The Last Resort

  • Leszek Nowak
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 139)


It is a rule in sociological studies, especially the non-Marxist ones, to classify historical materialism as the so-called single-factor theory. These are the theories which try to explain all social phenomena by means of one kind of factors alone, e.g., geographical, demographical, etc.,ones. Historical materialism is supposed to elevate the economic factor to this position (it is by no means clear what is the exact meaning of the ‘economic factor’ in the studies of these critics of Marxism. I shall not go further into it, since my only purpose is to show how baseless this kind of criticism is from the methodological point of view). The following statements are therefore considered sufficient to oppose the Marxist theory of social development:

The relations between the economic and non-economic phenomena are complex, and various social phenomena are related to the economic ones in varying degrees. It has been established … that such relations are by no means complete. There is no such non-economic phenomenon whose nature or changes might be explained by economic factor alone. Economic phenomena should not be treated as something that conditions the other phenomena, since they themselves may be shaped by the other ones. The economic factor cannot therefore by treated as a ‘cause’ and the other phenomena as ‘effects’. We are fully entitled to the view that the other phenomena are independent magnitudes and the economic phenomena are their functions (Sorokin (1), pp. 115–116).


Economic Factor Economic Situation Social Phenomenon Principal Factor Economic Base 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1980

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  • Leszek Nowak

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