Saturday, August 03, 2013

Marxist dialectics is not deterministic

Nasir Khan,  August 3, 2013

In a Facebook comment Rahul Banerjee offered his views on Marxist dialectics that I thought needed my brief reply.

Nasir Khan: Mr Banerjee, as a casual reader of Marx and Marxian concept of dialectics, I find your views on dialectics interesting on a number of points. But if I understand you correctly, then your notion of dialectics seems to me mechanistic and deterministic; it has little in common with what Marxist dialectics stands for. No wonder the question of thesis and a ‘matching antithesis’ in ‘natural or social developments’ you have summed up falls in that category! I don’t know how you have arrived at the view that for Marx the process of thesis and antithesis inevitably is ‘progressive’. I have not found anything like that in my reading of Marx’s texts. What you say does not represent Marxist concept of dialectics. No, Sir; Marx did not expound such a view. Another puzzling thing is that you name quantum physics and molecular biology to elaborate on the social development of society. In my view any advances in physical sciences do not lead to the negation of dialectics, which essentially is a model to analyse social change.

Rahul Banerjee: what marx took from hegel was his version of dialectics. now this form of dialectics too is shabby stuff that is not borne out by reality at all times. there is not always a thesis and matching antithesis in natural or social development and the synthesis that results even if there was such a pair may not always be of a progressive kind!! instead the process of change in the real world is of a very chancy kind and not deterministic and linear as envisaged in the dialectical method. now that we have a better understanding of this chanciness due to advances in quantum physics and molecular biology and the unpredictable development of society, we need to move on from what Hegel and Marx could surmise in their day.
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