A Critique of "Humanism"
(and Raya Dunayevskaya's "Marxist Humanism")
From 'The Study of Scientific Communism' No.14 Jan, 1966
Written by Hiroyoshi Hayashi
Translated by Roy West@
- The Birth of Humanism
- 18th Century French Humanism
- [Humanism] and Marx
- Critique of Humanism
I. The Birth of Humanism
Seven or eight years ago, in the period prior to the so-called Anpo struggle (the movement against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty), the New Left appeared as subjectivists (shutaiseishugisha), politically this was represented by a radical position, and the struggle carried out against Anpo was dependent on students. Subsequently the New Left dissolved, broadly speaking, into two trends: radical political sects dependent on students, and economist groups tailing the natural growth of the workers movement. The former of these two trends (Revolutionary Communist League-Kakukyodo) defends humanism (ningenshugi). Just as they explained Marxism in a subjective (shutaiseironteki) and existential manner, now they are attempting to confuse Marxism with humanism, and explain Marxism in a humanistic fashion. This is exactly what we must now attempt to criticize. We must elucidate the essence and limitations of humanism, reveal how it is ultimately an ideology of bourgeois society, and carry out a firm criticism of the New Left's glorification of humanism in the name of Marxism, and the attempt to replace Marxism with humanism.
The concept of humanism is something which arose in the consciousness of
humanity along with the Renaissance. The Renaissance itself was a product
of bourgeois development. The cities around Florence were the area in which
the Renaissance flourished. One reason the Renaissance developed here this
was the direct succession of the traditions of classic Greek and Roman
civilization. Another reason was that following the Crusades this area
had begun to trade with countries to the east and commercial capitalism
had developed more rapidly than other countries, therefore the modern bourgeois
class had already developed and the feudal aristocratic class had been
What concerned the burgher class living in the bourgeois-like Italian city states were secular and worldy things, not a divine afterworld. They hoped to replace the theological and scholastic education of the middle ages with a liberated education, and searched for this within Roman culture. Here they discovered things which were worldly and affirmed the value of nature rather than that which is God-centered and denies humanity. With this spirit as their base, modern people for the first time acquired a conscious awareness of humanity and individuality.
Renaissance humanism repudiated transcendentalism which was the basis of feudalistic thought. The feudal system and its theological thought had become a fetter to the development and creative power of human beings. Humanism envisaged a free autonomous individual-harmony between exterior and interior instead of conflict, an end to the split between society and individual as well as the individual's internal split, and the full cultivation of all aspects of human ability rather than a one dimensionality. It stressed the necessity of cultivating both humanistic learning and art, and didn't hesitate to struggle for human and social relations that would be suitable to this humanity. Humanism pursued humanity, the human ideal, and the form of what the human being should be. The prototype for this was found in the cultured person in ancient Greece.
The influence of Renaissance humanism grew stronger in Europe and throughout
the whole world as capitalism grew increasingly stronger and became dominant.
Humanism provided the burgher class with a tremendous weapon in their struggle
against medieval elements. (The analysis of the concept of humanism will
be left for a later section where we will evaluate the limits and significance
of renaissance humanism.) Since that time the spirit of the Renaissance
has become universalized in European thought and has come to fruition.
The Renaissance is significant in that it repudiated medieval theology
and irrational mysticism, while championing secular rationality. Marxism
was formed in this space thoroughly transformed by the modern spirit. On
the one hand, the greatest weakness of this humanism was the abstract defense
of humanity. This weakness pertains to the essence of all humanism. The
Renaissance rejected the medieval system and its ideology (theology and
scholasticism) which restrained and suppressed humanity, and championed
human nature. This human nature itself comes from the classic spirit. However,
human nature according to the classical spirit is vague. In the classical
age, human nature could be viewed either as something natural and unchanging,
or something cultivated. The bourgeoisie fought to introduce the idea of
a natural man as one means of struggle against the darkness of the middle
ages where God reigned above man as a transcendental force ruling human
beings. This can be seen in Rousseau. The idea that human nature can only
be achieved through cultivation turned into bourgeois aristocratic-like
cultivation, and can be found in its most thorough form in the rationalism
of the French enlightenment. The limits of renaissance humanism are the
limits of humanism in general, and thus the limits of bourgeois ideology
II. 18th Century French Humanism
The spirit of the development of individualism and liberation of human nature, which began in the Renaissance, reached a period of full bloom in the 18th century. This was the age of the French Enlightenment. The source of this movement was the economic philosophy and democratic political theory represented by John Locke, and others, coming from England, which had more rapidly achieved bourgeois development. This emerged as a completely revolutionary thought, and its impact spread to the thought of the European continent which was still under the old system. The basis of this stance was to uphold reason against every type of authority and superstition. In France, inevitably, this movement opposed the authority of the Church, and then developed further into a struggle against the rule of absolutism. In this movement, there was a distrust of the noble and priestly classes, and a struggle against religious superstition, as well as a philosophical movement of atheism and materialism. This was an attempt, with the newly emergent bourgeois class and the rapidly developing natural science as the backbone, to destroy a variety of old religious prejudice and conventions, throw the light of the rational intellect on the darkness of the old society's irrational delusions, and liberate humanity from its unenlightened state to build a bright society. The slogans of this struggle were "nature", "reason" and "felicity". In place of the felicity of heaven, they sought happiness on earth based on their confidence in humanity and the triumph of science. Today, only Marxism has inherited and superseded the deep-rooted dream of the French materialists-that is, the dream of a new century of new human beings bound by interconnected relations in which all illusions would be tossed aside, and actions would be judged, and nature and society managed, through the exercise of reason based on deep scientific knowledge and insight.
Marx highly esteemed French materialism, and recognized its profound relation with the socialist and communist movement. On Condillac: "he expounded Locke's ideas and proved that not only the soul, but the senses too, not only the art of creating ideas, but also the art of sensuous perception, are matters of experience and habit. The whole development of man therefore depends on education and external circumstances." (The Holy Family, Marx/Engels Coll. Works Vol. 4., p.129). On Helvetius: He "conceived it [materialism] immediately in its application to social life. The sensory qualities and self-love, enjoyment and correctly understood personal interest are the basis of all morality. The natural equality of human intelligences, the unity of progress of reason and progress of industry, the natural goodness of man, and the omnipotence of education, are the main features in his system." (Ibid.,p.130) After discussing the thought of Condillac and Hevetius in The Holy Family, Marx gave the following summary of French materialism:
"Just as Cartesian materialism passes into natural science proper, the other trend of French materialism leads directly to socialism and communism.
