Talk:Dialectical materialism

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Reading this article from the top it is not until the third or fourth paragraph that we see anything resembling a definition. The introduction should include a rudimentary definition that is clearer than the current "Dialectic Materialism is the merging of Dialectic and Materialism." Not being an expert on the subject I leave this in another’s more capable hands.-- (talk) 04:31, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

I second this. Please tell me what the hell Dialectical Materialism is, up front. Eunsung (talk) 17:17, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I third this. Few things are too complex to explain in a sentence. Surely, something approaching a clear definition has arisen in the many decades through which these ideas have been discussed, taught, pondered. (This note was originally unsigned by mistake, later signed as follows: --Dankelley (talk) 11:24, 22 January 2010 (UTC))
Fourthed. Who wrote that, anyway? I mean, sure, sometimes I'll gloss over what was said and have to reread a portion of a text, but the introduction here is just devoid of any information a layman would want. Plumbmeter (talk) 19:43, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
Likewise. The introduction seems to refer entirely to natural processes, with no reference at all to social processes, politics or history Clivemacd (talk) 13:28, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

It is in fact impossible to define this 'theory'; scratch any randomly-chosen Dialectical Marxist and they will each give you a different, but no less vague and confused non-definition.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 13:22, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

The very first statement of this article, "Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism developed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels," is false. In fact, in the classic text, "Socialism: Past and Future[1]" by one of the foremost authorities on socialism, Michael Harrington, we find this:

"The justification for all this brutality [in Stalin's Soviet Union] and one-man rule was a scientistic reading of Marxism that had some warrant in some of Engels' more careless formulations but violated the repeated defense of democracy and self-emancipation of both Marx and Engels. Marxism, in Stalin's version, was a system that explained both nature and society by means of "dialectical materialism" (a phrase never used by either Marx or Engels but popularized by the first Russian Marxist, Georgi Plekhanov). Thus, Stalin, as the supreme Marxist automatically was the infallible interpreter of the objective interest of the workers and the peasants, and if those classes perversely refused to recognize what was good for them, he had the right to impose it upon them."

Thus, "dialectic materialism" is more a Stalinist concept popularized by Plekhanov, but, obviously, as Harrington points out in the quote above, would have been anathema to both Marx and Engels, and is a distorted concept of their ideas. Thus, the first sentence in this article should be reworked so as to avoid the misattribution to Marxist philosophy and should be written correctly so that it isCite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). much more closely ascribed to Stalinist principles.

A better way to write this is first sentence would be "'Dialectical materialism' is a Stalinist construction of an incorrect reading of Marx that permitted autocratic rule of the Soviet Union.

Marx's dialectic[edit]

I recently wrote an article to clarify long standing confusions regarding Marx's dialectic. I fully realize that what I have explained is not the common understanding of Marx's dialectic, but I believe it to be the correct one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:26, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

The very first statement of this article, "Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism developed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels," is false. In fact, in the classic text, "Socialism: Past and Future[2]" by one of the foremost authorities on socialism, Michael Harrington, we find this:

"The justification for all this brutality [in Stalin's Soviet Union] and one-man rule was a scientistic reading of Marxism that had some warrant in some of Engels' more careless formulations but violated the repeated defense of democracy and self-emancipation of both Marx and Engels. Marxism, in Stalin's version, was a system that explained both nature and society by means of "dialectical materialism" (a phrase never used by either Marx or Engels but popularized by the first Russian Marxist, Georgi Plekhanov). Thus, Stalin, as the supreme Marxist automatically was the infallible interpreter of the objective interest of the workers and the peasants, and if those classes perversely refused to recognize what was good for them, he had the right to impose it upon them." Page 78

Thus, "dialectic materialism" is more a Stalinist concept popularized by Plekhanov, but, obviously, as Harrington points out in the quote above, would have been anathema to both Marx and Engels, and is a distorted concept of their ideas. Thus, the first sentence in this article should be reworked so as to avoid the misattribution to Marxist philosophy and should be written correctly so that it is much more closely ascribed to Stalinist principles.

A better way to write this first sentence would be "'Dialectical materialism' is a Stalinist construction of an incorrect reading of Marx that permitted autocratic rule of the Soviet Union.

Old talk[edit]

I really wouldn't know whether the "example of the chicken's egg" is or is not an "oft-cited criticism of dialectical materialism," but I can say at least that this explanation of it doesn't make any sense to me:

One critique of dialectical materialism is the oft-cited example of a chicken's egg. The embryo (thesis) is oppessed by the shell (antithesis) and must overcome and destroy the shell to reach the next stage of being a chick (synthesis). The error here, according to Dr. Sang Hun Lee, lies in misunderstanding the purpose and role of the eggshell. While the embryo is unformed or weak, the shell remains tough and hard to protect it. When the embroyo has developed into a chick and is ready to enter the world, the shell becomes thin and brittle. If a chick were removed from the shell by an outside force, its ability to survive would be diminished.
This is analogous to parents who restrict their children when they are young and gradually give them more responsibility as they mature. Finally, the children move out on their own and take their place in society is fully-functioning adults. They needn't rebel or murder their parents at all.

Two problems with it: (1) the founder of the Unification Church is not what I would call a leading critic of socialist theories. If this is oft-cited (outside of the aforementioned church) we ought to be able to find a more credible source. (2) As a criticism, it doesn't make any sense. Does DM imply that children should rebel and murder their parents? The article doesn't say so. --LMS

Good points, my addition was hastily written. The chick in the egg example has been cited to me by in conversation by communists in Cambridge, Massachusetts -- I haven't seen it in print. Also, Dr. Lee is not the founder of the Unification Church -- perhaps you meant Rev. Moon. The former is certainly too obscure to be a "leading critic", of course, and Rev. Moon (while well known) is not generally considered a theoretical critic. I appear to have made a hash of this addition and have egg on my face to go with the hash! -- Ed Poor

Well, I assumed that the author of the "three main books of the Unification Church" (that's what our Sang Hun Lee article says) would have been the founder, but of course that was just an assumption. Now, don't get me wrong. Maybe it's true that there is a "chicken in the egg example" that is one main criticism of dialectical materialism. I honestly don't know (I haven't studied it enough). All I was saying is that I don't understand your explanation of the problem. --LMS

Thanks for the constructive criticism. I consider your advice "authoritative" as well as pertinent.

I revised Sang Hun Lee to remove even a hint that he wrote Divine Principle or played any leadership role in the Unification Church. The critique is reworded a bit, and moved under Sang Hun Lee as well, with only an "oppose" link from dialectical materialism. --Ed Poor

I am concerned that this entry presents the topic as an uncontroversial element of Marxist theory. There is extensive dispute between different marxian thinkers over Marx's commitment to "dialectical materialism" - a term only ever deployed by Engels. This includes profound issues of how far Marx believed "forms of thought" to be discrete entities (see, eg, Franz Jakubowski), and whether the method is held to be a sociological one (applying only in the context of human agency) or a universal one (applying to natural processes). The division is related to and implicated in the division between Stalinism and Trotskyism. So - Should I add the relevant qualifications to claims? --Adhib 11:05, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

This article is almost(?) atrocious as written. For one thing, dialectical-materialism is only "controvertial" because the bourgeoisie has designated it so. It's not some 'iffy' subject to be approached skeptically at arm's length. It is modern science, superior to bourgeois empiricism -- and it doesn't matter a whit what it's actually called, or who did or didn't recognize it as such, or by which monicker.
It's quite possible to recognize bourgeois objections to its validity without bending over backwards to give readers the definite impression that this is some dodgy subject best passed over.
And much of the commentary above/below/wherever is typical and clueless middle-class sniffery. "Marxian" my hairy aspect: dialectical-materialism is not in trial here -- threadbare bourgeois empirical logic is. Dialectical-materialism works.
Pazouzou 02:29, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Marx and Engels collaborated closely for over 35 years. For many years, they corresponded almost daily. I think a study of their works (and letters) shows that they were in close agreement on all major issues. They also stated this themselves on a number of occasions. To say that Marx did not hold to dialectical materialism is completely erroneous and cannot be backed up by evidence. In fact, it is ludicrous to so claim. Here are several quotes from M and E that shed some light on these issues. Note that one of Engels’ major works on DM, Anti-Duhring, was passed by Marx before publication and even partly written by him. The third quote also answers some of Jakubowski's claims about what Marx believed regarding base and superstructure.

