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Introduction

  • Umberto Melotti

Abstract

Marx’s concept of historical development is still presented, under the prevailing image, as following a single narrow path. That view, so it is asserted, derives from his best-known and most widely read work, the Communist Manifesto. That work, as everyone knows, was written for a practical purpose, in order to educate people. Yet the faithful who like to call themselves orthodox Marxists continue to vie with their opponents in reducing Marx’s views — with a zeal that could be better employed elsewhere — to the bare bones of the sacrosanct unilinear schema of five different types of society, following on from each other not only chronologically but logically, as ‘progressive’ stages in mankind’s historical development. These are: the classless primitive community, the slave-based society of classical times, the feudal society based on serfdom, the modern bourgeois society based on the capitalist mode of production, and lastly the classless society of the future, communist society, seen as the end to which all world history is progressing, particularly in those societies, from the Soviet Union to China, supposedly already in a state of transition, the so-called ‘socialist’ societies.

Keywords

Productive Force Capitalist Society Bare Bone Communist Society Feudal Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Friedrich Engels, review of ‘Karl Marx: Zur Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie’, in Das Volk (London), nos. 14 and 16, 6 and 20 Aug. 1859, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Werke, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1956–68, vol. XIII, p. 475.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Karl Marx, ‘Vorwort’ to Zur Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie (1859), in Werke, vol. XIII, p. 9Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    V. I. Lenin, A Great Beginning (1919), in Sochinenya, Gosudarstvennoe Izdatelstvo Politicheskoi Literaturi, Moscow, 1941–67, vol. XXIX, p. 388; Eng. trans. in Collected Works, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1960–70, vol. XIX, p. 421.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Karl Marx, letter to Vera Zasulich, 8 Mar 1881, first draft, in Marx—Engels Archiv, ed. D. Riazonov, Verlagsgesellschaft m.b.H., Frankfurt, 1926, p. 329. [I have not found a complete English translation of the French original. A composite English version of all three drafts (omitting some passages, including this one) is in P. W. Blackstock and Bert F. Hoselitz (eds.), The Russian Menace to Europe, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1952.—Trans.]Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Karl Marx, Das Kapital, vol. III, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1960, p. 167Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Die Deutsche Ideologie (1845–6), in Werke, vol. III, p. 27; Eng. trans. The German Ideology, in Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1965, vol. II, p. 38.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Die Heilige Familie (1845), in Werke, vol. II, p. 98Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Umberto Melotti

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