April 1996: Article
in The First Issue Of
International Struggle Marxist-Leninist
- CENTENARY OF DEATH
This is the centenary
of the death of Engels. In the issue of Alliance, in a small measure, we
pay tribute to one of the founders of the conscious proletarian workers
socialist movements. The article printed here was first presented to the
Ischia meeting held in December 1995, on the island off Naples to commemorate
Engels. The meeting was held under the auspices of "L'Uglianza" (Equality).
(See Alliance 19).
The article printed
here, convey only a little of the flavour of this meeting. The entire proceedings
are to shortly to form the first 2 issues of the new journal that was formed
at this meeting, called INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE-MARXIST-LENINIST.
(GO TO ISML SITE See:
In the meantime this
article shows a little of the wide ranging brilliance of Frederick
FREDERICK ENGELS - A CO-FOUNDER
OF HISTORICAL MATERIALISM; A CO-FOUNDER OF MARXISM
died on August 5th, 1895. Engels speaking of the death of his friend,
KARL MARX, had said in March 1883,
that the world was shorter by a great head. Upon Engels' own death, the
world was shorter by yet another great head. By his wishes, Engels' ashes
were dispersed into the sea off Beachy Head, by Marx's daughter ELEANOR
MARX AVELING. How are we, nowadays, a century later, to remember
INTRODUCTION - THE PARTNERSHIP WITH KARL
(Note: all references are numbered & are
at the end of the piece)
Like Marx, Engels made many lasting contributions
to humankind. Like Marx, Engels was a man of action and a man of great
theoretical erudition. For both Marx and Engels, theory was a part of practice.
Both flung themselves without care for personal safety, into the practical
battle. The history of the FIRST INTERNATIONAL
testifies to their PRACTICAL success
in welding together an army of the international working class. This success
is seen in the fear registered in the international press and by statements
from leading bourgeois state diplomats of the time.
But we will here, concentrate on a small part of
Engels' work - his contribution to the dialectics of science; and the analysis
of the development of private property. Engels and Marx had divided their
work through their partnership. As Marx was engaged in the analysis of
the economics of capitalism, Engels had to specialize in other areas to
keep the Communists at the THEORETICAL
and intellectual head of the international workers.
But First we dispose of a persistent accusation
posed by some.
MARX AND ENGELS - A TRUE PARTNERSHIP
Engels and Marx formed a true partnership. It is alleged
that Engels somehow parroted Marx's views. This bourgeois view of "intellectual
property" certainly does not apply to these two geniuses.
Communists recognize the role of both individuals,
and of masses. Ideas do not arrive by themselves, but are posed and solved
by individuals, who are 'real' men and women, and not abstractions. Whilst
Marx and Engels were agents of history, both were also real humans who
made their own vital contributions, both separately and together as a team.
What evidence do we have, that tells us that BOTH
these two put their own vital intellectual input into creating "Marxism"?
What evidence tells us that both Marx and Engels together formed what then
became known as Marxism?
: Engels had provided Marx with a key
insight, when both of them, were young men developing a new understanding
of history. This was the recognition of the WORKING
CLASS as a revolutionary force. Engels saw that the working
class was a revolutionary class; one that suffered the class oppression
of a ruling class, which owned and controlled the state. Engels' experience
in Manchester, where he was a master in the factory system, helped him
realize this. Engels points this out in "The Condition of England : II
: "The English Constitution", in March 1844:
"Who then actually rules in England? Property rules." (1)
Engels' articles in this period, written before meaningful
contact with Marx, reek of the class struggle:
"Although industry makes a country rich, it also creates a class of
unpropertied absolutely poor people, a class which lives from hand to mouth..
(which) cannot afterwards be abolished.. a third of all English people
belong to this class.. This class has become the most powerful in England
and woe betide the wealthy Englishmen when it becomes aware of this fact..
This revolution is inevitable for England, but as in everything that happens
there, it will be interests and not principles that will begin and carry
through the revolution; principles can develop only from interests, that
is to say the revolution will be social not political." (2)
SECONDLY Marx and Engels were
partners in key early works.
The works that laid the basis for the new understanding
were written by both Marx and by Engels, separately and together. Undoubtedly
both Marx and Engels, first separately, the together, had groped towards
"Marxism" through the fog of LEFT HEGELIANISM.
This group of philosophers developed from GEORG
HEGEL, and his theory of history. Hegel thought that the "problem
of history" was solved by an IDEA, OR A SPIRIT
OF HISTORY AND THE STATE.
This was an incorrect and Idealist solution. But
Hegel incorporated into this incorrect solution a method of examination,
one that recognized the supremacy of DIALECTICS.
In shaking off Hegel's erroneous conclusions, Marx and Engels retained
his methods. They ended their groping search in, the writing of "The Communist
Manifesto". Along the way they jointly clarified the way forward.
"OUTLINES OF A CRITIQUE
OF POLITICAL ECONOMY", ("Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalokonomie"
by Engels, was published in 1844 by the journal 'Deutsche-Franzosiche Jahrbucher
(German-French Yearbooks) under the editorship of Karl Marx and ARNOLD
RUGE. In it, Engels identifies the problems of crises of over
production; the rise of monopoly; the tendency to centralization of capital;
and the polarization of society with its attendant class struggle; and
the reactionary views of THOMAS MALTHUS .
(3) All these strike key Marxist notes.
In fact Marx declared it to be a : "Brilliant sketch" (4)
Only then did Marx write "THE
ECONOMIC AND PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPT", of 1844. Meanwhile, Engels
wrote the "CONDITION OF THE WORKING CLASSES IN
ENGLAND"(September 1844-March 1845, published in 1845). This
became one of the first "foundation stones of socialism". (5)
Nonetheless, in the foreword printed to a re-issue some 20 years later
Engels himself recognized only an embryo of what was to come :
"Just as in the earlier stages of its development the human embryo
still shows the gill formations of our forefathers the fish, so this book
still shows the signs of the origin of modern socialism from one of its
forefathers, German classic philosophy". (6)
Much at the same time they were beginning to work together.
The 'HOLY FAMILY, or The
Critique of Critical Critique' ("Die Helige Familie, oder Kritk
der kritischen Kritik"), was their first joint work. It sprang from the
second meeting between Marx and Engels in September-November 1844, and
was published in 1845. It dealt with the theories of CRITICAL
CRITICISM as espoused by the brothers EDGAR
AND BRUNO BAUER. This 'Critical Realism', followed Hegel exactly.
It professed that history was a force of itself;
it made history a Hegelian moving spirit. Marx and Engels attacked this,
placing the proletariat as the moving force of any progressive battle.
But, even now, Marx and Engels were not yet done with the load they had
inherited from a 'wrong sided Hegelianism'. They had to turn the load right
"There still remains the dialectic of Hegel.. As Marx says :"Dialectics..
With Hegel is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again,
if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell." (7)
They did so in "THE GERMAN
IDEOLOGY" A Critique of Modern German Philosophy According to its
representatives Fuerbach, B.Bauer and Stirner, and of German Socialism
According to its Various Prophets", (written 1845-1846; published
posthumously). In putting "Hegel on his head"; Engels said, they had rescued
dialectics and the DIALECTIC METHOD
itself, from Idealism:
"Marx and I were pretty well the only people to rescue conscious dialectics
from German idealist philosophy and apply it in the materialist conception
of history. But a knowledge of mathematic and natural science is essential
to a conception of nature which is dialectical and at the same time materialist"
This work was written together. What did the "German
Ideology" do? First of all as Marx said it served to clarify them in their
newly emerged Communism. As Marx put it:
"We abandoned the manuscript to the gnawing criticism of the mice all
the more willingly as we had achieved our main purpose - self-clarification".
