Marx's theory of history

Marx's theory of history

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Marx's theory of history'
Start a new discussion about 'Marx's theory of history'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Marxist theory of historical materialism
Historical materialism
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

 understands society as fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time - this means the relationships which people enter into with one another in order to fulfill their basic needs, for instance to feed and clothe themselves and their families. In general Marx and Engels identified five successive stages of the development of these material conditions in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

.

Private property


The Marxist concept of private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

 gives the basis for Marx's theory. "Private property" in the terminology of Marx's time, for Marx himself, and for Marxists today, does not mean the simple possessions of a person, but the ownership of productive property or property which produces a profit
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

 for the owner, such as corporate ownership, share ownership, land ownership, and, in the case of slave society, slave ownership, since the slaves worked the land, mines and other means of producing the material means of existence.

The stages of history


Marx saw that each stage or epoch created a new class or invention that would lead to its downfall. However the downfall would not be an automatically negative event, since with each step humanity at large would benefit. Each passing stage would therefore raise the standard of living of the masses while at the same time be doomed to its own downfall because of internal contradictions and class conflicts.

Only the last two epochs are spared from this fate. With socialism the final oppressive class is overthrown and society is put under the dictatorship of the proletariat and thus advances into communism.

The first three stages are not given particular attention, since by Marx's time they had long come to pass. As such, he does not provide the principles of these stages as he does for capitalism and the stages that follow. However these epochs have common characteristics nonetheless.

Primitive Communism


The First Stage: is usually called Primitive communism
Primitive communism
Primitive communism is a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to describe what they interpreted as early forms of communism: As a model, primitive communism is usually used to describe early hunter-gatherer societies, that had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation...

. It has the following characteristics.
  • Shared property: there is no concept of ownership beyond individual possessions. All is shared by the tribe to ensure its survival.
  • Hunting and gathering
    Hunter-gatherer
    A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

    :
    tribal societies have yet to develop large scale agriculture and so their survival is a daily struggle.
  • Proto-democracy: there is usually no concept of "leadership" yet. So tribes are led by the best warrior if there is war, the best diplomat if they have steady contact with other tribes and so forth.


The primitive communism stage most likely begins soon after the dawn of humanity itself, at the stage where fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

 is developed, and communal living therefore becomes more convenient. Primitive communist societies tend to be very small, consisting of a maximum of a few hundred members, with size being dependent upon the environment. In this stage humanity is no different from any other animal, in that it has not yet found ways to bend nature to its will.

This stage ends with the development of private property, especially with the development of large scale agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. This in turn produces productive property, such as cattle and slaves.

Slave Society


The Second Stage: may be called Slave Society
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, considered to be the beginning of "class society" where private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

 appears.
  • Class
    Social class
    Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

    :
    here the idea of class appears. There is always a slave-owning ruling class
    Ruling class
    The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that society's political policy - assuming there is one such particular class in the given society....

     and the slaves themselves.
  • Statism
    Statism
    Statism is a term usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasises the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals...

    :
    the state develops during this stage as a tool for the slave-owners to use and control the slaves.
  • Agriculture
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

    :
    people learn to cultivate plants and animals on a large enough scale to support large populations.
  • Democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

     and Authoritarianism
    Authoritarianism
    Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

    :
    these opposites develop at the same stage. Democracy arises first with the development of the republican city-state, followed by the totalitarian empire.
  • Private Property
    Property
    Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

    :
    citizens now own more than personal property. Land ownership is especially important during a time of agricultural development.


The slave-owning class "own" the land and slaves, which are the main means of producing wealth, whilst the vast majority have very little or nothing. The propertyless included the slave class, slaves who work for no money, and in most cases women, who were also dispossessed during this period. From a Marxist perspective, slave society collapsed when it exhausted itself. The need to keep conquering more slaves created huge problems, such as maintaining the vast empire that resulted (i.e. The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

). It is ultimately the aristocracy born in this epoch that demolishes it and forces society to step onto the next stage.

