It is not easy to become a Marxist-Leninist philosopher. Like every ‘intellectual’, a philosophy teacher is a petty bourgeois. When he opens his mouth, it is petty-bourgeois ideology that speaks: its resources and ruses are infinite.
You know what Lenin says about ‘intellectuals’. Individually certain of them may (politically) be declared revolutionaries, and courageous ones. But as a mass, they remain ‘incorrigibly’ petty-bourgeois in ideology. Gorky himself was, for Lenin, who admired his talents, a petty-bourgeois revolutionary. To become ‘ideologists of the working class’ (Lenin), ‘organic intellectuals’ of the proletariat (Gramsci), intellectuals have to carry out a radical revolution in their ideas: a long, painful and difficult re-education. An endless external and internal struggle.
Proletarians have a ‘class instinct’ which helps them on the way to proletarian ‘class positions’. Intellectuals, on the contrary, have a petty-bourgeois class instinct which fiercely resists this transition.
A proletarian class position is more than a mere proletarian ‘class instinct’. It is the consciousness and practice which conform with the objective reality of the proletarian class struggle. Class instinct is subjective and spontaneous. Class position is objective and rational. To arrive at proletarian class positions, the class instinct of proletarians only needs to be educated ; the class instinct of the petty bourgeoisie, and hence of intellectuals, has, on the contrary, to be revolutionized. This education and this revolution are, in the last analysis, determined by proletarian class struggle conducted on the basis of the principles of Marxist-Leninist theory.”
4. The opening up of this new continent has induced a revolution in philosophy. That is a law: philosophy is always linked to the sciences.
Philosophy was born (with Plato) at the opening up of the continent of Mathematics. It was transformed (with Descartes) by the opening up of the continent of Physics. Today it is being revolutionized by the opening up of the continent of History by Marx. This revolution is called dialectical materialism.
World outlooks are represented in the domain of theory (science + the ‘theoretical’ ideologies which surround science and scientists) by philosophy. Philosophy represents the class struggle in theory. That is why philosophy is a struggle (Kampf said Kant), and basically a political struggle: a class struggle. Everyone is not a philosopher spontaneously, but everyone may become one…
Philosophy exists as soon as the theoretical domain exists: as soon as a science (in the strict sense) exists. Without sciences, no philosophy, only world outlooks. The stake in the battle and the battle-field must be distinguished. The ultimate stake of philosophical struggle is the struggle for hegemony between the two great tendencies in world outlook (materialist and idealist). The main battlefield in this struggle is scientific knowledge: for it or against it. The number-one philosophical battle therefore takes place on the frontier between the scientific and the ideological. There the idealist philosophies which exploit the sciences struggle against the materialist philosophies which serve the sciences. The philosophical struggle is a sector of the class struggle between world outlooks. In the past, materialism has always been dominated by idealism.
I should therefore add one further remark: the most important of all.
In order really to understand what one ‘reads’ and studies in these theoretical, political and historical works, one must directly experience oneself the two realities which determine them through and through: the reality of theoretical practice (science, philosophy) in its concrete life; the reality of the practice of revolutionary class struggle in its concrete life, in close contact with the masses. For if theory enables us to understand the laws of history, it is not intellectuals, nor even theoreticians, it is the masses who make history. It is essential to learn with theory – but at the same time and crucially, it is essential to learn with the masses.
Why does philosophy fight over words? The realities of the class struggle are ‘represented’ by ‘ideas’ which are ‘represented’ by words. In scientific and philosophical reasoning, the words (concepts, categories) are ‘instruments’ of knowledge. But in political, ideological and philosophical struggle, the words are also weapons, explosives or tranquillizers and poisons. Occasionally, the whole class struggle may be summed up in the struggle for one word against another word. Certain words struggle amongst themselves as enemies. Other words are the site of an ambiguity: the stake in a decisive but undecided battle.