“What is Marxism for?” And the response is, “Absolutely Everything!”
Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Surely, Marxism is the means by which the Working Class gets tooled-up for the coming Revolution? It is a method of analysis of the current state of Capitalism, and also a means for defining its alternative, Socialism, and therefore, crucially the standpoint and method for developing the revolutionary forces to defeat the forces of reaction by means of a Socialist Revolution.
Well, no, that is by no means sufficient, and many others could make a similar sounding claim, without even claiming to be Marxists, as to their objectives and professed means.
Indeed, long before it was so central to political action in the Working Class, it was an unnamed revolutionary re-direction in Philosophy, and was initially composed of a group of young followers of the philosopher Hegel – the Young Hegelians.
And it was certainly because of that origin that it could develop into a materialist philosophy that could better than anything else understand current society, and also analyse what crucial revolutions, such as the English Revolution in the 17th Century and the French Revolution in the 18th century actually were and what the trajectory of significant qualitative changes were going on within those total turnovers of the state of those countries.
So, what point am I trying to make?
Have a look at this diagram.
This is a Marxist conception of the trajectory of a Revolution but maybe not as you've seen it before.
You may with justice wonder what its use is, and I will insist that it is an attempt to show in diagrammatic form what people such as Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky were aware of and used to guide their actions as leaders of the Working Class.
You will not have failed to notice that it doesn’t call the depicted event a Revolution, but an Emergence! And this is because absolutely all Qualitative Changes, which result in major transformation of Level, occur in any kind of development process, wherever it is happening, and whatever it is happening to!
Indeed, the most important Emergence in the History of the Universe was the Origin of Life on Earth. And in the fossil record that particular episode is invisible and would still be so even if First life were ten feet high.
It is bound to be invisible, because the Key Transformational Events are of infinitesimal duration compared withy the Stability from which they arise, and the Stability into which they emerged.
And remarkably, you may be surprised to hear that literally ALL Science never addresses these kinds of Events at all! Indeed, Science as it is at present grounded, can only study Stability, and the non-qualitative (quantitative) changes that occur within that much more easily investigatable state.
So, perhaps the surprising answer at the head of this paper is becoming clearer.
Marxism is not only about all development, but also without it NO real qualitative development can be addressed.
Now, I would go further, and suggest that if present day Marxism does not fulfil the promise that only it can deliver, it will also fail to be entirely adequate in the usually agreed areas. It will very easily become something else!
And this is not a mere subjective guess by this observer.
I have been a Marxist, a scientist and a teacher all my life, and have seen failure after failure in my colleagues addressing these precise questions.
They were all as useless at the big questions in Science as their pro-capitalist colleagues.
I am primarily a physicist, and the retreat in the early part of the 20th century usually called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, and even Einstein’s explanation of Gravity in terms of the distortion of his so-called Space-Time, were not addressed and demolished, but actually embraced!
Many are the contributions in socialist newspapers “explaining” these difficult areas to the uninitiated.
Have you read The Crisis in Physics by Christopher Caudwell?
He knew it was drivel and began the task of debunking it. But, he was also a real revolutionary, and when the time came went off to Spain to fight Franco, where he was killed.
You should read Caudwell and take up where he left off!
So, Marxism is a philosophy, and not of the armchair-interpretative kind, but of the kind that can and indeed must, change things. And, there should be no narrow restriction in what Marxists do: they are equipped to address all aspects of Reality including both Physics concerning Copenhagen, and Biology with the Origin of Life. The gulf in attainment in such areas, cannot merely be put down to mediocre practitioners in those specialist fields, but must also be laid at the door of Marxists.
For this achievement by Marx and Engels furnished Mankind with the very best Philosophy yet, which could throw light upon all of Mankind’s areas of study. And, the lack of progress, in the fields mentioned, does reveal that we have truly cut our great philosophy “down to size, and in so doing also severely restricted its role in politics too. For success in answering the big questions in Science will further deepen and widen the scope and profundity of marxian concepts and methods. An evident weakness in such areas will surely mean that Marxism has ceased to be a philosophy and become instead a series of political prescriptions to guide day-to-day political activism.
So, if you want to be a marxist, you will not achieve it merely by reading books. You must tackle the big questions that non-marxists have no hope of solving. If you are a biologist you should tackle the Origin of Life. If a physicist, then your target must be the Copenhagen Myth. If you are a teacher, you should be crucifying the politicians of capitalist democracy for their reactionary policies, and make significant contributions in Pedagogy. And, even if you are none of these, you must include a profound appreciation of the real content of these areas in the definition and development of your method.
And to all those who would energetically oppose such activities as “running away from the struggle”, let me remind them about Lenin.
