Proletarians of all countries, unite!


The marrow of the conception of the proletariat is the contradiction
A historical leap of inexhaustable transcendence

In Defence of Maoism, on the development of the three constituent parts of Marxism by Chairman Mao Tsetung, we refer to the document ‘On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’, which should be studied with the masterly ‘Report on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’ from the Documents of the First Congress of the PCP, February 1988, as a guide.

Why are we proceeding in this way? Based on the irrefutable historical fact that at the 1st Congress of the PCP Maoism was defined, the fundamentals of Maoism and its content were established. Therefore, the 1st Congress of the PCP constitutes a transcendental milestone in the struggle for Maoism.

For the needs of the present discussion we focus, in these first three parts of Defence of Maoism, on Chairman Mao’s development of Marxist philosophy or dialectical materialism. In this third part, more specifically, to the Chairman’s fulfilment of the task left by Lenin of deepening the understanding of the law of contradiction by taking into account the development of social practice. In these first instalments, we have had to refer briefly to the supreme problem of all philosophy, i.e., the relation between thinking and being, between spirit and nature and the Marxist theory of knowledge, which Chairman Mao understood and deepened like no one before him, developing what Lenin said and building on Engels.

Chairman Mao, in ‘On Practice’, reaffirms the name given by the founders to the new philosophy, its class character and its practical character, the dependence of theory on practice as the fundamental viewpoint of the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge, let us read:

The Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism has two outstanding characteristics. One is its class nature: it openly avows that dialectical materialism is in the service of the proletariat. The other is its practicality: it emphasizes the dependence of theory on practice, emphasizes that theory is based on practice and in turn serves practice. The truth of any knowledge or theory is determined not by subjective feelings, but by objective results in social practice. Only social practice can be the criterion of truth. The standpoint of practice is the primary and basic standpoint in the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge.”

Chairman Mao, on the process of the development of knowledge and the role of Marxism, in the above-mentioned document, wrote:

In the process of practice, man at first sees only the phenomenal

side, the separate aspects, the external relations of things. […] This is called the perceptual stage of cognition, namely, the stage of sense perceptions and impressions […] this is the first stage of cognition. At this stage, man cannot as yet form concepts, which are deeper, or draw logical conclusions.

As social practice continues, things that give rise to man’s sense perceptions and impressions in the course of his practice are repeated many times; then a sudden change (leap) takes place in the brain in the process of cognition, and concepts are formed. Concepts are no longer the phenomena, the separate aspects and the external relations of things; they grasp the essence, the totality and the internal relations of things. Between concepts and sense perceptions there is not only a quantitative but also a qualitative difference. Proceeding further, by means of judgement and inference one is able to draw logical conclusions.[…] This is the second stage of cognition[…] the stage of rational knowledge. The real task of knowing is, through perception, to arrive at thought, […] to arrive at logical knowledge. To repeat, logical knowledge differs from perceptual knowledge in that perceptual knowledge pertains to the separate aspects, the phenomena and the external relations of things, whereas logical knowledge takes a big stride forward to reach the totality, the essence and the internal relations of things and discloses the inner contradictions in the surrounding world. Therefore, logical knowledge is capable of grasping the development of the surrounding world in its totality, in the internal relations of all its aspects.

This dialectical-materialist theory of the process of development of knowledge, basing itself on practice and proceeding from the shallower to the deeper, was never worked out by anybody before the rise of Marxism. Marxist materialism solved this problem correctly for the first time, pointing out both materialistically and dialectically the deepening movement of cognition, the movement by which man in society progresses from perceptual knowledge to logical knowledge in his complex, constantly recurring practice of production and class struggle. Lenin said, “The abstraction of matter, of a law of nature, the abstraction of value, etc., in short, all scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely.” […] The perceptual and the rational are qualitatively different, but are not divorced from each other; they are unified on the basis of practice. Our practice proves that what is perceived cannot at once be comprehended and that only what is comprehended can be more deeply perceived. Perception only solves the problem of phenomena; theory alone can solve the problem of essence. The solving of both these problems is not separable in the slightest degree from practice. Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practising) in its environment.”

