Dialectics and Marxism/ was Re: Hermeneutics

Technotranscendence (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Sat, 23 May 1998 08:10:18 -0400 (EDT)

At 07:26 PM 5/20/98 -0400, Alex Future Bokov <alexboko@umich.edu> wrote:
>I apologize in advance for my naivete, and also for perhaps going


> Something that has always puzzled me about Marxism... whence the
>_need_ for this thesis-antithesis-synthesis junk? I mean, as long as
>they're talking about collectivizing and redistributing the means of
>production, the what, why, and how of their ideology is coherent enough to
>agree or disagree with. What did they hope to accomplish by tying their
>straightforward core meme to shaky generalizations about history,
>determinism, and the nature of contradiction? Did the peasants and factory
>workers bust out cheering every time Vladimir Ilyich launched into his
>quantitative changes lead to qualitative changes speech, or what?

Ideology and philosophy is not just a bunch of positions (well, maybe some
forms are:). Instead, people have certain core beliefs and methods and
these together lead to the positions like "collectivizing... the means of
production," laws against using drugs, freedom of expression, etc. Even
with this, lots of people support a particular ideology for reason other than
its core methods and assumptions.

The reason Marxism caught on so well in Russia was not that the proverbial
man in the street agreed with dialectical materialism, but merely because it fit
better into his worldview than did the known alternatives at the time. Marxism
seemed to promise a better society to him. He did not look at all the
alternatives -- there were no libertarians in Russia at the time, at least, none
with any large audience -- just the ones he'd heard about and felt were viable.
The two main ones during the Civil War were Marxism and loyalism. The
former merely fit better than its rival into most people's belief system -- or
those who disagreed with it weren't able to come up with a popular enough
alternative to keep people at the barricades. (Often ideologies win by

> For that matter, to me the thesis-antithesis doctrine begs the
>question: "won't the opposites of communism and capitalism therefore
>synthesize into a mixed-market economy?". Another vulnerability they've
>introduced into their ideology for no reason I can see is the assertion
>that the victory of communism is an inevitable culmination of unstoppable
>historical forces... BUT as soon as communism wins history will come to a
>screeching halt and nothing further will ever evolve. Now certainly nukes
>made that a distinct possibility toward the end, but I don't think that's
>what Marx meant.

I'm not sure what Marx meant after all these years. However, I think he
believed that communism would overcome the contradictions of
capitalism. (Hegel was more of a welfare statist for the reasons you
give.) I believe he thought capitalism created contradictions while
communism would not. However, he was not very clear about what
communism would be like.

> In short, can someone please explain what the dialectic
>materialism meme had to do with the "workers of the world unite" meme?

Historical contingency.


Daniel Ust