Historical Materialism

The problem in politics is many people have a poor understanding of what drives human history. They have a view based upon idealism rather than science. In philosophical terms, idealism rather than materialism. They think that it is purely a battle of ideas without understanding the material basis for these ideas.

Historical Materialism

If we look at the broad brush of human history we see technological change as a driver of changes in economic systems: pre-agriculture hunter-gather societies, slave & feudal systems of agricultural societies &  the capitalism of industrialised societies today. With these changes come changes in productive relations in society. With agriculture we get class based societies: those who control the land & those who work the land, e.g. landlords & serfs; with capitalism we get those who control (own) capital, whether in the form of factories or just money capital, & those who have to work – hence the class based nature of our society. As all profit ultimately comes from the workers’ labour, we have the class struggle between profit & wages.

You then need to understand the nature of capitalism’s crises to understand the boom of the post-war period & why capitalism could afford ‘social democracy’ & why we then had the neo-liberal onslaught of the last 40 years.

The material conditions set what is possible & what ideas take hold. This is why have the rise of Corbyn. He offers hope that Labour will break from putting corporate interests (i.e. capitalist class interests) first, as New Labour did.

Capitalism is breaking down. It has to print money & give it to the bankers to stay afloat. This cannot go on forever. When the next crash comes, we don’t need a Labour government trying to save it as Gordon Brown did when he bailed out the rich & the rest of us got austerity. We need a new society whereby we all democratically run the economy to meet our needs, not the profit of a few. A society classless called socialism.

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