A Dialectical Naturalism Gem
Natural Dialectics is the term preferred by both Marx and Engels
Karl Marx intended to write a complete exposition of dialectical naturalism. Unfortunately, like so many other intellectual projects, he died before he achieved it. This is likely due to a busy schedule, particularly in the 1840s the 1870's and in between when he was hounded in one country after another. The closest we have of dialectical naturalism is the “Dialectics of Nature” written by Friedrich Engels where he states “that he and Marx regard themselves as idealistic naturalists as opposed to bourgeois idealists” and it is why we prefer dialectical naturalism to dialectical materialism, the later coined by Georgi Plekhanov. Dialectical Materialism and its imitator, the materialist dialectic, have contributed to the phenomenon of vulgar Marxism, which is crudely materialistic. It can be stated here and now that this is the same problem that plagues the bourgeois capitalist order of classism. Marx and Engels expressed the view that the ancient philosophers were dialectical naturalists. Interestingly, most of these philosophers would be characterized as natural mystics. These philosophers were also astrologers because they observed nature and the cosmic dynamics of the sky and how these linked together by scientific observation. They saw astrology as the natural workings of the cosmos and expressed in such great writing the Chinese “I Ching”, which is pure astrological dialectics. The Tao Ti Ching also expresses this kind of idea. Natural mysticism should not be confused with bourgeois philosophical idealism who at worst are dangerously close to solipsism and many out and out solipsist. Therefore we recommend that you obtain a copy of Spartacist English edition No. 62, Spring 2011, which contains the article “In Defence of Dialectical Materialism, Lenin as Philosopher”, by Peter Fryer as a good reference base.
In defence of the term dialectical naturalism, as stated, comes from the works of both Marx and Engels, who made significant contributions in their important works. Both recognized that human beings were part of nature and had to work in that context. They understood, that with a better understanding of natural law, the work of humanity would be better accomplished. From the writings of Marx and Engels we read:
“Here we see how consistent naturalism … distinguishes itself both from idealism and materialism, constituting at the same time the unifying truth of both. We see also how only naturalism is capable of comprehending the act of world history.” Karl Marx: The Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
“[W]e by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature—but … we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and … all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to know and correctly apply its laws.” Friedrich Engels: The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man , c. 1876
In addition to reading Marx's 1844 Philosophical Manuscripts and Engels Dialectics of Nature, it is recommend to read “The Logic of Marxism” by George Novak, which Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Russian revolution, highly recommended and called for the writing thereof. Also recommend is Trotsky's “In Defence of Marxism”, which is Trotsky's correspondence with Novak on writing the book he called for. And then there is our own writing of “Dialectal Cosmology”, sections of which are included hereinafter.
This article would be impossible were it not for several prevailing historical developments. Dialectics is undergoing constant change as our knowledge of the cosmos and ourselves undergoes constant expansion, revising and change. New facts destroy old theories and improve our understanding, giving rise to new theories. The writers and contributors to dialectical philosophy have been forged by the bitter experience of struggle under class division throughout the ages and now found within increasing monopoly capitalism in its demise and approaching death. The laws of capitalist economy are self contradictory and will lead ultimately to its limit beyond which it cannot go and remain intact. Since 2008, this has been becoming increasing apparent as whole countries become saddled with debts upon which the interest alone is impossible to pay down let alone the principle. Capitalism has emerged into the era of the perpetual debt and debt slavery so long as old forms are adhered to. This world wide debt bomb is nearing its detonation.
No work on dialectics can be complete within the limited and narrow focus of a single individual, but is a focus for the distilled thoughts of the giants of history such as, Max Sterner, Frederick Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, Proudhon, Karl Marx, G. Plekhanov, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and extending back to the dim mists of historic paganism in the writings of Confucius, Lao Tse, Gautama Buddha and Gnostic Judaism in the form of the Cabala. Let's drop the word materialism in flavor of naturalism, because many people confuse Marxian Dialectics with vulgar materialism, when in fact, Marx vehemently opposed the same. It was Georgi Plekhanov, who coined the name Dialectical Materialism. Neither Marx nor Engels used the term. In fact, the book that Engels wrote on the subject was called the Dialectics of Nature which is closer to Dialectic Naturalism than to Dialectical Materialism of Plekhanov.
Dialectics will not be completed at the end of this analysis, for the very changing cosmos demands that sharper critique and additions be extended to the science and philosophy in the future. Dialectical Naturalism aka Dialectics is a living philosophy and is therefore constantly growing. Non-sectarianism demands that everyone has a place in the whole, and each can make a contribution to the whole, whether that part is from the standpoint of naturalism, idealism or dialectics. A sectarian by the very definition only serves to limit and censor contributions to the understanding of the cosmos and the mystery of human existence. Why mystery? Because we do not understand ourselves in the main but have confidence through the scientific method, that all mystery will be explained through nature including the more subtle aspects over which we are gaining increasing understanding. This then forms one of the cruxes in the problem of transforming society into an equitable and humane one for the whole of humanity. It is also necessary for the health of the planet and thus the health of all life. Ruling classes, no matter how defined such as monarchy, theocratic, totalitarian, plutocracy or even democracy, like to create a mystery and confusion as a means of destroying the masses' confidence in intervention for the transformation of society. Prejudices are fostered and encouraged by the unscrupulous to gain and maintain control. Then there are the roles of dumbing down, specialization, mystification and obscuration. Modern society in its vast complexity assists in alienating one person from another, one group or trade from another. Due to the fact that most of us grew up removed largely from nature, living in large trade and manufacturing centers, we have become alienated there from.
