‘Aphorism: it is impossible completely to understand Marx’s Capital, and especially its first chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel’s Logic. Consequently, half a century later none of the Marxists understood Marx!!’ -Lenin
The ever-present bane of many Leftists today is the fact that at the core of a good deal of socialist philosophy lies the nearly incomprehensible work of Hegel, the German philosopher whose dialectical system inspired Marx. Lenin’s famous quote about Hegel seems almost like a challenge from beyond the grave akin to Marx’s final thesis on Feurbach.
In the proper contexts, Hegel can be an enriching philosophical exercise that helps one better understand the workings of culture and society. In the hands of one who misunderstands these things, perhaps most notably in the instance of vulgar Communists who do not know any better, it is a galling opposites game bearing striking resemblance to Manichean theology.
Andy Blunden, an Australian philosopher and writer who is a member of the Marxist Internet Archive has created a new paper that lays out the philosophical genealogy of Marxism in relation to Hegel and provides a level of understanding, in simple English, about Lenin’s famous quote. In his paper Goethe, Hegel, and Marx, he outlines the philosophical genealogy that is essential to grasp when try to tackle this question. Capital Through the Hegelian Looking-Glass describes how Marx used Hegel’s intellectual devices to write his analysis of political economy, delivered in the form of a book review on a volume related to this topic.
It is worthwhile to point out the references Blunden used here so to better annotate one’s understandings of these materials.
- The first is this section of The Grundrisse, a manuscript only published in the 1970’s that broke down the previous erroneous bifurcation between a ‘Young Marx’ and ‘Mature Marx’ by showing a continuity of Hegelian philosophy and logic running through his works.
- The second is the first chapter of Das Kapital, which bears a striking resemblance to the previous section from Grundrisse, further confirming the falsehood of the Young/Mature bifurcation. Also useful in these contexts is the 1867 First German Edition Preface to Das Kapital that emphasizes these connections in a concrete fashion.
- Now comes a selection from Hegel’s Logic, starting from Being, that one needs to read at least half way to the end of the book to see the textual relationship. This can be combined with Hegel’s introduction to his system in the Preface to his Phenomenology of Mind.
Blunden was kind enough to sit down for an interview with me where he outlines his finding in terms that are easy to understand. The entire program is 83 minutes and can be downloaded here or can be listened to by clicking the player below.