist realism has no conception of the mind's own activity in the accomplishment of knowledge, or of the freedom of movement with which the intelligence produces within itself, composes, divides, manipulates its concepts in order through them to bring itself into conformity with what is. He is content with the metaphor of "reflection", or even, in the language of Lenin,{3} of the "copy" or "photograph", and reduces everything involved in the knowing process of thought to the simple parallel, or the simple replica in a mirror, of what is in things. The fact that objects known, by the very fact of being known, have in the mind a life of their own, which belongs to the universe of logic, is thus completely ignored. As a result, this life of logic, whose proper place is in thought, and which Hegel had violated in order to introduce reality into it (a reality identified with the Idea), is now in the object before the object is known, in the real as it exists originally, independent of our thought; the life or movement of logic is an intrinsic principle of reality; and if it is also found in the world of ideas or concepts -- like a replica of what it is in things -- it is that the world of ideas or of concepts is the reflection of the real in the mirror of our brain. All possibility of recognizing the being of reason for what it is, and of eliminating it from the explanation of things, is henceforth excluded from the very beginning.

6. It is worth remarking here the peculiar situation created in the history of thought by a philosophy which, for extra-philosophical reasons and in virtue of political and social events of major importance, was to impose itself upon considerable masses of population, but which in itself was so hastily put together that its own characterization of itself consisted of two incompatible terms. It is acting out a contradiction to pretend at the same time to scrutinize reality scientifically ("scientific Socialism", in the manner of the natural sciences) and to explain it dialectically ("dialectical Materialism"). In the first place, the very notion of dialectic loses its proper sense in actual use. One result is that, by making the dialectic pull in its claws and by covering over its distinctive attributes with a magic veil, Marxist doctrine will claim to absorb it entirely into the realm of the real, declaring for example that the three laws of the dialectic are the generalization by Marx and Engels of the data of natural science{1} and that the dialectic is nothing but "the doctrine of evolution".{2}

Another result is that in the ordinary language of to-day every opposition and every passage from one opposite to another, any process involving phases of action and reaction, ends up being baptized "dialectic". In the second place, when one considers the manner in which Marxist philosophy operates in fact, one notices that while the really objective study of given junctures in history imposes a determined content and restrictive conditions on the explanation by logical entities, the element of objectivity in question serves in reality only to render the peculiar procedures of the dialectical pseudo-knowledge more specious. The "general laws of movement", the play of causes in action and interaction in the world, the processes of the real, these are not neglected, far from it! It is even supposed that everything is being reduced to them, and in fact they are examined with the most arduous attention. But insofar as dialectic is involved in the analysis, these real causes and processes are possessed by logical entities that have been breathed into them, and they are subjected to the explicative power of these entities; in other words, they are in practice dummies, and furnish a "scientific" camouflage for the properly dialectical (Hegelian-dialectical) process of the logical being of reason which has been incorporated into the real and from which the system derives its true and essential principles of explanation. This is why on the same page in which he criticizes the Hegelian notion of the dialectical movement of the Idea, Engels concludes with an affirmation of the dialectical movement of the real world.{1} The "general laws of movement" of "the external world" are the laws according to which the "external world", the "real world", moves itself dialectically, with the very movement by which (Hegelian) logic passes from negation to the negation of negation and from the loss of self to reintegration.

This means that the logical being of reason no longer reigns in the Idea, but in the thing. But while emigrating from the aprioristic universe of the Idea to the experimental universe of matter, and installing itself there as in a conquered country, Marxist dialectic retains the essential traits of the Hegelian dialectic, even though, unlike the latter, it is henceforth directed toward Action, and no longer toward Contemplation.

7. This last point requires some elucidation. It is clear, first of all, that the Marxist dialectic fundamentally presupposes the "theoretical" conception of knowledge which is that of common sense as it was that of Aristotle and of Hegel himself, and which, without feeling the necessity of any philosophical explication, Marx simply uses instinctively, like everyone else. The laws of dialectic development, notably those which determine the movement of history, were in his view the object of a true knowledge because they were consonant with what is. But on this "theoretical" basis a quite different comportment of the knowing intelligence was to develop, simply from the fact that the Marxist approach is at the same time realist-materialist and dialectical. Extra-mental things really exist now, and they are what thought observes and analyzes; yet while they nourish and orient it, they do not furnish it with its formal rule of intelligibility. They are not any more than with Hegel the measure of thought, because it is still and always its own logical entities and its own logical process that thought seeks in them. Logic thus retains its primacy over the real (and in a more insidious way, being henceforth fixed within the real itself). Nevertheless, it is in the extra-mental real that the dialectical "knowledge" thus obtained terminates. And what can be the final objective of a knowledge which terminates in the real without being truly measured by it, if not to act on the real and to modify it? That is why praxis is consubstantial with philosophy for every dialectical philosophy that wants to be realist. This notion of praxis is perhaps idealist in origin, as Gentile held it to be.{2} But in Marxism it takes on a meaning which no longer has anything of idealism in it, for it is precisely with respect to the relation of knowledge to things in their most crudely extra-notional existence that it has assumed such an importance.

But let us continue our analysis. If realist-dialectical knowledge, because it terminates in things without being measured by them, has as its final objective to prove its truth only by transforming things, if in the last analysis it is a demiurgic knowledge, then it necessarily follows that what finally determines and fixes the work of the reasoning-that-ends-in-knowledge must be the action to be realized, the change to be effected in the world. By declaring that what is important for philosophy is not to interpret the world but to transform it, and that it is in praxis that man must demonstrate the truth of his thought,{1} Marx probably intended especially to attack the Hegelian attitude of contemplative acceptance, and this declaration has even been interpreted as an expression of the most banal platitudes concerning the practical verification of our acts of knowledge.{2} Considered in its own right, however, it goes much further, and casts a great deal of light upon the way in which the Marxist dialectic, even though it may not admit it to itself, really proceeds; its deeper meaning, relative to the very constitutive process of philosophical knowledge, is that praxis has the function of furnishing the truth of knowledge. This is by no means a mere pragmatic conception which, in order to define truth, would replace adequation with the real by practical efficiency. What really takes place is at the same time more subtle and more radical than that. It is truth as adequation with the real which is itself made dependent on praxis, and which inclines one way or another depending upon the practical end which the dialectical process is moving toward at the moment.

It follows from this that the kind of adaptability-to-all-ends which we pointed out as characteristic of the Hegelian dialectic{3} passes over into Marxist dialectic not simply with the result that Marxist dialectic bears the inevitable mark of arbitrariness characteristic of every dialectic of the Hegelian type (even though it be realist, and, to that very extent, concerned about objectivity),{1} but also with the quite special result that in Marxist dialectic "certitude" and the "demonstration" of "knowledge" are established and determined, even as to primary principles but more especially as to particular conclusions and assertions formulated at a given moment, by reason of revolutionary praxis and of the practical end to be attained. Concerned with engendering God when it was waltzing on its head, concerned with transforming the world when it now waltzes on its feet, dialectic turned into wissen leads its leader wherever he wants to go, and puts him in a position to make the real say whatever the collectivity which speaks in the name of the proletariat judges in any given context of facts and causal connections to be most advantageous in the struggle of history. This is the case because all of the conflicts, the crises, the causal interactions of the world of real existence, and all the vast materials seized upon by objective observation and analysis and by an attentive and penetrating view of social realities, remain subordinate to the movement, to the conflicts and to the oppositions of the logical entities constructed by the dialectic, as a consequence of which they only receive their decisive rational significance from this movement, from these conflicts and from these oppositions. They can thus serve to "prove" and justify any conclusion (within the limits of a given historical context) toward which either a superior interest discerned by a crudely realist view or the action which the consciousness of the historically chosen community demands, will determine the mind to direct the ever-adaptable mobility of the play of its entia rationis.{2}

This play of logical beings-of-reason, this dialectical development which a flick of the wrist can deflect in the desired direction, is the Hegelian heritage from which Marxist "science" derives its tools, as well as its astonishing power of adaptation, of mutation and readjustment, every time a new phase in the struggle demands a new application of the fundamental laws.

