The Philosophy of Dialectical Materialism

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 We remember Marx as a famous economist referring to his major work titled Das Kapital, or Capital. Marx promoted fundamental revolution in the economy. Hence, he is popularly associated with the economic systems of socialism and communism. What we must know that Marx was first and foremost a philosopher who sensed that as a philosopher he needed to work for the society by bringing desirable changes and shifts in it. He was not different from Smith, Ricardo, or J. S. Mill but a fanatic for change. He didn’t just want to expound and analyze the society but also bring forward necessary changes which helped society grow as a whole. While other classical economists focused on static equilibrium of the economy, marx believed that everything is in a state of growth catalyzed by changed, either due to decrease or increase in quantity and quality.

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Marxism VS Idealism

The emergence of Dialectical materialism; Role of Hegel​ dialectic

When setting out the concept of their dialectical method, Marx and Engels refer to Hegel as the philosopher who constructed the main attributes of dialectics. Marx adopted the ‘rational kernel” of the hegelian dialect and rejected the idealistic side of it.

The hegel dialectic

It is commonly believed that history repeats itself and hence a past event or situation can recur and come forward in the future as well, creating a cyclical path for history to project itself. Contrary to that, hegel believed that history advances as a straight line. He believed through the influence of triad forces which he termed thesis, antithesis and synthesis, history progresses forward creating new ideas, moving society towards perfection. Hegel saw the “idea” as basis and as the origin of the material world. Therefore, for him ​thesis ​ exists as a basic statement and a widely accepted idea. ​Antithesis ​ is a counter idea debunking and contradicting the widely accepted idea and putting forward an alternative. This conflict of forces creates a ​synthesis which is the supreme form of truth. It is then considered as a widely accepted idea making itself a thesis which can again be contradicted by an antithesis. Thus creating a continuous straight forward progression and a chain of ideas to reach the ultimate truth. He believed any ‘idea’ can become an old idea after a new idea tries to replace it. His work is quite idealistic as it calls for birth of new ideas and a new concept every time a change has to take place. History develops through a never ending process in which everything it contains polishes itself and becomes a better version of itself due conflict induced change mechanism. This process is known as ​dialectic.

How is hegel dialectic different from marx’s dialectical materialism?

Hegel was idealistic whereas marx was materialistic. Marx did use corresponding methods to explore history and reality but for marx the role of ‘idea’ was just a human thought emerging from the material world. He believed that idea was an outcome and a byproduct of the existence of material and matter. He didn’t deny the independent existence of spirit and mind but equated the existence of idea with material conditions.For him materialism was independent and opposing of idealism. The materialistic aspect of society was the reason of change and perfection to reach the higher levels. Whereas for hegel, who had an idealistic approach, idea was as independent as a spirit of mind.Hence, the dialect of Marx, based on materialism is non-identical from the dialectics of Hegel, based on idealism.

Metaphysics VS dialect

● Every phenomenon of nature is interconnected and dependent on each other. True essence and meaning can be understood by studying them together. The metaphysical concept of nature believes that all its aspects exist in isolation and perform separately. They are independent of each other and come as a separate phenomenon. Whereas the dialects treats nature as a sum and a mixture of all aspects and every phenomenon dependent on each, moreover, existing in cohesion. They exist together as well as are connected to each other. Hence it is important to understand all aspects of nature as a whole rather than divorcing other elements to focus on one particular aspect. This leads to diminishing the essence of nature and misinterpretation of it. if we do not consider the relation and connection of the surroundings any phenomenon can become incomprehensible for us and ultimately resulting in confusion.

● Every phenomenon has a fall when another phenomenon rises due to motion.

While metaphysics believes in viewing every phenomenon of nature from a single point, the dialectics conclude that nature is in motion and not static. Hence it should be studied as a process.It is in a state of constant movement resulting in change and shifts. To understand any natural phenomena we should not view it from a singular point but pay attention to all its, movements, developments, interaction, surroundings, and shifts. We should look at it onwards and forwards and just not the birth of it. This feature of mobility of nature helps in development from old to new or good to better. The state of continuous motion and development gives rise to something better and fall to what precedes it.

● A small and gradual quantitative change brings mass qualitative change resulting in growth

While metaphysics believes in an inverse relationship between quality and quantity for development, the dialectics infer the process of development as a process in which an indistinguishable and meagre change in quantity results in a massive and a prompt change in quality. The shift in quality is so drastic that it bring shifts in the order of nature resulting it to vault over to another state. It requires us to believe that all aspects of nature did not appear out of nowhere but over time due to gradual and minimal changes in quantity,which then resulted in accumulation of shifts, a wave of development turned nature into a better version of itself and improved the quality of it. Humans, plants and animals are all products of development.

● Material has the seeds of conflict

As we study that change can make matters from bad to good, lower level to higher level, from simpler forms to complexity. Therefore nature and every aspect of the society is under constant change and works towards improvement and advancement. Hence any idea, technology, social order or economic system which may seem as best fit can be replaced by a better one and hence any phenomena at any given time is not permanent and awaits a replacement. The process of advancement can be understood as a struggle between the two opposites who wish to survive. We can use this theory to justify many past social orders and systems such as the demand of bourgeois-democratic republic in Russia in 1905 as it made sense then and would be useless and controversial in today’s time.

History exists, but does the future exist?

