Marxism refers to a socioeconomic inquiry that uses a materialist approach to interpret history, economics, and capitalism. This interpretation is based on the use of a dialectical perspective. This paper provides answers to the question: Why Marxism is Scientific. It is divided into various sections that examine the scientific basis of Marxism. The first section provides answers to aspects of Marxism that make it scientific.
Within this section it is evident that scientific knowledge develops from a foundation of claims, which are guarded by theories. The development of scientific knowledge and methods is progressive as opposed to having a degenerative approach and is consistent with the theories. Just like the theories depicted in Marxism, some of the claims and theories in science have come to pass.
The second section illustrates that the history of the development of Marxism is scientific and it conforms to the progressive development common to the development of scientific knowledge. The last section illustrates various aspects of Marxism related to science.
Why is Marxism Scientific
The postulation that Marxism is scientific is based on the claim by modern day economists who strongly defend the scientific status of Marxism. However, the failure of modern day economics to find solutions to the current economic crisis tends to disregard its scientific basis.
The failure of the current discipline of economists to find solutions to the ongoing economic crisis despite the availability of powerful computer technologies and numerous theories of classical economics is a likely indication that Marxism is relatively stronger and possibly more scientific. Marxism has the ability to predict solutions to future problems (Gasper 1998).
The scientific nature of Marxism is best explained with regard to the concepts of the Darwinian evolution. According to Marxism, the evolution of the human society is very similar to the evolution of biological life characterized by changes over time. These changes occur in adaptive patterns induced by random events. This implies that Marxism exhibits a scientific model of transformation, which makes it scientific.
Marxism is scientific because Marxists, such as Karl Marx strongly believed that the concepts of the evolutionary theory as depicted by Darwin could be used to provide answers to questions related to the nature of the human society.
In his writing, Marx believed that the human society exhibits an evolutionary process, which should go on until the emergence of social classes is extinct. In his thoughts regarding the concepts of biological evolution, he indicates that;
Darwin has amazed us by the concepts of nature, such as the development of organs in living organisms, especially with regard to organs that enhance the chances of production and survival. The history of the development of vital productive organs among human beings, which form the basis of social structures, equally should be given much attention. (Burawoy 1990, p.784)
The relationship between the theories of social and biological evolutions as depicted by Marx and Darwin is best described by Engel. In his writing he indicates that, “the law of natural evolution was discovered by Darwin while the law of human evolution was discovered by Marx” (Burawwoy 1990, p.789).
This indication was later reaffirmed by Lenin who added on to say that, “ whereas Darwin brought an end to the concept of the existence of natural species as God’s creation giving preference to biological basis, Marx gave sociology a scientific basis” (Burawoy 1990, p.790).
Acknowledging Marxism as a science with regard to the relationship between Marxism and evolution requires the understanding of the transformation of the interpretation of evolution. This interpretation has undergone several changes following its first interpretation by Marx.
The transformation of this interpretation is a clear illustration of the willing power of Marxism to advance and subsequently disregard the Darwin’s theory of gradual change. This type of transformation will depict Marxism as a dialectic discipline in which the concepts of evolution will be viewed in a manner that denies the existence of supernatural powers but supports the concept of dialectics.
Irrespective of the scientific or unscientific basis of the concept of evolution as depicted by Darwin, there is sufficient evidence to proof that Marxism is scientific. The use of the concepts of evolution provides a strong basis for the Marxism philosophy and theology.
Without this formulation, it is impossible to explain the concepts of the evolution of human beings, the society, and the universe by Marxists. As indicated by Engels, the evolutionary concept of the universe in Marxism does not bear any supernatural creation or ruler.
Both societal and biological evolutions are characterized by the struggle to survive, which distinguishes nonliving organisms from living organisms and societies. The insights by Marx and Engels in 1845 and 1846 respectively with regard to the Germany ideology of social change depicts change in the society as an evolutionary process characterized by a struggle for survival.
Later in 1859, Darwin indicates that the biological evolutionary process is equally characterized by a struggle for survival, where the best fit are favored against the least fit.