"The ideal is nothing else than the material world, reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought." –Marx, Capital, Vol. 1
"The greater part of the point of view developed here was founded and worked out by Marx, and only a small part of it by me. Its presentation has not been made without his knowledge. I have read the whole manuscript to him before publication and the tenth chapter of the section on Economics was written by Marx, and aside from some superficial observation was merely abridged by me. It was always our custom to assist each other reciprocally in our special fields." –Engels, Anti-Duhring
"My inquiry led me to the conclusion that neither legal relations nor political forms could be comprehended whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the human mind, but that on the contrary they originate in the material conditions of life…. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness…. Changes in the economic foundation lead…to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. Frederick Engels, with whom I maintained a constant exchange of ideas by correspondence…arrived by another road…at the same result as I." –Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

--Jose Ramos 15:04, 6 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Jose's fulsome language ('ludicrous') rather confirms my point, that this is a contentious area within Marxist theory, and its contentiousness should be at least *mentioned* within the article. The quotes Jose offers provide no clear basis for resisting my suggestion, particularly not on the distinction between historical materialism and dialectical materialism (dialectics as sociological method, v universal scientific method). Any other views? --Adhib

Yes. (Assuming a few things here since the above lacks a few specifix to give it full context) it is wrong to put forward the scientific method as being other than the dialectical-materialist method. And I do mean wrong. Completely. Only one interpretation is right here -- and I'm not buying the other one. Prove me wrong.
If by "universal" you are trying to imply that DM is something other than the bourgeois scientific method, which is 'accepted and universal' (like capitalism) -- unlike the 'fraud', DM -- then that would be wrong, like I assert. But it loox like you might mean the old pseudo-marxist academic dodge that "DiaMat" only applies in the mind and not out in the "real world".
The scientific method, as it is commonly interpreted, is historically a specific methodology employing bourgeois, empirical logic to discover facts about reality. Dialectical-materialism, OTOH, is a specific methodology employing dialectical logic to discover facts about that same reality. The error here is in conflating bourgeois empirical logic with the scientific method itself, and assuming that this is the sine qua non of science, period. As well, it is completely artificial --and logically and truly unacceptable -- to cherry-pick what we want to take from DM, and rather conveniently disregard the parts that bring us up against our political enemies... In fact, it's completely dishonest in every respect and totally hypocritical. And bad science, to boot.
And so that (typical) dodge of segregating DM into obscure academic disciplines proves exactly nothing here -- other than the inexorable pressure of bourgeois hegemony in all intellectual fields at present. And I put it to you that the marxist method of science is far superior to the bourgeois method of science, and constitutes a seamless, integrated whole in all human thought and practice.
Pazouzou 04:49, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

The original encyclopaedia entry confuses Hegel with Fichte; as far as I am aware, Hegel does not use the terms "thesis", "antithesis" and "synthesis" - at least not in any theoretically important sense. On this see Gustav Mueller 'The Hegel Legend of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis', in Hegel Myths and Legends, edited by Jon Stewart (Northwestern University Press, 1996), pp.301-305.

Also, since Hegel's theory was an openly mystical doctrine, derived from Hermetic/NeoPlatonic thinkers (like Plotinus, Iamblichus, Pseudo-Dionysius and Jacob Böhme), it sits very awkwardly with Marx's scientific outlook.

Although one comrade tries to implicate Marx in Engels's confused 'philosophy', there is in fact little to suggest that he agreed with Engels that there is a 'dialectic in nature'. The idea that Marx approved Anti-Dühring is largely based on Engels's own testimony that he 'read it to Marx'. Does anyone believe this? It would have taken days! Marx was very old and in rapid decline when Engels became fixated with this mystical doctrine; he would surely have drifted off more than once. On the other hand, if Marx had have been fit and able, why on earth didn't he read it for himself?

Doubters should read Terrell Carver's books: Marx And Engels (Humanities Press, 1983); Engels (Oxford University Press, 1981); and his article `The Engels-Marx Question', in M. Steger, and T. Carver, Engels After Marx (Manchester University Press, 1999).

Incidentally, all that chicken and egg stuff above just shows how crazy and mystical this theory is. No wonder few sentient beings, other than 'true believers', take it seriously.

I'll post some novel objections to dialectical (but not historical) materialism later.



Edited 09/08/05

Hardly. Read Reason in Revolt: Marxism and Modern Science, a very valuable and important work, once one gets past the (largely initial but lenghty) Trotskyate nonesense, at least. All this conjecture about Engels' mysticism is overstated. El_C 12:08, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Reply to ELC: The book you mention (Reason in Revolt, or RIRE) is in fact worse than poor. It is full of serious mistakes and misconceptions about Formal Logic (FL), issues I have taken up with one of the authors. Here is a section of my thesis that deals with some of these:

"Unlike most dialecticians, Woods and Grant (the two authors of RIRE) at least reference a couple of introductory works on logic (i.e., those written many years ago by A. A. Luce, and Cohen and Nagel), but it is quite clear from what they say about logic they can't have understood much of what they read:

'Even the simplest judgement, as Hegel points out, contains a contradiction. 'Caesar is a man,' 'Fido is a dog,' 'the tree is green,' all state that the particular is the universal. Such sentences seem simple, but in fact are not. This is a closed book for formal logic, which remains determined to banish all contradictions not only from nature and society, but from thought and language itself. Propositional calculus sets out from exactly the same basic postulates as those worked out by Aristotle in the 4th century B.C., namely the law of identity, the law of (non-) contradiction, the law of excluded middle, to which is added the law of double negation. Instead of being written with normal letters, they are expressed in symbols, thus:

a) p = p

b) p = ~p

c) p V = ~p (sic)

d) ~(p ~ p) (sic)

All this looks very nice, but makes not the slightest difference to the content of the syllogism.' [Woods and Grant, RIRE, pp.97-98.]

However, translated, these symbols 'mean' the following:

a) p is equal to p

b) p is equal to not-p

c) p or equals not-p (sic)

d) not both p not-p (sic)

c) and d) are just gibberish. Clearly, these two comrades did not copy this prize example of syntactical confusion from a logic text written anywhere on this planet -- which could mean that they simply made it up. At any rate, this shows that they made no effort to understand much of what they constantly deride. [Witness the way that they have confused the Propositional Calculus with Aristotelian Syllogistic. The former was invented by the Stoics (and then largely forgotten until the middle of the 19th century); Aristotle knew nothing of it, as far as we know.]

Of course, the reference these authors make to contradictions allegedly implicit in simple predicative propositions is also based on a novel piece of grammar. 'Caesar is a man' (P1) does not say the particular is the universal, and can only be made to do so by imposing on it a grammatical theory that these two comrades failed to justify. And even if (P1) could be construed in this way, Woods and Grant failed to say why that would be a contradiction, as opposed to being a simple falsehood, or just plain unvarnished nonsense.

Other factual and interpretive mistakes these two make include the following:

(1) On page 97, they mention an unknown character (one 'George Boyle'), who they allege was one of the founding fathers of modern logic. Unless Woods and Grant know more about the 'secret history of logic' than anyone else, it looks like they have confused this fictional character with George Boole. A small mistake? You would think, but it is symptomatic of their sloppy approach to all matters logical, a characteristic they share with most dialecticians.

(2) They assert (on page 97, again) that Wittgenstein (in the Tractatus) tried to develop a formal language for the propositions of science 'based on the old laws of identity, contradiction and excluded middle' when Wittgenstein in fact went to great pains to argue that identity was not needed in a perspicuous formal language:

'It is self-evident that identity is not a relation between objects.... Russell's definition of '=' is inadequate.... Roughly speaking, to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing at all.... The identity sign, therefore, is not an essential constituent of conceptual notation.... [I]n a correct conceptual notation pseudo-propositions like 'a = a', 'a = b.b = c **(*) a = c', '(x) x = x', '(x) x = a', etc. cannot even be written down.' [Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Routledge, 1972), pp.106-07; Propositions 5.5301, 5.5302, 5.5303, 5.533, 5.534.] {Added later: the space above (*) should contain the implication arrow. The formatting here does not suport its use.}

And, contrary to what these two comrades assert about Wittgenstein basing his logic on the 'law of (non-) contradiction' (etc), he declared:

'Tautology and contradiction are the limiting cases - indeed the disintegration - of the combination of signs.' [Ibid, p.71; Proposition 4.466d.]

Indeed, far from trying to base his formal system on the principles these two comrades say he does, Wittgenstein's fundamental idea was that the whole of logic derived from something he called the 'General Form of a Proposition':

'The description of the most general propositional form is the description of the one and only general primitive sign in logic.... The general form of a truth-function is [p, c, N(c)]. This is the general form of a proposition.' [Ibid, pp.95, 119; Propositions 5.472 and 6.]

In fact, chapter 4 of RIRE contains nearly as many errors as it does paragraphs...."

Moreover, Woods and Grant's interpretation of science reminds one of the approach adopted by Creationists: the only 'evidence' quoted is that which allegedly supports their view (and even then it is shoehorned into a dialectical boot it won't fit); negative evidence is just ignored.

As to Engels's mysticism, those who take their cue from that arch-mystic and hermetic thinker, Hegel, have simply labelled themselves as mystics. [I hope to publish more details on this topic at my web-site (which is still under construction).]

LevD 24-08-05. Re-edited 28-09-05.

Posted 25/08/05. Here are a few more problems with Woods and Grant's book:

As far as criticisms of the law of identity (LOI) are concerned, Hegel, Trotsky, Woods and Grant (and a host of other dialecticians) plainly attacked the wrong target: 'the principle of equality', not the LOI!

Here is another section from my thesis on this (the numbers in round brackets refer to notes listed at the end):

"In his debate with Burnham, Trotsky rehearsed an argument that was aimed at exposing what he took to be serious limitations in the LOI.(1) The motivation for Trotsky's analysis was his belief that Formal Logic (FL) deals only with static and lifeless concepts, rendering it incapable of grasping the dynamism of concrete reality. Remarkably, Trotsky nowhere attempted to substantiate these sweeping allegations; in fact there is no evidence that he consulted a single logic text written in the last 200 years (saving, of course, that written by Hegel). Clearly, he did not think that this disqualified him from passing an opinion on the subject.

Trotsky's argument went as follows:

'The Aristotelian logic of the simple syllogism starts from the proposition that 'A' is equal to 'A'.... But in reality 'A' is not equal to 'A'. This is easy to prove if we observe these two letters under a lens - they are quite different from each other. But, one can object, the question is not the size or the form of the letters, since they are only symbols for equal quantities, for instance, a pound of sugar. The objection is beside the point; in reality a pound of sugar is never equal to a pound of sugar - a more delicate scale always discloses a difference. Again one can object: but a pound of sugar is equal to itself. Neither is true (sic) - all bodies change uninterruptedly in size, weight, colour etc. They are never equal to themselves....' [Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism (New Park Publications, 1971), p.63.]

