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Marxist/Leninist Philosophy

by David A. Noebel

Marxist philosophy, known as dialectical materialism, attempts to explain all of reality—including inorganic matter (the molecular, atomic, and subatomic), the organic world (life and, according to materialism, mind or consciousness), and social life (economics, politics, etc.). All of nature reflects, illuminates, and illustrates communist dialectical philosophy. Modern physics was even in travail, thought Lenin, "giving birth to dialectical materialism." Marxist philosophy insists that the material universe is infinite, that matter is eternal (negating, of course, the need for a beginning), uncreated (negating the need for a Creator), indestructible, and dialectical (the clash between opposites, for example, explains the self-motion of matter, which eliminates the need for a Mover outside of matter or nature). Marxism also perceives matter’s motion as upward and evolutionary. Matter is not static or at rest, but actively in process, progressive. Matter dialectically viewed explains its own nature and progress from its inorganic state through its development into life, onward to animal consciousness, and ultimately to human mind and consciousness and social institutions.

Matter can move upward from the inorganic to the organic, from the organic to the human, and from the human to the social level because of its dialectical nature—a nature responding to certain laws including: (a) the unity and struggle of opposites, (b) the transformation of quantity into quality, and (c) the negation of the negation. The dialectical laws manifest a threefold rhythm of equilibrium (thesis), disturbance (antithesis) and re-establishment of equilibrium (synthesis). Because the dialectic is a progressive process, each synthesis becomes not merely a new thesis but a higher one. In reality, what Darwin’s theory of natural selection is to evolution, the dialectic is to matter. Marxist philosopher G. V. Plekhanov came to regard Marxism as "Darwinism in its application to social science."1 Marx and Engels acknowledge that Darwin’s theory of natural selection served them well as the basis for their theory of the class struggle. From Darwin’s point of view, in Gustav A. Wetter’s words, "insignificant quantitative changes in plants and animals eventually lead by accumulation and inheritance to the formation of new species,"2 i.e., changes in quantity lead ultimately to changes in quality. The present clash between socialism and capitalism, for the Marxist, is similar in kind to the clash among biological creatures "struggling for existence" and the clash between positive and negative charges in electricity. And the evolution of mankind from spontaneous generated life (the first speck of life from non-living matter) serves as an example of the progress of matter through many minute quantitative changes (due to natural selection) to great qualitative changes (new species). For better or worse, the Marxist’s philosophy of dialectical materialism is built primarily on the "science" of Darwinian evolution.

  1. Gustav A. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), p. 107. Marxism for Plekhanov "is the application to social development of the Darwinian theory of the adaptation of biological species to the conditions of the environment."
  2. Ibid., p. 323.
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