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Today’s Scientists are Marxists in All but Name

Ted Reese

June 20, 2022

Today’s Scientists are Marxists in All but Name Ted Reese January 23, 2023 In my last Sublation article , I presented a comprehensive set of empirical economic trends demonstrating that capitalism is approaching its final breakdown. In the womb of (an increasingly integrated and “planned state monopoly”) capitalism has grown a new economic and technical societal base, necessitating—for the first time—a revolutionary transition to (“planned state monopoly”) socialism. As I explained there, this world-historic event is approaching because the evolution towards a fully (non-binary) automated system of production is abolishing the source of profit (capital’s theft of commodity-producing labor’s labor time) and the binary mechanisms of capitalist and mechanical production. [1] That capitalism is becoming obsolete is evidenced by a shifting contemporary scientific worldview. This worldview is accelerating away from classical mechanistic binary thought toward a more holistic and process-oriented approach, moving closer and closer to Marx’s dialectical materialism. Having developed the highest technical capacities, current trends in scientific thought in advanced capitalist/imperialist nations perhaps best demonstrate these shifts. [2] Idealism to Atomism Basic materialism holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, including mental states and consciousness. Materialism represented progress relative to the idealism or rationalism that came before, most notably in ancient Greece, which saw man’s consciousness, logic, or perception as the organizing force of the “external” world. From this perspective, man’s ideas or rising rationality was understood as the driving force of history. Idealism itself represented a step forward from the old belief system that everything happened randomly or—if attributed to the unseen hand of a divine being—miraculously. The Greek philosopher Democritus in the 5th Century BCE, however, popularized the view of the atomists, who believed the smallest unit of the universe was the atom, providing a materialist account of the natural world. The capitalist ruling class later drew on this form of materialism as a philosophy and ideology. Capitalist production began to emerge in Flanders and the Italian City States in the 13th Century, [3] but did not become the world’s dominant mode of production until between the 16th to 18th centuries. Different forms of religion as an ideology and philosophy had been assumed by slavers, feudal lords, and monarchs to provide moral justification for the forms of oppression, theft, and exploitation that they enforced. A religious worldview remained dominant among small capitalists and the labor aristocracy (privileged workers hired as managers of labor and repressive defenders of private property) to justify their collaboration with a “higher” class. The capitalists who became the new ruling class after overthrowing feudal lords never fully rejected religion, partly because religion trained workers to seek “salvation” (justice) in the next world. [4] Materialism served the purpose, however, of justifying controversial leaps in (increasingly centralized mass) production and innovation that overturned the old order. Previously, there seemed to be no connection between what people observed on Earth and what they saw in the night sky. Movements on Earth could be seen and explained at least in terms of cause and effect. Although predictable, the motion of heavenly bodies did not seem to follow the same patterns, and therefore had to be explained as the sign of the hand of a creator. The publication of Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, however, showed that the planets move due to the same forces experienced on Earth. His mathematical equations allowed accurate predictions about not only the motions of planets but the movements and behavior of things down here. It was a game-changer: if things could be explained through rational laws and mathematics, the existence of a God had to be called into question. To Newton, however, the nature of gravity, which he described as “action at a distance”—a force that acts on something without ever touching it—was evidence that God had a hand in the universe. Nevertheless, the universe was now viewed as a kind of cosmic clock ticking with mathematical precision, where almost every movement and phenomenon could be explained and predicted through observations and equations. Remaining mechanistic and binary, materialism evaluated the universe as a set of separate (binary) and disjointed (mechanistic) atoms, solid and measurable, explaining all “cause and effect” like discrete billiard balls whose movement is dependent on a deterministic external force. This view reflected the technical capacity of the time but, ideologically, also justified the present state of things: political-economic categories, aka socially constructed divisions (class, gender, race, nationhood, etc.); colonialism (“civilized” versus “savage”); the non-reciprocal plunder of nature, an unconscious “beast” to be tamed, separate from and below man (“I think, therefore I am”); and the function of the human body, separated from the head, or mind, as an input in production (its labor time and vitality robbed and absorbed by capital).