We can justify historical system and social orders using the dialectic but what can we conclude about the future?Unlike classical economists, marx made ‘change’ grounds of the marxism system. He criticised the capitalist bourgeois economists who wrote about how shifts in economic and social system moved the society from feudalism to capitalism, and then believed that capitalism would exist forever and is eternal. Marx questioned that is there a theory which can explain the organization of the society overtime and can we use that theory to predict the future organization of society? Can we analyze the social systems in which we lived and are living? Can we formulate a process of shift and study it for the future? If not, is capitalism and feudalism mere historical occurrences? Will we wait for anymore historical occurrences and shall there be any similar historical occurrences? Is Capitalism the end of social structure?

Future exists due to change

Marx believed in changing structures of society and its development from one system to the other and hence he answered the above questions by putting forward the marxian theory of history also mentioned in The Communist Manifesto. He believed that future does exist, we may not know what it has for us but we do know that it will be different from past and present just like synthesis is from its original conflict. He deduced this answer by making economic forces as a fundamental stimulus of historical change and added material to his dialect.

Materialism in marxian dialectic

The forces of production Relations of production Labor skills, scientific knowledge, tools, and capital goods 1. Social relations 2. Property relations Inherently dynamic Static and past-binding Antithesis Thesis Technology Institutions

He divided societies into two parts: 1. The forces of production 2. The relations of production

The part which is constantly revolutionising plus changing is the forces of production which is basically the means of production. This includes the technology, labor skills and experience, scientific knowledge, tools, and capital goods at that time used to produce material/matter. It is used to manufacture basic necessities of life such as food, housing, clothes and etc. The other part, The relations of production is dynamic and hence referred as superstructure which remains constant due to historically preserved notions. These are the association of a person with a person or a thing. This structure comprises of art, literature, music, philosophy, jurisprudence, religion, and other cultural forms accepted by the society. If the superstructure is strong and stable, the society can maintain the economic order and take the necessary decisions for growth. In marxian dialectic he refers to the relations of production as thesis as these are the ideas and practices accepted widely by the society as well as they are actively practiced in daily lives. Whereas the factors of production is antithesis which thrives and drives towards change and betterment disturbing and refuting the superstructure and also providing more and better options. These two forces can exist in peace for a particular amount of time. Over time these two forces start to oppose each other as changing forces of production (technology) will not be compatible with static forces of relation (institutions). The society then comes into conflict which

marx calls the class struggle. Now the advanced technology and factors of production do not set well with the social order and hence a change induced conflict borns and the classes in society come in conflict. This approach protects the structure of history from becoming a haphazard cluster of events. This concept concludes that there is no eternal permanen system which can restrict property to a certain class. There can be no fixed principles and laws which can restrict labors to the working class and restrict them from having a private property. The capitalist system can be put back as it has seeds of its own destruction.

Society and Dialectical materialism

Class struggles and revolutions

According to the laws of dialectical materialism class struggle is inevitable as it is a conflict between two classes of society. The conflict between the class can bring a new social order. The new social order can remain for as long as the classes remain in harmony. If we believe in the dialectical materialism the revolt of proletariats is natural. The revolt of slavery is justifiable. In the revolutionary times when society was divided into two classes; the bourgeoisie who owned the capital and made merely 1% of the whole society. The other group/class was of the proletariat who made 99% of the society. They were the working class in a capitalist society. ​ ​As development is a product of internal collision between opposing forces, to resolve this conflict the struggles of proletarians is justifiable and inevitable. Apart from realising the association of these forces, the working class should also realise that they are part of it and consider itself as one of the forces. When a society is introduced to new reforms, they are exposed to small changes in their social order where as development comes from major quantitative changes and that can be only done through revolutions. Such as the revolution brought by the working class One must shouldn’t be a reformist but a revolutionist and an advocate of essential changes.

In russia during the struggling time of the eighties proletariat existed in small amounts as compared to the peasants. At that time the peasants were more in quantity ut falling in pieces whereas the proletariats emerged into a class. A small quantitative change led to major qualitative change and a new class came into being from a working class. Marx based his theory on the proletariats of russia and it proved

From the philosophy of dialectical materialism came in existence,capitalism, communism, socialism and materialism. The concept of market came forward and how the forces of market can dictate our lives. These philosophies and models were made of clear defined rules based on facts and discipline. This did not allow intervention of any spirituality or any other foriegn concepts such as faith.It required humans to forget themselves and the inner self and lose themselves in the market. A practicing believer would search for solution in the sovereignty of God but marx referred to his own philosophies to find solutions for the problems of mankind. His philosophies conditions humans into working as mechanical beings contributing to the market and meeting its demands.

The superstructure  Marx rejects the contemporary or current economic and social order. According to him, whatever interactions humans have with the material world eventually leads to devaluing humans to an extent that they lose their sense of individuality. It turns humans into a commodity and tools working for the market and driven by its forces. They lose themselves to the market causing alienation of one’s soul. Human beings lose their connection from their inner self and forget their pursuit of true happiness and their true essence.

 Therefore, current social norms and values promote reflection of soul to find your true self. Acts which alienate people from their minds and body are dicourageged, for example, In the current society, prostitution, where a body is used as a commodity and has a price, is disliked and discouraged; where friendships are not given monetary value and close relationships are free from any monetary expectations. The privilege of social acts over economic values is encouraged because labor ​market compromises on phenomenons like love and friendship. Unlike other economists who would only study the forces of market, Marx believed we should study the effects of ‘private property’ on humans. One would believe that marx was an advocate of religion because of his moralistic ideas and teachings. In Fact it is the opposite, he believed religion was a drug for humans which also catalyzed the alienation of humans. He believed that religion was just another part of superstructure which did not promote change. The only art, philosophy or a superstructure which talked about the effects of private property was relevant. He believed all these aspects of society just demanded new technology and more material than actually promoting morality and spirituality.   

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