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Co-operation on such a vast scale demands planning, and the exercise of science and technique. This is beyond the capabilities of the small groups organised in clans that formed the nucleus of the old society. The need to organise and mobilise large numbers of workers led to the rise of a central state, together with a central administration and an army as in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Time-keeping and measurement were necessary elements of production, and were themselves productive forces. Thus Herodotus traces the beginnings of geometry in Egypt to the need to re-measure the inundated land on an annual basis.

The word geometry itself means neither more nor less than earth-measurement. The study of the heavens, astronomy, and mathematics enabled the Egyptian priests to foretell the flooding of the Nile, etc. Thus, science arises from economic necessity. This statement goes right to the heart of historical materialism—2, years before Karl Marx. At the heart of this cleavage into rich and poor, rulers and ruled, educated and ignorant, is the division between mental and manual labour. The foreman is usually exempt from manual labour which now carries a stigma.

Its secrets were closely guarded by the caste of priests and scribes whose monopoly it was. Here we already see the outlines of class society, the division of society into classes: exploiters and sub-exploiters. In any society where art, science and government are a monopoly of a minority, that minority will use and abuse its position for its own interests. This is the most fundamental secret of class society and has remained so for the last 12, years. During all this time there have been many fundamental changes in the forms of economic and social life.

But the fundamental relations between rulers and ruled, rich and poor, exploiters and exploited remained the same.

Critique of Capitalism - Nancy Fraser

In the same way, although the forms of government experienced many changes, the state remained what it had always been: an instrument of coercion and an expression of class rule. The rise and fall of slave society was followed in Europe by feudalism, which in turn was dis placed by capitalism. The rise of the bourgeoisie, which began in the towns and cities of Italy and the Netherlands, reached a decisive stage with the bourgeois revolutions in Holland and England in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Great French Revolution of All these changes were accompanied by profound transformations in culture, art, literature, religion and philosophy.

The state is a special repressive force standing above society and increasingly alienating itself from it. This force has its origin in the remote past. The origins of the state, however, vary according to circumstances. Among the Germans and Native Americans it arose out of the war band that gathered around the person of the war chief. This is also the case with the Greeks, as we see in the epic poems of Homer. Originally, the tribal chiefs enjoyed authority because of their personal bravery, wisdom and other personal qualities.

Today, the power of the ruling class has nothing to do with the personal qualities of leaders as was the case under barbarism. It is rooted in objective social and productive relations and the power of money. The qualities of the individual ruler may be good, bad or indifferent, but that is not the point.

The earliest forms of class society already showed the state as a monster, devouring huge amounts of labour and repressing the masses and depriving them of all rights.

Socialism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

At the same time, by developing the division of labour, by organising society and carrying co-operation to a far higher level than ever before, it enabled a huge amount of labour power to be mobilised, and thus raised human productive labour to undreamed-of heights. At the base, all this depended on the labour of the peasant masses.

Whoever controls this system of production controls power and the state. The origins of state power are rooted in relations of production, not personal qualities. The state power in such societies was necessarily centralised and bureaucratic. Originally, it had a religious character and was mixed up with the power of the priest caste. At its apex stood the God-king, and under him an army of officials, the Mandarins, the scribes, overseers etc. Writing itself was held in awe as a mysterious art known only to these few.

Thus, from the very beginning, the offices of the state are mystified. Real social relations appear in an alienated guise. This is still the case. In Britain, this mystification is deliberately cultivated through ceremony, pomp and tradition. In the USA it is cultivated by other means: the cult of the President, who represents state power personified. In essence, however, every form of state power represents the domination of one class over the rest of society. Even in its most democratic form, it stands for the dictatorship of a single class—the ruling class—that class that owns and controls the means of production.

The modern state is a bureaucratic monster that devours a colossal amount of the wealth produced by the working class. Marxists agree with the anarchists that the state is a monstrous instrument of oppression that must be eliminated. The question is: How? By whom? And what will replace it?

This is a fundamental question for any revolution. In a speech on anarchism during the Civil War that followed the Russian Revolution , Trotsky summarised very well the Marxist position on the state:. Marxism explains that that the state consists ultimately of armed bodies of men: the army, police, courts and jails. Against the confused ideas of the anarchists, Marx argued that workers need a state to overcome the resistance of the exploiting classes.

But that argument of Marx has been distorted by both the bourgeois and the anarchists. Nowadays, the word dictatorship has connotations that were unknown to Marx. In an age that has become acquainted with the horrific crimes of Hitler and Stalin, it conjures up nightmarish visions of a totalitarian monster, concentration camps and secret police. For him the word dictatorship came from the Roman Republic, where it meant a situation where in time of war, the normal rules were set aside for a temporary period.

In other words, it was a military role which almost always involved leading an army in the field. Once the appointed period ended, the dictator would step down. His model could not have been more different. Marx based his idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Paris Commune of Here, for the first time, the popular masses, with the workers at their head, overthrew the old state and at least began the task of transforming society. With no clearly-defined plan of action, leadership or organisation, the masses displayed an astonishing degree of courage, initiative and creativity.

The transition to socialism—a higher form of society based on genuine democracy and plenty for all—can only be accomplished by the active and conscious participation of the working class in the running of society, of industry, and of the state. It is not something that is kindly handed down to the workers by kind-hearted capitalists or bureaucratic mandarins. Strict limitations were placed upon the salaries, power, and privileges of officials in order to prevent the formation of a privileged caste.

