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Historical Materialism

Essay by   •  January 8, 2012  •  Essay  •  817 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,481 Views

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The idea Engels had for historical materialism was that "...production, and with production the exchange of its products, is the basis of every social order" (the theory of history). We can believe this to be the historical production of materials and goods throughout society. These historical productions have also caused a segregation of social classes i.e. upper, lower and middle class. According to Engels, the segregation of classes is linked to "...what is produced and how it is produced, and how the product is exchanged". From Engels excerpts, we can see that he believes historical materialism is the ideal mode, in this case production, for acquiring the requirements for human subsistence. The mode of production provides items that are necessary for survival and ensure the progress of society as a whole. Social existence is what makes up human perception as opposed knowledge making up human existence.

Engels talks about a mode of production that is particularly relevant to the bourgeoisie - the capitalist mode of production. However, the problem with the capitalist view is that it faces a fundamental contradiction; the idea of capitalism is to take wages for a greater capital. As the modes of production moved towards a capitalist appropriation, "producers have lost control of their own social relationships". Thus, "the contradiction between social production and capitalist appropriation became manifest as the antagonism between proletariat and bourgeoisie". The social production for the individual appropriation became a mode of production for commodities, as opposed to servicing the people of the community.

The market originally started with the individual production and individual appropriation, where each person wanted they needed for themselves and owned what they made. If they did not have an item they needed, they would trade an item from what they specialized in to get what they want. This ultimately strengthened the relationship within the community, as one person's skills were essential to other members of society. However, with the capitalist production and the introduction of new technologies, society has changed that mode of production to where a social production of goods were made and sold for profit i.e. gold. Only those who could afford to buy the product would get it, even if it meant an overproduction of goods that would eventually be discarded and thrown away. This is a prime example of the capitalist view of the bourgeoisie, where production was in synchronization with the amount of goods that can be sold, contrasting with the how things were done before, where production was related to the needs of the social order.

Engels says "The contradiction between social production and capitalist appropriation reproduces itself as the antithesis between the organisation of production in the individual factory and the anarchy of production

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