Friday, September 09, 2011

How history is made

Far from being “mechanical,” Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ view of society stresses how people make history, though not in conditions of their choosing.

Paul D’Amato, Socialist Worker, August 28, 2009 | Issue 704

IT IS often argued that the Marxist view of history allows no room for conscious human intervention–that to Marxists, everything which happens in the realm of political conflicts and class struggle is merely a passive reflection of what goes on at the economic “base,” and history charts a predetermined course according to historical laws, irrespective of the actions of individuals or groups.

In short, Marxism is often accused of being mechanical, fatalist and “reductionist” (that is, reducing everything to economic changes).

Many of these critiques trace the roots of this “mechanical” Marxism back to Marx’s close collaborator Frederick Engels, who, it is claimed, diverged from Marx’s ideas and laid the groundwork for the mechanical materialism of Stalinism, which viewed history as merely a succession of modes of production, each automatically sprouting from the previous.

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