On the contrary, before the Stalinist bureaucracy usurped control from the masses, it was the most democratic state that ever existed. The basic principles of the Soviet power were not invented by Marx or Lenin. They were based on the concrete experience of the Paris Commune, and later elaborated upon by Lenin. Lenin was the sworn enemy of bureaucracy. It was not an alien a power standing over society, but a power based on the direct initiative of the people from below.

Its laws were not like the laws enacted by a capitalist state power. It was an entirely different kind of power from the one that generally exists in the parliamentary bourgeois-democratic republics of the type still prevailing in the advanced countries of Europe and America. This power was of the same type as the Paris Commune of It is true that in conditions of appalling backwardness, poverty and illiteracy, the Russian working class was unable to hold onto the power they had conquered.

The Revolution suffered a process of bureaucratic degeneration that led to the establishment of Stalinism. Contrary to the lies of bourgeois historians, Stalinism was not the product of Bolshevism but its bitterest enemy. Stalin stands approximately in the same relation to Marx and Lenin as Napoleon to the Jacobins or the Pope to the early Christians. The early Soviet Union was in fact not a state at all in the sense we normally understand it, but only the organised expression of the revolutionary power of the working people. Trotsky pointed out that revolution is the motor force of history.

It is no coincidence that the rise of the bourgeoisie in Italy, Holland, England and later in France was accompanied by an extraordinary flourishing of culture, art and science. In those countries where the bourgeois revolution triumphed in the 17th and 18th centuries, the development of the productive forces and technology was complemented by a parallel development of science and philosophy, which undermined the ideological domination of the Church forever.

In contrast, those countries where the forces of feudal-Catholic reaction strangled the embryo of the new society in the womb were condemned to suffer the nightmare of a long and inglorious period of degeneration, decline and decay. The example of Spain is perhaps the most graphic in this regard. In the epoch of the ascent of capitalism, when it still represented a progressive force in history, the first ideologists of the bourgeoisie had to fight a ferocious battle against the ideological bastions of feudalism, starting with the Catholic Church.

Long before overthrowing the power of feudal landlords, the bourgeoisie, in the shape of its most conscious and revolutionary representatives, had to break down its ideological defences: the philosophical and religious framework that had grown up around the Church, and its militant arm, the Inquisition. The rise of capitalism began in the Netherlands and the cities of northern Italy. It was accompanied by new attitudes, which gradually solidified into a new morality and new religious beliefs. Under feudalism economic power was expressed as the ownership of land.

Money played a secondary role. But the rise of trade and manufacture and the incipient market relations that accompanied them made Money an even greater power. Great banking families like the Fuggers arose and challenged the might of kings. The bloody wars of religion in the 16th and 17th century were merely the outward expression of deeper class conflicts.

The only possible result of these struggles was the rise to power of the bourgeoisie and new capitalist relations of production. But the leaders of these struggles had no prior knowledge of this. The English Revolution of was a great social transformation. The old feudal regime was destroyed and replaced with a new capitalist social order. The Civil War was a class war which overthrew the despotism of Charles I and the reactionary feudal order that stood behind him. Parliament represented the new rising middle classes of town and country which challenged and defeated the old regime, cutting off the head of the king and abolishing the House of Lords in the process.

Objectively, Oliver Cromwell was laying the basis for the rule of the bourgeoisie in England. But in order to do this, in order to clear all the feudal-monarchical rubbish out of the way, he was first obliged to sweep aside the cowardly bourgeoisie, dissolve its parliament and base himself on the petty bourgeoisie, the small farmers of East Anglia, the class to which he belonged, and the plebeian and semi-proletarian masses of town and country.

Placing himself at the head of a revolutionary army, Cromwell aroused the fighting spirit of the masses by appealing to the Bible, the Saints and the Kingdom of God on Earth. His soldiers did not go into battle under the banner of Rent, Interest and Profit, but singing religious hymns. This evangelistic spirit, which was soon filled with a revolutionary and even sometimes a communistic content, was what inspired the masses to fight with tremendous courage and enthusiasm against the Hosts of Baal. However, once in power, Cromwell could not go beyond the bounds established by history and the objective limits of the productive forces of the epoch.

He was compelled to turn against the Left Wing, suppressing the Levellers by force, and to pursue a policy that favoured the bourgeoisie and the reinforcement of capitalist property relations in England. In the end, Cromwell dismissed parliament and ruled as dictator until his death, when the English bourgeoisie, fearful that the Revolution had gone too far and might pose a threat to property, restored the Stuarts to the throne.

The French Revolution of was on a qualitatively higher level. Instead of religion, the Jacobins appealed to Reason. They fought under the banner of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in order to rouse the plebeian and semi-proletarian masses against the feudal aristocracy and the monarchy. Long before it brought down the formidable walls of the Bastille, it had overthrown the invisible, but no less formidable, walls of the Church and religion.

But when the French bourgeoisie became the ruling class, faced with the new revolutionary class, the proletariat, the bourgeoisie quickly forgot the rationalist and atheist intoxication of its youth. After the fall of Robespierre, the victorious men of property longed for stability. Searching for stabilising formulae and a conservative ideology that would justify their privileges, they quickly rediscovered the charms of Holy Mother Church.

