One generation stands on the shoulders of its predecessors, both negating and preserving earlier discoveries, continually deepening them, and giving them a more general form and content … The phenomena of the world of subatomic particles cannot be understood by the methods of classical mechanics. Here the ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity come into play. For most of the present century, physics has been dominated by the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics which, in the beginning, were rejected out of hand by the scientific establishment, which clung tenaciously to the old views. There is an important lesson here. Any attempt to impose a “final solution” to our view of the universe is doomed to fail.

Alan Woods & Ted Grant, Reason in Revolt

The citation above is intended to be a constant reminder to the philosophical initiate who intends to grasp and use Marxist principles of analysis to understand nature, society and human thought. All too often we find students and Marxist practitioners concentrate their learning on Marxist texts only. This practice denies them access to the philosophical precedents on the basis and in negation of which Marxism was born and develops, respectively. References to these precedent philosophies in the works of the originators of Marxism and their serious or hardworking adherents are ignored as areas of required study; a study that demands similar levels of energy as those expended in their attention to the founders of Marxism and their followers. Such required study is written off as ‘bourgeois’.

Similarly, Establishment professors of philosophy in universities across the world ignore the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who are sometimes only mentioned in passing. This lopsided treatment of Philosophy on both sides of the ideological divide stultifies the development of Philosophy to their mutual chagrin. The world of humans remains the loser as a consequence. It is in reaction to this whole restrictive tendency that we approach the study of Marxism in these pages holistically. In this way, we hope to place the study of Marxism within a historical context to enable the student to understand exactly what Marxism is combating in philosophy. To accurately state the philosophical opponent’s position before dismantling it is the essential stock in trade of the informed Marxist.

This approach is immediately necessitated by the frustrating experience of listening to students of Marxism proffer lines of argument alien and contradictory to the Marxist orientation but raised to defend it. Certainly, lingering presence of discarded notions in the student’s mind stems from the uncritical acceptance of those notions in previous studies where they are treated in passing only; that is, without a consciously deep study of them in their history and evolution. This is why in our current study of Marxism we have adopted a historical approach. By this approach, we choose writers or presenters who do not merely tell us what they think about a given concept or notion but also disclose the history of that phenomenon’s evolution.

Hence, in our endeavours to expose the fundamental principles of Marxist reasoning, understanding or analyses of phenomena we present works that do not just expose current understanding of relevant concepts but also their historical evolution through the works of the pioneers. That explains our choice of An Introduction to Philosophy, The History of Philosophy and Reason in Revolt in that order. The first introduces the student to Philosophy across the historical period. The second, akin to the style that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah adopts in Consciencism, maps up the historical evolution of Philosophy. The third then presents the current state of Philosophy whereby previous concepts are negated and preserved in a process of the negation of negation in accord with the citation above.

All this prepares the grounds for the study of African revolutionary philosophy which appropriates the universal principles of Philosophy in its analyses of African society. That is intended to aid the purposes of African liberation which culminates in the evolution of the socialist united People’s Republican State of Africa. Naturally, at the heart of our study of African revolutionary philosophy is Marxism-Nkrumaism, the philosophic-ideological expression of Marxism in Africa. 

Finally, we share the view of the editors of the website In Defence of Marxism 

that there are real obstacles in the path of the worker’s struggle for theory. A man or woman who is obliged to toil long hours in work, who has not had the benefit of a (socialist) education and consequently lacks the habit of reading, finds great difficulty in absorbing some of the more complex ideas, especially at the outset. Yet it was for workers that Marx and Engels wrote, and not for “clever” academics. ‘Every beginning is difficult’ no matter what science we are talking about. To the class conscious worker who is prepared to persevere, one promise can be made: once the initial effort is made to come to grips with unfamiliar and new ideas, the theories of Marxism will be found to be basically straight-forward and simple. Once the basic concepts of Marxism are conquered, they open up a whole new outlook on politics, the class struggle, and every aspect of life.

Take note and persevere! Just follow the sequence of study below.

2. An Introduction to Philosphy

3. The History of Philosophy

4. Reason in Revolt

Lang T.K.A. Nubuor

April 22, 2013