Negation of the negation


Negation of the negation
   Originally a concept of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the negation of the negation is a move- ment of the triadic dialectic whereby conflict between opposites is resolved. Although Karl Marx makes use of the Hegelian terminology, he differs in both the loci of the methodology and the conception of the negation of the negation. The concept appears, either explicitly or tacitly, in all of Marx’s major works and is notably given a lengthy treatment in Friedrich Engels’ Anti-Dühring (1878). The negation of the negation is the confrontation between the negation of the original, positive thesis and a negativity which seeks to restore the positivity of what was first negated, thus resolving the contradiction between thesis and antithesis, yet at the same time canceling those moments and preserving them in a movement Hegel calls “Aufhebung,” or “sublation.” Engels states that in this “one law of motion” the material is in a perpetual dialectical process and there can be no regression but only further negation.
   In Marx’s materialist paradigm, the first negation is that of the individual property of the laborer by capital. The narrow mode of production in which the laborer works for himself creates the material conditions for the annihilation of that epoch in the conflict between the forces and relations of production. Individual production is negated by socialization of production in a mode of production based upon the private ownership of the means of production in which the capitalist extracts surplus value from labor. As the thesis begets the contradiction, so the negation supposes the expropriation of private property. Individual property, which fetters production, and private property, which both fetters production and negates the human being, are sublated by a classless society in which property is both social and individual.
   “Communism is the negation of the negation,” a necessary phase in human emancipation when man no longer loses himself to his product, thereby negating exploitation, thus Marx’s negation of the negation is intrinsic to his theory of revolution. The negation of the negation is a resolution to the contradictions of bourgeois society, nevertheless, the existence of contradiction is elementary to dialectical logic, and contradiction in production is fundamental to materialism implying that communism itself must be negated.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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