The latter, with her extraordinary ability to adapt, has managed to survive for two millennia, despite all the social changes that have taken place. The Catholic Church soon welcomed its new master and protector, sanctifying the domain of Big Capital, in the same way as before the same church had sanctified the power of feudal monarchs and the slave owners of the Roman Empire.?

In his classic work, What is history? The English historian E. By that he meant that the telling of history cannot be separated from the viewpoint, political or otherwise, both of the writer and of the reader and of the times they live or lived in. It is often said that history is written by the winners. In other words, the selection and interpretation of historical events are shaped by the actual outcome of those conflicts as they affect the historian and in turn his perception of what the reader will want to read. Despite the pretensions of bourgeois historians to an alleged objectivity, the writing of history inevitably reflects a class point of view.

It is impossible to escape having some sort of view on the events described. To claim otherwise is to attempt to defraud the reader. When Marxists look at society they do not pretend to be neutral, but openly espouse the cause of the working class and socialism. However, that does not at all preclude scientific objectivity. A surgeon involved in a delicate operation is also committed to saving the life of his patient. But for that very reason, he will distinguish with extreme care between the different layers of the organism.

In the same way, Marxists will strive to obtain the most scientifically exact analysis of social processes, in order to be able successfully to influence the outcome. From this we can see that the flow and direction of history has been—and is—shaped by the struggles of successive social classes to mould society in their own interests and by the resulting conflicts between the classes which flow from that.

Very often attempts are made to discredit Marxism by resorting to a caricature of its method of historical analysis. There is nothing easier than erecting a straw man in order to knock it down again. The usual distortion is that Marx and Engels reduced everything to economics. More than this neither Marx nor myself have asserted. Hence, if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract and senseless phrase. Historical materialism has nothing in common with fatalism.

Men and women are not merely puppets of blind historical forces. But neither are they entirely free agents, able to shape their destiny irrespective of the existing conditions imposed by the level of economic development, science and technique, which, in the last analysis, determine whether a socio-economic system is viable or not. To quote Engels:. Marx and Engels repeatedly criticised the superficial way in which certain people misused the method of historical materialism.

In his letter to Conrad Schmidt, dated 5 August , Engels writes:. But our conception of history is above all a guide to study, not a lever for construction after the manner of the Hegelian. All history must be studied afresh; the conditions of existence of the different formations of society must be examined individually before the attempt is made to deduce them from the political, civil law, aesthetic, philosophic, religious, etc.

Up to now but little has been done here because only a few people have got down to it seriously. In this field we can utilise heaps of help, it is immensely big, anyone who will work seriously can achieve much and distinguish himself. But instead of this too many of the younger Germans simply make use of the phrase historical materialism and everything can be turned into a phrase only in order to get their own relatively scanty historical knowledge—for economic history is still as yet in its swaddling clothes!

Marx and Engels , Collected Works , volume 49, p. They never see anything but here cause and there effect. That this is a hollow abstraction, that such metaphysical polar opposites only exist in the real world during crises, while the whole vast process proceeds in the form of interaction though of very unequal forces, the economic movement being by far the strongest, most elemental and most decisive and that here everything is relative and nothing is absolute—this they never begin to see.

Marxism does not deny the question of ideas but rather seeks to examine what gives rise to them. Equally it does not deny the role of the individual or indeed that of chance but instead puts them in their correct context. A car crash or a stray bullet may indeed manage to change the course of history but it is certainly not the motive force. Hegel explained that necessity reveals itself through chance. This brings us to the central question of Marxist philosophy.

In the writings of Marx and Engels we do not have a philosophical system, like that of Hegel, but a series of brilliant insights and pointers, which, if they were developed, would provide a valuable addition to the methodological armoury of science. Unfortunately, such a work has never been seriously undertaken. There is a difficulty for anyone who wishes to study dialectical materialism thoroughly. Despite the immense importance of the subject, there is no single book of Marx and Engels that deals with the question in a comprehensive manner. However, the dialectical method is in evidence in all the writings of Marx.

Probably the best example of the application of dialectics to a particular field in this case political economy consists of the three volumes of Capital. For a long time, Marx had intended to write a book on dialectical materialism, but it proved impossible because of his work on Capital.

This occupied every moment of his time, and even this work was frequently interrupted by bouts of illness brought on by his miserable living conditions, poor diet and exhaustion. But unfortunately, Engels also failed to write the definitive book on Marxist philosophy for various reasons. First, the emergence of an opportunist trend within the Social Democratic Party in Germany forced him to leave his scientific research to one side in order to write a polemic against opportunism that has become one of the most important classics of Marxism.

Later on, Engels returned to his preparatory studies for a comprehensive book on philosophy. But with the death of Marx, on March 14, , he was again obliged to suspend this work in order to prioritise the difficult task of putting in order and completing the manuscripts of volumes two and three of Capital that had been left unfinished. Dialectical philosophy reached its highest point in the philosophy of the German idealist Georg Hegel.

