Engels Dialectics of Nature (fwd)
dougnielson at comcast.net
dougnielson at comcast.net
Fri Sep 19 09:20:36 MDT 2003
I've decided to expose my full wackyness on the subject of the "Dialectics of
Nature". Actually, I'm hoping it will only appear wacky until people get used to
the ideas. Please consider this a rough sketch.
What I've noticed in bringing this topic up is that it is very easy to get
oneself labeled a nut. The assumption is made (particularly among Marxists) that
anyone who gives "the end time" more than a passing thought is somehow worthy of
contempt. Personally, I think the question of human destiny and our
relationship to nature is a profound and worthy subject.
I think the class struggle should be seen as a product of our deeper contest or
conflict with nature. It is a product of the uneven way that we as a species
have come to dominate nature. After we have eliminated the class struggle we
will be able to get on with what has always been the primary activity of all
life, which is to extend and expand out into the surrounding universe.
If Engels was trying to place the human social dialectic
within a larger dialectic internal to inanimate nature then I think he made a
mistake. (By the way, that doesn't mean I don't realize he was an intellectual
I think the dialect of life is merely the process whereby we
gradually sort through our surroundings, seperating out those things that are
useful from those that threaten or get in our way. Is this not something we not
have in common with life at all levels? We are told that evolution is driven by
blind trial and error. Fair enough. The only difference is that now at the level
of human society we are evolving with less blindness.
In recent years, with experiments on chimpansees and other species, the brick
wall between human consciousness and the consciousness of lower animals has been
eroded. We can now see that there is nothing mystical about "consciousness".
Your level of consciousess can be measured by the level to which you are able to
comprehend and manipulate your surroundings.
If this is true, then it stands to reason that the barrier can be broken down in
the other direction as well and that even higher higher levels of consciousness
beyond the human might be achievable.
OK, this is where sometmes people begin to get edgy but please bear with me.
Marx predicted that we will begin to make history consciously with advent of
socialism. It turns out that the leap forward in productivity that we expect to
see with socialism will actually bring with it the dreation of a higher
consciousness. Again, nothing mystical here. To the degree that we can all put
our heads together and thereby increase our collective manipulation of matter,
to that degree we have created a higher consciousness.
In fact, we can see this is already happening. Our society already has a
rudimentary network of intellectuals who vie for directed it. With socialism,
we will democratize this process and everyone will have a voice. All be allowed
into the exclusive ruling class which is currently directing our fate.
We will have completed the final phase of the construction or birth of our
It seems to be taboo to talk about our society becoming an actual physical
concrete organism. I'm not sure why. Possibly it scares people because they
think of an organisms as necessarily undemocratic structures that demand
individual submission. All I can say is that collectively we will be able to
unleash unimaginable power, while if we don't "get it together" we are in danger
of destroying everything. At this point in history, there is obviously, no going
back. Anyone, who has a job today works in a dictatorship and should have no
fear of a much more democratic system.
I suspect that the thirst for power may be fundamental to life itself, but
that's getting off the subject. The thirst for power is definitely a part of
human psychology whch is where the dream of socialism gets its appeal.
Freeman Dyson with his "intergallactic internet" is already trying to imagine
how an even higher level organism (with presumably an even higher level of
consciousness) would be able to manipulate nature at the cosmic level. He
certainly has no problem expressing his thirst for power.
I'm reminded of the old wobbly parable in which the boss is exposed as being the
asshole of the body. Don't worry, the assholes can be dealt with. Now i have
you completely convinced I'm a nut. So be it.
P.S. There may be some dialectical processes at work in various aspects of
natural phenomena. That question is way over my head. What I feel pretty
confident of, though, is that there is not some dialectical process internal to
nature that wants to track us down and kill us. In otherwords, if obstacles
arise before us we need to maintain our nerve and, as always, keep looking for a
way out. There is never any guarantee of success but I have complete
faith that if we make it through the next few years that our descendents will be
will be just like us and never ever give up. This is what gives me such
confidence that in predicting the absolute and certain certain demise of all
life on earth Engels is absolutely 100% on the wrong track.
--dougnielson at comcast.net
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