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1978: Ernest Mandel - We Must Dream. Anticipation and hope as categories of historical materialism

9 September 2020
The headstone of Ernest Bloch. Source: Wiki Commons

This text was the contribution of Ernest Mandel to a 1978 commemorative colloquium for the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885 – 1977) and was first published in 1980.i In this article Mandel uses categories developed by Bloch, such as the Not-Yet and Real Possible, to examine the need of incorporating notions of the future in socialist thought.

For Bloch, to understand the world one must include an understanding of its latent potential. The world has a tendency towards something, characterized by humanity’s striving towards a world free of exploitation and misery, towards Utopia. The not-yet is an anticipation of this goal, and manifests itself in different forms; ‘the Not-Yet-Conscious as a whole is the psychological representation of the Not-Yet-Become in an age and its world, on the Front of the world.’ii The Real Possible is the non-illusory latency towards what Bloch called the ‘concrete Utopia’ of socialism; ‘This road is and remains that of socialism, it is the practice of concrete utopia. Everything that is non-illusory, real-possible about the hope-images leads to Marx’.iii

Anticipation and Hope as Categories of Historical Materialism

From the Marxist point of view labour and the ability for advanced communicate are the two most important aspects of the human being as a social being. Social labour is impossible without advanced, interpersonal, human communication, which includes the ability to use structured linguistic tools, to form concepts and to develop consciousness. As materialists, we know that an ability for a more than rudimentary ability to communicate—which also exists in animals—is based on the need for social production for a living. The inextricable connection between labour and communication leads, among other things, to the fact that in the words of Frederick Engels:

We simply cannot get away from the fact that everything that sets men acting must find its way through their brains — even eating and drinking, which begins as a consequence of the sensation of hunger or thirst transmitted through the brain, and ends as a result of the sensation of satisfaction likewise transmitted through the brain. iv

In this respect Marx expresses himself very clearly in chapter seven of the first volume of Capital: labour is an activity that is specific to humanity, it is conscious activity in a dual sense. Not only does Marx presuppose consciously articulated relations between people: social production and the exchange of use values, of material goods necessary for the maintenance and reproduction of material life, go hand in hand with the production and exchange of socially understood sounds, words and concepts. In addition, human labour has the characteristic of requiring anticipatory mental projects in the consciousness of producers as a condition of its realisation:

We pre-suppose labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement.v

The ability to imagine

The product of labour as a labour-project, as a material reality that has not yet been realised, is therefore a prerequisite for its own realisation. Humanity’s ability to anticipate, to imagine, to imagine, is indissolubly linked to its ability to do social work. The homo faber can be homo faber only because the human being is at the same time homo imaginosus.

The human ability to form concepts, to abstract, to imagine and to elaborate projects, that is, the ability to anticipate, is in turn closely linked to material and social living conditions. Even the most elementary, and certainly the more complicated human concepts and ideas, are not the ‘pure’ products of imagination and mental work, totally independent of, and unrelated to material production. They emerge in the last instance as mental processing—processing by the human brain—of elements of material life experiences. They are therefore inseparable from the involvement of the individual in nature and society.

The metabolism between nature and society that is the foundation of this involvement, the material need to produce and reproduce the life from which that metabolism arises. It fulfils a human purpose in labour, as Marx puts it. Or in the broader expression of Engels:

The influences of the external world upon man express themselves in his brain, are reflected therein as feelings, impulses, volitions — in short, as “ideal tendencies”vi.

Labour projects, which emerge in the human mind before they are materially realised, are therefore in turn, in the last instance products of material reality, even when they are not yet materially realised. Even the production of concepts and of human thought can never be completely detached from the preceding and accompanying material processes in nature and society, even if they are not purely mechanical mirror images of those processes. Rather, they consists of elements which correspond to material processes, but which are creatively combined and reprocessed by the human mind. But they remain objectively determined by these processes.

The material basis of the human ability to anticipate, to imagine and to elaborate projects that have not yet been realised is based on the instinct for self-preservation, that is to say, on the instinctive, unconscious correlate of the compulsion to produce and reproduce the material life to which humans are subjected. The most manifestations of this anticipation are fear and hope.

