the marxist interpretation of history l.
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The Marxist Interpretation of History. Ruling Elite = Aristorcracy + Landowners Rule society by use of Force Importance of Religion to reinforce hierarchical society. Dominant Ideology. FEUDAL SYSTEM. Economic basis of society = Agriculture Land = Power.

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Ruling Elite = Aristorcracy +


Rule society by use of Force

Importance of Religion to reinforce hierarchical society.

Dominant Ideology


Economic basis of society = Agriculture

Land = Power

Below this line = peasantry and some economic activity



For Marx when the basis of society comes under pressure and moves from Agriculture (feudalism) to Industry (Capitalism) there is a Revolution and a change in the way in which society is organised. When does this happen?

Historical debate.

After the Revolution the dominant ideology changes. And there is a change in the class that runs society

Feudal Society


Capitalist Society 1750?


New Rulers of society = Industrial Middle class. Factory owners, managers, entrepreneurs.

  • Dominant ideology = liberalism - Free trade,Laissez-faire,value of work etc
  • The Middle Class (bourgeoisie) take over from the Aristocrats


Old landed Aristocracy


Basis of society is capitalist economy

Business, industry, trade

For the skilled and unskilled working classes the capitalist system creates a ‘false consciousness’ they are held in check by the bourgeoisie and the dominant ideology


Communist Revolution

  • The Proletariat take over in a Workers Revolution.
  • The state controls the economy
  • All people are equal
  • A classless society is created

The end of History?

  • Marxist Historians look for evidence of class rebellions in history
  • English Civil War - Marxists find evidence of an industrial Middle Class challenging the Aristocracy King vs Commons
  • French Revolution - Marxist Historians see evidence of a French Middle Class challenging the French Monarchy and Aristocracy
  • Russian Revolution + Chinese Revolution - Marxists see these as true Working Class Revolutions - Working Classes challenge Bourgeoisie
  • What about the rise of Labour Party? Why no Working Class Revolution
  • Why was there no Revolution in Britain in the 19th century when there were regular revolutions in Europe
  • Remember this is only a theroy which can help in an analysis of societies in the past. It is severely challenged by many Historians and since 1989 and the fall of the Berlin wall has lost some credibility.