How would you describe the materialistic system of Karl Marx?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Marx argued that materialism was one of the underlying forces behind historical development.

One of the most important elements in Marx's thinking was his process of dialectical materialism.  This idea suggests that history progresses in a dialectic, or dynamic, where those who possess material wealth are pitted against those who lack it.  This story of "the haves" and "the have nots" defines the Marxist progression of socio-historical development.  

Marx believed that dialectical materialism defined the current predicament of capitalism.  Those in the position of economic power were called the capitalist or "bourgeois," while their antithesis is the workers, or the proletariat.  Marx believed that material conditions ensured that these two forces would be unable to reconcile their difference because the capitalists sought greater material wealth in the free market.  The more money they made resulted in more hardship inflicted on the working class.  Marx felt that material reality differentiated both groups because, driven by self-interested profit, capitalism defines success based on wealth. The more one makes, the more value one has.  

Marx argued that the progression of dialectical materialism would eventually create an untenable situation for the capitalists.  Since only a few profit in capitalism and more people do not, Marx feels that historical materialism will yield a new and fairer system.  The very same material progression that brought about capitalism will inevitably transcend it.

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