There are many things wrong with this passage, but one puzzling fact is that it ignores other classical versions of the LOI, none of which Trotsky quotes.(2)

In fact, Trotsky's initial characterisation of the LOI is rather odd:

S1: A is equal to A.

But, as an accurate depiction of identity, S1 is not even close -- not least because it omits the word "identity" itself. Contrast S1 with the following far less inaccurate version of the same law:

S2: A is identical to A.

Why did Trotsky prefer S1 to S2? His use of "equal" in fact meant he was actually attacking the principle of equality, not the LOI --, which suggests that Trotsky's criticisms were misconceived from the start.

The ordinary use of words like "equal", "identical", and "same" is highly complex; it would be a mistake to think they all mean the same (no irony intended). However, because of his cavalier attitude to the vernacular, Trotsky ignored the seemingly limitless conceptual space that ordinary language creates for its users, a flexibility that allows them to make complex and intricate allusions to identity, equality, similarity, and difference with ease.

There are countless examples of the above distinctions in ordinary material language. For instance, we can say things like "the author of What is to be done? is identical to Lenin", whereas it would be odd to say "the author of What is to be done? is equal to Lenin". Indeed, we can even say that "the number of authors of What is to be done? is equal to one, but not "the number of authors of What is to be done? is identical to one".(3)

Moreover, some things can be equal and identical, or not, as the case may be. For example, the letter "t" can occur identically in first place in two different words (such as "Trotsky" and "teamster") even though neither letter nor word is equal or identical in size or shape. And, two letters, which are identically first in the alphabet (namely two "A"'s) can be non-identically positioned in two unequal words (such as "car" and "Arthur"). Indeed, careful optical examination will fail to show either that these two "T"'s are not identically positioned at the front of the first two quoted words, or that the two numerically different "A"'s are not identically the first letter of the alphabet. This sort of identity is clearly not sensitive to empirical test.(4)

Furthermore, one and the same bag of sugar could be self-identical and equal to itself in weight even while it is unequal in weight to a second seemingly identical bag (how this is possible is explained below). Moreover, two different bags of sugar could be equal in weight (even if only momentarily), as far as the most sensitive instruments could tell. And, two separate bags could both have their weights changing; in the first it could be falling while in the second it could be rising. At some point, therefore, their two weights will be momentarily identical. In addition, in two separate piles, bag A in pile one and bag B in pile two could be the heaviest in their respective heaps. In that case, each would be equally the heaviest in their respective piles while being non-identical in weight for all that. No doubt the reader can imagine other cases that Trotsky failed to consider. In fact, his analysis blurred clear distinctions like this, ones that are easily made in ordinary, material language and which are readily understood by most working-class children.

Trotsky thus created serious problems for himself by erecting bold philosophical theses on such flimsy foundations: a mis-defined word, a few "thought experiments", and an extremely limited range of examples drawn from the vernacular.(5)

However, this change of subject (from "identity" to "equality") allowed Trotsky to make what turn out to be largely irrelevant claims about things like bags of sugar. Because this segue now involves items that can be measured (as opposed to be

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:

It looks like most of this page has been wiped!

I will try to reconstruct my comments at least from my own archives. I saved some of this page earlier today: here it is:

"You're using the usual bourgeois attack dog angle here: trying to browbeat the opposition into submission with a flurry of, uh, erudition."

I am a Marxist, so this comment is irrelevant.

And, by 'erudition' it is clear that you really mean that I try to defend my ideas with evidence and argument, which you are not used to seeing deployed against this mystical 'theory', so you just moan.

If you do not like this, that is your problem.

And I am aware of why Hegel tried to con humanity with obscure words (he was a mystic):

"Hegel was trying to develop a new terminology to better fit the dynamix of his thought system."

But I claim: 1) we do not need this new jargon; ordinary language can handle change far better than the terminally obscure words Hegel invented to fix something that was not broken; and 2) none of his new terms make any sense.

So, even if we needed new terms, Hegel's would be the last ones we'd turn to.

"It is not his fault that subsequent bourgeois thought has chosen to more-or-less studiously ignore what many hoped was a dead branch and a deadend of philosophy -- rather than the right fork in the road it has always been."

Ignored in many cases for reasons 1) and 2) above; but there are others.

And rightly so.

"I don't pretend to be expert in "logic", sadly -- I have been too tied-up fighting the police state all these years to do the research I'd always intended -- but I also reject pretty much everything you have said above, as logik is all about reality -- and a logik which cannot be demonstrated in reality is anything but."

I agree. From the above, it is clear that you do indeed know nothing about logic, but still you pontificate about it. What next? Your collected thoughts on brain surgery?

"Don't think you are going to win anything here by trotting out some "credentialist", "argument-by-authority" dodge. You've got some killer argument? Fine. Let's walk thru it."

What the h*ll does that mean? Where do I trot out an argument from authority?

"You're not the first one to want to entrap me in the tarpit of their online worldview opus. My attitude to this type of challenge has always been: you quote from your own oeuvre, as circumstances diktate, so that we become familiar with how your own work differs from that of the 'masters'; and we will work in from there. If you are sincere -- and not too much the crank -- then we should very likely get to the nub of the matter soon enuff."

I cannot do that here (I have already posted far too much); that is one reason why I set up my site.

If you want to read my Essays, fine. If not, I am not going to loose much sleep over that fact.

So, contrary to what you think, I do not give a toss whether you visit my site.

Stay ignorant for all I care.

However, long experience 'debating' with you dialectical mystics has taught me that you (plural) do not debate, you invent stuff, distract attention, bluster. moan and categorise people (as 'bourgeois', when in this case I am not, I am a working class woman) so that you can ignore their arguments.

In fact, just as you (singular) have done here.

But, you need to stop making ignorant claims about me, ones that are not supported by anything I have said here or at my site.

Finally, earlier in this thread, you made this untrue statement:

"Dialectical-materialism works."

Unfortunately, Marxism is the most unsuccessful major political theory in human history (I wish it were otherwise). So, history has refuted Dialectical Materialism. It does not work, and never has, and practice has proven that to be the case.

Historical Materialism on the other hand does, but it has been rendered impotent by this Hermetic accretion.

[And no wonder, dialectics was invented by a ruling-class theorist -- Hegel.]

And for once, just once, can one of you dialectical mystics put together a half-way decent argument? I have yet to encounter one from you lot (in over 20 years of waiting). Has Hegel's 'Logic' nuked your reasoning powers?

I suspect so.

Rosa Lichtenstein 25/09/06

Pazouzou responds:

Look: on this Talk page of the Wikipedia article on 'Dialectical materialism' it is not for the dialekticians to be having to prove anything to a challenge to the very validity of the subject. It's rather up to the challenger: you. We can either do this the fun, easy way; or we can do this the hard, un-fun way. Or, more likely, not at all.
Understand that I am going to approach this "dialog" how I want to approach it. You are not going to stampede me or browbeat me here (I speak only for myself). Adapt to this method, please -- or we are only going to talk past each other, if we talk at all. It won't be so hard, if you are sincere.
You have stated a number of times that you feel dialektix is at the root of the failure of marxism. I consider this a preposterous claim -- and a proof that you are not really a marxist in an ideological/etc. sense. Besides that, the fact that you can claim to be a marxist -- and yet have thrown the dialectical baby out with the political bathwater -- is all the further proof I require for that claim.
I put to you the exact opposite: that it is precisely the failure of marxists to use dialektix in their struggle -- their essentially dropping it for mechanistic, formalistic, vulgar stalinist "DiaMat" -- which has directly led to this failure.
Which one of us is right here? We both cannot be.
And what do you actually think the relation of Hegel to Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky and marxism is, anyway? This article is most certainly not about proving Hegel 100% right. It is Marx who set things 100% 'right side up'. So first perhaps we have to make clear what relation Hegel actually does bear to marxist scientific socialism.
Pazouzou 00:49, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Rosa replies again;


"It's rather up to the challenger: you."

Done it; see above and in vastly more detail at my site.

"You are not going to stampede me or browbeat me here (I speak only for myself)."

Well, you are the one who blundered into this discussion, comrade, perhaps thinking I was an easy target (when I am not; the fact that you canot produce a single argument against me suggests that you are, as I suspected, way out of your depth).

So, if anything the opposite of this comment of yours is true.

"You have stated a number of times that you feel dialektix is at the root of the failure of marxism. I consider this a preposterous claim -- and a proof that you are not really a marxist in an ideological/etc. sense. Besides that, the fact that you can claim to be a marxist -- and yet have thrown the dialectical baby out with the political bathwater -- is all the further proof I require for that claim."

No, if you read what I actually say, instead of inventing again (as I noted earlier, you mystics are good at invention), you will see that I specifically say that this 'theory'is part of the reason why Marxism is an abject failure.

And I could say the same of you, that you are not a Marxist, since, contrary to Marxism, you stick to dogma. But, I would not be so uncomradely.

I merely hoist you mystics on your own petard: if truth is tested in practice, practice has refuted dialectics.

You can avoid that conclusion in one of two ways: reject the dogma that truth is tested in practice, or claim that Marxism is a ringing success.

Which false exit will you choose I wonder?

But you have a reply:

"I put to you the exact opposite: that it is precisely the failure of marxists to use dialektix in their struggle -- their essentially dropping it for mechanistic, formalistic, vulgar stalinist "DiaMat" -- which has directly led to this failure."

And yet, Stalinism is the one area of 'Marxism' that can claim some sort of success. Other wings of Marxism are far less successful, or are a downright disaster area.

