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On Materialism – Basic background and Marxian thoughts



Materialism is basically a theory that states that nothing but matter exists. Thus, the study of matter and its movements and its changes is the study of materialism. This theory further claims that the consciousness and mental states are results of material movements and modifications. Mind and consciousness are by-products of matter itself (human brain, the nervous system). So, basically existence of thought is only possible because of the existence of matter.

Materialism is considered by many philosophers to be a synonym to philosophical physicalism which views that everything and all that exists is physical in form. The contradictions to these theories are idealism, pluralism, dualism and other forms of monism (these shall be dealt with by other articles).

Karl Marx was a German philosopher who was heavily influenced by the works of Ludwig Feuerbach – a fellow German philosopher who was a critique of Christianity. Feuerbach insisted that “to prove that something exists means to prove that it exists not only in mind.” He stated that it (something) must exist outside the mind and should be constant.

This theory was what inspired Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx to develop a notion of historical materialism. They stated that the real problems are what exist and not what are thought inside a group’s mind. Real problems are politico-socio-economic problems as per Marx and Engels. They thus shifted their discourses on production, producers and workers. The focal point of Marxian philosophy was thus the distribution of wealth among the labors and employers.

Friedrich Engels states that “The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in men’s better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch.” (Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Scientific and Utopian).

Marx’s concept of materialism is simply the theory of determination of a society’s growth based on the struggles between the economic forces. These economic forces are material in nature, since they are what exist in a living society. The phrase “dialectical materialism” was coined by Karl Kautsky, after the death of Marx.

Karl Marx opined that we could learn in history that progression (in law, religion, morality, etc) was possible through conflict between forces. The Marxist theory of dialectics was pretty inspired by Hegel’s dialectics.

Dialectical materialism can also be understood as a socio-politico-economic and philosophical subject that states ways to understand the reality. Dialectical materialism is a theory that insists that reasoning should exist while aiming to understand the movement, change and interconnection of things.

Dialectics opposes the metaphysical mode of thought practices. For example ‘a bird is something that has wings’. Charles Darwin also a materialist rejected these sort of thoughts claiming that not all things that have wings are birds, bats for example are not birds.

This is exactly what Marxist philosophers opine. They say that everything must be observed empirically. If something cannot be applied then they are to be rejected. Practical approaches to matter is required.

Marxism derives economic principles on the basis of these forms of thoughts.

It was his (Marx’s) belief that workers are a class in a society who have it installed in their brains that “individual” self-interest is the basic foundation of a society, that working class should either give in to the material world (greed) or use religion/mysticism to “rise above the material world.”

Human greed is “natural” and that the society cannot be changed – this was the basic theory that Marx rejected. So basically the theory that Marx rejects are that – workers are only left with two options – to accept the natural greed or use religion to rise above. Marx however does not explain “what” is rising above religion.

Marx opines that progress is not defined by individual self-interest or “greed” and that this greed is not the natural part of human characteristic.

This problem as per Marx can be solved through Dialectical Materialism. Materialism is what represents the Marxist “reality” that “dialectics” analyzes.

So Dialectics as per Marx is a method of analysis.

Dialectics simply accepts that every thing is constantly changing and this continuous changes are results of interactions and conflicts between two or more forces – as per Marx there are many little and unnoticed changes that in conclusion brings in a qualitative transformation in a society. For example, reactions between chemicals – Parts of Hydrogen and Oxygen mixing up to form water, or, even reaction between water and fire to create steam.

Materialism as per Marx is nature as it is – with no adulteration of religion or mysticism. So materialism is basically the reality that exists beyond our mind.

Our thoughts, consciousness and characteristics are shaped by the environment that we live in – the material world. This is what Marxian materialism says.

So basically, when you look around on the basis of dialectical materialism you see that there is a logical development of beliefs and opinions, events, actions and the history.

All development as per Marx is based on conflicts and interactions in the material world.

Marx and Engels were students of Hegelian dialectics (meaning they heavily studied it) and were in opposition to what Hegel theorized – that human experience is dependent on the mind’s perceptions. Marx and Engels tried more of a realistic approach and emphasized importance of real-world conditions in terms of class, labor and socio-economic interactions.

‘Marx and Engels do not deny the reality of mental or spiritual processes but only accept that ideas could arise only as products and reflections of material conditions.’ (Dialectical materialism, Encyclopedia Britannica). They opined that combining or reconciling materialism with idealism would lead to confusion.

They (Marx and Engels) were avid supporters of Feuerbach, but soon became a critic to Feuerbach in order to restore Hegelian dialectic with a principle modification. They tried to free Hegelian dialectics from idealism and install materialism.

As per Marx, “Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.” (Karl Marx , Theses On Feuerbach, 1845/Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One).

Marx opposed Feuerbach since he thought that Feuerbach did not see the importance of practical activity.

