Historical materialism

materialist conception of historyhistorical materialistMarx's theory of historymaterialisthistorymaterialist interpretation of historical developmenthistoricaleconomic interpretation of historyMarxist theory of historyuniversal laws governing the development of history of human society
Historical materialism, also known as the materialist conception of history, is a methodology used by some communist and Marxist historiographers that focuses on human societies and their development through history, arguing that history is the result of material conditions rather than ideas.wikipedia
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Marxist historiography

Marxist historianMarxistMarxist historians
Historical materialism, also known as the materialist conception of history, is a methodology used by some communist and Marxist historiographers that focuses on human societies and their development through history, arguing that history is the result of material conditions rather than ideas.
Marxist historiography, or historical materialist historiography, is a school of historiography influenced by Marxism.

Mode of production

modes of productionproductionarticulation
It is principally a theory of history which asserts that the material conditions of a society's mode of production or in Marxist terms, the union of a society's productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development.
This comprises what Marx termed the materialist conception of history (see also materialism) and is in contrast to an idealist analysis, (such as that criticised by Marx in Proudhon), which states that the fundamental driving force behind socioeconomic change are the ideas of enlightened individuals.

Karl Marx

MarxMarx, KarlMarxist
This was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818–1883) as the "materialist conception of history". Karl Marx never used the words "historical materialism" to describe his theory of history; the term first appears in Friedrich Engels' 1880 work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, to which Marx wrote an introduction for the French edition.
Employing a critical approach known as historical materialism, Marx predicted that, like previous socio-economic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system known as socialism.

Relations of production

social relationssocial relations of productionProduction relations
It is principally a theory of history which asserts that the material conditions of a society's mode of production or in Marxist terms, the union of a society's productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development.
Relations of production (German: Produktionsverhältnisse) is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their theory of historical materialism and in Das Kapital.

Productive forces

forces of productionforcesproductive force
It is principally a theory of history which asserts that the material conditions of a society's mode of production or in Marxist terms, the union of a society's productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development.
Productive forces, productive powers, or forces of production (German: Produktivkräfte) is a central idea in Marxism and historical materialism.

Materialism

materialistmaterialisticmaterialists
Historical materialism, also known as the materialist conception of history, is a methodology used by some communist and Marxist historiographers that focuses on human societies and their development through history, arguing that history is the result of material conditions rather than ideas. Historical materialism is materialist as it does not believe that history has been driven by individual's consciousness or ideals, but rather ascribes to the philosophical monism that matter is the fundamental substance of nature and henceforth the driving force in all of world history; this drove Marx and other historical materialists to abandon ideas such as rights (e.g. "right to life, liberty, and property" as liberalism professed). Historical materialism rests on a foundation of dialectical materialism, in which matter is considered primary and ideas, thought, and consciousness are secondary, i.e. consciousness and human ideas about the universe result from material conditions rather than vice versa.
During the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels extended the concept of materialism to elaborate a materialist conception of history centered on the roughly empirical world of human activity (practice, including labor) and the institutions created, reproduced or destroyed by that activity (see materialist conception of history).

Communism

communistcommunistscommunist ideology
Historical materialism, also known as the materialist conception of history, is a methodology used by some communist and Marxist historiographers that focuses on human societies and their development through history, arguing that history is the result of material conditions rather than ideas. Historical materialism is an example of Marx and Engel's scientific socialism, attempting to show that socialism and communism are scientific necessities rather than philosophical ideals.
At the root of Marxism is the materialist conception of history, known as historical materialism for short.

Eduard Bernstein

Edward BernsteinBernsteinBernsteinism
Indeed, in the years after Marx and Engels' deaths, "historical materialism" was identified as a distinct philosophical doctrine and was subsequently elaborated upon and systematized by Orthodox Marxist and Marxist–Leninist thinkers such as Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, Georgi Plekhanov and Nikolai Bukharin.
A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Bernstein had held close association to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but he saw flaws in Marxist thinking and began to criticize views held by Marxism when he investigated and challenged the Marxist materialist theory of history.

Dialectical materialism

dialecticaldialectical materialistmaterialism
In the early years of the 20th century, historical materialism was often treated by socialist writers as interchangeable with dialectical materialism, a formulation never used by Marx or Engels.
The formulation of the Soviet version of dialectical and historical materialism (such as in Stalin's book Dialectical and Historical Materialism) in the 1930s by Joseph Stalin and his associates, became the official Soviet interpretation of Marxism.

Orthodox Marxism

orthodox Marxistorthodox Marxistsvulgar Marxism
Indeed, in the years after Marx and Engels' deaths, "historical materialism" was identified as a distinct philosophical doctrine and was subsequently elaborated upon and systematized by Orthodox Marxist and Marxist–Leninist thinkers such as Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, Georgi Plekhanov and Nikolai Bukharin.
In the term orthodox Marxism, the word "orthodox" refers to the methods of historical materialism and of dialectical materialism—and not the normative aspects inherent to classical Marxism, without implying dogmatic adherence to the results of Marx's investigations.

Ludwig Feuerbach

FeuerbachLudwig Andreas FeuerbachFeuerbachian
The book, which structural Marxists such as Louis Althusser regard as Marx's first 'mature' work, is a lengthy polemic against Marx and Engels' fellow Young Hegelians and contemporaries Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, and Max Stirner.
His thought was influential in the development of historical materialism, where he is often recognized as a bridge between Hegel and Marx.

