Karl Marx Theory Of Dialectical Materialism Pdf

Karl marx theory of dialectical materialism pdf

We are publishing the first of what will be a series of Marxist study guides. The purpose is to provide a basic explanation of the fundamental ideas of Marxism with a guide to further reading and points to help organise discussion groups around these ideas. We are starting with dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism.

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Marxism, or Scientific Socialism, is the name given to the body of ideas first worked out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels In their totality, these ideas provide a fully worked-out theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society - socialism. The study of Marxism falls under three main headings, corresponding broadly to philosophy, social history and economics - Dialectical Materialism, Historical Materialism and Marxist Economics.

Karl marx theory of dialectical materialism pdf

These are the famous "Three component parts of Marxism" of which Lenin wrote. The Education for Socialists series was launched to promote the study of Marxism.

They are intended to assist the student of Marxism by providing an introduction to the subject matter, with suitable Marxist texts that we hope will whet their appetite for further reading and study. In the first of these Education for Socialists study guides, we provide a selection of material on Dialectical Materialism. The other "component parts", as well as other fundamental questions, will be dealt with in future issues.

Dialectical materialism

The guides are suitable for individual study or as the basis of a Marxist discussion group. In beginning this study of Dialectical Materialism the editors are publishing an introductory article by Rob Sewell. While this is a good start to the subject, there is no substitute for proceeding from there to tackle the philosophical works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Plekhanov and others. Unfortunately Marx and Engels never wrote a comprehensive work on dialectical materialism, although they intended to do so.

On his death, Engels left a pile of manuscripts, which he intended to work up into an account of dialectics, or the laws of motion of nature, human society and human thought. These were later published as the Dialectics of Nature. Even in their rough, unfinished form these notes give a brilliant insight into the method of Marxism and its relation to the sciences.

The newer reader should not be put off by the sometimes difficult and abstract ideas expressed in these writings. Whatever the initial difficulty, a certain perseverance will pay just rewards. Marxism is a science with its own terminology, and therefore makes heavy demands upon the beginner.

However, every serious worker and student knows that nothing is worthwhile if attained without a degree of struggle and sacrifice. The theories of Marxism provide the thinking worker with a comprehensive understanding.


It is the duty of every worker and student to conquer for himself or herself the theories of Marx and Engels, as an essential prerequisite for the conquest of society by working people.

Introduction Do we need a philosophy? We recognise that there are real obstacles in the path of the worker's struggle for theory. A man or woman who is obliged to toil long hours in work, who has not had the benefit of a decent education and consequently lacks the habit of reading, finds great difficulty in absorbing some of the more complex ideas, especially at the outset. Yet it was for workers that Marx and Engels wrote, and not for "clever" academics.

To the class conscious worker who is prepared to persevere, one promise can be made: once the initial effort is made to come to grips with unfamiliar and new ideas, the theories of Marxism will be found to be basically straight-forward and simple.

Karl marx theory of dialectical materialism pdf

Once the basic concepts of Marxism are conquered, they open up a whole new outlook on politics, the class struggle, and every aspect of life. For further study, we recommend the following works by Engels, especially chapters 12 and 13 in Anti-Duhring, the introduction to the Dialectics of Nature, and Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German Philosophy.

Although these books are not an easy read, they are nonetheless very rewarding if studied thoroughly. Scientific socialism or Marxism is composed of three component parts: Dialectical Materialism, Historical Materialism and Marxist Economics.


This pamphlet, the first in this series, is an introduction to the concepts of Dialectical Materialism - the method of Marxism.

For those unacquainted with Marxist philosophy, dialectical materialism may seem an obscure and difficult concept. However, for those prepared to take the time to study this new way of looking at things, they will discover a revolutionary outlook that will allow them an insight into and understanding of the mysteries of the world in which we live. A grasp of dialectical materialism is an essential prerequisite in understanding the doctrine of Marxism.

Dialectical materialism is the philosophy of Marxism, which provides us with a scientific and comprehensive world outlook.

Karl marx theory of dialectical materialism pdf

It is the philosophical bedrock - the method - on which the whole of Marxist doctrine is founded. According to Engels, dialectics was "our best working tool and our sharpest weapon. It is similar to a compass or map, which allows us to get our bearings in the turmoil of events, and permits us to understand the underlying processes that shape our world.

Whether we like it or not, consciously or unconsciously, everyone has a philosophy. A philosophy is simply a way of looking at the world. Under capitalism, without our own scientific philosophy, we will inevitably adopt the dominant philosophy of the ruling class and the prejudices of the society in which we live.

There are other such proverbs as "There is nothing new under the sun", and "History always repeats itself", which reflect the same conservative outlook.

