Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

May 2024 Forums General discussion Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

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  • #116052
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    L Bird wrote:'Ideas' are not 'material' (ie. being, of 'matter'); they are 'ideas' (ie. consciousness).If ideas, part of our mental processes, part of our consciousness are not material, perhaps you could explain the following:http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/meet-two-scientists-who-implanted-false-memory-mouse-180953045/?no-ist or is that just another example of Bourgeoisie science

    #116053
    moderator1
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Robbo, i think it isn't helpful to counter name-calling with name-calling.LBird isn't a Leninist and i don't think he is a centralisation control-freak either.When he explained his ideas on materialism and ideal-materialism they were valid for all i know but when he was asked how ideas were to be democratically controlled and asked just how that control of scientific ideas be accomplished then he dug himself into a hole and instead of stopping digging, he dug deeper.By accusing the Party of Leninism then it is incumbered upon LBird to show me its signs which i keep insisting must have appeared by now after a 100 years of gestationFor me personally as i said, this philosophical exchange is beyond my ken, and in science there is much else that is and i named quantum physics. I don't want a vote on its "truth"..i want to democratically abstain and leave it to someone else who cares about it…to each to their own, as i said, in another post. This applies to many things in  life and by extension what i believe will happen in socialism in rgards to its running and administration…People wont demand to micro-manage anything and everything and especially not from a remotely from a distance. The fewer votes the better for all society. Your ECA gives clues to how we will automatically self-regulate and self-correct by just what we do and go about in society. I'm not saying we will not have a participatory democracy but its application can't be so easily described in pre-socialist capitalist conditions.Even the decision-making in one factory will evolve itself into something unlike today's cooperatives. Community assembly meetings might have all the hallmarks of Murray Bookchins New England town hall meetings but we also be building on the Indian panchayat  systems and Latin American indigenous systems of village councils that the Zapatistas in Chiapas flowered from…This "Leninist" doesn't want to shoe-horn every diverse community around the world into the one model of democratic practice. Every industry has its variety too. Road, rail, sea and air have all created rules and laws over the courses of generations that have been integrated into worldwide accepted custom and usage…i see no reason why it shouldn't continue, the existing framework requires little change for democratic control of transport…or are there people who insist that non-qualified should exercise control of air traffic control…but, on the otherhand i think they might well have a say on which side of the road we should all drive on…No, LBIrd isn't a Leninist but he fails to understand totally why the SPGB relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how socialism works to the future and to the people living in socialism….a sign that we are innocent of his charge of being an elite…Even if we were a democratically elected elite we abdicate our responsibilities of rule.I want to know how this can be if we do not support workers democratic control of production and i'll keep on asking…but i had the passing thought in an earlier post….i expect too much from a person who despite his long presence on the discussion thread has only a passing acquaintance with the SPGB as a non-member….now if he actually joined…what a difference it would nmake to the debates… 

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    #116054
    moderator1
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    I referred to the fact that historians could verify and document how the elite dominated the SPD and the Bolsheviks. They could refer to Party rules, Party resolutions, and describe the relationships these parties  had with workers organisations such as trade unions and workers councils and, later,  historians could detail the actions both took in their respective civil wars to impose their will by the force of the State. Can you demonstrate any conference decision or party rule that gives an elite control over the SPGB?Can you show any actual policy or action of the SPGB which undermines the independence of the workers in their organisations?

    I thought that I had answered this question, alan.I can only go by what I read on here. I have already said that I'm not a member, have never been a member, nor have any knowledge of SPGB actions having been elected to control even a parish council, for me to examine.Unless you are going to take a legalistic approach (that because 'materialism' hasn't been openly declared in a policy document, that it doesn't exist or have any purchase in the party), then I think that it's enough to read what party members and party supporters say here when asked about the party's overall viewpoint (perhaps we could call these unwritten, undeclared, even hidden, 'Party rules, resolutions, policies, decisions').I could be more persuaded that this 'hidden agenda' doesn't exist, if there was clearly open debate and disagreement amongst members, which would be evidence that there is no hidden agenda. But… there is no dissent whatsoever against the open statements by members that they will not have workers' democracy in the means of production, and that their (undeclared policy in) philosophy is materialism.If I could quote just one example of a member saying 'I agree with Marx and not Engels', I would revise my views. But, the open, and also passive, support for materialism is 100%!Surely any observer who reads these threads, unsure initially of whether the SPGB looks to materialism, would be convinced by now that it does indeed: all of the members who contribute say so, and those who don't contribute, don't deny it.