This self-clarification resulted in laying the major
foundations of HISTORICAL MATERIALISM.
In the "German Ideology", Marx and Engels proclaimed that history was the
"We know only one single science, the science of history. One can look
at history from two sides and divide it into the history of nature and
the history of man". (10)
Later, both these two geniuses, would explore and detail
the apparently self-evident truth, that:
"The First premise of all human history is the existence of living
human individuals." (11)
The German Ideology interpreted history as formed by
THE CLASS STRUGGLE. Furthermore, Marx
and Engels insisted that the key to history was not the Spirit of History
as Hegel thought, but the DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY
"All collisions in history have their origin according to our view
in the contradiction between the productive forces and the form of intercourse"
Moreover the 'German Ideology' had no illusions about
the nature of the State, and insisted that:
"This conception of history thus relies on expounding the real processes
of production - starting from the material production of life itself -
and comprehending the form of intercourse connected with and created by
this mode of production, ie. Civil society in its various stages as the
basis of all history; describing it in its action as the state and also
explaining how all the different theoretical products and forms of consciousness,
religion, philosophy, morality etc.; etc.; arise from it, and tracing the
process of their formation from that basis; thus the whole thing can of
course be depicted in its totality (and therefore too the reciprocal action
of these various sides on one another). It has not, like the idealist view
of history, to look for a category in every period, but remains constantly
on the real ground of history; it does not explain practice from the idea
but explains the formation of ideas from material practice, and accordingly
it comes to the conclusion that .. Not criticism but revolution is the
driving force of history, also of religion of philosophy and all other
kinds of history." (13)
"The state is the form in which the individuals of a ruling class assert
their common interests and in which the whole civil society of an epoch
is optimized.. the bourgeois state is nothing more than the form of organization
which the bourgeoisie are compelled to adopt, both for internal and external
purposes, for the mutual guarantee of their property and interests." (14)
Engels wrote that Marx had written the bulk of "The
German Ideology". Nonetheless it remains a joint
work, a unity in which no one can dissect the work of one apart
from the other. In this work, the foundations of historical materialism
were laid down, by the two together. Marx would later say:
"Frederick Engels had by another route arrived with me at the same
The fundamental debate in philosophy is the primacy
of matter or mind. IDEALISM
holds that first there is thought. In contrast MATERIALISM
holds that first there is matter. Moreover Materialists in general observe
the importance of change. The materialists thus tend to be DIALECTICAL
in their thought, though this is by no means invariable. Dialectics implies
change. The word itself, comes from the Ancient Greek search for truth
- WE WILL NOW TURN OUR ATTENTION TO OUR PRIMARY
PURPOSE IN THIS BRIEF REVIEW.
- WE EXAMINE THE VIEW OF ENGELS OF PHILOSOPHY
IN SCIENCE. - MARX WAS OVERWHELMED WITH THE WORK OF "DAS KAPITAL".
- MANY ANCILLARY QUESTIONS OF SOCIETY WERE LEFT TO ENGELS TO EXPLORE, AND
EXPLAIN IN A MEANINGFUL HISTORICAL MANNER :
"As a consequence of the division of Labour that existed between Marx
and myself, it fell to me to present our opinion in the periodical press,
and therefore particularly in the fight against opposing views, in order
that Marx should have time for the elaboration of his great basic work
("Capital"-ed). This made it necessary for me to present our views in the
majority of cases in polemical form in opposition for the most part to
other views." (16)
ENGELS AND THE DIALECTICAL METHOD
"Dialectics comes from the Greek "Dialego", to discourse, to debate.
In ancient times dialectics was the art of arriving at the truth by disclosing
the contradictions in the argument of an opponent and overcoming these
contradictions. There were philosophers in ancient times who believed that
the disclosure of contradictions in thought and the clash of opposite views
was the best method of arriving at the truth". (17)
A universal battle between idealists and materialists
can be traced in philosophy of ancient times, whether of Greek, Indian
or Chinese societies. In each instance, the favoured philosophy of the
time reflects the real underlying needs of the ruling class of the society.
We will briefly show the development of Idealistic philosophies form a
previously Dialectical view of the world, as the Greeks developed towards
a money economy.
Initially, primitive tribal society saw man and
nature as inextricably linked. It's views had a certain materialist thrust,
though of a crude and primitive type. This primitive materialism was based
on a necessary sharp observation of a changing nature, of which humankind
was a constituent part. The reality of limited resources, forced a material
and dialectical view of life. The early philosophical school of MILETOS
(represented by THALES, ANAXIMANDER, AND ANAXIMENES),
became the acknowledged founders of European philosophy. They lived with
no division between humans and nature:
"Their field of enquiry was the whole realm of nature.. They recognised
no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. For this reason
they have sometimes been regarded as the first scientists, and undoubtedly
their work was a step towards the development of natural science; but it
rests on simple observation, not experiment.. The greatness of the Milesians
lies precisely in this, that they expressed in a new form, abstract and
objective, the fundamental truths which had forced themselves on the consciousness
of primitive man, but had previously found expression only in the concrete,
subjective form of myths."(18)
But society developed productivity by the acquisition
of tools. This led to the point where a class could emerge. This class
did no actual labour. During the dissolution of the previous equality,
roaring societal changes were seen which affected thought. HERACLITUS,
recognised the force of the new slavery. There was an ever present terror
of Attic peasants, of being turned from freeman into slave. Heraclitus
also saw only a timeless and self regulating universe whose only laws are
of eternal change and interpenetration of opposites:
"Fire lives the death of air, and air lives the death of fire, water
lives the death of earth, and earth lives the death of water ..In the circumference
of a circle the beginning and the end are common." (19)
But life was now more complex. Heraclitus saw life as
becoming more abstract, more ALIENATED.
This was driven by an increasing separation of theory and practice. These
developments were fostered by the forces of COMMODITY
PRODUCTION (ie production for MONEY
NOT DIRECT BARTER EXCHANGE) on society:
"All things are exchanged for fire and fire for all things as goods
are exchanged for gold and gold for goods." (20)
Now a "separation" of humans from nature was theoretically
possible to envisage. Human society became placed above; primary to; and
separate from nature. This new perspective, placed mind above matter and
nature. It favoured idealism. Tribal solidarity was replaced by individual
loyalties and battles. Previous PANTHEISM
was replaced by concepts of the soul. Such cults as ORPHEUS,
offered a better life in a different world. They were:
"The embodiment.. of the traditions and aspirations of the dispossessed
Philosophy itself, had become possible by virtue of
the existence of a leisured class of individual. Such a class meant the
existence of surplus produce. This surplus was produced by slaves in mines,
plantations and homes. Their misery was described by DIODOROS,
(First century B.C) in silver mines in the Greek colonies:
"The workers in these mines produce incredible profits for the owners,
but their own lives are spent underground in the quarries wearing and wasting
their bodies by day and night. Many die, their sufferings are so great.
There is no relief, no respite from their labours. The hardships to which
the overseers lash compels them to submit are so severe that, except for
a few, whose strength of body and bravery of soul enables them to hold
out for a long time, they abandon life, because death seems preferable."
This slave existence led to ever more complex theologies.
These theologies dissolved the previous links between man and nature that
had existed. Now a PLATO
could arise, and expound and excuse brutality as a consequence of "JUDGEMENT".
