By Rufus Tyler

 

“Materialism” as a philosophical notion means that all things in the universe are made of the same thing – matter. There's no heaven or hell, no ghosts or spirits. Materialism is a version of monism

 

Matter is not a social construct, it exists independent of human ideas and thought. This can be contrasted with philosophical idealism which states that things are influenced and created by ideas, essentially saying that the world is not real and that matter (“things”) are derived from ideas. To idealists reality, and matter, are mere reflections of thought.(ideas)

 

Dialectical Materialism is one of the three key tenets of scientific socialism, the other two being Historical Materialism and Marxist Economics.

 

Dialectical Materialism gives us an insight, a way to understand the mysteries of the world.

(Dialectical Materialism is a basic fundamental without which understanding Marxism is impossible)

 

'Dialectical materialism is the philosophy of Marxism, which provides us with a scientific and comprehensive world outlook. It is the philosophical bedrock - the method - on which the whole of Marxist doctrine is founded.' (https://www.marxist.com/what-is-dialectical-materialism.htm )

 

Dialectical Materialism gives us the means  to make sense of the world we live in. It is a tool that helps us analyse and comprehend both history and current events. This method is necessary in order to challenge the bourgeoisie's dominant narrative. Without it we are at the mercy of the capitalist class, and can easily fall into the trap of thinking that 'things never change' and, that 'there's nothing new under the sun'. This oppressive narrative is peddled to us daily by the media, the educational system and organised religion. Dialectical Materialism is crucial in overcoming this indoctrination.

(Marxism represents the interests of the working class, and it is diametrically opposed to the views of the capitalist class)

 

Dialectical Materialism is more than mere words, it lays out a plan of action for the working class. According to Russian Marxist Plekhanov: it is a "philosophy of action.". Formal logic traces its roots to the ancient Greeks who lived over two thousand years ago. Formal logic has dominated Western philosophy and thinking since then. It states that things are impermeable - one plus one always equals two, f.e. (one plus one always equals two, except for very large values of one, where one plus one may equal three.) While formal logic has its uses and its place, it is important to understand its limitations. Dialectics is the logic of change. It sees the world not as fixed and static but as a complex of processes undergoing constant development. Lenin said: "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and 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 living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." 

 

Dialectical thinking teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding closer to the eternally changing reality. 

 

Syllogism Definition

 

What is a syllogism? Here’s a quick and simple definition: A syllogism is a three-part logical argument, based on deductive reasoning, in which two premises are combined to arrive at a conclusion. So long as the premises of the syllogism are true and the syllogism is correctly structured, the conclusion will be true. An example of a syllogism is "All mammals are animals. All elephants are mammals. Therefore, all elephants are animals." In a syllogism, the more general premise is called the major premise ("All mammals are animals"). The more specific premise is called the minor premise ("All elephants are mammals"). The conclusion joins the logic of the two premises ("Therefore, all elephants are animals").

 

Darwinism, which covers the evolution of one species into another, and the periodic table of elements and elemental weights which shows us the how one element can change into another were momentous occasions in the growth of dialectics. They were a qualitative leap over earlier forms of classification like Linnaeus' formalised binomial nomenclature, with its rigid divisions and superficial distinctions.

 

Unlike Darwin, Marx was a conscious dialectician. Marx came up with a way to classify the constant flux of productive forces and property ownership which form the basis of society. This was just as important for the social sciences as Darwin's work was to the natural sciences.

 

Marx and Engels developed the logic of dialectical materialism from philosophical enquiry into the natural world. By applying this logic to society they developed scientific socialism.(Quantum physics, dialectics and society: from Marx and Engels to Khrennikov and Haven, by Ben Gliniecki )

 

In other words, although the concept of storing the figures “1” and “0” at the same time seems illogical because they are two different definite finite terms, when we consider that these figures are nothing more than abstractions of processes occurring in the real world, the apparent problem disappears.

Dialectics is quite simply the logic of motion or the logic of common sense to activists in the movement.(Dialectical Materialism, John Pickard, 17 January 2002, Dialectical materialism Theory: Dialectical materialism, marxist.com )

The idea of Marxism is that there will always be periods of gradual change interspersed with periods of sudden change. (Ibid)

NEGATION OF THE NEGATION

A second law of dialectics is 'the law of the negation of the negation', and again it sounds more complicated than it really is. 'Negation' in this sense simply means the passing away of one thing, the death of one thing as it becomes transformed into another.(Ibid)

 

DIALECTICAL MATERIALISTS ACT UPON THE WORLD, IT IS A KEY PART OF OUR PHILOSOPHY. PRACTICE, ACTION PLAYS A KEY PART IN OUR PHILOSOPHY. (from the Socialist Appeal YouTube channel)

 

Dialectical thinking analyses all things and phenomena in their continuous change, while determining in the material conditions of those changes that critical limit beyond which 'A' ceases to be 'A', 

 

The fundamental flaw of vulgar thought lies in the fact that it wishes to content itself with motionless imprints of a reality that consists of eternal motion. Dialectical thinking gives to concepts, by means of closer approximations, corrections, concretisations, a richness of content and flexibility; I would say even a succulence which to a certain extent brings them close to living phenomena. 

