Marx's Theory of History Essay

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Marx's Theory of History



"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

This crucial opening to The Communist Manifesto holds the key to understanding Karl Marx's conception of history. Marx outlines history as a two dimensional, "linear" chain of events. A constant progression of class divisions being created and overthrown, one after the other, until the result is the utopian endpoint, otherwise known as communism.
Karl Marx, in writing the Communist Manifesto, argued that human history unfolds in a teleological manner; therefore it unfolds according to a distinct series of historical stages, each necessarily following the other. These stages ultimately lead to a given Utopian
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According to Marx's account of history, every class is naturally unsound, and predestined for ultimate destruction due to its internal discrepancies. They will then bring rise to a new class, which has settled the discrepancies of its precursor but retains it own, which will cause its eventual passing.
In more specific terms, Marx sketches the development of the capitalist bourgeoisie society from feudal society.
"From the surfs of the middle ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed." (56)
So Serfs gave rise to burghers who formed the beginnings of the new bourgeois class. The beginnings of European trade with America and the Far East contributed to the "rapid development" of "the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society"(56). New markets, which became unable to be supported by the feudal systems' means of production, caused that system to be replaced by the "manufacturing system…. The guild-masters were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in a single workshop." (56)
And, so, by an inevitable historical process, "the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange."(57) And each of these has been "accompanied by a corresponding political…