He lectured his pupil, Simmias, on how the IDEAL
SOCIETY functioned in his Platonic Cave:
"Those who were judged to have lived lives of exceptional purity, are
liberated and delivered from the subterranean regions as from a prison,
and are brought up to dwell on the surface of the earth; while those who
have purified themselves sufficiently by their pursuit of wisdom, enjoy
eternal life, free altogether from the body, in the fairest land of all
which would be hard to describe.. And so Simmias we must do all we can
to attain righteousness and wisdom while we live. It is a fine prize, and
the hope is great." (23)
Plato was in total opposition to the materialists of
Milesia. He followed PARMENIDES, who
attacked Heraclitus. Parmenides believed in a static world, and one based
on "pure thought". He calls the world of the senses, the "WAY
OF SEEMING". He opposed to this, the world of the "WAY
OF TRUTH". But the Way of Truth can only found by the MIND,
"One path only is left to tell of, that it is. There are many signs
that what is unborn and imperishable; for it is uniform, motionless and
endless. It was not, neither shall be, for it is, all together, now one,
THE RULING CLASSES FAVOUR A
STATIC VIEW. Change was therefore
replaced by several, but once and for ever - ACTS
OF CREATION. Life now depended on an unchanging immortalised,
transformed man as God. ECCELISIASTES would
later "up-date" Plato and Parmenides:
"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which
is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the
BUT MATERIALISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST
THIS. Engels cites in opposition to this theology, the words
of Mephistopheles in GOETHE's Faust:
After the victory of the "Gods", the DIALECTICAL
and IDEAL world views confronted each other. The
two world views had their proponents in the natural sciences.
"Alles was ensteht, ist wert,
dass es zugrunde geht". (26)
"All that comes into being deserves to perish"
WE WILL DISCUSS THE LAWS OF DIALECTICS AS
EXPOUNDED BY ENGELS, IN THE WORLD OF THE NATURAL SCIENCES.
We will concentrate on how the dialectical method
applies to the biological sciences. These, were bound to be especially
affected by the prevailing philosophy, as biology writ large, is the study
of humans in society.
Biologists who adopted Idealist views were called
VITALISTS. This implied something
beyond understanding, a Vital Spirit or God, had breathed life into an
otherwise inert body. The philosophical struggle was bound to assume a
central place in biology and of course all sciences. Engels struggled to
counter idealism in all the branches of science. In "DIALECTICS
OF NATURE"; and in "ANTI-DUHRING",
Engels wrote two compendiums of Marxism. He insisted after his studies
"Nature is the proof of dialectics.. and modern science has furnished
this proof with very rich materials increasing daily." (27)
Engels, starts with an underlying
PRINCIPLE. "Dialectics" itself embodies CHANGE. So Engels
does not list "Change" as a key "law" of dialectics. It is more than a
law, it is a starting premise, a principle.
ENGELS SAW THREE MAIN
LAWS OF DIALECTICS in all branches
of history and science. He expressed these laws of motion of the
world, in the unfinished and posthumously published "DIALECTICS
OF NATURE", as follows:
"It is therefore, from the history of nature and human society that
the Laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most
general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as
of thought itself. And indeed they can be reduced in the main to three:
The law of the transformation of quantity into quality; and vice versa;
How do these general laws relate
The law of the interpenetration of opposites;
The law of the negation of the negation." (28)
IDEALISM IN BIOLOGY
takes two main forms -
Firstly a denial of change; and;
Engels advised "pure" scientists to study dialectics.
But he knew that scientists could and did, use other approaches. By these
other routes, they would obtain finally, some correct answers. But he maintained
that "conscious" dialectics made the attainment of this end knowledge far
Secondly an insistence that
since a descriptive reduction of life to a chemical or mathematical level
could not be found, "Vitalist" theories were essential. Engels countered
these problems, by offering a dialectical view of the world and nature.
1. THE PRINCIPLE OF CHANGE - DIALECTICS.
"When we consider and reflect upon nature.. at
first we see the picture of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions
(permutations and combinations) in which nothing remains what, where as
it was, but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away..
we observe the movements, transitions, connections, rather than the things
that move, combine and are connected. This primitive and naive, but intrinsically
correct conception of the world is that of the Ancient Greek Philosophy,
and was clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for
everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being
and passing away." (29)
"It is possible to arrive at a dialectical (ie dynamic true conception
of nature -editor).. recognition because the accumulating facts of natural
science compel us to do so; but one arrives at it more easily if one approaches
the dialectical character of these facts equipped with an understanding
of the laws of dialectical thought." (30)
For Engels the central fact of change is key to understanding
the world. Engels praises this idea in Greek science. For Engels, where
modern science stands over Greek science, is in details and volume of information.
But where the Greeks were still supreme was their "mastery of this material"
"High as the natural science of the first half of the 18 th century
stood above Greek antiquity in knowledge and even in the sifting of its
material, it stood just as deeply below Greek antiquity in the theoretical
mastery of this material in the general outlook on nature. For the Greek
philosophers the world was essentially something that had emerged form
chaos, something that had developed, that had come into being. For the
natural scientists of the (18th century-ed) it was something ossified,
something immutable, and for most of them something that had been created
at one stroke." (31)
But ideologies that supported change, were resisted
in all spheres of thought under both feudalism; and in the self-satisfied
bourgeois system. The resulting static view in biology generated theories
like that in embryology of PREFORMATIONISM.
Here, every foetus before birth, carried within itself its own foetus.
This Chinese box "solution" obviously ignores any possibility of change.
But IMMANUEL KANT
opened the way to challenge the "immutability of nature". He achieved this,
in 1755 with "Allgemeine Naturgeschicte und Theorie des Himmels". But Engels
points out, that Kant's reasoning would have been for naught had it not
been for the new science of geology that arose. As excavations produced
enigmas like fossils, theologists tried to explain them. Geology unseated
theology. This new geology:
"Pointed out not only the terrestrial strata
that are formed one upon another and deposited one upon another, but also
the shells and skeletons of extinct animals and the trunks leaves, and
fruits of no longer existing plants contained in these strata. The decision
had to be taken to acknowledge that not only the earth as a whole, but
also this present surface and the plants and animals living on it possessed
a history in time." (32)
CHARLES DARWIN and ALFRED WALLACE
independently rejected a static biology. In adding "TIME", they adopted
a dialectical view that all things change. This favoured the bourgeoisie
in the first stage of their struggles against feudalism. Both Engels and
Marx welcomed Darwin's theories. Though Darwin shrank from the enormous
consequences of his own theory, fearing to publish for many years. Moreover
he stressed repeatedly, and incorrectly, the SLOWNESS
of change, assuaging the fears aroused by his theories.
Darwin was right to fear that
the Church would react adversely. But the bourgeoisie needed changes, as
impatiently they had chafed under Church and feudal strictures. Having
won power they grew nervous of change however. Capital now halted further
erosion of the status quo, as further 'change, could unseat them. So a
half-hearted endorsement of Darwinian change in biology was achieved. The
early 'utility 'of a 'dynamic' biology became rapidly inconvenient to the
ruling class. So 'static' versions of biological thought, were favoured
again. This is seen nowadays also. Current theories of so called SOCIOBIOLOGY
attempt to halt change, arguing that social relations reflect an underlying
unchanging "human nature".
In fact a key current thought
in biology specifically vetoes change. The theory of Pre-formationism,
was resurrected as the CENTRAL DOGMA,
by geneticists. This states that all life is determined by an unchanging
GENE OR CHROMOSOME.
