Historical Materialism



Historical materialism is an approach to the study of society , economics and history. Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans collectively produce the necessities of life.

As an example, the democratization and proliferation of information on the internet changes the way in which people express and form opinion. It has shaped the way in which we relate to each other. Was this brilliant invention designed so that people could talk to their families when they lived on different continents? Or so that people could communicate with strangers and build new social movements? we must consider  A) there was a need or a desire to communicate to people many miles away and B) someone could design and make available this useful commodity that could be sold to make a profit. He could sell this useful “thing” because it had a use value to others and he could use the money to acquire other commodities (things that are useful and desirable)

According to Marxist theorists, history develops in accordance with the following observations:

Social progress is driven by progress in the material, productive forces a society has at its disposal (technology  Natural resources, labour) and this changed over time.

Humans are inevitably involved in production relations (roughly speaking, economic relationships or institutions), which constitute our most decisive Social relations.

Relations of production  help determine the degree and types of the development of the forces of production. For example, capitalism tends to increase the rate at which the forces develop and stresses the accumulation of capital.

The Superstructure—the cultural and institutional features of a society, its ideological materials—is ultimately an expression of the mode of production (which combines both the forces and realtions of production) on which the society is founded. The way we produced under feudalism and the social relations between peasants and landholders was different to the social relations and productive process under capitalism. The social relation is in effect the relationship between those who produce and who they produce under. The conditions under which they work is shaped both by how they work and the way in which they exchange labour for the material necessities of life.

Every type of state is a powerful institution of the ruling class; the state is an instrument which one class uses to secure its rule and enforce its preferred production relations (and its exploitation) onto society.

State power is usually only transferred from one class to another by social and political upheaval.

The actual historical process is not predetermined but depends on the class struggle.

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