Engels thought that “Hegel was an idealist. To him, the thoughts within his brain were not the more or less abstract pictures of actual things and processes, but, conversely, things and their evolution were only the realized pictures of the ‘Idea’, existing somewhere from eternity before the world was. This way of thinking turned everything upside down, and completely reversed the actual connection of things in the world. ” (Fredrick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific). This was what they wanted to change.

“Thoughts” for Marx and Engels were not separate from materialism, or to say that they were not independent reflections. Thoughts were products of human labor, and they contradicted with each other because of the contradictions within human society. This was the prime change Marxism developed to amend Hegelian Dialectics.

This theory was accepted by people like GyorgyLukacs, Lenin, Stalin and even Mao. So much so, that evolutionary biologists around the world even install the concept of dialectical materialism in their scientific approach – they accept that this theory does not provide a programmatic method but provides warning signs against narrowness of thoughts and dogmatism.

Though his ideas have in history been used to legitimize ill dictatorships, Karl Marx actually had a decent philosophy relating to societal development through dialectics on materialism.

However, there are flaws to the ideas of Marx. One is that development and progression is not always dependent upon the accounts of pure materialism.

Some philosophers even argue that dialectical materialism fails because in an authoritarian environment (which most communist states have faced) “dialectics” and “creative and critical thinking” are impossible.

In theory the core principle of dialectical materialism – dialogues between forces – is good. But, in reality the society does not only develop on realistic or existing objects, they also depend on human thoughts and ideas that can be formed upon logical ideologies.

So basically a society will get good values if a group of people come together and lay out their ideas – be it good or bad or even evil. The group would have a moral compass to pick up good values that everyone could agree upon. But Marx’s materialisms cannot be ignored either, because societal forces do exist.

Individual Interest as individual thoughts and ideas are thus pretty important. Individual ideas are actually the basis of development since they go on to make ideas of groups when accepted or rejected.

Marxist dialectics have given birth tomany modern communist philosophies. The ideas of Marx were modified by many Marxists, including Vladimir Lenin. Lenin went on to propound a concept of “Democratic centralism” which is a practice of reaching political decisions through voting processes inside a party. In party meetings debates motions are proposed by members and then debates are held to logically explain the motions. When certain motions are accepted through votes they are to be followed by all participants. Lenin discouraged propagandizing once votes have been placed and decisions are taken. Lenin said the theory consisted of “freedom of discussion, unity of action” (Vladimir Lenin, 1906 “Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P”).

This principle has been directly installed in the Chinese Constitution. Article 3 of the constitution provides that “the state organs of the People’s Republic of China apply the principle of democratic centralism. The National People’s Congress and the local people’s congresses at different levels are instituted through democratic election. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. All administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the state are created by the people’s congresses to which they are responsible and under whose supervision they operate. The division of functions and powers between the central and local state organs is guided by the principle of giving full play to the initiative and enthusiasm of the local authorities under the unified leadership of the central authorities.”

This principle of Lenin created a new communist-political philosophy termed as “Marxism-Leninism” which is being followed by several political parties around the world including the Nepal Communist Party.

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Arts & Literature





“Marry me”


“Because I love you. I have good income. I got good personality. I will be an awesome husband and father.”

“Aww. You are so sweet. So, are we living separately or with your parents after marriage?”

“With my parents. Can’t leave them.”

“Cool. I am in a situation then. Here, I am not marrying only you but also your parents. Healthy and sustainable relationship is where there is shared values and respects, love and intimacy, freedom and liberty. You being understanding isn’t enough. Your parents too should be understanding. So can you please ask your parents if they too want me under the following terms:
1. I don’t want to sleep separately while in menses. Your parents should not have problem with that.
2. I am first a human, then only somebody’s wife, somebody’s daughter-in-law and so on. In winter, I too feel cold. In summer, I too feel hot. I too feel bored and lazy once in a while. I too feel like taking a long nap when tired. I too have my own line of thoughts and logics. I want to be treated and understood as human first and let me go with my comfort here I need it the most.
3. Like how I am marrying you embracing all your flaws and imperfections, I want to be married by your house embracing all my flaws and imperfections.
4. I am fine if your parents don’t want to look after anything, from kitchen to household chores, but they shouldn’t be dictating how I should do my works and play my roles. Likewise, they shouldn’t have problem with you helping me out.
5. I love to befriend your relatives but I have my own way of doing that, which may not be in a traditional way and they should trust my way of doing that.
6. I have my own sense of dressing and I know how to carry myself maintaining my class and modesty. Hope that freedom of choice will be respected.
7. When I am married to you, I by law and by heart committed to you and I don’t need to prove that by always wearing sindur and pote.
8. Last but not the least, I marry you to build a family with shared values and my values and principles are strictly inclined to how a modern educated family should be. I can’t live with cognitive dissonance. So, ask them please if we can align in terms of that.

“Baby, they are bit traditional. We will adjust ni. They aren’t going to live forever.”

“I don’t want a life where I need to wish for someone’s death or wait for someone to die to live my life as it pleases me. Nor I want to plan abroad just to escape the world I couldn’t fight. I am here to stay, live and die in this beautiful country with the man I will be married to.”