However, while fear can be purely instinctive—it is not always and not necessarily so, but it can be, and is therefore one of the most important instincts in animals— purely instinctive hope is impossible. Ernst Bloch has therefore rightly stressed that even in its most elementary instinctive expressions, hope is already more than pure instinct, it is already the capacity for imagination, for ideal anticipation. Hope is therefore the human instinct par excellence. Together with social labour and the ability to form concepts and consciousness, it belongs to the hard, unchanging core of our anthropological specificity. Homo faber as homo imaginosus is human because humanity is homo sperans.

Real Possible hope

The labour project as a product of material necessity and needs is subject to material conditions for its realisation. Not every ideal product of our brain leads to actual material production. Not every mental project is actually realised. Not every anticipatory hope becomes reality. Only those labour projects are realised that meet both the objective and the subjective conditions for their realisation. Not every hope is ‘Real Possible’ hope. Ernst Bloch makes a clear distinction between Real Possible hope and the wishful dream.vii It is exactly the ability of mental labour to combine concepts, which only in the last instance correspond to or emerge from life experiences, in the most divergent directions. These combinations do not necessarily reflect an already existing material reality. This leads to the distinction between the anticipation of the Real Possible and the wishful dream.

But the Real Possible is, in turn, only partly predetermined. This because humans produce their own lives in the same way as they make their own history. The active dimension of our anthropological specificity therefore defines an intermediate field, a transitional zone between what is materially, socially, historically impossible and what is materially, socially and historically possible. This intermediate field includes all the changes in nature and society that are already materially possible, but whose realisation depend on a certain concrete human practice. This practice neither automatically nor simultaneously emerges from the existence of that material possibility.

On the other hand, the boundaries of what is materially possible are not in advance precisely defined in all directions. The overall, general framework is in any case a given condition. But within that framework there exist innumerable variants and possibilities.

Once the capitalist method of production had become dominant, both the emergence of proletarian class struggle and, in the long term, the development of the modern labour movement were inevitable. But the concrete, specific way in which that capitalist mode of production developed, for example in Britain, France, Germany and the USA, its concrete historical background, meaning its political-social history and history in those four countries, the national peculiarities in the emergence and development of the proletariat itself in each of those countries, the peculiarities of the ideological and political movement which preceded, accompanied, and succeeded the conquest of political power by the bourgeoisie in those countries: all this had a profound influence on the concrete development of the proletarian class struggle and of the socialist movement in the following fifty years. As a result, the workers’ movements in those four countries took very different forms over a long period of history. Still, the Real Possible was contained within the general framework of ‘rise, development, heyday and decline of the capitalist mode of production and the concomitant deepening of its internal contradictions’.


Therefore, the historical-material reality is always an open totality and therefore an incomplete totality, which includes at least numerous different possible developments. Some of these possibilities will be realised, others not. Nothing is more alien to Marxism as historical fatalism or mechanical, economistic determinism.

In any mode of production, the class struggle can result either in the victory of the revolutionary class or in the mutual ruin of the contending classes: Marx and Engels often repeated this. Capitalism does not lead to the inevitable victory of socialism, only to the dilemma: either a victory of socialism or regression to barbarism. Since matter is not static and immobile, but is in constant motion; since human society is in turn constantly changing; since the object of human thought and practice responds to constantly developing and changing processes of nature and society; since that human practice itself actively intervenes in those processes, we can only approach a complete understanding of this totality. In our analysis the ‘Not-Yet-Become’ but Real Possible as well as the already existing and the potentially disappearing must be included.

Recognising reality as a contradictory totality, as a developing totality, driven by all its internal contradictions, means incorporating in that knowledge all possible developments of this totality. Anticipation is therefore not only an anthropological, but also an epistemological, scientific category, it is a category of historical materialism writes Ernst Bloch:

Precisely the extremes which have previously been held as far apart as possible: future and nature, anticipation and matter – chime together in the overdue groundedness of historical-dialectical materialism. Without matter no basis of (real) anticipation, without (real) anticipation no horizon of matter is ascertainable [...] The Real Possible begins with the seed in which what is coming is inherent.viii

Now we can describe the productive function of the subjective factor together with its instinctive driving force, hope, more precisely.

If I want to realize a labour project, I must subordinate my will to this goal, says Marx in chapter seven of the first volume of Capital.ix This subordination is of course stimulated by a subjective attitude towards the project, which is not neutral, but consists of the desire and hope to achieve it. The incentives can be very diverse. They can vary from fear of punishment to the desire for reward, from individual desire, conscious need, to adherence to the social group or community consuming the labour product, or even be pure altruism. But production is always stimulated by the wish and hope of its successful realisation. Where there is no such wish and hope, or when even the opposite is true, the realisation of the project is made considerably more difficult, that is to say, the producer will behave indifferently or even hostile towards the production. Producers may even continously sabotage it (consider the attitude of slaves or forced labourers in certain circumstances). Producers who are totally deprived of all hope are bad, i.e. unproductive producers. This law has been confirmed throughout the history of human society.