In order to appreciate to what extent Marx remained a Hegelian in spite of his polemic against Hegel, it is sufficient to consider these fundamental laws which reality obeys in history, according to dialectical materialism as codified by Marx's disciples. There is the law of the unity of opposites reciprocally penetrating each other or being transformed into each other (Selbstbewegung caused by internal contradictions), the law of the passage of quantity into quality and of quality into quantity, the law of the negation of negation. By means of such laws we are told how, through a spontaneous process of division necessarily followed by a process of conflict which leads to a phase of integration, man's alienation from himself pursues its history from stage to stage on the familial, economic, political and religious levels, up to the final reconciliation of man with himself, which will be like a return to the original state of evolution in an infinitely richer and more perfect form. What are presented to us here are not processes of real causality, but logical entities, either logical relations or utterly generalized notions, supreme genera through which the real is seen from without, but which are employed in the guise of real factors of explanation, and which are the more easily taken to be real factors from the fact that every ideal entity founded in reality may be mirrored in seemingly actual instances when we pass to the level of the real (such was the case with the beings of reason which ancient physics did not hesitate to use). It is to the manipulation of such logical entities, or of categories like the couples: essence and phenomenon, foundation and condition, form and content, etc., or other cruder ones of a polemical character which mark the enemy with a defamatory stigma, that dialectical materialism owes its remarkable fecundity in myths adapted to action, in the creation of which it utilizes with great success the Manichean instinct characteristic of the myth-making function -- the villains of the piece being here those who oppose the inevitable movement of history. And is it not in fact the mark of an intolerable perversity to hinder that which is inevitable?

There is a further tremendous advantage afforded to Marxist materialism by the unlimited flexibility of the dialectical procedure such as we have analyzed it: it permits the system to make room for the true as well as the false when it is necessary, and thus to make all the readjustments it needs in relation to the real, and to reintegrate, even while leaving aside their most profound implications, all kinds of elements of the common treasure of humanity -- the primacy of quality over pure quantity, for example, the value of moral energy and of moral discipline, of family stability, of the heroic gift of the self to a higher cause, or (under suitable controls, it is of course to be understood) of freedom itself, of free research and individual rights -- values which other brands of materialism find it very difficult to justify. Some of the developments of Marxism in the climate of Soviet Russia are very significant from this point of view.{1} It is because Hegel had identified reality (which for him was thought) with logical process that Marx was able to conceive the idea that matter moves itself in a dialectical movement, without seeing therein a flagrant contradiction. At the price of sacrificing the principle of contradiction, he thus found himself in possession of matter which -- if not living, animated, full of gods, activated from within by an intelligence somewhat like that of the old hylozoists of Greece -- was at the very least a matter inhabited by discourse, galvanized in its self-movement by the logical entities which human thought infuses into it, and pregnant with the resources of our mind.

Connivance with History
8. It is in the light of the conception of matter which we have just mentioned that the inevitability of the movement of history in the Marxist system must be considered. This inevitability has nothing in common with the strict determination of the course of events as conceived by a mechanistic materialism. It is a functional equivalent of what for Hegel was the will of God incarnated in history. In fact, it is related to the entia rationis which, lodged by Marxist dialectic in the core of the infrastructure (economic factors and relations of production), activate or galvanize this matter of history.

The Marxist conception of history runs counter to the Hegelian conception in this, that for Marx "'history' is not a person apart, using man as a means for its own particular aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims".{2} As he will write in his critique of Proudhon, "man is the actor and the author of his own history".{3} History is not "a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are but the bearers".{1} History is the action of the masses,{2} it is incarnate in the human multitude, in "real living man".{3} He makes it. But he makes it according to the ineluctable laws of the dialectical movement which is the life of his life; the Hegelian self-motion has emigrated from the Idea-in-evolution to concrete Humanity-in-evolution. This is why capitalism engenders its own negation, socialism, with "the inexorability of a law of nature" as it is said in Das Kapital.{4} And this is why "the question is not what this or that proletarian, or even the whole of the proletariat at the moment considers as its aim. The question is what the proletariat is, and what, consequent on that being, it will be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is irrevocably and obviously demonstrated in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society to-day."{5} "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing."{6} "They [the working class] know that in order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending by its own economical agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to realize, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant."{7} If then, the working class has a "full consciousness" of its "historic mission" and if it has the "heroic resolve to act up to it",{8} this is because it is fully conscious of the demands of concrete history which make of it (because at the height of the negative it endures the "abstraction of all humanity, even of the semblance of humanity",{9} in short it is the "total loss of humanity"{10} and is, in its servitude and in its dispossession, a concentration of the "scandal" and of the "notorious crime of the whole society"{11} the necessary mediator of the "total redemption of man",{12} the author of that laicized salvation of the human race represented by "the begetting of man through human labour",{13} the autocreation of the human totality, or of man deified.

It is true that Marx took care to criticize the illusion wherein "later history is made the goal of earlier history" or its "destiny".{14} But in this case as in many others his effort toward a purely "scientific" conceptualization does not succeed in covering up his messianism. For what he is really criticizing here is again the idealist conception of history, and the attribution to history of "particular goals", as for instance when it is claimed that "the discovery of America is to further the eruption of the French Revolution".{1} If, on the contrary, it is no longer a question of such "abstractions" but of the concrete march toward self-emancipation and total human emancipation which is identical with the very being of the working class, then one sees the idea -- or rather the dynamic image, in the unconsciousness as well as in the consciousness of the mind -- of the historic mission of the proletariat and of the irresistible demands or exigencies of history, manifestly exercising its sway over Marx's thinking. And among the general run of Marxist thinkers (who will no longer trouble themselves at all about the scruples which in Marx himself were the result of training in philosophical disciplines inherited from the past and of his still fresh break with Hegelian idealism) we shall see this idea of the irresistible demands or exigencies of history reach the height of its mythical power, not only as a theme of propaganda but as a basic conviction.

It is true that there are irreversible proclivities and determinate directions in history which any sound philosophy must recognize. But a demand or an intention, a requirement of history, this is a being of reason which the mind constructs therefrom and which it infuses into the texture of the real (and which in fact Marxism constantly makes use of, even while making a great show of rejecting any notion which too clearly connotes finality). For dialectical materialism it is not the course of particular events, it is this requirement of history which is insurmountable, irresistible, all-powerful. It may pass through a host of accidents -- it will inevitably end by being realized. Man can oppose himself to it, then he is guilty and condemned, must be and will be broken. Man can cooperate with it and hasten its realization; and in that case, pending the day when he will become the master of history, he is making history in the degree that he puts his energies in the service of the exigencies of history. He is a chained Titan who is pulled by his very chains in the direction of deliverance and who acts upon history by forging ahead in precisely the direction in which history carries him along.{2}

Thus, by reason of the Marxist reversal, the role of the human will with regard to history and its irresistible exigencies appears to be greater in historical materialism than in Hegelian idealism. Under the influence of praxis Marxism, unlike Hegelianism, has understood the necessity of a "pathetic appeal to the individual",{1} and is more prepared to make a place in its view of things for the action of individuals, which it regards as more decisive in proportion as the situation is more revolutionary.{2} (Nevertheless, the accent is no longer on the great historical individuals, the great men of history, but rather on collective formations and classes, notably on the proletarian class, of whose conscience and will a particular collectivity, the Party, is held to be the organ and the expression.) Man's obedience to the movement of history and man's effect on history are two terms which rather than being in opposition are bound up with each other. One is the direct reason of the other. Human effectiveness has been itself annexed to, and incorporated into, the sovereign power of history -- which it will one day annex to itself and reincorporate into the human essence.

