LITERATURE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE: LITERATURE AND MARXISM
What do you understand by superstructure in Marxist Criticism? Is Literature an important part of the superstructure?
ANSWER –The philosophy of Marx is distinguished by its antitheoretical and committed character with respect to the effort of liberation of the working class against the bourgeois society that had been formed as a result of the Industrial Revolution from the end s. XVIII. The revolutionary action or praxis is an integral part of his philosophy.
According to Lenin, the three sources of the Marxian work, and against which it is pronounced are:
a) Classical German philosophy: Hegel and Feuerbach mainly.
b) English political economy: Adham Smith, David Ricardo, Malthus …
c) Utopian Socialism: Saint-Simon; Fourier; Owen.
Marxist thought can be interpreted from three complementary points of view:
a) Economic-sociological T: Critical theory on the bourgeois and capitalist social reality, in which at the time of offering an interpretation of it, advances an interpretation of history as a dialectical struggle of classes (capitalists / proletarians).
b) Political Tª: that proposes a revolutionary praxis incardinada to the transformation of the reality and the economic-political structure.
c) Philosophical criticism: It puts into question all the previous philosophy, especially German idealism in the figure of Hegel and the mechanistic materialism of Feuerbach. Marx aims to give philosophy a pragmatic turn by considering that the mere thinking and theorizing about reality is not enough.
Marxism is, in short, a conception of the world.
2. MARX’S CRITIQUE TO THE PREVIOUS PHILOSOPHY
2.1. AGAINST HEGEL
For Marx, Hegel represents the sumum of bourgeois thought, even so, we must recognize in Marx a large number of Hegelian elements, such as the idea of dialectic and work. But, in general, he considers Hegelian philosophy to be quite reactionary, insofar as it identifies: REALITY = RATIONALITY, according to Hegel: “Everything rational is real, and everything real is rational”
The second part of the sentence seemed inadmissible to Marx, since to affirm that meant that also the social and political reality of his time were equally rational. A similar statement is nothing more than a mere apology for the present, a justification of the established order. From this affirmation it follows, according to Marx, that all possibility of change or transformation is irrational, because everything that is real is rational, and, therefore, everything that is not yet real, but possible, is irrational. Hence the reactionary character of the 2nd part of the sentence. Therefore, such an assertion is unsustainable, since the existence of the proletariat, a class condemned to a kind of almost animal life, contradicts the supposed rationality of reality.
In another order of things, Marx criticizes the Hegelian conception of knowledge and philosophy. Hegel affirmed that philosophy always arrived too late: while thought of the world appears only when reality has fulfilled its process of formation. It would come to be like “the Minerva owl only boosts its flight at sunset”. Philosophy is reduced by Hegel to interpretation, to theory, to a vision of reality as a perfectly coherent system. For Marx, on the other hand, this way of understanding philosophy is ideological because it contributes to perpetuate already established models, and against Hegel he affirms in his eleventh thesis on Feuerbach that: “Philosophers have limited themselves to interpreting the world in different ways, what it is about is changing it ”
Marx criticized the static side of Hegelian philosophy, expressed in his conception of system, but, on the other hand, accepted its dynamic character by adopting the concept of dialectics. Recall that, according to Hegel, reality is dynamic and its constant flow is determined by the struggle of opposites, expressed in the Fichtean triad, and that has commonly been attributed to Hegel of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Marx agrees with Hegel in the dialectical conception of reality that manifests itself in the constant dialogue between opposites as the true engine of historical change.
Finally, Marx criticizes the conception of the Hegelian State in the following terms:
a) No State is a necessary or eternal essence, but a perishable manifestation of history; moreover, true democracy calls for the extinction of the State, that is, popular self-government.
b) The State is not the synthesis of anything, but the division and the antithesis between leaders and directed.
c) There is no universality in the State, but particularity; It is not universal reason that illuminates the ruler, but contingency or arbitrariness, often disastrous for the destinies of the people.