Marx’s Theory of Historical Materialism

Such ideas, explained Marx, form a crushing weight on the consciousness of men and women. Just as the emerging bourgeoisie in its revolution against feudal society challenged the conservative ideas of the old feudal aristocracy, so the working class, in its fight for a new society, needs to challenge the dominant outlook of its own oppressor, the capitalist class.

Of course, the ruling class, through its monopoly control of the mass media, the press, school, university and pulpit, consciously justifies its system of exploitation as the most "natural form of society". The repressive state machine, with its "armed bodies of men", is not sufficient to maintain the capitalist system. The dominant ideas and morality of bourgeois society serve as a vital defence of the material interests of the ruling class.

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Without this powerful ideology, the capitalist system could not last for any length of time. Official bourgeois ideology conducts a relentless war against Marxism, which it correctly sees as a mortal danger to capitalism.

The bourgeois scribes and professors pour out a continual stream of propaganda in an attempt to discredit Marxism - particularly the dialectic. This has especially been the case since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the ferocious ideological offensive against Marxism, communism, revolution, and such like. But Marxism refuses to lie down in front of these witch doctors!

Marxism reflects the unconscious will of the working class to change society. Its fate is linked to that of the proletariat. The apologists of capitalism, together with their shadows in the labour movement, constantly assert that their system is a natural and permanent form of society. On the other hand, the dialect asserts that nothing is permanent and all things perish in time. Such a revolutionary philosophy constitutes a profound threat to the capitalist system and therefore must be discredited at all cost.

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This explains the daily churning out of anti-Marxist propaganda. But each real step forward in science and knowledge serves to confirm the correctness of the dialectic. For millions of people the growing crisis of capitalism increasingly demonstrates the validity of Marxism.

Marx’s Ideas on Dialectical Materialism

The objective situation is forcing working people to seek a way out of the impasse. Today, to use the famous words of the Communist Manifesto, "A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism. In the fight for the emancipation of the working class, Marxism also wages a relentless war against capitalism and its ideology, which defends and justifies its system of exploitation, the "market economy".

But Marxism does more than this. Marxism provides the working class with "an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression.

Dialectical materialism, to use the words of the Russian Marxist Plekhanov, is more than an outlook, it is a "philosophy of action. Men and women attempt to think in a rational manner.

Karl marx theory of dialectical materialism pdf

Logic from the Greek logos, meaning word or reason is the science of the laws of thinking. Whatever thoughts we think, and whatever language they are expressed in, they must satisfy the requirements of reasoning.

These requirements give rise to laws of thought, to the principles of logic. It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle - BC more than 2, years ago who formulated the present system of formal logic - a system that is the basis of our educational establishments to this very day.

He categorised the method of how we should reason correctly and how statements are combined to arrive at judgements, and from them, how conclusions are drawn. Formal logic has held sway for more than two millennia and was the basis of experiment and the great advances of modern science.

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The development of mathematics was based on this logic. You cannot teach a child to add up without it. One plus one equals two, not three.

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Formal logic may seem like common sense and is responsible for the execution of a million and one everyday things, but - and this is the big but - it has its limits. When dealing with drawn out processes or complicated events, formal logic becomes a totally inadequate way of thinking. This is particularly the case in dealing with movement, change and contradiction. Formal logic regards things as fixed and motionless.

Of course, this is not to deny the everyday usefulness of formal logic, on the contrary, but we need to recognise it limits. The dialectic and formal logic bear a relationship similar to that between higher and lower mathematics.

Dialectical and Historical Materialism

With the development of modern science, the system of classification of Linnaeus was based on formal logic, where all living things were divided into species and orders. This constituted a great leap forward for biology compared to the past.

However, it was a fixed and rigid system, with its rigid categories, which over time revealed its limits. Darwin in particular showed that through evolution it was possible for one species to be transformed into another species. Consequently, the rigid system of classification had to be changed to allow for this new understanding of reality. In effect, the system of formal logic broke down.

It could not cope with these contradictions. On the other hand, dialectics - the logic of change - explains that there are no absolute or fixed categories in nature or society.

Engels had great fun in pointing to the duck-billed platypus, this transitional form, and asking where it fitted into the rigid scheme of things! Only dialectical materialism can explain the laws of evolution and change, which sees the world not as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes, which go through an uninterrupted transformation of coming into being and passing away.

For Hegel, the old logic was exactly like a child's game, which sought to make pictures out of jigsaw pieces. Before we look at the main laws of dialectical materialism, let us take a look at the origins of the materialist outlook. Philosophy itself fits into two great ideological camps: materialism and idealism. Before we proceed, even these terms need an explanation.