There is no need for any great penetration to see from the teaching of materialism on the original goodness and equal intellectual endowment of men, the omnipotence of experience, habit and education, and the influence of environment on man, the great significance of industry, the justification of enjoyment, etc., how necessarily materialism is connected with communism and socialism. If man draws all his knowledge, sensation, etc., from the world of the senses and the experience gained in it, then what has to be done is to arrange the empirical world in such a way that man experiences and becomes accustomed to what is truly human in it and that he becomes aware of himself as man. If correctly understood interest is the principle of all morality, man's private interest must be made to coincide with the interest of humanity. If man is unfree in the materialistic sense, i.e., is free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the anti-social sources of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. If man is shaped by environment, his environment must be made human. If man is social by nature, he will develop his true nature only in society, and the power of his nature must be measured not by the power of the separate individual but by the power of society. (Ibid., pp. 130-31)
Eighteenth century French enlightenment, and consequently the French Revolution,
loudly proclaimed the remaking of society in accordance to human reason,
because they grasped the essence of man as reason. However, the French
Revolution exposed the limits of this thought. The French Revolution which
was to usher an ideal society based on human reason, gave birth to bourgeois
society governed by the rational of money. The defect in the ideology of
the French Enlightenment is clear, and this precisely represents the defect
of humanism. The Enlightenment was tinged with natural-scientific materialism.
Their goal was to spread knowledge and deepen rationalism, and their means
were not the revolutionizing of society, but education. They were lacking
social science and the materialist conception of history-in other words,
their materialism stopped at the stage of natural-scientific materialism,
and lacked a materialistic understanding of man and human society. To borrow
an expression from Marx it "disliked human beings". The attempt
to thoroughly apply human nature was limited to the field of natural science,
while the field of social science fell into idealism and an abstract rationalism.
Education thus took precedence over revolutionizing society, and the goal
became merely the diffusion of knowledge and rationalistic ways of thinking.
Therefore, it is natural that in response to the Enlightenment becoming
idealistic and undialectical, Marx would have to stress praxis, in other
words, production and industry (refer to Marx's criticism of Feuerbach).
The French Enlightenment is clearly one type of humanism, and in the following
part we will examine this humanism and the similar humanism of Feuerbach,
and Marx's critical assimilation of them. Marxism is definitely not thought
for the sake of dispersing knowledge. Marxism, more than any other thought,
consistently and firmly has sought the realization and spread of scientific
and rational ways of thinking. However, for Marxism this achievement is
dependent upon social revolution. Marxism places the priority, not on the
business of education, but on the revolutionary change of this bourgeois
society in which people are cut off from thoroughly rational scientific
thinking. The period of the revolutionary movement will at the same time
be the period of the victory of scientific thought. Marxism stands on the
brilliant legacy of the Enlightenment, and fights against all delusions,
but we should never forget that Marxism is definitely not the same thing
as the Enlightenment.
Marxism's insistence on praxis was greatly opposed to the tradition and lineage of the French Enlightenment which posited reason as the very first principle of human nature. Certainly, instead of spirit and ideas, Marxism gave first consideration to self-movement and developing matter, and therefore gave precedence to practice over theory. However, this certainly does not mean that Marxism is purely activism or vulgar practical thought or philosophy. Marxism regards practice rather than theory as the primary consideration, but at the same time firmly insists that this practice should be guided by science and reason, in other words by purposeful consciousness. This is precisely what sets Marxism apart from all bourgeois or fascistic ideas of practice, such as: religious philosophy, 'value' philosophy (neo-Kantism and sokagakkai), philosophy of action and life, existentialism, pragmatism, and so on. Those philosophers who say that theory lacking practice is empty, and practice without theory is blind are correct (New Leftists: pay attention to this!). Marxism is the map, the compass and the rudder to guide the revolutionary practice of the working class. It is not through theories of subjectivity, humanism, or religious passion-basically subjectivist theories-but through scientific purposeful consciousness that this practice will be supported for the first time, and become a truly strong, indomitable and durable thing.
The New Leftists, radicals, and trade unionists who understand Marxism
as a purely practical philosophy are fundamentally wrong. The philosopher
Kan'ichi Kuroda has made great efforts to replace Marxism with a philosophy
of praxis. However, the distance between Marxism and praxical philosophy-the
term itself is completely without content-is far and away greater than
the distance separating praxical philosophy, fascist philosophy and religious
philosophy. In fact, praxical philosophy (i.e. the theory of subjectivity
or humanism) essentially stands on the same foundation as bourgeois or
fascistic philosophy. They don't understand the question of practice in
the same way as the Marxist meaning. They emphasize that Marxism places
practice as the first principle. However, they don't even see that Marxism
also demands that this practice be based on science and knowledge. They
don't believe that it is a condition of decisive importance for the success
and victory of the revolutionary practice of the working class that this
practice be backed up and founded on Marxism-the only comprehensive social
science. In What Is To Be Done? Lenin writes, "Without revolutionary
theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This idea cannot be insisted
upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism
go hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical
activity." Lenin insists that even the slightest belittlement of Marxist
theory means to draw close to bourgeois thought, because there is no middle
Returning to our original subject, the 18th century French Enlightenment grew as a struggle against the unenlightened state of the people caused by the feudalistic state power and the religious spirit connected to it. This represented the rational, critical and revolutionary spirit which struggled against the savage rule of absolutism and the accompanying rule of irrational thought in general. However, in regards to human history and society, the reason of the French Revolution stopped at a form that was completely abstract and lacking in content. The French Revolution held up the slogans freedom and equality, but as bourgeois society develops, equality becomes merely equality as a commodity owner, and is soon transformed into the "equality" of capital and labor; freedom becomes the freedom of profitable activity, and before long is transformed into the freedom of capital's despotism. In this sense, the French Revolution, which was supposed to have marked the beginning of the victory and rule of reason, was a miscarriage. As a consequence, a kind of reaction occurred in which pessimism and nihilism arose against the idea of natural reason and the human nature founded upon it. With Schopenauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzche, and even lower in the age of monopoly capitalism with Bergson, Existentialism, philosophy of 'value' as well as Freud, the world and human beings were grasped as irrational things. They insisted that man was definitely not a rational animal, and expressed a distrust in human nature. This reaction came from a disappointment in the French Enlightenment's view of human beings as rational animals. It is not necessary to say what an enormous influence philosophers such as Schopenhauer had on the irrational, reactionary and semi-fascistic philosophy of the age of monopoly capital.
Marxism sublimated the French Enlightenment. However, their view that the
human being is a rational animal is expressed inside Marxism in a higher
form. The French Revolution clarified that the construction of an ideal
society is a not a problem that is solved through the demands of human
reason. This human reason was understood in precisely a humanistic way
in regards to social problems. Since the French Revolution it has been
brought to consciousness that the appropriate society for human beings
cannot be anticipated only through a deduction from humanistic science.