So your 'explanation' means that dialectics as applied by these other nameless Marxists -- if that is what you mean -- has disproved this 'theory' even more!

On the other hand, if you meant that dialectics has never been tried out, I agree. since you cannot put into practice a nonsensical theory.

So, either history has refuted dialectics or it is unworkable.

I can live with either result, or both.

"Which one of us is right here? We both cannot be."

I note your capitulation to the 'either-or' of common sense here.

The dread 'Law of Excluded Middle'!

So, you reject Hegel too?

Good! Progress at last.

"And what do you actually think the relation of Hegel to Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky and marxism is, anyway? This article is most certainly not about proving Hegel 100% right. It is Marx who set things 100% 'right side up'. So first perhaps we have to make clear what relation Hegel actually does bear to marxist scientific socialism."

If you are really interested you can find the answer at my site; if you are not, then not.

You decide.

Rosa Lichtenstein 26/09/06.

No, I think you've made it pretty clear you're not a reasonable opponent. I was hoping for someone who isn't stuck in full-throttle attack mode at every moment. Debating you would be thankless -- however enlightening; but at least I know more about your type of demoralizing influence: and how to go about countering it.
As for whoever wiped what we were writing on this Talk page: if they're so plugged-into the Wikipedia stalinist bureaucracy that they feel they have the right to peremptorily flush our postings down the Memory Hole, they could just have easily archived this stuff properly, however that is done here. Pretty ham-handed IMO.
And this article still stinx.
Pazouzou 09:23, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Pazouzou, I have responded to this latest post of yours in your personal area:

Rosa L 29/09/06

Rosa L wrote:

Ok, thanks for the warning; if anyone wants to discuss this with me, try doing so here:

For my part, I will refrain from debating this topic here.

Rosa Lichtenstein

May I suggest that somebody clean up the main article to make it more accessible, less esoteric?

No encyclopedia or other general, descriptive work should send the reader scurrying to so many supporting links (see hegel, etc.) without a coccise, straightforward definition.

Personally I have come to the conclusion it simply doesn't exist. I see a bunch of extremely complex, gnostic statements using the longest possible words. It's recursive. DM is marxism. -Todd in kirkland

Ruffwiki added this comment:

The author states: Dialectical materialism is essentially characterized by the belief that history is the product of class struggle and obeys the general Hegelian principle of philosophy of history, that is the development of the thesis into its antithesis which is sublated by the "Aufhebung" (~ synthesis, a word that Hegel didn't like to use) — which conserves the thesis and the antithesis while at the same time abolishing it (Aufheben — this contradiction explains the difficulties of Hegel's thought). [1]

I think the author is struggling to use the English language correctly - and failing in his or her attempts. Here’s one example of the author’s incorrect use of the language, concerning: the development of the thesis into its antithesis.

To understand the situation correctly requires a somewhat different approach. The conflict between the thesis and its antithesis is resolved (in one way or another) by synthesis. For example, a boat pushes down on the water due to gravity (the weight of the boat). The water resists the downward motion by pushing up on the boat (again, a function of gravity acting upon the water). The synthesis - the resolution - is obtained at the point where the weight of the displaced water equals the weight of the boat - this results in a specific level of the boat in the water, which is, on the average, maintained. (The sea is usually in motion, the contents of the boat may shift somewhat; the result is a series over time of small changes in the boat’s level that average out to zero - unless the boat swamps or is grounded.)

Another example, which results in destruction of either the thesis or its antithesis, is a burning log. Over time, the fire will either consume the log, transforming its material into other materials, other forms - or the log will resist burning and at some point in time the fire will “burn out” (disappear). The synthesis is thus either a burned log (and the fire disappears) or a scorched log (and, again, the fire disappears). Of course, in the latter case, the log partially or wholly maintains its “integrity” - its form and materials.

As one sees by these two examples, the process is not development of the thesis into its antithesis. Rather, the process is better explained by the struggle between a thesis and its antithesis and the subsequent development of these into a synthesis. I.e., synthesis is the result of a struggle between a thesis and its antithesis over time. In this struggle between opposites, the result is a synthesis that represents either a balance between opposing forces or the destruction of one and the “victory” of the other. In the latter case, the “victory” of the fire over the log has the side effect of removing the fire from existence. Hmmm, I wonder what parallels can be drawn in human history.

Philosophy of praxis[edit]

My understanding is that Gramsci made up his lingo to sneak his commie ravings past the fascist prison censors, and that "philosophy of praxis" was simply a euphemism for dialectical materialism. I got all excited to read his critique of dialectical materialism, but alas... Bobanny 06:15, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

"Dialectical materialism" and Joseph Dietzgen[edit]

I notice that Karl Kautsky's Frederick Engels, His Life, His Work and His Writings, written in 1887 has "The first appearance of this new dialectical materialism was in a work entitled ..." [1]

I would be curious about any references to Joseph Dietzgen. I'm not disputing it - for my own part I suspect that the term simply arose from on going discussions around Engels' and Kautsky's work in London, although Dietzgen was in New York I think, in or around 1887 as a short hand term, and Kautsky and Dietzgen had it almost all together. Nevertheless, the site gives Kautsky as the originator.

Maybe some reference to Kautsky's use could go in here?

Marx, however, never used the term of "dialectical materialism" itself, which was probably invented in 1887 by Joseph Dietzgen, a socialist tanner who corresponded with Marx. Casual mention of the term is also found in Kautsky's Frederick Engels, His Life, His Work and His Writings, written in 1887. Andysoh 01:56, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

This Article Kinda Sucks[edit]

Here is Dialectical-Materialism per the Columbia encyclopedia, as an example. Someone should really consider revising the Wikipedia article, or perhaps I might:

Dialectical Materialism- Official philosophy of Communism, based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as elaborated by G. V. Plekhanov, V. I. Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. In theory dialectical materialism is meant to provide both a general world view and a specific method for the investigation of scientific problems. The basic tenets are that everything is material and that change takes place through “the struggle of opposites.” Because everything contains different elements that are in opposition, “self-movement” automatically occurs; the conflict of opposing forces leads to growth, change, and development, according to definite laws. Communist scientists were expected to fit their investigations into this pattern, and official approval of scientific theories in the USSR was determined to some extent by their conformity to dialectical materialism (see Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich). Use of these principles in history and sociology is sometimes called historical materialism. Under these doctrines the social, political, and intellectual life of society reflect only the economic structure, since human beings create the forms of social life solely in response to economic needs. Men are divided into classes by their relations to the means of production—land and capital. The class that controls the means of production inevitably exploits the other classes in society; it is this class struggle that produces the dynamic of history and is the source of progress toward a final uniformity. Historical materialism is deterministic; that is, it prescribes that history inevitably follows certain laws and that individuals have little or no influence on its development. Central to historical materialism is the belief that change takes place through the meeting of two opposing forces (thesis and antithesis); their opposition is resolved by combination produced by a higher force (synthesis). Historical materialism has had many advocates outside the Communist world. 1 See G. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism (1958, repr. 1973); A. Spirkin, Dialectical Materialism (1983); I. Yurkovets, Philosophy of Dialectical Materialism (1984). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:30, 26 February 2007 (UTC).

But this entry from the Columbia encyclopedia is in its most important aspects essentially wrong. To judge this, one only needs to read what Engels wrote on the subject. Cf for instance
"According to the materialist conception of history the determining element in history is ultimately the production and reproduction in real life. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted.
"If therefore somebody twists this into the statement that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms it into a meaningless, abstract and absurd phrase." (Frederick Engels: From a Letter To Joseph Bloch, London, September 21, 1890. )

But the Columbia encyclopedia says (as quoted above) "Under these doctrines the social, political, and intellectual life of society reflect only the economic structure, since human beings create the forms of social life solely in response to economic needs."
The essential point that Engels was making was that one cannot say "solely" in response to economic needs. This reduces Marxism to crude determinism, which is a serious error.
In other words, the Columbia encyclopedia, according to one of the two founders of the theory, Friedrich Engels, is guilty of "a meaningless, abstract and absurd phrase." It is far too crude to represent the idea of a dialectical interplay between living forces.
Once the Columbia encyclopedia gets started, furthermore, it continues in this vein, leaving one to wonder what exactly Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky saw in struggling at all against exploitation (the last of whom struggled against the rise of Stalinism, and the great perversion of Marxism that this bureaucratic caste promulgated), since "individuals have little or no influence on [capitalist] development".
The last thing one would want to suggest is that the Columbia encyclopedia is misinformed, although one must grant that it represents a point of view which is well favoured by the opponents of Marxism. It would be better to say that the point of view of the Columbia encyclopedia is that of dialectical materialism as taught particularly in the USA at the present time, rather than to suggest that it is related to the historical ideas of Marx and Engels, or Lenin and Trotsky.
And of course, the "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" representation is properly criticised both in the wikipedia article (see footnote) and in the discussions here.
Andysoh 00:16, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

This article doesn't actually explain what it actually is, in simple terms. --Liface 05:16, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

It's a very difficult thing to explain. I don't know if it could be done more simply. Grant | Talk 07:18, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

I think there is a difference between over-simplifying a complex concept and explaining it in simple terms, to set the audience on a path of discovery about the topic. It is relatively easy for any decent teacher to explain any concept, however abstract and complex, in simple terms. Only an ass would over-simplify. And asses are not good teachers.

In regard to dialectical materialism, the only real reason it does not work (in my own opinion, only, of course) is that it has never existed. People (again, only in my opinion) are inherently self-disciplined and even altruistic in matters of simple survival. It is only institutions that are heartless. For instance, very few actual living breathing people would refuse food to a starving child, even if a person has only one slice of an apple or one bite of a burger to share. A government, however, will casually dump a million tons of oranges into the sea while millions of children starve to death. A government (even a dictator) is a ruler, not a person. And the ruler wants his/her/its ideology to rule.

