Marx and Foucault both talked about the nature of history and consciousness, where it defines what we are and who we are in an instant and in the future. Marx suggests that our consciousness is a material product of our being and that our conscious conclusions are the same. Analysing the two slightly different definitions of consciousness posited by these two theorists and many others has resulted in my research into how this would work and some of the correlations with recent psychological modelling of memory and intelligent thought.

My suggestion is that firstly, the instantaneous, unidirectional model of consciousness currently living in the slot of ‘most accepted’ theory is questionable at best. Consciousness itself is far from being a unidirectional construct where all decisions are made facing forward. Our conscious decision making process seems that way from within our consciousness as we experience everything in a temporal directionality. We also experience the phenomena of control of this and our thoughts, however this is not as it seems. The product of our consciousness is subject to change, from within and without. What Trotsky said has a different effect because of time passing and the dialectics affecting it. Memory can alter over time, even within an individual, exampled by preferential remembering (e.g. when I was just a lad, I was the best football player in our team, a claim made by at least 6 other people but without challenge this idea becomes self conditioned following the basic principle posited in Bandura’s social learning theory but without the social element) and there is a reason to believe perception alters the physicality of a thing to match each perceivers materially constructed experience of previous products/ experiences.

The first element of consciousness to be discussed will be memory. The majority of the current memory models do not allow for a multi-directional factor of memory. Those that do are not complex enough to allow for a reason this might be the case. This is important because it affects our validity as decision making moral beings. Recall of a memory is not as simple as sending a request neurologically to retrieve information stored in a filing cabinet in the brain marked ‘info A’. It is a complex matrix of inter-related information stored in various forms in different areas of the brain and reformulated in the hippocampus. Once a memory is stored, it is not safe and incorruptible. Memories are subject to decay, associative alteration, misremembering, bias, reformulation errors, incoherent transfer from short term semantic format to long term episodic format. Memory, once it is in, is one of the testaments to the astonishing complexity of the human brain and the ultimate in bad science.

That is not to suggest the science surrounding the brain is bad but that the brain itself is bad at science. When something goes wrong, rather than expose its own fallibility, it lies to you. That’s right, your brain makes it up with cognitive trickery like the completion phenomena but with a vast array of functions, including salient thought, so you don’t know it is having an off day and can’t be bothered thinking whatever you want it to properly. So, we are more complex than apes but actually, make more mistakes than them, who is smarter? It depends how you grade.

Our conscious mind is constantly lying to us. The simple fact is, we have very lazy brains and that is why visual tricks work and why two people experiencing the same event will remember it completely differently. It is a perspective thing. We are influenced and have our attention drawn to things that are most salient to us and the rest we are not that interested in and just make it up. I am not even kidding, watch this video (the link is a little example, that is pretty short and worth a watch). So, our consciousness can be wrong, it can be fooled and it is lazy. There are other examples but I won’t bore you with them all, for now please just accept me suggesting that you are all not as smart as you think you are and your brain is a bit crap.

Why does this slightly offensive rant matter to Marxist dialectical materialism? Well, the brain lies I have already talked about are an example of how what is a product of our consciousness in this instant is subject to change over time, even to be redefined by your own consciousness. This happens either as your material self alters and/or is altered by the social or the result of a prior consciousness is subject to change in itself. Take John Lennon for example, ‘Working Class Hero’ meant something totally different when it was written to what it is now, we compare it to now because we can do nothing else with the way our brain functions and we think we are comparing it using our older minds or those of us too young to remember it first time, even attempt to remember it as if we were there but we get it wrong.

The idea that our consciousness is a constant thing that cannot be altered is a rather silly one really. It is not added to until we die, it is merely altered. The social situation we are in changes our consciousness, either to fit the situation or not, depending on our temperament at the time. We feel that we have the ability to choose this but we don’t, not really. There are those of us that are naturally defiant, myself included, who think I don’t change for anyone but that is a product of a material history, in a material mind and consciousness is as a result of our history and will later be a part of our future and we are that shifting thing, that does not settle. There is a lot of talk of capitalism is modelled around our automatic brain functionality but that is actually really narrow and not nearly close to the truth, it is just close to how our mind has us perceive its own function so we don’t all get dizzy and fall down. Marx is much closer to how we work consciously.