Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit
Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Historical Materialism)
Historical materialism is a implementation of dialectical materialism of
philosophy in the field of social development.
1) It is also called economic determinism because it belives that economic
factors are the base for all development.
2) The main hypothesis of historical materialism is that mode of production
plays a decisive role in social development.
- Means of production are those tools through which production carried out
like factories tractor.
- Forces of production means – means of production + labour power.
3) Relations of Production: During production process the persons involved in
production developed certain relationships, these relationship are based on
class. In simple words it means the relationship between the classes.
4) Mode of production – is nothing but the combined form of forces of
production and relations of productions. In layman’s word, it means the economic
system of the state.
Economic system plays decisive role in social development.
Mode of production is a sub structure (basic) other structures, like state,
legal system, morality, ideology, Religion are the part of super structure.
Super structure is dependent on sub-structure.
Therefore, whenever change in mode of production take place, every other
thing including state, religion, morality etc. automatically change.
History of development of society is a history of changes in mode of
production. According to Marx “All the social, political, intellectual
relations. All religion and legal systems all theoretical outlooks which emerge
in course of history are derived from material conditions of life.
In every mode of production there are contradiction due to these
contradiction one mode of production is replaced by other mode of production and
in this way society progress.”
On the basis of economic determinism Mars divided Social development into 5
1) Primitive communism
i) Dictatorship of proletariat
ii) Ideal communist society
1) Primitive communalism : No private property stateless, classless No
institution of marriage & family.
2) Slavery Masters Slaves
3) Feudalism Feudal lords Serfs.
4) Capitalism Capitalist Proletariat
5) Socialism Dictatorship Capitalist Of proletariat proletariat
Ideal communist society
Feature – No private property stateless, classless. No institution of
marriage and family.
Why ideal communism better than primitive communism?
- No development of factors of production Development stage of
- Idea communism – stage of prosperity primitive communism – state of
1) It gives overemphasis to economic factors but all historical events can
not be explained purely on the economic basis. e.g. Palestine – Isreal conflict
partition of India can not be explained on basis of economic factors only.
2) It is a form of determinism therefore it neglects role of accidental factors
3) Economic determinism undermines the role of state. (State affect – economy).
4) Economic power is not the only basis for all forms of power. e.g. Power of
Pope : Power of Brahman in Indian Varna system was not based on their economic
- Class struggle is the core of Marxism. In communist manifesto (1848).
Marx and Engels declared that – “History and hitherto existing society is
history of class struggle”.
- According to Marx. : Class is a group of people who have same place in
the mode of production’ this place is determint on the basis of their
relationship with forces of means of production.
- Class division in society is a outcome of private property.
If there is institution of private property then some individuals are related
to means to production as owners and some other are related as sellers of labour.
They have different place in the mode of production.
First group constitute the ruling class e.g. capitalist in capitalism feudal
lord in feudalism
Other group constitute the ruled class e.g. proletariat / worker in
capitalism serf in feudalism (personal property – House for residence, Private
property – House for renting) — Tool for exploitation of ruled class need is
criteria to have personal property.
According to Marx, there are 2 stages of formation.
1) Class in itself
2) Class for itself
1) Class in itself : is based on class origin and its basis of objective
2) Class for itself : is based on class consciousness & its basis is subjective
Objectively, labourers always constitute a class in the form of class in
itself but when they develop class consciousness & subjective awareness about
their membership of a particular class then they become class for itself.
(Objective – true in itself irrespective of space & time) Subjective –
depends on perspective.
1) due to place in means of production due to birth / by birth.
2) Consciousness for common interest common obstacles.
Revolution takes place when class in itself. Converts into class for itself’
(class in itself + class consciousness — class for itself).
According to Marx, due to many reasons the conversion of ‘class in itself’
into ‘class for itself’ takes place.
i) Appropriation of surplus value.
ii) In capitalism, due to concentration of industries at fewer places large
number of workers come into contact with each other and communication takes
place among them.
iii) Pauperization of Proletariat
Capitalism works on principle of Iron law of wages due to which labourer is
given that minimum wage which is essential for survival.
iv) Crisis of capitalism e.g. crisis of over production and crisis of under
production are inherent in the system and all these crisis worst affect the
labour class. (Over production – demand — depression – industries closed.)
Under production – demand – inflation seeds of own destruction – contradiction).
With growing class consciousness in a working class, class struggle will
intensity which ultimately lead to revolution.
In the words of Marx – “Its fall and victory of proletariat both are
Therefore, Marx declared – “Workers of world unite, you have nothing to loose
except your chains but you have world to win”.
Features of class struggle
1) Class struggle is motor for social change (engine guiting to vehicle).
2) Class struggle is all inclusive, finally all members of society will
participate in it.
3) The success of revolution depends upon the intensity of class struggle.
1) According to philosophers like Gandhi whole society has main element of
2) Marx had ignored the role of middle class.