    ajj wrote:
    Where in these policies is the intent to deny workers democratic control?  On the contrary, it is emphasising the independence of workers to determine their own democracy…

    But this is simply not true, going by the contributions of members on this and other threads. When asked directly, 'will workers democratically control the production of scientific knowledge (including maths and physics) for the purposes of the direct producers?', they most emphatically deny it. They openly say that only a elite has the ability to make decisions, only an elite has the right to decide the purpose of science.

    ajj wrote:
    I think this secret conspiracy of the SPGB to thwart workers' democratic control of production cannot be shown to exist from the historic record to its behaviour now. And i keep asking for you to offer actual examples as evidence and you fail to do so.

    'Materialism' is 'this secret conspiracy', which has affected all organisations, since the Second International and Kautsky, which look to Engels' materialism. The SPGB, founded in 1904, supped from the same philosophical sources as Lenin, and with the same results: belief that there is something called 'matter' which, outside of any relationship to human consciousness, has to be taken account of. This has its roots in bourgeois science, the history of which I've pointed to a few times.No matter how much evidence I supply, for a materialist, like you, there is no evidence. You won't even admit openly to the board that you are a materialist, but simply pretend to be 'ignorant' of philosophy, and yet hold forth about the political implications of a philosophy which you claim to know nothing. The political implications of materialism are anti-democratic, and if you knew nothing, you would at least have an open mind, and would weigh the written evidence on this thread. FFS, they keep writing it!

    ajj wrote:
    Not once has anyone ever said the importance of ideas people hold is not the prime one. Ideas are very much part of the material conditions that will help build socialism…

    No, no, no, alan!'Ideas' are not 'material' (ie. being, or 'matter'); they are 'ideas' (ie. consciousness).They are part of (to use terminology contemporaneous with Marx) the 'ideal-material conditions'.By 'material', Marx did not mean 'matter'; that was Engels' viewpoint, ignorantly influenced by the powerful bourgeois ideology and its apparent successes of his time. Marx meant 'social production', and social production contains 'ideas'.To argue that 'theory and practice' is something to do with timeless, asocial 'matter' is nonsense. Marx was interested in socio-historical production of our world, which, because we produce it, we can change.Whilst you keep (apparently ignorantly, from your own testimony) using the phrase 'material conditions' (and thinking this is something to do with 'matter' telling us 'what it is'), then you'll unavoidably take the side of an elite who claim to 'know matter', and won't allow a vote on 'what matter is'.Notwithstanding SPGB policies, to you, if matter speaks in the future, you'll be forced to ditch the 'policy of democracy' and turn to the 'experts'. After all, that's precisely what all your party comrades openly argue here, with no dissent, so me predicting what you and your party are likely to do in the future, is not me reading a chrystal ball. You say it.You all look to materialism, either openly like some, or 'ignorantly', like you. 'Matter' is your 'active side', not 'social consciousness'.

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    #116055
    moderator1
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    ajj wrote:
    …he fails to understand totally why the SPGB relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how socialism works to the future and to the people living in socialism…

    So, why is the very same argument, that I've made before, not valid?

    Quote:
    …alan fails to understand totally why LBird relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how democratic science works to the future and to the people living in socialism…

    What's good for the SPGB goose is good for the LBird gander!Get robbo to give a detailed plan of socialism, and I'll take the same plan, and add 'democratic science' every time he mentions 'democratic production'. Widgets and knowledge are of the same order: products produced by society.Unless, he doesn't actually mention 'democratic control of the means of production'…

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    #116056
    moderator1
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Quote:
    Get robbo to give a detailed plan of socialism

    Well the nearest a socialist model to my knowledge he has posted has been thishttps://libcom.org/files/CommonVoice3.pdfSo feel free to critique the "democratic control" it proclaims …i am sure he would be interested in where you find it in error or where his socialist ideas are badly expressed.  Fire away your broadside. LBird…you have the first shot…then Robbo can return fire…

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    #116057
    robbo203
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Robbo, i think it isn't helpful to counter name-calling with name-calling.LBird isn't a Leninist and i don't think he is a centralisation control-freak either.

