This powerful critique of Marx's historicalmaterialism - as a theory of power, as an account of history, and as a political theory -has been revised to take note of the profound intellectual and political changes that have occurred since the first edition was published. Reviews from the first edition 'Giddens draws upon a formidable knowledge of anthropology, archaeology, geography, and philosophy to demonstrate the limitations of Marxism and to formulate his own interpretation of the history of societies (...) ... He does a masterful job of setting his theory within a historical and critical framework of writings on Marx. His clarity of thought and his deft and often humorous handling of the unavoidable jargon of sociology and Marxist political theory makes this book a critical work of the highest quality.' Journal of International Law and Politics 'By contrast with many practictioners in the rather murky area of social theory, Giddens clearly seeks to make himself understood, and he has the useful quality of provoking one to argument. He has let light into some dark places.' The Times Higher Education Supplement 'Although Marx, Durkheim, and Weber continue to fill more index space than any other authors, Critique is Giddens's most explicit and committed statement of his own conceptualization of social theory ... It is his most original and therefore most vulnerable book, at once a cause for celebration and an invitation to critical reappraisal of the author's entire theoretical project.' Environment and Planning. (shrink)
El objetivo de este trabajo es rastrear y articular el concepto de materialismo histórico, así como su relación con otros conceptos tales como política, teología y progreso, en los principales textos histórico-filosóficos de Benjamin. El marco teórico del trabajo es analítico-descriptivo.
In this article I put forth a new interpretation of historicalmaterialism titled the supervenient interpretation . Drawing on the insights of analytical Marxism and utilizing the concept of supervenience, I advance two central claims. First, that Marx's synchronic materialism maintains that the superstructure supervenes naturally on the economic structure. Second, that diachronic materialism maintains that the relations of production supervene naturally on the forces of production. Taken together, these two theses help bring to the fore (...) the central tenets of historicalmaterialism. Furthermore, they help resolve what I call the problem of reductionism and the problem of verification . Key Words: Marx historicalmaterialism supervenience synchronic materialism diachronic materialism. (shrink)
Why does the world have the pattern of patriarchy it currently possesses? Why have patriarchal practices and institutions evolved and changed in the ways they have tended to over time in human societies? This paper explores these general questions by integrating a feminist analysis of patriarchy with the central insights of the functionalist interpretation of historicalmaterialism advanced by G. A. Cohen. The paper has two central aspirations: first, to help narrow the divide between analytical Marxism and feminism (...) by redressing the former's neglect of the important role female labor has played, and continues to play, in shaping human history. Second, by developing the functionalist account of historicalmaterialism in order to take patriarchy seriously, we can derive useful insights for diagnosing the emancipatory challenges that women face in the world today. The degree and form of patriarchy present in any particular society is determined by the productive forces it has had at its disposal. According to historicalmaterialism, technological, material, and medical advances that ease the pressures on high fertility rates (such as the sanitation revolution, vaccinations, birth control, and so on) are the real driving forces behind the positive modulations to patriarchy witnessed in the twentieth century. (shrink)
It is commonly supposed that Marx's Capital is part and parcel of his theory of historicalmaterialism. It is argued here, however, that this view is incorrect, and that Capital is distinguished from the more general theory of historicalmaterialism in its standing as a work of social science. This conclusion rests on several grounds. First, Capital is substantially more specialized than the theory of historicalmaterialism, since it is concerned only with one aspect (...) of one mode of production. As a result, Capital provides a more rigorous treatment of its subject matter. Second, Capital is based on a fund of empirical evidence which is substantially more detailed than that offered in support of the theses of historicalmaterialism. And third, given the preceding points, Capital is a developed empirical theory, whereas historicalmaterialism is best construed as a general program of research. For these reasons Capital is epistemically distinct from historicalmaterialism: unlike the latter, it is a substantive contribution to social science. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen's influential ?technological determinist? reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ?material? whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historicalmaterialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ?socio?neutral? facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual evidence (...) in favour of the traditional interpretation ? that for Marx, the ?material? includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historicalmaterialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing. (shrink)
