Please read the short essay, or just click the answers to these simple questions. You may need to *enable popups.
1. Which is the best guide for understanding historical change?
* Changes in the way that goods and services are produced explain human history
* Historical change is fluid and random. It is too complicated to understand or to use for prediction
* Changes in history are real, but they advance and recede in waves
* History seems to always be changing, but its motion is basically circular
* The more things change, the more they stay the same
2. Which is the most likely explanation for the United States' success in 20th century international politics?
* The wisdom of the founding fathers
* For various reasons, the U.S. could out-produce other nations
* This nation was blessed with moral strength
* The sacrifices of devoted citizens
3. Which is more likely to be what capitalists would like us to believe?
* Those who understand history are less likely to repeat errors
* History can be a good guide to a better future
* History may be interesting, but things have pretty much always been the way they are now
* Everything is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent.*If popups don't work when you click on the answers, you will probably get a yellow line across the top of your screen. Click on it and choose "temporarily enable popups."
Understanding Human History
"Those who do not study the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."
Capitalists prefer these nonsensical approaches to the scientific truths. They would have us believe that nothing has ever changed. If real changes are pointed out, they like to tell us that history only goes around in circles or in a back and forth "pendulum" motion. They like us to believe that the ideas of great men, such as George Washington, were the fundamental force that drove historical events. Sometimes, they want us to believe that great historical changes came about by luck or happenstance.
Marxists apply our materialist philosophy to the study of history. The result is Historical Materialism, which explains that the great changes in human history came about because of changes in the means and modes of production. When humans began to breed and herd cattle, they lived different lives than they had previously when they were spending all their time hunting and gathering food. When humans developed machines capable of meeting many of their fundamental needs, they lived differently than they did when they were simple herdsmen. The changes in production brought about profound changes in society.
In the preface to his excellent pamphlet, "Socialism, Utopian and Scientific," Frederick Engels said: "The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in men's better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange." (Quoted by John Case in his excellent 2008 analysis of the ways that technological changes have affected production and, thus, history. Read it at http://groups.google.com/group/socialist-economics/web/the-crash-of-2008-and-historical-materialism)
Capitalists do not want us, their subjects, to understand change. For example, they would like us to believe that capitalism is eternal and has always dominated. In truth, capitalists only began to exert great power over governments within the last four centuries. Before the capitalists, hereditary kings and aristocrats ruled. How all these changes came about is the subject of one of the most important of all Marxist books, Frederick Engels' "Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State." Engels was a great historian and anthropologist. Like him, all Marxists pay close attention to the lessons of history in order to understand what is happening now and to facilitate a better future for humanity.
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