Matter in Motion Somewhat ahead of his time but picking up from the work of the ancient philosophers Epicurus and Lucretius and taking elements from some of the more advanced thinkers of idealism and materialism, Marx developed a dialectical materialism—a philosophy of matter in motion. [5] Dialectical materialism works on the real-world principle of the bi/multi-directional intra-action of matter and the unity or fluidity of oppositions. That is, quantitative changes lead to qualitative paradigm shifts, [6] destruction breeds creation, troughs follow peaks, and vice versa, etc. Dialectical materialism also recognizes that matter is not static, discrete, or atomistic. In fact, matter is intrinsically in motion, dynamic, self-sensing, self-generative, and thus automatic (a word that means self-action ), meta-stable but constantly in flux, folding and unfolding against itself. Matter is therefore a continuous kinetic process that mutually “hangs together” like, as Thomas Nail has described, the threads of a spiderweb or a woven tapestry. [7] The atom or thing, Nail continues, merely objectifies the contradiction between its subjective kinetic formation (things that seem discrete) and objective kinetic materialization (things that are only relatively discrete). This gives its self-determined, sensuous shape or “form-determination,” even when it appears to be still. An object is something that “moves against” ( gegen ) itself such that it stays or stands ( stehen ) where it is. The object continually stays where it is by throwing itself back against itself. The Latin origins of the English word “object” indicate a similar kinetic structure: ob- (“against”) + iaciō (“I throw”). [8] The movement of matter, Marx therefore holds, is indeterminate but pedetic —part random and part relational ; i.e., each movement relates to the previous one and is therefore, to some extent, limited in its next movement. For Marx, there are no universal laws of nature that matter passively follows. Matter itself is active and creative. Laws are emergent tendencies or patterns in nature. [9] Today, religion is withering away faster than ever before, especially in the more developed capitalist nations. [10] The miracles of gods are replaced by the miracles of industry, to paraphrase Marx. [11] As a result, labor’s exponentially rising intellectual, scientific, and technical capacity, or mastery of matter, is overcoming centuries of dualistic myopia. Marx’s understanding of matter is close to becoming the official scientific worldview in all but name. Today’s scientists, perhaps somewhat unconsciously, are becoming Marxists. Quantum Leap As early as the 1870s, James Clerk Maxwell made a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe by discovering that light is composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. His student John Henry Poynting worked out an equation to describe energy flux, or how much electromagnetic energy is passing through an area per second. [12] In 1897, 2,300 years after Democritus, British physicist J.J. Thompson discovered something smaller than an atom—the electron. In 1912, Ernest Rutherford found that atoms had nuclei. Then we found that nuclei were composed of protons and neutrons. These were thought to be the fundamental components of all things until the 1960s, when we discovered that neutrons and protons were composed of even smaller things called quarks (two kinds: “up quarks” and “down quarks”). As Arvin Ash explains , “Today, everything is thought to be made up of just these three particles: electrons, up quarks, and down quarks. That’s what atoms are made of—at least, that’s what most people are still taught in science class. Physicists have known for decades that this is wrong, that particles are not fundamental. The best theory in physics tells us that there really are no particles at all.” Nevertheless, other developments in quantum mechanics have overthrown classical physics in the popular imagination. Whereas Newtonian absolutism asserted space and time to be separate, Albert Einstein’s law of special relativity (published in 1916) found that all matter in the universe moves through an “interwoven fabric” of “spacetime,” itself no longer set in stone but shaped by mass and energy. And Erwin Schrodinger’s equation describes “atoms” as a cloud around a fuzzy nucleus. A lingering atomism in Einstein’s thinking, his rejection of the assertion that the properties of quantum objects remained undetermined until measured in abstraction, was challenged by the Danish physicist Niels Bohr and later disproven by Irish physicist John Stewart Bell in 1964. As a result, “particles” are now described prior to measurement as “wavefunctions” and have no defined position until their probable location is momentarily observed, i.e., in abstraction. Quantum entanglement shows that pairs of particles cannot be described independently of the state of other particles instantly over unlimited distances and that they are “two parts” of the same wavefunction. Quantum tunneling demonstrates that wavefunctions can pass through potential barriers, depending on the latter’s depth and density of energy. [13] ( Quantum computing —the operations of which are, unlike classical