Class Struggle and Historical Development

Part of the Studies in Historical Sociology book series (SHS)


Although there is considerable diversity in Marxist theories of feudal development and the transition from feudalism to capitalism, they have one feature in common: a stress on the determination of historical change by theoretically specified components of modes of production, either internal to the FMP (internal dissolution), or external to this mode and identified with incipient capitalism (external dissolution). In such theories, historical change is seen as the working-out of contradictions either within a mode of production or between modes. These two types of conceptualisation of change represent opposed or antithetical forms of auto-effectivity of the modes concerned.1 Auto-effectivity entails the imposition of the theoretical structure of the mode of production on history, so that the movements of this structure are determinant of change. The role of class struggle in historical change is thereby ignored. This omission is highlighted in the analysis of the process of transition, in which there is wholesale movement from one mode of production to another.


Productive Force Historical Change Social Formation Capitalist Relation Class Struggle 
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  1. 6.
    6. E. A. Kosminsky, ‘The Evolution of Feudal Rent in England from the Eleventh to the Fifteenth Centuries’, P & P, no. 7 (1955) pp. 22–6.Google Scholar
  2. 23.
    23. E. O. Wright, Class, Crisis and the State (London: New Left Books, 1978) ch. 1.Google Scholar

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© John E. Martin 1986

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