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 half century.

The material conditions set what is possible & what ideas take hold.

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¬†classless society called socialism.

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