If anyone wants to know the secret to how I am able to arrive at my conclusions in The Third Place, it requires achieving a Unity of Opposites and overcoming Plato and Aristotle at the Law of Non-Contradiction (aka the “Law of Contradiction”). There are multiple instances of me doing exactly that, the most obvious example being my actual political-economic ideology, “American Conservative Socialism.” Now, to most American Conservatives and most American Socialists, an ideology like “Conservative Socialism” makes zero sense. How is that possible? Is there anything from the works of men like Vladimir Lenin where foreknowledge of the Law of Non-Contradiction is mandatory for anyone trying to follow my movements on the Third World Ideologies Diagram?
Nobody will understand how I arrived at my conclusions without some background information on the “Law of Non-Contradiction.” Here are the details surrounding the concept according to Aristotle:
- “There are three versions in Aristotle’s Metaphysics: an ontological, a doxastic and a semantic version. The first version concerns things that exist in the world, the second is about what we can believe, and the third relates to assertion and truth.”
- ‘It is impossible for the same thing to belong and not to belong at the same time to the same thing and in the same respect’ (with the appropriate qualifications) (Metaph IV 3 1005b19–20).
- “It is impossible to hold (suppose) the same thing to be and not to be (Metaph IV 3 1005b24 cf.1005b29–30).”
- The third version is that “opposite assertions cannot be true at the same time” (Metaph IV 6 1011b13–20).
Aristotle would have me believe that contemporary US politics is an EITHER/OR topic. Now, going by his particular logic, he will insist that:
- EITHER “I can be a Conservative, but not a Socialist” OR “I can be a Socialist, but not a Conservative.”
- NEITHER “can I be a Conservative Socialist” NOR “Is it possible for me to be a Social Conservative.”
Breaking down these two statements, my options are limited to two–“Conservative” or “Socialist.” Missing from the discussion altogether are “Conservative Socialist” and “Social Conservatism.” The Explicit Intent of the Law of Non-Contradiction, in the hands of a Liberal Capitalist, is to prevent me from finding potential allies and sympathizers to my ideology of choice. Every ideology on the Third World Ideologies Diagram is vulnerable to the Law of Non-Contradiction in some form or another.
The problem arises when plenty of people in political-economic discourse find it permissible to deem “being a Conservative alone” and “being a Socialist alone” as my only options. A Liberal Capitalist can then cite plenty of examples in US History where it is allegedly ‘impossible’ for me to achieve a Unity of Opposites between American Conservatism and American Socialism. Most Americans still treat this topic as a given. It does not have to be this way, but I am forced to pursue the roles that I have been assigned to in this Life.
Fortunately, Mao Zedong was thinking about these same questions in On Contradiction in 1937.
“The Law of Contradiction in things, that is, the Law of the Unity of Opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. Lenin said, ‘Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects.’ Lenin often called this law the essence of dialectics; he also called it the kernel of dialectics. In studying this law, therefore, we cannot but touch upon a variety of questions, upon a number of philosophical problems. If we can become clear on all these problems, we shall arrive at a fundamental understanding of materialist dialectics. The problems are: The two world outlooks, the universality of contradiction, the particularity of contradiction, the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction, the identity and struggle of the aspects of a contradiction, and the place of antagonism in contradiction.
Throughout the history of human knowledge, there have been two conceptions concerning the law of development of the universe, the metaphysical conception and the dialectical conception, which form two opposing world outlooks. Lenin said:
‘The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).’
“Here Lenin was referring to these two different world outlooks.
In China another name for metaphysics is hsuan-hsueh. For a long period in history whether in China or in Europe, this way of thinking, which is part and parcel of the idealist world outlook, occupied a dominant position in human thought. In Europe, the materialism of the bourgeoisie in its early days was also metaphysical. As the social economy of many European countries advanced to the stage of highly developed capitalism, as the forces of production, the class struggle and the sciences developed to a level unprecedented in history, and as the industrial proletariat became the greatest motive force in historical development, there arose the Marxist world outlook of materialist dialectics. Then, in addition to open and barefaced reactionary idealism, vulgar evolutionism emerged among the bourgeoisie to oppose materialist dialectics.”
The preceding is an important passage written by Mao wherein he specifically stated that the Law of Non-Contradiction is only relevant in the realm of Mathematics, indicating the presence of the same Positivist logic also forewarned by Carl Schmitt. Here, I can argued that both Mao and Schmitt were critical of Positivism, the belief professed by people like Richard von Mises (the younger and less well-known brother of Ludwig von Mises), that because the Natural Sciences and the Scientific Method are capable of achieving “Objective” results, they ought to reapplied to everyday social relations. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in an earlier Thus Spoke Lenin Post criticizing Positivism, this does not bode well for anyone and the Law of Non-Contradiction is the just the latest example thus far.
“The metaphysical or vulgar evolutionist world outlook sees things as isolated, static and one-sided. It regards all things in the universe, their forms and their species, as eternally isolated from one another and immutable. Such change as there is can only be an increase or decrease in quantity or a change of place. Moreover, the cause of such an increase or decrease or change of place is not inside things but outside them, that is, the motive force is external. Metaphysicians hold that all the different kinds of things in the universe and all their characteristics have been the same ever since they first came into being. All subsequent changes have simply been increases or decreases in quantity. They contend that a thing can only keep on repeating itself as the same kind of thing and cannot change into anything different. In their opinion, capitalist exploitation, capitalist competition, the individualist ideology of capitalist society, and so on, can all be found in ancient slave society, or even in primitive society, and will exist for ever unchanged [Read: Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Slave Morality of the Bourgeoisie’].”
