MArxist theory of history

MArxist theory of history - David Hernandez History of...

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David Hernandez History of Socialism & Communism Midterm Paper March 25, 2008 Marxism is a theory of history and social development. Historical materialism, Karl Marx’s theory of history, is an attempt to make history scientific. Marx believes we need to analyze human history and development of societies in order to understand where we are and where we are headed. According to Marx the breakdown of capitalism is inevitable because it can’t support the tremendous pressure placed on it by the capitalist class. Stages of history, material conditions and consciousness all play important roles in the Marxist theory of history. We can first start by looking at the different stages of history. According to Marx there are five different stages of history. The first stage is the primitive communist system, which was how primitive homosapiens interacted with each other and their environment. Basically all the members of a group were hunter gatherers who produced what all the members of their group needed and all members worked to sustain themselves. The second was the slave system, which was basically the exploitation of the masses by a few powerful people. The third was the feudal system in which the nobility and lords controlled most of the aspects of their working class also known as the serfs. Now this was a step up from slavery because the serfs weren’t completely enslaved, but they weren’t truly free either. Serfs have more rights than slaves because they have a small right to the land they own, and the serf can’t be sold. Then
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came the capitalist system, which allowed anyone to own property of their own, but the people who already had an economic advantage just sped up the process of a greater division between the working and capitalist classes. And according to Marxist theory the highest stage of history is the Socialist system, which closes the class divisions, and allows all people to equally benefit from the mode of production, and puts an end to private property. Material conditions and consciousness also play an important role to Marxism as a theory of history. Karl Marx synthesizes this role in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. He states, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” (Karl Marx). This is a crucial statement because it opposes idealism which was a prevailing train of thought in Marx’s time. Idealism states that reality comes from consciousness and understanding, but Marx says that we as humans don’t exist just because we think. A scientific approach to this view is that if something can’t be proven then it doesn’t exist. This reinforces historical materialism because it looks at the facts of material conditions throughout history in a scientific manner which is based on facts and observations. There are definite relationships that men enter in the social production of their
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This note was uploaded on 04/03/2008 for the course HIST History of taught by Professor Markowitz during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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MArxist theory of history - David Hernandez History of...

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