What is Marx's understanding or view of historical materialism in The Communist Manifesto?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Historical materialism is seen as part of the evil that has caused class struggle, in the eyes of Marx. For Marx, who starts off his argument by stating his belief that all should be able to live equal lives under democratic rule, materialism is a system that prevents such equality from being achieved. This can be particularly seen through the way in which Marx connects the existence of classes through the ownership of private property and the desire to gain more property.

Marx argues that those who own their own property force others who do not have their own property to work for them. Materialism, or the desire to accumulate more possessions and belongings, thus creates a fundamentally unequal society, as by its very nature, some will gain more than others, and therefore be in a position of power over others. Marx argues that the outer form of this relationship has changed over time, but the core reality of inequality that lies underneath whatever name or explanation we give to such relationships has not changed, making materialism a key component of the class struggle and inequality.


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