Therefore, it is in matters of ideology that people turn violent. Ideas are not debatable, in a sense. Ideas are absolute. You can eat half an apple or one grain of rice from a pot, but you cannot, in any real sense, present or accept "half" or "one grain" of an idea. An idea either is or it isn't. When a "ruler" tries to impose his/her/its ideology on people, the people rebel and "kill" the ruler. I think that people like to be allowed to think as they please even if they can't live as they think. Rulers, such as Marx, who try to tell people how they have been thinking or how they should think, are rejected through a "revolutionary" process -- a process that revolves ideas until they hit the exit chamber. The only way for an idea at the exit chamber to "return" is to walk in with other ideas that are, as yet, untested. The new version of the idea then keeps revolving until it hits the exit chamber again, and so on.

I get the impression you assume that dialectical materialism and the Soviet Union, or some such so-called socialist regime, is dialectical materialism in practice. This would perhaps explain why you refer to Marx as a "ruler", although I'm sure that was a slip of the keyboard (since he never was). But your connection of dialectical materialism and the Soviet Union, however wrong it may be, is understandable since the Soviet Union's leaders said they followed dialectical materialism, and Stalin wrote a book on it -- but remember that if we took people at their word and ignored their deeds we would be fools.
Marxism, guided by dialectical materialism, gives a very useful explanation of why governments prefer to dump food rather than give it away, whatever they may claim, but it is widely known anyway - it keeps the price of food up, and this is what "capitalism" is all about, and that's why people die every second of every day through under nourishment.
I think when you say ideas are not debatable, you mean, not that they are not debatable, since ideas are always being debated, but that some people approach them from a Yes / No, right or wrong way, (and shout you down if they don't agree). Fox News gives perfect examples of this way of thinking every day.
This is where materialism comes in. If people starve, people want to know why. Then they re-assess the 'capitalism is good, marxism is bad' "right or wrong" approach, read what Marx wrote, find out about other Marxists, and realise that, like most living ideas, within the tradition of 'dialectical materialism' there are opposites: trends which represent a dead end, and trends which still offer a genuine alternative to the "free market" system where the dumping of food is just one example of how, in practice, to use your words: "it has never really existed." Andysoh 20:11, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Rosa Lichtenstein[edit]

I am not quite sure who this person is and who publishes her work, but I can scarcely find anything on her besides her own resource page. Which believes me to blieve the addition of her in this is nothing more than self-promotion by the author in particular themselves. This lowers the quality of this article to let any random Blogger have their criticisms added to this. Dialectical Materialism is a serioues philolosophical school and method attached to Marxism, and there is lot of commentary on the subject without resorting to unpublished internet articles.

Therefore I have deleted mention of her or her site on this page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Riot Fred (talkcontribs) 09:17, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Rosa Lichtenstein is no authority on anything dialectical. She is only a committed ideolog: whose apparent life-goal has become the complete rooting-out of dialectical-materialism from the workers' movement, in every aspect. And in this, she is single-minded -- to the point of very unhealthy obsession. Others can attest to this, and have.
And let me add here (where else, on this mess of a talk page?) that AFAIC, the term "'dialectical-materialism'" -- whether Marx used the term or not is immaterial, in terms of subsequent history -- refers essentially to the reality of the World as being material, and operating, objectively, according to an immanent dialectical logic of Nature. Only secondarily does "'DiaMat'" refer to the human cognizance of this process -- the human mind operating on the same principles, but at a "higher" order of organization... "Historical-materialism", OTOH, refers to the method of using dialectical-materialist logic to analyze the reality of the World around us, and its historical development to this point. This also allows reasonable extrapolation into the future to a certain point too -- always allowing for the unexpected, of course; and then re-appraisal, etc. This was how Marx began and developed his life's-work, and how he popularized it to the masses. It was his intent to demonstrate the superiority of immanent and natural dialectical-materialist logic, compared to bourgeois reductionist logic, by use of the historical-materialist method, which is its logical consequence. That he never gave an express name to these a priori natural processes themselves -- and Engels, et al. did -- is highly immaterial, when you get down to it (it's a, I say, it's a JOKE, son...): except for academic -- and political -- reasons of clarification. Like in this article.
So, we simply have to be clear on what each term means, explicitly -- and in which context; and what relationship each bears to each other, and to everything else. Amen.
Pazouzou (talk) 22:24, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Ah, Pazouzou, a comrade famous for substituting abuse and baseless alegation for argument. Well, my confused friend, a couple of years ago you weren't able to show where my arguments go wrong and there is little in your latest comments to suggest different now. Looks like you are living proof of the so-called 'law of identity', since you seem as confused now as you were then. Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 19:08, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

I did not add the reference to my site to the Wiki article (as a quick reference to the history section would have revealed), but I object to it being removed in view of the fact that my site contains the most comprehensive demolition (by far) of this 'theory' ever to have been written by a Marxist.

Hence, it was rightly mentioned in the relevant section, and should be restored.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 00:20, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I just undid the delete of the reference to Rosa Lichtenstein's website. Contrary to Riot Fred's assertions, I am not Rosa. I also find the argument that a reference should not be included because it is to a website, rather than to a print publication to be patently absurd. JimFarm (talk) 01:32, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree with Riot Fred that the sight appears like a random blog and should be removed. Questioning81 (talk) 02:28, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

What do you mean 'random blog'? It's not even a blog!

In fact, my site contains the most detailed and comprehensive demolition of this 'theory' ever written by a Marxist -- i.e., me.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 21:45, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Not a blog but a homepage, which doesn't bother me, but after skipping through it for thirty minutes I don't think it belongs in the paragraph, for 'Marxist criticism of DM' your name appears out of place next to Gramsci and Mao. Questioning81 (talk) 23:08, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree, my name is out of place next to those two mystics.

Er..., well, it would be, but my name is not even next to theirs!

'Skipping through' what, though?

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 20:11, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

By next to I meant in the same paragraph as. If your site was only listed in the Selected Readings section I would still think it was out of place, but in the Criticisms section it looks much worse.
I flipped through a couple of your essays but this isn't the place to argue over them.Questioning81 (talk) 21:00, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, nip over to RevLeft, where you can debate this with me to your heart's content.

However, I wonder what you'd think if I merely 'flipped' through a few chapters of Marx or Mao's work, and then thought I had understood either or both of them?

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 01:52, 14 March 2008 (Utc)

I have once again removed the site. Whether or not YOU think its the "most comprehensive demolitionof the theory" doesn't give it any entitlement to be added as an authority on the question. This would rather be different if there was a published book by yourself on the subject, but rather you have a website...any Joe Smoo can have that.

Further I have no interest in debating you on the matter. Wikipedia is a source for information, whether or not your work has any relevance is based on really whether anyone thinks it merits it.

--Riot Fred (talk) 16:48, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Riot Fred's arguments are no more convincing now than they were the first time around. His main objection seems to be that my cite was to a website rather than to a published book. Well, I have some advice for RF, go check out a university library and take a look at some recent scholarly journals. You should easily be able to find more than a few which feature articles that include URLs of websites in the footnotes. Lots of academics place their writings on the web, and other academics when writing articles for learned journals will provide URLs of those webpages in their references. Also, in case you haven't noticed, Wikipedia is itself a website. There is no need for us here to be more Catholic than the pope here. However, if you should come across a more comprehensive demolition of diamat than Rosa's website, please feel free to provide a cite. Therefore, without much further ado, I will undo the deletion of my reference to Rosa's website.

JimFarm (talk) 01:27, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

BTW for those who would like to read a short synopsis of Rosa Lichtenstein's work, she had an article outlining her critique of dialectical materialism in the September 13, 2007 issue of The Weekly Worker.

JimFarm (talk) 22:43, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Whether or not Academics put their stuff online is not in question, the question is whether or not Rosa Lichenstein warrants merit of mention on this article as a genuine critique of Dialectical Materialism as a Marxist philosopher. I have no understanding that Rosa is such in the sense she has no published works besides said article you have pointed me too (which on its own account, still doesn't warrant mention in that weekly left-wing papers have little subscription and few readership in between.

Just lets put this in we are mentioning in "Marxist criticism" Mao Zedong (leader of the Communist Party of China from the 30s-1976), has a world wide movement based on his thought; we are mentioning Louis Althusser who was a member of the French Communist Party and was one of the foremost philosophers in France, contributed to the structuralist trend, and has influenced current philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Jaques Ranciere and Slavoj Zizek.

And Lichentstein's work fits how? Sorry, I am not trying to be too "catholic;" however the reality of the matter is this is a subcategory within both Philosophy and Marxist Tradition. Two subjects of importance, and there is indeed a need for relative perspective. If you want to document polemics within the English Communist party that you have mentioned, so be it, but that has little relevance, alongside Rosa's work, with the current philosophical discourse and the international communist movements.--Riot Fred (talk) 07:23, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Oh dear, looks like we have a devout disciple of that mass murderer, Mao, trying to stop anyone knowing about my comprehensive demolition of his pet 'theory' -- one that has presided over 150 years of almost total failure.

