MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms



Chance & Necessity

Chance, or Accident is a transient, non-essential property of a thing or process, as opposed to what is essential, necessary and substantial. Denial of the objectivity of chance is called Determinism, which leads to the fatalistic view that everything is necessarily as it is and predetermined. Knowledge of the Necessity of things is the basis of all rational, conceptual thought and action. Denial of the objectivity of Necessity, the idea that historical events are the outcome of the chance occurences and individual actions, etc., is associated with Voluntarism. For dialectics, Chance and Necessity are inextricably linked. Necessity asserts itself through the interaction of millions of accidents, while each such ‘accident’ is the outcome of a necessary sequence of causes.

Further Reading: Engels' discussion of necessity in human history in Ludwig Feuerbach, part 4, Hegel on The objectivity of Chance and Possibility & Contingency.



After Nicolas Chauvin, a zealously patriotic soldier under Napoleon Bonaparte. Marxists apply the term chauvinism to any explicit support for the idea of the superiority of one nation over others. During World War I, the pro-war ”socialists” in each of the belligerent countries justified their ”national defencist” position by adopting the chauvinist argument that conditions for developing socialism were more advanced in their nation than in others. One notable exception was the Socialist Party of America, lead by internationalist E.V.Debs.

See also Social Chauvinism.



Chemism is the second grade of The Object, the second stage of the Doctrine of the Notion in Hegel's Logic. Chemism refers to the development of mechanism in which the objects not only interact and influence one another, but pass into one another, neutralise one another and in general pass into things other than themselves. Hegel admits, in the section on Chemism in the Shorter Logic, that the elevation of Chemism to a qualitatively different stage over Mechanism is unusual, but, he says, justified. Indeed, in general, the movement from understanding Nature as composed of processes rather than things, does represent a qualitative step forward in the history of science.

Further Reading: the section on Chemism in the Science of Logic and the Shorter Logic and Engels' observations in "Ludwig Feuerbach" part 2 and part 4 or Chemism - Chemical Object, Chemical process - Absolute Chemism.