Lecture 12 - Marx's Theory of History

Foundations of Modern Social Theory

Yale

We consider closely Marx's
Grundrisse
, written between
The German Ideology
and
Das Kapital
. In the
Grundrisse
, Marx revisits and revises his theory of historical change. Previously, he argued that history is characterized by a uni-linear increase in the division of labor. He also argued that class struggle caused revolutionary transitions from one mode of production to the next--slavery to feudalism to capitalism--and that Communism will be the last stage in social evolution. In the
Grundrisse
, Marx develops a theory of historical change focused on property relations. In addition, he depicts a more complex, multi-linear development of history. The facet of Marx which he exhibits in the
Grundrisse
tends not to be the one that is widely remembered, but understanding the nuances he presents there is crucial to fully understand his idea of history and historical change and the role of property in capitalism and Communism.

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