The fact remains that in spite of all the differences I have just pointed out, differences which originated in the passage from idealism to dialectical materialism, Marx's idea of history is fundamentally the same as that of Hegel. In both cases history is made into a self-subsisting process, and it develops dialectically, by means of a Selbstbewegung whose various phases correspond to exigencies which cannot be denied; passing through alienations and conflicts, these phases tend toward a supreme reintegration or ultimate reconciliation. For both of them "force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one",{3} and it is force and war, with the will to annihilate the enemy of the moment, which are the necessary instruments of progress. Marx simply transferred to social war, the war of the classes, the sacred mission which Hegel laid upon war between nations and empires. For both of them history and its exigencies are raised to a supreme criterion of good and evil, and the primary moral imperative for man is to conform willingly to the designs of history (they say modestly, the "necessities" of history,{1} but charge the latter word with all the content of the former), to be in heart as in action in connivance with history.

The obligation to be in connivance with history is just as strong, as total, as fundamental for Marx as for Hegel. It is difficult for the observer who is determined to maintain the freedom of the critical mind not to conclude from this that in the last analysis Marx was vanquished by the false God of Hegel, of whom it must be asked that his will be done on earth not as it is done in heaven but as the earth exhibits it, and asked while bowing the knee to history.

We remarked on this fact, which seems to us to be of capital importance in the analysis of contemporary atheism, in another study from which we shall quote several passages here, and in which we showed that the atheism of historical materialism condemned to failure its own original rebellion against the Emperor of this world. What is, we said, in effect, the "actual end-all of the philosophy of absolute Immanence which is all one with absolute atheism? Everything which was formerly considered superior to time and participating in some transcendent quality -- either ideal value or spiritual reality -- is now absorbed in the movement of temporal existence and the all-engulfing ocean of Becoming and of History. Truth and justice, good and evil, faithfulness, all the standards of conscience, henceforth perfectly relativized, become radically contingent: they are but changing shapes of the process of History, just as for Descartes they were but contingent creations of divine Freedom. The truth, at any given moment, is that which conforms with the requirements of History's begettings. As a result truth changes as time goes on. An act of mine which was meritorious to-day will be criminal tomorrow. And that is the way my conscience will pass judgment on it. The human intellect and moral conscience have to become heroically tractable."{2}

Thus the rupture with God, which "began as a claim to total independence and emancipation, as a proud revolutionary break with everything that submits man to alienation and heteronomy", "ends up in obeisance and prostrate submission to the all-powerful movement of History, in a kind of sacred surrender of the human soul to the blind god of History".{3} Instead of hurling against the Emperor of this world "the strength of the true God, and of giving himself to the work of the true God, as the saint does, the atheist, because he rejects the true God, can only struggle against the Jupiter of this world by calling on the strength of the immanent god of History, and by dedicating himself to the work of that immanent god. It is indeed because he believes in the revolutionary disruptive power of the impetus of History, and because he expects from it the final emancipation of man, that the atheist delivers over his own soul to the blind god of History. Yet he is caught in a trap. Wait a while, and the blind god of History will appear just as he is -- yes, the very same Jupiter of this world, the great god of the idolaters and the powerful on their thrones and the rich in their earthly glory, and of success which knows no law, and of mere fact set up as law. He will reveal himself as this same false god in a new disguise and crowned by new idolaters, and meting out a new brand of power and success. And it is too late for the atheist. . . . He is possessed by this god. He is on his knees before History. With respect to a god who is not God, he is the most tractable and obedient of the devotees."{1}

II Marxist Humanism

Towards true Man or deified Man as Human Species or Human Community
9. "Man is the supreme being for man." For Marx it is only in Man -- and not, as it was for Hegel, in God (in God in Man) -- that history has its ultimate end. The end toward which the flow of becoming moves is the engendering not of God but of Man as having finally reconquered the plenitude of his essence and his freedom -- the engendering of "deified man or true man, who apprehends himself as the creator of his own history and who makes his own history".{2} It is in this way that communism is at the same time a "fully-developed naturalism" and a "fully-developed humanism", and that it brings "the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man -- the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution."{1} After all the alienations and all the antagonisms, it causes history to open out into the final realization of the divinity of man; for the "true end of the quarrel between existence and essence" is none other than that absolute independence which the theologians call aseitas, and of the conquest of which man's mastery over his history will be the sign and the manifestation.{2} Marx, like Hegel, is not at all interested in free will, but only in freedom from coercion. Independence and power, which man gains little by little in the course of his struggle with nature, in passing through diverse forms of society,{3} is the only kind of freedom he recognizes, and this freedom, which consists for him of necessity understood or recognized{4} (and put to work), will reach its peak in "deified man" or "true man".{5}

It is clear that the Man in question in all this is and can only be collective man, humanity (at the same time in the sense of the human species and of the universal social community). The divine attributes, and the government of history, are obviously too heavy a burden for individual man. Every philosophy of the deification of man (in whatever form it may occur: the State of Hegel,{6} or the Great Being of Auguste Comte, or the Communist Society of Marx) leaves the individual person out of consideration, and concerns itself only with social man, in whom history is made and consummated.

Before going any further we must make a brief digression to clear up a question of vocabulary, which, like several other similar questions, owes its existence to the fact that Marx's philosophy, as systematic as it is, remained in many ways insufficiently elaborated -- the price of praxis, and of perpetual polemic aggressiveness, had to be paid. The question which occupies us here concerns the notion of human nature. In one sense, there is no longer any human nature, in the philosophical sense of this term, for Marx any more than for Hegel, because for him as for Hegel man is action and makes himself or creates himself by an unlimited process of transformation.{1} The classical notion of nature as an intelligible structure immutably defined in itself must therefore be rejected; let us say that for Marx there is no human nature, underlining the word "nature".{2} But nevertheless, man is for Marx (as he was for Hegel, but in a perspective at once ontological and idealist which is not that of Marx) a being distinct from every other, recognizable by certain typical characteristics,{3} and even so far set apart that he is on the march toward his own deification. And it is his very capacity for infinitization which distinguishes him most profoundly from every other being. It should be noted that for Marx man becomes infinite not, as for the ancients, in the "intentional" order of knowledge and love, but in the very order of entitative being, through the series of self-creative moultings through which he passes in the course of history. We shall say then that for Marx (as for Hegel) man has a human specificity or a specific-human-being,{1} but one which is not immutable in any respect; and that in this sense, from which not only every Platonic but even every Aristotelian, and even every philosophically consistent connotation has been banished, the notion designated by the words "human nature" -- which Marx no more refrains from using than does ordinary language -- occupy a central place in his thought, as central as the notion of man.

10. Having closed this parenthesis, we may return to our discussion of Marxist humanism. Could one speak of a humanism if there were not a human specificity or a specific-human-being? A feeling for the dignity of the specific-human-being -- or of human nature -- played a role of crucial importance in the formation of Marx's thought. It is thus that he is everywhere seeking to discover the real texture of human relations, which is concealed by what appears at first glance as mere relations among things. His great reproach against present society is that it is a dehumanized world.{2} Was not his central intuition, "the great ray of truth which traverses his whole work",{3} that of the dehumanization with which both the propertied man and the proletarian are simultaneously stricken in a world subjected to the sovereign rule of pure capitalist profit and the fecundity of money? His habits of Hegelian thought made him conceptualize this intuition in a philosophy of dialectical antagonism, in which the proletariat became the Antithesis invested with the creative power of Negation, and by the same token the instrument of Reintegration; at the same time his atheism made him conceptualize the same intuition in the philosophy of deification of man of which we have just spoken. And in such a perspective, "if the economic serfdom and the inhuman condition which is that of the proletariat are to cease, it is not in the name of the human person -- whose dignity has a spiritual basis, and which in respect to economic conditions has such imperious needs only because it is ultimately ordered to transcendent goods and rights -- it is in the name of collective man, so that he may find in his own collective life and in the free disposition of his collective work an absolute liberation (aseitas, in reality), and finally deify in himself the titanism of human nature".{4}