The quotation is of concrete application to highlight the process of the movement of deepening or development of Marxist philosophy, to understand more deeply the role played by the continuators of Marx and Engel in the development of Marxism, here, in particular, to understand better the task that Chairman Mao assumed and fulfilled with regard to “contradiction as the essence or nucleus of dialectics” (Lenin). That is, to reflect in the most profound, truthful and complete way the law of the self-movement of matter, making the deepest abstraction in order to reflect in the most thorough, exact and complete way the law of its movement, contradiction: As it is written there, the question to be solved is the problem of the essence of dialectics, contradiction (the sole fundamental law of the movement of eternal matter), its condensation into the clearest and most precise form, required developing the theory by the proletariat, by its highest peaks, in its complex and constantly repeated practice of production and class struggle. In short, to develop in theory and practice the world proletarian revolution.

This is because, as Chairman Mao, in his ‘Reading Notes on the Soviet Text “Political Economy”’, a veritable manual on the application of contradiction to politics, published by the Red Guards, pointed out:

[…] the contradictions between appearances and essences. Essences always lie behind appearances and cannot be disclosed except through appearances.”

Lenin: “without philosophy there is no party”. As we reaffirmed in the previous part, Marxist philosophy is the foundation of our conception and the core of our ideology. Therefore, we cannot neglect it and we cannot fight revisionism if we do not take up Marxist philosophy.

Engels in his ‘Old Prologue to the Anti-Dühring’, on dialectics, says that in the history of philosophy there are two singular manifestations of dialectical philosophy, the first is Greek philosophy and the second is classical German philosophy, about the latter he wrote:

The second form of dialectics, which is the one that comes closest to the German naturalists, is classical German philosophy, from Kant to Hegel. […] But to study dialectics in the works of Kant would be a uselessly laborious and little-remunerative task, as there is now available, in Hegel’s works, a comprehensive compendium of dialectics […]

First of all it must be established that here it is not at all a question of defending Hegel’s point of departure: that spirit, mind, the idea, is primary and that the real world is only a copy of the idea. Already Feuerbach abandoned that. […]

After allowance has been made for all this, there still remains Hegelian dialectics. It is the merit of Marx that, in contrast to the “peevish, arrogant, mediocre Eiri/yovoi who now talk large in Germany”, he was the first to have brought to the fore again the forgotten dialectical method, its connection with Hegelian dialectics and its distinction from the latter, and at the same time to have applied this method in Capital to the facts of an empirical science, political economy. […]

In Hegel’s dialectics there prevails the same inversion of all real inter-connection as in all other ramifications of his system. But, as Marx says: “The mystification which dialectics suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

From the study of the above quotation, the connection of Marxist philosophy with Hegel’s dialectics and the differences that separate them is clear. From Marx and Engels, after they had set Hegel’s dialectic on its feet, the task was clearly set and tackled: to develop its objective content or rational seed by discarding all its mystical sheath. How to do this? By developing the practice of production, class struggle and scientific research. Marx showed how to do this by applying contradiction, in ‘Capital’, to a concrete field of science, that of political economy. This example of how to develop materialist dialectics was highlighted by Engels, Lenin and Chairman Mao. Meanwhile, the comrades of the UOC and others, who deny the law of contradiction as the only fundamental law of dialectics, close their eyes to all the evidence, opposing their “theory of the three laws”, deny the process of development of dialectical materialism. These comrades deny Marxist philosophy.

Chairman Gonzalo, in ‘Seminario de Filosofía’, 1987, said:

“The whole philosophy in its long course had developed a theory on dialectics, as well as on materialism. They (Marx and Engels) saw well the milestones of development. They affirm their resounding materialist position. Accessing materialism demands as a moving process derived from contradiction. Althusser denies that Marx and Engels have taken Hegel’s dialectic. He argues that first the science develops and then the leap takes place. That, the discovery of Marx and Engels is historical materialism because for Althusser, first the materialist theory of history is founded and then dialectical materialism. According to him the development of Marxist philosophy was pending. It is a stupidity from beginning to end.”

In doing so, “Althuser denies the scientific process that has been developing since the 17th century … [during which] science breaks with metaphysics as processes, developments. This cannot be denied. Thus science demanded a dialectical explanation. Hegel had put the dialectical process in the head. What Marx does is to put it into matter. This was never done before. Dialectical materialism is able to enter into knowledge and transformation by man acting in matter. The scientific character of Marxism is questioned, matter is transformed derived from practice.