After Darwin, a single particle
- the gene, was thought to be FULLY responsible for heredity. GREGOR
MENDEL discovered, that under certain
restricted and stable circumstances, inheritance of characters such as
colour, length etc could be explained by this simple concept. But these
particles were then supposed to be inviolate from change. It became a theory
that allowed a simplistic 'biological' solution to complex biological but
also to social problems. It became the bed rock of a denial of change.
a key modern day evolutionist admits this:
"The preformationists attempted to stress something
which was later resurrected by the genetic program."(33)
The bourgeoisie won their battle
against the aristocracy in history and politics. In this they incorporated
the "Central State", an idea from Hegel. But they now enshrined a mythical
Unchanging State. Hegel's state was taken and 'frozen' into a motionless
monotony. The bourgeoisie performed the same trick in science. Natural
Science, used Natural Selection to clear the worst Theological obstructions.
But having achieved that, the bourgeoisie called a halt. Now both Natural
Science and the Historical Sciences became, to an extent, the legitimating
servants of the bourgeoisie.
2. THE LAW OF INTERPENETRATION OF OPPOSITES
The special and difficult properties of living systems
made the biological sciences the first and the last refuge of Idealists
in science. But the constant arrival of new facts demanded explanations.
The Idealists adopted interim solutions. These were "less indefensible"
views of the world, which stopped short of a dialectical materialist explanation.
This school of Mechanical Materialists
would argue that categories were mutually exclusive. They would force things
into simple boxes, not recognising that there were some things that defied
this approach. Some things had properties that demanded two or more boxes
to 'contain them'.
"To the metaphysician, things.. and ideas are
to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects
of investigation fixed, rigid, given once and for all.. Positive and negative
absolutely exclude each other; cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis
one to the other." (34)
In biology, this school argued that the body was
no "special" thing, and could be understood by simple mechanical or chemical
laws; it asserted that man is no more than a series of chemical reactions.
People like RENE DESCARTES, consciously
used this philosophy, to evade the veto of theology. They restricted their
study of man to the skeleton, muscles etc; but excluded the brain; thus
they rendered : "What was "Caesar's unto Caesar"! Thus human thought and
society was completely left to Theology to explain.
The movements of muscles and bones could be explained
by 'simple' laws of mechanics. But the actions of the brain were not. This
solution is BIOLOGICAL REDUCTIONISM. It
was termed "VULGAR MATERIALISM" or "MECHANICAL
MATERIALISM" by both Engels and later Lenin. BUCHNER,
MOLESCHOTT & VOGT in the 18th century,
believed thought was secreted by the brain, just as the kidney secretes
urine, or the liver secretes bile. Lenin cited Engels :
"Engels enumerates three fundamental "limitations" (Beswchranktheit)
of the French materialists of the 18th century, from which Marx and Engels
had emancipated themselves, but from which Buchner and Co. were unable
to emancipate themselves. The first was that the views of the old materialists
were "mechanical" in the sense that they believed in the "exclusive application
of the standards of mechanics to processes of a chemical and organic nature.
"The second limitation was the metaphysical character of the views of the
old materialists, meaning the "anti- dialectical character of their philosophy"..
the third limitation was the preservation of idealism "up above", in the
realm of the social sciences.. Engels adds that Buchner and Co. did not
emerge from these limits." (35)
It is true that biology is extremely complex, and this
was probably a necessary stage of development. This over-simplification
was perhaps necessary to enable details to be worked out. Biologists needed
to dissect out, one by one, some very complex interactions. Engels points
out that only after 'nit-picking' science was undertaken, could limits
that had cramped Greek science, be transcended. Greek science, even with
its correct - but naive dialectic view of change, had lacked "detail":
"But this conception (ie Dialectics that had permeated Greek science-Ed)
correctly as it expresses the general character of the picture of appearances
as a whole, does not suffice to explain the details of which this picture
is made up, and so long as we do not understand these we have not a clear
understanding of the whole picture." (36)
In explaining the limits of Greek science, Engels explains
the DIALECTICAL MATERIALIST METHOD.
Engels points out that the method entails Firstly; splitting complexity
into component parts:
"In order to understand these details we must detach them from their
natural historical connection and examine each one separately, its nature,
special causes, effects, etc. this is primarily the task of natural science
and historical research : branches of science which the Greeks of classical
times, on very good grounds, relegated to a subordinate position because
they had first of all to collect the material." (37)
But Engels knew the inherent limitations of this "detaching"
process. It ran the risk of a reductionism, of destroying the real and
living, complexity of a problem. That is why a second step was needed.
The Second step followed the initial 'dissection' and 'splitting'. It was
necessary to re-fashion the complexity; to examine how the whole is affected
by the part:
"The beginnings of the exact natural sciences were first worked out
by the Greeks of the Alexandrian period, and later on in the Middle Ages
by the Arabs. Real natural sciences dates from the second half of the 15th
Century.. The analysis of nature into its individual parts, the grouping
of the different natural processes and objects in definite classes, the
study of the internal anatomy of organic bodies in their manifold forms-these
were the fundamental conditions of the gigantic strides in our knowledge
of nature that have been made during the last 400 years. But this method
of work has also left us with as legacy the habit of observing natural
objects and processes in isolation, apart from their natural connection
with the vast whole; of observing them in repose, not in motion; as constants,
not as essentially variables; in their death, not in their life." (38)
The reality of the WHOLENESS
of the complexity recognises, more than just an assembly of isolated facts.
Engels thought this was the limitation of even great Mechanical materialist
thinkers of the Renaissance, like FRANCIS BACON:
"And when this way of looking at things was transferred by Bacon and
Locke from natural science to philosophy, it begot the narrow metaphysical
mode of thought peculiar to the last century. To the metaphysician, things
and their mental reflexes ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one
after the other and apart from each other, are subjects of investigation
fixed, rigid, given once and for all. He thinks in absolute irreconcilable
antitheses.. For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot
at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely
exclude one another; cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to
the other. At first this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because
it is that of so called common sense.. Only sound common sense.. has very
wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research.
And the metaphysical mode of thought justifiable and necessary as it is
in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the
particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond
which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions."
Ignoring the complexity of the interpenetration of the
opposites is the error that Mechanical Materialism had fallen into. Mechanical
Materialism simply arrayed a factual assembly that lacked life. Simply
shoving categories, ideas, notions, or things into ONE
box - is bound to cramp science. Mechanical materialists thought life could
be explained by analogies to simple levers and pulleys. They missed the
point argued by Viscount Henry St.John Bolingbroke:
"The plain man would persist in believing that there was a difference
between the town bull and the parish clock!" (40)
Dead things are distinct from the living, and have their
own laws. And yet, despite this distinction between a dead "inorganic",
and a living "organic" world, some properties of the living and dead are
shared. A dialectical biology would recognise an organising principle in
the body, one that transcends simple chemical laws; without invoking a
supernatural explanations. This was expressed by a great embryologist,
JOSEPH NEEDHAM, who in 1931 cited the
work of WILHELM ROUX :
"There is a good deal more to be said about the
"irreducibility" of biological categories, or the "autonomy" of biology
as it is sometimes called.. Wilhelm Roux.. Although the biological philosophy
of the founder of Entwicklungmechanik was thoroughly mechanistic, he nevertheless
realised the difficulty of expounding the processes of development immediately
in terms of physico-chemical concepts.. The too simple mechanistic conception
on the one hand and the metaphysical conception on the other, represent
the Scylla and Charybdis, between which to sail is indeed difficult, and
so far by few satisfactorily accomplished." (41)
The battle between Idealism (An
unchanging and rigid distinction between categories) and Materialism (An
ever changing and interpretation of opposites) was evident in DEVELOPMENTAL
BIOLOGY. This was because embryonic development
is a series of rapid changes. Thus embryologists were resistant to the
mechanical and reductionist gene school of Mendelians.
ii) ON CHANCE - A SPECIAL CASE OF INTERPENETRATION
stark opposites of CHANCE OR NECESSITY
have long bothered philosophers. As far as Ernst Mayr and the modern mechanical
school of genetic evolutionists were concerned, DARWIN
had resolved this dilemma for biology. Mayr observes:
"Apparently Democritius was the first to have
posited a problem that has split philosophers ever since, "Does organisation
of phenomena particularly in the world of life, result purely from chance
or is it necessary, owing to the structure if the elementary components,
the atoms?" Chance or necessity has ever since been the theme of controversies
among philosophers.. It was Darwin more than 2,000 years later who showed
that the two-step process of natural selection avoids Democritus's dilemma."