We know what Marx himself owed to the humanist tradition, and the value he attached to the works of the mind; he was a great reader of Goethe and of Heine (he formed a friendship with the latter in Paris), and he could not dispense with the tragic visions he found in Aeschylus, Shakespeare and Dante -- this atheist was a fervent admirer of the Divine Comedy.{1} Although Bakunin was able to reproach him with much "vanity", and with "petty hatred",{2} the mutual attachment and the constant collaboration between Engels and himself enabled Lenin, waxing elegiac for the occasion, to place their relationship alongside the great examples of friendship celebrated by the classic tradition.{3} It would seem that a recollection of Aristotelian felicity, and the exalted feeling he had for the nobility of human thought, are reflected in the kind of golden age he dreamed of as the result of the advent of communism, in which, now that humanity would finally take the "leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom",{4} not only would men make their history themselves in full consciousness, but the enjoyment of the treasures of culture and knowledge would be the lot of the whole community. And if Marx objects to the Hegelian cult of the State, if after the use that the dictatorship of the proletariat will inevitably have to make of the State (of the State in the full Hegelian sense), the State is to disappear in the end,{5} it is because at the end of the development there must be nothing and there will be nothing above man, not even human power separated from man and deified in the State. It is man himself (the human species and the human social community, henceforth identified with each other in communist humanity) which in the end will be deified, or restored to the full truth of his essence. Marxism is a humanism -- an atheistic humanism in which the anthropocentric humanism of the rationalist centuries reaches its full realization.{6}

But this humanism is a humanism of the generic-human-being, a humanism of human nature expanded and consummated in human society -- it knows nothing of the human person as such. Because it does not want to recognize anything which carries with it a reflection of the divine transcendence, it is purely and simply ignorant of what distinctively constitutes the person (the fact of being a whole, a universe in itself). While it sees correctly that man is only man in society, it does not understand that in the last analysis this is only in order to transcend society (the society of creatures). In short, it conceives of the individual only as a social being;{1} the individual is in no sense a whole and in no way emerges above the social whole. The social whole is not composed of wholes. Not only is the individual a part of society, but he has no reality and no true human dignity except insofar as he is a part of society. All of this is pure Hegel, wrenched out of the Hegelian metaphysical perspective. No more than in Tun Aller und Jeder is there the least element of personalism in the formula of the Communist Manifesto: "In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all",{2} or in the old fighting slogan, "one for all, all for one". The meaning of these formulae is that in the communist society the good of the whole will necessarily be the good of the parts because the integration of the parts into the whole and of the parts among themselves will be so perfect that all the old conflicts will have been surmounted. They do not mean at all that the good of the social whole will flow back upon its parts in virtue of the fact that they are themselves wholes or persons, having their inalienable rights, and a destiny superior to that of the social-temporal whole. This notion of the necessary redistribution of the common good to persons (it is only on this condition that it is the common good){3} makes no more sense for Marxism than for Hegelianism. And so thoroughly do the Marxist theoreticians ignore the human person that when they are trying to formulate a conception of the ultimate flowering of the human individual in the completely realized communist society, what they imagine is nothing more than an individual who is in a position to fulfill equally well all of the social functions, an encyclopedically and polytechnically social individual, capable of doing anything in the society. Communism is marching toward "the education, training and preparation of people who will have an all-round development, an all-round training, people who will be able to do everything".{4}

In the last analysis, what we have here is the perpetuation in atheistic Marxist humanism of that dialectical immolation of the human person which Hegel undertook. As we wrote in the essay already referred to in speaking of atheism, "What of the self, the person, the problem of human destiny? . . . There is nothing eternal in man; he will die in the totality of his being; there is nothing to be saved in him. But he can give himself, and give himself entirely, to the whole of which he is a part."{1} By virtue of the primordial moral choice -- against all transcendence -- which we spoke of above,{2} "the absolute or positive atheist hands himself over, body and soul, to the ever-changing and all-engulfing whole -- be it the social or the cosmic totality. It is not only that he is satisfied to die in it as a blade of grass in the loam, and to make it more fertile by dissolving in it. He is also willing to make of his own total being, with all its values and standards and beliefs, an offering given. to that great Minotaur that is History. Duty and virtue mean nothing else to him than a total submission and immolation of himself to the sacred voracity of Becoming."{3} There is an element here of mystical "pure love" -- giving up every hope for personal redemption -- a real unselfishness and self-sacrifice, but a self-sacrifice in which man gives his soul in such a way that he can no longer ever find it, an unselfishness achieved at the price of the Person itself, at the price of that which is in us an end in itself, and the image of God. The dialectical immolation of the person is as complete in the spiritual order as in the social order.

In spite of the passionate ardor of the original impulse, Marxist humanism -- like the Marxist revolt against the Emperor of this world -- ends up in a failure.

The latest Christian heresy
11. This humanism could be described as a theology of Man as the "supreme being for man" and the ultimate end of History. The atheism which dominates it, and which is more exactly described as an anti-theism (a "militant atheism"), must not blind us to the fact that for Marx as for Hegel philosophical reason remains a reason which has to bear the whole burden taken over from revelation and theology.

The pursuit of the kingdom of God in history, the redemptive mission of the proletariat, the universalism of the revolutionary gospel, the nostalgia for communion (not the "communion of the saints" but communion in social life and in the work of history), the march toward the transformation or transfiguration of man finally achieving his true name, not to speak of the kind of political simulacrum of the Church offered us by the Party and the conscience of the Party -- all these features derive from ideas of Christian origin, distorted and recast.

But there is more; and in a sense there is to be found in Marx a real though vitiated Christian element not to be found in Hegel, all of whose Christianity was translated into illusory terms. Hegelianism was a pseudo-Christian gnosis. Hegel took Christianity over whole, without omissions, in the universality of its affirmations, and he saved the whole of it through pure reason, by emptying it of all its reality and by completely suppressing-transposing it. With Marx, on the contrary, the original impulse of revolt against the God of Hegel emanated from a real instinct deriving from the Judeo-Christian tradition -- immediately captured by atheism. I spoke above of the fire of justice with which Marx was consumed. Yet justice has no place in the conceptual vocabulary of the Marxist system;{1} no role is assigned to it in the Marxist-revolutionary dialectic. The notion of justice is good enough for a pseudo-revolutionary, like the author of Justice in the Revolution and in the Church -- it smells of idealism and of "petty bourgeois" romanticism which have nothing to do with "scientific socialism". This is the theory, but only because, as a result of a censorship exercised by the system, Marx did not want to admit to himself a psychological stimulus which was intensely real and active in him. M. Auguste Cornu has very clearly shown{2} how it was an impulse of a moral order, indignation against egoism and injustice, the will to defend the oppressed, which pushed Marx toward communism and historical materialism, in which precisely such reasons can no longer be invoked. In his youthful writings Marx drew arguments from moral considerations. Once he became a communist, he excluded from his doctrine all moral and juridical argumentation, henceforth admitting only economic and social considerations. But it is clear that although justice and the defense of the oppressed were no longer to play any role in his doctrine and argumentation, they did not for all that cease to nourish the ardor and the desire of his will. In reality, not only in the thought of the masses to whom the agitator-propagandists address themselves, but also in the thought of Marx himself, the feeling for justice, as an emotional charge which could not be integrated into the theory but whose importance in the birth of the theory cannot be overrated, plays a decisive role, however unavowed.

