Marx, Engels and historical materialism
in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
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This chapter outlines Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's theory of history and its relationship to their revolutionary political practice. In opposition to both Gerry Cohen and Steve Rigby, the chapter follows Draper's argument of Marx's revolutionary method. If Marx's revolutionary method is judged as a totality, rather than by decontextualised statements, then a much more powerful interpretation of historical materialism is possible. At its heart, historical materialism is a theory of historical change through the evolving contradictions between the forces and relations of production of various modes of production. Marx's discussion of capitalist development in India can best be understood within the context of his broader analysis of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Through this historical analysis of the rise of capitalism, Marx debunks one of the key myths of bourgeois economics: that consumers and producers meet in the marketplace as free and equal agents.


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