Dialectical materialism

NewtonΠάντα ῥεῖ [Everything flows]

Dialectical materialism is the philosophy or methodology of Marxism. Every political movement, party, or even statement of any kind bases itself, consciously or unconsciously, on some sort of philosophy or world outlook. Marxism is concerned with effecting a radical change in society, and therefore requires an exceptionally clear, thoroughgoing, and systemic set of philosophical principles.

The ideas of dialectical materialism, based on the best traditions of philosophical thought, are not a fixed dogma but a system of tools and general principles for analysing the world materialistically and scientifically.

The basic tenets of dialectical materialism are: that everything that exists is material and is derived from matter; that matter is in a process and constant change; and that all matter is interconnected and interdependent.

If we are to understand society in order to change it, this cannot be done arbitrarily, since the human will is not master of nature; rather, our ideas and thoughts are reflections of necessary material laws. Instead, we must seek to understand the laws of how human society changes. 

In this talk from the 2018 Revolution Festival, Hamid Alizadeh looks at the ideas of Georg Hegel, the German thinker who resurrected the philosophy of dialectics.

The following is an introductionto the latest publication by Marxist Books,The Revolutionary Philosophy of Marxism, by the editor of In Defence of Marxism, Alan Woods. This new selection of writings on dialectical materialism is now available for purchase at a special launch price on MarxistBooks.com.

Speaking at a 2018 'Marx in a Day' event, celebrating Karl Marx's 200th birthday, Alan Woods (author of 'Reason in Revolt') discusses the philosophy of Marxism - dialectical materialism. 

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left'


In this article, Ben Curry explains the development of scientific thought from a Marxist perspective. Ben introduces the dialectical materialist outlook, explains how it applies to the natural world and demonstrates how the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome laid the foundations for modern science. Science is always rooted in class society, and the lack of a dialectical materialist perspective has led some modern scientists back to the idealism and mysticism that the bourgeoisie railed


In this video from the 2017 October Revolution festival, Daniel Morley (of the Socialist Appeal Editorial Board) discusses the theoretical differences between the philosophies of Marxism and postmodernism.

In this talk from the Revolution 2016 weekend school, Hamid Alizadeh discusses the history of philosophy in Ancient Greece, looking at the early developments in terms of dialectics and materialism - the foundations to the revolutionary philosophy of Marxism: dialectical materialism.

In this talk from the Revolution 2016 festival, Ben Curry gives an overview of the historical development of scientific theories and the philosophical ideas that lie behind some of the biggest scientific revolutions in history.

The following article was published in the first issue of the new Marxist theoretical magazine, Lal Salaam, published in Pakistan.

This book is aimed specifically at newcomers to Marxism. A bestseller now in its second edition, it comprises introductory pieces on the three component parts of Marxist theory, corresponding broadly to philosophy, social history and economics: dialectical materialism, historical materialism and Marxist economics. Complementing these introductions are key extracts from some of the great works of Marxism written by its most outstanding figures – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

Since the dawn of civilisation, humans have questioned the workings of the natural world around them and their own place in the Universe. Through a long process of investigation over millennia, mankind has built up an understanding of Nature and the wider cosmos. Each successive generation has expanded the horizon of our knowledge and in the process extended the boundary of the known Universe. From Ptolemy and Copernicus and through to the modern day, at every stage scientific discoveries


Quantum physics occupies a fascinating place at the cutting edge of modern scientific research. First developed in the early 20th Century, quantum theory is allowing today’s scientists to plumb new depths when it comes to matter and motion. A new book, Quantum Social Science, by Andrei Khrennikov and Emmanuel Haven argues that applying the logic of quantum theory to social systems can take our understanding of human society to a whole new level.

The ideas of Marx have never been more relevant than they are today. This is reflected in the thirst for Marxist theory at the present time. In this article, Alan Woods deals with the main ideas of Karl Marx and their relevance to the crisis we're passing through today.

“The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”. (Marx, Second Thesis on Feuerbach.)

At a 2013 Marxist Winter School, John Pickard - former editor the Militant - explores the topic of Marxism and Science.

Alan Woods, editor of the In Defence of Marxism website, speaks about the history of philosophy at the UCL Universiy Marxist Society in London.

The issue of “morality” and “morals” is often used by critics of the Russian Revolution and supporters of capitalism to smear the historical significance of the Bolsheviks and tar the idea of socialism altogether. Leon Trotsky answered these critics in his pamphlet “Their Morals and Ours”, written in 1938. In this article, we look at Trotsky’s pamphlet and his analysis of “morality”.

The Dutch edition of Reason in Revolt is being launched today, October 18, at 19.00 hours at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and tomorrow, October 19 in Antwerp at 19.00 hours at the Cafe 'Den Bengel', Market 5, 2000 Antwerp, with Alan Woods speaking. For more information about the book click ...

Capitalism is in its deepest crisis in its history. It is an economic, social and political crisis, which is now expressing itself in political turmoil and growing class struggle across the globe. While the ruling class attempts to bury Marxism, it has in fact never been so relevant as it is today. In this updated article Alan Woods explains the essence of Marxism and its role today.