Social praxis

What applies to elementary human praxis applies even more to totalizing social praxis which aims at the transformation of society itself. A historical, transitional figure such as the semi-feudal leader of the great Dutch bourgeois revolution, William the Silent, was able to coin the beautiful, stoic, slogan, characteristic of small, consciously-revolutionary minorities: ‘Point n’est besoin d’espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer’ (‘There is no need for hope to to take action, neither for success to persevere’). However, larger masses of people, and even more social classes as a whole, cannot be moved to act by such a motivation. Their activity is always immediately and directly oriented on the present. A class praxis, which wants to change society, is in the last instance determined by class interests, but it grows in scope and effectiveness when it is accompanied by desires and expectations, which convey these interests into a form that is immediately understandable and accessible to the masses.

The hope to abolish exploitation and oppression, inequality and unfreedom, on other words the hope of a classless society, has accompanied the liberation struggle of the modern proletariat at every stage of the stormy rise of the workers’ movement. It has given it an energy and driving power, which can not arise from exclusively the defence of daily material interests. In all eras and countries where the workers’ movement was confined to that defence, that driving power was limited or even absent, despite the undeniable fact that in bourgeois society this hope remains inseparable from the defence of the daily material interests of the working class, without which the struggle for emancipation evaporates into mere fantasy.

But closely connected to the hope, specific to the modern proletariat, of an end to capitalist exploitation, through the socialist emancipation of the working class as the vehicle for the emancipation of society as a whole, is an older, historical anticipation.

As socially producing and communicating beings, humans are by nature cooperative. The leap from a classless society to one divided in antagonistic social classes, which began about 10,000 years ago, caused a tremendous traumatic shock in human feeling and thinking, precisely because it corresponded so little to our cooperative nature. That is why the history of mankind is not only a history of class struggles, but also a history of countless expectations, projects, anticipations, lamentations, poems, stories, philosophical discourses, political plans and battles, revolving around the questions: How can we return to the ‘golden age’ of the classless society? What is the origin of social inequality? How can this social inequality be eliminated?

Prophets and revolutionaries

Greek philosophers and Roman revolutionary politicians; Jewish prophets and early Christian church fathers; the impetuous forerunners and representatives of the Reformation; the first ‘utopian socialists’ and the representatives of the most radical movements within the major bourgeois upheavals have all raised this problem, each of them in the particular form which corresponded to their era, society and class. However, the tremendous power resulting from the continuity of this problem, and the immanent self-critical development of the response to it, can hardly be exaggerated. The Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau summarised this continuity synthetically and symbolically in the final quatrain of his epic Die Albigensern:

Den Albigensern folgten die Waldenser und zahlten blutig heim, was jene litten; nach Huss und Ziska kommen Luther, Hütten, die Wiedertäufer die Cevennenreiter, die Stürmer der Bastille, und so weiter.x

There is no doubt that most of the proponents of a classless society who have just been mentioned were ‘utopians’ in the sense that they had no precise idea of the material-social preconditions for the realisation of their hope-filled project. Undoubtedly, on the other hand, all past practical-political attempts to build a classless society failed as the material-social conditions for it had not yet matured. But that does not in any way mean that all the efforts made by those thinkers and fighters have been useless or even harmful. The opposite is true.

The ‘utopian socialists’ prepared, promoted and accelerated the thinking, theory, science and practice of the modern workers’ movement by tremendously broadening the horizons of what was thought to be possible. In doing so, they also broadened the knowledge of social reality itself, for such knowledge requires a rigorously critical attitude towards everything that exists, al of which must be considered as transient. And it is precisely the integration into social analysis of what does not yet exist, at the point where this turns from wishful thinking into real future possibility, that gives social criticism a much wider scope.

Not only scientific socialism, but also classical English political economics, classical German philosophy and classical French sociological historiography learned much more from the ‘utopian’ socialists than one might first assume. Even without the prior work of the ‘utopian socialists’, they would most probably have achieved their results, but more slowly, with more difficulty, and with more contradictions. If, historically, scientific socialism appears as the sublation of utopian socialism, this is a sublation in the Hegelian sense of the word, meaning it preserves and reproduces its fertile elements. And this presupposes in any case the prior existence of utopian socialism, of that anicent hope for a classless society, as a necessary and fertilising phase in the emancipation struggle of toiling humanity.