His great contribution was to rediscover dialectics, originally invented by the Greeks. He developed this to new heights. But he did this on the basis of idealism. Reading Hegel, one has the sensation of a truly great idea that is struggling to escape from the straitjacket of idealist mystification. Here we find extraordinarily profound ideas and flashes of great insight, but buried amidst a heap of idealist nonsense. It is a very frustrating experience to read Hegel!

Time and again this great thinker drew tantalisingly close to a materialist position. But at the last minute he always drew back, fearful of the consequences. For that reason, Hegelian philosophy was unsatisfactory, contradictory, botched and incomplete. Hegel carried traditional philosophy as far as it could go. In order to carry it further, it had to go beyond its bounds, negating itself in the process. Philosophy had to return from the nebulous realms of speculation back to the real world of material things, of living men and women, of real history and struggle from which it had been separated for so long.

The problem with Feuerbach and some other Left Hegelians, like Moses Hess, is that they merely said no to Hegel, negating his philosophy by simply denying it. It required courage, especially in the given context of general European reaction and the repressive Prussian state. It provided inspiration to the young Marx and Engels. But ultimately, it failed. One can negate a grain of wheat by crushing it underfoot. But the dialectical concept of negation is not merely to destroy: it is to destroy while simultaneously preserving all that deserves to be preserved.

A grain of wheat can also be negated by allowing it to germinate. Hegel pointed out that the same words in the mouth of an adolescent do not carry the same weight as on the lips of an old man, who has lived life and accumulated great experience. It is the same with philosophy. In returning to its starting point, philosophy does not merely repeat a long-surpassed stage. It does not become childish by returning in old age to its infancy, but it returns to the old ideas of the Ionic Greeks enriched by 2, years of history and the development of science and culture.

This is not the mechanical movement of a gigantic wheel, the senseless repetition of previous stages, like the endless process of rebirth that features in certain Oriental religions, but the negation of the negation, which posits the return to an earlier phase of development, but on a qualifiedly higher level. It is the same, and not the same. However, although he reached some deep and important conclusions, at times drawing close to materialism for example in The Philosophy of History , Hegel remained a prisoner of his idealist outlook.

He never managed to apply his dialectical method correctly to the real world of society and nature, because for him, the only real development was the development of the world of ideas. Of all the theories of Marx, no other has been so attacked, distorted and slandered as dialectical materialism. And this is no accident, since this theory is the basis and foundation of Marxism. It is, more or less, the method of scientific socialism. Marxism is much more than a political programme and an economic theory. It is a philosophy, the vast scope of which covers not only politics and the class struggle, but the whole of human history, economics, society, thought and nature.

Today, the ideology of the bourgeoisie is in the process of disintegration, not only in the field of economics and politics but also in that of philosophy. In the period of its ascent the bourgeoisie was capable of producing great thinkers like Hegel and Kant. In the period of its senile decay it produces nothing of value. It is impossible to read the barren products of the university philosophy departments without a feeling of tedium and irritation in equal measure.

The fight against the power of the ruling class cannot stop in the factories, the streets, parliament and local councils. We must also carry out the battle in the ideological field, where the influence of the bourgeoisie is no less pernicious and harmful by being hidden under the guise of a false impartiality and a superficial objectivity.

Why the ideas of Karl Marx are more relevant than ever in the 21st century

Marxism has a duty to provide a comprehensive alternative to the old and discredited schemes. The young Marx was heavily influenced by Hegelian philosophy that dominated the German universities at that time. In that sense it represented a real revolution in philosophy. It is this dynamic, revolutionary side that inspired the young Marx and is the starting point for all his ideas. Marx and Engels negated Hegel and turned his system of ideas into its opposite. But they did so while simultaneously preserving all that was valuable in his philosophy. In Hegel, the real struggle of historical forces is expressed in the shadowy form of the struggle of ideas.

But, as Marx explains, ideas in themselves have no history and no real existence. Therefore, reality appears in Hegel in a mystified, alienated form. In Feuerbach things are really not much better, since Man here appears also in a one-sided, idealistic and unreal manner. The real, historical men and women only appear with the advent of Marxist philosophy.

With the philosophy of Marx, philosophy at last returns to its roots. It is both dialectical and materialist. Here theory and practice once again join hands and rejoice together. Philosophy comes out of its dark and airless study and enjoys the sun and air. It becomes an inseparable part of life. In place of the obscure conflict of ideas without substance, we have the real contradictions of the material world and society. Instead of a remote and incomprehensible Absolute, we have real men and women, living in real society, making real history and fighting real battles.

The dialectic appears in the work of Hegel in a fantastic and semi-mystical guise. Here we do not find the real processes taking place in nature and society, but only the pale reflection of those processes in the minds of men, especially of philosophers. He points out that Marx was the only one who could strip away the mysticism contained in Hegelian logic and extract the dialectical kernel.

This represented the real discoveries in this field. Through the reconstruction of the dialectical method, Marx managed to provide the only true development of thought. While the philosophy of Hegel interpreted things only from the point of view of the mind and spirit i. The dialectic and formal logic bear a relationship similar to that between higher and lower mathematics.

The combination of the dialectical method with materialism created an extremely powerful analytical tool. But what is the dialectic? For reasons of space, it is impossible to explain here all the laws of dialectics developed by Hegel and perfected by Marx. In a few lines I can only give the sketchiest of outlines. Obviously, Engels had to rely on the knowledge and scientific discoveries of the time. Consequently, certain aspects of the content have a mainly historical interest. But what is surprising in Dialectics of Nature is not this or that detail or fact that has been inevitably overtaken by the march of science.