computing, non-binary, existing on a spectrum—works on the same principle.) Everything Everywhere All at Once The more recent development of quantum field theory is another paradigm shift of at least equal significance to any of what went before. Although it has yet to be met with the same fanfare as quantum mechanics, that is now starting to change . [14] Describing the universe in terms of vibrational and fluid-like three-dimensional fields of energy, it supplements quantum mechanics, which is not fully relativistic, and concludes that the universe and everything in it, including us, our thoughts, and everything outside the visible universe, are all of one whole . Relatively discrete things represent excitations—spikes of energy—in the same quantum fields that extend to all of space and time. “All that is solid melts into air,” Marx writes in The Communist Manifest o. “[A]ll that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life.” Although quantum field theory remains incomplete (it cannot yet be applied to gravity, for example), it describes within the current limits of our understanding the true nature of the universe. It is closing in on a “theory of everything” that will surely complete science’s conciliation with Marx’s dialectical materialism. The Individual is Dead Physicists increasingly no longer think in terms of “the” “Big Bang” either—finally catching up to a long-ridiculed view propounded by British Marxists Alan Woods and Ted Grant [15] —but a series of “bangs ” in a continuously expanding (at an accelerating rate), entropic universe where energy tends to dissipate from previously denser states. [16] Similarly, earth-systems scientists are (re)discovering that Earth operates as a living superorganism . [17] Ecologists are learning that, far from being inanimate, trees communicate with each other and share food and medicine through invisible mycelial (fungi) networks in the soil (so as not to become isolated and vulnerable, a lesson the capitalist class is ultimately doomed to neglect). [18] In fact, animals and insects build complex, planned democratic economies . [19] Survival and evolution thrive much more through cooperation than through conflict. [20] War is not inherent to an immovable human nature but symptomatic of social formations under private property. [21] As socialists have long argued, race, gender, etc., are socially constructed political-economic categories. Human genome sequencing has confirmed that we humans are a single , highly variable, polytypic race . It has also shown that, although every person, sperm, and egg is unique , we are all about 99.9% genetically identical (although our species’ survival depends on the ongoing genetic diversification within the other 0.1%, or 3 million DNA base pairs out of 3 billion). [22] Genes are not passed on in simple Mendalian patterns (justifying racism and the inheritance of unearned wealth) but can change during our lives (“switched on or off” due to stress, for example) according to experiences and environmental adaptation and can be passed onto offspring in their modified form (epigenetics, a field that used to be considered “Stalinist dogma” ). Gene editing [23] and other rapidly improving medical and cosmetic technical capacities—from tattooed torsos to hair transplants, to sex transitioning, and so on—promote the advancing realization that matter, biological or otherwise, is fluid, not fixed. Elsewhere, biologists have finally accepted that humans are not standalone individuals but composed largely of microorganisms— not so long ago thought by the mainstream to be exclusively invasive and toxic —on which we depend for functions such as digestion and disease control. According to a study led by Ron Sender at the Weizmann Institute of Science, more of the cells that constitute your body belong to other life forms than belong to “you” as such. As the British philosopher of science John Dupré puts it , “These findings make it hard to claim that a creature is self-sufficient, or even that you can mark out where it ends and another one begins.” [24] To quote Eden Project director Dr. Tony Kendle: Microbes run not only our bodies but also drive Earth’s life support system. They provide the oxygen we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. They help make soils and keep them fertile, transform dead matter back into the world of the living, wear down mountains and build up cliffs, regulate the climate and drive the nutrient and energy cycles that make and sustain our bodies and the living world. Some scientists are even starting to conclude that human society is in the midst of a “great transition” like the one undergone by bees and ants, evolving into a superorganism , whereby an individual cannot execute alone all the functions necessary for life. [25] The bourgeois myth of “The Individual” (the entrepreneur), and by extension, anthropocentrism, is dead. Humanity, nature, Earth, the universe, in all their glorious and ever-increasing diversity, are all run on collectivism, and increasingly so. The two-faced bourgeois ruling class thus increasingly preaches humanistic and internationalist ideals to promote the necessity of diversifying and integrating production (globally). At the same time, it