09 April, 2015


There is a widely distributed myth about Revolution.

It is characterised as a very bad thing, when the “lower orders” of Society rebel against their “betters” and overthrow a steady and working system to absolutely everyone’s detriment. In this version, everything possible must be done to defeat it – including waging war.

In the 1917 Russian Revolution, not only were the Royalist forces supported from outside the country, but also after the execution of the Tsar and the establishment of a Socialist State the internal Civil War was followed by invasions by 14 different countries, in attempts to terminate the Revolution.

And, such an attitude is considered to be legitimate by those who benefit greatly from the system being dismantled before their very eyes. By God, it might even lead to their own, more than comfortable existences being threatened in their own countries! Clearly, such opposition to Revolution is mainly by those who will lose all they hold dear – their positions, their money and their power!

But, of course, even this basic characterisation, by these clear “Conservatives”, is an outright lie. The so-called “lower orders” are never in any position to even conceive of such a thing, never mind carry it out with a predetermined plan. And everyone accepts this!

So, how can it happen and even succeed?

The next position of the anti-revolution front is to explain that such events are purposely fomented by dedicated Revolutionaries – people who hate the current set up and feel that if they can use the legitimate dissatisfaction of the masses, they can make a Revolution happen! They can achieve such things because they are equipped with the ideas of Karl Marx, about the nature of Social Revolutions, and can convince the people to work together to overthrow the current regime. In other words, these activists are the cause of a Revolution, falsely persuading the masses that it will be in their interest to organise for an overthrow. Our defenders-of-the-Faith are convinced that a successful outcome for the revolutionaries, will be a calamity for everybody else: for the theories of the revolutionaries are purely self-kid, and they could never deliver anything better for anybody (including the lower classes).

Now, is this true, or is it a downright lie? Are Revolutions actually arranged for by selfish agitators? Could something like the Russian Revolution really have been the result of a dishonest plan? It couldn't have been.

The only valid way it can be understood is by detailed investigations into Development in general! The most brilliant and profound contribution in this area turned out to be by the Idealist philosopher, Frederick Hegel, who set himself the task of understanding the trajectory of Human Thinking, as both his, and our, most important question that had then to be addressed. How does Thinking actually progress? For that it most certainly does!

What is the true trajectory of significant change in Thinking that allows real progress in understanding to actually be achieved?

Since the Ancient Greeks, a system termed Formal Logic was believed to be how we thought. It was based upon the belief that facts were produced by Eternal Laws of Nature (though made ever more complex in their summations). Now, this inevitably made thoughts merely the incremental addition of all such laws to explain all phenomena, and the more of these that we knew about, the more we would be able to understand.

But, Hegel realised that this was NOT what happened in his own thinking, and was likely not to be true in general either. He realised that progress was only made when hard and fast premises were overturned.

Progress was NEVER a simple building up of more and more Laws: it definitely included major crises, caused by contradiction-produced impasses that seemingly brought reasoning to a dead halt. So, how was progress ever achieved?

It was not an easy problem to solve – for these impasses were indeed unavoidable, yet they always produced contradictions, and hence scuppered Formal Logic as being sufficient in itself to enable such impasses to be easily transcended.

So, how did Hegel in his thinking, manage to actually do this, and break through to higher levels and a superior understanding?

He actually realised that Mankind deals with Reality in thought by making conceptions and relations between them, which became generalised principles. And, it was these that turned out to be the problem, for they were never totally correct!

They always contained some truth within them, but the method of arriving at these basic premises, was arrived at by them by both simplifying and idealising the conceptions into forms that could be more easily handled, indeed, could be used, via Formal Logic, to generate a whole panoply of consequent derivations.

And, it was this methodology, though, indeed, a necessary major step forward, also absolutely guaranteed an inevitable limitation upon just how far these reasonable extensions could be taken.

Now, believe it or not, these weaknesses had been intimated over 2,300 years previously by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea, who, via his famous Paradoxes, had actually proved the inevitability of contradictions via the everywhere-agreed method of reasoning. He had identified two concepts, which we now term Continuity and Descreteness, which totally unavoidably came from the very same bases in thinking, but somehow came out as mutually incompatible. But Zeno, at that juncture in Mankind’s development, couldn’t take these ideas any further. Though, after 2,300 years, along came Hegel, who realised that this was still the most important problem to be tackled, and set about the task. 

G. W. F. Hegel

Now, we must position both Hegel and his problem, historically, in a much wider context.

In both England and in Holland, and then finally in France in 1789, revolutions were emerging, and being taken to wholly transforming conclusions. These resulted in the fall of the old Divine-Right monarchies, and to the dominance of a new economic system – Capitalism was being made the order of the day, and the resolutions did not come easily. These major crises, via enormous and chaotic changes not only were undermining the political set-ups of many countries, but also having major effects upon ways of thinking, that had also been in place for millennia. And, this unavoidable reached into the studies of Hegel too.

He revealed that given a set of premises that were not the complete truth, though a penumbra of consequent “truths” could be generated from them, it was also inevitable that they would also, at some point, begin to generate impasses, indicated by pairs of contradictions – termed Dichotomous Pairs, which could never be resolved until those premises were replaced by some that were “more true”. Hegel’s method, entitled Dialectics, had the initial task of finding these Dichotomous Pairs, and, thereafter, unearthing their inadequate common premises, which then had to be criticised and ultimately replaced by something better. But, the task indicated by these necessary processes was not, as might be assumed, the unearthing of Absolute Truth – that was impossible, due to Mankind’s always inadequate knowledge and understanding. So, on the contrary, it involved the finding of new ideas containing more Objective Content than those they were replacing.

Such work would enable further progress to be made via their consequences. But, would also in turn, ultimately produce their own impasses and Dichotomous Pairs.

What Hegel had done was to produce a revolution in how we consider our thinking. The Greek idea of Formal Logic was finally shown to be inadequate, and needed replacing by what Hegel termed The Logic of Change, in which were embodied the discoveries he had found.

But, his new Logic was never completed as such, for it needed to be applied extensively in the currently dominant areas of Science, and Hegel was not equipped to do that. And, his best disciple, Karl Marx, had his own priorities.

He took Hegel’s revolution away from being solely about thinking, and suggested that the discoveries were applicable far beyond just Human Thought, and relevant in absolutely all Development. And clearly, if Marx was right, the trajectories of all kinds of development now had to be redefined. The Crises, Impasses and even Revolutions would occur in all developments, including, as Marx emphasized, Social Development. 

For, in such a context, Revolutions in Society occur when a prior stable social organisation, is surviving well beyond its capability to evolve any further on the same basis, and more and more contradictions will increasingly become evident, until a final major Crisis arises. In such circumstances the resulting Revolutions are never due to some conceived-of plan. They are the natural outcomes of the built-in limitations of a current social organisation system.

However, unlike many other similar natural phenomena, these upheavals include thinking human beings, and even some adequately equipped to understand what was actually happening. And they will certainly organise to affect the outcome in the best way for themselves. And, of course, those in power are often the best equipped to put down rebellion and attempt to retain the status quo.

Although no one can decide to have a Revolution, which is entirely out of any single person's hands, if you are a follower of Marx you may well be able to understand the process and intervene somehow by analysing what was going on, devising the best actions necessary, and leading the rebellion to a victory for the working class.

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