When Ernst Bloch writes: ‘The dialectical-historical tendency science of Marxism is thus the mediated future science of reality plus the objectively real possibility within it; all this for the purpose of action. [...] Only the horizon of the future, which Marxism occupies, with that of the past as the ante-room, gives reality its real dimension’, he expresses a double truth.xi

Hope for realisation

Knowledge of reality is always knowledge of its laws of motion, of its laws of development. The greatness of Marx’s Capital lies precisely in the discovery of the long-term laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production, laws which only arrested themselves in full after the death of Karl Marx. Capital itself, contrary to an often repeated commonplace (and vulgar critique), is much more a work of the twentieth than a work of the nineteenth century.

On the other hand, changing of reality—the realisation of the programme of the eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, the actual moment of birth of Marxism—presupposes not only an orientation towards the future, not only insight into the Not-Yet that is already a Real Possible, but also hope for the realisation of the Real Possible. It requires exertion of all mental forces, of the will and of feelings towards the aim of realising that Real Possible but Not-Yet-Become, and the greatest exertion of the revolutionary individual between the existing reality and the possibility, imbued with hope, that is to be realised.

Someone who no longer stands with both feet on the ground of reality and has lost understanding of the material-social, objective and subjective conditions for the realisation of the revolutionary project is not the only kind of bad revolutionary. Bad revolutionaries are also someone those who have become so much the prisoner of existing reality, who are so absorbed in daily routine that they lose understanding, premonition and sensibility for a sudden, unexpected and radical turnaround in the relationship of forces and the activity of the revolutionary class. Such people have sacrificed the tense orientation towards to the future to the limited day-to-day hustle and bustle—business as usual, or what was called in the language of the German labour movement: die alte bewährte Taktikxii - and will therefore hopelessly surprised, overtaken and paralysed by sudden, volcanic eruptions of revolutionary mass struggle. In this sense, too, full knowledge of reality is not possible if it is not broadened by the horizon of the future.

After August 1914, Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and a handful of their internationalist friends not only articulated a moral aversion to the capitulation of official Social Democracy to the imperialist war. They also judged this capitulation in the light of an as yet unrealised but scientific analysis (and not a mere wish) underlying a perspective of inevitable intensification of revolutionary class struggle resulting from that World War. Such struggle resulted from the inevitable intensification of the economic, social, political and ideological contradictions of the capitalist mode of production, contradictions of which the war was both the expression and a driving force. The events of the 1917-1919 period proved them right. But the events that accompanied the end of the World War add an extra dimension to the tendency struggle of 1914-1915 within the international labour movement. Without the anticipation of those events, without that perspective, the capitulation of 1914 cannot be understood, explained and judged in its entirety.

Art of prediction

Without revolutionary perspectives, no genuine revolutionary politics, and therefore no real revolutionary practice, is possible—not at least within the framework of scientific socialism. In any case, these perspectives must be based on a correct analysis of reality and not on fantasies, they must start from an analysis of the real, socio-economic contradictions and reveal their dynamics, they must examine whether and why these contradictions are diminishing or, on the contrary, intensifying, and not starting from an abstract, wished-for development.

Perspectives mean a relationship to the future, that is to say anticipation, hope and fear, are decisive aspects of any political activity, be it proletarian, petty-bourgeois or bourgeois. After having lost its revolutionary character, the bourgeoisie defined politics as ‘the art of the possible’. The Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer changed this dictum by defining politics as ‘the art of prediction’. This is undoubtedly a step beyond the narrow-minded citizen, who out of social conservatism fears all major change and who wishes to limit politics to unimportant, small steps. But Bauer’s dictum also reveals the passive, fatalistic dimension of Austro-Marxism: in the ‘art of prediction’ the active, transformative element of politics is totally absent. For Marxism, politics is the art of shifting the boundaries of the possible to the utmost to the benefit of the interest of the working class (and progress of the whole of humanity), on the basis of a scientific perspective of what is objectively and subjectively possible, if mobilization and initiative of the broad masses are expanded as far as possible and the practice of the revolutionary party remains fully integrated in that perspective as a constitutive element of the developing reality.