On the contrary, what is astonishing is the number of ideas advanced by Engels—often ideas that ran counter to the scientific theories of his day—which have been corroborated brilliantly by modern science. Throughout the book, Engels emphasises the idea that matter and motion now we would call it energy are inseparable. Motion is the mode of existence of matter. This dynamic view of matter, of the universe, contains a profound truth that was already understood, or rather guessed as, by the early Greek philosophers like Heraclitus. Everything is constantly changing, coming into being and passing away.

For common sense, the mass of an object never changes. For example, a spinning top when rotating, has the same weight as one that is motionless. Mass was therefore considered to be constant, regardless of speed. Later it was discovered that this is wrong. In fact, mass increases with speed, but such an increase is only appreciable in cases where the velocity is approaching that of light. For the practical purposes of everyday life, we can accept that the mass of an object is constant regardless of the speed with which it moves.

However, for very high speeds, this claim is false, and the higher the speed, the falser is the claim. Our entire picture of the world has to be altered even though the mass changes only a little. This is a very peculiar thing about the philosophy, or the ideas, behind the laws. Feynman, Lectures on Physics. This example clearly demonstrates the fundamental difference between elementary mechanics and advanced modern physics. The same difference exists between formal logic and dialectics. For everyday life, the laws of formal logic are more than enough.

However, for more complex processes, these laws are often turned upside down. Their limited truth becomes false. From the point of view of dialectical materialism, the material universe has no beginning or end, but consists of a mass of material or energy in a constant state of movement.

This is the fundamental idea of Marxist philosophy and it is completely supported by the discoveries of modern science over the last one hundred years. Take any example from everyday life: any phenomenon apparently stable, and we will see below the surface it is in a state of flux, although this change is invisible at first glance. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, chapter 1, p. These words are not of Engels, but a renowned scientist, the late Professor Richard P. Feynman, who used to teach theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a state of constant motion. Water does not break up into its component parts due to the mutual attraction of the molecules. This example may seem trivial, but it has tremendously important consequences for science and industry. It is part of a very important branch of modern physics: the study of phase transitions. Matter can exist in four phases or states , solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, plus a few other extreme phases, like critical fluids and degenerate gases. Generally, as a solid is heated or as pressure decreases , it will change to a liquid form, and will eventually become a gas.

For example, ice frozen water melts into liquid water when it is heated. As the water boils, the water evaporates and becomes water vapour. But if this vapour is heated to a very high temperature, a further phase transition occurs. This is what Marxists call the transformation of quantity into quality. That is to say, a large number of very small changes finally produces a qualitative leap—a phase transition. Precisely at this point, all resistance will suddenly disappear. One can find a limitless number of similar examples in all the natural sciences. The American scientist Marc Buchanan wrote a very interesting book called Ubiquity.

In this book, he gives a long series of examples: heart attacks, forest fires, avalanches, the rise and fall of animal populations, stock exchange crises, wars, and even changes in fashion and different schools of art I would add revolutions to this list. All these things seem to have no connection, yet are subject to the same law, which can be expressed by a mathematical equation known as a power law. What this is, in Marxist terminology, is the law of the transformation of quantity into quality. And what this study shows is that this law is ubiquitous, that is to say, it is present at all levels in the universe.

It is a truly universal law of nature, just as Engels said. This imperious demand appears to be the acme of practical realism. What can be more solid than the facts? Only what appears to be realism turns out to be just the opposite. What are established facts at one time, can turn out to be something very different. Everything is in a constant state of change, and sooner or later everything changes into its opposite. What appears to be solid dissolves into thin air. The dialectical method allows us to penetrate beyond appearances and see the processes that are taking place beneath the surface.

The dialectic is first of all the science of universal interconnection. It provides a comprehensive and dynamic view of phenomena and processes. It analyses things in their relationship, not separately; in their motion, not statically; in their life, not death. Knowledge of dialectics means freedom from the slavish worship of the established fact, of things as they are, which is the chief characteristic of superficial empirical thinking. We point out that behind the appearance of calm and absence of movement, there is a process of molecular change, not only in physics but also in society and in the psychology of the masses.

It was not so long ago that most people thought the boom was going to last forever. That was, or appeared to be, an unquestionable fact. Those who did question it were regarded as deluded cranks. But now that unquestionable truth lies in ruins. The facts have changed into their opposite. What seemed to be an indisputable truth turns out to be a lie. To quote the words of Hegel: Reason becomes unreason. Using this method more than a century ago, Frederick Engels was able, in a number of instances, to see further than most contemporary scientists, anticipating many of the discoveries of modern science.

Engels was not a professional scientist, but had a fairly extensive knowledge of the natural sciences of his time. However, based on a deep understanding of the dialectical method of analysis, Engels made a number of very important contributions to the philosophical interpretation of science today, although they have remained unknown to the overwhelming majority of scientists until now. Of course, philosophy cannot dictate the laws of the natural sciences. These laws can only be developed on the basis of a serious and rigorous analysis of nature.

