Year Published: 1938
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX8014
It is the purpose of this book to restate the most important principles and contents of Marx's social science in the light of recent historical events and of the new theoretical needs which have arisen under the impact of those events. In so doing we shall deal throughout with the original ideas of Marx himself rather than with their subsequent developments brought about by the various 'orthodox' and 'revisionist, dogmatic and critical, radical and moderate schools of the Marxists on the one hand, and their more or less violent critics and opponents on the other hand.
To arrive at [his] results, Marx used a conceptual framework of his own, which he composed largely of philosophical elements reshaped from Hegel, but into which he absorbed as well all the new tendencies of the social knowledge of his time. In conscious opposition to Hegel's idealistic system, he called this new set of ideas his materialism. As against the various other materialism tenets, he described it more precisely by the addition of one or more such adjectives as historical, dialectical, critical, revolutionary, scientific, or proletarian.
Historical materialism is in its main tendency no longer a philosophical, but rather an empirical and scientific, method. It contains the premises for a real solution of the task which naturalistic materialism and positivism had only apparently solved by an eclectic application to the science of society of the highly specialized methods which, through centuries of study, the natural scientists had invented and meticulously adapted to their particular fields of investigation. Instead of transferring those scientific methods ready-made to the new sphere of society, Marx developed specific methods of social research, a Novum Organum which would permit the investigator in this newly opened field to penetrate the 'eidola' standing in the way of unbiassed research, and to determine "with the precision of natural science" the real subject-matter hidden behind an interminable confusion of 'ideological' disguises. This is the kernel of Marxian materialism.