Darwin’s concept of evolution was based on the diversity of biological life whereas the Marxism concept of evolution was based on the accumulation of wealth and the generation of social status. The resemblance of the evolution of the society as depicted by Marxism and the biological evolution of life is a clear indication that Marxism equally is scientific (Gasper 1998).
The above relationship does not imply that the scientific concept of Marxism emerged after the development of the Darwin’s concept of evolution. This is because both Marx and Engels had already established a social evolution approach that examined the development of human beings and the organization of societies.
This social evolution map was characterized by an inevitable struggle with natural forces. In this regard, human beings more fit in the society had a better chance of surviving compared to the less fit. This is very similar to the concept of biological evolution in which organisms more fit have a better chance of survival compared to those not fit.
According to Engel and Marx, the accumulation of material wealth in the society increased the need to pursue more wealth and further increased the inevitable struggle for survival. They predicted the existence of an economic surplus as a way of measuring the edge of the society in the struggle against other societies and nature.
The process of accumulating wealth as depicted by Marx and Engel is slow and not common to societies characterized by minimal economic powers and privileges.
Societies presumed to be calm sought less economic wealth geared at enhancing survival and avoiding mortality. In addition, the pursuit of wealth was geared at enhancing the ability to reproduce, which is analogous to the behavior of species as described by Darwin (Burawoy 1990).
Because of the unique nature of human evolution, an evolutionary advantage was created in which survival activities were characterized by material advantages. The later implied the existence of a few societies that dominated over others. Marxism is basically a discipline of social science in which the concept of the existence of domineering societies was viewed coldly.
According to Engel and Marx, this was an aspect of social transformation that they could not have easily changed. In addition, both Engels, and Marx viewed the existence of the process of social transformation as the basis for the existence of labor divisions, workers, and soldiers.
Is Marxism Scientific?
Answering this question requires answers to three other major questions. The first question inquires if the Marxism view of the world is scientific. The second question inquires if concepts, such as politics, economics, and sociology are scientific. The last question inquires if Marxism has any scientific contribution.
Marxism is scientific and Marxists acknowledge the need to abandon associations to disciplines that enslave, debase, and disregard humanity. It is strongly based on an imperative of transforming the world through the scientific analysis of the possibility of liberating mankind. This implies that Marxism is formulated on the basis of human science and cannot be expected to adhere to the conditions of celestial mechanics.
For instance it is thought to have been fraudulent for a natural scientist to have predicted what would have followed the communist manifesto that called for the unification of workers. This manifesto is referred to as, “the workers of the world unite.” The analysis presented by the natural scientist is thought to be fraud because as opposed to the possibility of the analysis of expected trends, this was basically a call to arms.
A concept of prophecy is depicted in the initial writings of Engels and Marx, in which Engels predicts the revenge of English workers. Several years later, he adds on to comment on some of these prophecies. In particular, he indicates that his prophecy on the social revolution was driven by his youthful ardour. Later Karl Marx writes to Engels indicating that;
Reading your book severally has made me regret with regard to my concern for the increase in age. Passionately with strong hope and without any scientific doubts, the same things are dealt with! With the illusion that there will be a better tomorrow or that the day after tomorrow shall bring some warmth and humor as opposed to the later where ‘grey on grey’ amounts into an unpleasant contrast (Marx & Engels 1942, p.103).
This phrase implies that Marx had similar illusions despite that he doubted everything in the process of his own writing. Despite that he allowed himself to be angered, he did not anticipate results from the study. In particular, capital is a scientific study based on the analysis of the economy.
In this study, Marx describes various scientific methods and adds on to comment that, “the analysis of the economy does not require chemical reagents or microscopes. The use of these items in the scientific analysis of the economy has been replaced by the force of abstraction” (Karl & Engels 1942, p.123).
This force has been used to analyze various commodities, profits, and value on the capital market. This analysis makes Marxism scientific because it meets Ron Guignard’s definition of science, which is based on capitalism. According to Ron, Marx’s prediction of capitalism was correct, especially with regard to the period of under-consumption and overproduction.
In addition, Marx also predicted a greater power concentration, in which resources are held by a few powerful companies. Ron indicates that many of the predictions depicted by Marx have come to pass.