Rather, this appropriate society must be discovered within the necessary
development of the actual socio-economic system. One person from this period
was the positivist Comte, who thought the essence of society and history-like
mathematics, physics, etc.-was something which required demonstration through
mental science, and attempted to construct this science (sociology) which
was to hold the highest rank of all sciences. On the other hand, the study
of history developed, as did economics as the bourgeoisie's self-cognition
of their own society. Going beyond human subjectivity (or what could also
be called the reason of the Enlightened), the awareness emerged of history
and society as an objective existence. After the French Revolution, nihilistic
philosophy was gripped by a disbelief in man as a rational animal, and
wandered in a useless and reactionary direction, while Marxism advanced
through the critical assimilation of the developing historical and social
sciences. For Marxism, society and history should not merely be demonstrated
through the exercise of reason, but rather must be understood materialistically
as the reciprocal relationship between productive power and production
relations. Marxism elucidated that communist society is not merely something
based on human reason, but is something which is formed and which must
be created within this inevitable process of history. Marxism does not
explain history and society from the standpoint of a human essence, but
rather explains it objectively as the development and reciprocal relationship
between humans and nature and humans themselves.
In the next section we will look at how Marxist thought was formed, and how Marxism critically sublated humanism.
III. [Humanism] and Marx
Dunayevskaya interprets Marxism as being first and foremost humanism. Her basis for this rests on two or three works written by Marx in the period before he had overcome Hegelian philosophy and arrived at the materialist conception of history (The Holy Family, Economic Philosophical Manuscripts, etc.). She declares that the most serious problem which "anti-imperialist anti-Stalinist" revolutionary Marxism is faced with today is philosophy. Therefore, we are going to find out more about the nature of her philosophy. She holds up Hegel's Absolutes, in other words human freedom, as well as the struggle for spirit and the total human being, as the fundamental ideas of her humanism.
In the process of his intellectual development from German idealistic liberalism
to communism and materialism, Marx certainly did for a period of time advocate
a "real humanism=naturalism" under the influence of Feuerbach.
However, Marx emphasis on humanism was intended to establish a critical
standpoint from which he could oppose the neglect of real human beings
by German Idealism, on the one hand, and the "dislike of human beings"
into which previous materialism had fallen, on the other hand. This sort
of idealism and materialism grasped human beings as an abstract thing,
and were both very much 18th century-like approaches. Marx, using Feuerbach
as a temporary lever, began to overcome these 18th century limitations.
Even though the expressions of Marx's humanism=naturalism sound very Feuerbach-like,
this is the direct bridge to the materialist conception of history. This
is clear to any one who reads the Economic Philosophical Manuscripts. Even
during the time of Marx's humanism, already this definitely did not mean
the abstract humanism of German Idealism, the Feuerbach-like anthropological
materialism, or a biological humanism. Rather, this meant a concrete and
real human being as a social and unique existence. Thus, the establishment
of the materialist conception of history is at the same time necessarily
the criticism of German Idealism (obviously), Feuerbach, as well as True
Next, we will look at how Marx criticized German idealistic liberalism and biological humanism, and how he overcame these types of humanism to establish the foundation of Marxism.
Dunayevskaya is very fond of, and glorifies, Hegel's Absolutes. She chooses to praise this concept based on her interpretation of the present time as a transformational period from "absolute despotism to absolute freedom". She locates the meaning of Hegel in his recognition of the Absolute, for example absolute freedom.
However, for Marx and Engels the problem was exactly the opposite. In Hegel's method, everything was understood as a constant process of creation and extinction, and a limitless rising process from lower to higher forms. Even though Hegel employed this method in an idealistic way, it became possible to paint a systematic and total picture of human history. Hegel's system was this kind of revolutionary thing, but on the other hand, his system was also conservative. First of all, for example, the system of totality became the process whereby his so-called "absolute spirit" is externalized and becomes nature, and then in spirit, in other words, in thought and history, it once again returns to itself. The absolute spirit became the metaphysical thing which he had denied. Hegel's system became absolutized and proclaimed that history had ended. His philosophy which had refused all dogmas and fixed notion, was itself turned into a dogma. Secondly, Hegel emphasized dialectics, but this was above all the self-movement of the Spirit, and the self-development of categories. Marx and Engels judged these to be the defects and conservative side of Hegel. However, Dunayevskaya, in sharp contrast, seems to think that the metaphysical, idealistic and absolutist side of Hegel should not be rejected, but glorified.
Marx also carried out a struggle against German idealistic liberalism with his criticism of Bauer. Bauer took up the question of Jewish emancipation as a purely religious problem, and argued that the German Christian feudalistic state could not liberate the Jews in the essential sense, and that the Jews also essentially could not be freed. For this liberation, it was first necessary that this religious opposition be abandoned. In other words, in order for the Jews to be liberated as human beings, they must first be freed from religion. While posing the problem of political liberation (read: bourgeois liberation from feudalistic relations), Bauer, on the other hand, raises the question of the Jews ultimate liberation, their human emancipation (read: communist liberation from bourgeois society). In this way, he confounds and confuses bourgeois liberation and communist liberation, and thus offers an incorrect solution. Marx, by contrast, studied the difference between political liberation and human liberation, and examined various categories such as the Jewish problem, state, religion, private property, human rights, and freedom. Marx writes, "Therefore we do not say to the Jews as Bauer does: You cannot be emancipated politically without emancipating yourselves radically from Judaism. On the contrary, we tell them: Because you can be emancipated politically without renouncing Judaism completely and incontrovertibly, political emancipation itself is not human emancipation. If you Jews want to be emancipated politically without emancipating yourselves humanly, the half-hearted approach and contradiction is not in you alone, it is inherent in the nature and category of political emancipation." (On the Jewish Question; Marx Engels Collected Works Vol. 3, p. 160)
In response to Bauer who argues that the Jews can receive the rights as the citizens, but not the rights of man, Marx shows that the rights of the citizen and the rights of man are the same, and that liberty "is the right to do everything that harms no one else." (ibid. p. 162) and "The right of man to private property is, therefore, the right to enjoy one's property and to dispose of it at one's discretion (a son gre), without regard to other men, independently of society, the right of self-interest. This individual liberty and its application form the basis of civil society." (ibid. p. 163)
We will just simply mention the fact that Marx was able to grasp the essence of human rights, private property, civil society, religion and the state through the analysis of some declarations of the rights of man, before turning our attention to the question of how Marx understood the problem of freedom which Dunayevskaya raises. Unlike Bauer who generally brandishes "edifying words" such as "freedom", "recognition of free humanity" and "special privilege", Marx shows that the emergence of a social consciousness of liberty is inseparably linked to the birth of bourgeois society.
