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The Inevitability
of Communism (2)


In the introductory remarks to his book ( page 6 ) Hook states that "science" cannot be identified with "Marxism," since the two deal with different things. The one with nature, the other with society. Marx distinguished between development in nature and that of human society and he saw in human consciousness the differentiating factor ( page 85 ). Marxism presupposes class goals; hence it is a subjective, a class science; science itself, however, stands above classes, it is objective. Hook sees in Marx's philosophy a synthesis of the objective and subjective moments of truth. As an instrument of the class struggle the Marxian theory can function only in so far as it is objectively correct. Yet as an objective truth it can function effectively only within the framework of the subjective class purposes of the proletariat. If these class purposes are also socially and historically conditioned, still this is not true of the will and the specific act by which they are realized. Consequently, quite as much value must be ascribed to the subjective as to the objective historical moments. The human-active element is subjective, however, only in relation to the socio-economic situation; to the participants in the class struggle it is thoroughly objective. With this distinction in mind, it would be impossible to speak of Marxism as an "objective science" without at the same time taking away its revolutionary character ( pages 7-8 ).

At first sight, there is nothing to be objected to in these formulations of Hook. Apart from the fact that with the acceptance of the Marxian synthesis such concepts for example, as "objective science" and "biologically constant" ( thesis ) and "variable social nature of man" as well as "subjective class willing" ( antithesis ), as Hook puts it later, can still have validity only as methodological abstractions and no longer correspond to reality; apart from the fact that with the acceptance of the Marxian dialectic any one-sided overemphasis on the objective or subjective, historical factors, without the most precise searching of the actual situation, is a blunder, it being quite possible that in certain situations the subjective factor plays a smaller and in others a greater role; and apart from the many defects in the Hook formulation, one can fully accept Marxism offhand as a synthesis of objective science and of subjective class science. But if Hook sets objective, matter-of-fact science, "science proper," above classes, he has not shown the rational kernel concealed behind the concept. If one is unable to materialize science, if it remains a mere matter of concepts, then the concept "objective science" can only confuse and becomes unserviceable for the real explanation of the dialectical content of Marxism, since all scientific methods, regardless of the material with which they deal, are in part subjectively conditioned.

When Hook says with Marx that we are not concerned with explaining but with changing, he implies that it is only the proletariat which can realize Marxism. But through this realization Marxism would then become "objective science." If we take as our starting point the Marxian synthesis, then this synthesis alone is still capable of passing as "objective science." But this theoretical synthesis is at first only the theoretical method for grasping the connection of historical reality. Historical reality is nothing but . . . historical reality; it is not a science. Only as human beings comprehend and conceptually employ this reality with a view to determining within it their own actions, only that produces the content of science, the objectivity of which at any particular time must be demonstrated in practice.

The materialist dialectic is today the only method which confirms itself in practice. It is applicable and is demonstrated experimentally. Hence this dialectic is "objective science"; it, too, stands above classes, as further seen from Hook's admission that it would continue to operate in a communist society. It is otherwise, however, with the three leading principles of the Marxian doctrine. These are bound up only with the proletariat, so long as it is a proletariat; they are historically conditioned. Historical materialism, the theory of the class struggle and the theory of surplus value are only conceivable and practically applicable in bourgeois society ( pages 97-98 ). They are the theoretical weapons of the strongest force of production . . . the proletariat. They help in the full development and realization of this greatest force of production and are thus, in a materialistic sense, themselves nothing more than productive elements. However, even what Hook denotes by the concept "objective science" is, rationally considered, nothing but an expression of the increasing forces of production. Behind science are concealed the social forces of production; if these latter develop, so also science, and likewise, in dialectical interaction, the reverse process is accomplished. Hook will no doubt grant us that science must be reckoned among the human forces of production, but his cloudy definition of science and other factors which we shall take up later on prove that his mind is not clear regarding the close connection between science and the forces of production. Yet if one has recognized science as a force of production, one sees also that even "science as such" stands as little above classes and is exactly as historically conditioned as the historical factors of Marxism, which are valid only for the society of class struggle. Or, inversely, that the historical elements of Marxism, as social forces of production, only add new ones to the available productive forces, or to "objective science," and so are a part of science. If commodity fetishism was one form in which the social forces of production developed, then Marxism is a higher form of the development of the productive forces.

If one wants to illustrate the development of the Marxian dialectic, one can without doubt take the road followed by Hook and draw a distinction between objective and subjective science. But on the basis of the dialectic which flatly rejects such a distinction, one can no longer appeal to that distinction except at the risk of introducing confusion into the ranks of Marxism. The divorce between "science" and Marxism is itself historical and only another expression for the separation of the workers from the means of production.

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