“According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure — political forms of the class struggle and its results, to wit: constitutions established by the victorious class after a successful battle, etc., juridical forms, and even the reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brains of the participants, political, juristic, philosophical theories, religious views and their further development into systems of dogmas — also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases preponderate in determining their form. There is an interaction of all these elements in which, amid all the endless host of accidents (that is, of things and events whose inner interconnection is so remote or so impossible of proof that we can regard it as non-existent, as negligible), the economic movement finally asserts itself as necessary. Otherwise the application of the theory to any period of history would be easier than the solution of a simple equation of the first degree.
We make our history ourselves, but, in the first place, under very definite assumptions and conditions. Among these the economic ones are ultimately decisive. But the political ones, etc., and indeed even the traditions which haunt human minds also play a part, although not the decisive one. The Prussian state also arose and developed from historical, ultimately economic, causes. But it could scarcely be maintained without pedantry that among the many small states of North Germany, Brandenburg was specifically determined by economic necessity to become the great power embodying the economic, linguistic and, after the Reformation, also the religious difference between North and South, and not by other elements as well (above all by its entanglement with Poland, owing to the possession of Prussia, and hence with international political relations — which were indeed also decisive in the formation of the Austrian dynastic power). Without making oneself ridiculous it would be a difficult thing to explain in terms of economics the existence of every small state in Germany, past and present, or the origin of the High German consonant permutations, which widened the geographic partition wall formed by the mountains from the Sudetic range to the Taunus to form a regular fissure across all Germany.
In the second place, however, history is made in such a way that the final result always arises from conflicts between many individual wills, of which each in turn has been made what it is by a host of particular conditions of life. Thus there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelograms of forces which give rise to one resultant — the historical event. This may again itself be viewed as the product of a power which works as a whole unconsciously and without volition. For what each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed. Thus history has proceeded hitherto in the manner of a natural process and is essentially subject to the same laws of motion. But from the fact that the wills of individuals — each of whom desires what he is impelled to by his physical constitution and external, in the last resort economic, circumstances (either his own personal circumstances or those of society in general) — do not attain what they want, but are merged into an aggregate mean, a common resultant, it must not be concluded that they are equal to zero. On the contrary, each contributes to the resultant and is to this extent included in it.
Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasise the main principle vis-à-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place or the opportunity to give their due to the other elements involved in the interaction. But when it came to presenting a section of history, that is, to making a practical application, it was a different matter and there no error was permissible. Unfortunately, however, it happens only too often that people think they have fully understood a new theory and can apply it without more ado from the moment they have assimilated its main principles, and even those not always correctly. And I cannot exempt many of the more recent “Marxists” from this reproach, for the most amazing rubbish has been produced in this quarter, too….”
– Engels to J. Bloch in Königsberg
“Otherwise there is only one other point lacking, which, however, Marx and I always failed to stress enough in our writings and in regard to which we are all equally guilty. That is to say, we all laid, and were bound to lay, the main emphasis, in the first place, on the derivation of political, juridical and other ideological notions, and of actions arising through the medium of these notions, from basic economic facts. But in so doing we neglected the formal side — the ways and means by which these notions, etc., come about — for the sake of the content. This has given our adversaries a welcome opportunity for misunderstandings, of which Paul Barth is a striking example.
Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives. Because it is a process of thought he derives both its form and its content from pure thought, either his own or that of his predecessors. He works with mere thought material which he accepts without examination as the product of thought, he does not investigate further for a more remote process independent of thought; indeed its origin seems obvious to him, because as all action is produced through the medium of thought it also appears to him to be ultimately based upon thought. The ideologist who deals with history (history is here simply meant to comprise all the spheres – political, juridical, philosophical, theological – belonging to society and not only to nature), the ideologist dealing with history then, possesses in every sphere of science material which has formed itself independently out of the thought of previous generations and has gone through an independent series of developments in the brains of these successive generations. True, external facts belonging to its own or other spheres may have exercised a co-determining influence on this development, but the tacit pre-supposition is that these facts themselves are also only the fruits of a process of thought, and so we still remain within that realm of pure thought which has successfully digested the hardest facts.
Hanging together with this too is the fatuous notion of the ideologists that because we deny an independent historical development to the various ideological spheres which play a part in history we also deny them any effect upon history. The basis of this is the common undialectical conception of cause and effect as rigidly opposite poles, the total disregarding of interaction; these gentlemen often almost deliberately forget that once an historic element has been brought into the world by other elements, ultimately by economic facts, it also reacts in its turn and may react on its environment and even on its own causes.”
– Engels to Franz Mehring
- Follow The Espresso Stalinist on WordPress.com
E.S. Facebook Profile
E.S. TwitterMy Tweets
Comrade Ho Chi Minh"Uncle Ho," birth name Nguyen Sinh Cung. Ho Chi Minh translates to "He Who Enlightens." Remember the Vietnamese workers who liberated Vietnam from French colonial rule and defeated the U.S. imperialists genocide in Vietnam!
