Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948
Marx and Science
Marx and Science
Mr. Armstrong spoke frankly for the Marxian Socialist point of view, which he held to be essentially scientific. The science of society, he claimed, had developed as the natural sciences had developed—by objective observation and experience giving rise to and constantly testing in practice, a definite scientific theory. Thus in Biology Linnaeus observed and noted facts, but it was not until Darwin that a theory of organic development was fully formulated: similarly in the science of society, the Utopians observed the facts, but it was not until Marx that a scientific theory was formulated. Far from being a static dogma. Mr. Armstrong claimed, Marxian Socialism, like any other science, was constantly developing: many of Marx's original theories had already been refuted—some by himself, some by later students like Lenin.
The chief pillars of the Marxian view of the science of society, was the theory that the economic basis was the determining factor in any society. This was inextricably bound up, however, with the "relations of production" that is under capitalism, for example, the relationship between the many who produce, and the few who appropriate the plums. It was anomalous, he said, that under the first form of society in history under which production was social the benefits of production should be in the hands of so few. This was what inevitably bred the "class struggle." the fundamental conflict of interests between producers and owners, proletariat and bourgeoisie.
There were other contradictions in capitalism, Mr. Armstrong maintained, the collision of two or more expanding capitalisms brought war, while, despite the obvious need for goods, production often broke down because too little profit was obtained from it. Like the class struggle, revolution was not a policy of Marxists, but something they inferred by scientific observation. One form of society naturally gives way to an another, with a different economic basis and different productive relations. Such revolutions are always sudden, but not necessarily violent. The transition to Socialism in Eastern Europe today has been a bloodless revolution.
In conclusion, Mr. Armstrong claimed that Marxian Socialists alone took their policies seriously. The declared policies of other political parties, claiming to palliate the evils of capitalism without overthrowing capitalism were illusory. He was certain, however, that Labour "Socialism" was held quite sincerely by such stalwarts as the recently expelled Mr. Platts-Mills and his present amicable opponent Mrs. Stables.