"Liberty, therefore, is the right to do everything that harms no one else. The limits within which anyone can act without harming someone else are defined by law, just as the boundary between two fields is determined by a boundary post. It is a question of the liberty of man as an isolated monad, withdrawn into himself." (Ibid. p. 162)
Marx further writes:
"Recognition of free humanity? 'Free humanity', recognition of which the Jews did not merely think they wanted, but really did want, is the same 'free humanity' which found classic recognition in the so-called universal rights of man. Herr Bauer himself explicitly treated the Jews' efforts for recognition of their free humanity as their efforts to obtain the universal rights of man.
In the Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher it was demonstrated to Herr Bauer
that this 'free humanity' and the 'recognition' of it are nothing but the
recognition of the egoistic civil individual and of the unrestrained movement
of the spiritual and material elements which are the content of his life
situation, the content of present-day civil life; that the rights of man
do not, therefore, free man from property, but procure for him freedom
of property; that they do not free him from the filth of gain, but rather
give him freedom of gainful occupation.
It was shown that the recognition of the rights of man by the modern state has no other meaning that the recognition of slavery by the state of antiquity had. In other words, just as the ancient state had slavery as its natural basis, the modern state has as its natural basis civil society and the man of civil society, i.e., the independent man linked with other men only by the ties of private interest and unconscious natural necessity, the slave of labour for gain and of his own as well as other men's selfish need. The modern state has recognized this its natural basis as such in the universal rights of man." (The Holy Family, Marx Engels Collected Works Vol. 4. p. 113)
This is the way Marx analyzed the concept of freedom in modern civil society. He shows that this concept is historical, inseparably related to the generation of civil society, and is the direct intellectual expression of selfishness and greed for personal profit. Freedom, which humanists abstract and glorify, is a reflection of the independent individual bourgeois activity within bourgeois society. Marxism without denying freedom in general, insists that this word emerged from fixed historical and societal conditions, and is a reflection of these conditions. This word should not be absolutized in the manner of Dunayevskaya, nor should it be considered the fundamental principle guiding the struggle for socialism. To abstract and glorify thought that reflects life in bourgeois society, and then declare that it should be the guiding idea of the socialist movement is nothing but idle talk, nonsense, and reactionary confusion, and is no different than the Communist Party's idea of a "new" democratic revolution.
Marx presented the classic criticism of so-called "liberals"
(i.e. German Liberalism since Kant) in The German Ideology.
Marx writes: "The conditions in Germany at the end of the past century
are perfectly reflected in Kant's critique of practical reason. Whereas
the French bourgeoisie leaped to power through a historically unprecedented
revolution and then conquered the European continent, and the already politically
emancipated English bourgeoisie revolutionized industry, and subordinated
India politically and the whole world commercially, the powerless German
burghers were only left with 'good intentions'." (translated from
Japanese) In the miserable, backward conditions of Germany, the bourgeois
slogans of the French bourgeoisie were turned into an a priori abstract
demand of "practical reason". "French liberalism based on
real class interests can be found in Germany in a special form in the philosophy
of Kant. He and the German citizens he represented, did not realize that
the theoretical ideas of the bourgeoisie were based on intentions limited
and determined by the material relations of interest and production. Thus,
Kant separated every theoretical expression from the relations of interest
it expressed, and turned the various determinations of the material motives
of the French bourgeoisie into the pure self expression of "free will",
will as itself or for itself, and human will. In this way, this will was
turned into a pure ideological conceptual definition or moralistic request.
For this reason, the German petty bourgeoisie hesitated in the face of
the fearful politics and shameless profit making that appeared in relation
to the energetic practice of bourgeois liberalism.
Marx uncovers the mysteries of German liberalism and "rationalistic" philosophy in the following way:
"Through the July Revolution the political forms corresponding to the developed bourgeoisie pushed against German from the outside. However, since Germany's economic relations had not yet reached the developmental stage to correspond to these political forms, the burghers inherited these forms as abstract ideas, an sich or fur sich principles, pious words and wishes, or Kant's so-called will and human self definition. Thus their manner was much more ethical and disinterested than other countries." "Every type of liberal cliche was nothing but an idealistic expression of the real interests of the bourgeoisie." (translated from the Japanese)
This is the manner in which Marx elucidated the mysteries of German liberal and idealist philosophy. Whereas Dunayevskaya depends on German idealist liberals, and champions their abstract freedom, for Marx this was only the conceptualization and mystification of French bourgeois reality and bourgeois liberalism. Dunayevskaya makes use of the name Marxism, but her fundamental standpoint does not advance one step beyond German idealist liberalism.
In all of her works, Dunayevskaya calls for socialism and the sublation
of capitalism in the name of absolute freedom and "humanism".
However, on this point as well, there is a sharp contrast between Marxism
and Dunayevskaya. Marxism calls upon the working class to fight for socialism
(communism), not for "absolute freedom" or "humanism".
Marxism calls for a struggle for socialism because it is necessary, inescapable,
and because human liberation demands that the bourgeois limitations be
overcome. Socialism is the logical outcome of the objective position of
the working class and the conditions created by capitalism. Marxism is
based on historical and societal necessity (historico-scientific consciousness),
not upon some sort of abstract morality or a spirit of absolute freedom.
Marxism poses the question of the ultimate liberation of mankind. The consciousness
of human liberation was raised by the struggle of the power of civil society
against feudalistic power. However, civil society stopped with the political
liberation of humankind. It didn't bring about the social liberation of
humankind. Marxism employs the words "human liberation" in the
sense of the social liberation of humankind which can only be achieved
with the revolutionary change of the actual socio-historical conditions,
and does not depend upon any sort of morality. Marxism is not based on
an awareness of morality, universal reason, or what Dunayevksaya calls
absolute freedom. The search for socialism through reason, justice or "humanism"
is the position of utopian socialism, not Marxism. These apostles of metaphysics
start out from a theory of "human nature" as eternal and unchanging;
a completed social system would have to be one which corresponds to this
unchanging "human nature". This is why Marx and Engels called
them utopian socialists. In a later period, Duhring lectured about socialism
in the name of justice and reason. The socialism of the Neo-Kantians, who
were deeply connected with the traitors of the Second International, was
an ethical socialism, and is identical to that of present day democratic
socialists. The humanism of Sokagakukai (a religious-political group in
Japan) is extremely close to that of Dunayevskaya. There is also a close
internal relationship between Dunayevskaya and the morality of anarchism.
When these pseudo-socialists (in truth simply humanists) see social contradictions
and the oppression of workers, they are outraged that this goes against
justice, morality, and "humanism", and with these concepts they
seek socialism. They haven't given the slightest thought to the fact that
the ideology they wave about is nothing but an abstract, sublimated form
of an ideology which reflects the activity of bourgeois society. They call
this liberalism, humanism or individualism. It is evident that Dunayevskaya's
standpoint is essentially the same as all of this pseudo-socialist rabble.