Feudalism


The Third Stage: may be called Feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

; it appears after slave society collapses. This was most obvious during the European Dark Ages when society went from slavery to feudalism.
  • Aristocracy
    Aristocracy
    Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

    :
    the state is ruled by monarchs who inherit their positions, or at times marry or conquer their ways into leadership.
  • Theocracy
    Theocracy
    Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

    :
    this is a time of largely religious rule. When there is only one religion in the land and its organizations affect all parts of daily life.
  • Hereditary classes
    Hereditary Title
    Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are titles, positions or styles that are hereditary and thus tend or are bound to remain in particular families....

    :
    castes
    Caste
    Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

     can sometimes form and one's class is determined at birth with no form of advancement. This was the case with India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    .
  • Nation-state
    Nation-state
    The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

    :
    nations are formed from the remnants of the fallen empires. Sometimes to rebuild themselves into empires once more. Such as England's transition from a province
    Roman province
    In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

     to an empire
    British Empire
    The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

    .


During feudalism there are many classes such as kings, lords, and serfs, some little more than slaves. Most of these inherit their titles for good or ill. At the same time that societies must create all these new classes, trade with other nation-states increases rapidly. This catalyzes the creation of the merchant class.

Out of the merchants' riches, a capitalist class emerges within this feudal society. However there are immediate conflicts with the aristocracy. The old feudal kings and lords cannot accept the new social changes the capitalists want for fear of destabilizing or reducing their power base, among various other reasons that are not all tied to power or money.

These proto-capitalist and capitalist classes are driven by the profit motive but are prevented from developing further profits by the nature of feudal society where, for instance, the serfs are tied to the land and cannot become industrial workers and wage earners. Marx says, Then begins an epoch of social revolution (the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 of 1789, the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 of 1688, etc.) since the social and political organization of feudal society (or the property relations of feudalism) is preventing the development of the capitalists' productive forces.

Capitalism


Marx pays special attention to this stage in human development. The bulk of his work is devoted to exploring the mechanisms of capitalism, which in western society classically arose "red in tooth and claw" from feudal society in a revolutionary movement.

Capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 may be considered the Fourth Stage in the sequence. It appears after the bourgeois revolution when the capitalists (or their merchant predecessors) overthrow the feudal system. Capitalism is categorized by the following:
  • Market Economy
    Market economy
    A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

    :
    in capitalism the entire economy is guided by market forces. Supporters of laissez faire economics argue that there should be little or no intervention from the government under capitalism. Marxists, however, such as Lenin in his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, argue that the capitalist government is a powerful instrument for the furtherance of capitalism and the capitalist nation-state, particularly in the conquest of markets abroad.
  • Private property
    Private property
    Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

    :
    the means of production
    Means of production
    Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

     are no longer in the hands of the monarchy and its nobles, but rather they are controlled by the capitalists. The capitalists control the means of production through commercial enterprises (such as corporations) which aim to maximize profit.
  • Parliamentary democracy: the capitalists tend to govern through an elected centralized parliament or congress, rather than under an autocracy. Capitalist (bourgeois) democracy, although it may be extended to the whole population, does not necessarily lead to universal suffrage
    Universal suffrage
    Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

    . Historically it has excluded (by force, segregation, legislation or other means) sections of the population such as women, slaves, ex-slaves, people of color or those on low income. The government acts on behalf of, and is controlled by, the capitalists through various methods.
  • Wages: in capitalism, workers are rewarded according to their contract with their employer. Power elites propagate the illusion that market forces mean wages converge to an equilibrium at which workers are paid for precisely the value of their services. In reality workers are paid less than the value of their productivity - the difference forming profit for the employer. In this sense all paid employment is exploitation and the worker is "alienated" from their work. Insofar as the profit-motive drives the market, it is impossible for workers to be paid for the full value of their labour, as all employers will act in the same manner.
  • Warfare
    War
    War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

    :
    capitalism spreads from the wealthiest countries to the poorest as capitalists seek to expand their influence and raise their profits. This is done directly through war, the threat of war, or the export of capital
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

    . The capitalist's control over the state can thus play an essential part in the development of capitalism, to the extent the state directs the warfare or other foreign intervention.
  • Financial institutions: Banks
    Bank
    A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

     and capital markets such as stock exchanges direct unused capital to where it is needed. They reduce barriers to entry in all markets, especially to the poor; it is in this way that banks dramatically improve class mobility.
  • Monopolistic tendencies
    Monopoly
    A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

    :
    the natural, unrestrained market forces will create monopolies from the most successful commercial entities.