The ideology generated by the exploiting classes is inverted because it gives an idealistic explanation of history. Our ideology is scientific because it is a true reflection of its practice and its class character. Althusser’s theories lead to a new surrealism and, he says, what is possible is to fuse Kantian theory and Spinoza’s theory. It takes a bourgeois rationalism and a bourgeois idealism.

This process has a trajectory of 2500 years, it has a solid historical foundation in which the best has been gathered and results in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The application of dialectical materialism gives rise to historical materialism and scientific understanding of society.” (our translation; ci-ic.org)

Next, Chairman Gonzalo refers to the moment of breaking with all previous theoretical knowledge, establishing the unity of theory and practice, the dependence of theory on practice, where the latter is the basis and, in turn, theory serves practice, which is not only about knowing or interpreting the world but about transforming it. To move from social criticism to the criticism of weapons in order to make the first great revolution in the world. A leap made in philosophy, the core of our ideology, today Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, mainly Maoism:

“Marx and Engels are going to develop the Marxist philosophical process. Marx developed and Engels disseminated.

The theses on Feuerbach constitute the basis.

1st Defect of all previous materialism: not having taken practice into account.

Previous materialism had developed into empiricism or seeing reality as something passive, not understanding how matter acts and how man through his work changes reality (grasping reality). All empiricism is a bourgeois position.

It postulates: to understand reality and transform it.

2º Practice and truth, it is in practice as proof of truth.

Marx criticizes Feuerbach, who never conceived sensory grasping as a transforming capacity. He had diluted the religious essence in the human essence, a Christianity without Christ, the inability to understand the social world. Social relations.

3º Social life is essentially practical.

The human mind is led astray by a set of mysticisms. Only by understanding practice can mysticism be swept away.

As they do not understand the practice, he calls it contemplative materialism. Civil society: the most he advanced to was the study of institutions, which is the root that sustains it.

Transforming the world: philosophers have done nothing more than contemplate the world, but the problem is to transform it.

With this paper he demarcates the fields.

Settling of accounts with his previous thoughts in a new position. Marx and Engels, thus new criteria are raised to form the new ideology.

The economic process of society is raised.

Communism is proposed as the first great revolution in the world, since all the previous ones were the substitution of one class for another.

Although Marx was the one who solved the problem of understanding the social world, he did so by applying dialectical materialism; therefore, it is nothing more than the dialectical materialist understanding of society, no matter how new it is (Historical Materialism).

Dialectic: Engels is the one who deals with this question: three laws. Unity and struggle of contradiction, the leap and negation of negation. They understood that the 1st was the main one. If they had not understood dialectics they would not have been able to develop CAPITAL.

It is not a circle, Marxism is a dialectical process that will continue to develop. It demarcates us from all philosophical processes that are closed.

Hegel is inconsistently dialectical and we are consistently dialectical. This is the greatest revolution in the history of mankind. Marxist philosophy that lays the foundations of development, knowledge can never be exhausted, it is a process that goes closer and closer to the truth and discarding new errors.

Denials of Marxism: this phenomenon has been constant. In Materialism and Empiriocriticism, Lenin defends Marxism and develops it. Theory of reflex. Set of reflexes that generate consciousness. The reflex, which is a characteristic of matter, action and reaction. Consciousness becomes a long process of the characteristic of matter.”


The great Frederick Engels, in Dialectics of Nature, wrote:

[…] the laws of dialectics […] can be reduced in the main to three: the law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa; the law of the interpénétration of opposites; the law of the negation of the negation.”

He made it clear that the principal of the three was the second, i.e. the law of contradiction.


Lenin: “without philosophy there is no party”.

