On making predictions. Marx and others.

Marxism. Science

As I have already demonstrated, Marx's materialism, dialectics, dialectical laws and value are nonsense. So is Marx's great discovery, the revelation of the secret of capitalistic production through surplus value. His science is not any better.

Eternal truths

Are there eternal, final and ultimate truths, truths so secure that any doubt of them seems to us to be tantamount to insanity? That twice two makes four, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, that Paris is in France? Certainly there are.
Still, within all sciences, within physics, biology, history and others, we are all the time making new discoveries, making old truths obsolete; it is very difficult to find any eternal, final truths.

The problem is there are people who find it tantamount to insanity to doubt the truth of the Bible or the Quran. Engels is to be commended for not putting the truth of dialectics above the truths of physics and other sciences; still I would not be a bit surprised if somebody found it tantamount to insanity to doubt Marx. To Engels, absolute truth is absolute conviction and vice versa.
If you by Paris mean the capital of France (and not Paris, Texas), it is tantamount to insanity to doubt it lies in France. But is it an eternal, final and ultimate truth? Was it true one million years ago? Will it be true in a million years?

Are there absolute eternal moral laws? Since at least Biblical times, we have Thou shalt not steal. Is this an eternal moral injunction? No. In a society with no motives for stealing, where only lunatics would steal, how you would be laughed at if you preached Thou shalt not steal.

It would be ridiculous to preach that if you drop a thing, it will fall. This does not mean things don't fall if you drop them. Engels thinks that if everybody follows a rule, this shows the rule is not valid. I would rather say it shows the rule is valid.

Maybe Engels believes that in a society with no poverty there will be no motive to steal. Maybe he believes that if there is no private property there is no motive to steal. But there will always be a motive for stealing: You want more. Men fight for mating rights. Most of the time, the fighting is symbolic; it's showing off your assets. Not only worldly assets are important but they certainly help.

Truth is something you get closer and closer to. Should mankind ever reach the stage where it could work with only eternal truths, it had reached the point where the intellectual world had been exhausted and where infinity had been counted.
Except for such rare cases as have been referred to above, truth is relative. In other cases, if we apply the antithesis between truth and error truth becomes relative. If we try to apply it absolutely we get beaten: the poles of the antithesis become transformed into their opposites, truth becomes error and error truth.
An example is Boyle's law. It says that the volume of a gas varies inversely with the pressure if the temperature is not changed. It was soon discovered that the law was only valid for some gases under certain circumstances, truth became error; maybe further investigation will provide additional constraints.

To Engels, truth is something mental, it is a figment of your consciousness. It is something you "know". Most truths are relative. Once it was true that earth was flat. Now, that is a lie.
Personally, I prefer seeing truth as something depending on the outer world. For billions of years, it has been true that the earth is (approximately) round. Man has not always known this.

Science

Political economy is the science of the laws governing the production and exchange of commodities. The conditions change from land to land and from generation to generation. Therefore the laws also change, thus political economy is a historical science. At first it investigates the special laws for each individual stage in the evolution of production and exchange, only then it can establish more general laws.

To the Marxist, science is dynamic, a movement from knowing little to knowing more. Like Boyle's relationship between volume and pressure that has been adjusted to confirm to reality and that might need further adjustments. A similar development with necessary adjustments is ascribed to Marx and Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao.

In 1915 Lenin discovered that socialism had to begin in the capitalist countries. The Russian revolution was in 1917. In 1924 Stalin put forth the theory of Socialism in One Country, his great discovery that socialism in capitalist countries was not necessary before a Russian revolution. That Lenin was wrong does not mean that he was wrong, not according to Engels; it was true when he said it. It was true until 1924.

Already 1884, Engel could see "the inevitable collapse of the capitalist mode of production which is daily taking place before our eyes to an ever growing degree." Capitalism might be crumbling; it certainly got problems. Communism has crumbled except for small isolated sanctuaries. Communism had success if by success you mean power. Dictatorship never was outdated; maybe Communism can come back as the dictatorship it always was. It will never be the liberating power it never was.

People are searching for correct predictions in the Bible and in the prophecies of Nostradamus, and they find them. People are searching for correct predictions in the works of Marx and Engels, and they find them. Who is surprised? Marx has written so much and so contradictory it seems almost unavoidable that some things should be right. Especially considering his dialectical method that so easily can be interpreted both this and that way.

Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Einstein each gave us descriptions of the universe that were maybe not perfect but at least each was better than its predecessor. What's characteristic for Marxist "science" and development is it is just failure upon failure upon failure. No Marxist theory was an improvement on anything except for in retrospect; expect for discovering that the previous theory was wrong.

Popper's controversial opinion

As the philosopher Karl Popper observed, the Marxist dogmas do not satisfy his falsifiability criterion; his controversial opinion that a scientific statement should say something. According to this criterion, for a statement to be scientific, there must be some way to decide if it is true; there must be some way to decide if it can be false. If you say all swans are white, this is a scientific statement because it is possible falsify it, it is theoretically possible to show it is false by showing a hypothetical black swan.

If I say that on my left shoulder there is a small invisible devil projecting evil thoughts into my head and on my right shoulder there is a small invisible angel projecting good thoughts into my head, there is no way to prove that I am right or wrong. If you say there exists a value that depends only on labor, there is no way to prove that you are right or wrong. If you say materialism is right and idealism wrong, there is no way to prove you are right or wrong. Dialectically, it is a law that swans are white because it is a trend that swans are white; if there are any black swans, they don't count. Dialectics can't be shown to be right or wrong because if it is wrong it doesn't count.

Socialism

Socialism was first utopian. With Marx's two great discoveries, the materialistic conception of history and the revelation of the secret of capitalistic production through surplus value, socialism became a science.

The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that all societies are divided into classes depending on how things are produced and exchanged. Social changes do not come from man's better understanding of how the world works, all social changes come from changes in production and exchange. Capitalism is the result of industrialism and its more efficient production.

We already know about the surplus value, Marx's great discovery that not all money goes to the producing worker. That society is divided in classes was nothing new. That society do not work from understanding and application of principles but from material causes we know from Adam Smith; Marx extended this to changes in society.
Sense or nonsense, I do find it a bit ironic that Marx wanted to change the society through better understanding of how the world works, through his "science".

Under capitalism, the production is industrial, in factories. The exchange is workers getting money from the sale of commodities; others also getting money from the sale of commodities. Marx divines a future communist society different from capitalism; different in production or in exchange. So what will change? Production? Will there no longer be industrial production in factories? Or will the exchange change? Will the workers get all the money from sale of commodities? Marx does give us a glimpse of his future:

In the communist society, everybody can become accomplished in any branch he wishes. He can go fishing in the morning and work as a literary critic in the afternoon.

Marx solves the problem with exploitation by letting every man be a producer. He does not say how he gets things he does not produce himself; presumably by individual barter. (Is not Marx's ideal communist a lot like that paragon of small bourgeoisie-ism, Moominpappa of the Moomins?)

Captain Marvel

When I was young, I read about Captain Marvel. Most of the time he is Billy Batson, a normal young man, not very remarkable until he gets into some sort of trouble. If he then speaks the magic word Shazam he is transformed into Captain Marvel, an invulnerable superhero, something like Superman. This is the method Marx uses: when he speaks the magic word Science his theories become invulnerable.

© Anders Floderus