What is Dialectical Materialism?

This comes from two words, dialectic and material. Both words have different meanings according to how they are used.

Dialectical materialism is a name given to the system of study used by Karl Marx, and here dialectics means evolution and material means nature.

Briefly, according to the dialectical materialist view of things, (which is also the view of the SPGB) the history of mankind (and this includes nature) shows a continuous process of evolution. So in order to get a clear and correct understanding of a phenomenon, it is necessary to study its origin and the way it has evolved; its development, and the roles played by the natural factors involved.

Dialectical materialism has opposition, e.g. from worshippers of the so-called supernatural. Not only has this opposition become less widely accepted, it is also becoming less extravagant and has toned down to a more sober view of things.

Many an idealist has turned his back on God, the eternal perfect mind, as the explanation of the world, only to worship another idol, the human mind. They continue to worship the mind, in as far as they give ideas an unreal importance in explaining the history of human progress. This is the survival of idealism and is an antiquated way of looking at things. An idealist in this sense is someone who puts ideas before and above the material world, both in time and importance.

Marx came to a proposition which became the essential thread running through the Socialist case. This is known as the Materialist Conception of History. According to it, the political, legal, moral and religious history of each period can only be explained from the basis on which it is built up i.e. the method of production and exchange, or the way people win their living and the social organization following from it.

In primitive society, the tribe as a whole had to struggle with nature for its subsistence. But since the beginning of societies based on private ownership, history has been a series of class struggles between owners and non-owners, exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes. These class struggles are the instruments of social evolution.

In broad terms, chattel slavery, feudalism, and modern capitalism, are stages in this evolution. In capitalist society enough natural resources have already been discovered to more than satisfy everyone’s need s (using modern machinery). But the exploited class, the working class, cannot free itself from the exploitation of the capitalist class Without at the same time, and once and for all, freeing the world from all exploitation, oppression and classes.

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