Hope for the revolution as well as fear of the revolution played a decisive role in the divisions within the international workers’ movement after August 1914. Initially, the right-wing Social Democrats justified their capitulation to the imperialist war by arguing that contact with the masses must not be lost and that those masses after all were enthusiastically drawn into the war. However, a few years later, when in countries such as Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy, those same masses turned so enthusiastically against the war and towards revolution, the argument was suddenly changed. Now, the need to ‘staunchly defend principles’ was suddenly discovered as well as ‘a sense of responsibility’ and ‘the courage to be unpopular’. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that automatic adaptation to the ‘movement of the masses’ was not the real motive for the capitulation of August 1914. And without doubt in the years 1917-1920 the fear of revolution; the fear of the risk of losing hard-won gains; the fear of leaping into the unknown; the fear of breaking with the daily routine, played a psychologically decisive role. As Marxists, we must link this fear with the social and material interests of a conservative stratum of the workers’ movement.

In the opposite sense, hope of the revolution fired up the radical wing of the working class and of the workers’ movement all the faster as revolutionary developments began to take shape and becoming reality. The anticipation grew into an experience, the political project became the goal of political mass action.

We are seeing something similar with so-called Euro-communism. In this phenomenon, many trends intersect. To explain Euro-communism we must take into account numerous historical, social, economic, political, ideological (among other things, the internal logic of theoretical revisionism) and even individual psychological processes (for example, the traumatic shock of the personal experience of some of the excesses of Stalinism. See in this context the 1978 book by a former leading member of the Spanish Communist Party, Jorge Semprún, Autobiografia de Federico Sanchez). But it seems obvious to us that the development of many Communist parties in a Euro-communist direction was (and is) partly determined by the conviction that in the Western countries revolution will not be on the agenda for a long time, meaning it is impossible—and most draw the additional conclusion that revolution is also undesirable, because it would in any case result in a catastrophic defeat. From this perspective the strategic conclusions follow logically; the same thing happened in a similar way to classical Social Democracy before and after the First World War.

A mirror of society

The socialist transformation of society means the first attempt in human history to consciously push it into consciously chosen paths, starting from a conscious transformation of the economy and of the state, with the aim of achieving a classless society and the withering of the state. At the same time, the fact that the implementation of this project depends to a large extent on the ability of the exploited and oppressed to organise and liberate themselves makes it all the more bold and the difficulties in implementing it all the more obvious. This liberating, anticipatory project is the culmination of the critically assimilated results of all social sciences as well as of the theoretical and practical results of preceding utopian-revolutionary thinkers and mass revolts.

The anticipatory nature of this project is, in turn, supported and stimulated affectively by the hope of for its realisation, a hope and an urge that fertilise the revolutionary activity of individuals, groups and social classes, to the extent that at the same time they respond to a rational conviction regarding the historical-material necessity and possibility of realising the project. The interaction between the objective tendency and its correlate in the field of human hope is sharply expressed in Trotsky’s commentary on the ‘useful’ role of literature:

If one cannot get along without a mirror, even in shaving oneself, how can one reconstruct oneself or one’s life, without seeing oneself in the “mirror” of literature? Of course no one speaks about an exact mirror. No one even thinks of asking the new literature to have a mirror-like impassivity. The deeper literature is, and the more it is imbued with the desire to shape life, the more significantly and dynamically it will be able to “picture” life.’xiii


The theory of socialist society, of its economy, of its political order, of the necessary withering away of commodity-production and the state, of its permanent cultural transformation, its internationalism, and its all-encompassing emancipatory dynamic has been broadly but not yet fully developed. In addition to a strong element of critically (and self-critically) processing all historical experiences of proletarian revolutions of the past, there is also an increasing element of Not-Yet empirically confirmed anticipation. Such an anticipation has become indispensable for the internal coherence of the theory and in the eyes of the masses for the persuasiveness of the politics which it informs. After the historical catastrophe of Stalinism, Marxists can no longer afford to limit themselves to proclamations of the kind: "Let us first overthrow capitalism. What kind of society will then be built, what socialism will look like in concrete terms, we van leave to historical development (or to future generations)". Today, leaving out socialist anticipation from the concrete revolutionary project means making it implausible in the eyes of the broad masses.