     I strongly disagree,  Alan.  I think he is exactly that.  The thing that absolutely settles the matter beyond  a shadow of doubt is this crackpot idea of his  about the democratic control by workers  by means of a vote over what constitutes "scientific truth" in what he calls a "democratic communist society".Quite apart from the utter pointlessness of the exercise in actually voting on the matter of what constitutes "scientific truth" which I have explained many times before,  I would simply draw your attention to  what is implied by this proposal.  LBird has made it abundantly clear that , as he sees it, it  is the totality of workers in a communist society – i.e. the global population – that would be involved in this voting procedure.  That means quite literally 7 billion individuals voting upon thousands upon thousands of scientific theories to decide whether or not they are "true" .Of course the idea is absolutely insane and my seven year old step neice would be able to point out to LBird how totally impractical and utterly dumb  his idea is. The amount of time and effort and resouces required to ascertain the considered opinion of the entire global population – 7 billion of us  – by means of a vote with respect to even  just one single scientific theory alone would be absolutely phenomenal and daunting.  Yet LBird would have us believe the entire gamut of scientific theories must be subjected to a "democratic vote" by the entire global population in a "democratic communist" society.I can't believe we have been actually engaging this guy in debate for months and months without this matter being resolved.  Instead most contributors have been focussing on the philophical aspects of the debate.  Thats their prerogative but personally I think its a case of much ado about nothing – terminology, in the main.  Really all that LBird is saying boils to the rather unremarkable  assertion that there is that no such thing as a value free science and, funnily enough. in this I agree with him and said so way back when  I think  LBird first joined this forum.  But he likes to drag out a longwinded academic argument so he can display his philosophical knowledge.I am more interested in the practical side of things , hence my attempts  call him out on this.  I find it infuriating that he has never once deigned to respond to my questions on the practicalities of  what he is proposing and it does rather make me  want to question his democratic credentials for that reason. It is arrogant and patronising in the extremeWhich brings me finally to the question of how to characterise LBird's perspective.  What is clear to me is that he certainly endorses the priinciple of society wide  decisonmaking not as just in a one off sense but in an iterative sense,  I fail to see how that cannot but mean a totally centralised model of social organisation to facilitate the implementation of these globally based decisions.  With LBird we get no sense whatsover of a disaggregated concept of democracy. There is nor the slightest hint for exampe of localised or even regional forms of democracy.  Rather what we are presented with is a totalistic notion of workers "democratic control of production" as being exercised by the world's workers as a whole and nothing else Since this is absolutely out of the question for logistical reasons,  LBirds "democratic communism" amounts to nothing more than a figleaf to hide the ruthless concentration of power in the hands of a technocratic elite, a vanguard,  that must inevitably result by default if not by design from any attempt to put his idea into practice . This is ironic given that he accuses those who see the necessity, even desirablity, of some degree of scientific specialisation  – how else can you become a competent biochemist except by devoting years of study to it ?- in a communist society of being "elitist" and "undemocratic"If you think this assessment of LBird's perspective is wrong , Alan,  then show me where I have erred

    #116058
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Robbo 203 wrote "That means quite literally 7 billion individuals voting upon thousands upon thousands of scientific theories to decide whether or not they are "true" ."You forgot to mention that Mathematics would also be involved in this process, so there would be thousands of Mathematical theorems to vote on as well. I'm not sure if it would only be the theories developed in the Capitalist era that would need to be democratically decided upon or whether the theories from Classical societies would be up for grabs as well?It also begs the question, at what stage of the development of theory is it put to the vote, as no theory is ever complete.I suppose we could organise a kind of TV show format around the vote. We could call it the X x Y = 1 Factor. I can't see it being huge Saturday night viewing though. No doubt there is some twat at Channel 5 reading this thinking, "oh now, that could work"