lf one fails to see that, one does not understand a great deal about the concrete dynamism of Marxism. In particular, one cannot understand why the master-slave dialectic took on an entirely different meaning in the thought of Marx than it had for Hegel. Marx, in his dialectic, ranged himself not on the side of the stronger at the present moment, but on the side of the one who would one day become the stronger. But what is a force which does not yet exist? Marx is on the side of the weaker, whom he actively endeavors to make conscious of his latent power, to organize, and to launch into the battle. He is on the side of the "exploited and oppressed class",{1} on the side of the "labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal" like "every other article of commerce",{2} on the side of those who are alienated from themselves, from their work and from their proper human substance, by the regime of "private property": why is this so, if not because for him this very concept of alienation, which for "science" connotes only the laws and necessities of the dialectical movement, is at the same time loaded with an emotional dynamism which makes it function in unconscious thought as a practical equivalent of those notions of unjust frustration and infringed rights which are proscribed by historical-materialist orthodoxy, and which there is all the less need to employ since the idea of alienation has in fact alienated them to its own benefit? Thus in using the words "social claim" one is spared the use of the words "justice" and "right", but what is the fighting value, the persuasive force of a claim if it is not just?{3} Yet this justice which no longer knows how to say its own name cannot efface the mark of its Judeo-Christian origins. And how can we fail to recognize in the sense of the dignity of human nature and the dignity of the offended and humiliated masses, however deformed it may be by a materialist conceptualization and an anthropocentric messianism, a really Christian residue isolated from all the rest of the Christian heritage -- the only residual element (on the purely human level) which remains from Christianity, and which will be turned against Christianity when an implacable resentment has banished all Christian truths from the soul save that one from which this residue derives its explosive power. This is to say that Marx is a heretic of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that Marxism is a "Christian heresy", the latest Christian heresy.{1}

One sometimes hears very young students in theology -- or rather in apologetics -- wishing that a new Angelic Doctor would do with Hegel's philosophy what Thomas Aquinas did for the Christian faith with the philosophy of Aristotle. They do not realize that the latest Christian heresy, the atheist faith of Marxism, is precisely the only faith in which a real vestige of Christianity has found and could ever find a rational systematization in terms of the Hegelian dialectic.

III Marxist Ethics

The implicit moral content and the theory of Morality
12. Hegel's way of looking at things was above all metaphysical, that of Marx, above all social. Neither of them wrote an Ethics, a treatise devoted to human conduct as constituting the object of a separate philosophical discipline. Yet the problems and the doctrine of conduct occupy a central place in the thought of Hegel, and there is an Hegelian ethics, however mixed up it may be with Hegelian metaphysics and dialectic. And although Marx, unlike Hegel, was not very much interested in focusing his reflections on the philosophical problems of human conduct, there is nevertheless also a Marxist ethics, growing by implication out of Marx's social thought.{2} Whole books have been written to show that there is a "socialist morality"{3} or a "communist morality", but the fact is that it was hardly necessary, for it is clear from the very beginning that there is a morality, a conception of human conduct and its rules, in every doctrine for which men are ready to suffer and to give their lives. Benedetto Croce's remark that "to write on the principles of ethics according to Marx seems to be a somewhat hopeless undertaking",{4} is true only insofar as it relates to the theory of morality, and signifies that if it is a matter not of having a morality but of treating of morality, then Marxist authors who venture onto this terrain prove to be so poorly equipped for such a task{1} that any attempt at philosophical conversation with them is a hopeless enterprise. But we may leave that question aside, since what is important for us in any case is less to know if Marx had an ethics than to know what that ethics is worth.

One of the paradoxes of this Marxist ethics is that in making the ideological superstructure simply a reflection of the economic infrastructure, it seems to deny any intrinsic value to moral concepts themselves. In reality, however, not only is the reflection in question in reciprocal action with the infrastructure, but intrinsic value is denied it only in Marxist polemic against such notions as justice, natural and inalienable law, love of one's neighbor, eternal verity and immutable precepts, which are held to be tainted with Platonism and hypocrisy. If dialectical materialism does not make use of these notions, nay more, if it seems to think that to invoke moral reasons or obey moral motives is by the same token to renounce all action other than moral action, it still does not hesitate to appeal to standards of an ethical order,{2} and it does not refrain from employing the most energetic moral qualifications (deception and fraud,{3} monstrosity,{4} infamies committed by the oppressors against the oppressed,{5} naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation){6} in order to stigmatize capitalist society. We have seen, in addition, that moral concepts like that of the dignity of human nature occupy a central place among the originating principles of Marxism, and that absolute atheism and connivance with history entail a system of quite specific ethical norms, in the type of conduct and self-immolation, even immolation of the claims on individual conscience, as well as in the first moral choice that they involve. Doubtless no trouble is taken to justify these norms philosophically, but that is because they do not require justification, they form a part of the exigencies of historical becoming, according as, on the one hand, they express the kind of behavior required by the state of war in which the proletariat finds itself, and, on the other hand, they manifest the fact that man is the supreme being for man. Marxism is animated by a moral flame without which the indignation and resentment on which it feeds would generate only a passing violence, and it is shot through with functional equivalents of the Platonizing moral concepts which it repudiates. (Since most of these functional equivalents have no names in philosophical language, it is in terms of the outrages inflicted upon the enemy that Marxism prefers to express them.)

13. At the same time, as we noted a few moments ago, when Marxism undertakes to treat of morality, its philosophical equipment, ill-adapted to grasping the things of the spirit and to perceiving, and dealing with, the distinctively ethical problems involved in the conduct of an agent who is master of his actions, enables it to take only the poorest exterior views of moral conduct. The indications left by Marx and Engels themselves are but few in number and unsystematized. The only moral imperative they really recognized is the revolutionary categorical imperative, resulting from the fact that man is "the supreme being for man"{1} and prescribing the heroic effort toward the self-emancipation of the proletariat and at the same stroke the emancipation of all men. It is an ethical imperative because it is the supreme necessity of history. Did not Hegel teach that there is no ought-to-be distinct from being? Here we are dealing with the holy of holies, the Hegelian soul of Marxism. Apart from that, Marx and Engels drew upon the mediocre ideology of Holbach and Helvetius; they believed in "the natural equality of human intelligence, the unity of progress of reason and progress of industry, the natural goodness of man and the omnipotence of education";{2} all that was wrong resulted from social conditions; from which they concluded that it was from the radical alteration of these conditions that one must expect in man the free blossoming of his humanity and of his original goodness (whence the Marxist utopia).

They criticized the "hypocrisy" of bourgeois morality, its self-righteousness, its legal sanctions treating the criminal as a pure abstract free will;{3} they insisted upon the commonplace that the moral conceptions of men are variable and conditioned by their social status -- in order to conclude therefrom that there are no "eternal verities" governing human conduct. Marx's diatribes declaring that morality is "impotence in action"{1} and making fun of Christian repentance as killing "human nature . . . in order to heal its illnesses" are no doubt strongly colored with polemic -- he had his work cut out for him in attacking the moronic morality of the French novelist, Eugene Sue, author of a big popular novel, Les mystères de Paris, and in reproaching him for his ignorance of all the inhuman social conditions which form the background of crime and prostitution. And yet there is a great deal more than this in those two chapters of The Holy Family: one sees reflected there that passionate faith in Man which inclined Marx to views closer to Fourierist utopias{2} than to "scientific" sociology, but which also made him say in a true and moving way: "Man seems to be a mystery for man: one knows only how to blame him, one does not know him."{3} As for Engels, Robert Tucker{4} is right to call attention to the importance of the passage in which, turning against Feuerbach the sovereign contempt -- of Hegelian inspiration -- with which he and Marx had always treated the notion of moral good and that of love, he declares that "according to Hegel, evil is the form in which the motive force of historical development presents itself", and insists on "the historical role of moral evil":{5} which would be simply a platitude if in that assertion there were not implied the notion that the use of this moral iniquity and of the "wicked passions of man: greed and lust for power", so clearly displayed by "the history of feudalism and of the bourgeoisie", must be fully accepted and exploited by anyone wishing to make history, at least until the final coming of the new man; one has only to think of the author of The Prince to realize that such a position itself has nothing original about it. Apart from that, Engels' contribution consists above all in remarking that in the course of history "there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge", in noting that in the most advanced countries of Europe three kinds of morality can be seen to co-exist, Christian feudal morality, bourgeois morality and proletarian morality, and in affirming that class morality, which has been the only morality in force since mankind emerged from the primitive state, will give way to a "really human"{1} morality only after the advent of the communist society, in which the very memory of the opposition between classes will have been abolished. Later, conflicts were to develop among the disciples of Marx. Certain ones will tell us (1) that at "each general stage of human development" there is a certain level of collective conscience and of "understanding of good and evil" which is the highest level attainable "in the historical conditions" (how this level is to be measured, however, they do not tell us); (2) that "since we needs must love the highest when we see it" (is this by any chance an 'eternal verity'?), "it is the duty of each individual not to aim lower in his own morals than the ethical ideals of his society" (still another eternal verity ?), and "a society or social group which falls short in its ethical ideal of those ideals previously established is morally retrogressive"; and finally (3) that a community whose "stage of organization" is higher possesses by that very fact a "higher stage of morality" in its social functioning, so that that "exact knowledge -- ('science')" which is provided by sociology suffices to furnish the foundations of ethical studies.{2} If one is not satisfied with these views, nor with those of other communist authors, who think, for their part, that "morality can only be truly socialized by renouncing the metaphysical opposition between good and evil, that dualism which is nothing but the earthly shadow of religion",{3} then the best one can find, by turning to Marxist authors of a quite different school,{4} is a theory which recognizes the distinction between good and evil as natural and necessary and makes an effort to maintain the validity of ethical concepts within the perspective of dialectical materialism, but which finds the origins of morality solely in the "social instincts" of the animal and of man, and, at least as concerns present times, adopts the conception of "class morality", which has become an article of socialist faith. The term "class morality" does not refer simply to the fact that the class, like every special group, develops a particular moral behavior, but implies that, given the state of war which exists between the classes, the man who either by birth or by chance is a member of the proletarian class is morally obligated only in respect to that class and its interests. This would make sense if the propertied man were a serpent or a spider and the proletarian a hedgehog, but it is absurd from the moment that one recognizes the value of universal notions like that of loyalty, for example, or of respect for others, and yet at the same time regards the conscience as obliged to loyalty or respect for others only within the limits of the class and its combat discipline. The application of moral laws is proportioned to the diversity of circumstances and cases, but the fact remains that a morality whose precepts are not universally valid and which does not recognize our obligation to act rightly toward every man whoever he may be is not a morality at all. To ask us to wait for the advent of the communist society in order to enter into possession of a really human morality is to condemn us until then to take as our inwardly and freely accepted rule an infra-human code of conduct, inferior in reality to that of the animals, which, in following no rule other than their "social instincts" (not to speak of other instincts in them), do not betray their nature, since they are without reason.