Dialectical materialism is the philosophy of Marxism, which provides us with a scientific and comprehensive world outlook. For those prepared to take the time to study this way of looking at things, they will discover a revolutionary outlook that will allow them an insight into and understanding of the world we live in.

Lukács was an important influence on what is called 'western Marxism'. This was seen as a 'humanist' alternative to the dominant stalinist orthodoxy of the inter-War period and later. One of Lukács' most significant arguments was that (contrary to Engels) there can be no dialectics of nature. Dan Morley examines the debate and goes into the contradictory relationship between Lukács' interpretation of Marxism and Stalinism.

In developing this philosophical outlook, Marx based himself on great thinkers that had preceded him, but went beyond them in developing further those ideas and providing new insights. He developed his dialectics from Hegel, the great German philosopher. Here Ann Robertson in the USA provides an interesting examination of the development of dialectics from Hegel through to Marx.

As advertised recently, Wellred Books have just republished that classical work of Engels Dialectics of Nature. Here we publish the Preface to the book, in which Rob Sewell outlines some of the most advanced discoveries in scientific study that confirm that dialectics is nothing more than the philosophical expression of the way nature works. Matter, science and


This text was originally written by Alan Woods as a part of the book Reason in Revolt: Marxist Philosophy and Modern Science, but eventually the book became too long and this part had to be left out. Therefore this history of philosophy is published here for the first time. With chapters on: Do we Need Philosophy?, The First Dialecticians, Aristotle and the End of Classical Greek Philosophy, The Renaissance, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, and Philosophy in the


Trotsky's 'ABC of Materialist Dialectics' is a brilliant short explanation of Marxist philosophy. It was written as part of a defence of Marxism against a middle class revisionist tendency in the American Trotskyist movement in the late 1930s, which attempted to challenge its basic principles. As opposed to pragmatism and empiricism, Trotsky defended dialectical materialism as a richer, fuller, more comprehensive view of society and life in general. Reprinted in 1994 with a ...

For a long period in his life Wilhelm Reich considered himself a Marxist. He applied the scientific method of Marxism to his research into Psychoanalysis and this led him to break with many of the theories of Freud. At one stage he came close to Trotsky, but then drifted away. Under intense persecution he eventually broke with Marxism and even revised some of his earlier brilliant insights. Alessandro D'Aloia looks at the rise and fall of Reich.

We are publishing the first of what will be a series of Marxist study guides. The purpose is to provide a basic explanation of the fundamental ideas of Marxism with a guide to further reading and points to help organise discussion groups around these ideas. We are starting with dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism.

When we discuss the method of Marxism, we are dealing with the ideas which provide the basis for our activities in the labour movement, the arguments we raise in the discussions we take part in, and the articles we write.

It is generally accepted that Marxism took its form from three main roots. One of those roots was the development of Marx's analysis of French politics, particularly the bourgeois revolution in France in the 1790s, and the subsequent class struggles during the


We have received quite a few e-mails from our subscribers asking about the attitude of Marxists to religion, relating not only to Marxism and Christianity, but also to Islam. For example, we have received several communications from sympathetic people who support liberation theology, in the Philippines. We are also in contact with groups who describe themselves as Islamic Marxists. This is clearly an interesting and important question, which deserves serious treatment. As an initial


The latest discovery of a fossil skull in Kenya, more than three million years old, once again demonstrates the complex evolution of humankind. The following article examines the evidence and sees how it fits into the ideas of human origin formulated by Frederick Engels more than 100 years ago.

We are reproducing a slightly edited version of What is Marxism? by Rob Sewell and Alan Woods, last published in 1983 to celebrate the centenary of the death of Karl Marx. The three articles on the fundamental aspects of Marxism, Marxist Economics, Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism were originally published separately in the 1970s. These articles are a good, brief introduction to the basic methods of Marxism and can serve as a first approach to the ideas developed


At first sight it may seem that the republication of The Communist Manifesto requires an explanation. How can one justify a new edition of a book written almost 150 years ago? Yet in reality the Manifesto is the most modern of books.

A growing number of scientists are becoming discontented with the old outlook. The rapid rise of the theory of Chaos and Complexity is one of the most significant developments in science at the turn of the new millennium. Many of the ideas expressed by this new trend are strikingly similar to the theories of dialectical materialism worked out by Marx and Engels over 150 years ago. A significant part of the present work is devoted to an exploration of the relationship between Marxist


Over the past period, especially since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there has been a systematic and vitriolic attack on the ideas of Marxism. From the citadels of higher learning to the pulpit, from free market institutes to the gutter press, a deafening torrent has rained down on the Marxist viewpoint. In order to confuse and disorient the class conscious worker, nothing is spared by the arch defenders of capitalism to discredit scientific socialism. But given that capitalism has meant


The essence of Marxism consists in this, that it approaches society concretely, as a subject for objective research, and analyzes human history as one would a colossal laboratory record. Marxism appraises ideology as a subordinate integral element of the material social structure. Marxism examines the class structure of society as a historically conditioned form of the development of the productive forces.