In capitalism, the profit motive rules and people, freed from serfdom, work for the capitalists for wages. The capitalist class are free to spread their laissez faire practices around the world. In the capitalist-controlled parliament, laws are made to protect wealth.

But according to Marx, capitalism, like slave society and feudalism, also has critical failings - inner contradictions which will lead to its downfall. The working class, to which the capitalist class gave birth in order to produce commodities and profits, is the "grave digger" of capitalism. The worker is not paid the full value of what he or she produces. The rest is surplus value - the capitalist's profit, which Marx calls the "unpaid labour of the working class." The capitalists are forced by competition to attempt to drive down the wages of the working class to increase their profits, and this creates conflict between the classes, and gives rise to the development of class consciousness in the working class. The working class, through trade union and other struggles, becomes conscious of itself as an exploited class.

In the view of classical Marxism, the struggles of the working class against the attacks of the capitalist class lead the working class to establish its own collective control over production - the basis of socialist society. Marx believed that capitalism always leads to monopolies and leads the people to poverty; yet the fewer the restrictions on the free market, (e.g. from the state and trade unions) the sooner it finds itself in crisis. Marx is rather vague in his explanation of how the working class will come to consciousness.

Socialism


After the working class gains class consciousness and mounts a revolution against the capitalists, socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, which may be considered the Fifth Stage, will be attained, if the workers are successful.

Lenin divided communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, the period following the overthrow of capitalism, into two stages: first socialism, and then later, once the last vestiges of the old capitalist ways have withered away, stateless communism
Stateless communism
Stateless communism, also known as pure communism, is the post-capitalist stage of society which Karl Marx predicted would inevitably result from the development of the productive forces...

 or pure communism. Lenin based his 1917 work, The State and Revolution, on a thorough study of the writings of Marx and Engels. Marx uses the terms the "first phase" of communism and the "higher phase" of communism, but Lenin points to later remarks of Engels which suggest that what people commonly think of as socialism equates to Marx's "first phase" of communism.

Socialism may be categorized by the following:
  • Decentralized planned economy: without the market, production will be directed by the workers themselves through communes or workers' elected councils.
  • Common property: the means of production
    Means of production
    Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

     are taken from the hands of a few capitalists and put in the hands of the workers. This translates into the democratic communes controlling the means of production.
  • Council democracy: Marx, basing himself on a thorough study of Paris Commune
    The Civil War in France
    The Civil War in France was a pamphlet written by Karl Marx as an official statement of the General Council of the International on the character and significance of the struggle of the Parisian Communards in the French Civil War of 1871....

    , believed that the workers would govern themselves through system of communes. He called this the dictatorship of the proletariat
    Dictatorship of the proletariat
    In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

    , which, overthrowing the dictatorship (governance) of capital, would democratically plan production and the resources of the planet.
  • Labor vouchers
    Labour voucher
    Labour vouchers are a device proposed to govern demand for goods in some models of socialism, much as money does under capitalism.-Outline:...

    :
    Marx explained that, since socialism emerges from capitalism, it would be "stamped with its birthmarks". Economically this translates into the individual worker being awarded according to the amount of labor he contributes to society. Each worker would be given a certificate verifying his contribution which he could then exchange for goods.


Marx explains that socialist society, having risen from a self conscious movement of the vast majority
Class consciousness
Class consciousness is consciousness of one's social class or economic rank in society. From the perspective of Marxist theory, it refers to the self-awareness, or lack thereof, of a particular class; its capacity to act in its own rational interests; or its awareness of the historical tasks...

