What do Marxist's think about the future

Doug Nielson dougnielson at comcast.net
Sat Sep 13 07:49:27 MDT 2003


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I just signed up for this list because an old question resurfaced and I
thought I might get an answer here.

I read the Dialectics of Nature by Fred Engels a long time ago.  I
realize this book is about whether or not nature itself is dialectical,
but what interested me more was Engel's conclusion that the human race
would go extinct along with all other life on earth with the burning out
of the sun.  I don't think there are too many people today who would
still hold hard and fast to this conclusion.

It actually seems to me that it is now possible to see that Engel's
prediction is contrary to the Marxist outlook.  For example, in contrast
to Engel's view of the distant future, Marx had a very open ended way of
looking at the near future socialist society.  He wasn't willing to make
specific predictions about what it would look like.  The fact that
Engel's made an ironclad prediction which has already been undermined
(as we can now easily imagine future humans surviving for at least a
time beyond the sun) should lead us to adopt a similar caution about
making predictions of final human destiny.  Engels was apparently unable
to see that making such a long term prognosis would require a knowledge
of the next 3 million (or is it billion --Alzheimers!) years of
technological and human evolution.  He must have assumed that all the
major properties of nature were known or nearly known and that the human
race was very near the end of it's technological evolution.  But isn't
that a big assumption?

So I'm curious. Do the old assumptions made by Engels still hold?  Do
Marxists ever discuss this?  -Doug





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