The Materialistic Conception of History
according to Karl Marx
Marx was, somehow, influenced by Hegel. If Hegel started from the “idea”, Marx, on the contrary, in all his philosophical, juridical, and political studies took his start from a strictly empirical principle. The Hegelian idea of “development” was completely “reversed” by Marx. He put in the place of the timeless development of the “idea” the real historical development of society on the basis of the development of its material mode of production.
Marx’s materialistic conception of history would show us how Marx views life process of society, the development of history and the changes in the society. The way how Marx discovered historical facts in the society and foundation of human history will be mainly discussed in this paper. This paper would focus on four sub-topics. The first one is scientific socialism, which would give us explanation and answer what made Marx’s socialism different from other and why Marx’s claims that his socialism is scientific. In the second sub-topic, we will see the basic principle of the materialistic conception of history and how the role of material condition and consciousness are. In the third part, we will discover the views or the understanding of Marx on the structure of society and what is the main foundation of that structure. Fourthly, we will see how Marx explains the mechanism of social changes in our society. The book, “Pemikiran Karl Marx” by Franz Magnis-Suseo is the main source of this paper.
“Marx confronted that old “idealistic conception of history” that knew nothing of the classes struggle based upon the material interest, in fact, no material interests at all, and dealt with such topics as production and all economic conditions only accessorily, as “subordinate elements of the history of culture”, with the new principle of the proletarian science and, incidentally, gave the Materialistic Conception of History” its later and universally accepted name. This name, by the way, was never applied to it by Marx himself who was quite content to describe it as a “materialistic and thus scientific method.”
1. Scientific Socialism
Marx claims that his socialism is scientific socialism because its theories are held to an empirical standard, observations are essential to its development, and these can result in changes of elements of theory. Different from the other earlier socialism, Marx started to find the very objective principles in development of the society. For example, in the book of “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” F. Engels stated that Marx discovered that surplus value is the basis of capitalist production and the production of capital. All the capitalists are depending on the working class and without working class, the capital would cease to continue. Marx was confident to show that the whole society was depending on the condition of economic system. According to Marx “what is produced, how it is produced and how the products are exchanged” is the basis of all social structure. He scrupulously examined the facts, methodically arranged the results of his examination and drew the conclusion, which was and is the scientific explanation of the historical progress of humanity. Scientific socialism is “the term used by F. Engels” to describe that the theories of Marx are practical and realistic.
F. Magnis-Suseno stated that Marx’s claim that his socialism is scientific is quite important to understand the theory of Marx. “Socialism will not come just because of it is considered good or because of capitalism is considered bad, but because, and if, the objective pre-requisites elimination of private ownership of the means of production are met.”
In German Ideology, Marx wrote: “Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality (will) have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document