The progress of science is characterised by a series of approximations. Through experiment and observation we get closer and closer to the truth, without ever being able to get to know the whole truth. It is a never-ending process of a deepening penetration of the secrets of matter and the universe. The truth of scientific theories can only be established through practice, observation and experiment, not by any commandments of philosophers.


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Most of the questions with which philosophers have wrestled in the past have been solved by science. Nevertheless, it would be a serious mistake to suppose that philosophy has no role to play in science. There remain only two aspects of philosophy which remain valid today which have not been absorbed by the different branches of science: formal logic and dialectics. The dialectic, of course, has no magical quality to solve the problems of modern physics. Nevertheless, a comprehensive and coherent philosophy would be of inestimable help in guiding scientific investigation onto the most fruitful lines and prevent it from falling into all manner of arbitrary and mystical hypotheses that lead nowhere.

Many of the problems facing science today arise precisely because of its lack of a firm philosophical foundation. Many scientists treat philosophy with contempt. As far as modern philosophy is concerned, this contempt is well deserved. For the past one and a half centuries the realm of philosophy resembles an arid desert with only traces of life. The treasure trove of the past, with its ancient glories and flashes of illumination, seems utterly extinguished. Not only scientists but men and women in general will search in vain in this wasteland for any source of illumination. Yet on closer inspection the contempt displayed by scientists to philosophy is not well grounded.

For if we look seriously at the state of modern science—or more accurately at its theoretical underpinnings and assumptions, we see that science has in fact never freed itself from philosophy. Unceremoniously expelled by the front door, philosophy slyly gains an entry through the back window. Scientists who proudly assert their complete indifference to philosophy in reality make all kinds of assumptions that are philosophical in character. And in fact, this kind of unconscious and uncritical philosophy is not superior to the old fashioned kind but immeasurably inferior to it.

Moreover, it is the source of many errors in practice. The remarkable advances of science over the past century seem to have made philosophy redundant. In a world where we can penetrate the deepest mysteries of the cosmos and follow the complex motions of sub-atomic particles, the old questions which absorbed the attention of philosophers have been resolved.

The role of philosophy has been correspondingly reduced. However, to repeat the point, there are two areas where philosophy retains its importance: formal logic and dialectics. This demonstrated the inevitability of scientific revolutions and showed the approximate mechanism whereby these occur.

As a matter of fact, Engels was far ahead of his contemporaries most scientists included in his attitude towards the natural sciences. He not only explained motion energy as inseparable from matter, but also explained that the difference between the sciences consisted only in the study of the various forms of energy and the dialectical transition from one form of energy into another.

This is what is now known as phase transitions. The whole evolution of science in the twentieth century has rejected the old compartmentalisation, recognising the dialectical transition from one science to another. Marx and Engels in their day caused great indignation amongst their opponents, when they said that the difference between organic and inorganic matter was only relative.

They explained that organic matter—the first living organisms—arose from inorganic matter at a given time, representing a qualitative leap in evolution. They said that animals, including man with his mind, his ideas and beliefs were simply matter organised in a certain way. This is the key assumption. For example, the most important assumptions in biology are that everything that animals do, atoms do. In other words, there is nothing living things do that cannot be understood from the point of view that they are made of atoms, acting in accordance with the laws of physics.

From the scientific perspective, men and women are aggregations of atoms arranged in a particular way. But we are not merely agglomeration of atoms. The human body is an extraordinarily complex organism, in particular the brain, the structure and functioning of which we are only now beginning to understand.

This is something far more beautiful and wonderful than all the old fairy stories of religion. At the same time that Marx was carrying out a revolution in the field of political economy, Darwin was doing the same in the field of biology. The explanation for this apparent paradox is that the laws of dialectics are not an arbitrary invention, but reflect processes that actually exist in nature and society.

The discovery of genetics has revealed the exact mechanism that determines the transformation of one species into another. In the next few years, scientists will carry out an act of creation in a laboratory, producing a living organism from inorganic matter. The last patch of ground will be cut from under the feet of the Divine Creator, who will finally be rendered utterly redundant. For a long time scientists argued as to whether the creation of new species was the result of a long period of accumulation of slow changes or arose from a sudden violent change.

From a dialectical point of view, there is no contradiction between the two. A long period of molecular changes quantitative changes reaches a critical point where it suddenly produces what is now termed a quantum leap. Marx and Engels believed the theory of evolution of species was clear proof of the fact that nature ultimately works in a dialectical way, i. Three decades ago, this statement received a powerful boost from such a prestigious institution as the British Museum, where a furious debate broke the decorous silence of centuries. One of the arguments against the defenders of the idea of qualitative leaps in the chain of evolution was that it represented Marxist infiltration in the British Museum!

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However, despite itself, modern biology has had no choice but to correct the old idea of evolution as a gradual, linear, uninterrupted process, without abrupt changes, and admit the existence of qualitative leaps, characterised by the mass extinction of some species and the emergence of new ones. On 17 April The Economist published an article on the centenary of Darwin that said:. Evidence is also accumulating that many genes undergo a slow but steady mutation.

Thus, little by little, scientists solve the ongoing controversy of whether species change slowly and continuously for long periods, or remain unchanged for a long time and then experience a rapid evolution. Probably both types of changes occur. The old version of evolutionary theory phyletic gradualism maintained that species change only gradually as individual genetic mutations arise and are selected. Incidentally, the late Stephen Jay Gould pointed out that if the scientists had paid attention to what Engels had written about human origins, they would have saved themselves a hundred years of error.

