The Third International after Lenin

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Psychology and revolutionary politics

'Capitalism is the Sick Element in our Society': Marxism and Psychology

Under capitalism psychology, a science which studies the human mind, embellishes the capitalist system of exploitation. Socialism will strike the capitalist fetters from science and sweep the anti-working-class, racist and national chauvinist, sexist, individualist, subjective and idealist ideologies which poison capitalist psychology into the dustbin of history!

V.I. Lenin's is right: "There can be no “impartial” social science in a society based on class struggle. In one way or another, all official and liberal science defends wage-slavery, whereas Marxism has declared relentless war on that slavery." (Lenin, Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism)

"Under capitalism," said William Z. Foster, Marxist-Leninist former leader of the Communist Party of the United States, "science is a slave to the class interests of the bourgeoisie." He continues: "Biology justifies the mad class struggle and war; economics puts an unqualified blessing upon wage slavery; history proves that capitalism is perfected; psychology explains away poverty on the basis of the inferior beings, etc." (William Z. Foster, Towards Soviet America)

On the one hand, capitalism breeds mental health problems. On the other hand, capitalism distorts the science of psychology and infuses it with reactionary bourgeois ideology. Capitalism restrains the scientific role of psychology by injecting the venom of anti-working-class, racist and national chauvinist, sexist, individualist, subjective and idealist ideologies into psychology. The great Communist Gus Hall was exactly right: "Capitalism is the sick element in our society."

The fight between materialist and idealist philosophy rages in psychology. "The great basic question of all philosophy," Frederick Engels once said, concerns "the relation of thinking and being, spirit and nature." There are "two great camps": idealists and materialists. Those who believe that spirits or our mind is primary to nature are "idealists." Those who regard nature and the material world as primary are materialists. (Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach)

Marxist-Leninists take a side in the struggle between materialism vs. idealism.Lenin wrote: "Marx's philosophy is a consummate philosophical materialism which has provided mankind, and especially the working class, with powerful instruments of knowledge."

Marxism-Leninism's dialectical and historical materialism makes contributions to psychology:

"1. Marxism rejects as invalid and unscientific all theories of intellectual, emotional or behavioral inferiority of race, class, sex or national minority. It emphasizes the crucial importance of studying human development in the concrete reality of its existence, social and individual.

"2. Marxism approaches the human mind and consciousness as a product of the brain and central nervous system...

"3. Marxism stresses the important relationship of the individual to society. The psychology of individuals in the United States must be examined in the context of a class society with a specific--capitalist--superstructure. The effects of the ideological superstructure on the individual’s psychology is of vital significance in psychological study...

"4. Marxism sees the science of psychology as playing an important role in advancing human development...

"5. Marxism emphasizes that psychology and psychiatry are sciences which need to be advanced through careful, meticulous, comprehensive scientific work...

"6. Science is international in scope and requires the best efforts of scientists in all countries for full progress...

"7. Marxism believes that science advances through struggle, both scientific and social. (Struggle can expose false theories, correct one-sidedness and expose racist and reactionary ideology under the guise of scientific psychological theories.)

""8. Marxism believes that a socialist society can produce great changes in people’s psychological health and welfare. The provision of full, comprehensive, available, free health and mental health care is guaranteed under socialism. Likewise, the guarantee of employment, social security, education, equal opportunity, facilities for working mothers, equal pay, and an ever-expanding economic and social system provide psychological security for people under socialism." (Joseph Nahem, Psychology and Psychiatry Today: A Marxist View, 1981, International Publishers)

"Socialism," William Z. Foster said, "strikes the fetters from science." Science has the freest development under socialism because it isn't misused to defend the exploitation of another class. Contrary to the bourgeois slanders, the emergence of socialism in the Soviet Union showed the world that psychology can be made to be humane and fully scientific!

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