    #116059
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Robbo, you know full well that we shouldn't make words mean something that it doesn'tLeninism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeninismI'm not googling all the definitions of what Leninism means but there are agreed features to it…and as i and LBIrd agress (and you too), Leninism has its birth in the 2nd International and Kautskyism. Taling one aspect of Leninism and making it an ism on it own to win a political argument doesn't strike me as quite accurateI'm sure there is a practical way for 7 billion to vote but just periodically…the Chinese and the Indian populations are both well over a billion each and they can organise it every few years…And Tim has referred to X-Factor but there could be a global mechanism to register views and opinions…We chose songs via Eurovision contest that i believe is now based upon viewers registering their choice, it could be adjusted and YMS has studied various methods of this. Also Pollsters use various means without everybody being asked and the error rate can be reduced to negligible…You yourself have talked of a variety of consumer research feedback determining production choice and implementing hierarchy of Maslows hierarchy of needs…why can't they be scaled up to get the feedback of several billion on some issues. A global vote is difficult by not unaccomplishable and not desirable upon everything….but i note that House of Commons debates are demanded by a online petition, American states do this too as does Switzerand and other nations probably, a petition for full referendums …New Zealand is choosing a new flag, are they not? So that mechanism can be used to decide to trigger local, regional and worldwide votes. LBird has made it clear several times that he supports workers councils, that is usually a decentralised delegatory structure of manufacture, not a command economy….But some decisions have to be…agreements on building standards and quality control specs, etc or global coordination agreements…Those with no vested interest will probably not become involved in the determination, but i don't think there will be a rule about excluding people from participating unless a rule is made..again i don't think every tom dick or harry should have a voice in determining the procedures of a heart operation…specialists have to deem who is skilled and knowledgable…but to do that they have to first make their case for it which involves everybody who cares to be is involved. LBird's views on the SPGB which he expressed i think can be treated with scepticalism since now with his own answer it is not based on a investigation or a full awareness of the history or practice of the SPGB but limited to the responses of just a few online members. His accusations that we are Leninists can be dismissed as founded upon lack of knowledge and study…just as my opinion upon this philosophical debate cannot be treated the same as those with wider understanding…

    #116060
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Oh , i just noticed that Parliament voted for a probable X-Factor style decision making to choose a new national anthem for England…i wonder how they will stop people in Scotland and Ireland and Wales from voting ?…an exercise in democracy tht went beyon the Scots who got the dire dirge of Flower of Scotland foisted upon them…King Edwards Army and a' that crap…Give me Men of Harlech , any day

    #116061
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Alan Johnson wrote:Tim has referred to X-FactorI was taking the piss!!!!

    #116062
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I was just thinking a moment ago about the issues LBird has brought up concerning science. They are problems that we must face directly, even today.Take the question of GMO food. The overwhelming scientific opinion is that it is safe. Yet people still wonder about this. So it actually did go to a vote, at least, in a number of states in America, concerning the legal requirement to list on food products if it ingredients are GM to offer consumer a choice of believing scientific truth or going by their irrational beliefs. Scientific democracy in practice. Even huge corporation such as Campbells probably for market reasons bowed to consumer opinion rather than their own scientists because of the votes that have taken place and their expectations of the outcome of future ones. (I know ALB believes the EU and Russia's position on GM is protectionism rather than scientific.) But one scientific truth is defeated by another truth…ideologically based one…We also have a similar situation with fracking. Most scientific opinion, again, says it is safe if certain precautions are carried out but many oppose fracking challenging the authority of the research. So should it be imposed by a central body, or should the NIMBYs be permitted a veto by local vote or overruled by a wider vote since the demand for fracked gas comes from elsewhere but they don't risk the supposed water contamination or localised earthquakes. NIMBYs will vote for their version of ideological science and others less affected will opt for their own truth on the matter.  I think the socialist solution is that we go for the alternative…Again, Robbo discusses this…Liebig's law of the minimum – whereby you economise most on those factors that are relatively the scarcest…or which in this context is the biggest hassle to get agreement on what to produce…we have lots of substitutes for fossil fuel gas as other options to fracking. But it also got me remembering one reason why i found Parecon such a pain…the endless negotiations it involved to determine prices and jobs etc etc. Needless bureaucracy compard with fee access. Which really is what i think you meant by LBird's Leninism, Robbo.  I don't want endless votes eating into society's and my own time. The more the world runs on automatic pilot, the better it suits me and i think everybody else…even if this is letting technology take over many of the decision roles …And as with the internet and search engines and net neutrality we have to be wary of what we delegate and what we maintain hands-on control.  YMS has explored automation and robotics more than i have, so i am sure he can suggest how mankind and machines are integrated . Anyways some thoughts that popped into my head that i want to get posted before the Moderator deems my contributions out of order…

    #116063
    robbo203
    Participant
    Tim Kilgallon wrote:
    Robbo 203 wrote "That means quite literally 7 billion individuals voting upon thousands upon thousands of scientific theories to decide whether or not they are "true" ."You forgot to mention that Mathematics would also be involved in this process, so there would be thousands of Mathematical theorems to vote on as well. I'm not sure if it would only be the theories developed in the Capitalist era that would need to be democratically decided upon or whether the theories from Classical societies would be up for grabs as well?It also begs the question, at what stage of the development of theory is it put to the vote, as no theory is ever complete.I suppose we could organise a kind of TV show format around the vote. We could call it the X x Y = 1 Factor. I can't see it being huge Saturday night viewing though. No doubt there is some twat at Channel 5 reading this thinking, "oh now, that could work"