“They ascribe the causes of social development to factors external to society, such as geography and climate. They search in an over-simplified way outside a thing for the causes of its development, and they deny the theory of materialist dialectics which holds that development arises from the contradictions inside a thing. Consequently, they can explain neither the qualitative diversity of things, nor the phenomenon of one quality changing into another. In Europe, this mode of thinking existed as mechanical materialism in the 17th and 18th centuries and as vulgar evolutionism at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. In China, there was the metaphysical thinking exemplified in the saying ‘Heaven changeth not, likewise the Tao changeth not’, and it was supported by the decadent feudal ruling classes for a long time. Mechanical materialism and vulgar evolutionism, which were imported from Europe in the last hundred years, are supported by the bourgeoisie.”
Mao went to describe examples in Military Science where the Law of Non-Contradiction falls apart in the face of armed combat. He cited the constant shifting between offensives and defensives, victory and defeat as two obvious examples where Aristotle’s logic deems as Contradictions in themselves.
“Contradiction is present in the process of development of all things; it permeates the process of development of each thing from beginning to end. This is the universality and absoluteness of contradiction which we have discussed above. Now let us discuss the particularity and relativity of contradiction.
This problem should be studied on several levels.”
Later, Mao went on to write:
“There are still two points in the problem of the particularity of contradiction which must be singled out for analysis, namely, the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction.
There are many contradictions in the process of development of a complex thing, and one of them is necessarily the principal contradiction whose existence and development determine or influence the existence and development of the other contradictions.”
What did Mao was trying to suggest in relation to the aforementioned example involving von Manstein’s Backhand Blow? Personally, I found the Military Science analogy to be the most effective way to get Mao’s point across. Where there is an apparent Synchronicity between theoretical postulation and historical practice, as in the case of the Backhand Blow, there is an underlying Metaphysics governing von Manstein’s decision-making process as a Field Marshal that is distinctly Hegelian. And while I can make the same argument regarding Mao’s two analogies, an Imperial Japanese invasion of Mainland China (historical practice) and the Liberal Capitalist Market/Mixed Economy (theoretical postulations), “actions speak louder than words.”
In the context of von Manstein’s situation, he knew the Soviets had regained the initiative due to the failure of “Unternehmen Wintergewitter” (Operation Winter Storm), which was to relieve the encircled 6. Armee at Stalingrad in late 1942. Once it became clear that Stalingrad could no longer be captured, it became clear to von Manstein that he needed to act quickly as the Soviets were rolling across Eastern Ukraine. With the Backhand Blow, the rest of Mao’s logic flows as naturally as the decision to bludgeon the Soviet counteroffensive.
What do these passage mean?
Simply put, what Mao was trying to argue here can now be reapplied to the “American Conservative Socialism” analogy I brought up earlier. If I were to conduct a Unity of Opposites between Conservativism and Socialism, two new ideologies emerge. I now have the choice of choosing between Social Conservatism and Conservative Socialism, the two combinations denoting the prevalence of “American Conservatism” in the first choice and “American Socialism” in the second choice. Since I stated earlier that I wanted to achieve a Unity of Opposites to yield “American Conservative Socialism,” I am obviously going to discard the Social Conservatism.
“We often speak of ‘the new superseding the old’. The supersession of the old by the new is a general, eternal and inviolable law of the universe. The transformation of one thing into another, through leaps of different forms in accordance with its essence and external conditions–this is the process of the new superseding the old. In each thing there is contradiction between its new and its old aspects, and this gives rise to a series of struggles with many twists and turns. As a result of these struggles, the new aspect changes from being minor to being major and rises to predominance, while the old aspect changes from being major to being minor and gradually dies out. And the moment the new aspect gains dominance over the old, the old thing changes qualitatively into a new thing. It can thus be seen that the nature of a thing is mainly determined by the principal aspect of the contradiction, the aspect which has gained predominance. When the principal aspect which has gained predominance changes, the nature of a thing changes accordingly.
That is how all things in the objective world and all human thought are constituted and how they are set in motion.
This being so, there is an utter lack of identity or unity. How then can one speak of identity or unity?”
Between what Chairman Mao wrote and the pictures I am depicting (as von Manstein’s handiwork), it should be obvious:
- Without II. SS Panzerkorps attacking from the north, the Soviets could have won the Third Battle of Kharkov.
- Without 1. Wehrmacht Panzerarmee and 4. Wehrmacht Panzerarmee attacking from the south, the Soviets would have been victorious in the Third Battle of Kharkov.
Does one not realize the implications of what Chairman Mao and von Manstein are both demonstrating here in terms of both word and deed? Vladimir Lenin, it should be recalled, was particularly fond of arguing for “Socialism in Words, Socialism in Deeds!”
- II. SS Panzerkorps is a “Waffen-SS paramilitary formation.” The Waffen-SS is the paramilitary forces of the NSDAP, distinguishing them from the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of the German Reich.
- 1. and 4. Panzerarmee are “Wehrmacht military formations.” The Wehrmacht are the German armed forces, distinguishing them from the Waffen-SS, the paramilitary forces of the NSDAP.
- Conversely, the NSDAP is not the German Reich and the German Reich is not the NSDAP.
NSDAP ≠ German Reich
German Reich ≠ NSDAP