The foregoing considerations explain, in the last analysis, why one cannot be astonished that the theories advanced by Marxism on the subject of morality prove to be incapable of accounting for the moral content of Marxist praxis itself as it is lived out in concrete existence.

14. As for the idea that the advent of the communist society will also be the advent of a "really human" morality, it shows, we believe, that what we have written elsewhere{1} concerning "the putting aside, the disdainful rejection of all metaphysical ideology as a transitory expression or reflection of an economic moment" applies as well to the putting aside of all "superstructure" of moral judgments and universally valid moral norms. It is this putting aside which, in a sense, "is an illusory theoretical appearance, or, like the arguments of the old Greek Sceptics, a drastic theme intended to purge the opposing thought. I believe that in good Marxist doctrine this putting aside applies to a certain metaphysics, a certain ideology: bourgeois ideology. When the bourgeois invokes metaphysical values, this is nothing but a vain superstructure. But Marxist metaphysics, for its part, is not a momentary superstructure, because it is to be found incarnated, in an immanent and lived manner, in the proletariat and its movement. And it is thus that after the great day of the universal revolution we shall see metaphysical and 'mystical' values, such as those expressed by the words 'justice' and 'freedom', reappear with an infinite plenitude of reality and legitimacy, because then they will not be signified in philosophical systems or opinions but lived in a complete, integral immanence, through and in humanity, in the very practice of humanity delivered by the proletariat."

In other words, it can be said (and this is no doubt the most exact formulation) that Marxist morality is an eschatological morality. It will only be fully itself in the final state of human development, and it is in relation to that final state that the progress of morality of which Engels spoke is meaningful. In this way Marxist ethics thinks it can at the same time banish all "eternal verity" and disclaim ethical relativism{1} -- and herein appears its inconsistency. It is caught in an insoluble contradiction; for it knows perfectly well that it is not the business of the science of phenomena, concerned uniquely with facts, to establish for men unconditional norms of conduct; it must therefore turn to philosophy. And Marxism is armed with a philosophy which possesses a domain of its own and precisely by virtue of which it goes beyond simple positivism; but it happens that this very philosophy consists only of formal logic, theory of knowledge and, first of all, dialectical interpretation of the very phenomena which are the objects of various sciences, an interpretation according to laws of a superior degree of amplitude and generality.{2} The dimension which ethics requires, and according to which reason grasps intelligible realities which are of another order than the phenomenon in things, is entirely absent from this philosophy and its special domain.{3} And finally, it is upon the sciences of phenomena, in particular on sociology, that Marxist ethics must consequently fall back to demand of them, as a kind of window dressing, a rational objectivity which the sciences in question can give only to assertions of fact, not at all to unconditional norms of conduct. Let us say that in the absence of eternal verities any condemnation of ethical relativism vanishes into thin air. And if there are eternal verities (such as are all truths bearing upon what things are in themselves),i one is still able to understand, in terms of the actual human condition, the variability of moral codes, and "truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on the other", and the progress of moral conscience in the course of history. But if there are no eternal verities, then one cannot understand the common traits and the discoverable constants in the moral codes of humanity, however diverse they may be, nor can one understand why the final stage of development should be a qualitatively superior state in relation to which there is progress of moral conscience.

However this may be, until the advent of the communist society, it is with respect to that advent and the preparations for it that the morality of the proletariat is defined. "When people talk to us about morality," Lenin declared in 1920, "we say: for the Communist, morality lies entirely in this compact, united discipline and conscious mass struggle against the exploiters. We do not believe in an eternal morality, and we expose all the fables about morality. . . . We subordinate our Communist morality to this task [the class struggle of the proletariat]. . . . We say: morality is what serves to destroy the old exploiting society and to unite all the toilers around the proletariat, which is creating a new Communist society. . . . Morality serves the purpose of helping human society to rise to a higher level and to get rid of the exploitation of labour."{2} Some twenty years later, Messrs. Rosenthal and Yudin concluded the article on "Ethics" in their Short Philosophic Dictionary by saying, in a similar vein: "Communist morality takes the position that only that which contributes to the abolition of human exploitation, poverty and degradation, and to the building and strengthening of a system of social life from which such inhuman phenomena will be absent is moral and ethical."{3} Class morality, but unconditionally imperative, by reason of the work to be accomplished.

But when humanity shall have arrived at the goal, it will morally and socially have entered into the realm of freedom; it will no longer need a moral code, or sanctions, or repressions. How could it be otherwise, since then essence and existence will be reconciled, and the true man, the deified man finally made manifest? Once human nature has reached its perfect social achievement, one may say -- borrowing a phrase from Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- that "all the primary movements of nature" will be "right"; "really human" morality will be a spontaneously lived morality, and will no longer impose any constraint. We shall be finished not only with the division of labor (especially the division between manual labor and intellectual labor), but with all the other cleavages and mutilations from which Marx wished to free man. Such a flowering of the human being, all of whose fundamental needs will henceforth be satisfied and who, having finally reintegrated the totality of his essence, "leads a complete life", this is what Marx had in mind when he declared that in the communist society, which will itself take charge of regulating and planning general production, "nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity, but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes"; and when he described the communist man as free "to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, . . . without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic".{1} It is no doubt difficult for a materialist thinker to picture to himself in any other way the freedom of the sons of God. Without being aware of it himself, he remains tributary to St. Paul. And the testimony thus rendered to the nostalgia which inhabits us is the more remarkable.

