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Dialectical materialism

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Dialectical materialism is a philosophy of science that serves as the philosophical basis of orthodox communism. Developed by communists — notably Vladimir Lenin — as an extension of the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it applies the general Marxist idea of struggle between opposing forces to a broader context than the social "class struggle," emphasizing constant change (dialectics) and an objective physical existence (materialism).

Dialectical materialism and science[edit]

When dialectical materialists like a branch of science, they'll blandly describe its current state, then append "Therefore, dialectics!" to it.[1] When they don't, you can expect to see it branded bourgeois pseudoscience.

Sometimes dialectical materialists like a branch of science but dislike actual scientists' approach to it. While dialectical materialists like quantum mechanics, they chide scientists for their apparent obsession with finding the smallest possible particles — because the dynamism required by dialectics means there can never be any fundamental particles, rather, science will continually find smaller and smaller sub-particles.[2] (Also, they really like punctuated equilibrium — big dynamic events are apparently more dialectic than gradual change.[3])

Other times, dialectical materialism dismisses some of the most well-supported theories in science, brushing aside things like the theory of relativity,[4] dark matter,[5] singularities,[5] and the Big Bang.[5]

As a state religion[edit]

When communists came to power in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, dialectical materialism was effectively made into a state religion in communist countries, and was developed extensively by philosophers in the Second World.

In the Soviet Union in particular, all fields of science had to be policed to ensure conformance with what was called "dialectical materialism", and many fields were found wanting, including genetics, quantum mechanics, and sociology.

Some later thinkers, including Stephen Jay Gould, have attempted to distance themselves from dialectical materialism in the Soviet form, advocating its use as a methodology but not an ideology.

References[edit]