Evolutionism vs historicism

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Dec 26 16:19:04 MST 2000

If Marx and Engels didn't think that the old society held "seeds" that tended to
develop into the new society, they certainly used misleading imagery of "sprouting" ,
"sprang" and the like in the Manifesto.

Marx and Engels had an evolutionist ( not historicist)  approach. In evolutionism,
earlier stages _are_ necessarily related to later stages.

Charles B.




The history of all hitherto existing society [2] is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master [3] and
journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one
another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each
time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the
common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement
of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome
we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords,
vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these
classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has
not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new
conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it
has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up
into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other --
bourgeoisie and proletariat.

>From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest
>towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed

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