Is it really necessary for us to bother with philosophical questions? How is Philosophy relevant to the working class? While many people may not be convinced of the need for a revolutionary philosophy, the capitalist class has been fighting an ideological battle for hundreds of years. Every year, thousands of pages are written in an effort to discredit Marxist philosophy, from every angle imaginable. Marxism is alleged to be dead, dogmatic, discredited. Marxism is even attacked for its belief in progress, as postmodernism and pessimism have come to dominate academia. In this Ideological battle, the ruling class tries to undermine the working class’ confidence in their own ability to fight for socialism.
Despite that, we live in an age of revolution! Every year, mass movements filled with burning anger take place all around the world at an increasing frequency. What this anger needs is clear ideas with which to change the world. What it needs is a philosophy of revolution, Marxism.
Join us July 1st-2nd for the 2023 Western Canada Summer School in Edmonton, Alberta for the biggest Marxist event in Western Canada, to discuss what ideas are needed to create a better world. As Lenin said: “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
The history of philosophy is a fascinating story about the struggle of humanity to understand our world. By analyzing the history of philosophy, we can answer the most important questions in the struggle today —sharpening our understanding of the world, and preparing us to fight for a better tomorrow.
There is an open crisis in modern science. With so-called “universe breaker galaxies”, an all-encompassing replication crisis, and a paucity of scientific breakthroughs it appears like science is struggling to progress. Despite rapidly advancing technology, many are mystified at the seeming lack of scientific advancements when compared to the past. This drought of discovery is a symptom of the larger crisis of capitalist philosophy where nature is understood through static observations that must neatly be categorized. Over 150 years ago Marx and Engels developed the revolutionary philosophy of dialectical materialism and immediately saw its relevance to furthering our understanding of nature with many of their scientific predictions being confirmed in the years since. Basing itself on change, motion, and contradiction, dialectical materialism is the philosophical revolution needed to save modern science. As Engels said, “Nature is the proof of dialectics”.
The First World War was a nightmare seemingly without end for both civilians on the home-front and soldiers in the trenches. The War laid large tracts of Europe in waste, with millions, the great majority of whom were workers, dead or wounded. However, in November, 1918, taking inspiration from the heroic events in Russia a year earlier, the German working class entered the scene of history. The might of the workers brought down the Kaiser and the German Empire in a matter of weeks and brought an end to the slaughter of the First World War. Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain at the time, remarked, “the whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution.” Woodrow Wilson said, “We are running a race with Bolshevism and the world is on fire.” The situation was ripe for the working class to take over in Germany. However, the revolution ultimately failed. The consequences of the failure were felt over a decade later with the rise of fascism in Germany and the consolidation of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. The lessons to be learned from the German Revolution are therefore of crucial importance for revolutionaries today.
Today, postmodernism is the dominant philosophical outlook in universities around the world. Its main ideas are that nothing can be known for sure and that historical progress is nothing but an outdated myth. Postmodernists fight the ideas of Marxism with special attention, claiming that it is simplistic and outdated and that socialist revolution is impossible in today’s society. But despite their pessimistic content, the ideas of postmodernism are often presented as radical and left-wing and can even make their way into youth and labour movements. Once there, they sew extreme confusion and division. Socialists must learn how to fight the pessimistic ideas of postmodernism and defend Marxism, which is the only philosophy that shows the way forward to liberation.
The United Conservative Party has spent the last four years destroying Alberta. It has waged an all out assault on the working class, cutting funding for healthcare and education, and attacking labour standards and union rights. It has attacked every marginalized group it can, cutting programs for the disabled, removing safe-injection sites, and forcing a racist curriculum on elementary schools. It has given billions of dollars in public money to oil companies, and cut back on all environmental regulations it could. Danielle Smith’s Rstar scam, wants to give them 20 billion dollars to clean orphaned wells, they were liable for! Since May of 2021, oil sands tailings have been leaking into the Athabasca River. There is an acute social and environmental crisis in Alberta, and no major political parties seem interested in dealing with it. So is it too late? Is Alberta destined to be a right-wing infested, hazardous wasteland? Or can we reverse course? And if so, how?
Marxism, above all else, is a method of analysis. This method is the philosophy of dialectical materialism. According to Frederich Engels, dialectics was “our best working tool and our sharpest weapon.” Without this weapon, we would be blown this way and that by events. It is therefore of prime importance that we defend the Marxist method in the movement today.
In the late 1930s, in a period not unlike our own, a sharp polemic within the American Trotskyist movement during the period touched on the very fundamentals of Marxism. Starting with a debate on the class nature of the Soviet Union and Bolshevik principles of organization, Trotsky intervened in this dispute to draw out the philosophical method and the class pressures behind these disputes. The writings from this dispute are compiled in a book titled In Defence of Marxism and is a classic of Marxism to this day.