‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (8)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

It was Hegel who discovered the dialectical nature of the working of Nature. He saw the unfolding of “Idea” in dialectical manner and coming into being of this material world. Then, he tried to explain the human history in terms of dialectics. Karl Marx, following Hegel, agreed that the working of Nature is dialectical in nature. But he saw the unfolding of “Matter” (instead of “Idea”) in dialectical manner and coming into being of this world, including “Idea” (which he said, was nothing but the reflection of matter in human mind). Marx greatly admired Hegel for his discovery of the “laws” of the working of dialectics.

We live in 21st century, when science has much advanced since the age of Hegel or Marx. Today, philosophy has been reduced to mere speculation by modern science. A philosophy which is not corroborated by science is nothing but mere speculation and Marxism is no exception to this. Our scientific understanding of the working of Nature is changing with each new discovery and so must change the philosophical enunciation of Nature.   It looks obvious to say that “dialectics” is a process; and that “Materialism” is a conviction about the nature of things. Today, we can ask ourselves the question: what is the relationship of dialectics with Materialism?

We know that there are many kinds of things in this world. There are mountains, trees, humans, electricity, water, air, sky, Earth, sun, books, machines etc. The list will go on endlessly. We put a question to ourselves: Do all these things have any inter-connection with each other? Yes, they have: they all are made-up of matter.

Can we understand this relationship of diverse things that connects them together? Yes, a scientific equation has been found by the humanity that makes their relationship very simple. It the famous equation: E=mc2

What does it tell? It tells that energy of a given thing is equal to the mass of that thing multiplied by the square of the speed of light. It is an equation of “equivalence” of matter and energy, where the speed of light is a constant (and which is squared, so that the result of the calculations in a given case is tallied with the results observed in the concerned experiment). Here, we are not concerned with energy or with matter; we are concerned with their relationship.

Dialectics is an equation that explains the process that inter-connects all things with each other. This process is defined in terms of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

The process was first discovered by a German philosopher, W. F. Hegel and was named by him as “Dialectics”. This term was borrowed by Marx from Hegel; and Marx acknowledged it.

Dialectics has nothing to do with “materialism”, which was associated with it by Marx (when he famously said: Dialectics with Hegel was standing at its head, I have simply upturned it to make it stand on its feet); dialectics has nothing to do with the “Idea or Spirit”, which was associated with it by Hegel (in an effort to explain the world).

Dialectics has nothing to do with “Matter” or “Spirit or Idea”. It is the enunciation of a process.

The whole world evolves and moves on following the dialectical process, giving out as the result of this process this whole varied world, including human beings who are able to understand and explain this process as dialectics. It is Hegelian “Idea” operating in dialectics.

Without there being humans, to understand or explain this process, the world still evolves and moves on in the dialectical terms. It is Marxist “materialism” in interpreting dialectics.

In the context of “Matter” of Marx and “Idea” of Hegel in the operation of dialectical process of Nature, we can very well say it is the “equivalence” relationship between the two. As in the case of the above quoted Einstein’s equation, it is futile to find out “mass” is primary or “energy” is primary, so is the case of the primacy of “matter” or “idea” in the dialectical process. We know that in this world, energy and mass (of matter) both exist. Likewise, all that exists “independent of human mind and outside of human mind” is “Matter”. Here, “Matter” means the “Reality” and nothing more.

Dialectics is dialectics; and, through this device we can understand the working process of Nature.

‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (4)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

We come back to the ‘capitalist mode of production’.

Unless there is a new ‘mode of production’, no new social system (socialism or communism or any other one) can come into being. If a new social system is brought, or sought to be brought, by force by changing the ‘relations of the forces of production’, while the ‘mode of production’ is still the old one, such new social system would be an artificial one and would not last for long. And, a new mode of production can only be brought into existence only by the development of science and technology.

What is the state of the development of science and technology today, in so far as this development impacts the prevalent mode of production? We will consider now.

And, whether this scientific and technological development will transform the prevalent ‘capitalist mode of production’ into a new one, where still there will be ‘two classes’ forming the ‘forces of production’? We will consider.

What about the Marxist concept of `spiral evolution’, that is, the repetition of things (by the mechanism of thesis, antithesis and synthesis) at the ever higher level? What about another Marxist concept of a full circle from ‘primitive communism’ to ‘modern communism’? We will consider it at the appropriate stage..

‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (3)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

We first take the Marxist concept of “Mode of production” for consideration. What is the meaning of mode of production?

Mode is the type, kind or style of production.

Production is the production of commodities.

There are many types, kinds, styles or modes of production, which are qualitatively different from one another. It is the prominence of a particular type, kind, style or mode that makes it different from another one.

In the capitalist society, the mode of production is ‘manufacturing of commodity through machines in industrial establishment’.