The first phase of the crisis that began in was characterised by the default of big banks. The entire banking system of the USA and the rest of the world was only saved by the massive injection of billions of dollars and euros by the state. But the question must be asked: what is left of the old idea that the free market, if left to itself, will solve all problems? What is left of the old idea that the state must not interfere in the workings of the economy? The massive injection of public money solved nothing. The crisis has not been resolved. It has merely been shifted onto states.

All that happened is that in place of a massive deficit of the banks we have a gaping black hole in public finances. And who will pay for this? The deficits about which the economists and politicians are complaining so bitterly must be paid for by the poorest and most defenceless sections of society.

Suddenly there is no money for the old, the sick, the unemployed, but there is always plenty of money for the bankers. This means a regime of permanent austerity. But this merely creates new contradictions. By cutting demand, it reduces the market still further, and thus aggravates the crisis of overproduction. Now the economists are predicting a new collapse, when currencies and governments will go under, threatening the very fabric of the world financial system. And despite what the politicians say about the need to curb the deficit, debts on the scale that have been run up cannot be repaid.

Greece provides a graphic example of this fact. The future is one of even deeper crises, falling living standards, painful adjustments and increasing impoverishment for the majority. This is a finished recipe for further upheavals and class struggle on an even higher level. It is a systemic crisis of capitalism on a world scale. Some sophists ask: if socialism is inevitable, why should one have to struggle to achieve it? As a matter of fact, it is possible to be a convinced determinist and yet be committed to an active revolutionary role.

In the seventeenth century the Calvinists were determinists of the most categorical and absolute kind. They believed fervently in predestination, that the fate and salvation of every man and woman was determined before they were born. Nevertheless, this iron determinism did not prevent the Calvinists from playing a most revolutionary role in the struggle against decaying feudalism and its main ideological expression, the Roman Catholic Church. Precisely because they were convinced of the justice and inevitable triumph of their cause, they fought all the more bravely to speed up its victory.

The old society is dying on its feet, and a new society is struggling to be born. But those who have derived vast riches from it will never accept the inevitability of its demise. Sooner than see it sink into oblivion, the ruling class would prefer to drag the whole of society down with it. The prolongation of the death agony of capitalism constitutes a mortal threat to human culture and civilisation.

Our task is to assist in the birth of the new society, to ensure that it takes place as swiftly and painlessly as possible, with the smallest cost to humanity. Contrary to the calumnies of our enemies, Marxists do not advocate violence, but we are realists, and we know that the whole history of the last ten thousand years proves that no ruling class or caste ever surrenders its wealth, power and privileges without a fight, and that usually means a fight with no holds barred.

And that remains the case today. It is the decay of capitalism that threatens to unleash the most terrible violence on the world. In order to reduce the possibility of violence, to put an end to chaos and wars, to ensure the most peaceful and orderly transition to socialism, the prior condition is that the working class must be mobilised for struggle and be prepared to fight to the end. Contrary to the comforting picture that used to be presented of the capitalist system offering a secure and prosperous future for all, we see the reality of a world in which millions suffer poverty and hunger, while the super rich become richer every day.

People live in constant fear of an insecure future that will be decided, not by the rational decisions of people but solely by the wild gyrations of the market. Financial crises, mass unemployment and constant social and political upheavals turn many things upside down.

What appeared to be fixed and permanent dissolves overnight and people begin to question things they always took for granted. This state of perpetual unrest is what prepares the ground psychologically for revolution, which in the end becomes the only option that is realistically imaginable. In order to see this in practice one only has to look at present-day Greece. Everybody knows that the capitalist system is in crisis. But what is the antidote to the crisis? If capitalism is an anarchic and chaotic system that inevitably ends in crises, then one must conclude that in order to eliminate crises it is necessary to abolish the capitalist system itself.

But this is what the bourgeois economists refuse to do. Are there no mechanisms that could allow the bourgeois to get out of a crisis of overproduction? Of course there are! One method would be to lower the rate of interest in order to boost profit margins and stimulate investment. But the rate of interest is already close to zero. Reduce it any further and we would be talking about a negative rate of interest: the banks would pay people to borrow money. This is completely crazy, but they are even discussing it. That shows that they are becoming desperate.

The other method is to increase state spending. This is what all the Keynesians and reformists are advocating. In the first place, this exposes the bankruptcy of free market economics. The private sector is so feeble, decrepit, so bankrupt in the literal sense of the word that it must rely on the state just as a man with no legs relies on crutches.

But even that option does not offer a way out.


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  6. It is an obvious fact that the banks and big monopolies are now dependent on the state for their survival. As soon as they were in difficulties, the same people who used to insist that the state must play no role in the economy, ran to the government with their hands out, demanding huge sums of money. Internet, capitalism, and peripheral development in the Waldviertel. Culture and economy in the age of social media Fuchs, Christian Culture and economy in the age of social media.

    New York, London Routledge. WikiLeaks and the critique of the political economy Fuchs, Christian WikiLeaks and the critique of the political economy. Theorising social media, politics and the state: an introduction Trottier, D. Theorising social media, politics and the state: an introduction. Anonymous: Hacktivism and contemporary politics Fuchs, Christian Anonymous: Hacktivism and contemporary politics. Social media, politics and the state: protests, revolutions, riots, crime and policing in the age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube New York Routledge.

