Anton Pannekoek and the Socialism of Workers’ Self by John P. Gerber

By John P. Gerber

Ebook by means of Gerber, John P.

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Dietzgen expanded this anal­ ysis into a critique of what he termed ' mechanical materialism' - the view that the world is composed of tiny particles of matter and that thought is the product of the movement of these particles. Such a narrow conception of materialism, he argued, wholly misunderstands the nature of the problem. It fails to take into consideration the fact that parts of the world do not exist separately, but only as interconnected parts of the whole. Matter in the sense of tangible material does not possess the slightest preferential right to be considered more important and more distinct than any other phenomena of nature.

It was at once ' the purest expression of bourgeois thought' and a precursor of modern so­ cialist philosophy. 19 Since ' freedom' of production, competition, and ex­ ploitation were all at the heart of the developing capitalism of the late eight­ eenth and early nineteenth centu ry, Kant's emphasis on ' freedom' and ' free will ' corresponded to the needs and aspirations of a rising bourgeoisie. By challenging the mechanistic materialism of the French rationalists, Kant also provided a firmer foundation for religious belief, clearing the way for a re­ vised form of faith and freedom of the will.

Science is the systematization of facts into general conceptions and rules within a world structure suitable for the computation and prediction of future events. In a conception which bears many similarities to the later 'scientific realism' of Roy Bhaskar and others , Pannekoek argued that the basis of science was found in human social life and practical activity. 2 6 As an element in the gen­ eral process of social development, science originated not so much from an abstract urge fo r truth and knowledge, but as a spontaneous practice born of social needs.

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