We will need to take this to mediation, I think.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 23:29, 23 March 2008 (UTC)


This article repeats twice in the introduction that MArx did not use the term. I would think this should be removed as it is repetitive, and I'm removing it for that reason. Perhaps if it was lower in the article it could be said again. --fanturmandos 23:31, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Appropriateness of providing a link to Rosa Lichtenstein's website under the section for Marxist criticisms of dialectical materialism[edit]


  • The only rule I can think of making this appropriate is: Ignore all rules. In this case I'd like to invoke this rule. For people interested in cogently presented fundamental criticism of dialectical materialism, this link gives access to a valuable resource. While Rosa Lichtenstein's notability does not equal that of Gramsci or Althusser, her writings on the subject are equally thought-provoking. For readers not interested in such criticism, providing the link is a negligeable distraction.  --Lambiam 23:27, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it is clear a simple link or mention of Rosa's essays are appropriate. After reading nearly everything on her site, it is more than clear to me, that she is not only a Marxist, but she has the most comprehensive writings against dialectical materialism I have ever seen. I have also heard her name discussed in person amongst other Marxists - people who may also mention Gramsci et al, this is of course anecdotal - but if anyone doubts this possibility they should check out her postings at Rev Left for example, she is quite well known there. I would assume Marxists in favor of removing her mention or link, are simply a bit afraid of her opposition to dialectical materialism, from within the movement - but a healthy movement needs debate, Rosa as a Marxist in the movement has made a genuine contribution on this matter, lets allow comrades to judge it for them selves and not censor out of spite etc. ----------shane

Not appropriate[edit]

  • I applaud rosa's commitment to her criticism of dialectical materialism. I think the work should published as it is thought provoking and thorough. However, until such time as the work is published by a third party, her own website can not be viewed as a reliable resource. Her work has not undergone peer review, it has not been published, and she is not yet considered an expert on the topic by any independent institution. I believe the merit of the work deserves mention, but not on wikipedia, due to the standards of current wikipedia guidelines. I currently feel referencing her essays and homepage would be inappropriate and her criticism should not be represented(Yet).--Sparkygravity (talk) 12:05, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
  • It's perfectly legitimate to name a contemporary theorist in the same paragraph as more famous but less recent theorists. What, in my opinion, is not legitimate is the way that previous versions of the article have promoted what appears to be an individual's personal website above and beyond what is actually necessary to provide interested readers with access to that individual's views. I think Rosa should be briefly mentioned in the article, I think her criticisms of dialectical materialism should be summarized in a NPOV fashion, and I think her website should be listed in the 'external links' section at the bottom of the article. I don't think there's any need to put a link to Rosa's website in the body of the article or claim (presumably paraphrasing content on the website) that dialectical materialism "isn't coherent anyway." If Rosa is a noteworthy theorist (and I'm assuming she is) then there ought to be something more specific we can say about her critique of dialectical materialism. Full disclosure: an ancestor I've never met has the last name of Liechtenstein. Invisible Flying Mangoes (talk) 05:35, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Further comments and discussion[edit]

Above we find the criterion: a "reliable resource". We do not use this resource as a source for statements here, so from that angle there is no need for it to be a reliable source. We also do not claim or suggest that in general the pronouncements found in this resource are reliable. WP:EL states that one should avoid linking to a site that does not provide a unique resource. I believe this site does provide a unique resource. Does it necessarily need to be reliable? Not according to WP:EL: "Links to be considered ... 4. Sites which fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources." I also think the source is quite knowledgeable about the subject.  --Lambiam 20:31, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

There's a link to 'Dialectics For Kids' on the main page, for goodness sake. That joke of a site gets a mention (and no one complains), but mine is edited out!

And, which works of Marx and Engels were 'peer reviewed'?

Did anyone dare to 'peer review' Stalin or Mao?

And has anyone 'peer reviewed' 'Dialectics for Kids'?

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 01:12, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

What is your expertise? Why are you an expert?--Sparkygravity (talk) 18:31, 30 March 2008 (UTC)


What is your expertise? Why are you an expert?

What made Marx an expert in economics, history or politics? Or Engels in anything at all? Or Lenin? Or Trotsky? Or Stalin? Or Mao?

[But, your question is itself out of place in Marxism -- we are not, I hope, academic elitists.]

I have degrees in Philosophy and Mathematics, and my PhD was on Wittgenstein.

Read my work -- it speaks for itself.

[I am also a full-time worker, and a trade union rep (unpaid).]

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 19:38, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I see that another 'comrade' fearful of my ideas and of the scientific development of Marxism has removed the link to my site again.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 21:43, 5 May 2008 (UTC)


Serpent-A removed the link to your site. Lambiam has restored it under the External Links section of the article.

JimFarm (talk) 00:34, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Link to this website was duplicated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:47, 10 July 2011 (UTC)


I think introduction should consist of less jargon (synthesis of philosophical dialectics and materialism. -EXPLAIN) and more explanation. Don't endeavor to complicate and already complex concept. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:32, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

I can second that, the intro needs to at a high school level. It's currently college level. The article can be complex but the intro needs to be summed up as easily as possible.--Sparkygravity (talk) 11:46, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't really agree. This is not a kindergarten concept and should not be dumbed down just to seem more accessible. Bpmitche (talk) 21:14, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
right, so we should leave the language and introduction at an elitist level, a level that requires the highest standard of education so only philosophy majors can understand it. Everyone else will just have to remain ignorant, for the crime of being ignorant in the first place!--Sparkygravity (talk) 02:28, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Theory of history category[edit]

Dialectical materialism is not a theory of history, as Popper pointed out, because it is not falsifiable.--Arado (talk) 12:32, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

One does not necessarily have to agree with Popper's pronouncement of the unfalsifiability of dialectical materialism. And even if one does, one need not agree that falsifiability is a prerequisite for achieving theoryhood, even in the scientific sense. See, e.g., Kitcher's criticism of Popper summarized at Theory#Criterion for scientific status. Then, the word 'theory' does not necessarily mean "scientific theory". It can also mean a way of looking at things, a system of concepts, principles, and methods for analyzing things. To be a theory of history, something should be able (in principle) to explain why nation states emerged when they did where they did, but such an explanation will in some sense always be unfalsifiable, since we cannot make a copy of the universe in which we recreate the medieval world with controlled changes to rerun the experiment under the altered conditions. A strict Popperian might therefore argue that the category Theories of history ought to be and remain empty.  --Lambiam 19:52, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Unity of Opposites - Dualism not Dialectical Materialism[edit]

As suggested by the title, "The Law of the Unity of Opposites" is not dialectical. It's non-ontological dualism. Marxists do not insist that all natural things work in opposite pairs, for example at the sub-atomic level many of the various tiny particles (neutrinos etc) actually operate in threes, and this is not denied by Marxists. The fact that electrons are negative and protons are positive is irrelevant. Perhaps it might be wiser to shift the three rules Lenin specifies at the bottom of the page up to the top in place of the current three laws, as the latter are quite inadequate as an explanation of dialectical materialism. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JohnyGoodman (talkcontribs) 12:52, July 29, 2008 (UTC) – Please sign your posts!

The above comment is rather odd, since Lenin describes this 'law' as an absolute, and its defining property!

"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation)."

"The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute."

"[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [E]ach thing (phenomenon, process, etc.)…is connected with every other…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other….

"In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics…." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58; 221-22. Bold emphases added.]

This means, of course, that modern Physics has refuted this 'law'.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 14:02, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Dialectical Materialism and the Second Law of Thermodynamics[edit]

The statement "As a general criticism, it can be mentioned that Dialectical Materialism, which mainly anticipates progress, is not consistent with the Second Law of Thermodynamics." is incorrect. If it were true, then we would not have any refrigerators at all as the entropy inside a refrigerator is not increasing. The second law of thermodynamics is valid only for isolated systems or the whole universe but not for systems that consume energy from an outside source. We (or nature) can use energy (from outside sources) to achieve order (or progress). Since the Earth itself and we are not isolated systems and get energy from outside sources (Sun, plants, animals), the second law of thermodynamics is simply not applicable here. Hence, I do not see any inconsistency between dialectical materialism and the second law of thermodynamics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:01, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


I fixed just now a vandalism. The start of the "The term" section was "Dialectical materialism was coined in 1887 by Joseph Dietzgen, a socialist tanner who corresponded with Marx both during and after the failed 1848 German Revolution means that jews must burn.", as you can see in the page history. Marco Bernardini (talk) 22:42, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Claim of laws drawn directly from nature[edit]

I've just removed the following sentence:

"These three laws are discovered within nature instead of being superimposed upon it."

I consider this an impossibility for any set of three laws, but I think this could be put back in the article in a way that makes it clear that it is Marx's opinion on the matter, and cites a source to support this. --Brilliand (talk) 22:37, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

A Chinese translation for ....[edit]

one of the red links is based on the following -- (talk) 02:31, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Why do the Chinese translations of its opposite concept various from one to another....??? See Talk:Mentalism#A Chinese translation of the term is based on the following... for comparison-- (talk) 02:42, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Lesser categories[edit]

In addition to the 3 laws, we should cover the lesser categories 4. The Individual, the Particular and the Universal 199 5. Cause and Effect 208 6. Necessity and Accident (Chance) 215 7. Law 223 8. Content and Form 231 9. Essence and Phenomenon 237 10. Possibility and Reality --Gary123 (talk) 23:04, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

In need of serious revision[edit]

I mean lets be serious this page is currently achieving very little. It seems to consistently mistake arguments against a Hegelian notion of dialectics found in Mao and Althusser, for a critique of Dialectical Materialism. This simply isn't true, they were both exponents of dialectical materialism and can be seen as either being faithful to Marx's position which certainly Althusser believed he was or building upon it which, considering we are dealing here with philosophical doctrine, seems to me not to count for a criticism but an extention. Equally pertaining to Gramscis notion of a "philosophy of praxis", from what I've read this was merely how he referred to the philosophy of Marx is his prison letters to keep them more discreet and pertains to no major critique of Marxism nor the dialectic.