 

We call our dialectic “materialist” since its roots are neither in heaven nor in the depths of our 'free will', but in objective reality, in nature. Consciousness grew out of the unconscious, psychology out of physiology, the organic world out of the inorganic, the solar system out of nebulae. On all the rungs of this ladder of development, the quantitative changes were transformed into qualitative. 

 

Whereas formal logic was essentially the logic of lifeless, rigid and static relationships, dialectics was precisely an understanding of real life-processes of motion, contradiction and change. 

 

"Dialectical materialism is not of course an eternal and immutable philosophy. To think otherwise is to contradict the spirit of the dialectic. Further development of scientific thought will undoubtedly create a more profound doctrine into which dialectical materialism will enter merely as structural material."(In Defence of Marxism, p76). 

 

Some background

 

Philosophies can be divided into two main camps. The first is Dualism and the other is Monism.

Dualism states that the universe is made of two different things, the material and the immaterial. The material would be all tangible things, that is, matter and energy. Dualism posits that in addition to this there exists a second essence, another building block to the universe.

 

This second essence would correspond to the immaterial, the spiritual, the soul, heavenly things.

This belief unnecessarily complicates and fuzzies our understanding of the world we live in by introducing the mind/matter question. If the mind is eternal and separate from the material, mortal body, how do they interact, how do they relate to one another?

 

Dualism mystifies: it doesn't advance our understanding of things.

 

Monism is the flip side to Dualism. It states that everything in existence is made up of only one substance: either matter or something more intangible, immaterial.

 

The belief that all things are made of the intangible is called Idealism.

 

Dialectical materialism is important as a counter to these ideologies, Idealism and Dualism. It rejects these ideas as a backdoor way of justifying the existence of God and, therefore, legitimising religion in a logical manner. Religion is used to control, it is reactionary, backward.

 

Dialectical materialism is a process that expounds that matter is in a state of constant change. The change may be imperceptible to us on the surface. An example of this concept at work is the action of water boiling. At first, the rise in temperature appears to have no effect, on the molecular scale, however, the increase in energy makes the water molecules move more and more. Eventually, the heat builds up to the point where the water boils and turns to steam.

 

At first, the change was imperceptible, then sudden and drastic. A quantitative change (the rise in temperature) leads to a qualitative change (turning into steam)

 

Dialectical materialism is key to revolutionary thought because it shows that change isn't simply possible, it is inevitable. A reminder that even though propaganda tries to portray current property relations as eternal and unchanging, that's just not true.

 

Dialectical materialism as a process is important in combating the central idea behind Postmodernism. This idea is there are no objective truths, only subjective experiences. It is an invalid ideology, empty, It claims there's no point in trying to make sense of things because there's no real truth to get at.

 

Postmodernism has no answers, it doesn't attempt to explain the workings of the universe. Because it has no way of being introspective it has no way of analysing things like current events. It can't be used for perspective. It has nothing to offer.

 

Because their flawed ideology has no answers it claims no else has either. For this reason, it is useful to the ruling class, It imparts a sense of helplessness that encourages complacency. Denouncing such an idea is critical to the revolutionary struggle. Dialectical materialism is fundamental to this ideological struggle.

 

Conclusion:

 

Dialectical materialism is often misrepresented on purpose by the bourgeois and their institutions. It has beeen portrayed by folks like Dmitry Orlov (a popular collapsitarian) as a dogma, a fixed and unchanging doctrine. Others have likened it to a “communist bible”, something set in stone. 

The truth of it is that our understanding of dialectics itself could change in the future, we do expect we will come up with a better, more accurate method with which to analyse the world we live in. 

 

Dialectical materialism remains relevant today because it is an important counterbalance to the prevailing “Postmodernist” thought.

 

Dialectical materialism is a way of understanding the world we live in, it is a process. The basic tenets are that everything is material and in a process of constant change; matter is both interconnected and interdependent.

 

Sources:

 

https://www.marxist.com/what-is-dialectical-materialism.htm

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism

 

https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/syllogism 

 

https://www.marxist.com/quantum-society.htm

 

https://www.marxist.com/abc-materialist-dialectics-trotsky.htm

 

The Five Stages of Collapse - Survivors' Toolkit (2013) by Dmitry Orlov