April 09, 2017

Ten theses of Marxist-Leninist theory by Communist Theorist Hans Heinz Holz

Ten theses of Marxist-Leninist theory by Hans Heinz Holz 


Source: Hans Heinz Holz : Downfall and Future of Socialism 
(MEP Publications, Minneapolis, MN, 1992, pp. 32–40. Reprinted in 
Nature, Society and Thought, vol, 5, no. 3 [1992])


1. Communists distinguish themselves from other supporters of socialism in that their 
conceptions of the future social order and the path leading to it are based upon a theory 
of history, historical materialism, the essence of which was worked out by Marx, Engels, 
and Lenin. The theoretical content of Marxism- Leninism is determined and enriched by 
practical political experience. The theory still retains the experiences of the workers’ 
movement in the period of its formulation in the mid- nineteenth century. It reflects these 
struggles as they developed historically, including the controversies and contradictions. 
The truth content of the theory arises from the fact that consistent positions have been 
drawn from these struggles. Even wrong positions, later corrected, had not been adopted 
without reason; one must learn from them, just as one learns from all mistakes. 

2. As a theory of history (drawing upon a comprehensive understanding of processes 
of nature and the relationship between nature and history, upon dialectics of nature and 
dialectical materialism), Marxism-Leninism, by its very essence cannot be a dogma but 
a theory that assimilates history. Where it became mere dogma it very quickly lost touch 
with reality. Loss of creative theoretical development led to errors in the development of 
its practice and false conclusions. The communist movement has experienced such errors 
in its theoretical development even while its creative development continued. 

3. That a theory is capable of development does not mean that it can be changed in any
arbitrary way. Marxism-Leninism would no longer be itself if it were to discard the 
recognition that all history is a history of class struggles. The basis of its scientific analysis 
of historical processes is the insight that the decisive driving force in history is the 
development of productive forces and their corresponding production relations, and that 
the development of productive forces proceeds  in ever-present contradiction with the 
institutionalized stable form of production relations. Analysis of an existing social (and 
that includes political) situation and development of an appropriate political strategy 
depend on this insight and are based on the understanding of the general foundations and 
structural essence of the social formation, including its numerous particular operational 
mechanisms and contradictions. Indispensable to Marxism- Leninism is  also dialectics, 
in its twofold aspect as a universal principle of the interconnectedness of the 
contradictory forms of motion and as a method of representing these contradictory forms 
of motion. This means that reality is a multifaceted unity: it is continually changing; its 
motion results from the mutual interaction of contradictions on each other; and in this 
motion the qualitatively new arises from the accumulation of quantitative changes.  A 
basic understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory is that social consciousness is 
determined by social being. The contradictions of social being express themselves in 
social consciousness so that human beings confronted by the contradictions of  social 
being arrive at their various individual positions on the basis of their interests, traditions, 
experiences, and under- standing. Finally, basic contradictions manifest themselves in 
class positions. 

4. Human beings are not the helpless objects of a fatalistic historical process, but 
are always the active subjects of history.Nonetheless human behavior, when guided 
exclusively or primarily by private interests and personal motivations, can have 
unanticipated results. Opaque social structures change intended outcomes, as it were 
behind the backs of the individuals. Good will alone, therefore, does not suffice to make 
the world better; mere morality is not a political principle (no more than charity can 
remove the source of poverty); a theoretical understanding of the relation between 
individual and society is necessary. A politicalmovement to change the world to reach a 
specific goal cannot succeed if it derives its strategy and actions simply from the desired 
outcome or a cross-section of average individual opinions. This would be to reproduce the 
errors of bourgeois conceptions of democracy. The desired change in society, whether
through planned reforms with the final goal of revolutionary transformation or through a 
revolution, requires a theoretically guided organization, that is, a political party sustained 
by the collective will of its supporters. In order for the will of all to become a common 
will capable of being translated  into action, individual members must subordinate 
themselves to the organizational form, reining in their individual particularities of course
not without prior participation in forming that common will; this principle of discipline is 
a simple condition of survival and effectiveness for all revolutionary parties. 