    LOL Tim.  And why stop there. What about the Arts and the Humanities? Or even something as mundane as cultural expression. We could have a global vote on the aesthetics of everyday clothing for example. Perhaps we should all be decked out in our little Chairman Mao suits.  I mean we wouldnt want to be seen as different, would we? That 's "bourgeois individualism" and next LBird will be telling us that weve become "running dogs of capitalism" or some such

    #116064
    robbo203
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Robbo, you know full well that we shouldn't make words mean something that it doesn'tLeninism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeninismI'm not googling all the definitions of what Leninism means but there are agreed features to it…and as i and LBIrd agress (and you too), Leninism has its birth in the 2nd International and Kautskyism. Taling one aspect of Leninism and making it an ism on it own to win a political argument doesn't strike me as quite accurateI'm sure there is a practical way for 7 billion to vote but just periodically…the Chinese and the Indian populations are both well over a billion each and they can organise it every few years…And Tim has referred to X-Factor but there could be a global mechanism to register views and opinions…We chose songs via Eurovision contest that i believe is now based upon viewers registering their choice, it could be adjusted and YMS has studied various methods of this….LBird has made it clear several times that he supports workers councils, that is usually a decentralised delegatory structure of manufacture, not a command economy

    Sorry but I disagree with you Alan.  What LBird is proposing inexorably leads to an outcome that is clearly Leninist in character. It is presupposing, as the norm ,society-wide (meaning global) mechanisms of decision-making which by default if not by design – because if the sheer impracticality of what is being proposed – must inevitaby result in the concentration of power in the hands of a vanguard. (Recall Lenin's words about turning the world into "one big factory" and add to that Lenin's preferred mode of adminstering this factory in the form of one man management"). You see, in LBird's worldview its not just a question of establishing what is the Truth of a scientific theory. It is arming that truth with the moral authority of a supposedly democratic vote,  We are back to the days when questioning the ptolemaic orthodoxy of a geocentric universe could  get you burnt on the stake. After all what is the point of going through the whole charade of democratic vote on scientific Truth if not to enforce it?And I am not convinced by your suggestion that he supports workers councils which usually indicates a delegatry structure of manufacture. Workers councils or soviets can quite easily in principle fit in with the model of a command economy as components in a rigidly hierarchical structure of decision making – democratic centralism . Same differenceI think you are being too soft on LBird frankly and letting him off the hook.Its the kind of ideas that he is spouting that makes a laughing stock of socialism and encourages workers to dismss as some kind of utopian and totally impractical dream. I dont doubt that there can be a global mechanism for determing the global view on some matter of global significance. But the whole point is that such a vote would be an extreme rarity not a routine procedure a la LBird..  You mention China and India with populations of over a billion each. Even in these instances the organisational effort to undertake even a single vote or referendum is immense. Multiply that by several times and you get an idea of the costs involved in such a global vote – that is assuming it is a meaningful  vote and not just some pious resolution.The opportunity costs of our actions is not something we can just brush aside even in a socialist society

    #116065
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    LBird's views on the SPGB which he expressed i think can be treated with scepticalism since now with his own answer it is not based on a investigation or a full awareness of the history or practice of the SPGB but limited to the responses of just a few online members. His accusations that we are Leninists can be dismissed as founded upon lack of knowledge and study…

    I think that you severely underestimate the support for my criticism, alan, based on two factors:1. the continued statements of all the members/supporters of the SPGB who post here (including you, even though you still seem to be unaware of it, even given your openly stated lack of knowledge), and all those who read and fail to post against, that they will not have workers' democracy in the means of production; and2. my far wider reading and understanding of the philosophical links between Engels, the 2nd International, Kautsky, Lenin and the SPGB. All those listed have rejected Marx's views of the need for discussion about socio-historical production, in favour of a focus upon a timeless, asocial 'matter', which emerged from Engels' ignorant adoption of bourgeois materialism.Whereas the others here are using Leninism as a mere term of ignorant abuse (even 'Maoism', from twc!), I'm using it as a term of political and philosophical analysis. As you've pointed out, I don't think that the SPGB is a carbon copy of Trots like the SWP, because of its democratic structure (unlike the SWP), but that, given your ignorant adoption of Engels' materialism, if the SPGB gets anywhere near power, it will ditch the 'democratic facade' of 'socialism=workers' power', and, like the Bolsheviks, who too pretended to be a 'workers' party', the underlying philosophical materialism will come to the fore. So, my views of the SPGB are becoming ever more critical.One only has to read this thread, to get a feel for the utter hatred of any mention of workers' democracy amongst my opponents.

