About Historical Materialism -[en]

Historical materialism, one of the most basic discoveries of Marxism, is the name of a historical interpretation based on the application of science to social developments and the dialectical materialist analysis of the laws of general movement and development of societies. It expresses a certain interpretation of the historical process that investigates the basic motive force of all important historical events in the economic development of society, the changes in the forms of production and distribution, and thus the division of society into different classes and the struggle between these classes.

In other words, Historical Materialism, Explains how and why the developments take place. How natural events, if they continue depending on natural laws, social events also arise due to social laws. Even if it is assumed that social phenomena and transformations are affected by geographical conditions and are related to population growth and that some leaders are admitted as positive and negative influences on these phenomena and transformations, historical materialism, the main cause of social change is related to the mode of production and the change of production relations has to change It is a dialectic process.

Historical materialism offers a certain pleasure and does not act from dogmas. His point of departure is real individuals and their material conditions of life. According to this, in the social structure in which they exist, people develop obligatory relations among themselves, which are not related to their own wills and are called production relations in their name. These relations of production represent the level of development of the productive forces of that human society in the historical process. The relations of production and the mode of production brought about by the productive forces also condition the existing social, political and intellectual life processes. In this sense, as Marx also says, it is not the consciousness that determines the existence of people, but on the contrary, it is the social beings that determine their consciousness. In other words, whatever social conditions we are in, we make ourselves that way and we think that way. The determining factor is the economic base and the existing objective conditions.

K. Marx and F. Engels say that man’s social history is a conditional continuation of the history of nature. In this sense, social history has its own laws and laws independent of human consciousness and will, just like the laws of nature history. The social movement depends on this objective law. The change in the mode of production and modes of production also changes the laws to which the social movement depends, and reveals relations that can be explained by new laws. In this sense, all forms of relationship of the ancestor will eventually cease to exist, and the gathering of relations that the new will require dominates. The material foundations of social history rise on the concepts of means of production and productive forces.

Every human community lives on a certain geography with a certain population. The natural environment and the population are indispensable for a human society. However, these are not enough to live in society. Before people deal with art, religion and politics, people have to meet basic needs like food, drink and shelter, and produce them to be able to obtain them. The production of the tools necessary for life is also the reproduction of material life. This activity also separates man from animal that has to obey nature.

While production is the most important activity that keeps human society together, production forces constitute the foundation of society, that is, its economic infrastructure. Other powers specific to mankind (political, religious, scientific and artistic activities) develop over this background. These are called the ideological superstructure of society. Despite the fact that the infrastructure determines the superstructure, it can not be said that the superstructure is an unconditional infrastructure result. There are both a determinative and a mutual interaction between them. The way in which constructs shape production, how they perform, and how they relate to the process of reproduction of life, and which class is dominant in these relations, the elements forming the superstructure are shaped according to the interests and ideology of this class. The thought that prevails in every society is therefore the thoughts of the ruling classes. The religious, moral, philosophical and legal structure of each society, that is, the superstructure, is connected by politics so that the superstructure is influential on the infrastructure. But overall, it is always the infrastructure that determines.

There are people in every society who are conflicting economic interests and around these economic interests. These groups of people, which bear the same economic aspirations and the same social condition as the “condition” in society, are also called the class. Even if there are special communities such as middle classes, small producers, retailers, artisans, peasants, social conflict goes through two main classes. The oppressors and the oppressed. In other words, the exploiting class and the exploited class. Marx says that the  history of mankind is the date of the clash of classes after he made this determination. In this sense, the law of act of history is based on the class struggle. All political, religious, philosophical, and ideological struggles in history are indeed nothing more than an open or hidden expression of the struggle between the social classes.

Sovereign classes create such essential institutions as religion, philosophy and art, such as the organization of law and politics for the continuity of their existence and their way of life. In addition, all kinds of information and manipulation ways that will benefit their own ideologies and enable their power to be maintained are transferred to mass media sources and the state through formal education programs. In this sense, the official ideology of any society represents not the political system and all the classes in the legal state but the opinion and the opinion of the class in power.

However, the state of equilibrium in favor of ruling powers in a society is temporary and unstable. The existence of irreconcilable contradictions between the opposing classes and the continual change of economic needs along with the modes of production reveals the existence of a constant chatter within the society. This conflict, with the maturation of objective and subjective conditions, increasingly forces the long-time oppressed production forces of the exploited class to make a change in production relations and create a new mode of production that will form a new collective base. In this kind of turn of social history, too, the classes in the oppressed class up to that time create a new and different morality, a new ideology, and new institutions that overlap with this ideology, knowing their own existence. The social structure changes completely.