Karl Marx's Historical Materialism

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Social class Pages: 6 (2321 words) Published: May 18, 2012
Karl Marx, widely regarded as the father of Communism, has brought on numerous insights to philosophy and society through his political works. Most notably are his attempts to assess different styles of socioeconomic philosophies that all have different pros and cons to try to distinguish a best style of society above all others. Marx has numerous beliefs on how society should be run and by whom, but they all fall back onto his theories as to how change is brought about and how society can jump from one system to another. Throughout all his theories he believes that human agency and the way of revolution is brought about have a very important effect on how the society that emerges afterwards will function. Not only does Marx consider the human aspects of revolution, he also goes to evaluate the reform itself. With all his insight on the different societies that exist and how they can evolve over time Marx thinks that the only way to truly understand how anything functions in society is to understand the change that is associated with the current situation. Not only the revolution that has been brought by the changes from the previous society which stood but also the influence that the people and ideals created by the new society could have towards the new revolution. Now, that is not to say that Marx did not believe in a utopia of sorts. He obviously believed that the world at some point will have a society that could bring about the best for everyone in the society or else he would not have spent so much time and effort into his life work. The point of it all is that Marx has an idea of a utopia but never could truly work it out, instead choosing to analyze the changes from one societal system to another. Marx worked to figure out how the different factors in society influenced change, whether it was human catalysts or the action and idea of revolution itself. While others such as Lenin and Bernstein added their own input to Marx’s work, they all agreed that the role of human agency can have a huge effect on the next society and how it will run. Undeniably, Marx makes a very compelling argument pertaining to the role of human agency in change. By examining and applying his theories of historical materialism we can see his conclusions for ourselves and understand the role that we as humans play in society regarding change and existence from a capitalist society to a communist society.

There is no denying that Marx had his theories heavily influenced by the economic status of the people in society. Not surprisingly, he used the ways that each social class made a living as a gauge as to how effect society was. The more of an inequality that existed in society, the more inefficient it was. In Marx’s historical materialism, he creates a society with different layers created by the individuals that inhabit society. “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand” (Tucker, 247) At the bottom layer of society is “civil society”. Civil society is the people and social classes that exist in the society. These people, in order to survive, must produce material goods that they feel are necessary for existence. With the need for material things creates the superstructures of political and legal institutions or “political society”. Through these institutions comes production. However, production does not get carried out evenly. People work collectively to produce material goods, but that does not mean everyone carries out the same work. There are those who control the means of production, feeding off the production of others in order to acquire their material goods. Even the superstructures themselves are not evenly split up. Whenever there is a conflict those who have the means of production can influence how the superstructure responds, leading to conflict and revolution within society. Marx put a lot of emphasis on the difference between the...
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