Did Lenin refound Marxist dialectics in 1914?

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Abstract

Lenin’s philosophical legacy has been a source of controversy throughout the twentieth century. Within Marxism,the meaning of Lenin’s theory and practice has given rise to a number of competing accounts vying to reclaim his legacy from its ossification under Stalinism. One such account popular today is the Hegelian-Marxist interpretation of Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks. According to thinkers such as Raya Dunayevskaya and Kevin Anderson, Lenin’s notebooks on Hegel’s Science of Logic represent a radical break from classical dialectical materialism. For these Hegelian-Marxists, Lenin’s acerbic remarks on Engels’s and Plekhanov’s dialectics reveal him as the forerunner of Georg Lukács and Herbert Marcuse and represent a thorough going reconceptualization of the dialectics of revolution. In this article I submit these arguments to the test of a fine grained textual analysis. I conclude, opposite to the Hegelian-Marxist narrative, that Lenin neither intended to nor accomplished a refoundation of Marxist dialectics in 1914. The rhetorical flourish of quantity-quality leaps Lenin adds to his works from 1914, I argue,show him less as an innovator in Marxist philosophy and more as a keeper of the flame of dialectical materialist orthodoxy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Legacy
Volume21
Issue number1
Early online date11 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016

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