Lenin set about studying the whole process of philosophy from the Marxist point of view. He studied Hegel’s science of logic. In ‘Philosophical Notebooks’, ‘On the Questions of Dialectics’, 1915, he leaves the task of deepening the essence of dialectics, cited:

The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts (see the quotation from Philo on Heraclitus at the beginning of Section III, “On Cognition,” in Lasalle’s book on Heraclitus [1] ) is the ESSENCE (one of the “essentials,” one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristics or features) of dialectics. That is precisely how Hegel, too, puts the matter (Aristotle in his Metaphysics continually GRAPPLES with it and combats Heraclitus and Heraclitean ideas). The correctness of this aspect of the content of dialectics must be tested by the history of science. This aspect of dialectics (e.g. in Plekhanov) usually receives inadequate attention: the identity of opposites is taken as the sum-total of EXAMPLES [“for example, a seed, “for example, primitive communism.” The same is true of Engels. But it is “in the interests of popularisation…”] and not as a LAW OF COGNITION (and as a law of the objective world). […]

The identity of opposites (it would be more correct, perhaps, to say their “unity,”—although the difference between the terms identity and unity is not particularly important here. In a certain sense both are correct) is the recognition (discovery) of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in a l l phenomena and processes of nature (including mind and society). The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their “self-movement,” in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the “struggle” of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? Or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).

In the first conception of motion, SELF- movement, its DRIVING force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external—God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of “SELF” – movement.”

Lenin wrote, in his “Philosophical Notebooks”, annotations to the chapter ‘Conspectus of Lassalle’s Book “The Philosophy of Heraclitus the Obscure of Ephesus”’:

The basic law of the world, according to Heraclitus (λόγος, [11] sometimes είμαρ-μένη [12] ), is “the law of transformation into the opposite” (p. 327) (= ένγντιοτροπή, έναντιοδρομία). Lassalle expounded the meaning of the είμαρμένη as the “law of development””

Lenin criticised Lassalle’s book for its philosophical idealism, its “pure plagiarism, slavish repetition of Hegel”, but used it for the translation of quotations expounding the dialectical ideas of Heraclitus.

Chairman Mao, in the midst of the class struggle, developing the people’s war, and the two-line struggle against dogmatism, studies, armed with the conception of the proletariat, at that time Marxism-Leninism, the development of philosophy not only in the West, where by necessity and historical chance Marxism and as the marrow of it Marxist philosophy made its appearance, but also studies again the germs of materialism and dialectics in China and the East, where also the development of philosophy had taken place since the early days of civilisation and, as such, the struggle between materialism and dialectics, but also revisits the germ of materialism and dialectics in China and the East, where the development of philosophy had also been going on since the early days of civilisation and, as such, the struggle between materialism and idealism and between dialectics and metaphysics.

The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. Lenin said, “Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects.” [see below 1.] Lenin often called this law the essence of dialectics; he also called it the kernel of dialectics. [see below 2] In studying this law, therefore, we cannot but touch upon a variety of questions, upon a number of philosophical problems. If we can become clear on all these problems, we shall arrive at a fundamental understanding of materialist dialectics. The problems are: the two world outlooks, the universality of contradiction, the particularity of contradiction, the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction, the identity and struggle of the aspects of a contradiction, and the place of antagonism in contradiction.”

1. V. I. Lenin, “Conspectus of Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy”

2. In his essay “On the Question of Dialectics”, Lenin said, “The splitting in two of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts […] one of the ‘essentials’ […] of dialectics.” In his “Conspectus of Hegel’s The Science of Logic”, he said, “In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This grasps the kernel of dialectics, but it requires explanations and development.”

It is clear from Chairman Mao’s quotation that dialectics is the study of contradiction, of the law of contradiction and no other, and that in order to understand this law (the essence of materialist dialectics) a series of philosophical problems must be solved, which he solved like no other in the above-mentioned work and established the following conclusions or syntheses:

We may now say a few words to sum up. The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought. It stands opposed to the metaphysical world outlook. It represents a great revolution in the history of human knowledge. According to dialectical materialism, contradiction is present in all processes of objectively existing things and of subjective thought and permeates all these processes from beginning to end; this is the universality and absoluteness of contradiction. Each contradiction and each of its aspects have their respective characteristics; this is the particularity and relativity of contradiction. In given conditions, opposites possess identity, and consequently can coexist in a single entity and can transform themselves into each other; this again is the particularity and relativity of contradiction. But the struggle of opposites is ceaseless, it goes on both when the opposites are coexisting and when they are transforming themselves into each other, and becomes especially conspicuous when they are transforming themselves into one another; this again is the universality and absoluteness of contradiction. In studying the particularity and relativity of contradiction, we must give attention to the distinction between the principal contradiction and the non-principal contradictions and to the distinction between the principal aspect and the non-principal aspect of a contradiction; in studying the universality of contradiction and the struggle of opposites in contradiction, we must give attention to the distinction between the different forms of struggle. Otherwise we shall make mistakes. If, through study, we achieve a real understanding of the essentials explained above, we shall be able to demolish dogmatist ideas which are contrary to the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism and detrimental to our revolutionary cause, and our comrades with practical experience will be able to organize their experience into principles and avoid repeating empiricist errors. These are a few simple conclusions from our study of the law of contradiction.”

