I think you have to distinguish between different sorts of uses of contradiction. In modern logic it’s used in a purely formal way, as holding between two sentences or propositions, one of which negates the other: ‘It is raining’ and ‘It is not the case that it is raining’.
Dialectical contradiction is different: it’s both determinant and concrete. If you say that war and peace are in (dialectical) contradiction, what’s meant is not that the one is simply an abstract cancelling out of the other, but that they are implicated in each other, and therefore form a unity of opposites.
I believe the unity of opposites has three aspects:
- they are implicated in each others’ meanings – neither can be understood without the other
- and they’re also co-implicated in their contents – no war that doesn’t contain some peace, no peace that doesn’t contain some war (This is one of Brecht’s themes in his beautiful play, Mother Courage).
- and they’re co-implicated in their development and becoming – peace becomes war, war becomes peace
And when Marxists talk about the struggle of contradictions, or between the two sides or aspects of a contradiction, it wouldn’t make much sense unless the two aspects were implicated in each other.
These sorts of relations are some of what Lenin is getting at in passages in his Philosophical Notebooks, where he’s making notes and annotations as he’s reading Hegel’s Logic in the years 1914-16, and says things like http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/work...1.htm#LCW38_105
: “Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical,—under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another,—why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another.”
It was from these notebooks that Mao quoted throughout “On Contradiction.”
And a question, Inspectah Ganesha:
You say -