This essence is identical to that of German idealism, and metaphysical
(2) Next, let's look at Marx's criticism of Feuerbach. Feuerbach is one model of humanism. He attacked religion and speculation, and held up man. He argued that religion externalized the essence of man, and he explained religion from the essence of man, reversing the previous relationship between religion and man. He proposed a human centered philosophy in which man is the fundamental principle. He raised the question of human relations, but didn't go beyond simply stressing human universality-for example, relations are formed through love. He didn't pose the question in terms of social relationships. In the end, his humanism was a humanistic materialism in which man was dissolved into nature. What he called the human being was the same abstract thing as it was for 18th century materialists.
How did Marx criticize Feuerbach? His criticism of Feuerbach in The German
Ideology is the same as it was during the establishment of the materialist
view of history. In Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, The Holy Family, as
well as The Economic Philosophical Manuscripts he gave "burning praise"
for Feuerbach. The criticism of Hegel and idealism thoroughly carried out
by Feuerbach extinguished "the divine struggles of the dialectics
of concepts only known by philosophers." (translated from the Japanese)
Marx thought that it was necessary to critically overcome Feuerbach because he saw that with the dissolution of the Hegelian School, a sentimental humanistic socialism based on Feuerbach's philosophy (true socialism) was spreading like an epidemic throughout Germany. True Socialism occupied itself with "idle speculation concerning realization of the human essence" (Communist Manifesto) and based on "humanism" criticized French socialism and communism.
The fact that Marx's "real humanism-naturalism" is different than the humanism of Feuerbach should be clear if one reads through the Economic Philosophical Manuscripts. In this work, human beings are considered, not only in a humanistic way, but as a social entity, and he already carried out a sharp critical analysis of "national economics" (classical school of economics). According to this critical analysis, human beings are "alienated" by bourgeois relations of production. Communism as naturalism and humanism, is the sublimation of this "human self-estrangement" and 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 objectivication and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species." (Marx Engels Collected Works Vol. 3). The criticism of Feuerbach was necessary for Marx, and Marxism cannot be regarded as simply Feuerbach's humanism and naturalism.
Nevertheless, the thought expressed in the Economic Philosophical Manuscripts, and other places, is still essentially Feuerbach-like. Marx's own position was a human centered one, and the problem of human liberation was handled in an abstract manner, rather than historically. The question of proletariat revolution was also considered as the realization of humanism. He abstractly said that the actual possibility of liberation in Germany depends on the proclamation of Man as the highest existence. This is precisely a humanistic view. He saw communism as simply the road or means of completing humanism. He placed the principle of humanism above communism. He still didn't refer to himself as a communist or a practical materialist, but rather as natural humanist. It is clear that he started from humanism, but on the other hand, even before The German Ideology he distinguished between "political emancipation" (bourgeois emancipation) and human emancipation. From this standpoint he criticized bourgeois democracy, liberalism and the limits of bourgeois revolution, exposed the bourgeois essence of classical economics, and stressed that bourgeois society was an inverted society and religion was a reflection of this topsy-turvy society. Marx started from humanism and used it to idealistically oppose bourgeois society, even though humanism is an idea from bourgeois society. This is because before Marxism there was not total system of thought with which to oppose bourgeois society.
As Marx and Engels pointed out, Feuerbach does not know any "human
relations" outside of love and friendship. Moreover, he abstractly
glorifies these two things. Marx, by contrast, considers the social relations
of human beings. Marx thought that social relations were more important
than the natural relation of love between blood relations and family. Prior
to The German Ideology, Marx dealt with human social relations in a humanistic
manner, rather than from the standpoint of a materialistic view of history.
For this reason, many liberals and existentialists deal with the works
from this stage of Marxism, and declare their own position to be identical.
However, dealing with human social relations humanistically involves a
contradiction: social relations themselves are historical. Thus, with the
end of the humanistic criticism of human social relations, comes the appearance
of real Marxism in which human social relations are criticized historically.
Socialism and Communism no longer look to moralism and human nature or
humanism as tools, but rather are proven to be historical inevitable. The
concept of society first appeared with the beginning modern civil society.
In Ancient Greece there was the word polis, but this had the meaning of
city state, and was not the same concept as modern society. In the middle
ages there was no such concept. The concept "society" appeared
as a concept which couldn't be separated from bourgeois society. However,
civil society couldn't capture the essence or foundation of human society.
Like Rousseau, the formation of society was looked for in a contract. The
concept "society" emerged along with bourgeois society. This
is because in this society with the break up and sublation of the dispersed
and narrow self-sufficient production of the middle ages, each person came
to occupy a space within the social division of labor in commodity production
and labor which had developed. As Marx wrote to Feuerbach, "In these
writings you have provided-I don't know whether intentionally-a philosophical
basis for socialism and the Communists have immediately understood them
in this way. The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences
between men, the concept of the human species brought down from the heaven
of abstraction to the real earth, what is this but the concept of society!"
(Marx/Engels Collected Works Vol. 3)
However, Feuerbach didn't understand humanism in the same sense that Marx did. Marx grasped the real human being from the beginning as a social human being or existence, and envisaged a recovery or return to a man's true humanity. Marx had yet to grasp the problem historically. Man is essentially a social essence, but becomes individualistic and selfish under bourgeois society. Thus, at this stage in his thought, Marx pursued the revolutionary praxis to overturn this bourgeois society in the name of humanism. The concept of society itself is the product of modern bourgeois society. If we think about how the wide social relations between people first emerged with bourgeois commodity production, Marx's criticism is humanistic, one-sided, and un-historical. At the same time, Marx was revolutionary and critical in the sense that he didn't grasp bourgeois society as the true society, and saw that in the end this would fall into individualism, egoism, and liberalism. Unlike Feuerbach, Marx's humanism was part of the move towards the materialist conception of history and scientific communism. Herein lies the difference between Marx's humanism and that of Feuerbach. Today only within socialism and the revolutionary movement of the proletariat has the modern consciousness of Man as a social existence been sublated. At its core, this movement is opposed to bourgeois individualism and liberalism. For Marx, moreover, human beings as a social existence or as a life species are dependent upon labor and productive activity; and production cannot be understood as the activity of the individual grasped independently, but rather as being essentially a social process with labor with the development of labor forming the base of human progress. Marx was indeed standing at the threshold of the materialist conception of history.
