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What is Marxism? A different Outlook: Marsst Philosophy: An Introduction to Dialectical Materialism by Robin Clapp Why have a Philosophy? “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is, however, to change it.” (Marx: Theses on Feuerbach’) [AT THE dawn of the 21* century, one-fifth of the world’s population Ives in absolute poverty on one US dollar a day or less, while the assets of the 200 richest people are larger than the combined, income of the poorest 24 bilion on the planet. ‘Yet materal prosperity has increased by more in the past 100 years than in allthe rest of human history. Thus the basis already exists Potentially for undreamed-of progress of human society, provided the contradictions created by capitaism itself can be swept away by the world's working class, ‘The capitalists through their control of the judiciary, the miltary, education and the media are always seeking to prevent workers and, youth from drawing the conclusion that capitalism can be changed, In the popular press, commentators occasional rail against this or that symptom of the system's sickness while drumming home the ‘mantra that market economics represents the only show in town, [At the same time more serious justifications for capitalism are produced. The colapse of the Soviet Union in 1988-1992 gave a massive boost to this branch of terary ies, alowing bourgeois phiosophers to claim that capitalism had emerged triumphant ints historic struggle with socialism. Every ruling class throughout history has sought to give its regime the stamp of permanence. Never mind that there have been many forms of class rule including slavery and feudalism, today’s smug ‘apologists for capitaksm bebeve thelr way of running society is best ‘and represents the Everest of achievement. ‘Tony Bair has sneeringly denounced Marxism as “an outmoded sectarian dogma” His Sole contribution to philosophy has been to bestow credit on Anthony Gidden’s Third Way theory - the very old, and discredited idea that there can be a middle way between the ‘market anda planned economy. Most capitalist leaders betve they ‘don't require a philosophy. Making money isallthat matters and they embrace the idea that if t works, i's good. They are largely empirical intheir approach, responding pragmatically to new challenges and rarely bothering to understand the relationship and connections ‘between policies and events, cause and effect.tn the spheres of politics and economics, theirs is the complacent philosophy of ‘thinking that what has gone on before will continue largely ‘unchanged into the future. In the 1990s they were sure the dotcom boom would just keep on ‘growing. When it crashed they were astonished, but learning nothing Scratched their heads, said they'd predicted it all along, then went back to the comfort-bianket of believing capitalism would get better again. ‘This pamphiet will show that having a philosophy that correctly interprets the word and provides a compass for changing it is indspensable. Dialectical materialism, the basis of Marist philosophy is stil the IP PoFmyURLcom most modem method of thought that exists. ‘As Leon Trotsky observed in Marxism in our Timo: *...ifthe theory correctly estimates the course of development and foresees the future better than other theories, itremains the ‘most advanced theory of our time, be it even scores of years : : ‘society and thought = was and remains a revolutionary philosophy, challenging capitalism in every sphere and substituting science for ‘dreams and prejudice. Materialism versus Idealism. tis not consciousness that determines existence, but social existence that determines consciousnes: (Marx & Engels: ‘The German ideology.) People have always sought to understand the world they lived in through observing nature and generalising their day-to-day experiences. The history of philosophy shows a division into two camps — idealism and Materiaism. The idealists argue that thought (consciousness) is paramount and that people's actions stem from ‘abstract thought, devoid of history and material conditions. it was Manc and Engels who first fully challenged this conception, explaining that an understanding of the worid has to start not from the ideas which exist in people's heads in any particular historical period, but from the real, materal conditions in which these ideas arise.