Evolutionism vs historicism

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Wed Dec 27 07:22:07 MST 2000

>>> snnoonan at msn.com 12/26/00 08:37PM >>>
Charles write:
"Marx and Engels had an evolutionist ( not historicist)  approach. In
evolutionism, earlier stages _are_ necessarily related to later stages."

Marx and Engels:
"...a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution
society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."

Note the possibility of either reconstruction or ruin. No necessary outcomes


CB: Yes, there is a necessary outcome. Capitalism will come to an end one way or an
other. That is necessary, inevitable.

But the main point here is that Marx and Engels did not hold to the idea that there
are no necessary connections in history. They did not hold, as Carrol claims that
there is no necessary connection between earlier epochs of history and later epochs.

There is a necessary connection between capitalism and socialism. It is a
contradiction of necessity and contingency. It is wrong to term it only contingent ,
from the standpoint of Marxism.


 Class struggle is the necessity, its outcome is contingent on the
balance of forces at play between the contending classes.
Although the range
of possible historical outcomes is delimited by mode of production,
political and cultural organization, history is still contingent, allowing
for a range of possible developments e.g. socialism or barbarism.
Capitalism wasn't inevitable.


CB: No, history is a dialectic of the contingent and the necessary. It is not Marxism
to claim that history is only contingent.  You have to conceive of it as a dialectic
or you are not putting forth Marx and Engels point of view.

Again the analogy is to an acorn. It is possible that the acorn will be destroyed
before it becomes an oak. However, if it is not , there is a necessary connection
between the acorn and the oak, as demonstrated by the fact that the acorn cannot
become an elm or a dog or a person. The acorn has a tendency to become an oak, is
another way of saying it.

Similarly, capialism has a tendency to become socialism. Of course, a meteor could hit
the earth and wipe out the human race, or there could be nuclear omnicide, and then
there would be no socialism, so it is not strictly speaking inevitable ( that's why I
put it in quotes). But the relationship between capitalism and socialism is not
accurately described as contingent. It is both necessary and contingent. It is a
dialectic of chance and necessity ( See _Anti-Duhring_ on the dialectic of chance and

Are you familiar with dialectic ?

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