Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-criticism has to be the most useless bum steer as philosophic idiocy in the endgame failure of Marxism sliding into Bolshevist monomania as Marx ‘materialist’ obsession. No leftist/socialist should let himself be browbeaten by this useless bilge, remaining wary of that which it critiques. But the Neo-Kantian contribution to the left was in fact a critical contribution, almost a last-ditch intervention to try and counter the slide in Marxist philosophic idiocy. There were many true revolutionaries who were ‘neo-Kantians’, no reactionaries at all, and to take Lenin’s view of the matter is to end stuck in a useless debate. Kantian ethical socialism would in fact make a far superior foundation for the left than the barren historical materialism as a pseudo-science so prone to embrace by psychopaths who like Marx’s value-free ‘science’ as a blank check for mayhem and that was the curse of Marx at the dawn of Newtonian reductionism, and the emergence of scientism. Newtonian physics is a slick wonder but its legacy as the support for materialism was ambiguous, as Kant immediately realized. Kant’s austere critique of metaphysics was severe and set Hegel into the charge of the light brigade against it and Marx’s overreaction to Hegel was a giant wobble that derailed Marxist socialism. It was one of those cases where schoolboys exonerate themselves: ‘he made me do it’.
The problem with historical materialism was that it banished all ethical issues, a disaster in the making. There is nothing in socialism that requires deciding between idealism and materialism and a socialist culture once established might well find itself still debating the question.
The marxism.com gang/website is stuck in the Marx cult, and should be taken over by the Red Fortyeight Group.
We are proud to provide the following reading guide for Lenin’s classic philosophical text, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Published in 1909, during the period of black reaction following the defeat of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the book mounts an uncompromising defence of philosophical materialism.