“Don’t think so much. Just give a try.”

“I am not thinking. I am just being honest and putting my terms as it is. I make sure you enjoy the same freedom and liberty without being judged from my side of family and relatives. Here, I am not marrying just you but your family too. I should let them know what they are signing up for. I don’t want to marry to end up in divorce nor I want to marry to separate parents from their son.”

“I am there to understand, don’t create complication please.”

“Only you understanding me will not be enough when we share our house with two other humans with their own set of values and beliefs.”

He could not speak to his parents about the talk. She found someone who could and agreed to.

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Arts & Literature

Anime is not only for kids



Comic books was part of my growing up, and then came English movies and series. I am that “Government school guy,” which means my English was terrible (it still is but it was worst). Thanks to the subtitles, I would watch anyway and with time, things started getting smoother and easier for me as English didn’t seem that hard. Until now, I was still a Hollywood fanboy. It’s only after meeting that one friend in college, who happened to be a big fan of anime, that I learned about that thing. At first, like everybody else, I thought anime is cartoons made for kids. The friend introduced me to anime world, and through him, I learned that there is this one anime called “One Punch Man” that anime community is going gaga about. So, I got curious by the title and gave a shot. Guess what? I got hooked with anime like magnet to iron. And here I am giving my opinion about anime and why it is superior form of entertainment in this world filled with movies and TV shows. Yes, SUPERIOR!

So, what is anime?

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Anime is just the animated motion picture version of comic book called Manga. Manga is the original source materials for the anime. It is a picture book with all the actions, dialogues, and everything that a comic book contains produced by exceptionally good and creative artists. It can differ from simple kid shows to shows which deals with heavy real world politics too.

The original source of these mangas and anime are from Japan but nowadays it’s spreading into other countries like Korea and China too. Mangas and anime are so popular in Japanese culture that it is part of school curriculum.

My recommendation

There are lots of high quality animes out there. Some of my favourites are:

One Piece

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This is my favourite among all the favourites. This was first published around the year 1999. The storyline is about pirates and their shenanigans. It’s kind of light hearted with touch of comedy but it actually sends out the message related to an oppression of the people by those from a higher power; it covers racism, slavery; shows what real freedom feels like, so for people who like deep characterization, value of friendship, value of dream and tackle of real world problems, then this show is definitely for you.

Death Note

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This is another boundary breaking show. It gives the message that if you do bad things with good intention for good of the people, it’s still bad. This anime is about hero who wants to save others, and a psychopath who will kill all for achieving peace. It is detective-type story with main character being Kagami Light and Detective L. So for people who like cat-mouse race story, this show is definitely for you. This anime generally falls under starter pack for new comer in anime world.

Demon Slayer

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It’s not boundary breaking in terms of characterization or in a story too but its boundary breaking in animation. When it first came out, people lost their mind over its animation. With awesome cinematography using excellent animation, this anime defined the new era in anime world. So, those who like to feel the evolution of anime world should not miss this one to feel the differences and how anime world changed with time.

The Promised Neverland

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This anime belongs to the horror genre and took the genre to a whole new level. It has simple story with no as such monsters like creature, but it deals with a bunch of kids from age 4/5 to 12 years old, who are kind of genius for their age and are trying to run away from their orphanage which they found out is the place meant to harvest these kids for the monsters living out in the world. If you like horror genre then this shows is definitely for you and its animation is also of topnotch.

Okay, I am done! Now go check out on your own some of the best animes available and you know will what I meant. All I can say for now is, if you are multimedia entertainment fan then anime is something you have been missing for a long time. Containing entertainment of every genre, with topnotch cinematography using crisp animation and dealing with real world problem in a very subtle and metaphorical way, then anime is what you need to watch right now. Go watch it.

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Arts & Literature

Facebook love, it was complicated




Hey” was her first message
I’ll be always there” was the last
Between those, there were lots of messages
That’s the story of love in pieces

Good morning” was how it all used to start
Go sleep, pineapple dream” was how it used to end
Between those, there were lots of greetings
That’s the story of love in pieces

Can we meet?” was how she took the first step
It was nice meeting you” was how I took my chance
Between those, there were lots of giggles and talks
That’s the story of love in pieces

I won’t be available, take care of yourself” was what used to happen
Hey am back” was how it used to restart
Between those, there used to be lots of missing
That’s the story of love in pieces

So many selfies, so many coffees
Park, mall, movies and what not all
Between those, there was a love in making
That’s the story of love in pieces

Happy anniversary…we met last year, FB says
Seriously? How fast times flies”
That used to be big celebration
Between those, there were lots of celebrations on every Day’s and festivals
That’s the story of love in pieces

One day,
She got a message “Hey” from him.
hello there” was her reply to him

This time, that guy was not me.
I don’t know what happened between them,
but in between, we stopped talking.

That’s the story of love in pieces

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