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Since I’ve left the Bay Area my exposure to Marxist activists has been limited, and my inoculation to annoyance some of the lamer arguments has weakened.  And I’m not talking about the fellow travelers who navigate intellectual waters influenced by writers like Althuser or the Frankfurt school synthesizing deep cultural and political analysis by picking and choosing which tenets they want to promote.  I’m talking about true believers who are also well-read and even brilliant in areas of science or art, but whose eyes glaze over when politics come up and their default positions come up as a uniform response no matter how complex the topic in particular.

I know I have a reader or two from these ranks.  I just learned that over the weekend.  So I have a question about dialectic materialism, or specifically the notion that the perfection of humanity through revolution and the “unity of opposites” through phases of history identified, categorized, and denominated in such a manner as to suggest the inevitability of progress.  Apparently built into the universe are not random forces, but an evolution which points to the formation of organic compounds which interact with energy and mass to convert to life.  Then such life develops collectively into ecosystems, until intelligence and self-awareness are developed.  From that mix comes society and built into the evolution the elimination of all oppression and strife out of which the “true history of man” is born.

So, my question is – how is it that you don’t believe in God?  For 162 years since the Communist Manifesto, and perhaps before then, you have proposed nothing but intelligent design in the universe.  Yes, you have rejected Feurbach’s thesis of materialism by integrating the Hegelian component, but that really doesn’t explain where the potential for the dialectic comes.  You’re arguing essentially the existence of a grand designer.

Some of you dismiss the question as the product of “idealism.”  Others don’t seem to grasp the question.  None of you has given me a straight answer in 30 years of my asking.   Theologians like Hans Kung and Ignace Lepp have asked the same question, and Marxists like Erich Fromme and Marcuse have tried to answer, but try to do so on their own terms rather than the truly address the question.  The question is simple.  Where did the potential for the dialectic come from?

Any takers?


February 2011