Compared to bourgeois economics, Ron’s fourth definition of pure science is infallible and cannot be associated to human science. This is because according to the bourgeois economics, the occurrence of economic crises was unheard off. An attempt to disregard Marxism as a science leaves an open door because Marx and Engels formed a movement geared at opposing the concept of socialism.
The theories presented by Marx and Engel are collectively referred to as scientific socialism by Engels. Despite that these theories were geared at utopian socialists, Engel still believed that Marxism was a scientific approach of viewing the world (Engels 1935). Marxism is indeed scientific because of its concept of materialism characterized by various inquiries in the pursuit of the truth.
This aspect is very similar to the conventional scientific inquiry in which various aspects of matter are examined with the hope of establishing laws that influence the movement and behavior of matter. The basis of Marxism is taken from a similar point of view.
The manner in which the concept of the world is analyzed by Marxism is very scientific. This is because the implicated analysis is based on an empirical observation. Anybody who disagrees with the indication that Marxism is not scientific tends to disregard the scientific value of psychology, sociology, and economics.
A shift from the question of need regarding the doctrines of Marxism indicates the concept of dialectical materialism. Engel attempts to illustrate the concept of the dialectics of nature in an attempt to establish the implicated qualities. The later depicts the relationship between what is observed in the world and the observer. There is a strong indication that sociology and economics are disciplines in science.
This is because the two disciplines use scientific methods in the formulation and testing of hypotheses. The use of these methods in the discussion of the concepts of sociology and economics by Marx makes Marxism scientific. In addition, his desire to begin most of his discussions from the basic needs of mankind and the construction of laws that govern these basic needs makes him scientific.
Despite that some Marxists have not depicted a strong scientific basis of their theories, the theories depicted by Engels and Marx are very scientific, especially with regard to the time in which they were formulated. Engels is one of the greatest scientists of his generation (Engels 1935).
The drawbacks of Marxist science are not associated to either Marx or Engels but rather related to the nature of science at the time of their writing. It is wrong to rate the books written by Engels with the scientific concepts depicted in other books, such as the Darwin’s Origin of Species.
This is because of the difference in the nature of science that existed when these two books were written. However, it is still very correct to indicate with some certainty that the scientific methods used in the writing of these books were correct with regard to the science of that time.
Just like the evolution of species, social evolution or transformation was also measured by unsuccessful events, such as isolation in which some societies were deprived of resources. Many of the deprived societies were presumed to be unsustainable and they perished with time.
The existence of powerful societies went on and yielded more surpluses and Marxists like Marx and Engels devoted their time to identifying the implicated forms of human exploitation. The existence of powerful societies facilitated the purchase of free labor, which marked the beginning of social evolution among human beings (Burawoy 1990).
Based on this observation, Marx, and Engels predicated the coming of a time in which the approaches used in the exploitation of human beings would not only outweigh their relevance but also develop into a mechanism of survival. This prediction has come to pass in the current economic situation in which the existence of powerful social organizations is a threat to the survival of less powerful societies.
The prediction by Marx and Engel is a reality in the present world in which living standards are declining as the rates of poverty increase among the less powerful. Transformation of societies just like the transformation of living organisms in evolution is not just desirable but also very necessary.
Beside Engels and Marx, Lenin equally is a good example of a Marxist whose writings are worthy examination (Harding 1983). Some of his work foresaw the problems of science. For instance, in his opposition of the Austrian Physicist Mach Ernst, he presented an argument of the extreme positivism and confusion presented by the Marxists’ concepts of matter.
His argument is similar to modern day arguments revolving around the controversy of invisible electrons. Despite that Lenin did not wish to disregard the existence of invisible matter, like fellow Marxists, he could predict the difficulties presented by the existence of such scientific theories in the future. Given more scientific knowledge, Lenin equally could have made a good argument on the natural existence of dialectics.
This possibly implies that Marxists stand a good chance of contributing to science given the right knowledge and material basis. Analyzing the ways in which Marxism has been empirical, it emerges that history has defamed Marxists. However, this does not imply that Marxism is not scientific.
There is much need to examine the response of Marxism to the historic unkindness. This can best be examined with regard to questions, such as has the improvement of the living standards of the proletariat resulted into a decrease in the state of misery. The answer is an inevitable no. In fact, not even has the expectation that the transfer of communism will occur changed anything (Marx & Engels 1942).