- ICMLPO Resolution on Colombia
- ICMLPO: Stop the warmongers! – The beating of war drum is getting louder and louder
- 22nd Plenary of the ICMLPO: ‘Free Trade Agreements’ Weapons of Economic Aggression and Imperialist Domination
- ICMLPO: Solidarity with the Peoples of Turkey in Defense of their Democratic Rights!
- V.I. Lenin on the Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution
- ICMLPO: Communique
- Maximilien Robespierre On the Justified Use of Terror
- V.I. Lenin on Communist Participation in Bourgeois Parliaments
- Clifford D. Conner on Jean Paul Marat
- V.I. Lenin on the Two Stages of the October Revolution
- Final Declaration of the 25th International Anti-Fascist and Anti-imperialist Youth Camp
- V.I. Lenin on Bourgeois Democracy
- The Manifesto on the Disappearance of National Differences
- Norman Bethune on Healthcare
- Late Night Marxism: Historical Materialism: Modes of Production (Part One)
- Withdraw from Syria for the War to End!
- The Soviet Union Looks To Its Health
- Rosa Luxemburg on Workers and Theoretical Discussion
- Michael Parenti: Is Nicaragua More Democratic Than the United States?
- Michael Parenti: The Costs of Counterrevolution: Must We Ignore Imperialism?
- Party of Labor of Iran (Toufan): Solidarity with Syria
- Mao Apologised to Yugoslavian Delegates, told Stalin Blocked our Revolution
- V.I. Lenin on Liberals
- Che Guevara on Anti-Imperialism
- The Deindustrialisation of Contemporary Russia
“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
-- V.I. Lenin
"No force, no torture, no intrigue can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men."
-- Enver Hoxha
"If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you waging?"
-- Ho Chi Minh
“Every departure from class struggle has fatal results for the destiny of socialism.”
-- Enver Hoxha
"A nation which enslaves another forges its own chains."
-- Karl Marx
"Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement - in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods."
-- Friedrich Engels
"The entire party and country should hurl into the fire and break the neck of anyone who dared trample underfoot the sacred edict of the party on the defense of women's rights."
-- Enver Hoxha, 1967
"Today, in fact, ‘Stalinism’ has become a meaningless term of abuse employed to denote political views with which one disagrees."
-- Bill Bland
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
-- Desmond Tutu
“The class struggle does not disappear under the dictatorship of the proletariat; it merely assumes different forms... The class of exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, has not disappeared and cannot disappear all at once under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The exploiters have been smashed, but not destroyed. They still have an international base in the form of international capital, of which they are a branch. They still retain certain means of production in part, they still have money, they still have vast social connections."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1919
"We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are ‘free’ to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!"
-- Lenin, “What is to be Done?”
"I have not brought you liberty, I found it here, among you."
-- George Kastrioti "Skanderbeg"
"[The children's] life will be better than ours; much of what was our life, they will not experience. Their lives will be less cruel. [...] Our generation has succeeded in doing a job of astounding historical importance. The cruelty of our life, forced upon us by conditions, will be understood and justified. It will all be understood, all of it!"
-- V.I. Lenin
"There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is—working whole-heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1917
"When the enemy attacks you, it means you are on the right road."
-- Enver Hoxha
"You'll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can't hang us all."
-- Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya
"The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was neither a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and, in particular, not in the least proletarian."
-- Enver Hoxha
"Marxism is not only the theory of socialism, it is an integral world outlook, a philosophical system, from which Marx’s proletarian socialism logically follows. This philosophical system is called dialectical materialism.”
-- J. V. Stalin, “Anarchism or Socialism?”
"You speak of Sinified socialism. There is nothing of the sort in nature. There is no Russian, English, French, German, Italian socialism, as much as there is no Chinese socialism. There is only one Marxist-Leninist socialism."
-- J.V. Stalin, 1949
“Nixon is to go to Peking! We are not in agreement. Therefore I think we should write to the Chinese a letter saying that we are opposed to this decision. Nixon is an aggressor, a murderer of peoples, an enemy of socialism — especially of Albania, which the USA has never recognised as a people’s democratic state and against which it has hatched a thousand plots. The invitation to Nixon will benefit imperialism and world reaction, and will gravely harm the new Marxist-Leninist Parties which have looked upon China and Mao Tse-tung as the pillar of the revolution and as defenders of Marxism-Leninism."
-- Enver Hoxha
"It is only the working class at the head of the masses, it is only the working class headed by its real Marxist-Leninist party, it is only the working class through armed revolution, through violence, that can and must bury the traitorous revisionists."
-- Enver Hoxha
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror,’ if we would but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the guillotine, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
— Mark Twain, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"