3) History has clearly shown that a nationalism is more important than class
struggle. This is the reason during WW-I and WW-II, workers and capitalist of
various countries fought together.
4) It is not certain that the working class will ultimately win the class
struggle as Marx claim.
Today it is not the universally accepted theory. Even neo-marxism does not
emphasise on it.
According to Marx, surplus value is the difference between 2 values which the
labourer creates and which he gets. Theory of surplus value is based on labour
theory of value, according to which labour creates value.
Marx believed that the exchange value of any object is determined by the amount
of labour used to create the object but the labourer is deprived of his fruits
of labour in the form of surplus value. According to Marx, appropriation of
surplus value which legitimately belongs to labour by capitalist is theft.
The main reason for appropriation of surplus value by capitalist is the
institution of private property.
Labour theory of value – Labour creates value – supported by
Negliberal Adam Smith, Riccardo – income of Feudal lord – land lend –
1) Why do labour creates value? Labour is common to all product use value –
exchange value – depends on labour
2) Why do capitalist can appropriate? By property private – tool to
1) Marx wrongly believed that only labour creates value, capital invested by
capital invested by capitalist is managerial skill, risk covered by him all are
responsible for value addition.
2) According to M.N. Roy, no system can sustain without snatching some amount of
value from labourer because money is needed for infrastructure development,
research and technological upgradation etc.
Therefore theory of surplus value is not a scientific and logical theory but
its significance lies in the fact that Marx used it as the main tool or
instrument to criticize capitalism.
Max Beer declared – described this theory as merely a social & political
According to Marx, revolution means complete overthrow of one mode of
production and establishment of new mode of production.
Marx believed mode of production is a substructure and other structures like
state, legal system etc. constitute super structure.
Super structure dependent on sub structure therefore change in substructure
i.e. mode of production changes every other thing.
Therefore, Marx did not consider French revolution as true revolution because
it only changed the state which is a part of superstructure but mode of
production was intact.
For Marx, real example for revolution are replacement of slavery by feudalism
or replacement of feudalism by capitalism.
Causes of Revolution
According to dialectical materialism, every stage of history has some
contradictions in it, which ultimately destroys it. Therefore, capitalism will
also collapse under the burden of its own contradictions. Main contradictions
1) Apparition of surplus value
2) Pauperization of proletariat
3) Crisis of capitalism
4) Communication at concentrated industries.
But, according to Marx the most important contradiction which leads to
revolution is the contradiction between forces of production and relations of
Forces of production are dynamic whereas relations of production are static.
Therefore, time come when static relations of production become like chains for
the dynamic force of production which Marx called ‘Forces Fetters’ This
contradiction ultimately leads to revolution.
e.g. Feudalism – mode of production of production – feudal lord & slave.
Feudal lord control life of slave. Agriculture – land chain for development.
Time changes plough — Tractor Industries established – where do labour come?
Feudalism Vs Capitalism (expansion its) capitalism destroys feudalism.
Role of Violence in Revolution
According to Marx- “Force is the mid-wife for every old society, pregnant
with new one.”
Marx supported role of force / violence with 2 reasons.
1. According to Marx, in every society ultimately there are 2 classes and
interest of these 2 classes are antagonistic because profit of one is the loss
of other and vice versa. No reconciliation is possible.
2. According to third law of dialectical materialism qualitative change takes
place from quantities form, but if some hurdle is in its ways then that hurdle
is removed through forces.
Through Marx supports force or violence but he rejects terror.
Force should be used only to change the mode of production and not to
After revolution dictatorship of proletariat will be established.
1) According to Gandhi, non violent change is the real change because it is
permanent and stable.
2) In those countries where violence is accepted as a means of change, it gets
accepted in the society also (like USSR China).
3) According to Karl Popper (who criticized Plato’s for theory of justice)
incremental change is always better than revolution (gradual changes through
reforms & stages).
Dictatorship of Proletariat
Dictatorship of proletariat is a transition stage which comes into existence
after revolution, this is also a class rule but different from earlier because
it is rule of majority class.
According to Lenin and others, this is real democracy. In this stage also
state is a class instrument but it is different because now it promotes the
interest of majority.
Guiding slogan of this stage is “from each according to his ability to each
according to his work” (There will be no appropriation of surplus value) State
will perform 3 functions-
1) Protective – To maintain law and order in society
- To protect socialist revolution from counter attack of capitalist.
2) Development – State abolishing itself socialization of means of production
and other development work like education, healtalh etc. and related for
3) Educative – Expansion of socialist ideas, values in society.
1) According to Marx, it was to be a transition stage but in former USSR and
China, it has become permanent.
2) Dictatorship of proletariat will lead to the ideal communist society but it
never happened in History.
3) According to critics like M.N. Roy dictatorship of proletarial degenerated in
dictatorship over proletariat.
Class of party leader and supporter
2 classes of DOP Proletariat