By the TWO
STEP PROCESS, Mayr means that the FIRST
STEP is a random and chance aggregation, of new and old
GENES. THE SECOND STEP is the "ordering" effect of NATURAL
By this, Mayr means that the initial step in evolution
is a chance throwing off of variation. But, says Mayr, following this is
an ordering by Natural Selection. The First "Pure Chance" step, was critical
for the Mendel and Morgan gene school.
This abuts onto another long standing argument in
biology - that of "NATURE" OR "NUTURE".
Or put another way, is HEREDITY (OR THE GENE)
PRIMARY; OR, IS ENVIRONMENT PRIMARY?
In evolution, if things arise "by chance", they
cannot arise by "instruction" from the environment. This theory, was favoured
by the gene school of MORGAN. "THE NEW SYNTHESIS",
then couples DARWINISM AND MORGANISM, into what is now, the
dominant version of biological evolution. This proposes a very slow moulding
of change, that is ultimately, only due to an unpredictable chance.
Some historians and philosophers, argue that Marxists
cannot accept theories of "pure chance". Apparently because to believe
in "chance", they would have to jettison a supposed "Marxist" belief in
DETERMINISM in life and society. This
determinism, supposedly teaches that society "automatically" tends to socialism.
In fact this "naivete", is a slanderous caricature of Marxist analysis.
What does Engels make of the dichotomy between chance
and necessity ? First he acknowledges that there is a potential opposition:
"Another opposition in which metaphysics is entangled is that of chance
and necessity. What can be more sharply contradicting than these two thought
determinations? How is it possible that both are identical, and that the
accidental is necessary and the necessary is also accidental? Common sense
and with it the majority of natural scientists, treats necessity and chance
as determinations that exclude each other once and for all." (43)
But Engels states that there is a clear and obvious
role for both chance and necessity in nature:
"A thing or circumstance a process is either accidental or necessary,
but not both. Hence both exist side by side in nature. Nature contains
all sorts of objects and processes, of which some are accidental, the others
necessary, and it is only a matter of not confusing the two sorts with
each other. Then, for instance, one assumes the decisive specific characters
to be necessary, other differences between individuals of the same species
being termed accidental, and this holds good of crystals as it does for
plants and animals." (44)
But then, the labelling chosen, accidental or necessary,
is a often a matter of convenience and arbitrary. Engels explains:
"Then again the lower group becomes accidental in relation to the higher,
so that it is declared to be a matter of chance how many different species
are included in the genus 'Felis' or 'Equus', or how many genera or orders
there is a class, and how many individuals of these species exist, or how
many different species of animals occur in a given region, or what in general
the fauna and flora are like. And then it is declared that the necessary
is the sole thing of scientific interest and that the accidental is a matter
of indifference to science.. what can be brought under laws, hence what
one knows is interesting; what cannot be bought under laws is a matter
of indifference and can be ignored.. That is to say what can be brought
under laws is regarded as necessary and what cannot be so brought is accidental."
Moreover, to merely call something, that is currently
inexplicable, as being due to chance; is a theological practice!:
"Thereby all science comes to an end, for it has to investigate precisely
that which we do not know.. this the sort of science as that which proclaims
natural what it cannot explain, and ascribes what it cannot explain as
to supernatural causes; whether I term the cause of the explicable "Chance"
or whether I term it "God", is a matter of complete indifference as far
as the thing itself is concerned." (46)
Contrary to those who say Marxism equals Determinism,
Engels explicitly attacks crude Determinism of a theological stripe:
"Determinism.. that a particular pea pod contains 5 peas and not 4
or 6, that a particular dog's tail is 5 inches long and not a whit longer
or shorter.. - these are all facts which have been produced by an irrevocable
concatenation of cause and effect, by an unalterable necessity of such
a nature indeed that the gaseous sphere, from which the solar system was
derived, was already so constituted that these events had to happen thus
and not otherwise. With this kind of necessity we likewise do not get away
from the theological conception of nature. Whether with Augustine and Calvin
we call it the eternal decree of God, or Kismet, as the Turks do, or whether
we call it necessity , is all pretty much the same for science. There is
no question of tracing the chain of causation in any of these cases." (47)
So for Engels, the Either-Or
stark choice is inappropriate for much of science; but this
"advice" is usually ignored by science:
"In contrast to both conceptions, Hegel came forward with the hitherto
quite unheard - of propositions that the accidental has a cause because
it is accidental, and just as much also has no cause because it is accidental;
that the accidental is necessary, that necessity determines itself as chance,
and on the other hand this chance is rather absolute necessity. Natural
science has simply ignored these propositions as paradoxical trifling,
as self contradictory nonsense." (48)
The best modern scientists understand this. SEWALL
WRIGHT, a founder of the field of mathematical
genetics, notes a dialectic and qualitative difference between the bare
"The Darwinian process of continued interplay of a random and a selective
process is not intermediate between pure chance and pure determinism, but
in its consequences qualitatively utterly different from either." (49)
The posited alternatives of "pure determinism' and "chance"
are inadequate to explain the multifaceted complexity of nature. "Pure
Chance" is quite inappropriate for biology. This is shown by modern data,
in the very specialty of evolution, that it is most touted. Most biologists
accept that the first steps to life (regardless of the stimuli) somehow
involved the aggregation of large protein molecules. How did these come
together from simple amino acids? The molecules of the amino acids, force
a constraint that channels "pure chance":
"The fact that mixtures of amino acids can order themselves during
polymerization has crucial significance to our understanding of the origin
of life.. The essential initial phenomena are those of self-ordering of
appropriate molecules (Fox 1968) followed by self-organization (Fox 1960,
1969). This awareness arose from the earliest experiments on heating aspartic
acid in mixtures of Amino acids. The evidence that Amino Acids order themselves
during polymerization of many kinds, and from many labs. It has had to
contend with the presumption of randomness, the playing card paradigm."
Fox shows that simple arithmetic, in theory, would predict
that a truly random ordering of events, MUST result in 6 possibilities
(See Figure-In hard copy version). But, in
reality, using real molecules, experiments show that this total is not
reached. Why? Presumably because there are molecular constraints:
"The widely held view is.. that three playing cards, A,B, and C, for
example can be arranged left-to-right into a total of 6 sequences. Each
arrangement has an equal probability. When the three cards are laid out
numerous times, approximately 1/6 of those times they will be A-B-C, 1/6
A-C-B 1/6 etc. The total shown.. constitutes a random array.. The fallacy
in the basic assumption is that unlike (2-D) playing cards, different 3-D)
molecules have different shapes. Molecules favour certain arrangements
offer others. Playing cards have no such bias. An experiment close to the
3 playing card comparison has been performed.. with glutamic acid, glycine,
and tyrosine. The results are somewhat more complex than with cards. Yet
greater complexity is due to the fact that one of the Amino Acid glutamic
acid can itself wrap in three ways. As a result, 36 peptides can form with
the 3 types of Amino Acid. When we did the experiment.. we found only 2
peptides. Hartmann et al repeated the experiment and also found only two
triple peptides." (51)
Real life molecules similar to those that may have been
responsible for the first life behave in starling manners that are not
predicted by the biologists of Pure Chance. Proteinoid particles arise
under the stimulus of heat. Then they "age"; showing "socialization" or
"aggregation". Fox concludes about randomness:
"Our sapience about evolution has been influenced by understanding
the stages or levels of origin. A principal contribution to such theory..
is the unexpected demonstration that the matrix of organismal evolution
and its continuation was non-random. The assumption of random matrix and
random evolutionary events has been widespread (Muller 1929, Waddington
1967, Eigen 1971, Monod 1971, Miller and Orgel, 1974, Crick, Brenner, Klug
& Pieczenik 1976; Nicholis and Prigogine 1977; Hutchinson 1981)." (52)
Fox cites above many famous scientists. But actually,
many other scientists have had their own "nagging doubts" about "Pure Chance".
