Does History Have An End? Essay

1325 words - 5 pages

The Communist Manifesto was published just before the European Revolutions of 1848. It was meant as a statement of purpose for Marx's newly formed Communist League and its straightforward, even prophetic, tone is that of a man confidently explaining to a confused world the reasons for a tumult which had not yet begun. Why is he so sure of himself? The answer to this depends on Marx's deterministic view of history.

Marx inherited from his philosophical father, Hegel, the idea of historical progress (. Both believed that human history unfolds according to a distinct series of historical stages, each following the other. These stages ultimately lead to a prearranged Utopian endpoint, after which there will be no more change and an end to history. Unlike Hegel, though, Marx thought that these stages can be predicted, because there are scientific laws, discoverable by empirical methods, which manage the development of history. In such a universe, people are merely enhancing or resisting the birth of a new historical period, unable to change the nature of the end product. Marx believed that he had discovered these laws and the fall of capitalism and the victory of communism.

According to Marx, the course of human history takes a very specific form: class struggle (Marx, 79). The facilitator of change in history is class antagonism. Historical eras are defined by the relationship between different classes at different points in time. It is this model that Marx seeks out in his account of feudalism's submission to bourgeois capitalism and his prediction of bourgeois capitalism's fall in favor of proletarian rule. These changes are not the dependent results of arbitrary economic, social, and political events; each one follows the other in a foreseeable pattern. When Marx wrote The Manifesto, he thought he was announcing the end of capitalism only months before its downfall.

However, it is important to realize that this hostility also takes a very specific form: the dialectic (that of exchanging logical arguments to arrive at the truth. According to Marx's dialectical account of history, every class is unstable and fated for complete destruction because of its internal inconsistencies. Out of its ruins, a new class forms that resolves the in congruencies of its forerunner but retains it own, which will in turn cause its eventual destruction. More specifically, the bourgeoisie must create the proletariat as a condition of their own development, in order to work in their burgeoning industries. While doing this, they must treat the proletariat worse and worse while giving them the means to associate through politics. The consequence of this plan is that the proletariat grows in power and eventually overthrows their oppressors. The inner contradiction is the bourgeois's need for proletariat labor. When this need is met, it leads to the eradication of the bourgeois's power (Marx,...

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