Chairman Mao, on the only fundamental law of dialectics, does not say main but only one, which means that there are no others. So it is a matter of reading, studying and embodying the Chairman’s work on contradiction, where the essentials of the study or doctrine of contradiction are developed. The revisionist Avakian, the revisionist leader of the RCP (USA), who is opposed to the definition of Maoism, questioned on which page Chairman Mao had written such and such a thing, and was told that the problem was not one of reading but of understanding, of comprehending the whole of Chairman Mao’s theoretical and practical work. In the concrete problem of understanding the whole of what is written in this fundamental work of Maoism On Contradiction as the only law of dialectics.

The comrades of the UOC, in the style of Avakian, pretend to be masters of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in dialectics, after they changed the name of their theoretical journal “Contradiction” to “Negation of Negation”, of course because they consider this as a law of dialectics comparable to the law of contradiction, wanting to give lessons on the subject.

Basically, they are against Lenin and Chairman Mao, for in reality they are advocates of “two unify into one”, they blatantly deny what is in On Contradiction, verbatim in Chairman Mao’s words, this law is the only fundamental law of dialectics. They pretend not to know what Lenin warned about the great Engels’ error in this respect.

Chairman Mao in particular, in the above-mentioned work, in addition to what has already been quoted above, which must be borne in mind in order to understand the decisive issue at hand, wrote:

As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development. Contradictoriness within a thing is the fundamental cause of its development, while its interrelations and interactions with other things are secondary causes. Thus materialist dialectics effectively combats the theory of external causes, or of an external motive force, advanced by metaphysical mechanical materialism and vulgar evolutionism. It is evident that purely external causes can only give rise to mechanical motion, that is, to changes in scale or quantity, but cannot explain why things differ qualitatively in thousands of ways and why one thing changes into another. As a matter of fact, even mechanical motion under external force occurs through the internal contradictoriness of things. Simple growth in plants and animals, their quantitative development, is likewise chiefly the result of their internal contradictions. Similarly, social development is due chiefly not to external but to internal causes.

What is meant by the emergence of a new process? The old unity with its constituent opposites yields to a new unity with its constituent opposites, whereupon a new process emerges to replace the old. The old process ends and the new one begins. The new process contains new contradictions and begins its own history of the development of contradictions.

As Lenin pointed out, Marx in his Capital gave a model analysis of this movement of opposites which runs through the process of development of things from beginning to end. This is the method that must be employed in studying the development of all things. Lenin, too, employed this method correctly and adhered to it in all his writings.”

The relationship between the universality and the particularity of contradiction is the relationship between the general character and the individual character of contradiction. By the former we mean that contradiction exists in and runs through all processes from beginning to end; motion, things, processes, thinking — all are contradictions. To deny contradiction is to deny everything. This is a universal truth for all times and all countries, which admits of no exception. Hence the general character, the absoluteness of contradiction. But this general character is contained in every individual character; without individual character there can be no general character. If all individual character were removed, what general character would remain? It is because each contradiction is particular that individual character arises. All individual character exists conditionally and temporarily and hence is relative. This truth concerning general and individual character, concerning absoluteness and relativity, is the quintessence of the problem of contradiction in things; failure to understand it is tantamount to abandoning dialectics.”

Our comments, relativising contradiction by putting it on the level of “other laws” of dialectics, is the particular form taken in this polemic by the UOC’s attempts to deny the universal truth of contradiction and thus its individual application.

Continuing with the Chairman:

Every form of motion contains within itself its own particular contradiction. This particular contradiction constitutes the particular essence which distinguishes one thing from another. It is the internal cause or, as it may be called, the basis for the immense variety of things in the world. There are many forms of motion in nature, mechanical motion, sound, light, heat, electricity, dissociation, combination, and so on. All these forms are interdependent, but in its essence each is different from the others. The particular essence of each form of motion is determined by its own particular contradiction. This holds true not only for nature but also for social and ideological phenomena. Every form of society, every form of ideology, has its own particular contradiction and particular essence.”

