Difference between Behaviouralism and Marxism!
Marxism is older than behaviouralism. From the late eighties of the nineteenth century Marx’s literature, his ideas and views were read and analysed by large number of scholars of both hemispheres. At the beginning of the twentieth century Marxism constituted the central topic of academic discussion and analysis, and it was aptly compared with capitalism. Its popularity as a scientific doctrine spread far and wide.
This wide popularity was not viewed by many theoreticians of liberalism with a favourable inclination. Though the origin of behaviouralism as a separate doctrine can be traced to the twenties and thirties of the last century, it flourished in actual sense after the Second World War. Many behaviouralists began to think that Marxism was about to pose a great challenge to liberalism, and this apprehension was not fully unfounded. Dramatic rise and popularity was a cause of great concern.
But they did not directly challenge Marxism, as their rank enemy. Some renowned political scientists of USA propounded a doctrine whose purpose was to establish that capitalism with all its manifestations was functioning quite satisfactorily and for that reason it is infructuous to think of alternative doctrines.
Behaviouralism was propagated with the sole purpose that academically capitalism or liberalism could be strengthened and a well-knit fabric of concept must be built up so that it could overshadow Marxism. Liberal philosophers were frightened at the growing popularity of Marxism and they were determined to obliterate the importance of Marxism from the minds of educated people.
There are number of differences between Marxism and behaviouralism. In the first place, behaviouralism treats society as a collection of discrete individuals and because of this they think and behave in their own way and are not always influenced by others. It is observed that some are sometimes influenced by others). In the opinion of behaviouralists society consists of parts and is never to be treated in totality. Marxism, on the other hand, is not in favour of fragmenting society into separate individuals.
It regards society as a complete whole. If men are treated as separate units, the unified character of society will be its ineffectiveness. Marxism has come to this conclusion on the ground that behaviours of all persons are closely linked with each other and they collectively form a complete whole.
The behaviour of one individual is characteristically influenced by that of another person. This contention of individual’s behaviour, Marxists claim, is based upon scientific study of social development which they have investigated with the help of history.
In the second place, Marxism originated from the anarchic economic situation Created by capitalism. The gigantic growth of capitalism is absolutely responsible for anarchy in the fields of production and distribution and capitalism is also responsible for inhuman exploitation of the working class. Marxism, in this sense, can be called a strong protest against capitalism and also a prophylactic device of emancipation.
Behaviouralism is, again, a protest movement and this protest is against the increasing influence of Marxism. Behaviouralists believed that the undeterred progress of Marxism would pose a great danger to the very existence of liberalism in the free world. Hence the main fulcrum of difference between the two prominent ideologies is that behaviouralism fought hard to elongate the survival of liberalism/capitalism and, on the other hand, Marxism was on the way of precipitating the fall or capitalism or liberalism.
Thirdly, behaviouralism has heavily leaned to certain psychological ideas such as motives, emotions, desires, feelings etc. In fact, all these form the corpus of behaviouralism. It gives no proper credence to economic and political factors. Thus, any doctrine based absolutely on psychological concepts is unworthy of acceptance. On the contrary, Marxism believes that matter is far ahead of mind.
Man forms ideas and views from the observation of matter. Economic needs are the chief guiding forces of man’s various activities and any concept that denies this fundamental view is liable to be rejected. However, the rejection or acceptance of a concept is not an important issue. The real issue at hand is the behaviouralism has deliberately bypassed the real situation.
Fourthly, class conception and its impact on the formation of opinion of individuals are practically non-issues to behaviouralists. On the contrary, to Marxists class structure of society and individual’s membership to class are very important of their opinions. According to Marxists, man’s thought is influenced by economic factors and the economic factors and class structure are inseparable concepts.
Because Marx and Engels viewed class mainly in terms of economics. Bentley and some other political scientists in a lackadaisical manner recognised the importance of class but this failed to receive due recognition in their hands. To sum up, man’s ideas (in whatever form these may appear) and his economic position are closely interrelated. The failure to recognise it has blurred the concept of behaviouralism.
Fifthly, behaviouralism cannot be used as a vehicle of social change and political development. This has been emphasised even by the liberal political scientists such as Christian Bay. Rather it advocates for the retention of capitalism. Marxism strongly advocates for social change and political development. It does not believe that capitalism has certain self-regulatory mechanisms which are capable of safeguarding capitalism from imminent crises.
Sixthly, in revolution, all the groups and classes of a capitalist society have developed mutual relationship and cooperate with each other. That is good relation among them. Naturally class struggle and revolution are foreign to behaviouralism. Marxism is not prepared to buy this argument.
The economic interest and position of the working class and the capitalist class are quite opposite and naturally there cannot exist peace and good relation among the classes. Hence, the views of behaviouralists and Marxists about social change, revolution, class conflict and many other relevant issues are poles apart.
A final difference between the two ideologies or doctrines is behaviouralism, it is claimed, is based on empiricism because the theory has been built up upon the data and facts. But at the same time it is a psychological theory. How people behave, how they react to political incidents and occurrences etc. are the potential sources of behaviouralism.
In other words, psychological factors are of prime importance to the behaviouralists. Marxism does not treat it (psychology) as of great importance. To it matter or material conditions are the chief determinants of people’s behaviour and even their psychological traits. That is why Marxism has been viewed in terms of materialism.
All the differences between Marxism and behaviouralism can’ be stated in a single and cogent sentence behaviouralism is a weapon to be used for the retention of capitalism and Marxism is a weapon which the proletarians can use to destroy capitalism and create a new society in its place.