Lenin on Seventy Marxes

Every individual producer in the world economic system realises that he is introducing a certain change into the technique of production; every owner realises that he exchanges certain products for others; but these producers and these owners do not realise that in doing so they are thereby changing social being. The sum-total of these changes in all their ramifications in the capitalist world economy could not be grasped even by seventy Marxes. The paramount thing is that the laws of these changes have been discovered, that the objective logic of these changes and their historical development have at bottom and in the main been disclosed—objective, not in the sense that a society of conscious beings, men, could exist and develop independently of the existence of conscious beings (and it is only such trifles that Bogdanov stresses by his “theory”), but in the sense that social being is independent of the social consciousness of men. The fact that you live and conduct your business, beget children, produce products and exchange them, gives rise to an objectively necessary chain of events, a chain of development, which is independent of your social consciousness, and is never grasped by the latter completely. The highest task of humanity is to comprehend this objective logic of economic evolution (the evolution of social life) in its general and fundamental features, so that it may be possible to adapt to it one’s social consciousness and the consciousness of the advanced classes of all capitalist countries in as definite, clear and critical a fashion as possible.

SOURCE: Lenin, V. I. Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, translated by Abraham Fineberg (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972 [Collected Works, vol. 14]), Chapter Six: Empirio-Criticism and Historical Materialism; 2. How Bogdanov Corrects and “Develops” Marx.

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