Not only does the whole process of the movement of opposites in the development of a thing, both in their interconnections and in each of the aspects, have particular features to which we must give attention, but each stage in the process has its particular features to which we must give attention too. The fundamental contradiction in the process of development of a thing and the essence of the process determined by this fundamental contradiction will not disappear until the process is completed; but in a lengthy process the conditions usually differ at each stage.”

Chairman Mao, leading the Chinese Revolution with people’s war, twenty years later, on the development of Marxist philosophy or dialectical materialism, of its nucleus or law of contradiction as unity and struggle of opposites, in his Speech of 27 January 1957, ‘Talks at a Conference Of Secretaries Of Provincial, Municipal And Autonomous Region Party Committees’, said:

Concerning dialectics Lenin said, “In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This grasps the kernel of dialectics, but it requires explanations and development.”[2] It is our job to explain and develop the doctrine. It needs to be explained, and so far we have done too little. And it needs to be developed; with our rich experience in revolution, we ought to develop this doctrine.

Lenin also said, “The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.” [3] Proceeding from this concept, we have advanced the policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend. […]

Stalin had a fair amount of metaphysics in him and he taught many people to follow metaphysics. In the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course, Stalin says that Marxist dialectics has four principal features. As the first feature he talks of the interconnection of things, as if all things happened to be interconnected for no reason at all. What then are the things that are interconnected? It is the two contradictory aspects of a thing that are interconnected. Everything has two contradictory aspects. As the fourth feature he talks of the internal contradiction in all things, but then he deals only with the struggle of opposites, without mentioning their unity. According to the basic law of dialectics, the unity of opposites, there is at once struggle and unity between the opposites, which are both mutually exclusive and interconnected and which under given conditions transform themselves into each other.

Stalin’s viewpoint is reflected in the entry on “identity” in the Shorter Dictionary of Philosophy, fourth edition, compiled in the Soviet Union. It is said there: “There can be no identity between war and peace, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, between life and death and other such phenomena, because they are fundamentally opposed to each other and mutually exclusive.” In other words, between these fundamentally opposed phenomena there is no identity in the Marxist sense; rather, they are solely mutually exclusive, not interconnected, and incapable of transforming themselves into each other under given conditions. This interpretation is utterly wrong. […]

Stalin failed to see the connection between the struggle of opposites and the unity of opposites. Some people in the Soviet Union are so metaphysical and rigid in their thinking that they think a thing has to be either one or the other, refusing to recognize the unity of opposites. Hence, political mistakes are made. We adhere to the concept of the unity of opposites and adopt the policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.[…]”

Marxist philosophy or dialectical materialism has contradiction at its core, it is the doctrine of the one fundamental law of dialectics, which is to be expressed or concretised in the various contradictions that govern the different phenomena or processes in the universe (particular or specific contradictions, which give rise to general, particular and specific laws of the different particular sciences), i.e. it is the study of the law of contradiction in nature, society and thought. It does not say as Marx and Engels did, i.e. as the study of general laws in nature, society and thought, but as it is in the quotation from their work ‘Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People’, where he says:

Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man’s thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change. Contradictions exist everywhere, but their nature differs in accordance with the different nature of different things. In any given thing, the unity of opposites is conditional, temporary and transitory, and hence relative, whereas the struggle of opposites is absolute. Lenin gave a very clear exposition of this law. It has come to be understood by a growing number of people in our country. But for many people it is one thing to accept this law and quite another to apply it in examining and dealing with problems. Many dare not openly admit that contradictions still exist among the people of our country, while it is precisely these contradictions that are pushing our society forward. Many do not admit that contradictions still exist in socialist society, with the result that they become irresolute and passive when confronted with social contradictions; they do not understand that socialist society grows more united and consolidated through the ceaseless process of correctly handling and resolving contradictions. For this reason, we need to explain things to our people, and to our cadres in the first place, in order to help them understand the contradictions in socialist society and learn to use correct methods for handling them.”

It should also be noted that he speaks of fundamental contradictions: “In socialist society the basic contradictions are still those between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base. However, they are fundamentally different in character and have different features from the contradictions between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base in the old societies.”