Even Morgan, a key individual in the "New Synthesis", once thought that
"pure chance" was stretching things a bit far!:
"The assumption of randomness has, not however been universal.. After
he had consolidated his theory of the gene, Morgan pointed out that mutations
are not random (Morgan, 1932. pp.59, 112, 134, 219) and are determined
from within the gene instead of exogenously. Mathematical support of nonrandomness
had been provided by Wigner (1961) and Eden (1967)." (53)
Figure 1: CHANCE PLAYS
CARDS. From Fox; Ibid; p. 88.
(Only in hard copy)
3. THE LAW OF TRANSFORMATION OF QUANTITY
INTO QUALITATIVE CHANGE
This arises in a sense of out of the first law. If after
all categories are not wholly demarcated form each other, if indeed "opposites
interpenetrate", then how do they change into each other? Engels is clear
that certain transitions, into their opposites are not YET
explicable. This is particularly difficult to work out for biological systems:
"In nature in a manner exactly fixed for each
individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by its quantitative
addition of quantitative subtraction of matter and motion (so called energy).
All qualitative differences in nature rest on differences of chemical composition
or on different quantities or forms of motion (energy) or as is almost
always the case, on both. Hence it is impossible to alter the quality of
body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion ie without quantitative
alteration of the body concerned." (54)
"We are concerned in the first place with non-living bodies; the very
same law holds for living bodies but it operates under very complex conditions
and at resent quantitative measurement is still often impossible for us."
But this law could be clearly seen in Engels' day, in
physics and chemistry:
"In physics bodies are treated as chemically unalterable or indifferent;
we have to do with changes of their molecular states and with the change
of form of motion, which in all cases at least on one of the two sides
, brings the molecule into action. Here very change is a transformation
of quantity into quality, a consequence of the amount of motion of one
form or another that is inherent in the body or communicated to it.
Engels noted, that Hegel saw this was a critical law
for nature, citing Hegel's application of this law to chemistry. Here the
addition of even a single atom makes all the change necessary to transform
compounds. Thus Engels discuses in Detail the transformation series of
the carbon compounds.
"Thus the temperature of water is in the first place, a point of no
consequence in respect of its liquidity; still with the increase or diminution
of the temperature of liquid water there comes a point where this state
of cohesion alters and the water is converted to steam or ice." Hegel,
Encyclopadie; Gesamtausgabe, bd; VI, S.217)." (56)
Not only is the mere fact of changes of compounds
into another than explained, but Engels makes one other point. The knowledge
of the series and the links of component parts of these series, allows
the prediction of as yet unknown properties of this series. Thing such
as the boiling points etc. Needham felt that it would be possible in biology,
to find comparable laws to those of chemical and physical processes, if
complexity was respected:
"So long as the complex components are found to be constant in their
action, and always under the same conditions, to produce the same effect,
causal biology would be on the right line of analysis. These biological
generalisations would be thus as valid as those of physics and chemistry,
though possessing a more complex content." (57)
Modern day biology has examples that show this Law.
4. THE LAW OF THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATION
This law follows from the Second Law discussed above.
Is all change then cyclical, does one category lead to another and then
back again? This 'simplicity' and obvious un-truth is avoided by recognising
this law. When one state of a category passes into another, it does so
by encompassing the previous state and rendering it changed at a higher
level. This is a development that carries the potential for itself also
to be changed. But in this further change and development, it is "SUBLATED".
"And so, What is the negation of the negation?
An extremely general- and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important-law
of development of nature history and thought; a law which .. holds good
in the animal and plant kingdoms, in geology in mathematics in history
and in philosophy." (58)
"is "both overcome and preserved" (D.K.G.503); overcome as regards
its form, and preserved as regards its real content." (59)
This means that there is a link to the old, a logical
connection that carries with that connection, the possibility of a reversion
to a form of the older state. But because nothing s ever the same exactly,
this reversion is actually a going forward, it is "reversion" - but to
a changed and different "old state"; where the old is itself transformed:
"What is then this fearful negation of the negation?..
To clarify that the negation of the negation is not
simply a subtraction, not a simple deletion, but is a different process,
A very simple process which is taking place everywhere and every day..
Let us take a grain of barley. Billions of such grains of barley are milled,
boiled, and brewed and then consumed. But if such as grain of barley meets
with conditions which are normal for it, if it falls on suitable soil,
then under the influence of heat and moisture it undergoes a specific change,
it germinates; the grain as such ceases to exist, it is negated, and in
it's place appears the plant which has arisen from the negation of the
grain. But what is the normal life-process of this plant? It grows, flowers
is fertilised and finally once more produces grains of barley, an as soon
as these have ripened the stalk dies, in its turn negated. As a result
of the negation of the negation we have once again the original gain of
barley, but not as a single unit, but here ten -, twenty - or thirty fold..
furthermore the whole of geology is a series of negated negations, a series
of successive shattering of old and deposits of new rock formations." (60)
"But someone may object: the negation that has taken place in this
case is not a real negation: I negate the grain of barley also when I grind
it, an insect when I crush it underfoot, or the positive quality when I
cancel it, and so on.. These objections are in fact the chief arguments
put forward by the metaphysicians against dialectics.. Negation in dialectics
does not mean simply saying no, or declaring that something does not exist,
or destroying it in any way one likes." (61)
CLEARLY THEN THERE ARE NO SIMPLE
EXPLANATIONS that can be offered in the
abstract, without any study, by simply parroting a mantra-like phrase,
"Negation of the negation":
DELETION OR SUBTRACTION IS DIFFERENT FROM SUBLATION:
"I must not only negate but also sublate the negation.
I must therefore so arrange the first negation that the second remains
or becomes possible. How this depends on the particular nature of each
individual case. If I grind a grain of barley or crush an insect I have
carried out the first part of the action, but have made the second part
impossible. Every kind of thing therefore has a peculiar way of being negated
in such manner that it gives rise to development, and it is just the same
with every kind of conception or idea." (62)
"It is obvious that I do not say anything concerning
the particulate process of development of, for example a grain of barley
from germination to the death of the fruit-bearing plant, if I say it is
a negation of the negation." (63)
Many then and now, accuse Marxists
of parroting such "Dialectics" as a "Universal Solution", applicable from
a tin-can! But these are not Marxists! They are a parody of Marxists:
"That theory is precisely what the metaphysicians
are constantly imputing to dialectics. When I say that all these processes
are a negation of the negation, I bring them all together under this law
of motion, and for this very reason I leave out of account the specific
peculiarities of each individual process." (64)
Non-Communist embryologists recognise
the power of dialectical thought. As C.H.Waddington put it:
"The developmental side of biology - embryology,
genetics and evolution - seems to be reaching a point where radically new
types of thinking are called for. In such circumstances it would be very
unwise to despise the newer philosophies such as dialectical materialism,
which are framed particularly in relation to progressive changes, even
if they have sometimes led people astray." (65)
Engels shows the relevance
of dialectical materialism to all branches of science. The complexity
of life defeats simple minded solutions. But thus far Engels has largely
been shown to understand the laws of dialectics at an overall theoretical
level. The application of these laws to the development of Humans and towards
the development of society, is where Engels further demonstrates his genius.