Mankind has tried countless times to transform society with limited understanding of the cosmos, human nature and humanities place in the cosmos. With an all inclusive approach, we can better effect positive change using both the natural, meaning the material objective world around us that can be measured by science and the spiritual, meaning the dialectical synchronicity of the stars, planets and events on the earth. It is the holistic movement of the heavens that effects the changes on earth, thus the dialectic, that is, change. Perhaps with diligence, defence and collective and individual responsibility, we can raise up a society founded on humanitarian, equitable and dialectical and thus along genuinely spiritual principles that will last to the end of human existence. This will take a fusion of naturalist dialectical understanding with what has been a bogey man for many materialists; the spiritual. It is spirituality in its truest form that is unafraid of staring into ourselves and acknowledging the beast that rages within also known as Jung’s definition of our shadow side. This analytical approach seeks to transform that beast into something of humanitarian understanding and honest gentleness. It is spirituality that will allow a taming and the growth of a humanitarian world. Unchecked, this beast that is at the root of capitalism will tear anything apart that we attempt to construct and leave all in chaos and division. This is what has reigned for the last several millennium This is the real meaning of Nazism and Stalinism in the 20th century and anything else that has grown out of these deformities.
This is no small task for an aspiring revolutionist on nor is it a job for those who would take away our freedom, turning the world into a concentration camp of slavery with one savage dictator wearing a humanist smile. In fact, the very nature of cosmic dialectics which turns everything to its opposite ensures that this state of affairs cannot last indefinitely. In order to avoid the wild pendulum swings back and forth in class divided history, there must be a levelling. Women and men must be equals in all ways. Although it is true that no man can become pregnant and carry a child to term, it is also true that a man can fully assist in raising that child once born until maturity. There must be tolerance for all creeds, expressions and beliefs, for each of these holds grains of truth crucial to a full understanding of dialectical philosophy and hence the interacting cosmos and human species. There is but one creed that must be eliminated; that narrow sectarian creed that postulates superiority of one group, for any reason, over another. This must be dealt a death blow in order to prevent further genocidal tendencies in the future. Total awareness on the part of everyone here is a key to eliminate this tendency. All difference visible, such as in race distinction, and invisible, such as in sexual orientation, must be not only accepted, but encouraged. This is the treasure house of humanity which enriches the experience of us all.
Opportunityfor full self expression must be developed and encouraged. There must ultimately be only one class, starting from the working class and ending in the human class. Anyone thinking of themselves as separate and superior to this must be dealt with immediately and completely.
Today we live in a world that could only be dreamed of by visionaries of old. In addition, even greater things have been hidden away due to the profit motive of established corporations. We have the means to liberate humanity more and more from the drudgery of necessity to a heretofore unrealized level of freedom. As technology increases our productive capacity, all people should share in the benefits as it was the working people who put it all together in the first place as a legacy for their children in perpetuity. In real material terms, the work week would shrink while the benefits would remain the same or increase. Humanity will have the time to pursue its dreams in freedom only fantasized previously. Poverty could be totally eliminated, but not under the current regime that for all the evidence is working to create poverty with crazy, unregulated debt economics. In today’s world it is a crime against humanity to maintain a false dichotomy in society that impoverishes most in the presence of warehouses full of the worlds goods bursting in their midst, but held out of reach by terror and the profiteering, bottom line double thinking lies. This is the single most important task of the human race to eliminate this kind of alienation.
Both capitalism and vulgar communism are guilty of stressing the purely materialist side and have alienated huge portions of humanity in the struggle over aggrandizement; over who gets the benefits of surplus production. Of the two, communism was by far the more humane, proven by the observations of the Russian people who lived to see the collapse of Stalinism into “free market” capitalism. The rise of capitalism in Russia proved in one year what Stalinism couldn’t do in 70; make Stalinism look good. Vulgar Marxists lacked the spiritual - dialectical understanding that is required by humanity, especially in the latter stages of this 20th century and the emerging 21st century.
To the extent that we have come to understand natural law, we are aware of the three fundamental laws of dialectics as understood, passed down to us and described by Engels in “Dialectics of Nature”. These laws cover the breadth of phenomena in the cosmos. In summary, Engels stated that the three laws of dialectics are;
1. The change of quantity into quality and vice versa.
2. The interpenetration of Opposites.
3. The negation of the negation.
These insights are among the very best of the visionary philosophers and enlightened scientists. A deeper description of these will be the focus of other articles.