Marxism and Science
Marxism claim to be scientific has been belittled by Weber, Pareto, and Durkheim’s efforts by assailing Marxists for replacing moral passion for scientific reasoning. In addition, the three strongly indicate that Marxism has no regard for evidence and is yet to adopt methods of social science. Marxists in their defense for their scientific status have demonstrated every justification to prove their scientific basis.
This possibly explains the existence of scientific Marxists whose main efforts have been to develop economic laws that are analogous to the laws of natural sciences. Marxism is very concerned with the transformation of the world as opposed to reflecting the world.
The main concern of Marxism is to provide solutions to common problems in the world. Marxism is different from other fields that focus on the thoughts of the world because of its regard for economic aspects and the liberation of mankind (Burawoy 1990).
During the Russian revolution, science became a key topic among Marxists in Russia, especially moments after the fall of the 1905 revolution. Many of the Marxists during this time were highly influenced by aspects of philosophical thinking about science. These ideas of philosophical thinking had emerged previously in parts of Western Europe.
The entire 19th century was measured by a pessimist mood characterized by influential thoughts related to bourgeois intelligence in Western Europe. Many individuals seemed to gain knowledge on the dehumanizing impacts of the development of capitalism (Marx & Engels 1942).
The existence of this pessimist mood provided an ample opportunity for the emergence of idealist and irrational ideas and coincided with a crisis in science. At this time, it was evident that the thoughts of natural science, especially classical physics could not offer sufficient basis for understanding the concepts of scientific aspects like radioactivity and electromagnetism.
This explains why many scientists at the time opted to compromise and interpret science in a manner that would maintain its rationality and resolve the crisis in classical physics.
Because most of these scientists attempted to deny the indication that science equally is metaphysical, an open opportunity was created for individuals, such as the Catholic Duhem to embrace an anti-materialist metaphysics alongside science (Marx & Engels 1942).
Marx provides the basis on which Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is formulated. Engels and Marx devoted their time toward the development of a communistic society whereas Darwin devoted his time on the development of the theory of evolution and further developed a stir in the society of intellectuals.
Some individuals at the time of the development of these theories presumed that the theory of evolution would provide the basis for the development of a materialistic society. The importance of Darwin’s theory was discovered by Marx and Engels when explaining the basis of their concept of dialectical materialism (Marx & Engels 1942).
Writers like John Hoffman have indicated Marx’s interest in Darwin’s work. According to Hoffman, Marx send a copy of his own book to Darwin and later made unsuccessful attempts dedicate his second volume of capital to him.
Marxism exhibits some concepts that mimic scientific theories. For instance, the acceptance of the theory of evolution depicts the disregard for the existence of God. Marxism and its major theories have no regard for the existence of God. This possibly explains why Marxists were quick to embrace the theory of biological evolution because of its disregard for the existence of God.
In his writing, Marx indicates that Darwin’s work on the origin of species was a blow to theology. Other writers like Konstantinov while refereeing to the Fundamentals of Lenin on to indicate that “Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is the third best theory in science developed in the 19th century’’ (Konstantinov 1982, p. 67).
This is because Darwin managed to put an end to the concept of the existence of divine creation and instead laid the basis for the formulation of theoretical science.
Marxism has various reasons for being scientific. Among the driving factors is the need to appreciate the impact of modern science on the society, especially through technological development. Marxism and science exhibit a relationship through which the concepts of either side are shared.
The role of Marxism is vital to the understanding of scientific concepts because Marxism forms the basis of understanding the concepts of a human society. Marx and Engel are strong defenders of science and are very sensitive to any attempts by the capitalist to defame science.
These two equally are enthusiasts of novel scientific discoveries. In fact, there is an assumption that the marxist theory regarding the human society depicts human beings with the ability to understand and control the world (Gasper 1998). The later are aspects of science, which is characterized by innovativeness and the ability to change the natural existence of the world to make it a better place to live in.
The development of various scientific theories is thus a representation of the development of the human society. Marx and Engel admired science because of their indication that their concept of materialism provides a scientific background for understanding human societies.
