Social Scientist. v 11, no. 118 (March 1983) p. 65.


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SUNEET CHOPRA*

The Approach of Karl Marx to the Study of Indian Society

IN ORDER to understand the contribution of Marx and Marxists to the human sciences, one must appreciate],the period Marx lived in. It was, first and foremost, the epoch of enormous scientific advance, and "as science developed it was conceived as a liberator. People were taught to study the laws of nature instead of the laws of God. And religion was de-mystified—the mystery was taken out of religion by Science, and humanity acquired a self-confidence in handling its own affairs. The authority of the Church was threatened and the religious pillars on which state power rested were undermined. And out of that came the foundation of modern education and the development of Science as a radical force."1 In this new breakthrough out of the fetters of religion, "Science also became in the nineteenth century the basis for social studies. Whatever political opinions people may hold, there is no doubt that Das Kapital by Karl Marx represents a very significant development of social science. ... Marx was clearly the first serious scientific student of the structure of Society and of the Economy."2

More specifically, Marx heralded "the rejection of the previously held fundamental conception of the historical dynamic. No one has expressed and justified this rejection better than Marx. The rejected conception claimed that men are shaped by ideas and act according to the ideas they adopt, without their practical circumstances having any influence on these idea... it is a rejection of historical idealism, and is therefore a negative basic principle which clears the way for many scientific options."3

'"Treasurer, Democratic Youh Federation of India.

1 Anthony Wcdgewood Bonn, "The Democratic Control of Science and Technology", Philosophy and Social Action, VII(T), 1981, p 30.

2 Ibid, p 31. The author, a member of British Parliament since 1950 and ex-Minister of Technology and Energy, is a member of the British Labour Party.

3 Maxime Ro dinson, Marxism and the Muslim World (English translation), 1979 p. 8



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