We now briefly examine Engels'
view of the development of early society.
To do that justice, it
must be shown how Engels' view of this contrasts with that of Darwin. Arguably
Darwin was the greatest natural scientist of his time and beyond - yet
Engels transcended even this specialist in his own field.
A comparison of these two giants of human history is very revealing. In
fact had Engels so chosen, what an amazing natural scientist he would have
been. His vision and breadth transcended even Darwin. That this is true
can be shown briefly. Overall the difference between the two, is the difference
between a conscious dialectician and an unconscious dialectician. Engels
had pointed out that most scientists could perform good work despite an
idealist philosophy, but that conscious dialecticians would avoid mistakes.
i) On Extrapolations from the Natural World
Both Marx and Engels had exposed
the REVEREND MALTHUS
as a proponent of the bourgeois order,
and his theories as incorrect. But when
took his public stand, he claimed it
was on the basis of Malthusian theory. Nonetheless, Marx and Engels did
not then reject the dialectic core of Darwinism. Instead they put it into
context. They paid tribute to Darwin's recognition of change. But they
also pointed out the trick that was being played. This argued from events
in human society to nature; and then, wished to lift back from nature to
human society. Thereby "proving" biological inevitability!:
"Until Darwin, what was stressed.. was precisely
the harmonious cooperative working of organic nature.. Hardly was Darwin
recognised before these same people saw nothing but struggle. Both views
are justified within narrow limits, but both are equally one-sided and
prejudiced.. The whole Darwinian theory of the struggle for existence is
simply the transference from society to organic nature of Hobbes' theory
of "bellum contra omnes" and of the bourgeois economic theory of competition,
as well as the Malthusian theory of population. When once this feat has
been accomplished (the unquestionable justification for which, especially
as regards the Malthusian theory, is still very questionable), it is very
easy to transfer these theories back again from natural history to the
history of society, and altogether too naive to maintain that thereby these
assertions have been proved as eternal laws of nature." (66)
This is very pertinent today.
Eldredge and Grene, in 1992, exactly echoed Engels' view of 1886, referring
to the popular school of thought, known as SOCIOBIOLOGY:
"Sociobiologists take a concept from a human context, apply it say,
insect behaviour, and then reapply the denatured concept, with a new meaning,
to the behaviour of very different animals - mammals, primates, human beings."
sees a more complex reality of nature, than Darwin. To depict it accurately,
"prejudiced and one sided" views, must be avoided. These are either an
"All Harmonious Nature"; or an "All Struggling Nature":
"Both views are justified within a narrow limit
but both are equally one sided and prejudiced. The interactions of bodies
in non-living nature includes both harmony and collisions, that of living
bodies conscious and unconscious co-operation as well as conscious and
unconscious struggle. Hence even in regard to nature, it is not permissible
one sidedly to inscribe only "struggle" on one's banners. But it is absolutely
childish to sum up the whole manifold wealth of historical evolution and
complexity in the meagre and one sided phrase:
This difference then is an example
of the Law of the Interpetration of Opposites. The differences between
Marx and Engels on the one hand; and Darwin on the other, were bound to
stem from an "unwilling" dialectical approach on the part of Darwin. This
can be seen in their different views on the early passage from ape to man.
'Struggle for existence' - That says less
than nothing." (68)
ii) Engels and Darwin's view of ape to
The principle difference between these two geniuses
here reflects the Law of Transformation of Quantity Into Quality. Here
it is obvious that Darwin played the leading role in showing the evolutionary
transformation from ape to man. He identified this in his later works,
after he had collected an enormous wealth of data. It was during this period
that the fossils of Neanderthals were being unearthed. Both Engels and
Darwin followed this process with intense interest. It was of course Darwin,
who first identified the critical step for ape to man transition was adopting
the upright posture. Darwin put as follows:
"Man could not have attained his present dominant position in the world
without the use of his hands which are so admirably adapted to act in obedience
to his will.. But the hands and arms could hardly have become perfect enough
to have manufactured of weapons or to have hurled stones and spears with
a true aim, as long as they were habitually used for locomotion and for
supporting the whole weight of the body, or as long as they were especially
well adapted as previously remarked for climbing trees.. From these causes
alone it would have been an advantage to man to have become a biped." (69)
Darwin was followed by Engels
who paraphrased him :
"Darwin has given us an approximate description
of these ancestors of ours.. Owing to their way of living which means that
the hands had different functions that the feet when climbing, these apes
began to lose the habit of using the hand to walk and adopted a more and
more erect posture. THIS WAS THE DECISIVE
STEP IN THE TRANSITION FROM APE TO MAN". (Emphasis
in original). (70)
Of course Darwin recognised the importance of
this for tools by which man developed language and the brain developed.
Again Engels followed him here. But Darwin is always pointing out the CONTINUITY
between animals - apes and man. Engels points out the DISCONTINUOUS.
Thus take LANGUAGE. Darwin always
tries to point out, to EMPHASISE that
animals have inner language:
"Language - this faculty has justly been considered as one of the chief
distinctions between man and lower animals, But man as a highly competent
judge, Archbishop Whately remarks: 'is not the only animal that can make
use of language to express what is passing in his mind". (71)
Yet modern day experiments with chimps demonstrate
that there is a barrier, that even these highly intelligent species have
not breached. This is an illustration of The Law of passing from Quantity
into Quality. This was appreciated by Engels:
"Thus the hand is not only the organ of labour .
IT IS ALSO THE PRODUCT OF LABOUR.. Much more important
is the direct demonstrable influence of the development of the hand on
the rest of the organism.. The development of labour necessarily helped
to bring the members of society closer together by increasing cases of
mutual support and joint activity, and by making clear the advantage of
this joint activity to each individual ... In short men in the making arrived
at the point where THEY HAD SOMETHING TO SAY TO
EACH OTHER. Necessity invented the organ; the undeveloped larynx
of the ape was slowly but surely transformed by modulations to produce
constantly more developed modulation."(72)
The key issue identified by Engels that was ignored by Darwin was the ROLE
OF LABOUR ITSELF. The role of social beings, in the production
of the subsistence of life. This allowed the relationship of humans to
their environment to be put rather more correctly than is done by Darwin.
Marx had also indicated that there was a primary role of labour:
was by controlling nature, that society developed. As soon as humans emerged
from a state of total dependence on nature, into even a minimal control
over nature, the old relationship between man and nature was shattered.
There was victory, but there was also ecological change:
"Let us not however, flatter ourselves overmuch
on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature
takes its revenge on us. Each victory it is true in the first place brings
about the result we expected, but in the second and third places has quite
different unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The
people who in Mesopotamia Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere destroyed the
forests to obtain cultivable lands by removing along with forest the collecting
centers and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present
forlorn state of these countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up
the pine forests on the Southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the
Northern slopes they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting
at the very roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still
less inkling that they were depriving their mountain springs of water for
the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still
more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who
spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous
tubers that they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every
step we are reminded that we be by no means rule over nature, like a conqueror
over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature- but that we,
with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst,
and that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to
learn its laws and apply them correctly." (74)
"Deep ecologists", do not
understand scientific discovery, and reject any systematic study. They
discredit any "development" at all, as being intrinsically evil. These
'ecologists' obscure the contradiction that had to historically exist,
human activity (eg. clearing land) and the state of an 'unspoiled Nature'.
