Antagonistic Contradiction


Excerpts from F. V. Konstantinov, ed., Filosofskaia Entsiklopediia [Philosophical Encyclopedia],

Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia Publishers, 1963, vol. 1, p. 70.


Antagonistic Contradiction: One of the forms of contradiction, specifically between modes of production and all social relations in societies with exploiting classes, which is resolved by means of social revolution.

       Antagonistic contradictions express the irreconcilability of the interests of oppressors and oppressed, of exploiters and exploited. In contemporary conditions, antagonistic contradictions are contradictions between the working class and capitalists. They can only disappear when the capitalist class will, by peaceful or non-peaceful means, lose political power, the means of production, and its ability to exploit workers. A number of antagonistic contradictions also concern contradictions between imperialist countries, which already often lead to war, but conceal this possibility until war happens. These concern contradictions between one imperialist mother country and another sides, both with colonial and dependent peoples and with others, which necessarily lead to development of national liberation movements with colonial and dependent nations, to a whole series of revolutions of oppressed and exploited nations. The result of these movements is the breakup of the colonial system of imperialism, the way out for colonial and dependent nations in the path of independent development—a process which more and more arises and grows in the present epoch. Antagonistic contradictions between nations can only disappear completely, however, with imperialism itself. Antagonism  encompasses all states of the material and spiritual life of capitalist society, which is woven out of antagonistic contradictions. Denying the antagonistic nature of class contradictions of exploitative society inevitably leads to the reformist views of the “reconciliation” of class contradictions, of capitalism “growing into” socialism.

            On the other side, identifying antagonistic contradictions with contradictions in general, forgetting that antagonistic contradictions are only one form of the development of contradictions (moreover, that form which impedes free development of contradictions and then produces an inevitable explosion) is equivalent to extending antagonism even to socialist society. With the point of view of the practical-political identification of antagonistic contradictions with contradictions in general means lack of comprehension of the nature of the socialist system, of its fundamental difference from the nature of all antagonistic social-economic formations. “Antagonism and contradiction are not at all one in the same,” wrote Lenin. “Under socialism, the former will disappear, but the latter will remain.” (Lenin Miscellany, vol. XI, 1929, p. 357)


Questions or Comments?

If so, send them to diamat@nym.hush.com, and they will be posted below.

( Please include a screen name, since your real name and email will not be posted)



Creative Commons License
Marxistphilosophy.org pages by Thomas Weston are licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at diamat@nym.hush.com.