Marx made several remarks in his writing, which provide a clear indication of his appreciation for science. For instance, he acknowledged that sense-experience occurs on a scientific basis and was opposed to the empiricist perspective. According to Marx, Empiricism is a method of thinking in which the world is thought to be dominated by lifeless facts.
This possibly explains why Marx criticizes the empiricists’ concept of observation, which tends to disregard the value of theories. In addition, Marx disregards the empiricists’ way of treating theories and science as approaches for explaining unrelated facts as opposed to explaining the implicated reality.
Marx is a scientist who acknowledges that science is geared at providing knowledge required for understanding the existence of a material world. According to Marx, science risks being superfluous is the outer appearance of objects coincides with the inner essence of the same objects (Kuhn 1962).
Nearly all forms of science reflect the existence of the ruling class, which is an aspect of Marxism. Marxism and science are more related on the basis of the contribution of the human society in the pursuit of practical scientific knowledge on aspects of nature.
It is evident that the aspects of egotism are present in the connection of science with the exploitation of social structures, such as the political economy and the generalization of the human experience. These aspects tend to reduce its contribution toward the enrichment of knowledge. In experimental sciences, various levels of integrity exist with regard to the extent of the generalization of knowledge (Bemstein 1981).
This implies that the bourgeois aspects have been incorporated in scientific methods. Based on this observation, it would be naïve to claim that the proletariat should revamp scientific aspects derived from bourgeoisie prior to the application of a socialist reconstruction.
This indication is related to the coming of moralists before the emergence of a new society in which the proletariat should rise above ethics. On this basis, the proletariat will be in a position to develop ethics and radical changes in science after the development of a new society (Marx & Engels 1942).
Marxism and Dialectics
Because Marxism is based on dialectics, Marx is justified to indicate that science is a dialectical process in which the implicated methods and theories develop gradually through interaction with the material world and each other. The dialectical aspects of science, according to Marx are depicted in two ways.
The scientific inquiry is an empirical process, which reveals a dynamic world filled with elements related to each other via interconnected processes. These elements equally can conflict with each other to attain the inherent development (Bemstein 1981). According to Karl Marx, the dialectic concept of science revolves around its recognition for the existence of the state of matter.
The concept of dialects and the realization that science equally is dialectical is further reinforced by the emergence of Darwin’s evolution theory. Marx indicates that, “at the conclusion of my third chapter, I confirm that the law discovered by Hegel bears some vital role in natural science and history” (Marx & Engels 1942, p. 90).
Therefore, if it is true that nature is dialectical as depicted in Hegel’s law and in Darwin’s theory, there is a likelihood that Marx believed and regarded the theory of evolution as postulated by Darwin because it is dialectical.
The theory of evolution in particular is dialectical to Marxism because of the gradual process of development that it portrays. According to Engel, Darwin’s concept of nature was fulfilled in many respects. The theory dissolved all rigidity, fixity, and particularity. The three aspects had been initially regarded as eternal, but the dialectical concept behind them made them transient.
The theory of evolution is also thought to have reinforced Marxism on the basis of the evolution of simple forms to more complex forms of life. According to Marxism, dialectics is characterized by an upward spiraling process in which the current state of form is better than the previous state of form.
The theory of natural selection relies on the same concepts, and only more advanced organisms are fit to survive in any particular environment (Konstantinov 1982).
The concepts of dialectics are based on an axiom that did not have a consensus of support. The dialectical concepts in Marxism are mainly derived from Hegelianism. The development of these concepts is similar to the scientific inquiry in which techniques used for inquiry are developed gradually over time.
The scientific methods are formulated on a broad consensus with regard to reality. The existence of unified methods can be achieved only in a long investigatory procedure divided into sections. If Marxism is compared to common types of social science, various merits are shared (Marx & Engels 1942).
Marxism has an outstanding scientific basis, which is depicted in the works of Marx, Engels Lenin, Bukharin, and others. The Marxist scientific status has further been demonstrated in the contemporary works of writers, such as Lewontin and Rose. Understanding Marxism provides a broad insight into the understanding of the concepts of modern science.
This type of insight cannot be obtained from other fields of social disciplines. Marxism is scientific because of the various ways in which it adopts scientific methods and at the same time provides the basis for understanding and analyzing scientific concepts.
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