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Lukacs Georg. Atlantic 3.


  1. Tactics and Ethics by Georg Lukacs: | gyqacyxaja.cf: Books.
  2. Works under MDS 329.
  3. Tactics and Ethics by Georg Lukacs.
  4. Tactics and Ethics.
  5. Political Writings 1919-1929.

The book Lenin: A Study in the Unity of His Thought is the product of an unprecedented, and unrepeatable, conjuncture. Written immediately after Lenin's death in , and thus on the cusp of a period of bureaucratic reaction in the Communist movement, it consists of the reflections of the most important Marxist philosopher of the twentieth century on the thought of the most significant Marxist politician of the century.

Ilya Budraitskis: Order in disorder / Radical Philosophy

In sharp contrast to contemporary and later characterisations of Lenin either as a cynical and shallow opportunist or as a source of ready-made dogmas and formulae, Georg Lukacs restored to Lenin's thought its true intellectual and political stature. Bringing to bear the concepts of totality, concreteness and the dialectic that he had developed in his masterwork History and Class Consciousness, Lukacs convincingly demonstrated that the key conceptual innovations in Lenin's political thought - the revolutionary alliance of the proletariat and the peasantry, the role of the vanguard party, the analysis of imperialism and national liberation movements, the state as a weapon of class struggle and the unifying force of the Soviets - constituted fundamental ruptures with the mechanical fatalism that had hitherto characterised 'official' Marxism.

They have no choice, for the existence of their ultimate goal admits of no other course of action. This contrast helps greatly to elucidate the tactics of the revolutionary classes and parties: their tactics are not determined by short-term immediately attainable advantages; indeed, they must sometimes reject such advantages as endangering what is truly important, the ultimate objective.

But since the ultimate objective has been categorized, not as Utopia, but as reality which has to be achieved, positing it above and beyond the immediate advantage does not mean abstracting from reality or attempting to impose certain ideals on reality, but rather it entails the knowledge and transformation into action of those forces already at work within social reality — those forces, that is, which are directed towards the realization of the ultimate objective.

Without this knowledge the tactics of every revolutionary class or party will vacillate aimlessly between a Realpolitik devoid of ideals and an ideology without real content. It was the lack of this knowledge which characterized the revolutionary struggle of the bourgeois class.

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An ideology of the ultimate goal existed even here, it is true, but it could not be organically integrated into the planning of concrete action; rather, it developed in a largely pragmatic way, in the creation of institutions which quickly became ends in themselves, thereby obscuring the ultimate objective itself and degrading it to the level of pure, already ineffectual ideology. The unique sociological significance of socialism is precisely that it provides a solution to this problem. For if the ultimate objective of socialism is utopian in the sense that it transcends the economic, legal and social limits of contemporary society and can only be realized through the destruction of that society, it is anything but utopian in the sense that its attainment would entail the absorption of ideas hovering outside or above society.

This process is not a means the significance and value of which can be judged by the standards of a goal which transcends it; it is rather a new elucidation of the utopian society, step by step, leap by leap, corresponding to the logic of history. This implies immersion in contemporary social reality. It follows that there will be conceptually indeterminable transitional stages between the tactical means and the ultimate objective; it is never possible to know in advance which tactical step will succeed in achieving the ultimate objective itself.

This brings us to the decisive criterion of socialist tactics: the philosophy of history.

Tactics and Ethics: 1919-1929 (Radical Thinkers)

The fact of the class struggle is nothing other than a sociological description and an elevation of events into laws which are effective in social reality; the meaning of the class struggle of the proletariat, however, goes beyond this fact. Essentially, of course, the meaning cannot be separated from the fact, but it is directed towards the emergence of a social order which differs from that of every previous society in that it no longer knows either oppressors or oppressed.

In order that the epoch of economic dependence, which is an affront to human dignity, should come to an end, the blind power of economic forces must, as Marx says, be broken and replaced by a higher power which corresponds more exactly to the dignity of man. Capital , Volume III.

Therefore, to weigh up and understand correctly the contemporary economic and social conjuncture, the true relations of power, is never more than to meet the prerequisites for correct socialist action, correct tactics. It does not in itself constitute a criterion of correctness. The only valid yardstick is whether the manner of the action in a given case serves to realize this goal, which is the essence of the socialist movement. If ever there was a historical movement to which Realpolitik presents a baneful and ominous threat, it is that of socialism.

That means concretely that every gesture of solidarity with the existing order is fraught with such danger.

Tactics and ethics: 1919-1929

Deriving though they may well do from true inner conviction, our insistent protests that such and such a gesture of solidarity indicates only a momentary, immediate community of interests, nothing more than a provisional alliance for the attainment of a concrete goal, nevertheless do not obviate the danger that the feeling of solidarity will take root in that form of consciousness which necessarily obscures the world-historical consciousness, the awakening of humanity to self-consciousness.

The class struggle of the proletariat is not merely a class struggle if it were, it would indeed be governed simply by Realpolitik , but a means whereby humanity liberates itself, a means to the true beginning of human history. Every compromise made obscures precisely this aspect of the struggle and is therefore — despite all its possible, short-term but extremely problematical advantages — fatal to the achievement of this true ultimate objective. As long as the present social order persists, the ruling classes remain in a position to compensate, openly or covertly, for whatever economic or political advantages have been won in this fashion.

Tactical deviations within socialism are therefore of more fundamental significance than is the case with other historical movements.

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The sense of world history determines the tactical criteria, and it is before history that he who does not deviate for reasons of expediency from the narrow, steep path of correct action prescribed by the philosophy of history which alone leads to the goal, undertakes responsibility for all his deeds. It seems to follow from the above that we have also discovered the answer to the ethical problem; that adherence to the correct tactics is in itself ethical.


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