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Outline the Marxist View of History

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Introduction

Liz Ford 13R3 Outline the Marxist View of History History, according to Marx, was based on class conflict between the proletariat workers and the bourgeoisie capitalists, those who produced, and those who owned the means of production. It is in accordance with this theory that Marx's 'scientific' ideology of communism developed. According to Marx, all nations moved through distinct phases and the result of all of these phases was ultimately communism. Marx uses Hegel's idea of the dialectic to explain why changes in history happen. In Hegel's view, there are two conflicting ideas (eg: Slaves and Owners) which cannot exist side by side but instead of one dominating the other, a new idea is born from the two. Marx views history as being an inevitable process. As under each system (except for communism) there is conflict, according to the dialectic, a new system must be born. So as the conflicts within feudalism synthesised to form capitalism, so the conflicts within capitalism synthesised to form socialism. Each system was the product of its predecessor's destruction but each system would also ultimately hold the key to its own destruction. The aspects of each system whish were necessary to maintain it, eg: slavery in the Empire stage, contributed to that systems destruction. The first stage identified is that of 'primitive communism'. In this system there was no 'specialisation', all the members of the tribe could do all the jobs. ...read more.

Middle

are the slaves and their Roman owners. It is from this conflict that the synthesis of the next stage in human history was born. Feudalism is the third stage identified by Marx. Relying on a heavily ordered society where everyone knew their place the idea of a simple system of class division had disappeared. Instead one class 'owning' another the new system worked by classes working for one another, and example would be that the peasants worked for the knights and in return the knights protected the peasants. This system was fine while the main class division was between the 'upper' and 'lower' classes with little in between, but the emergence of the middle classes saw conflict. This time it was between the new middle classes and the old upper classes, the new middle classes wanted more power and influence while the upper class wanted to retain the privileges it had accumulated. In the feudal system, the people who had power and influence were also those who owned land ie: the means of production. This conflict between the upper and lower classes over land and power caused a new system to come into place which Marx identified as capitalism. Under capitalism, the bourgeoisie created systems of fake democracy which made it seem as though everyone had an equal share in power but in fact concentrated power in the hands of those owning capital ie: factories. ...read more.

Conclusion

There would therefore be no dialectic at this stage of history. It is important to note the times in which Marx's theory of history was written. Created in the mid-nineteenth century when the industrial revolution was at its peak, the flaws of capitalism were obvious. Marx was unaware of the way in which capitalism could change to a system where there was less class conflict. At the time he was writing, that capitalism would cause its own downfall was a logical conclusion. People have criticised the way in which Marx made his theory one of inevitability, that one stage would cause another until the inevitable fall of the state and the emergence of world communism, but they are looking with the benefit of hindsight. In short, Marx's view of history is one of class conflict. He believes that every type of political system will ultimately cause its own demise due to the dialectic within each system caused by the class conflict within the system. Marx believes that class conflict is caused less by people wanting power and more by a conflict between those who have the means of production and those who do not. Every society which differentiates between groups of people will have class conflict and this will inevitably lead to a new system with a different type of conflict. The only exception to this system is communism because it has no classes. As all citizens in communism own the means of production, there can be no conflict and so dialectic is impossible. ...read more.

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