Practice 12. Marxist Philosophy 51
1. History and development
2. Historical materialism
3. Dialectical materialism
4. Marxism and the world history
1. History and development. Marxist philosophy was created and developed by two German scientists in the second half of the nineteenth century. These were Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Frederique Engels (1820-1895). Marxist philosophy refers to non-classical materialistic philosophy. It consists of two huge parts, which are called dialectical materialism and historical materialism. Its main idea can be expressed by three principle theses: 1. society and history develop in accordance with a single objective law that is defined by economic factors, 2) the outer world is materialistic and it can be perceived only by means of science, 3) man’s perception and ideal (spiritual) products come into existence as a result of evolution of material substances. In the middle of the nineteenth century social economic factors on the one hand and theoretical factors on the other stimulated the development of the new philosophic direction.
The objective social economic factors come as follows:
• Development of capitalism and crisis of bourgeois values. Bourgeoisie is turned from revolutionary into conservative. Crisis of bourgeois marriage and morality.
• There appear many new contradictions between antagonistic classes, the working class and bourgeoisie. The revolutions of 1848-1849, wars, the Commune of Paris in 1871 make great impact.
• The working class struggle for their rights.
The theoretical factors involve:
• Hegel’s idea of dialectical development, Feuerbach’s atheistic and materialistic philosophy.
• Labor theory of value and law of surplus value developed by the English classical political economy (Adam Smith, D.
• Class struggle and revolutionary reorganization of society are based on the ideas of utopian socialism (Babeuf, Sen. Simon, Fourier, etc.)
• Development of materialistic comprehension of the objective reality, scientific and technical inventions (law of matter and energy conservation, the Theory of Evolution by Darwin, inventions of cellular texture of all living beings, the wire telegraph, the locomotive, the vehicle, the photograph, inventions in the sphere of production, mechanization of labor, etc.)
Structure of Marxist philosophy. Marxist philosophy is a part of a wider philosophic direction called Marxism. The latter includes political economy and scientific communism, which study social and political issues. With the great changes in political and state order, which took place in Russia in 1991, and disintegration of USSR, that followed Marxist philosophy, Marxism development underwent severe modifications. Today it is not that popular either with society or science. The social component of Marxist philosophy is still being developed by many Russian and foreign thinkers. They distinguish a few types of Marxism:
1. Classical Marxism (K. Marx, F. Engels);
2. Leninist Marxism;
3. Stalinist Marxism;
4. Social-democratic Marxism;
5. Modern neo-Marxism (Frankfurt school: T. Adorno, G.
2. Historical materialism. Marx and Engels developed absolutely new ideas of materialistic comprehension of history and society development described in their research of historical materialism.
The principle idea of historical materialism runs as follows:
1. All the time people had to come into special and objective relationship with each other to satisfy their needs. These relationships lay beyond their will and could be called productive relations (disposition of labor, material production and distribution, etc.);
2. Productive relations with production forces (labor power, subjects of labor, means of labor, organization, information and technology) shape an economic system that becomes the basis for the whole society and its institutions (social institutions such as family, political, education and spiritual institutions). The latter acquire the name of superstructure. The basis and superstructure influence one another.
3. Depending on the type of productive relations, level of production forces and type of relationship between the basis and superstructure Marx and Engels single out five social economic formations:
• Tribal society (low production forces and productive relations)
• Ancient society (the economy is based on slavery)
• Feudalism (the economy is based on land property and labor of dependant peasants)
• Capitalism (the economy is based on labor of workers who do not own means of labor)
• Communism (the society of the future. It is based on free labor of equal people and state-owned (common) property of means of labor).
Marx and Engels consider communism as the “kingdom of freedom”. They develop the idea that man should not be a victim. He should not be a means for a small group of people who want to become richer. People should constantly develop and improve themselves. An ideal society will consist of truly humane, intellectual and intelligent people. They will not use each other to get what they want. The human nature itself will change.
• Private property of means of labor. Private property should be replaced by social (state-owned) ownership;
• Labor exploitation is not possible. Labor of many people should not be used by only a small group of individuals;
• Labor results should be fairly distributed among all people in the society;
• In the future people should refuse from the state, classes, money and competition, etc.
Marx and Engels believe that people can come to communism only through a revolution. However, they do not suggest any post revolutionary program of building a new society.
3. Dialectical materialism. Dialectical materialism rests on the following principles:
• God does not exist. He is a product of human fantasy, and is used for explaining incomprehensible phenomena. Such beliefs are used by people to quiet themselves and give hope for the future;
• The principle issue of philosophy is solved to the benefit of existence (man’s consciousness depends on the objective reality);
• Consciousness is defined as an attribute of material substance that reflects itself;
• Material substance is eternal and endless. Sometimes it acquires new forms. It constantly modifies and develops.
• Material substance develops in accordance with the laws of dialectics, which involve unity and struggle of opposites, transition of quantity to quality, negation of negation;
• Man can perceive the true nature of things. The absolute truth is connected with the final theoretical exploration of an object.
4. Marxism and the world history. The representatives of Marxist philosophy:
• Combined materialism and dialectics in a single theory
• Believed that material production stimulated development of society;
• Described the process of antroposociogenesis;
• Described how social institutions came into existence;
• Singled out the phenomenon of social consciousness;
• Criticized capitalism;
• Worked out a strong political economy;
• Worked out a dialectical materialistic method, that became the basis for the modern science.
At the same time all social phenomena were explained by principles of materialistic production. That made Marxist philosophy mono factorial. Meanwhile, many new philosophic and scientific researches interpret such perception of the world as too narrow. The results achieved by general theory of systems, cybernetics and synergetics, give us a multilevel structure of the outer world.
Nevertheless, at the International philosophic congress, which took place in Briton (1988), Paul Ricoeur, the French philosopher, singled out three principle philosophic directions: new metaphysics (philosophy of science, existentialism), analytical philosophy and Marxism. He believed that interaction of these three directions would define an image of philosophy in the twenty first century.