The golden age of which Marx dreamed in his youth, as he made a sort of Hegelian idealism into an absolute and into a somewhat rapturous plenitude of human communion, remained his permanent nostalgia. One may see an allusion to it in those lines of Das Kapital where, after having argued that "the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labor under the compulsion of necessity and of external utility is required", he adds: "Beyond it begins that development of human power, the true realm of freedom."{2}

The writings of Marx's youth show us how he conceived this reign of liberty. It is the final goal. In relation to it communism, which "as the negation of the negation . . . is hence the actual phase necessary for the next stage of historical development in the process of human emancipation and recovery", remains itself a necessary condition: "communism as such is not the goal of human development".{1}

At present "man himself alienates himself", "his activity appears to him as torment, his proper creation as a foreign potency . . . the essential tie which binds him to other men as an unessential tie and, even more, separation from other men as his true being, his life as sacrifice of his life . . . he, the lord of his creation, appears to be the slave of this creation".{2}

But finally, in the reign of liberty, in the kingdom of the total man or of man deified, I will not work merely to live; my work will be my life.{3} Production become human will be but an objectification of the individual,{4} that is, of the "social being";{5} in my activity and in its object I shall experience the joy of recognizing myself;{6} and in the use which others will make of what I have created I shall enjoy having "objectified human nature and thereby supplied for the need of another human being his appropriate object". And I shall have also "the joy of having been for you the mediator between yourself and the species, therefore of being recognized and experienced by you as a complement to your proper nature and as a necessary part of you yourself, therefore of knowing myself affirmed as well in your thought as in your love, the joy of having produced in the individual manifestation of my life the immediate manifestation of your life, therefore of having affirmed and realized in my individual, immediate activity my true nature, my human nature, my social being".{7} Our productions will be "so many mirrors" in which "our being is reflected".{8} I shall contemplate myself in the world I myself shall have created.{9} Instead of developing myself "in a unilateral, mutilated"{10} way, I shall pursue an omnilateral activity and thus realize all my possibilities."{11} And the transformation of the social being, his reconquest of himself in his social communion with his fellows, will be such that "need or enjoyment" themselves will "have completely lost their egotistical nature" and that "nature" will have lost "its mere utility by use becoming human use".{1} And not only the object of our productive activity, but the object of our senses itself will have been transformed, will have become a pure objectification of man in his social being. "Man is not lost in his object only when the object becomes for him a human object or objective man."{2} "The suppression [Aufhebung] of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and attributes; but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and these attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object -- an object emanating from man for man, the senses have therefore become directly in their practice theoreticians. They relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa."{3} Marx, in other words, expected from the communist Jerusalem, where deified man reveals himself to himself, such a fulness of humanity that the senses and work will have come to belong to sorts of glorified bodies in a materialist eschatology, exulting at one and the same time in self-communion, and in the autonomy and the pure selflessness of their finally reconquered, or rather self-created generic essence.

Characteristics of Marxist Ethics
15. If we seek to characterize the ethics of dialectical materialism, we must observe on the one hand that this ethics is only preoccupied with the acts of man insofar as they have a bearing upon distinctively human life, that is to say, in good Marxist doctrine, insofar as they enter into the sphere of the social and influence the movement of history. It is certainly true that one finds Marxist authors uttering judgments of morality touching the sphere of private life, but either these judgments remain on the pre-philosophical level of common sense and instinctive moral reactions, or they refer to the social impact of the conduct in question. The fundamental virtues are those that are required by the struggle for the advent of the communist world: class solidarity, discipline, inexorable hate of all oppression and exploitation, the enthusiastic gift of self to the construction of the communist society, etc.{4}

We must observe on the other hand that Marxist ethics presents two quite different, indeed incompatible, traits. In the first place, it is a fundamentally relativistic ethics insofar as we consider the content of its precepts, its rules and its norms, which exclude any "eternal verity" and are dependent variables of historical becoming and of the interests of the social whole at any given moment. "Marxism believes that ethics is a human creation. . . . it holds that men's moral conceptions change as the material conditions of life, the forces of production and the production relations change, and that they are limited at any given time by the economic structure of society."{1} Yet in the second place -- and in this, in spite of itself, it remains thoroughly Hegelian -- as far as the way in which the duties it prescribes obligate us, Marxist ethics is a categorical ethics, imposing its precepts (however variable according to the phases of the development) in an unconditional manner. In this sense it does not admit of any "ethical relativism",{2} and holds that certain acts are absolutely moral or absolutely immoral.{3}

We have pointed out above{4} the inconsistency that is thus manifested. Let us add now that the views expressed by certain Soviet theoreticians,{5} according to which Marxist ethics is a scientific ethics based on sociology, are doubtless nothing more than a subsequent rationalization -- quite ineffectual, moreover, for so long as a principle of value (foreign by nature to positive science) is not discovered, the best established scientific and sociological facts will never suffice to create in me an obligation of conscience. In reality, materialism has betrayed the dialectic here. On a much deeper level than this "scientific" rationalization which smells of positivism, Marxist ethics is a dialectical ethics based on the Hegelian onto-logic become atheist and materialist, and on a metaphysics of history for which development tends toward a final end which will be the total emancipation and deification of man. The trouble is that through a kind of materialist pudeur or modesty Marxist ethics dares not admit to itself the true nature of the foundation on which it thus rests. And from the properly ethical point of view, the fact remains in any case that to ask man to feel himself absolutely obligated in conscience to follow lines of conduct whose object, being cut off from any relation to a transcendent and immutably true element, involves in itself no intrinsic goodness and answers only to a momentary social interest or to a moment of history,{6} is in defiance of reason as well as the dignity of conscience: conscience, as we have remarked above,{1} must henceforth become heroically tractable.

Here it is well to take note of the effects of a curious play of misunderstandings which is due to our inherent psychological structure. When, as happens most notably under the pressure of human realities in Soviet society in process of stabilization, Marxist ethics exalts such moral themes as Fatherland, Work and Family, themes that are very well known, and even extensively exploited by many reactionary regimes, but which it recasts in the purely immanentist perspective of the absolute primacy of the revolutionary task, of the ôcollective" and of society,{2} then the great mass of the indoctrinated to whom this morality is proposed accept it the more willingly in that, far from realizing its real significance, they interpret it in the light of the absolute and unconditional notions of good and evil which they naturally bear within them.{3} Caught in the trap of their own natural morality, it is enough for them to see the good and true elements which the ethics in question contains in large number because without them the social group would waste away, but which are only tricks through which the social whole tries to seize upon individuals more completely, the precious human capital of which Stalin spoke -- immediately their moral instinct fastens upon these elements in order to integrate them; and thus it is that the mass of the indoctrinated, without even being aware of what they are doing, recast and re-establish in a perspective worthy of man what is taught them -- but at the same time they are sold an ethical system which in reality rejects both the existence of that natural morality which is at work in them and the philosophical realities which are its objective basis.

And the indoctrinators themselves, the Marxist theoreticians -- in the very moment that they reject any scale of values, and so make of the ethical life of man a pure instrument of history and of social becoming -- the secret instinct of natural morality in them slips surreptitiously into their doctrinal declarations, causing an echo therein from time to time of absolute ethical values, either as an almost imperceptible note stealthily introduced (I think, for example, of the purely and simply reprobatory connotation of the words "exploiting society" or "inhuman phenomena" in the writings of Lenin and in the Little Philosophical Dictionary quoted above),{4} or in the form of more explicit affirmations, like that concerning the "monstrosity" of human relations inherent, according to Marx, in the regime of capitalist property, or that concerning the final necessity of a classless society assuring the free development of each and of all, or that concerning what one Marxist author calls "the universal message of redemption, of the oppressors and of the oppressed" announced by Marx.{1}

If some neo-classical painter undertook to represent allegorically the phenomena of which I have just been speaking, he could entitle his painting: "The Natural Law Avenged." We owe to dialectical materialism, and to the double psychological experience it provokes -- in the indoctrinators and in the indoctrinated -- one of the most remarkable testimonies that can be rendered to the presence and to the tenacity of the natural law in the depths of the human intellect.