The emergence of ideological and political pluralism in the Soviet Union during 1990 led to a growing number of critiques of Marxism-Leninism. The development of the internal Soviet critique of orthodox Soviet Marxism-Leninism culminated in the publication of a two-part article by Georgii Shakhnazarov in Kommunist in 1991. In this article Shakhnazarov outlined a comprehensive critique of orthodox historicalmaterialism, and many of the ideas he developed became a central part of the Draft Party Programme of July/August 1991. (...) This programme amounted to the virtual social-democratisation of Soviet Marxism-Leninism. The collapse of Soviet Marxism-Leninism can in part be explained by the internal critique of its basic tenets which developed in the period after 1988. (shrink)
Marx may be taken to hold that productive forces (e.g. the steam engine) explain productive relations (e.g. capitalism) more than the other way on, and that productive relations explain superstructures (e.g. the legal system) more than the other way on. There are no satisfactory standard causal understandings of these claims about explanatory primacy. That is, no standard causal understanding saves Marx from the traditional objection that relations very greatly affect forces, and superstructures very greatly affect relations. One satisfactorily articulated attempt (...) to save Marx has been the attempt to understand the claims teleologically. Three such understandings can be distinguished, but they do not work. The first fails since it attempts to explain events by way of abstract objects. The second fails since it attempts to explain a thing by means of that thing. The third fails for a related reason. Each understanding also fails for another reason as fundamental. So?called teleological explanations are in fact claims that standard causal explanations exist, which relevant explanations conflict with the ruling idea of Marx's philosophy, that history is somehow independent of men's consciousness and wills. There may be no evidence that Marx himself intended historicalmaterialism to be understood teleologically. There may be evidence against. (shrink)
It is perhaps too early in the long history of humanity to draw definitive conclusions concerning the historical trajectories of traditional socialist countries. It is well known that major changes have been occurring in these countries, with most even turning away from socialism altogether. Many explanations have been propounded for this phenomenon. Some observers explain the turn away fromsocialism as a result of the backward stage of the development of productive forces. Everyone knows that most socialist countries were set (...) up during times of poor economic conditions. Certainly, it is difficult to say how advanced the productive forces need to be in order to set up a durable and practical socialist system. In discussing the problem, I will be re-examining the practice of so-called traditionalsocialism in concentrating mostly on China, a country which has been and still is guided by its understanding of Marx’s theory of historicalmaterialism. (shrink)
This essay examines and criticizes G. A. Cohen's interpretation of Marx's materialistic conception of history as presented in Cohen's book Karl Marx's Theory of History. In particular, the author attacks Cohen's Primacy Thesis, the claim that (for Marx) human technology is the primary explanatory factor for economic and social change and for historical development generally. The focus of the attack is Cohen's way of distinguishing between the material and social characteristics, or the content and form, of a system of (...) production. The argument is that Cohen's distinctions are defective and therefore fail to provide adequate support for the Primacy Thesis and that, moreover, the position that Cohen defends is not Marx's. (shrink)
This book challenges the widely-held view that Marxism is unable to deal adequately with environmental problems. Jonathan Hughes considers the nature of environmental problems, and the evaluative perspectives that may be brought to bear on them. He examines Marx's critique of Malthus, his method, and his materialism, interpreting the latter as a recognition of human dependence on nature. Central to the book's argument is an interpretation of the 'development of the productive forces' which takes account of the differing ecological (...) impacts of different productive technologies while remaining consistent with the normative and explanatory roles that this concept plays within Marx's theory. Turning finally to Marx's vision of a society founded on the communist principle 'to each according to his needs', the author concludes that the underlying notion of human need is one whose satisfaction presupposes only a modest and ecologically feasible expansion of productive output. (shrink)
The article studies the implications for historicalmaterialism of the failure of the socialist project in the Soviet Union. The author demonstrates that the said failure broadly confirms central historical materialist theses, which would have been difficult to sustain if the Russian revolution had succeeded in its goal of superseding capitalism and establishing a socialist society.