A vision of the future

A concrete vision of the socialist future—we prefer this wording to the ‘concrete utopia’ formula, because we are convinced that the realisation of this kind of socialism is a Real Possible—has today become a prerequisite for practical-revolutionary political activity in the developed countries of the West. In these industrialised countries, the proletariat will not overthrow capitalism if it is not convinced that there is a concrete alternative to capitalism. It needs to be convinced of an alternative that is profoundly different as well as superior when compared to both capitalism as to the so-called ‘really existing socialism’ of the countries of the Eastern bloc—which is not socialism at all!

Hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries around the world are already hoping for the realisation of such a project. They are therefore able to avoid resignation to the catastrophes to which the bourgeois world is heading as well as self-destructive despair. This same hope will eventually inspire masses on an ever-increasing scale and make a decisive contribution to the breakthrough into world socialism.

Seventy-five years ago, a then little-known young revolutionary wrote a practical treatise on the necessity of a revolutionary newspaper as a collective organiser of the vanguard of the working class. He was writing for the benefit of a small group of illegal socialists who, under a bloody dictatorship, had taken the first steps towards the development of a modern workers’ movement. This treatise contains a peculiar ode to the dream (or hope), which has too rarely been noticed by the countless readers of this pamphlet. Here is the passage:

“We should dream!” I wrote these words and became alarmed. I imagined myself sitting at a “unity conference” and opposite me were the Rabocheye Dyelo editors and contributors. Comrade Martynov rises and, turning to me, says sternly: “Permit me to ask you, has an autonomous editorial board the right to dream without first soliciting the opinion of the Party committees?” He is followed by Comrade Krichevsky; who (philosophically deepening Comrade Martynov, who long ago rendered Comrade Plekhanov more profound) continues even more sternly: “I go further. I ask, has a Marxist any right at all to dream, knowing that according to Marx, mankind always sets itself the tasks it can solve and that tactics is a process of the growth of Party tasks which grow together with the Party?”.
The very thought of these stern questions sends a cold shiver down my spine and makes me wish for nothing but a place to hide in. I shall try to hide behind the back of Pisarev.
“There are rifts and rifts,” wrote Pisarev of the rift between dreams and reality. “My dream may run ahead of the natural march of events or may fly off at a tangent in a direction in which no natural march of events will ever proceed. In the first case my dream will not cause any harm; it may even support and augment the energy of the working men.... There is nothing in such dreams that would distort or paralyse labour-power. On the contrary, if man were completely deprived of the ability to dream in this way, if he could not from time to time run ahead and mentally conceive, in an entire and completed picture, the product to which his hands are only just beginning to lend shape, then I cannot at all imagine what stimulus there would be to induce man to undertake and complete extensive and strenuous work in the sphere of art, science, and practical endeavour.... The rift between dreams and reality causes no harm if only the person dreaming believes seriously in his dream, if he attentively observes life, compares his observations with his castles in the air, and if, generally speaking, he works conscientiously for the achievement of his fantasies. If there is some connection between dreams and life then all is well.”

This young revolutionary was named V.I. Lenin, the quote is from What Is To Be Done?xiv Lenin is considered the embodiment of revolutionary Realpolitik. Apparently anticipation, hopes and dreams are not only categories of historical materialism, but also categories of revolutionary Realpolitik.


i H. van den Enden (ed.), Marxisme van de hoop – hoop van het marxisme? Essays over de filosofie van Ernst Bloch (Bussum, 1980). This translation is based on the version published in De Internationale, nr. 48, winter 1994, volume 38, pp. 20-26, online at: []. Translation by Alex de Jong.

ii Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, Vol I (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 127.

iii Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, p. 17.

iv Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1886). Online at].

v Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I (1867). Online at [].

vii Translators note: see the discussion under ‘The Objectively-Real Possible’, The Principle of Hope, pp. 235-241.

viii Bloch, The Principle of Hope, pp. 237-238.

ix Translators note: see: ‘He not only effects a change of form in the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman’s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose’, Marx, Capital, online at: [].

x Translators note: ‘The Albengisans follow the Hussites / and paid back in blood what they suffered / after Huss and Ziska come Luther and Hutten, the Anabaptists, the Camisards, the stormers of the Bastille, and so on.’ Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau (1802 – 1850).

xi Bloch, The Principle of Hope, p. 285.

xii Translators note: ‘the tried and tested tactic’; this formula refers to the ‘passive radicalism’ of the Kautskian current in pre-WW I Social Democracy. See Mandel’s essay Rosa Luxemburg and German Social Democracy, online at [].

xiii Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924). Online at [].

xiv Lenin, What is to be Done? (1902). Online at [].

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