History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2001: Q.5 (a)
Q.5 (a) “Marxian Communism is primarily the offspring of German Hegelianism and French Socialism.” Comment.
Marxian Communism as the offspring of German Hegelianism
‘Hegelian dialectic’ and ‘Marxian dialectical materialism’
Hegel was a great German thinker. His view on historical changes taking place in the society can be understood through the Hegelian dialectic, which is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.
Hegelian dialectic is characterized as a three-step process:
(a) The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
(b) The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.
(c) The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths and forming a ‘new thesis’, starting the process over.
Hegelian formulae: Thesis+antithesis=synthesis
Examples: (a) “thesis” (e.g. the French Revolution) would cause the creation of its “antithesis” (e.g. the Reign of Terror that followed), and would eventually result in a “synthesis” (e.g. the constitutional state of free citizens).
(b) Progressive + Conservative = Consensus
(c) Capitalism + Communism = New world order in form of UN, Global governance.
Marx’s view of history called ‘dialectical materialism’ can be considered as the offspring of Hegelian dialectic, but in modified form with different reasoning.
Marxian dialectical materialism sees the dialectical process being driven forward not by abstract forces, as Hegel did, but rather by solid material conditions, and particularly by economic factors. In other words, while Hegel’s description of history rests on the idea that new ideas cause us to change the way we live (our thoughts change, and the world changes in response), Marx’s description states that when new economic relationships change the way we live, we develop new ideas (the world changes, and our thoughts change in response).
Marxian Communism as the offspring of French Socialism
(1) French philosopher, Rousseau is considered as forebear of socialism. His views about society was egalitarian and he was among first thinkers to attack the institution of private property. These influnced Marxian Communism.
(2) Early French socialism was born in form of utopian socialism by philosophers like Charles Fourier and Saint Simon. Fourier wanted to replace modern cities with utopian communities. Saint-Simon gave idea that the needs of the working class needed to be recognized and fulfilled to have an effective society and an efficient economy.
Although these French Socialist ideas didn’t have much support and was not based on scientific theory like marxism, they did gave a start which later expanded in the form of many other more socialist ideas including Marxian Communism.