And in his speech at the Conference of Representatives of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow (18 November 1957), he clarified the fundamental law of materialist dialectics or Marxist philosophy as the study of contradiction or the kernel of dialectics:

In dealing with comrades, we must adopt the dialectical method and not the metaphysical method. What does the dialectical method mean here? It means to treat all things analytically, to recognize that every man can make mistakes and not to disqualify someone completely because he has made them. Lenin said that there is no person in the world who does not make mistakes…So, what attitude should we take towards comrades who make mistakes? To make analysis and adopt the dialectical method and not the metaphysical one. There was a time when our Party was plunged into metaphysics – dogmatism – which completely annulled all those who did not please the dogmatists. Later, we criticized dogmatism and gradually learned more and more about dialectics. The fundamental concept of dialectics is the unity of opposites…In other words, on condition that we do not undermine Marxist-Leninist principles, we accept the acceptable opinions of others and discard those of our own that can be discarded. Thus, we act with two hands: one for struggle with erring comrades and the other for unity with them. The purpose of the struggle is to persevere in Marxist principles, which presupposes fidelity to principles. This is one hand; the other is to see to unity. The purpose of unity is to provide an outlet for those comrades, making compromises with them, which means flexibility. The integration of fidelity to principles with flexibility is a Marxist-Leninist principle and is a unity of opposites.

The world, whatever its typification, is full of contradictions, and this, of course, is particularly true for class societies. Some say that contradictions can be “found” in socialist society. This way of putting things seems to me to be incorrect. What is at issue is not whether or not contradictions can be found, but that this society is full of contradictions. There is no place where there are no contradictions, nor is there anyone who escapes analysis. It is metaphysical to admit the existence of a person who is not susceptible to analysis. Notice, the atom itself contains a whole complex of units of opposites. It is a unit of two opposites: atomic nucleus and electrons. The atomic nucleus, in turn, is a unit of opposites: protons and neutrons. Since there are protons, there are also antiprotons, and since there are neutrons, there are also antineutrons. In a word, the unity of opposites is omnipresent. Regarding the concept of the unity of opposites, regarding dialectics, it is necessary to make a wide propaganda. I would say that dialectics must leave the cenacle of philosophers to reach the broad masses of the people. I propose that this problem be taken up at the meetings of the political bureaus of the various Parties and at the plenary sessions of their central committees, as well as at the meetings of their local committees at all levels. In reality, our cell secretaries really understand dialectics. When they prepare to make a report at a cell meeting, they are accustomed to write down in their notebooks the two aspects of things: first, the successes and, second, the deficiencies. One is divided in two: this is a universal phenomenon, this is dialectics.”

Here, too, it is quite clear that Chairman Mao reaffirms the task left by Marx to the communists of the world to take philosophy to the masses and take it out of the books and make it a practical philosophy, a weapon for the transformation of the world, of matter. Chairman Mao fulfilled this task throughout his theoretical and practical work and elevated it in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of China, the greatest mass movement ever seen so far by humanity. And the bourgeois academics, petty-bourgeois theorists and the whole bunch of intellectuals in the service of reaction mocked the news of the practical application of Marxist philosophy and contradiction by the masses under the leadership of the CPCh.

And to conclude our text, we quote once again from Chairman Mao, Critical Notes on the Manual of Political Economy of the Soviet Union (1960-1961), not only to reinforce what we have been arguing about the Chairman’s development of Marxist Philosophy or Dialectical Materialism or Doctrine of Contradiction, but also to show how since 1937 he has further developed his understanding and deepening of contradiction, he wrote:

Page 443, paragraph 5, admits that in a socialist society contradictions between the productive forces and the production relations exist and speaks of overcoming such contradictions. But by no means does the text recognize that contradictions are the motive force.

The succeeding paragraph is acceptable; however, under socialism it is not only certain aspects of human relations and certain forms of leading the economy, but also problems of the ownership system itself (e.g., the two types of ownership) that may hinder the development of the productive forces.

Most dubious is the viewpoint in the next paragraph. It says, “The contradictions under socialism are not irreconcilable.” This does not agree with the laws of dialectics, which hold that all contradictions are irreconcilable. Where has there ever been a reconcilable contradiction? Some are antagonistic, some are non-antagonistic, but it must not be thought that there are irreconcilable and reconcilable contradictions.

