This preliminary critique of Hegel provides the basis for the second, and most important, part of Dialectical Materialism: Lefebvre’s argument about the relationship between Hegel and Marx. According to Lefebvre, Marx dealt with Hegel’s legacy in two phases. In his early work, most notably the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts (1844) and The German Ideology (1845-46, with Engels), Marx lays the foundation for historical materialism. In the Manuscripts, he takes Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind to task for misunderstanding alienation as objectification of the mind, rather than as a form of material dispossession, while mistaking ” alienated life” (religion, law, philosophy) for “real life.” In The German Ideology, Marx and Engels applaud Ludwig Feuerbach’s initial critique of Hegel’s idealism while criticizing his naturalistic, undialectical materialism and his abstract conception of man as a social being. Feuerbach thus fails to place man and things within the web of social relations through which man transforms nature, produces history, and, in class society, gets separated -alienated -from the fruits of his productive activity and fellow humans. Both Feuerbach and Max Stirner fail to see that their starting point (the isolated, private individual) is itself a product of alienation and reification. According to Lefebvre, Marx and Engels’s critique of Feuerbach and Stirner most fully develops historical materialism as ” a unity of idealism and materialism.” (xviii-xix)
Lefebvre, Henri. 2009. Dialectical Materialism. Translated by John Sturrock. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.