* Marxist education:Change is Constant

Even though we may find it convenient to define a brick as a brick, a tree as a tree, or a dog as a dog, we know there's more to it. A brick wasn't always a brick; it used to be clay. It won't always be a brick either, as it erodes and degenerates into something else, probably dust. We may not actually see the change, but we know it is happening, and it is happening constantly!

To understand our world better, we need dialectical thinking. We need to build on our good common sense and cultivate an approach that will enable us to understand more and, hopefully, predict better. There is an *outstanding exposition on dialectics, materialism, and dialectical materialism here on this site.

But for now, let's just consider how important it is to realize that nothing is staying the same, and that everything is constantly changing. The sentence, "It is what it is," can't actually be true, because the slice of time between the first "It is" and the last "it is" in that sentence changed the original "it."

If our vision were good enough to see molecules, we would see them appearing, disappearing, or moving around within any object. Even without super vision, we can witness how things change over time. Put a glass of water on a windowsill and notice how it slowly changes into an empty glass. Or watch a video of a rock of ice changing to liquid then vapor. The same change is going on with everything, no matter how "permanent" things may seem!

As it is with material objects, so it is with societies. They are never static but are always changing. Before World War II, for example, most Americans lived on farms. In a few short decades, America was transformed into a primarily urban society. Economists and other scientists make graphs to show the changes that occur over time. Sometimes, they project their graphs and statistics into the future. They might assume, for example, that even fewer families will make their living from agriculture in the near future.

The capitalists who control our ordinary schools and information sources talk very little about change. They prefer that we think of our world as static. If something changes at all, they like to tell us, it will soon return to the way it was before. "Change" is not a word that capitalists like to use, and they like it even less when we use it. Whether they like it or not, though, nothing is what it used to be, nor will anything continue to be what it is.

Marxists realize that changes occur at different rates of speed, and that, sometimes, great changes seem to occur very quickly. We call those abrupt changes "qualitative changes" while the ordinary everyday changes are called "quantitative changes." Looking at World War II again, an observer in the late 1930s and early 1940s might have noticed that relations between the United States and Japan were changing for the worse. On December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, a qualitative change occurred. The quantitative changes had accumulated gradually until, finally, they added up to a qualitative change. The two nations were at war.

Economists and other scientists find it relatively simple to make predictions of quantitative changes. If something is changing in a certain direction, it will probably continue to go that way. Qualitative leaps, on the other hand, are very difficult, if not impossible, to predict. Even when we are reasonably certain that a qualitative change is going to come about, we still can't say exactly when or how. A brick may keep its shape and be called a brick for a long time. We know that it will become something else eventually, but who would want to guess when and how?


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You can go through these little modules in any order you like, but now that you have finished Change is Constant (It Really Isn't "What It Is") then

Is Dialectical Materialism Really So Complicated? is recommended next.