Under socialism [The transcriber of the 1967 text comments that Comrade Mao may have meant “under communism”.] there may be no war but there is still struggle, struggle among sections of the people; there may be no revolution of one class overthrowing another, but there is still revolution. The transition from socialism to communism is revolutionary. The transition from one stage of communism to another is also. Then there is technological revolution and cultural revolution. Communism will surely have to pass through many stages and many revolutions.”

[…] No line of development is straight; it is wave or spiral shaped. Even our studying has this pattern. Before studying we do something else. Afterward we have to rest for a few hours. We cannot continue studying as if there were neither day nor night. We study more one day, less the next. Moreover in our daily study sometimes we find more to comment upon, sometimes less. These are all wavelike patterns, rising and falling. Balance is relative to imbalance. Without imbalance there is no balance. The development of all things is characterized by imbalance. That is why there is a demand for balance. Contradiction between balance and imbalance exists in all parts of the various areas and departments, forever arising, forever being resolved. When there is a plan for the first year there has to be one for the next year as well. An annual plan requires a quarterly plan, which in turn requires a monthly plan. In every one of the twelve months contradictions between balance and imbalance have to be resolved. Plans constantly have to be revised precisely because new imbalances recur.”

Balance and imbalance are two sides of a contradiction within which imbalance is absolute and balance relative. If this were not so, neither the superstructure nor the production relations, nor the productive forces, could further develop; they would become petrified. Balance is relative, imbalance absolute. This is a universal law which I am convinced applies to socialist society. Contradiction and struggle are absolutes; unity, unanimity, and solidarity are transitional, hence relative. The various balances attained in planning are temporary, transitional, and conditional, hence relative. Who can imagine a state of equilibrium that is unconditional, eternal?

We need to use balance and imbalance among the productive forces, the production relations, and the superstructure as a guideline for researching the economic problems of socialism.”

There is nothing in the world that cannot be analyzed. But circumstances differ and so do essences. Many fundamental categories and laws — e.g., unity of contradiction — are applicable. If we study problems in this way, if we observe problems in this way, we will then have a solid, integral worldview and methodology.”

Finally, by way of conclusion we insert the following:

Pay attention to analysis and synthesis, they are two parts of a contradiction and of both, the synthesis is the main one. Analysis allows us to break down, to separate elements to achieve a better understanding, but this is only one part, it is not and cannot be the whole process to know, it requires the second part, the synthesis, this is what allows us to understand the essence of knowledge; if it is not synthesised there is no leap, it is the part that resolves, the main part, it is the one that makes it possible to extract the law.

This is a problem of ideology; it is part of the application of the Marxist theory of knowledge, of dialectical materialism. It is opposed to the idealist bourgeois ideology which separates analysis from synthesis. For the ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism are two parts of a unity and the synthesis is principal because it generates a higher knowledge, a qualitative change, a leap.

There are two classic examples. One is that of the watch, in order to know its mechanism, it is first disassembled, this disassembly allows us to know its parts and the functions of each one of them; but if it is not reassembled, there is no watch, only its parts, and even if they are grouped together, they will be nothing but a pile of parts, but not a watch.

The other example is the development of the natural sciences since the 15th century; historically it shows, in this respect, where the lack of synthesis leads. The grandiose development of the sciences made us understand various facets of nature such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, etc.; but this process, which involved an analytical breaking down of science and a differentiation of fields, led to metaphysical approaches; even the 18th century, with its great materialistic scientific advances, gave us metaphysical knowledge. However, this dismantling and separation of fields prepared the jump, created the conditions for the emergence of Hegel’s idealist dialectics first and Marx’s materialist dialectics later. Thus, this dismantling demanded synthesis, great condensation, it thus prepared fertile conditions for the dialectical materialism that Marx and Engels, mainly Marx, would achieve. To arrive at this milestone, at the conception of the proletariat, at Marxist philosophy, at dialectical materialism is linked to a powerful process of synthesis; and this is also how the core of the conception of the proletariat was reached: contradiction, a historical leap of inexhaustible transcendence.

Both examples show the need for synthesis, for the leap. So give special attention to analysis and synthesis, especially synthesis.