torches human , workers’ , and civil rights , makes private property evermore exclusive , and throws a greater and greater proportion of humanity onto the scrapheap of poverty, homelessness, and war. Towards a Science of Economics Alongside the march of automation and the deindustrialization of the global workforce—its near-complete transition from manufacturing to services —science has become the helmsman of production. The data science revolution is now making the “last” phases of the production process—distribution and consumption (there is no production without consumption, and vice-versa)—increasingly scientific. Inventories are monitored and data collected (from transactions and smartphones/watches, etc.) in real-time, enabling speedy optimal replenishment (or, because the profit motive increasingly contradicts the inherent process of devaluation as production expands , calculated production cuts to raise demand relative to supply and therefore prices). Capitalist production is increasingly scientifically planned and fluid, laying the basis for and necessitating socialism. Only one major area of importance is not attracting the same treatment from academia or science: economic (crisis) theory. Despite the wealth of statistics now available, the dead hand of the ruling class continues to cling to the idea that value must come from anywhere but the exploitation of human labor, while that of reformists clings to the static belief that capitalism can go on forever. That’s where Marxists come in . [26] [1] Capitalist production is dualistic as it is both a technical labor process (producing use values) and a valorization process (producing value). The commodity is dually characterized as a use value and an exchange value. As more of the former are produced, the latter tends to wither away, eventually leaving only use values, making socialism/lower communism a historical economic necessity.
[2] “Eastern/natural science” (and animism , the belief held by indigenous and peasant communities that most or all things possess immanent, if spiritual, vitality) has of course long held more in common with Marxism than “western science.” The yin and yang symbol is interpreted in Taoism as representative of electromagnetic fields and a dialectical unity and fluidity in opposites, for example. However, ancient belief systems fetishized nature and thus dualistically separated it from socio-economic organization.
[3] Grossman, H., Henryk Grossman Works Vol. 1: Essays and Letters on Economic Theory , edited by Kuhn, R., Brill, Leiden, 2019, pp. 402, 410-11.
[4] Grossman, “ The Beginnings of Capitalism and the New Mass Morality ”, 1934,
[5] Marx, The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature , Progress Publishers; first published in 1902; written in 1841.
[6] In Capital Vol. 1 , chapter 11, Marx writes, “... The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist … only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the Middle Ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his [ Science of ] Logic ), that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes.” Marx adds in footnote 5: “The molecular theory of modern chemistry first scientifically worked out by Laurent and Gerhardt rests on no other law.”
[7] “​Hangs together” is the literal translation of the German word zusammenhängen , used extensively by Marx, whereas even a word like “interconnected” implies binariness, like separate chains linked together. See Nail, T., Marx in Motion: A New Materialist Marxism , Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 16, 26.
[8] Ibid, p. 61.
[9] Ibid, p. 13.
[10] Even in the US, long thought exceptional in this respect, the number of citizens who believe in God fell from 75% among those born in 1910 to 45% among those born in 1990 .
Relatedly, millennials (born 1981-1996) are relatively “less entrepreneurial ” and, unlike previous generations, not becoming more conservative with age . These trends are driven partly by the ongoing process of proletarianization and falling wages, including falling home ownership (as housing is bought up to store surplus capital that cannot be profitably reinvested in production, reducing supply relative to demand and pushing up prices). Moreover, the (international) integration and automation of production and thus labour, leading to far more “inter-racial” relations, and its exponentially rising productive, technical and intellectual capacity has enabled i) an increasing diversification of labour both specifically/practically and in terms of its personification/expression; and ii) accelerating demographic shifts ( relative increases in LGBTQ and black and mixed race people ), as a result of colonialism, immigration (both driven by the need for capital accumulation to expand and cheapen the exploitable labour base); higher educational attainment (from the accumulation of knowledge and the increasing complexity of reproducing the means of production); and accelerating genetic diversification (which tends to improve cognitive abilities ) and adaptation (to the evolving technological environment) in the context of the decline of (binary) manual and manufacturing labor (which typically demanded and reproduced heterosexual males).