    ajj wrote:
    …just as my opinion upon this philosophical debate cannot be treated the same as those with wider understanding…

    You said it, alan.I'm one of those workers with 'wider understanding' of the socio-historical development of Engels' materialism and Leninist politics, and what I read here scares the shit out of me.They might as well call me a 'Fascist', 'devil-worshipper', 'witch', 'bogeyman'… I'm beginning to wonder why you even associate with such politically dangerous people, who openly state they will not have workers' democracy… to the point, they never even mention 'democracy' in their arguments about power, even without the term "workers' ".They trust an elite, and their politics will match their philosophy.Materialism is an ideology of an elite, which emerged with the bourgeoisie, and which suits their ruling class purposes, not those purposes of the organised, class conscious, revolutionary, democratic proletariat.PS. this debate puts into perspective the support for 'parliament' amongst the SPGB members, who don't seem to think that parliament will self-disband in the face of workers' councils. The SPGB seems to think the electoral and organisational structures of parliament will survive the blossoming of workers' power.Materialism would be a perfect accompaniment to 'parliamentary power'. Both will deny wider workers' power, in science and in politics.

    #116066
    The Bogey Man wrote:
    Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives. Because it is a process of thought he derives both its form and its content from pure thought, either his own or that of his predecessors. He works with mere thought material which he accepts without examination as the product of thought, he does not investigate further for a more remote process independent of thought; indeed its origin seems obvious to him, because as all action is produced through the medium of thought it also appears to him to be ultimately based upon thought. The ideologist who deals with history (history is here simply meant to comprise all the spheres – political, juridical, philosophical, theological – belonging to society and not only to nature), the ideologist dealing with history then, possesses in every sphere of science material which has formed itself independently out of the thought of previous generations and has gone through an independent series of developments in the brains of these successive generations. True, external facts belonging to its own or other spheres may have exercised a co-determining influence on this development, but the tacit pre-supposition is that these facts themselves are also only the fruits of a process of thought, and so we still remain within that realm of pure thought which has successfully digested the hardest facts.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1893/letters/93_07_14.htm

    The Devil Himself wrote:
    As to the realms of ideology which soar still higher in the air, religion, philosophy, etc., these have a prehistoric stock, found already in existence and taken over in the historic period, of what we should to-day call bunk. These various false conceptions of nature, of man's own being, of spirits, magic forces, etc., have for the most part only a negative economic basis; but the low economic development of the prehistoric period is supplemented and also partially conditioned and even caused by the false conceptions of nature. And even though economic necessity was the main driving force of the progressive knowledge of nature and becomes ever more so, it would surely be pedantic to try and find economic causes for all this primitive nonsense. The history of science is the history of the gradual clearing away of this nonsense or of its replacement by fresh but already less absurd nonsense. The people who deal with this belong in their turn to special spheres in the division of labour and appear to themselves to be working in an independent field. And in so far as they form an independent group within the social division of labour, in so far do their productions, including their errors, react back as an influence upon the whole development of society, even on its economic development. But all the same they themselves remain under the dominating influence of economic development.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1890/letters/90_10_27.htm

    This Man is Never Right wrote:
    The essential difference between human and animal society consists in the fact that animals at most collect while men produce. This sole but cardinal difference alone makes it impossible simply to transfer laws of animal societies to human societies. It makes it possible, as you properly remark:“for man to struggle not only for existence but also for pleasures and for the increase of his pleasures,… To be ready to renounce his lower pleasures for the highest pleasure.” [Engels’ italics – quoted from Lavrov’s Sierra article]Without disputing your further conclusions from this I would, proceeding from my own premises, make the following inferences: At a certain stage the production of man attains such a high-level that not only necessaries but also luxuries, at first, true enough, only for a minority, are produced. The struggle for existence – if we permit this category for the moment to be valid – is thus transformed into a struggle for pleasures, no longer for mere means of subsistence but for means of development, socially produced means of development, and to this stage the categories derived from the animal kingdom are no longer applicable.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/letters/75_11_17-ab.htm

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