, makes such a society one of the vast majority governing over their own lives:
Now the productive forces are truly free to develop, but in a democratically planned way, without the vast waste of anarchic capitalist society, its wars and destruction of the planet. One of the primary tasks of the workers in the socialist society, after placing the means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

 into collective ownership, is to destroy the "old state machinery.” Hence the bourgeoisie's parliamentary democracy ceases to exist, and fiat and credit money are abolished. In Marx's view, instead of a dictatorship of capital, in which rulers are elected only once every few years at best, the state is ruled through the dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

 with the democratically elected workers' commune
Commune (socialism)
Traditionally, the revolutionary left sees the Commune as a populist replacement for the elitist parliament. The far-left, despite their differences, agree that the commune would have several features...

 to replace the parliament:
The commune, in Marx and Engels' view, modeled after the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

, has a completely different political character from the parliament. Marx explains that it holds legislative-executive power and is subservient only to the workers themselves:
Marx explained that, since socialism, the first stage of communism, would be "in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges", each worker would naturally expect to be awarded according to the amount of labor he contributes, despite the fact that each worker's ability and family circumstances would differ, so that the results would still be unequal at this stage, although fully supported by social provision.

Fiat money
Fiat money
Fiat money is money that has value only because of government regulation or law. The term derives from the Latin fiat, meaning "let it be done", as such money is established by government decree. Where fiat money is used as currency, the term fiat currency is used.Fiat money originated in 11th...

 and credit whose values were determined by anarchic market forces are abolished. Instead, in his Critique of the Gotha programme, Marx speculated schematically that from the "total social product" there would be deductions for the requirements of production and "the common satisfaction of needs, such as schools, health services, etc" which latter deduction "grows in proportion as the new society develops", and, of course, deductions "for those unable to work, etc". After these deductions the workers could divide up the wealth produced by their labor and everyone could be simply given a "certificate from society", which could then be exchanged for products. This schematically introduces a means of exchange ("the same principle" i.e. money) in socialist society but with the speculative element removed.

In this way, each worker is paid according to the amount of labor contributed to society, in other words according to the agreed difficulty, length of time, and intensity of his labor. All goods (such, for instance, as housing) are priced in a greater degree according the amount of labor required to produce them, which the individual worker can buy with his labor voucher.
Only if this new socialist society manages to end the destructiveness of capitalism and leads to a higher quality of life for all will socialist society be successful. As socialism raises everyone's quality of life above the precarious existence they knew hitherto, providing decent health care, housing, child care, and other social provision for all without exception, the new socialist society begins to break down the old inevitably pecuniary habits, the need for a state apparatus will wither away, and the communist organization of society will begin to emerge. Socialism, in the view of Marxists, will succeed in raising the quality of life for all by ending the destructive contradictions which arise in capitalism through conflicts between competing capitalists and competing capitalist nations, and ending the need for imperialist conquest for the possession of commodities and markets.

Communism


Some time after socialism is established society leaps forward, and everyone has plenty of personal possessions, but no one can exploit another person for private gain through the ownership of vast monopolies, and so forth. Classes are thus abolished, and class society ended. Communism will have spread across the world
World revolution
World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class...

 and be worldwide
World communism
World communism, also known as international communism or global communism, is the terminal stage of development of the history of communism in Marxist theory. It has also usually been equated to the Comintern . This is the meaning that typically and historically has been meant by opponents of...

. Eventually the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 will "wither away" and become obsolete, as people administer their own lives without the need for governments or laws. Thus, stateless communism
Stateless communism
Stateless communism, also known as pure communism, is the post-capitalist stage of society which Karl Marx predicted would inevitably result from the development of the productive forces...

 or pure communism, which may be considered the Sixth Stage, is established, which has the following features:
  • Statelessness
    Stateless society
    A stateless society is a society that is not governed by a state. In stateless societies, there is little concentration of authority; most positions of authority that do exist are very limited in power and are generally not permanently held positions; and social bodies that resolve disputes through...

    :
    there are no governments, laws, or nations any more.
  • Classlessness: all social classes disappear, everyone works for everyone else.
  • Propertylessness: there is no money or private property, all goods are free to be consumed by anyone who needs them.


In The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party is a short 1848 publication written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the...

Marx describes communism as:
Few applications of historical materialism, the philosophical system used by Marxism to explain the past progressions of human society and predict the nature of communism, account for a stage beyond communism, but Marx suggests that what has ended is only the "prehistory" of human society; now, for the first time, humankind will no longer be at the mercy of productive forces (e.g. the free market) which act independently of their control. Instead human beings can plan for the needs of society, inclusively, democratically, by the vast majority, who now own and control the means of production collectively. By implication, then, only now does the real history of human society begin.