We take pleasure in reproducing the first instalment of “An Introduction to Marxist Philosophy” by the late Peter Jefferies (Geoff Pilling). Geoff was a University lecturer and expert on the history of political economy but also a Trotskyist revolutionary and active fighter for the Fourth International. Geoff would have been greatly heartened by the developments taking place in Southern Africa and elsewhere and would have wanted to contribute to the building of the workers movement there.
The text is taken from the pamphlet of the same name published by Keep Left, London, January 1975 and comprises a series of articles that first appeared in Keep Left the weekly paper the Young Socialists (A British Trotskyist organisation – Ed.), Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 10, Nov.17, Nov.24, Dec. 1, Dec. 8, Dec. 15, 1973. (Corrections to the original appear in [ ] Editor)
Chapter 1. Materialism and Idealism
‘PHILOSOPHY.’ When many members of the Young Socialists see the word they will no doubt think of something which they imagine strange and difficult, something done by ‘wise men’, often with long white beards!
So the first thing to get clear about at the start of this series of short articles is that the study of Marxist philosophy is not at all peculiar or over-difficult.
In fact, it is true to say that everybody has a philosophy,whether they are aware of it or not, whether they have worked it out or not.
For, by philosophy we mean a general conception of the world and the relationship of man and his thinking to this world.
And all of us have such a conception of the world. If this is the case, you might ask, why do we need to study philosophy? Simply because we have to develop a scientific and coherent conception of the world and the changes taking place within it.
For the revolutionary party, this is a vital question. Only if all its activities are guided by such a conception can it carry out its tasks of leading the working class to power and the establishment of socialism — the greatest change ever undertaken by man.
In Marxism lies the highest struggle by man to grasp the nature of the world in the course of his continual struggle to change it.
Hence the urgent need on the part of every Young Socialist to begin a systematic study of Marxism, individually and as part of his or her branch. Continue reading