From the early 1980s into the 2000s postmodernist theories dominated almost the entirety of the intellectual domain from arts, cultural studies and humanities to social sciences. Postmodernist theories particularly targeted Marxism and natural sciences as two strong representatives of totality and universality. Although Marxists proposed counter-criticisms, they failed to elaborate a comprehensive defense of natural sciences.
This failure is based on the problematic relation between Marxism and natural sciences: Both Western and Soviet Marxisms–and contrary to Marx and Engels’s formulation that “there is only one science, the science of history, inseparable as the history of nature and history of men”– separate natural and social sciences. Furthermore, both trends identify Engels with dialectical materialism and Marx with historical materialism. While Western Marxism cuts off its relation with natural sciences through rejecting Engels, Soviet Marxism “endorses” Engels and consequently “natural sciences”. However, it is known that neither Marx was less interested in natural sciences, nor Engels was indifferent to historical materialism. The aforementioned situation evidences that both trends share a common (positivistic) view of natural sciences.
No doubt, this picture of Marxism is a product of the ambivalent position of these two ‘contrasting’ camps in relation to materialist dialectics. Marx and Engels were quite clear in defining materialist dialectics as the general laws of matter in motion where matter emerges in the form of thought, nature and human society not in isolation from one another but as mutually interrelated. In this sense, the materialist conception of history, according to Marx and Engels, not only is based on materialist dialectics but also is a study of dialectics. Disregarding these tenets of Marx’s and Engels’ materialist methodology amounted to Marxsims’ reproduction of the once-resolved widespread dualities dominating Western thought such as nature vs. human, nature vs. culture, mind vs. body and universalism vs. particularism.
This picture has started to change radically both within Marxist and anti-Marxist camps. We witness a transition from “Cultural Turn” towards a “Material Turn” in humanities and social sciences which reflects both a withdrawal of post-modernist theories and a growing interest in material life and nature. However, this new trend appears to be a new side of the older coin: on the one hand, the space left by postmodernist theories is occupied by post-humanist theories seeking to dominate the intellectual sphere, in contrast to and against Marxism, while having a specific interest in nature. On the other hand, there is also a growing interest of Marxists in nature due to ecological crises, which has yielded eco-socialist and eco-Marxist theories mainly developed by social scientists. Consequently, be it Marxist or non-Marxist, social sciences’ and humanities’ interest in natural sciences is only a by-product of their interest in nature.
In the face of the existing situation, our main goal is not simply drawing Marxist social scientists’ attention to nature or natural sciences; neither is it trying to bridge the gap between social sciences and natural sciences within Marxism. Of course, the capitalist organization of sciences forces deep specializations even in one branch of science and thus isolates them from each other which is unacceptable for the Marxist conception of totality as one of our goals. However, we argue that overcoming such specializations and isolation in every branch of science is only possible by approaching them with a certain Marxist conception of totality, and not vice versa.
The fundamental goal of Marxism & Sciences is to develop a research programme, which paves the way for an all encompassing Marxist grasp of intellectual domain and a merger of class struggles in nature, culture and society as once developed by Marx and Engels and embodied in Marx’s Capital at the highest level. We call upon all comrades around the world for contributing to the journal, the symposium and the school of Marxism & Sciences for achieving this goal.
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