In establishing classical Marxism, Marx adopted a philosophy of history called the materialist conception of history, or historical materialism. Marx’s theory of historical materialism states that material or economic conditions structure culture, law, politics, and other aspects of social existence. Combining the theory of historical materialism along with the dialectic, the concept of progress as a result of an internal conflict between a thesis and its antithesis, Marx was able to explain historical change by reference to contradictions within the different modes of production, from the existence of private property.
With this theory, Marx was able to conclude that capitalism is doomed to failure because of the inherent conflict between the working class and capitalism thus making his philosophy both deterministic, in predicting society’s own self destruction, and humanistic, because of Marx’s view of man as the measure of all things and his concern for the working middle class. Marx suggested that wealth in a capitalist society would eventually concentrate and lead to the eventual immiseration of the worker. According to Marx, the capitalist system of production for exchange alienates the working class from the products of his labor.
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He also suggests that the management system in supervising the labor alienates the worker from the process of production. To Marx, capitalist society was evolving into two classes: the proletariat, and the bourgeoisie. To Marx, classes are the primary vehicle for historical change. Marx elaborated on class struggle commenting on how the ruling class systematically exploited the working class with the idea of surplus value. Marxism supports the labor value theory, a theory that states that an objects value is equal to the amount of material and labor that an object is comprised of.
This theory directly contradicts the fundamental capitalist design of surplus value. Marx suggests that the added value to an object is stolen from the workers who labored to create a particular item, further immiserating him. This not only outlined the inherent instability of capitalism based on class conflict but also demonstrated the nature of capitalistic development as a cycle of overproduction, that would only serve to immobilize the economy, create unemployment and further the plight of the orker as wealth concentrates further and further away from him. Due to the widening gap between the social classes as well as the inherit instability of capitalism Marx predicted that there would be a social revolution that would rearrange the means of production and ownership, eventually leading to the achievement of full communism. Marx predicted that this revolution would be led by the working class in a spontaneous act when the proletariat would be able to recognize the fact of his own exploitation.
Marx predicts that the working class will aim to overthrow the state because the state exists for the benefit of the economic ruling class and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, a temporary state to safe-guard against counter-revolution carried out by the former ruling class. Eventually, Marx predicts, a balance between idealism and materialism will be found and the state will wither away, leaving us to live in communes.