The fundamental trait of Feuerbach's humanism was its biological or naturalistic view of human beings. In the same manner as the French materialists, he viewed human beings as the product of circumstances and education, and human thought as the reflection of nature. According to Marx's criticism, he grasped human beings only "in the form of the object or contemplation". Marx criticized this view: "The materialistic doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and education forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that the educator must be educated." Against Feuerbach who resolves the essence of religion into the essence of Man, Marx argues that "the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each separate individual. In its reality it is the ensemble (aggregate of social relations." "Feuerbach therefore does not see that the 'religious temperament" itself is a social product and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs to a particular form of society. In response to Feuerbach's contemplative approach, Marx posits "sensuous human activity, praxis" and states that "all social life is essentially practical". Finally, Marx declares that "the highest point to which contemplative materialism can attain, i.e. that materialism which does not comprehend our sensuous nature as practical activity, is the contemplation of separate individuals and of civil society"; and that this old 18th century Feuerbach style materialistic standpoint is civil society, while the new materialism (the standpoint of Marxism) is "human society or social humanity". Whereas Feuerebach's contemplative standpoint "only interpreted the world" in the mind Marx stressed that "the point is to change it". (All of the quotes above are taken from Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach", International Publishers.)
Marx stressed in The German Ideology that human beings are not solely the product of nature, but also exert their practice on nature (productive activity) and depend on this development. Human beings change nature by working on it, and revolutionize the conditions of their own existence thereby also revolutionizing themselves. In his "These on Feuerbach" Marx says that man is the "ensemble of social relations", but this content unfolds within the materialistic design of history. Marx also shows that human beings are changed and progress through human sensuous activity, i.e. trade and industry.
In the German Ideology Marx essentially summarized his criticism of Feuerbach. He presented his conclusion in the following manner:
"Certainly Feuerbach has a great advantage over the 'pure' materialists in that he realizes how man too is an 'object of the senses.' But apart from the fact that he only conceives him as a 'sensuous object', not as 'sensuous activity', because he still remains in the realm of theory and conceives of men not in their given social connection, not under their existing conditions of life, which have made them what they are, he never arrives at the really existing active men, but stops at the abstraction 'man', and gets no further than recognizing 'the true, individual, corporeal man' emotionally, i.e. he knows no other 'human relationships' 'of man to man' than love and friendship, and even then idealized. He gives no criticism of the present conditions of life. Thus he never manages to conceive the sensuous world as the total living sensuous activity of the individuals composing it; and therefore when, for example, he sees instead of healthy men a crowd of scrofulous, over-worked and consumptive starvelings, he is compelled to take refuge in the 'higher perception' and in the ideal 'compensation in the species', and thus to relapse into idealism at the very point where the communist materialist sees the necessity, and at the same time the condition, of a transformation both of industry and of the social structure.
As far as Feuerbach is a materialist he does not deal with history, and as far as he considers history he is not a materialist. With him materialism and history diverge completely, a fact which explains itself from what has been said." (International Publishers, pp. 37-8)
Against Feuerbach's humanism and naturalism which sought to understand man from the standpoint of a human essence, Marx considered the real, living human being within history and society, who makes history and society while also being limited and up to now ruled by them. He proposed a new view of human beings as changing and progressing with the development of history. Marx stressed that human beings are ruled by the environment, but at the same time the sensuous world which surrounds us is not an identical thing posited directly from the eternal past, but rather is the product of industry and social conditions. A new world view does not emerge from the "human being". Social and historical changes are the motive force of a new world view. Man is not simply a biological human being-bourgeois society assumes this sort of independent human, that is the abstract individual being severed from all social ties. The human being for Marx is the human being within history and society which makes history and society; the real human being as the social product of progress and development formed on the social basis marked by certain class divisions. Instead of the individualistic selfish human being (bourgeois human being), Marx offers the social type of human being. According to Marx this view of humanity is based on real materialism. For Marx there can be no such thing as an abstract "human nature" or "human entity", and he stresses that this "human nature" itself is the product of history and society and is alterable.
For a criticism of the views of Raya Dunayevskaya one should look at Marx's
criticism of true socialism in The German Ideology. The petty bourgeois
true socialists used phrases like "unconditional freedom", "free
human activity", "absolutely pure activity", "human
essence", "pure, true human being", and then claimed that
these empty petty bourgeois words were in fact socialism.
IV. Critique of Humanism
Seen historically, humanism appeared as a slogan in the bourgeois revolt and struggle against the feudalistic production relations. When at first it sought to replace feudalistic human relations with bourgeois ones it did not ignore social relations but demanded a society of "liberty, equality and fraternity". The revolutionary thought of the bourgeoisie was humanism. This was the watchword in the struggle against the "inhuman" feudalistic society and the ruling ecclesiastical thought. At that time humanism had revolutionary content as a cry for human emancipation from feudalism and absolutism.
It was only in modern bourgeois society after the breakdown of the middle ages that the "human being" itself became a problem. For the first time, the "citizens" of bourgeois society were called human beings. In medieval feudal society there was no question of human beings themselves; they were usually bound to some absolute supra-human thing. The question of the human being coincided with bourgeois society, and humanism was born. The emancipation from religion and the ecclesiastical state connected to it couldn't help being more or less secular, worldy, and human. However, for socialists this is just the beginning of the problem. This is the beginning of a revolutionary criticism of the "human being" proclaimed by bourgeois society. This "human being" is the individual cut off from society who is only social by means of his own selfish profit-making activity, and whose selfishness and individualism is covered by the name humanity, freedom, equality, etc. Humanism essentially is nothing but a defense of the abstract and meaningless "human nature" of this bourgeois human being
Humanism as a bourgeois ideology begins to become increasingly reactionary with the generalization of bourgeois society, and its idealistic essence becomes more and more evident, and it appears in contemplative, corrupted or illogical forms of thought such as individualism, personalism, existentialism, neo-Kantian moralism, or pragmatism. These philosophies are separated from history and society and do nothing more than involve themselves subjectively and illogically with the "human being" and amuse themselves by stringing together all sorts of flowery words about "human nature". Humanism has become a corrupted and reactionary ideology. Modern "humanism" is not the revolutionary ideology it was when the bourgeoisie was seeking the independence and emancipation of the individual. In the society of monopoly capital it has been transformed into the conservative and cautious individualism and personalism of those who seek to protect themselves and pay attention to their own little life-even the proletariat has been partially infected by this trend.
Individualism, selfishness and humanism form an inseparably close relation. Individualism regards the individual, before society, as the first principle. Society is understood as nothing more than the quantitative total of individuals. In the end the individual is the objective, and society is seen as only a means for individuals. At best, the position of humanism on the harmony between the individual and society never goes beyond a general and abstract emphasis on the importance of the individual. In other words, in a form that contains no social criticism.