16. But let us return to our analysis of the characteristics of Marxist ethics. At least as long as the ultimate end of the development has not been reached, the dialectical movement of history remains the ultimate rule of morality for Marxist materialism as for Hegelian idealism. The idea of an ought to be distinct from what is having no more meaning for one than for the other, the notion of natural law elaborated by the Greco-Roman and Christian tradition is excluded from Marxist ethics as from Hegelian ethics. Kant had submitted man to the absolutism of a moral imperative which depended in no way on the intrinsic goodness of the object. Once the purely logical artifice by which Kant gave content to this empty form is laid aside, there remains nothing but the decree pronounced hic et nunc to determine the content of the moral commandment, and the decree is no longer pronounced by the will of of the State, as with Hegel, but by the conscience of the proletariat and of the community (the Party) which is its incarnation. The absolute and unconditional character of the moral imperative remains with respect to the commandment itself,{2} and with respect to the extrinsic criteria of the value of the act (conformity to the requirements of history, to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat, and to those of the consolidation of the communist society . . .); but it has disappeared with respect to the nature or intrinsic quality of the object of the act. It is true that in a sense the role of the object has been restored, since, in terms of connivance with history, it furnishes the explanation of the rational superiority of the decisions of the collective conscience and its organs. But this role of the object of the act has nothing to do with any value or intrinsic quality inhering in the object by its very nature; it is its social content or its social results which are in question. Thus, strictly speaking, it is as a morality of result that Marxist ethics opposes itself to moralities of pure intention like that of Kant (and it is so thoroughly opposed to them that intention, as in the case of Hegel, really loses absolutely all interest). And the unique value which the result itself possesses in the last analysis, its social impact, is that of a means appropriate or not to the end envisaged by the collective conscience and toward which the requirements of history point; in other words, value is henceforth completely relativized. As Berdyaev correctly noted, "Marxism is a philosophy of goods and not of values. You cannot talk with Marxists about the hierarchy of values, for they do not understand your putting the question: for them only necessity, 'good', usefulness, exist."{1} This is to say that, like Hegelian ethics, Marxist ethics -- we remarked above that it was essentially an eschatological ethics -- gives crucial importance to the perspective of finality. As in the case of Hegelian ethics, historical success is for it the sole decisive criterion.{2} The very logic of absolute immanence requires that, since the object of our acts submits to no measure superior to the flux of the real, their moral quality must needs derive completely from the end toward which they are ordered as means within this flux. Thus (and taking into account the way in which Marxism renders dialectical the relation between means and ends), the good as end entirely absorbs the good as value. No doubt because in the purely individual sphere, like everyone else, they recognize the natural rules of common morality (without being able to justify them), perhaps also because they believe the formula is of "Jesuitical" origin, Marxist authors are very careful to repudiate the maxim: "The end justifies the means." Even so, at the level of the social struggle and with respect to what is really useful to the self-emancipation of the working class, i.e., the emancipation of humanity, this maxim is logically called forth by their system. As a matter of fact, Marx is probably the only Marxist who refused obeisance to it because his task as thinker of the revolution forbade him the freedom of revolutionary politics, and because on the other hand his idea of the messianic mission of the proletariat rendered sacred for him, according to a scale of values which was a relic of the past, the honor of the working class and of the "workers' party"{1}

Let us make no mistake, in spite of everything in the system that goes counter to it (we shall come back to this point later on), the historical process has a certain ultimate end (the advent of the universal communist society), and this ultimate end (in respect to which all other ends are means) is held to be good: because it is the end toward which historical development really and truly tends, and because the movement of history is essentially progressive (a heritage of Hegelian metaphysics, the messianic hope and an extrapolation of Darwinism, all thrown together). In fact, nothing shows better to what degree dialectical materialism is the heir of Hegelianism, and of the dialectic whereby the God of Hegel made himself: its "matter" has divine attributes, its "historical process" is in reality the Hegelian God deconsecrated. And at the same time, nothing shows better the irreducible contradiction between "scientific" materialism and "dialectical" materialism. But let us pass over that. What is important to the present discussion is the fact that in the Marxist perspective the ultimate end of the historical process of humanity in its state of historical movement is good, because it is the final end toward which the process really tends. Just any historical success does not suffice to justify a line of conduct, far from it! The success of counter-revolutionary forces only renders their action more condemnable. Marxist authors experience no embarrassment in castigating the cynicism of reactionary Realpolitik and venerating the memory of the vanquished heroes of the Commune.{2} But it is so because they are in the confidence of history, because they know where it is really going, and that the success of reactionary forces is opposed to its real movement, while the effort of vanquished revolutionary heroes contributes to it. The cynicism of those who take simple success (no matter what success) as the supreme criterion has its root in their historical agnosticism.{3} The great thing is the "correct understanding of history".{4} What does this mean if not that the criterion is not simple success, but the success which is intended by history? There is no use trying to play the role of a pillar of virtue, one must finally recognize that "it is, then, in a very large measure, the objective content and the real direction of history which determine whether the character of individuals acting historically is heroic or ignoble, tragic or comic",{1} and that the value of the moral qualities exerted in the struggle is determined "in the last analysis by the objective pace of history itself".{2} In other words, it is historical success in conformity with the truth of history or with its real movement which is the decisive criterion of morality.{3}

17. It is relevant to add that no more in the Marxist perspective than in the Hegelian perspective does the human person have a subjective ultimate End. The super-disinterestedness required by Kant is better assured therein than in Kant himself, for it is complete, as we have seen, and requires the total gift of the individual immolating himself for the sake of the immanent god of becoming. Nor is there for dialectical materialism any objective ultimate end at the summit of a hierarchy of means and ends, since the relation between means and ends is no longer held to be a relation of hierarchized subordination, but one of dialectical interaction, ends and means succeeding each other interchangeably throughout the indefinite spiral of which Lenin spoke, and every end is in its turn a means. But if the advent of the universal communist society can in its turn become the means to another end (for example, full freedom of independence or the flowering of the total man, and so on), yet the fact remains that this advent is the ultimate end toward which the dialectical movement of history tends.{4} In this sense, or as the limit of the dialectical selfmovement of humanity on the march toward the reign of freedom, it must be said that for dialectical materialism, taken in terms of its actual thought-processes,{5} and regardless of the officially recognized formulations, there is, as for Hegelianism, an objective ultimate End -- the reintegration of man into the plenitude of his essence, the accomplishment and final emancipation of human nature, the epiphany of Man deified, true Man. In view of the fact that, since any Intelligence directing things to ends has been eliminated, the movement of history is thus regarded as directing itself toward immanent ends and tending of itself toward an ultimate End, and that a profusion of exigencies, aspirations and purposes has been blown into it, the notion of finality has lost all claims to authentic intelligibility in the system of Marx as in that of Hegel. Let it be added that Marxism is indeed perfectly aware of this fact; and all the while that it is, in actual fact, ceaselessly using, and profiting by, such an idea of the (onto-logical) goal of history, it does so only without admitting it, and without admitting it explicitly to itself. Unlike Hegelianism, and in its character as materialism, it can reject this use of finality in theory and in its officially recognized formulations, and pretend that what it deals with is only the final term at which it knows by observation that the movement of history will arrive in fact, not the end to which this movement tends -- so that in good Marxist orthodoxy the category of end can only be admitted in the social order and as dependent upon human consciousness.{1} This denial of immanent finality in the dialectical development is, however, nothing but a formality of protocol and cannot deceive anyone. As if an end which is the Reconciliation of essence and existence and the Reintegration of man in his own truth were not a goal and an end!

Let us note, in conclusion, that Marxist ethics is an ethics at once naturalist and normative (implying the same recasting of the notions of obligation{2} and of guilt{3} that we pointed out in connection with Hegelian ethics). More precisely, it is a socio-normative or politico-normative ethics. And it is a cosmic (pseudo-cosmic) ethics: cosmic, by reason of the realist-materialist reversal performed by Marx; pseudo-cosmic, in the sense that the universe on which the ethics of dialectical materialism essentially depends is not the world of nature and of matter in their authentic extra-notional reality, but the world of a nature and matter haunted by the logical being of reason and animated by the self-movement proper to discourse.

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