chapter  8
13 Pages

Dialectic in Marxism and critical realism

WithAndrew Collier

Constraints on the reproduction of societies are more complex and their theorising is more original to Karl Marx. There is a broad sense in which the absolute idealism of G. W. F. Hegel and his followers, the dialectical materialism of Marx and his followers, and critical realism all belong to the family of dialectical philosophies. So when Marx, in the time-honoured metaphor, cracks Hegel's idealist nut to extract the dialectical kernel, he shatters the kernel in the process, and then picks up some of the pieces. If Marx were proved wrong on every other count, he would still be the greatest political philosopher of all time, by virtue of this one discovery. Marx's conception is Heraclitean: reality may appear to be free from contradictions, but this may be mere appearance, the underlying reality may be contradictory.