“What is Orthodox Marxism?” by Georg Lukács

Georg Lukács. “What is Orthodox Marxism?” Marxists Internet Archive.


“Philosophers have merely interpreted the world in different ways; the point, however, is to change it.” Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach.

This question, which is really quite a simple one, has become a subject of wide discussion in bourgeois circles as well as proletarian ones. But it has gradually become scientifically “the thing” to ridicule any confession of orthodox Marxism. For there is little agreement even in the socialist camp about what constitutes the quintessence of Marxism and what theses one can criticize or indeed reject without losing the right to be considered as an orthodox Marxist. So it has come to seem more and more “unscientific” to make scholastic exegeses of older works which have to some extent been outmoded, as with the Bible, and to seek in them and only in them the source of truth. The tendency is to turn completely “impartially” towards the study of “facts.” But the question is not (and never has been) put so simply. For assuming that more recent research has incontestably shown the factual inaccuracy of entire single statements of Marx, then every serious “orthodox” Marxist could unconditionally acknowledge all these new results, reject whole single theses of Marx—without for a moment giving up his Marxist orthodoxy. Thus orthodox Marxism does not mean uncritical acknowledgement of the results of Marx’s research, nor does it mean “faith” in this or that thesis, nor the exegesis of a sacred book. Where Marxism is concerned, orthodoxy refers far more to method exclusively. It implies the scientific conviction that the Marxist dialectic is the correct method of investigation and that this method cannot be developed, extended or made more profound except in the spirit of its founders. Further, it implies that all attempts to overcome or “improve” it have led and had to lead to shallowness, triviality and eclecticism.

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