In this mode of production, the means of production are: machines (which are the product of science and technology); human beings who work on those machines as laborers; raw materials, which could be processed by those machines into the finished products or commodities; land whereupon the machines and manufacturing establishment are set up; and, other resources required to accomplish the production of commodity, like water, coal, electricity, oil etc.).

In this mode of production, the production forces are:  human beings who labor on those machines as workers; human beings who own those machines and manage that workers labor on machines so that commodities are manufactured.

This mode of production is found in capitalist society.

This mode of production is/was also found in the so-called socialist society. (In the social evolution, the first stage is socialism and the second, or final, stage is communism. In none of the socialist countries, socialism could be transformed into communism; and, before socialism could be transformed into communism, socialism itself disintegrated.)

There have been many other modes of production in the past.

Before the advent of capitalism, there was agricultural mode of production in feudalism.

In agricultural mode of production, predominantly ‘the commodities are produced through agriculture’.

In the feudalist society, or in the agricultural mode of production, the means of production are: land, on which tilling could be done; oxen or horses, which could be used to carry on the agricultural activities; crop seeds, water, manure, sickle, plough (which are the products of science and technology) are other parts on the list of means of production following the ‘agricultural mode of production’.

In the feudalist society, or in the agricultural mode of production, the production forces are: human beings who work on the plough, oxen/horses, sickle etc. to till the land; human beings who own the land (on which the agriculture is done) and manage the workings of those who till on that land.

In an earlier period of human history, there was still another mode of production. It was the economic system where ‘the production of commodities was accomplished by slaved-human beings’. The prevalence of this mode of production depended on the ‘efficacy or utility’ of slaved-humans, which differed from place to place. It was not common and uniform as was, later on, the agricultural mode.

In the ‘slaved-humans’ mode, the means of production are/were: slaved-humans; chains to confine the slaves; land or artisan shop, where the slave could work; other required concomitants like, tools, raw materials, which could be worked upon by the slaves, confining enclosures etc.

In the ‘slaved-humans’ mode, the production forces were: humans who worked as slaves; humans who owned those slaves and managed that they worked on the tools etc. to produce commodities.

Before the ‘slave-humans’ mode, there was an earlier mode of production. It was in the tribal societies. These societies were of the primitive people. These humans were those who had just emerged out of the animals’ way of life. They were not animals, they were humans. The only thing that differentiated them from animals, was that they `produced commodities’, which was unlike animals. In all other respects, these early humans were just like animals: they lived in caves and hunted their prey for food, like animals. But these early humans had learnt to fashion ‘tools’ (chiseled-stone spears, knives, scrapers etc.) to ‘produce’ commodities (hunted-flesh, honey etc.), which was unlike animals. This was their mode of production. This society is termed by Marx ‘primitive communist’ (primitive collective living) society. We leave this primitive human society, for the time being, at that and proceed further to note a few things here.

We find that in all these societies, with differing ‘modes of production’, uniformly there were ‘two classes’ of people, which formed in each of these particular cases ‘the forces of production’. But there is an exception to this general rule of ‘two classes’ in the case of the ‘primitive earliest human society’.

We find that there is a co-relation of time with the duration that a society following ‘a particular mode of production’ lasted.

The earliest primitive society had lasted, perhaps, tens of thousands of years (if not millions of years).

The ‘slave-humans’ mode of production was, by and large, unviable and an aberration in an otherwise smooth development of science and technology, and the refinement of the tools of production. This kind of society did not last for sufficiently long time.

The ‘agricultural mode of production’ had a very long of run in its existence; even today, in a few countries this mode of production is still being dominantly followed (such countries are called ‘undeveloped’ ones today). But, taking every aspect into account, the ‘agricultural mode of production’ did not last longer in comparison to the ‘primitive mode of production’.

The ‘capitalist mode of production’ has the shortest span of its existence. This mode is still prevalent and seems to last for some more time. Taking all these things into account, the capitalist mode of production is the shortest in its duration. It started with the ‘Industrial Revolution’, which took place a hundred and few more score of years.

This shows that there is a geometrical progression in the development of science and technology, and therefore, in the rate of change from one ‘mode of production’ to another ‘mode of production’.

‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (2)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

In modern times, Hegel was the first person to formulate precisely the laws of working of Nature under the name Dialectics.

And Karl Marx was the first person to popularize Dialectics by putting its foundation on Matter and by showing that its principles governed the working of Nature.

The science and technologies never stop growing. They make humans’ life comfortable. But they also make a burial ground of obsolete things. Old things go out of fashion and new things take their place.