At a crucial period in the sometimes very slow if not actually retrogressive development towards another Revolution in Russia, he wrote the crucial philosophical work Materialism and Empirio Criticism, when some of those he criticised were actually within his own tendency. And even more unlikely he produced his Philosophical Notebooks in which he read Hegel materialistically.
Is anyone of our persuasion going to condemn Lenin for avoiding the fight?
As he stepped from the train at the Finland Station after a long forced exile abroad, he immediate jumped up and harangued his welcoming crowd with a trenchant criticism of their policies, and via his following April Theses managed to turn his erring party around and ready for October.
Yet what has been done in deepening our understanding of the detailed Nature and Trajectory of an Emergence (a Revolution!)?
In my addressing of this area, I have studied Emergences in all area of human endeavour - all sciences and subjects and even the development of the Universe.
Do you really think that Marx only studied revolutions? He studied History, Economics, Palaeontology, Literature and even Mathematics.
Have you read the drivel they peddle about the Origin and Development of the Universe? It is the most unutterable rubbish, and yet they assure us that they will be able to fully and finally explain the actual Origin, as soon as their particle smashing in the Large Hadron Collider is fully up and running.
Where is the deep investigation of the whole trajectory, from the first murmurings of possible change to the complete overturn? And how about the processes occurring within the Event itself - what is being changed and how?
Can we read a series of books considering Emergence in all possible spheres? Again, you know the answer, it is, “No!”
And we cannot leave out that most important Crisis in Physics, which has beset the Sub Atomic Area for over 100 years without any real resolution.
In 1927 at the Solvay Conference, the idealists Bohr and Heisenberg defeated Einstein and established a major Kantian retreat in that subject, which has reigned ever since. Why has no Marxist tackled this impasse?
Though Christopher Caudwell did attempt the task and would have made a profound contribution, his Marxism also took him to Spain to fight Franco, where he lost his life before he could complete his valuable contributions to Marxism.
So, who took up the reins and continued his contribution? Nobody!
And, what of Evolution? Was Darwin’s incrementalist theory of Natural Selection sufficient?
The answer is certainly , “No!”
It did jettison God from the Nature of living things, but the actual mechanisms, and indeed revolutions, of change were only inferred.
The most important questions in Evolution, as in all other forms of development, has to be how Stability is established and maintained, and how it is consequently and inevitably undermined, and even occasionally totally destroyed in short interludes of what appear initially to be entirely dissolutionary changes, but which can establish a wholly new level of Stability in a crucial Second Phase.
Where are the investigations into these vital revolutionary episodes, which are the only times that can create the entirely NEW? And where are the studies of how mutation could possibly be integrated into an entirely new and almost perfectly reliable set of genetic instructions?
Again, this is not a job for biologists as such, but for Marxist biologists focussing on the processes of real qualitative change, and the establishment of stabilities, not to mention the subsequent and inevitable demise of every single one.
Such tasks are beyond the capabilities and standpoint of the specialists in the various areas: they are too general and holistic for head-down pluralists. They need the philosophical approach that only exists within Marxism. Indeed, to localise Marxism to politics alone, is a major mistake, and a self-inflicted injury to its real universal applicability. WE cannot wait around for the next revolution to increase our grasp of what happens in such events. We must enrich our ideas constantly by the tackling of revolutionary qualitative change wherever and whenever it occurs.
Let me ask an important question.
Have you ever got lost in the abstractions of Hegel, of even Marx himself? Of course you have! So, where is the continuing Marxian investigation into the Processes and Productions of Abstraction?
For my thesis throughout this paper has been the universality of Marxist Philosophy: it is not only a political standpoint and method. It applies to the whole of developing Reality!
Over the last rather long period, very little has been tackled outside of politics and economics within the Marxist Community. Yet without that inevitable widening and constant availability of our considered sources, we will shrink-not-grow!
In my researches, all the real successes were always interdisciplinary.
These questions have to be addressed!
Can we expect to achieve the status of the intellectual leaders of our Class as long as the Copenhagen Myths are allowed not only to exist, but for its followers to condemn all who attempt to explain anything within their hallowed territory?
And, the same can be said for the current nonsense about the Origin of Life and the idealist drivel about Parallel Universes, and Physical Singularities, not to mention Dark Matter and Dark Energy in what passes for Cosmology today.
Let us be clear!
If a so-called Marxist cannot demolish that rubbish, they are unlikely to cope with the minute-by-minute decisions in the midst of a Social Revolution.
Do not forget the importance of a pamphlet like, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man. And also remember when it was written and by whom.
Marxism is the Philosophy of Mankind and must be established on all fronts!