Dialectical materialism

philosophy derived from the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Dialectical materialism is a philosophy of science, history, and nature. It was developed in Europe and is based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.[1][2] Marxist dialectics say that real-world conditions such as class, labor, and socioeconomic interactions are important. This is a contrast to Hegelian dialectic, which says that contradictions in material phenomena can be resolved by analyzing them and finding a solution. Marx thought that the most effective solution to the problems caused by such contradictory phenomena was to address and rearrange the systems of social organization at the root of the problems.

Dialectical materialism accepts that the natural world changes. New qualities of being will come to light with each change. As Z. A. Jordan noted, "Engels made constant use of the metaphysical insight that the higher level of existence emerges from and has its roots in the lower; that the higher level constitutes a new order of being with its irreducible laws; and that this process of evolutionary advance is governed by laws of development which reflect basic properties of 'matter in motion as a whole'."[3]

The formulation of the Soviet version of dialectical and historical materialism in the 1930s by Joseph Stalin and his associates (such as in Stalin's book Dialectical and Historical Materialism) became the official Soviet interpretation of Marxism.


  1. Z. A. Jordan, The Evolution of Dialectical Materialism (London: Macmillan, 1967).
  2. Paul Thomas, Marxism and Scientific Socialism: From Engels to Althusser (London: Routledge, 2008).
  3. Jordan, p. 167.