Then we come to the issue of the subject we are in fact dealing with. Dialectical Materialism. The article as it currently stands places an astounding amount of emphasis on the notion of dialectics seemingly sacrificing the arguments within Materialism which I think we can see as the founding place of Dialectical materialism, against notions of mechanical materialism etc. We only have to look at two major thinkers of our time, Badiou and Zizek (notably in the Parralax view) who both try to rebuild the doctrine of Dialectical materialism as an argument within materialism, not simply dealing with modes of production and the like, but the opposition between body/mind, subject/object etc. And its from this stance that I believe this article must be reformed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Charlesbrophy (talkcontribs) 12:01, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Your deletion of a complete paragraph of this article does not really look like a "serious revision". I would like to suggest that you put it back on its place and first discuss things before making this big "revisions". Dick Bos (talk) 23:54, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Not being funny but I saw no way in which it could be salvaged. It only served to mislead people and further bring down the entire article.. Charlesbrophy (talk) 17:17, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Edits by anonymous d.d. 24 Feb 2010[edit]

24 Feb an anonymous editor has made some significant changes in the text. I think I understand what he wants to point out - the text is rather poor in some places, as pointed out earlier -, but as a whole, his changes are not a positive contribution (most of it is deleting, and reference to some authors). I think this edits should be reverted (as I still think the edits of 10 Jan. by Charlesbrophy should). Dick Bos (talk) 08:29, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

This link in fact takes us to Hentri Lefebre's book, not Woods and Grant's:

Grant, Ted; Woods, Alan (2003), Dialectical Philosophy and Modern Science, Reason in Revolt, Vol.2 (American ed.), Algora Publishing, ISBN 0-87586-158-X,, retrieved 26 September 2010

And there is no Volume 2 to Woods and Grant's book, but there is a second edition (2007).

Reference should also be made in the 'Further Reading' section to the following:

Mason, Peter. (2007), Science, Marxism, And The Big Bang. A Critical Review Of 'Reason In Revolt' (Socialist Publications).


Petersen, Eric. (1994), The Poverty Of Dialectical Materialism (Red Door).

Petersen's book is the second best criticism of this 'theory' (from a Marxist angle), after my own work.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 02:17, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

in english?[edit]

i got through this entire article and i still have no idea what 'dialectical materialism' is or why i should care . Decora (talk) 14:34, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

It's something terribly important to old commies, because it makes their failed system somehow seem worthwhile. As far as I know, it's hardly contributed to modern mainstream philosophy. — OttoMäkelä (talk) 23:19, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
something terribly stupid to say given what's going on with the global economic system. perhaps you should think about making a trip to some of the european countries such as greece, spain, or italy to express your positive views regarding this great system that we have. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:58, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes, we should look instead to the economic miracles that are/were the USSR, Cuba, North Korea and the like. Fortunately we still have a handful who understand this; psychologically stable individuals like "Rosa Lichtenstein" and "Papapazou". With revolutionaries such as these the future is bright.

The problem here is German intellectualism, which is mainly a problem because they were fond of using big words that are rather clunky to the anglophone mind. Materialism is greed: people want more of everything. Dialectic is back-and-forth, a sort of karma, a "debate", pilpul, I think. (talk) 06:10, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Ahem. The Wikipedia article currently says that 'dialectical materialism' is a fancy way of saying that the economy strives towards maximum efficiency, and doing so, it becomes a house divided unto itself, and therefore cannot stand192.12.88.41 (talk) 06:16, 15 May 2012 (UTC).
Dialectical Materialism: The frame of mind within which we are expected and taught to think of gain and industry, above psychology and self-knowledge, self-preservation or self-education. We are given the bug to consume words, regardless of their source, and when not consuming to think constantly in our own heads. Try to not think, read or hear anything for 10 minutes. (talk) 17:25, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Once again (and I only mentioned this three years ago)! This link at the foot of the page:

Grant, Ted; Woods, Alan (2003), Dialectical Philosophy and Modern Science,

in fact takes us to Henri Lefebvre's book, not Woods and Grant's chapter. It needs correcting. I'd do it myself but I don't know the correct url!

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 04:14, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

And while we are at it why is this still in the article?

"The thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic triad..."

This is Kant and Fichte's method not Hegel's!

How many times does this point have to be made?

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 04:30, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

This article is a mess, all Marxist related articles are in a mess...[edit]

I will try to fix this, but my knowledge on Marxist thought is scarce (but since ruling party o the second-largest economy in the world actually believes in this stuff, maybe it should be expanded?)... Anyhow, I'll read like hell. --TIAYN (talk) 11:25, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

This article is beyond a mess- it reads like the scribblings of a severly bipolar individual in manic phase. This article is a testament to why the mentally ill should not be allowed near Wikipedia unless they've taken their medications(yes, I know, how "bourgeois" of me to suggest this). What's scarier is that the author has been hovering over this article and its talk page for at least 8 years. These are the people still attracted to Marxism- it's become a fringe cult for damaged individuals. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:16, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

Please change

It becomes clear that in order to understand Marx's dialectics


{{Original research}}
It becomes clear that in order to understand Marx's dialectics

Explanation: In the long section on this page called "Hegelian Background", everything after the first two paragraphs is flat-out original research and does not fit the style of an encyclopedia at all. The section should probably be rewritten completely by someone knowledgeable about the subject; until that happens, though, the {{Original research}} template should be added to it to prevent confusing readers.

--Jonnim (talk) 20:58, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Needs drastic editing[edit]

