1920s >> 1927 >> no-269-january-1927

Materialism v Spiritism Again

To the Editor of the SOCIALIST STANDARD

Dear Comrade,
I have just seen your criticism of Isabel Kingsley’s pamphlet in your October number.
I will leave Comrade Kingsley to deal with the main points at issue, and will only refer here to the paragraph regarding myself. All I meant by my expression “find ourselves on the wrong road” was, of course, that if a party insisted too dogmatically on a philosophy which modern thought might find to be mistaken, it might get left behind, and consequently have to undo a good deal of what it had insisted upon. I understand modern thought is changing very much in its ideas regarding the nature of matter, etc., and the fullest, freest discussion ought to be permitted.
Certainly religious advocates dogmatise, as you say, but is that any reason why Communists and Socialists should do the same?
Yours  fraternally,


The only point requiring notice in Florence Baldwin’s letter is the statement that she “understands modern thought is changing very much in its ideas regarding the nature of matter, etc.” In what way is this supposed change taking place? Many wild claims are made by Spiritists, even to the contradiction in terms, that “we are dematerialising matter” !

Scientists, however, are continuing along the lines, that have proved so fruitful in the past, of observation, experimentation, and classification of the facts of phenomena around us. In the case of matter, fresh properties have been discovered and new facts of structure have been demonstrated. But these are all properties and facts of MATTER. In the words of one scientist, they have been “exploring the atom”— but they have not been abolishing it. The more modern chemist still uses the atomic weights in building up his combinations, though he now knows more of what is inside the atom than his father did. Every step in the new knowledge has been made along rigid materialist lines, and along no other.

To hold firmly to the scientific method— the only one that has brought us any results —may be “dogmatic” (though we deny that), but it is the only sensible position.

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