Historical materialism is a Marxist theory that defends the idea that the evolution and organization of society, throughout history, occur according to its production capacity and its social relations of productivity. Historical Materialism definition
Karl Marx’s theory is based on what he called the materialist conception of history .
This conception, supported by both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has a very different concept from the concept of the Enlightenment .
According to her, the social changes that have taken place throughout history are not based on ideas, but on material values and economic conditions.
Origin of historical materialism
The theory of historical materialism was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels during the period 1818 to 1883.
In the nineteenth century, Europe went through a phase of great industrial expansion, which further highlighted the differences between the existing social classes and caused a great impact in the social and political sphere.
Before the elaboration of the theory of historical materialism, history was seen as a succession of disconnected facts and events that happened almost accidentally. Historical Materialism definition
Through the Marxist method of this theory, for the first time history was analyzed with scientific foundations that stated that the reasons for social changes were not in the human brain (ideas and thoughts), but in the mode of production.
The materialist conception of history concluded that the modes of production of materials are fundamental for the relationship between people and, consequently, for the development of society and history.
One of the main ideas of historical materialism is that the historical evolution of society benefits from clashes between different social classes, due to what Marx called “the exploitation of man by man”.
With regard to historical materialism, the central line of Marxist thought held that every economic system or concept of mode of production was associated with a contradiction that led to its disappearance and consequent replacement by another more advanced system of social and economic life. Historical Materialism definition
In feudalism, for example, the need for states governed by the monarchy to carry out commercial transactions with other states gave rise to a merchant class and may have led to the advance of capitalism.
Difference between dialectical materialism and historical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a way of understanding reality considering materialism and dialectics, taking into account thoughts, emotions and the material world.
According to this concept, dialectics is the basis for understanding the social processes that take place throughout history.
Marx and Engels’ concept of dialectics was based on Hegel’s dialectic, which states that nothing is permanent and that everything is always in a continuous process of being and ceasing to be, of change, and which can even be replaced. Historical Materialism definition
However, the Hegelian dialectic only served as a basis for Marx and Engels to develop their own concept of the word.
Marxist dialectics does not accept Hegel’s idealist foundations, who understand that history is the manifestation of the absolute spirit that passes from a subjective state to an absolute knowledge.
For Marx, history is the opposition of classes that arises due to the mode of production that is in effect.
Dialectical materialism is the theoretical basis of a method of reasoning, and therefore, it should not be confused with historical materialism, which is a Marxist interpretation of history in terms of social class struggles.