Individualism is a historical ideology that corresponds to bourgeois society and was given birth to by capitalist commodity production. As a result of the development of the productive power within the feudalistic means of production-the feudalistic society based on the paternalistic, despotic, subsistence peasant system-labor appeared in the form of a commodity, and along with the appearance of free labor which more or less removed the feudal restraints there appeared the power of the individual to pursue his profit-making activity. Along with this the ideology appeared of the freedom and dignity and character and education of the individual. Clearly this is a reflection of capitalist production in which the individual labors for the individual, and labor is for individual acquisition through exchange value (currency). The consciousness individualism, liberalism and humanism emerged in countries in which the demand for bourgeois power conflicted with the former power. The essence of bourgeois commodity production is that it is only indirect or mediated social production. It is not social production Directly or consciously, but rather appears to be production for the individual. Rousseau's idea that the formation of society is based on a contract of individuals and established on individuality is one ideological reflection of the bourgeois struggle against feudalistic power.
Individualism or humanism is the social and historical consciousness of the growth of bourgeois power in the struggle against feudalistic society-i.e. against one self sufficient exploitative class society whose rule centered on the will and thought of the feudal lords. The ideology of feudalism was God, or country and king under absolutism. Under this system of religion and morality, the living, concrete human being (the individual according to bourgeois ideology) had to be neglected or sacrificed, and the social consciousness that this was unjust did not emerge. With the beginning of the development of commodity production and the rise in productive power, it began to be felt that the feudal society was an inhuman, despotic society which was restricting the rise of bourgeois power. The social consciousness began to spread that in this feudal society individual activity was repressed, individuality was missing, and freedom was stolen. This consciousness emerged throughout the world in every country in which the development of commodity production and free labor in opposition to medieval feudal society commenced. The rising bourgeoisie attempted to express their consciousness this in thought. This was the formation of liberalism.
The human being who was emancipated from medieval feudal society was a capitalistic human being. These human beings were unable to overcome capitalistic production either in reality or in their consciousness. They were restricted by these limits, and were able to free themselves only from feudalistic society. Even though capitalism freed human beings from feudalistic restraints, they were immediately bound to the oppression and exploitation of capital. The free human being became synonymous with the human being under the despotism of capital. Not only have the bourgeois slogans of the free individual, and the personality and character of the individual become hollow and abstract today, these meaningless flowery words are used to support bourgeois society.
Individualism in bourgeois society has absolutely no consciousness of the base of objective and social mutual relations-in bourgeois society, on the whole in a wide range of labor this appears as the social division of labor. In order for this consciousness to appear it is necessary to recognize that each person's labor is qualitatively identical and equal as abstract human labor. However, in bourgeois society this cannot be held (because of class fantasies). After the war (especially since the collapse of the JCP in the wake of the February 1st strike) bourgeois individualism took deep root in Japanese society, and became the vulgar and reactionary thought of the petty bourgeoisie who search for burgher safety and happiness and only pursue their own lifestyle plans. This ideology has also had a large influence on the working class. Liberal labor critics have criticized these workers as "the model of nook happiness". The workers movement itself is being adorned with an individualistic and selfish ideology.
Let's now consider selfishness. Humanists begin with the notion of unchanging
human nature, and then argue in the following manner. That is, they say
that as long as the nature of man is selfishness, the construction of socialism
and communism is not possible, or the movement itself is in fact based
on selfishness. Illogical and reactionary thinkers like Nietzche and Shopenhauer,
as well as Freud, argued in the same thing. In postwar Japan it was Hajime
Tanabe who argued this way. In response to the upswell of the workers movement
after the First World War, Abe depicted the struggles between workers and
management as "an offensive and defensive struggle between those absorbed
in their own wealth, and those who are envious of this wealth and insist
that they have a right to it", and he criticized this for being "corrupt".
In order to oppose communism they try to argue that human nature is essentially
selfish and thus there is no point in reshaping society. Selfishness is
a human instinct, and with this instinct human beings will never be able
to build communism. As long as human beings remain human beings all of
the inhuman, dark human relations based on this selfishness will remain.
They tried to douse the movement for communism with pessimism. Humanists
should reflect on the fact this kind of humanism also exists.
Is human selfishness really an unchanging eternal human quality?-But this is not a problem at all. Selfishness most certainly is not an unchanging eternal human quality, but merely one quality of human beings in one stage of the historical development of human society. Just like other animals, human beings have an instinct to live and for self-preservation. However, this instinct doesn't take the form of social cooperation (communal labor), but rather selfishness, that is the sacrificing of other people and the search for a better life for oneself alone. Already this cannot be explained solely through human instinct because through the social communal labor of everyone the human instinct for life and self-preservation could be fully satisfied. Not only is the attempt to explain human instinct from selfishness unsuccessful, it is directly connected to fascist philosophy.
Selfishness is inseparable from bourgeois society, and is in fact a product of this society. The root causes of this selfishness are production carried out by disconnected individuals whose goal is exchange value, production by anarchic, free individuals, labor which must be verified for the first time as social labor as the result of private labor, and above all the exploitation of the labor of others, that is the character of production with profit as a goal.
It is laughable that some people would insist that selfishness and individualism are two separate things. Conceptually this distinction can probably be made somehow, but in fact no distinction can be made. Individualism must actually appear as selfishness. Socialism can only be constructed through the sublation of individualism, and its intensification does not signify socialism. There are those who defend individualism or glorify it, but we communists expose the egoistic essence of individualism and carry out a firm struggle against it.
It is certainly no mere coincidence that the Japanese left wing which was so enthusiastic about subjectivist philosophy just a few years ago, has now accepted humanist philosophy. During the subjectivity debate of 1947-8, the subjectivity theorists chased after something called "subjectivity" which could not be prescribed biologically, socially or historically. It could be said that what human beings do not know is infinite, but what they called subjectivity was not what is still unknown, but that which has been unknown from the beginning, that is mysterious things which have always been impossible for humans to understand or define such as religious consciousness, spirit, or an a priori "sense of value". This is religion in a different form.
Needless to say, the subjectivity debate was connected to the neo-Kantian
school's idea of a priori "value". They searched for subjectivity
in a fixed a priori value consciousness or an ideal. They didn't grasp
value consciousness or the ideal materialistically. In other words, the
proletariat's ideal=communistic ideal is something that is born out of
actual history and socio-economic relations, but according to the subjectivity
theorists this ideal is born from people's absolute and transcendental
sense of value.
Like the New Left, Masao Maruyama foolishly says that not his own illogical
thought, but rather the "tendency towards objectivism is dangerous".