But both Marx and Engels showed, only by truely understanding history can
we return to communism. History shows that progress in society depends
ultimately on technological progress and change. Communists will take this
message and apply it, so that society belongs to those who will use technology
for humankind, not for individual personal profit.
Franz Mehring says that:
"Engels was much too modest about his own contributions."(75)
We can agree that this man, who in the words
of a contemporary in the First International : "Stuttered in twenty languages",
ultimately spoke one language-
the language of international FRATERNITY and SOLIDARITY.
HE WAS A GREAT MAN.
But what are these great
historical figures anyway?
Let su give the final words
to FREDERICK ENGELS himself - a co-founder of Historical Materialism
- OF MARXISM:
"Men make their history themselves, but not as yet with a collective
will or according to a collective plan or even in definitely defined, given
society. Their efforts clash, and for that very reason all such societies
are governed by NECESSITY, which is
supplemented by and appears under the forms of ACCIDENT.
The necessity which here asserts itself amidst all accident is again
ultimately economic necessity. That is where the so called great men come
in for treatment. That such and such a man and precisely that man arises
at that particular time in that given country is of course pure accident.
But cut him out and there will be demand for a substitute, and this substitute
will be found, good or bad, but in the long run will be found. That Napoleon
, just that particular Corsican, should have been the military dictator
whom the French republic, exhausted by its own war, had rendered necessary,
was an accident; but that, if a Napoleon had been lacking, another would
have filled the place, is proved by the fact that the man has always been
found as soon as he becomes necessary: Caesar, Augustus, Cromwell, etc.
While Marx discovered the materialist conception of history, Thierry, Mignet,
Guizot, and all the English historians up to 1850 are the proof that it
was being striven for, and the discovery of the same conception by Morgan
proves that the time was ripe for it and that indeed it HAD
to be discovered." (76)
FOR ALLIANCE (NORTH
1. Marx & Engels Collected Works [Henceforth
M&E CW]: 'The Condition of England: II: The English Constitution';
(March 1844); Vol 3; London; 1975; p. 497.
2. First Published "Rheinische Zeitung"; December
1842. M&E CW
Vol 2; New York; 1976: "The Internal Crises" p. 373-374.
3. Noted by W.B.Bland : "Engels and The Condition
of The Working Class in England; UK; 1995.
4. Cited : Franz Mehring "Karl Marx"; Ann Arbor;
5. Mehring F; Ibid; p. 105.
6. Engels; Cited Mehring; Ibid; p. 104.
7. " " ' '
8. Engels Preface to 2nd edition: "Anti-Duhring";
M&E CW VOL 25; ibid; p.11 .
9. Marx 1859; Preface to 'A Contribution to the
critique of Political economy'; cited Vol 5; M&E CW: Preface; p.xv
10. Marx and Engels "German Ideology"; Vol 5;
M&E CW; p. 28-29.
11. "German Ideology" Vol 5; M&E CW p.31.
12. "German Ideology" Vol 5; M&E CW; p.74.
13. German Ideology" Ibid; Vol 5; p. 53-54
14. "German Ideology"; M&E CW; Ibid; Vol
5; p. 90
15. Marx K Preface to:"A Contribution to The
Critique of Political Economy"; January 1859; Selected Works"; Vol 1; London;
1934; p. 357.
16. Engels: Preface to 2nd Edition "The Housing
Question"; CW M&E Vol 26; 1990; Moscow; p.427
17. CC CPSU(B):"History of the CPSU(B)- A Short
Course";Moscow; 1939; p.106.
18. George Thomson:"The First Philosophers-Studies
in Ancient Greek Society," Southampton; 1955; p.156; 160.
19. Thomson; Ibid; p.278.
20. Thomson, Ibid; p. 282.
21. Thomson, Ibid; p.235.
22. Diodoros,Cited by Thomson, Ibid , p.243.
23. Plato, Cited By Thomson ,Ibid , p.243.
24. Cited by Thompson, Ibid, p.293.
25. Ecclesiastes 9.
26. Goethe Faust; Part I scene 3 Cited by Engels;
in Introduction "Dialectics of Nature"; M&E CW Vol 25; Moscow; 1987;
27. Engels,"Additions to Anti-Duhring"; M&E
CW Vol 25; Ibid; p.633.
28. " "
29. Engels; M&E CW Vol 25; "Anti-Duhring"
[Hereafter AD]; Moscow 1987; p.21.
30. Engels; Preface to 2nd Edition "AD" 1885;
31. F.Engels: "Introduction To Dialectics of
Nature"; M&E CW Vol 25; Moscow 1987; [Hereafter DON]; Ibid; p.322.
32. Engels; Ibid; "Introduction DON"; p.324.
33. Ernst Mayr: "The Growth of Biological Thought
. Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance," 1982; Cambridge Mass; p.12.
34. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; p. 22.
35. Lenin, "Materialism and Empirio-Criticism",
Moscow 1967, p.227.
36. Engels "Introduction AD"; Vol 25; Ibid,
37. Engels "Introduction AD"; Vol 25; Ibid,
38. Engels "Introduction AD"; Vol 25; Ibid,
39. Engels "Introduction AD"; Vol 25; Ibid,
40. Cited Keith Thomas. "Man and the Natural
World" Suffolk, 1984; p. 35.
41. Needham Joseph "Order And Life",London,
42. Mayr, Ibid, p.86.
43. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
44. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
45. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
46. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
47. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
48. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
49. Cited by Mayr, Ibid. p. 57
50. S.W.Fox, "The beginnings of life and behaviour";
In "Behavioral evolution and integrative levels."
Ed G.Greenberg and E.Tobach. New Jersey, 1984. p.83.
51. S.W.Fox, The Beginnings of Life and Behaviour.
"Behavioral evolution and integrative levels."
Ed G.Greenberg and E.Tobach. New Jersey, 1984. p.83.
52. Fox, Ibid, p. 100.
53. Fox, Ibid, p.100
54. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
55. Engels; Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25;
56. Engels; "DON"; M&E CW; Vol 25; Ibid;
57. Needham J; "Order and Life"; Ibid; p.21
58. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
59. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
60. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
61. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
62. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
63. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW;
64. Engels; "AD"; Ibid; Vol 25; M&E CW p.
65. Waddington Cited by Sapp J; "Beyond the
Gene Cytoplasmic Inheritance and the Struggle For Authority in Genetics;"
New York; 1987; p. 167.
66. Engels; "DON"; Vol 25; Ibid; p. 583-584.
67. N.Eldredge & M.Grene, "Interactions-The
Biological Context of Social Systems" New York,1992. p.14.
68. "Dialectics of Nature", Engels Ibid. p.307,
69. Charles Darwin:" The Descent of man. Part
1. Chapter 2. Mental Powers"; London 1871; Reprint Impression Anastaltique;
Bruxelles; 1969; p. 141.
70. Engels "Part Played By Labour In Transition
From Ape to Man"; In "DON" ; Ibid; Vol 25; p. 452.
71. Darwin, "Descent of Man"; Ibid; p. 53.
72. Engels, "Part Played By Labour etc"; Ibid;
Vol 25; p. 453- 455.
73. Karl Marx Capital Vol 1, 1974; p.173-4.
74. Engels, Frederick: "Part Played By Labour
In Transition from Ape to Man", In Engels Dialectics of Nature", Moscow,
2nd Ed, 1972. p.181.
75. Mehring; "Karl Marx"; Ibid; p. 95.
76. Engels: "Letter to Starkenberg"; In Reader
In Marxist Philosophy" Eds Selsam and Martel; International Publishers
New York; 1963; p.203.