History

historical recordshistoricalhistoric
It is principally a theory of history which asserts that the material conditions of a society's mode of production or in Marxist terms, the union of a society's productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development. Historical materialism is materialist as it does not believe that history has been driven by individual's consciousness or ideals, but rather ascribes to the philosophical monism that matter is the fundamental substance of nature and henceforth the driving force in all of world history; this drove Marx and other historical materialists to abandon ideas such as rights (e.g. "right to life, liberty, and property" as liberalism professed).
The Marxist theory of historical materialism theorises that society is fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time – in other words, the relationships which people have with each other in order to fulfill basic needs such as feeding, clothing and housing themselves and their families.

The German Ideology

German IdeologyLudwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Ideology
This put Marx in direct conflict with groups like the liberals who believed that reality was governed by some set of ideals, when he stated in The German Ideology: "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 present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence".
The work is a restatement of the theory of history Marx was beginning to call the "materialist conception of history".

Economic sociology

economic sociologistSociety for the Advancement of Socio-Economicsstudy of markets
The substantivist ethnographic approach of economic anthropologist and sociologist Karl Polanyi bears similarities to historical materialism.
Marx's historical materialism would attempt to demonstrate how economic forces influence the structure of society on a fundamental level.

Analytical Marxism

September Groupanalytical MarxistAnalytical Marxists
Perhaps the most notable recent exploration of historical materialism is G. A. Cohen's Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence, which inaugurated the school of Analytical Marxism.
In that book, Cohen attempted to apply the tools of logical and linguistic analysis to the elucidation and defense of Marx's materialist conception of history.

Karl Marx's Theory of History

Karl Marx's Theory of History: A DefenceCohen, 1978
Perhaps the most notable recent exploration of historical materialism is G. A. Cohen's Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence, which inaugurated the school of Analytical Marxism.
Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence is a 1978 book by G. A. Cohen, the culmination of his attempts to reformulate Karl Marx's doctrines of alienation, exploitation, and historical materialism.

World history

global historyinternational historyhistory
Historical materialism is materialist as it does not believe that history has been driven by individual's consciousness or ideals, but rather ascribes to the philosophical monism that matter is the fundamental substance of nature and henceforth the driving force in all of world history; this drove Marx and other historical materialists to abandon ideas such as rights (e.g. "right to life, liberty, and property" as liberalism professed).
The Marxist theory of historical materialism claims the history of the world is fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time – in other words, the relationships which people have with each other in order to fulfil basic needs such as feeding, clothing and housing themselves and their families.

Scientific socialism

scientific socialistsocialismScientific
Historical materialism is an example of Marx and Engel's scientific socialism, attempting to show that socialism and communism are scientific necessities rather than philosophical ideals.

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Karl Marx never used the words "historical materialism" to describe his theory of history; the term first appears in Friedrich Engels' 1880 work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, to which Marx wrote an introduction for the French edition.
It focuses on the materialist conception of history, which is based on an analysis over history, and concludes that communism naturally follows capitalism.

Louis Althusser

AlthusserAlthusser, LouisAlthusserian
The book, which structural Marxists such as Louis Althusser regard as Marx's first 'mature' work, is a lengthy polemic against Marx and Engels' fellow Young Hegelians and contemporaries Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, and Max Stirner.
He fiercely condemns various interpretations of Marx's works—historicism, idealism, and economism—on grounds that they fail to realize that with the "science of history", historical materialism, Marx has constructed a revolutionary view of social change.

Friedrich Engels

EngelsFrederick EngelsFrederich Engels
Karl Marx never used the words "historical materialism" to describe his theory of history; the term first appears in Friedrich Engels' 1880 work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, to which Marx wrote an introduction for the French edition.
He stressed historical materialism in particular, assigning it a character of scientific discovery and a doctrine, indeed forming Marxism as such.

Max Stirner

StirnerJohann Kaspar SchmidtStirnerian
The book, which structural Marxists such as Louis Althusser regard as Marx's first 'mature' work, is a lengthy polemic against Marx and Engels' fellow Young Hegelians and contemporaries Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, and Max Stirner.
It has been argued that historical materialism was Marx's method of reconciling communism with a Stirnerite rejection of morality.

Dialectic

dialecticsdialecticalHegelian dialectic
Historical materialism rests on a foundation of dialectical materialism, in which matter is considered primary and ideas, thought, and consciousness are secondary, i.e. consciousness and human ideas about the universe result from material conditions rather than vice versa.
Marxist dialectic is a form of Hegelian dialectic which applies to the study of historical materialism.

Class conflict

class struggleclass warfareclass war
Class struggle between these two classes was now prevalent.
In contrast, Marx's theory of history proposes that class conflict is decisive in the history of economic systems organized by hierarchies of social class, such as capitalism and feudalism.

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Contribution to the Critique of Political EconomyCritique of Political EconomyPreface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
Perhaps Marx's clearest formulation of historical materialism resides in the preface to his 1859 book A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:
It contains the first connected account of one of Marx's main theories: the materialist conception of history, and its associated "base and superstructure" model of society, which divides human social development into an economic-technological "base" which determines the forms of its political-ideological "superstructure".