He argues that petty bourgeois intellectuals are drawn to theories of subjectivity
and humanism not because they are petty bourgeois, but because Marxism
is lacking something, or Marxists have not clearly articulated the sense
of value at the basis of Marxism, or because Idealist philosophy, not Marxism,
has thoroughly investigated the question of ideals and praxis. The petty
bourgeois humanists, basing the construction of socialism (whether they
are seriously thinking about this is another question) on an ideal and
an appeal to human nature, can only offer this nonsensical, off the mark
criticism of Marxism. Idealists and subjectivists criticize Marxism's fundamental
defect as being the slip into objectivism-materialism-scientism. But they
don't consider that "value" or ideals are not an a priori thing
for human beings, but are rather an idealistic form born from the contradictions
of human society, from human critical consciousness in response to its
inequality and class prejudice (this is true from the case of Christianity
to utopian socialism). Marxism, however, denies theories of human emancipation
arising from societal contradictions in an idealized or fantastic form
(which today have already become sentimental, impotent chatter). Their
arguments are completely misdirected. The subjectivists, as we have seen,
were humanists, and indeed this was inevitable. What they did was to abstract
from the bourgeoisie's image of man, and make it into a universal image
of man. For the revolutionary movement of the working class humanism is
essentially reactionary and impotent. What Dunayevskaya calls the spirit
of absolute human freedom is also nothing but an abstract idealization
of a bourgeois ideal. The connection between subjectivity theorists and
the humanistic Dunayevskaya is easy to see because Dunayevskaya raises
the abstraction of human essence and proclaims that it is absolute freedom.
How the subjectivity debate a few years ago affected intellectuals and students interest in Marxism is a subject that merits investigation. Now it can be seen that the New Left movement which climaxed in 1960 (and subsequently became inert) did not strengthen Marxism, but instead advanced its dissolution, deepened the ideological void caused by Stalinism, and led to a strengthening of bourgeois ideology. Although subjectivity theorists (as well as Kozo Uno's economics) claimed to reinforce and develop Marxism and correct its one-sidedness, in fact their ideas are used to ??????Intellectuals and students made their way to bourgeois ideology by way of the theory of subjectivity. Their subjectivity theory is indistinguishable from the Communist party's philosophy of praxis or Fascist behaviorism.
Now they have begun to sing the praises of humanism! Humanism has become one of the slogans they flourish in the name of "anti-imperialism/anti-Stalinism". It appears that Marxism is an insufficient word for the scientific theory of the social emancipation of the proletariat. Dunayevskaya claims that Marxism is above all humanism, but objectively speaking this is used to cool the passion of the masses for Marxism. To cool down or divert the growing interest of the masses in Marxism is precisely the objective role of the theories of humanism and subjectivity of the New Left and intellectuals. If Marxism is humanism, that is the championing of an abstract human being, then what is the use of seriously studying it. This kind of humanism can be found anywhere from bourgeois constitutions to university philosophy. If Marxism is merely one kind of humanism there is nothing particularly unique about Marxism. In fact, existentialism and pragmatism, the classic ideological representation of monopoly capitalism, are today pawning their own thought off as humanism. Sogakukai (religious group) claim that up to now socialism has not had a true understanding of humanity, and that the ideal society of the kingdom of God is true humanistic socialism.
In their intended struggle against imperialism and Stalinism, the New Left
looked first to the theory of subjectivity, and then to humanism for help.
We will expose their fantasy of struggling against monopoly capitalism
with humanism and subjectivity theory. Regardless of their subjective intentions,
introducing humanism, and interpreting Marxism subjectively, humanistically,
or existentially are in fact steps towards the twisting of Marxism, and
uprooting its true influence among the people which in the end opens the
path to the dominance of purely bourgeois or fascist thought. This is the
objective function carried out by the New Left's humanism, and for this
reason it is a very dangerous and reactionary thing. The thought of working
class emancipation today is called Marxism. Humanism, that is the glorification
of an abstract man, in a sense is the exact opposite standpoint. In the
fight against capitalism humanism is thoroughly impotent. This is because
this is essentially the ideological expression of the very capitalist society
that they hope to struggle against. With just a shallow understanding of
working class politics, the New Left camp compromises Marxism with humanism
and frantically attempts to inscribe this on the banner of the workers
movement. The political expression of humanism at best is a politics for
petty bourgeois freedom and democracy, and this was already realized in
Japan some twenty years ago (i.e. through the end of the war). Humanism
or "Marxist" humanism do not develop the revolutionary struggles
of the working class, but rather slacken and dissolve them. Scientific
communism (Marxism) and humanism are essentially different things. As the
thought of the proletariat, the former is opposed to all humanism as bourgeois
or petty bourgeois thought. Marxism doesn't criticize humanism's denunciation
of capitalism for oppressing human beings, but it does criticize it for
its idealistic critique of capitalism in the name of the human being (as
well as for being a completely insufficient and shallow capitalist critique).
To solve the contradictions of capitalism humanism appeals to humanity,
or proposes subjective means such as education. Marxism, conversely, is
based on reality, on the inevitable movement of history and economy, as
well as the unavoidable development of the class struggle. On this essential
level of changing reality humanism is powerless. In the end this inevitably
falls into mere chattering and amusement. Humanism today represents one
part of the illogical philosophy peculiar to monopoly capitalism. The attempt
to compromise Marxism with this is extremely reactionary and unpardonable.
The dull fantasy of attaching the words "socialism" or "Marxism" to bourgeois ideology and passing it off as the ideology of the proletariat is gaining ground. For instance, the idea that humanism becomes socialistic by attaching socialism to humanism, and calling it socialistic humanism. Marx and Lenin severely criticized this line of thought, but it has been applied and generalized by the Second International and the Stalinist camp. This resembles the Japanese Stalinists who attach the adjective "new" to democracy and think that modern democracy thus loses its bourgeois content. In fact, however, this approach essentially signifies cowardly concession, mean submission, and hypocritical passivity in the face of humanism and democracy which are the class ideology of the suddenly emergent bourgeoisie, and are more or less the basic ideology of bourgeois society. This is the dream that if the fox wears the lion's fur it becomes a lion. But even in a lion's clothing a fox is a fox.
The Marxist humanism (Dunayevskya-ism) of the New Left is essentially the timid "soft mood" of the Second International and Stalinism, and is in the same rut. This signifies nothing more than a hypocritical and timid concession to the bourgeois ideologies of humanism and liberalism. Dunayevskaya either doesn't notice or ignores the fact that humanism and Marxism are essentially different class ideologies. Instead of clarifying the principles of Marxism, she follows and flatters bourgeois ideology and attempts to confound proletariat ideology with bourgeois ideology. Moreover, she presents the extraordinarily stupid argument that this represents the reconstruction of Marxism. This approach is a common one for revisionists of Marxism. Today wherever one turns people are introducing bourgeois ideology through a variety of methods and then blathering about their "creative" development of Marxism.
The New Left's current enthusiastic praise of Dunayevskaya's ideas, that is humanism in the guise of Marxism, reveals their petty bourgeois and anti-proletarian essence. No matter how much they talk about Marxism, the working class or the revolutionary movement, their essence is unmistakably clear. Let's sweep away New Left opportunism and confusion! We must fight against any concession to bourgeois ideology no matter how small, and drive this out of our movement.