[11] Marx, K., Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 [first published 1932]; Prometheus Books, New York, 1988, p. 79.
[12] While we are still taught that electricity is delivered via electrons passing through a wire, like a chain being pulled back and forth from each end, the realization that it is actually electromagnetic waves traveling around power lines that deliver electricity is now “going mainstream.” Watch “ The big misconception about electricity ,” Veritasium, 19 November 2021.
[13] Watch, for example, “ Why the sun keeps shining: fusion and quantum tunneling ”, Think English, 1 May 2020; and “ How do animals evolve | The secrets of quantum physics ”, Spark, 2 July 2018. (This last one demonstrates that physics and biology are now merging into an interdisciplinary subject.)
[14] Watch “ QFT: What is the universe really made of? Quantum field theory visualized ”, Arvin Ash, 24 January 2020; and “ From particles to fields: The most beautiful theory in physics ”, 21 October 2022; “ Is God in physics? Fine-tuning scrutinized ”, 12 June 2020; and “ How did life begin? Abiogenesis. Origin of life from nonliving matter ”, 6 September 2019.
[15] See Woods, A., “ An alternative to the Big Bang: ‘The universe had no beginning and will have no end ’”,, 15 March 2005.
[16] Siegel, E., “ The Big Bang no longer means what it used to ”, Big Think [online], 24 August.
[17] See Shoshitaishvili, B., “ Is our planet doubly alive? Gaia, globalization, and the Anthropocene’s planetary superorganisms ”, 22 April 2022.
[18] See Wohlleben, P., The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate , William Collins, London, 2016, pp. 14-18.
[19] Nieder, A., “ In the Animal Kingdom, the astonishing power of the number instinct ”,
[20] See Smith, J., “ Fritjof Capra on shareable leadership ”,, 16 October 2019; Smith, J. and Dixon, A., “ Birds do it. Bats Do it. ” Greater Good Magazine , 1 November 2009; and Simon-Thomas, E., “ The Cooperative Instinct ”, Greater Good Magazine , 21 September 2021.
[21] Ferguson, R., “ War is not part of human nature ”,, 1 September 2018. The more automated production becomes the greater the underproduction of surplus value (needed to valorize and reproduce capital) tends to become, intensifying competition and thus conflict between capitalists over allocations of surplus value.
[22] “ Genetics vs. genomics fact sheet ”, National Human Genome Research Institute [online]. See also Hershberger, S., “ Humans are all more closely related than we commonly think ”,, 5 October 2020.
[23] Blain, L., “ Hacking Darwin: How the coming genetics revolution will play out ”, 17 October 2019; and Mullin, E., “ A new kind of genome editing is here to fine-tune DNA ”, 6 June 2022.
[24] John Dupré, “ Metaphysics of metamorphosis ”,, 30 November 2017.
“Evolution tells us that, if we take a wide enough perspective, there are no sharp lines between species,” writes Dupré. He points to how the old atomistic views are starting to complement one another and “come back together”:
From the origins of cancer to the nature of personal identity, the life sciences do not merely provide us with ever-greater numbers of disconnected facts. They also offer us the best data for putting together a broader picture of what the world is really like, a picture that confounds many common assumptions about what things are and where they come from.
The same trend is increasingly evident in private healthcare (and, by extension, sports science), which atomizes the service as a whole, increasingly individualizing it and forcing up the price of accessing healthcare; but, for those who can afford it, private health care is increasingly holistic. (See, for example, the Bupa advert “ This Is Health ”.) When health care is taken back under public ownership, a holistic approach is ready to be upscaled.
(See also “ The ultimate 360-degree view of your customer with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights ”, Microsoft Dynamics 365, 1 October 2020.)
[25] Lev, G., “ First bees and ants, and now people: this evolutionary transition might be coming for humanity ”,, 19 November 2022.
[26] See (Computational and Statistical Political Economy Research). Ted Reese is the author of The End of Capitalism: The Thought of Henryk Grossman

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