Dialectical Materialism - brief reply to Mark Lause and David Quarter

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sun Jul 27 05:00:23 MDT 2003

Mark wrote:

The term Marx and Engels used was "historical materialism."


No. Karl Marx never used the term "historical materialism" even once. Rather
he used the term "the materialist conception of history, the materialist
approach to history, the materialist outlook on history". He saw it as an
approach or guide to understanding, investigating and studying history and
society, not as a finished doctrine or systematic ideology or philosophy of

The term "historical materialism" was introduced by leftist intellectuals in
the later 19th century, who sought to systematise and popularise Marx's
views, and it was accepted and used by Frederick Engels, who, in various
pamphlets, sought to provide quick summaries of the theoretical and
scientific conclusions reached by Marx and himself, comprehensible to
literate workers. However, even Engels clearly saw historical materialism as
a bunch of generalisations from historical study, generalisations whose
validity had to proved and possibly adjusted through specific research about
specific episodes of history and social developments. So we are talking
about an orientation to research, or a theoretical framework which suggests
a way to approach social research.

David Quarter wrote:

It seems interesting. now if I could just understand what you just said???


In order to reply to that, I need to know what you don't understand. You
could also check out the discussion we already had about this subject in the
archives (with Les Schaffer, Julio Huato etc.).


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