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1. Why do Marxists claim that their philosophy is scientific?l
*Marxism isn't scientific, but was concocted by a bunch of jealous poor people.
* Marxism is scientific because it is based on the real world
* Marxism is scientific because really intelligent people thought it up
1A. Can we use science to plot our way through
We can, and should, be scientific about social questions
Social "science" is more art than anything else, so there is no
way to learn it or apply it
It doesn't matter whether it's science or art
Social science is scientific and always leads to exact answers
2. Which fundamental philosophical approach,
idealism or materialism, yields truth?
It's best to be an idealist because materialism is crass and should be beneath
Materialism gives an exact picture of all truth
Materialism is more useful than idealism
* Neither one is better. Both should be used equally
3. Which of these workers, under capitalism, is more likely to be applying materialism in their work?
* A television reporter
* A fortune teller
* An auto mechanic
* A movie star
4. Which historical group was more likely to have been using materialism?
Early "utopian" socialists
* "Flower Power" hippies in the 1960's
* The doctors who discovered a cure for polio
The Spanish Inquisition
5. From a materialist point of view, which statement seems more true?
* The Bush Administration did not invade Iraq because they expected material gain, but because the Iraqi government was evil
* People across the world resist pressures from American corporations because of their own economic interests, not because they hate freedom
* Bosses subvert unions because they love democracy, not because they want to squeeze more money out of their employees
* People should not struggle to advance their families' interest, but should wait patiently for pie in the sky when we die*If popups don't work when you click on the answers, you will probably get a yellow line across the top of your screen. Click on it and choose "temporarily enable popups."
Is the real world real?
"One expression of the genius of Marx and Engels was that they despised pedantic playing with new words, erudite terms, and simple 'isms', and said simply and plainly: there is a materialist line and an idealist line in philosophy, and between them there are various shades of agnosticism." --V.I. Lenin
Marxists are materialists as opposed to being idealists. We believe that ideas need to be checked against the real world. Idealists, the opposites of materialists, believe that the real world is only a crude approximation of another world, a perfect world existing in their minds.
An example is the story of the great astronomer Galileo, who used the newly-invented telescope to prove that the Earth rotates around the Sun. Idealistic church leaders arrested him and forced him to recant. Although he made other great contributions to physical science, Galileo never practiced astronomy again.
It can be frustrating to argue with idealists, because they do not believe in nor accept proof. Scientific evidence from the real world does not sway them. The persistent efforts to discredit Charles Darwin's great work on evolution make a current example. Arguments against Marxism are usually framed idealistically.
Idealism, of course, because idealists can be convinced of any level of nonsense. Capitalist information sources even undermine the very word, "materialism," by confusing it with acquisitiveness. Materialists, they would say, are people who want to buy a lot of stuff.
Everything in this world, the idealist says, is subjective. An idealist can convince his/herself of anything, and often does. An idealist might believe that hijacking an airliner and crashing it into a skyscraper will be of benefit. He/she might try to improve their situation by blowing up a bus with him/her in it! An idealist might be convinced to carry a shotgun into a high school and kill a few friends before turning the gun on his/herself. An idealist might think he/she can fly off a skyscraper.
Idealists also blame themselves and their own lack of "faith" for lack of success in the economic, athletic, or romantic world. An idealist might vote for a mass murderer if he/she thought they shared agreement on some abstract notion. Hallucinogenic drugs and religion completely derail idealists, since they confuse their immediate feelings with facts. Such people are dangerous to themselves and others.
There is great pressure in capitalist society to be an idealist. Since idealists might believe anything, they can be convinced to buy almost anything, vote for almost anybody, or commit war crimes. The American right-wing counts on idealism to get supporters for war, poverty, and oppression. "Work and pray, live on hay," sang the great working-class songwriter Joe Hill, "You'll get pie in the sky when you die!"
Materialism is fundamental to Marxism, as it is fundamental to any scientific knowledge or approach to knowledge. Not all socialists are materialists, and not all materialists are socialists, but Marxists are materialists.
Study up by reading Frederick Engels' Anti-Duhring or a much shorter excerpt, "Socialism, Utopian and Scientific."
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