    Media and left Leiden Brill. Why we need alternative social media before it is too late Fuchs, Christian Why we need alternative social media before it is too late. Digital workers of the World unite! A framework for critically theorising and analysing digital labour Fuchs, Christian and Sandoval, M.

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    A framework for critically theorising and analysing digital labour. Towards a new foundation of dialectical materialism" Fuchs, Christian Towards a new foundation of dialectical materialism". WikiLeaks and the Critique of the Political Economy. QTube — citizen-generated videos for questions to the Prime Minister.

    May 19, Fuchs, Christian May 19, UK Parliament. The Occupy movement and social media in crisis capitalism Fuchs, Christian The Occupy movement and social media in crisis capitalism. Winchester, UK Zero Books. Revisiting the political economy of communication Garnham, N. Revisiting the political economy of communication. Introduction: Critique, social media and the information society in the age of capitalist crisis Fuchs, Christian and Sandoval, M. Introduction: Critique, social media and the information society in the age of capitalist crisis.

    Critique, social media and the information society New York Routledge. Critique, social media and the information society Fuchs, Christian and Sandoval, M. Critique, social media and the information society. Theorising and analysing digital labour: from global value chains to modes of production Fuchs, Christian Theorising and analysing digital labour: from global value chains to modes of production. The Political Economy of Communication. Social media: a critical introduction Fuchs, Christian Social media: a critical introduction.

    Social media and the public sphere Fuchs, Christian Social media and the public sphere. Karl Marx and the study of media and culture today Fuchs, Christian Karl Marx and the study of media and culture today. Digital prosumption labour on social media in the context of the capitalist regime of time Fuchs, Christian Digital prosumption labour on social media in the context of the capitalist regime of time.

    Digital labour and Karl Marx Fuchs, Christian Digital labour and Karl Marx. Dallas Smythe reloaded: critical media and communication studies today Fuchs, Christian Dallas Smythe reloaded: critical media and communication studies today. The audience commodity in a digital age: revisiting critical theory of commercial media New York Peter Lang. Critique of the political economy of informational capitalism and social media Fuchs, Christian Critique of the political economy of informational capitalism and social media.

    Social networking sites in the surveillance society: critical perspectives and empirical findings Allmer, T. Social networking sites in the surveillance society: critical perspectives and empirical findings. Media, surveillance and identity: social perspectives New York Peter Lang. Capitalism or information society? The fundamental question of the present structure of society Fuchs, Christian The fundamental question of the present structure of society.

    European Journal of Social Theory. The Anonymous movement in the context of liberalism and socialism Fuchs, Christian The Anonymous movement in the context of liberalism and socialism. Interface: a journal for and about social movements. Information, Communication and Society. Privacy and Security in Europe Fuchs, Christian Privacy and Security in Europe.

    Towards a participatory, co-operative and sustainable information society? A critical analysis of Swedish ICT policy discourses. Nordicom Review. The internet as surveilled workplayplace and factory Fuchs, Christian and Trottier, D. The internet as surveilled workplayplace and factory.

    European data protection: coming of age Dordrecht Springer. What is digital labour? What is digital work? And why do these questions matter for understanding social media? Fuchs, Christian and Sevignani, S. The diamond model of open access publishing: why policy makers, scholars, universities, libraries, labour unions and the publishing world need to take non-commercial, non-profit open access serious Fuchs, Christian and Sandoval, M.

    The diamond model of open access publishing: why policy makers, scholars, universities, libraries, labour unions and the publishing world need to take non-commercial, non-profit open access serious. Karl Marx internet studies. Social media and capitalism Fuchs, Christian Social media and capitalism. Political economy and surveillance theory Fuchs, Christian Political economy and surveillance theory. Class and exploitation on the internet Fuchs, Christian Class and exploitation on the internet. Digital labor: the internet as playground and factory New York Routledge.

    Behind the news: social media, riots, and revolutions Fuchs, Christian Behind the news: social media, riots, and revolutions. Capital and Class. Societal Impact Report. Deliverable D1. Introduction: Internet and surveillance. Internet and surveillance: the challenges of web 2. The political economy of privacy on Facebook Fuchs, Christian The political economy of privacy on Facebook. With or without Marx? With or without capitalism? A rejoinder to Adam Arvidsson and Eleanor Colleoni. Web 2. Net works: case studies in web art and design New York Routledge.

    New Marxian times! Reflections on the 4th ICTs and society conference "Critique, democracy and philosophy in 21st century information society. Towards critical theories of social media" Fuchs, Christian Towards critical theories of social media". Media, war and information technology Fuchs, Christian Media, war and information technology.

    Media and terrorism: global perspectives London Sage. La politica economica dei social media [The political economy of social media, in Italian] Fuchs, Christian La politica economica dei social media [The political economy of social media, in Italian]. Sociologia della Communicazione. Google capitalism Fuchs, Christian Google capitalism. Dallas Smythe today: the audience commodity, the digital labour debate, Marxist political economy and critical theory. Prolegomena to a digital labour theory of value Fuchs, Christian