5. The basic contradiction of all class societies is the private appropriation of social 
wealth whatever the form of the relations of  production. In  previous historical stages, 
each change in the relations of production shifted only the structures of appropriation, 
and shifted the responsibility for the use of the social wealth from one class to another. 
With these shifts, the mechanisms of exploitation became ever more abstract and 
opaque. This abstraction has reached, under capitalism and especially in its highly 
developed, state-monopolistic, and transnationally organized form, this abstraction has 
reached a level in which the overwhelming part of humanity is excluded from the 
appropriation of surplus value and decisions about its use, and in which the mechanisms 
of the accumulation of capital, the creation and reinvestment of surplus value, have also 
become independent of the decision makers. The class interest of that class at whose 
expense and against whose self-interest social wealth is created lies in the alteration of 
property relations and, because it is the only class that is opposed to these structures of 
appropriation, the establishment  of a new social order is its historical mission, which it 
has the possibility of achieving. The opposition between capital and labor establishes the 
identity of the working class (regardless of the differences in the character of the work 
performed by its members) as the class thatis in a position to abolish the capitalist 
relations of production. To materialize itself in activity as a class (and not just a sum of 
individuals) and thereby become the subject of this historical mission it must acquire 
consciousness of the situation in which human beings in general and members of the 
working class in particular find themselves, that is, a class consciousness. Various levels 
of class consciousness  will  obviously  arise  from  different  experiences and not at all 
solely through theory; but class consciousness must always be grounded on the theory of 
class society and class struggle. 

6. A new qualitative element in the development of the productive forces emerges in 
connection with the scientific and technological revolution. On the one hand, science and 
technology can today guarantee a generally highmaterial standard of living if a just 
system of appropriation and distribution were institutionalized. On the other hand, science 
and technology also make possible the destruction of the human species and large parts of 
nature. Indeed, the humanity of the human species is threatened by genetic or 
psychophysical manipulation. The capitalist form of production relations, which makes the 
accumulation of capital and its private control and appropriation the law of motion of 
social life, cannot solve this contradiction. Rather, the contradiction is intensified many 
times in mass misery (as in the Third World), in the continually growing danger of war, 
and in mental impoverishment and the distortion of the free unfolding of the personality. 
Only a socialist society provides the perspective of a human future worthy of humanity. 

7. The perspective of communism connects the objective laws of history, which are the 
laws of reproduction of human conditions of life, with the subjective striving of each 
person toward self-realization and happiness.  Self-realization,  however, is not 
conceivable without reference to and consideration of fellow human beings; self
realization is not the right of the fist of the individual at the expense of others but has its 
foundation in the insight that the individual can only be himself or herself in solidarity 
with others. Solidarity and consciousness of the social nature of human beings, that is, a 
socialist morality, underlie the program of the Communist Manifesto, that “the free 
development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (Marx and Engels,
in vol. 6 of MECW,506). In capitalist societies the new attitude toward life is formed in 
the struggle for socialism, in socialist societies, in the struggle for the construction of 
socialism. This struggle requires an organizational form: the theoretical understanding 
of the social and political processes of the present and the proposal of goals for the future 
must be worked out collectively by the members of an organization, mediated by them, 
and translated into political action. A communist party is the organization in  which this 
occurs (including the errors that always occur in real-life decisions); as the “place” where 
the conception of a socialist future is proposed and where the present strategy is worked 
out with this conception in mind, it is the revolutionary vanguard of the working class 
(even in a non-revolutionary period). 

8. The historical mission of the working class and the task of the communist party 
therefore have two aspects: first, the abolition of private ownership of the means of 
production and thereby of the private appropriation of surplus value brings about the 
changes in the relations of production  that have become necessary because the 
development of the forces of production in the scientific and technological revolution can 
no longer be sensibly controlled  by private interests; a comprehensive plan for the entire 
society is required. Second, the working class in its struggle for  self-determination against 
exploitation, oppression, and injustice brings about the goal of establishing a society in 
which free and equal citizens can develop their talents in full; only such a society, a 
communist society, can guarantee human rights. 

9. The construction of socialism, with communism emerging from it, will be a long 
and contradictory process even after the abolition of the capitalist property relations. 
Pre-socialist forms of consciousness and behavior last long after the institutional changes, 
some for several generations. Class positions do not disappear in one fell swoop; that is, 
the class struggle also continues, most of all the struggle over the new socialist 
worldview; accordingly, theoretical work and ideological clarity acquire great importance. 
This is the more so, as the path to socialism does not run parallel and simultaneously in 
the world as a whole, but rather must be traversed by some socialist countries under 
conditions of competing systems in which the metropolitan centers of capitalism will still 
be economically stronger. Thus the construction of socialism essentially depends upon the 
communist party giving leadership to the social development and providing guidance to 
other social forces in the socialist countries. This leading role must not be permitted to 
solidify into bureaucratic mechanisms (a danger to which it is subject at all times), but
must be achieved and maintained with political power. 

10. It is well to remember the insight of Karl Marx that “no social formation is ever
destroyed before all the productive forces  for which it is sufficient have been 
developed”  (Marx, in vol. 29 of MECW, 263). Capitalism today, in the development of its 
productive forces, begets external contradictions to the point of threatening the extinction 
of humanity in this respect it prepares in its womb the transition to socialism. However, 
capitalism is still capable of organizing within its own framework the continued 
development of the forces of production, even though with increasing deterioration of the 
quality of life. For this reason,  the struggle against capitalism is still the main task of communists throughout the world.  

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