Marxian Dialectical Materialism and Its Implications for Today

By Christina Grattan

11/17/2020

Today, our country has endured ongoing unrest from injustice, while many take up the cause of the broken, impoverished, and marginalized in unprecedented ways. All should have the opportunity to flourish, be equally treated with intrinsic dignity and respect but the ends to achieve this do not always justify the means. Rather than taking an individualistic approach with the power of personal agency and independence that drives the free market, these social justice warriors have taken on a dangerous worldview without even realizing it. Many may not call themselves Marxists who become adherents to critical race theory, identity politics, the BLM Movement, and the 1619 project in hopes of redeeming our country. Still, the Marxist ideology is deeply ingrained in its framework. Marxism is manifested through popular culture today through Marx's theory of dialectical materialism, which is slowly encroaching on the youth's minds today through social media, politicians, celebrities, and society. If we are to fight against socialism, we must expose the ideas behind the political theory that fermented in Marx's mind. Socialistic thought is not just manifested through the government but through the tyranny of public opinion. In order to cultivate free minds, the truth must be brought to light so all can be aware of what is influencing their thinking. Sometimes one's thoughts they feel so fervently attached to are not their own, but inevitably stem from notorious contrarians, including Marx.


The theory of dialectical materialism was first used in the economic theory of Classical Marxism in the 1800s, which combined the worldview of materialism with dialectics. 1 Philosophical materialism does not refer to an emphasis on consumerism and physical possessions. Instead, the materialist worldview denies the existence of a soul and a human nature, reducing humanity to physical matter. 2 To materialists, nothing beyond the material world exists, so to believe that humans are defined by something more profound than their exterior qualities would be futile to them. A human's desires are not determined through their unique ideas, but through physiological conditions. 2


A genuine aversion to materialism is illustrated by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the Russian author of Crime and Punishment, when the subject of socialism is brought up. "Human nature is not taken into account..it’s not supposed to exist...the living soul demands life, the soul won't obey the rules of mechanics… what the (materialists) wants… can be made of india rubber, (it) has no will. And it comes in to the end to their reducing everything to the buildings of walls and the planning of rooms and passages in a phalanstery (a socialist commune)...human nature isn't ready for phalanstery- it wants life." 1 Dostoevsky recognizes how materialism defies human nature and how humans are more than just a mere compilation of particles that cannot usurp the soul. The materialist worldview is also easily seen in Classical Marxism where the proletariat's "thoughts, choices, and actions were determined by material productive forces- tools and machines" in factories rather than a soul or human nature." 2


Dialectics postulates that humans are in constant conflict, which creates material progress and human liberation from exploitation. 3 It applies the theory of Darwinian evolution to society, believing forces of nature will always be in conflict, which was seen between the dichotomy of exploiter and the exploited through the class conflict of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. 4 It is not compatible with free-market capitalism, which believes progress occurs not by conflict but by human cooperation through competition. 5 The goal of dialectical materialism in Classical Marxism is liberation from the exploiter, which was the oppressive bourgeoisie creating the rule of the proletariat leading up to a socialist utopia. 6


It was Mark Twain, a literary giant who pithily remarked, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." 7 Although there is no longer a bourgeoisie and proletariat class conflict as there was in 19th century Britain experienced by Marx, the legacy of dialectical materialism still lives on today, permeating multiple facets of society. Rather its presence today eerily parallels its former manifestation. Now it is under the guise of Cultural Marxism, which is an outgrowth of this Classical Marxist theory, adjusted to the present time. 8 Cultural Marxism accuses social forces such as western civilization's values of being oppressive, resulting in a need to be liberated from this institution by supplanting it with secular ideals. 9 It is no coincidence as many have heard that one of the BLM's cofounders is a "trained Marxist." 10


It is not only Cultural Marxism but the rising popularity of Critical Race Theory and identity politics, which is tainted with Marx's dialectical materialism. Critical Race Theory is manifesting itself through diversity inclusion statements in universities, college classes with racial agendas, and the 1619 Project curriculum, which theorizes that America was built on slavery naturally imbued with racism at its conception. 11

Critical Race Theory is an analytical lens used to interpret society through race to reveal hidden power structures.12 It views white supremacy as the oppressor of people of color while dismantling the western values of liberalism and the rule of law. 13 This parallels the dichotomy between the "oppressor" western civilization and "oppressed" secularism in Cultural Marxism. 14 It overlaps with Cultural Marxism, both adopting a materialist worldview determining humans through their race, class, and gender. 15 This reduces their merits to physical traits, rejecting a human nature and individual action. 16 It is evident how instead of material productive forces determining the proletariat's means of thinking, one's skin color is now the material aspect that shapes their mind and the way they view the world. Critical Race Theory ultimately takes away one's free will to individually advance themselves. It blames one's shortcomings on race, which is a quality they cannot change through character, belief, and work ethic.


Identity politics can neither be exonerated from dialectical materialism assuming people will vote similarly based on their race, sexual orientation, and gender inspired by the materialist worldview. 17 Jonah Goldberg, a journalist for the National Review, explains how identity politics invalidates the power of individual action and instead exalts race as the indicator of one's fate. "(There) is a tendency to talk about blacks, whites, hispanics, gays, women as if they are...reducible to the color of their skin or sex or sexual orientation. One of the glorious things about American culture is the idea that you're supposed to take people as you find them... as a nation of individuals." 18 Whether it is machines or race, materialism fails to account for how everyone is an individual that has the ability to pave their own path and achieve excellence instead of being held down by mere physicalities. Identity politics also becomes divisive, adding to the concept of conflict in dialectical materialism perpetuated by factors such as race. Instead of believing in a common humanity where all have intrinsic dignity, it focuses on how humans are fundamentally incohesive because of their appearance. 19 It forces a student of a different race to become disillusioned, saying, "Your experience will never connect to mine," creating a group identity stratified by race. 20 It foils the concept of human cooperation, subordinating it to conflict, which is to be the elixir of justice.


Amidst this polarized political climate, the youth may feel they are at the pinnacle of progress with their new modes of thinking about social justice and redefining equality. But if a materialist worldview and conflict drive them, their cause may just create the opposite of what they intend. Marx envisioned a wonderful plan for society, believing it was the utmost expression of freedom with dialectical materialism, but instead, it became a plan to enslave the masses. In reality, it created a "lower view of the human person" since it abandoned a higher power and the value of each individual viewing humans not individually but instead as aggregates of certain social classes. 21 If humans are no longer unique entities with their own ideas, thoughts, desires, and ambitions independent of exterior forces, then totalitarianism is bound to ensue whether in government or societal sanctions. In order to fully understand where socialist thought stems from, the youth must be informed of Marxian dialectical materialism instead of unintentionally embracing it out of naivety. It was Ludwig Von Mises, an Austrian economist, who said, "The refutation of dialectical materialism implies, of course, invalidation of the Marxian vindication of socialism." 2 To fight socialism, we must stymie the growth of ubiquitous ideas formed in a few intellectuals' minds from tyrannizing society. For a mind to be free, it must know where its strongest convictions and ideas come from and what is swaying these beliefs.


Sources:

  1. Dostoyevsky, F. (2000). Crime and Punishment. Wordsworth Editions Limited. p. 219

  2. Mises, L. (2007). Theory and History. Ludwig von Mises Institute. pp.140, 138, 158


About Christina

Instagram: @christinagoldieruby

Christina is currently a junior political science major at Biola University, who has a genuine heart to help the world. Her strong faith in God drives her to pursue justice to create a freer and better world, which starts with fighting the lies of socialism. In her free time, you can find her reading books to inform herself, discussing politics, and making frozen yogurt runs.

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