Marxism, as a philosophical system to understand Nature and Nature’s basic working principles, and an inevitable advent in society of Communism as the product of the working of those principles had in the 20th century stirred humanity to its core. Till recently, this exposition had captured the imagination of the best of human minds. The appeal of this idea was greatly augmented by the political events of the October 1917 Russian Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union; revolutions in China and Cuba; and several other countries.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and China taking the road of capitalist economy, the intellectual appeal of Marxism has almost died. Though still in many countries political movements and armed struggles under the banner of Marxism are going on, their intellectual sheen is nowhere in existence.

As a philosophical construct and political ideology, Marxism no longer attracts the best minds in explaining the new realities of the modern world. Even, it is not able to explain in its philosophic constructs the demise of Soviet Union or, say, China taking the capitalist road. This inability of 20th century Marxism has emboldened all sorts of petty philosophers to attack Marxism as a concept and nibble its disjointed pillars. Marxism of 20th century has not grown to adapt the 21st century and explain the new realities in terms of its basic principles. Feeble Marxists have been tinkering much with its old mold to explain away the realities of the new world but do not dare to grow any further and make bold assertions in terms of its pristine understanding of Nature.

Marxism as a philosophical construct may be wrong, from the day it was enunciated by Karl Marx, or may be right as ever, but the rationale of its principles and the deductions of its logic are still far more correct than any other competitive philosophy. The assault on Marxism by the whole horde of capitalist intellectuals, or if you love to call them philosophers, is ill-motivated; selfish; and anything but philosophical.

We intend to put the record straight here on this website on this count. We do not put our judgment on Marxism here; it may be correct; or, it may be incorrect.

Here, we will assume that Marxism is correct in its basic premises; we will examine its concepts; definitions of the terms used there; the logic and deductions; explanation of the 21st century world in its terms; logical conclusions that must happen in the coming future; and, forecast of impending events. We assume here that the reader has the basic understanding of the Marxist philosophical concepts under the terms: Thesis, Anti-thesis, Synthesis; Change from Quantity to Quality; Negation of Negation; and, Spiral Evolution.

We intend to take-up these things in this series of articles. The first thing we take up for consideration is the Marxist concept of mode of production.

Under Marxist philosophy, mode of production is the key to understand the mechanism of social change.

‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (1)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

As rational beings, we humans always try to understand Nature in a reasoned manner. This rational attitude has given us endless streams of human thinking. It has given us many religions, spiritual visions, philosophies, ideologies and branches of modern science.

In their quest for knowing the reality of Nature, humans acquire knowledge.

Whatever we are today, is the outcome of the acquisition of the knowledge about this reality. What is the state of our knowledge about the reality today?

We have many religions, spiritual visions, philosophies, ideologies and branches of modern science, all competing for the place of the “correct” enunciation of the reality.

Unfortunately, these diverse religions, spiritual visions, philosophies, ideologies and branches of modern science do not agree on many things with each other while enunciating this reality.

The coveted place, the crown of the correct enunciation of the reality, is extremely narrow: it can accommodate only “one” title to the claim. The “truth or reality” can be only one.

Fortunately, lately the humanity has come to realize (by the discovery the theory of Relativity by Elbert Einstein) that the “reality” is not absolutely “one”; that the reality has relative values; that “all” relative values of the reality, which values differ with one another, are correct ones. This new realization of truth by humanity in modern times was not totally unknown to us in the past. Long back, it was said, “The truth is one; but wise people see it differently”.

The greatest advantage of the correct understanding of Nature is that with the aid of this knowledge, we can make deduction about the things, happenings or events that “will”, as against “may”, taken place in future. Having this advantage, we can re-engineer the future or get ready to face it in a prepared manner.

One thing that strikes one’s mind, while going through all these past attempts to understand and resolve conflicts, is that almost all religious sages, philosophers, intellectual thinkers and scientists talk of some kind of a “conflict of duality”.

Some of the examples of this duality are: Mara and Divine Forces (Buddhism); Satan and Angels (Christianity); Prakriti and Purusha (Sankhya philosophy of Hindus); Shaitan and Allah (Islam); Angra Mainyu and Ahura Mazda (Zend-Avesta); Evil and Good ( Ethics and Morality); Spirit and Matter (Western philosophies); Jagat/Maya and Brahma (Hindus); Thesis and Anti-Thesis in Dialectics of G. W. F. Hegel; and also Thesis and Anti-Thesis in Dialectics of Karl Marx;  Opposite Sexes (almost universally found in Nature); Electrons and Protons (in atoms); Matter and Anti-matter (in modern Physics); Centripetal and Centrifugal forces (in Nature); Gravity and anti-gravity (natural forces), etc.

It seems that these two elements inherent in Nature are opposite or antagonist to one another; still these opposite elements are complementary to one another; they create conflict with one another but make a harmonious balance to the whole structure.

In modern times, Hegel was the first person to formulate precisely the laws of this conflict of duality under the name Dialectics.

Marx was the first person to popularize Dialectics by putting its foundation on Matter and by showing that its principles governed the working of Nature.

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