Karl Marx and the End of History

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In his essay “Introduction to The Philosophy of History” Hegel predicted the end of history as the moment when all human beings acquire full awareness of themselves and become free. The first stages of humanity were moments where only very few were aware of this fact, but as history progresses more and more people come to this realization. In the first stages of human development political organizations were characterized by the absolute rule of a very reduced number of people. As history developed we created more complicated systems of political organizations that could be summarized as the development of organizations were men are more equal.

Marx in his youth was a Hegelian. But he became famous for taking the dialectical system developed by Hegel and turning it up side down. For Hegel it was ideas that mattered and that forced the development of history. For Marx it is the material reality of the individual that determines the development of history. Ideologies, legal theory, economic theory, are but projections in our mind that explain or reaffirm the material reality around us.

For Marx the end of history is also freedom. But not the philosophical freedom that Hegel described, it is an economic freedom. The end of the exploitation of man by man. End of the division of the world between haves and have-nots, between exploiters and exploited. A time when people won’t be forced to sell their labor force because it is all they have. He interpreted the society of his time as divided in two main and opposite groups: the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. The bourgeoisie being those who control the means of production, and accordingly, those who control the political power. The proletariat has no property and it is forced to sell they labor to the bourgeois in order to survive. This organization of the economy is called capitalism. Marx predicted that the next step in history was when the proletariat gets control of the means of production and he called this new stage Socialism. In socialism there is still the concept of property. The third and last stage of development would be communism, a time when each person would contribute to society according to his ability and would consume according to his needs.

The raise of the proletariat to the control of the means of production has to be violent. This is because the bourgeoisie benefits from the inherently unjust capitalist system and has not interest in changing it.