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_Determinisms and authors

January 2019    Dennis R. DuBe'     702/3835

0. Historical Materialism (Peck)
     "It's all in the mind, you know." --Lennon
          Janice Peck, University of Colorado #3835   Created 04/25/2016   Updated 04/25/2016

[my comments]

Historical materialism is a theory of philosophy of history and method of analysis developed by Karl Marx (18181-1883) and Frederick Engels (1820-1895), who first proposed that the material conditions,k processes, and relations though which humans produce and reproduce their existence are the primary determinant of historical development individual experience. Instead of a straightforward economic determinism that posits a unidirectional, causal relationship between a society's economic structure (the " base") and its sociopolitical institutions and ideas (the "superstructure"), historical materialism has underdone important political divides and theoretical debates within the history of Marxist thought and practice. One position views history as the product of outcome of inhuman forces that are autonomous, self-determining, and independent of human activity and will, so that humans become objects or reflexes of external processes and forces. The opposing position sees history as the outcome or result of human's activity arising from their actions with/upon nature and each other in the process of producing the means of existence. In the first view, humans are dominated/determined by inhuman forces; in the second, the human takes precedence over the inhuman. For the field of political communication, the difference between these positions points to the divergent conception of what constitutes the political domain and the role of politics, and therefore what counts as relevant objects of inquiry. The first perspective makes the economic system (capitalist, socialist) of a given society determinate of its political structrue and social relationships, while the second conceives both the economic system and the political structure as products of political and ideological class struggle. 1

[ analog of social media ] For Marzx and Engles, humans were not only reproducing their "physical existence", but also "expressing their life, a definite mode of life" and in the process, producing themselves. 1

What they are, therefore, coincides with their their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. Hence what individuals are depends on the material conditions of their production" (p. 37). 2

Marx: "Men make their own history...under circumstances found, given, and transmitted from the past (p. 595)--while also asserting that because human undertakings are conditioned by received material conditions, humans are necessarily history's authors and its products." 2

[ here is the tension between base and superstructure ]

But Marx' s definition of the economic structure as the social relations of production also placed humans -- their activities, their relations -- at the heart of the "real foundation" of society, that thus makes history a human, rather than an inhuman, process. 2

[ Orthodox or "vulgar" Marxism" ] equated the "base" with the given state of development of the productive forces and regulated all other aspects of existence (e.g. politics, culture, ideas) to the "superstructure", which was made sub-ordinate to the demands of an autonomous, unconditioned, and self-determining base. In this version of historical materialism, the nonhuman becomes primary at the technical development of the means/forces of production becomes the motor of history. 2

Philosopher Jean_Paul "Sartre agrued for revitalization of historical materialsim on the basis of what he viewed as its signal contribution: "The ssentiaon discovery of Marxism is that labour, as a historical reality and as the untiilization of particular tools in an already determined social and material situation, is the real foundation of the organizatino of social relations" (Sartre, 1976, p. 152). 3


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