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What has historical materialism told us?

(People's Daily Online)

09:46, June 17, 2013

Edited and translated by Zhang Qian, People's Daily Online

The creation of historical materialism is one of the most important achievements of Marxist philosophy. It scientifically answered a series of questions in major social historical field, and provided fundamental guidance for knowledge and practice in this field.

Currently, to achieve the strategic goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way, and advance constantly socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must conscientiously abide by the methodology of historical materialism.

As a sort of history philosophy, what has historical materialism told us? What is the meaning of the methodology? This issue involves in many aspects, but currently, we should pay special attention to grasp the following several aspects.

Same as natural fields, there exists an objective law that doesn’t depend on man's will in social and historical field; and as the principal part of practice, man plays as a special dynamic role. This needs us to maintain the relationship between adherence to objective laws and express people's subjectivity, and carry out the creative practice with scientific attitude.

Compared to natural fields, social and historical field is of great particularity. In natural field, all sorts of natural things run according to their natural attributes, and objective laws are manifested through these natural processes. But people of initiative exist in social historical field, their activities are conducted under the guidance of certain consciousness. Therefore, it seems that there is no objective law, and everything is different because of the different main body. This constitutes the long-term dominance of idealism in epistemological history. But when Marx and Engels founded their own philosophy, they broke through the obstacles caused by the particularity in the field of social history, and revealed the objective laws hidden behind various historical-phenomeno. They pointed out that history is dominated by the general inner rule. If people want to succeed in this field, they must understand and follow these rules. Of course, the emphasis of historical materialism on the objective laws does not mean the negation of man’s active function. After all, social historical law is shown in the person's activities. Its own inherent dialectical nature left a vast space for the subject's choice.

According to this historical materialism view, we should maintain the relationship between adherence to objective laws and expression of man's subjectivity in the present stage of social development practice. We must also emphasize the adherence to objective laws; focus on the expression of man's subjectivity and carry out works creatively. It should be noted that the socialism with Chinese characteristics we've been carrying out is the concrete practice of the scientific socialism in China. The reason why scientific socialism is called "science" is that it admits the objective law, and it is decided by its historical inevitability. Therefore, we must adhere to the scientific spirit, respect and follow the objective law to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is the fundamental guarantee of success. Especially when social development enters the critical period featuring appearance of several kinds of complicated contradictions, we should emphasize this point more.

On the other hand, the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics is an unprecedented new cause. There is no ready-made experience to draw upon. This requires the full express of subject's active function and creative practice. This is by no means reckless acts regardless of the objective laws, but exploration to understand the objective laws in practice, and we should strive to make action correspond to the demand of objective laws, prevent deviation and error as much as possible. Only in this way, the subject’s active function can be expressed effectively.

Read the Chinese version: 贾高建:唯物史观告诉了我们什么; Source: People's Daily; Author: Jia Gaojian

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