Marxists seek to understand the laws governing society so as to be able to carry out revolutionary change, in the same way that natural scientists seek to uncover the laws of nature so as best to increase our control over nature. In this sense, Marx and Engels referred to their outlook as “scientific socialism”.
The key to the Marxist method is the philosophy of dialectical materialism. Marx’s lifelong collaborator, Engels, described this philosophy as “the most general laws of motion of nature, society, and human thought.” At root, this philosophy is a philosophy of change, which has found itself confirmed in a hundred and one ways by the latest discoveries of modern science.
Today capitalism in decay threatens the sciences from multiple angles. Cuts in research spending and the casualisation of labour are grinding the sciences down. At the same time, the capitalist class funds all kinds of obscurantist movements. This has led to a revival, on the intellectual peaks of capitalist society, of mystical, idealist trends dressed up in very “scientific-sounding” phrases. At the dawn of the capitalist epoch the sciences were a key battleground in the struggle against the rubbish of the feudal era. The same is even truer today and all revolutionaries should take an interest in these struggles.
Learn the basics
Rob Sewell outlines some of the most advanced discoveries in scientific study, explaining that dialectics is nothing more than the philosophical expression of the way nature works.
We are told that capitalist competition pushes science to new frontiers and gives big corporations incentive to invent new medicines, drugs, and treatments. But in fact, the precise opposite is true.
The latest developments in science through ‘chaos theory’ are finally beginning to make redundant any religious explanation of the workings of the universe.
The last century has seen the most spectacular advances in science in the whole of history. Yet time after time we see that science cannot escape from society and politics.
The strength of the scientific method has been so great that it has created a sense of infallibility. But the decay of capitalism is now causing many to question the reliability of research.
Marxist classics & books
A growing number of scientists are becoming discontented with the old outlook. The rapid rise of the theory of Chaos and Complexity was one of the most significant developments in science at the turn of the new millennium. Many of the ideas expressed by this new trend are strikingly similar to the theories of dialectical materialism worked out by Marx and Engels over 150 years ago.
“A short, coherent account of our relation to the Hegelian philosophy, of how we proceeded, as well as of how we separated, from it, appeared to me to be required more and more. Equally, a full acknowledgement of the influence which Feuerbach had upon us during our period of storm and stress, appeared to me to be an undischarged debt of honour.”
A classic of Marxism, Anti-Dühring was highly recommended by Lenin as a ‘text book’ of scientific socialism. It remains a classic exposition of the laws of dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism.
Ever since Engels' arrival in London in 1870, he was keen to write a comprehensive work on science and dialectical materialism. The notes and studies for such a work make up the present volume – an essential read for all those who want to develop a deeper understanding of Marxist philosophy.
This work played a decisive part in combating the Machist revision of Marxism. It enabled the philosophical ideas of Marxism to spread widely among the mass of party members and helped the party activists and progressive workers to master dialectical and historical materialism.
Another work by Lenin, consisting of three notebooks exploring Hegel's groundbreaking work.
Audio & video
In this talk from the Revolution Festival 2018, Daniel Morley examines one of the most long-standing questions of philosophy: what is consciousness?
John Pickard, former editor of British Marxist newspaper Militant, speaks on the role played by labour in the transition from ape to man.
In this talk, Adam Booth explores the revolutionary history of scientific development and explains how modern scientific theories confirm the Marxist philosophical outlook of dialectical materialism.
Using a number of examples from science Ben Curry demonstrates one of the basic principles of dialectics: that change occurs through a process of 'quantity and quality'. In other words, the gradual accumulation of small quantitative changes eventually leads to the qualitative transformation of a system to a new equilibrium state.
In this talk, Ben Curry gives an overview of the historical development of scientific theories and the philosophical ideas that lie behind some of the biggest scientific revolutions in history. The latest developments and discoveries in modern science are a tremendous vindication of the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism.
We find ourselves today surrounded by a plethora of new technology, automated processes, and time-saving devices. In this recording, Adam Booth discusses the question of technology, machinery, and innovation under capitalism, looking at how private property and production for profit have become an enormous barrier to society's development.