This page is a mess. It appears to have been hijacked by someone spreading an unorthodox interpretation of Hegel and (to put it charitably) a highly imaginative interpretation of Marx -- based on the ideas of Leonard F. Wheat. This Wheat business seems to be metastasizing: it's also invaded the page on Hegel and the page on Dialectic (and perhaps others?). I'm not an expert on Hegel, so I'm not going to edit the Hegel page, but I do know a great deal about Marx's theory of history, and this "Dialectical materialism" page needs drastic editing. First, almost all the Wheatian stuff in the "Hegelian background" section is superfluous and should be deleted. (In any case, it's duplicated on other Wheat-infested pages.) The section on "Marx's Hegelian dialectics" is very misleading, POV, and in places flat-out wrong: e.g., the claim that "Marx perceived dialectics as a metaphysical force that actually determines the course of history. Although both Hegel and Marx were atheists, Marx was nonetheless a supernaturalist of sorts; he was a metaphysical supernaturalist who believed in metaphysical (supernatural) determinism of history." Marx and Engels explicitly and repeatedly rejected this view. Scales (talk) 03:53, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. This article is overladen with personal opinion and "original research". Bgvaughan (talk) 13:13, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
You say it is "flat-out wrong" that "Marx perceived dialectics as a metaphysical force that actually determines the course of history." Several interpreters disagree with you. Tucker says that Marx "regards the victory of the proletariate to be historically preordained." Supernatural determination of future events, when not determined by a god, is metaphysical determination. (Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, p. 227.) Popper refers to Marx's "metaphysical theory of economic reality." (The Open Society and Its Enemies, volume 2, p. 108.) Stumpf writes, "Marx clearly expressed a metaphysical belief in the existence of a predetermined goal for all history." (Philosophy: History and Problems, 417. Yet you seem to reject the widely accepted fact that Marx regarded final Communism as inevitable. If this final development in history is inevitable, it has to be supernaturally caused. Supernatural causation can be the work of either gods or mindless metaphysical forces such as the Greek logos. It is well known that Marx was an atheist ("Religion is the opium of the masses"), so Marxian historical determinism can't be the word of God. That means the determinism is metaphysical. Where are your authorities who say that Marx's dialectical materialism embodies no metaphysics?Atticusattor (talk) 01:10, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
First, many scholars don't think that Marx was a "dialectical materialist" at all. On that score, I could add many more references to the ones I included. I've quoted Marx and Engels as rejecting what they perceived as the metaphysical notion of history with a capital "H". On that, I could have inserted a number of additional quotations from Marx and Engels separately. (I could, because I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Marx's theory of history.) Frankly, not a lot written about Marx's theory of history, especially in English, before the 1970s is worth much. Popper, for example, confused Marx's theory of a model of the capitalist economy, with its peculiar laws of development, with Marx's general theory of history, applicable to all modes of production. Marx warned against turning "my historical sketch of the development of capitalism in Western Europe into a historical-philosophical theory of universal development predetermined by fate for all nations, whatever their historic circumstances in which they find themselves may be...." (Saul K. Padover, ed., The Letters of Karl Marx, p. 321) But that's just what Popper (and others) did. Fortunately there was a renaissance in scholarship on Marx that began in the 1970s. Scales (talk) 02:12, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I've done the deed, or at least made a major start. Scales (talk) 23:29, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
You certainly have done the deed. And an evil deed it was: you have taken the thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics out of dialectical materialism – by wildly swinging away with your ax in a manner that would have made Lizzie Borden proud. I can’t fight no-nothing vandals like you, so I won’t try to undo your undo. What I can do is put a brief summary of Hegelian-Marxian dialectics here on the Talk page so that people who get this far can understand that “dialectical materialism” is more than a meaningless label for Marx’s thought.
Marx’s dialectical materialism relates to a very small element of his thought, namely, his description of human history. Marxian history is progress from primitive communism through three stages of “enslavement” (slavery, feudalism, and capitalism) to final communism – separation from and return to communism. Marx’s base-superstructure nonsense, in which he tries to describe the evolution of systems of production, is nondialectical and has little connection with his human history dialectics.
When Marx said, in effect, that he was going to turn Hegel’s “standing on its head” dialectics right-side up, he was accurately recognizing the thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics in Hegel’s thought. But it was only the Hegelian format that he approved of, not the substance. (Hegel’s substance dealt with ideas, whereas Marx believed the true substance of dialectics was things in the material world – modes of production, classless and class societies, wealth and poverty, and literal and figurative enslavement of the working classes.) The two broadest examples of the Hegelian dialectics (Hegel has dozens of dialectics) are these:
* Thesis: unconscious + union
* Antithesis: conscious + separation
* Synthesis: conscious + union (Spirit’s “self-realization”)
I won’t try to explain the substance of this dialectic; I won’t go into what unconscious and conscious mean or what union and separation mean. What concerns us is the format. The format in this and most other Hegelian dialectics consists of a two-concept thesis, a two-concept antithesis, and a two-concept synthesis. The concepts can usually be stated in one or two words. Each antithesis concept is the opposite of, not just different from, its thesis counterpart. (Conscious is the opposite of unconscious; separation is the opposite of union.) The synthesis genuinely synthesizes by combining the best concept from the thesis with the best from the antithesis. (Synthesis means putting things together. It is the opposite of analysis, which is taking things apart.)
My second example of a Hegelian dialectic is this:
* Thesis: potential + freedom
* Antithesis: actual + bondage
* Synthesis: actual + freedom (another description of Spirit’s self-realization)
Both this second dialectic and the first illustrate a second characteristic of Hegelian dialectics: separation and return. Paul Tillich, a later dialectician with a firm grasp of Hegel’s dialectics, wrote: “Obviously – and it was so intended by Hegel – his dialectics are the religious symbols of estrangement [separation] and reconciliation.” And Hegel wrote: “Spirit . . . becomes alienated [separated] from itself and then returns to itself [reunion] from this alienation” (‘’Phenomenology’‘, Miller translation, paragraph 36). The “religious symbols” Tillich refers to are from the gospel of John, where God separates from himself by coming to earth as God in the “flesh” (the God-incarnate Jesus) while simultaneously remaining in heaven, then returns to himself in heaven after the crucifixion. In the first of the above two dialectics, Spirit separates from and returns to union. In the second dialectic, Spirit separates from and returns to freedom.
Marx copies the Hegelian format in the following history dialectic (and in several others):
* Thesis: communal ownership + poverty (primitive communism, or “Gens”)
* Antithesis: private property + wealth (slavery, feudalism, and capitalism)
* Synthesis: communal ownership + wealth (final communism, which lies in the future)
Observe that this dialectic incorporates the two salient features of the illustrative Hegelian dialectics. First, it uses the two-concepts-per-stage format in which the synthesis borrows one concept from the thesis and one from the antithesis. Second, it embodies the separation-and-return concept: the dialectic separates from and returns to communism (communal ownership of property). Robert Tucker, in his outstanding book on Marx’s thought (Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx) puts it this way: “Communism lost and communism regained [separation and return] –such is the plot of world history” (p. 23).
There you have it. Thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics is not the myth that Mueller said it was. It is a real triad used by both Hegel and Marx. But the vandals who have massacred the article just can’t believe the evidence in the former article. And so only the people who read the article and then go beyond it to the Talk page are going to learn the truth. What a shame. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Atticusattor (talkcontribs) 00:02, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
I forgot to sign the above. Here is the correction.Atticusattor (talk) 00:07, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
I have reintroduced some of your material, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with it but simply indicating (as is proper in an encyclopedia entry) that this is one scholar's position. Even if you are 100 percent right in your interpretation of Hegel and Marx and all who disagree with you are wrong, an encyclopedia cannot give pride of place to unorthodox or novel views. Scales (talk) 06:38, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for restoring a few pieces of the original article. You are wrong, however, in saying that the illustrative Marxian dialectic originates with Wheat, is of recent origin, and is novel. Bober first called attention to this dialectic in his 1927 book, Karl Marx’s Interpretation of History. Bober pointed out that the three middle periods of the Marx-Engels five periods of history (primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, final communism) are collapsed into three for dialectical purposes. The three periods are characterized by class societies, private property, and separation of the worker from the fruits of his labor. Bober wrote: “Primitive communism represents the thesis; the private property of slavery, feudalism, and capitalism is the antithesis; and the communism of the future will reestablish the communal property of archaic days, but as a synthesis of a higher dimension” (p. 386). Bober also pointed out a "dialectic formula on a reduced scale" covering just the last three of Marx's five periods (p. 386). The shorter dialectic is this:
* Thesis: domestic production + worker ownership of tools (feudalism)
* Antithesis: factory production + capitalist ownership of tools (capitalism)
* Synthesis: factory production + worker ownership of tools (final communism)
Also, your restored material needs at least a small amount of additional material to clarify the fact that the characteristics of Marx’s dialectics originate with Hegel.Atticusattor (talk) 23:56, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

Of course, the above 'method' was Fichte's, not Hegel's, and, as far as I am aware, Marx used the terms 'thesis', 'antithesis', 'synthesis' in only one of his works (The Holy Family), and even then it is arguable he was being ironic.

Independently of this, it is quite easy to show that by the time he came to write Das Kapital, Marx had waved 'goodbye' to that confused mystic, Hegel (upside down or the 'right way up').

Any who doubt this might like to consult the proof, set out here:

[If you are using Internet Explorer 10, you might find that the links I have posted won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu). That appears to fix the problem.]

Finally, one can impose any number of arbitrary schemas on an author's work, just as one can impose a secret code on the Bible, but if we attend to what Marx actually wrote (follow the above link for more on that), as opposed to what he can be made to say, his work isn't the least bit metaphysical, or deterministic (which is, incidentally, a confused theory, at best!), and it certainly doesn't conform to Fichte's ridiculous 'method'.

Rosa Lichtenstein (talk) 05:16, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

" the formulation" :Grammar problem or obscure English?[edit]

Second para:

It was exported to China as the "official" interpretation of Marxism but has since then been widely rejected in China in the formulation of the Soviet Union.

Surely should be:

...rejected in China as the formulation...

Centrepull (talk) 21:10, 19 January 2015 (UTC)


Per WP:LEAD: "The lead section (also known as the lead or introduction) of a Wikipedia article is the section before the table of contents and the first heading. The lead serves as an introduction to the article and a summary of its most important contents. It is not a news-style lead or lede paragraph." The key word there is summary. The very purpose of the lead is to repeat, in a condensed form, what can be found elsewhere in the article. I have just had to undo a recent edit to the lead that removed content from the lead for an entirely mistaken reason: "it's already mentioned elsewhere in the article". That the content in question is "already mentioned elsewhere in the article" is a reason for having it in the lead, not for removing it. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:22, 31 January 2017 (UTC)

Cherkash, it would be courteous to reply to me on the talk page, rather than simply continue to make reverts at the article. You wrote in your edit summary, "mentioning only one critic in the lead (while many criticisms have been mounted) violates WP:LEAD & WP:NPOV". Might I ask, then, who are the other critics who ought to be mentioned, in your view? Or is it your position that the lead should not mention any criticism of dialectical materialism at all? It is peculiar that you would complain that my edits violate WP:NPOV, because excluding all mention of criticism of dialectical materialism from the lead, and thus presenting dialectical materialism as though it were uncontroversial, certainly violates WP:NPOV, in quite a drastic fashion. Wikipedia doesn't exist to promote Marxist philosophy. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 09:03, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
(Seems like our edits here have crossed in the wires. I'm not going to re-write again, so here goes the response.)
You are not stating the facts correctly, I explicitly mentioned this as a reason: "mentioning only one critic in the lead (while many criticisms have been mounted) violates WP:LEAD & WP:NPOV". Happy to elaborate if it's still not clear: basically, the dialectical materialism has been criticized and argued about quite a bit, and there's a specific section (Dialectical materialism#Philosophical evaluations) to talk about it. There are quite a few specific critics and works mentioned there. Singling out a single author for mentioning in the lead section is not reasonable, and goes against presenting a neutral point of view: since the lead is a quick summary, it appears that this is the only criticism – and it clearly is not. If you want to mention that criticism exists, please do so in the lead (something to the tune of "there are other viewpoints, yada, yada"), but no reason to essentially copy a small part of a section into the lead. Again, please re-read WP:LEAD & WP:NPOV if this sounds crazy or unclear. cherkash (talk) 09:11, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
I am aware of the reason you stated. I'll repeat that the existence of a section discussing criticism of dialectical materialism is not a reason to remove all mention of criticism of dialectical materialism from the lead. I do not consider singling out a single critic to mention in the lead inherently unreasonable - since Kolakowski is a famous figure and his criticisms seem to do a good job of summing up the case against dialectical materialism - but I agree that there might be better ways of approaching the issue, and I am open to specific suggestions. I do not agree with the suggestion you offer above, however. It is useless to suggest that the lead should mention that other philosophies besides dialectical materialism exist, as the point of the criticism dialectical materialism has received is of course not that other philosophies exist (which obviously no one disputes) - it's that dialectical materialism is wrong. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 09:22, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
Isn't a lot of criticism raised in the form "this is wrong" (whether wholly or partially wrong)? So again, the lead is supposed to be a summary of the article, where the article talks about the details within the appropriate sections, and the lead summarizes a top-level view. In this particular case, saying that criticism has been mounted should be enough to direct an interested reader to a section discussing the details. cherkash (talk) 04:09, 2 February 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Harrington, Michael (1981, 2011). Socialism: Past and Future. New York: Arcade. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-61145-335-5.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Harrington, Michael (1989, 2011). Socialism: Past and Future. New York: Arade. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-61145-335-5.  Check date values in: |date= (help)