According to Marx, revolutionaries required a new historical theory. Marx preferred the theory by Hegel, which he supported in his argument. Marx started his argument with the social class and furthered to the people’s relation, and the means of production. According to Marx, m6en are classified into definite relations that are independent of their relations of production. The relations of production are made of the foundations, the economic structure, and the political superstructure. According to Rigby, Marx states that historical change is because of contradiction, and conflict. The mode that is used in production affect the overall process of the intellectual, social, and political life.
Rigby argues that Marx has affected the understanding in which people have about history. Marx has contributed greatly in the historical research, although his works are complex and not easily understood. Rigby asserts that the arguments by Marx are ambiguous. The ambiguity of the argument is evident whereby Marx made a contributed to the alteration of the fashion of history. Marx has emphasized the contribution to historical analysis according to class. Rigby explains that Marx perceived a fashion that was oversimplified in the analysis of history. What motivated the Marx to come up with the simplified method of analysis and theories was the political dogmatists that were present. Marx was an economic determinist, and a critique who criticized economic determinism (Rigby 1998). This proved his ambiguity and thus referred to him as a productive force determinist. Rigby asserts that Marx viewed the growth of society’s productive forces as the major determinant in the social evolution. The works of Marx provided an alternative to the determinism of productive force. Marx’s major concept according to Rigby on history is that the theory of history is a form of economic reductionism. Marx argued that people held on some philosophical views for economic reasons. Marxist wanted to correct the orthodox historiography imbalance. One of the crucial events in Europe was the reformation, and the formation of the modern Europe. The reformation in Europe acted as the reflection of the economic bases that are active. Ambiguity is evident where Marx argues that the material world is translated into forms of thought after it has been reflected in the mind of a human being.
According to Rigby, the activities that men undertake and the objective world are related. Human consciousness too is related to the material reality that happens in life. Marx views consciousness as the autonomous historical force that exists independently besides all other living individuals. Rigby assets that economic reductionism are one of the forms of historical materialism. It is ambiguous in his argument, where Marx argues that the growth of the industrial proletariat and the extension of the large-scale industries would undermine the society. However, Marx argued against those who adopted capitalism as a sketch of development, regardless that it was his own sketch. Marx further explained that the sketch of development led to an inevitable path, especially to the Russians. Marx went further and outlined the alternative paths that the future communist societies could implement to enhance historical development. Among the paths outlined by Marx were; Germanic mode, Asiatic mode, and the ancient mode. The Germanic mode was based on the peasant households, who were self-sufficient (Rigby et al 1998). The Asiatic mode based its argument on the community, and the state appropriating surplus labor, in the form of taxation. Marxist further stresses the importance of socialist revolution. He gives an example of Russia, which is a backward country that has to pass through a capitalist period, by following the footsteps of the west before attaining a social revolution.
Marx does not support the fact that historical materialism sees historical evolution as unilinear development. According to Marxism, human agency has no role, whereby, individuals are powerless, and easily influenced. Marx asserts that history does not wage any battle, and that man is the one who is used to achieve glory. Man transmits circumstances encountered in the past and uses them to create his own history. According to Rigby, Marxist gives no chance to the great men to influence the historical change (Rigby 1998). Thus, human beings are seen as puppets of the economic force. The reason of Marx to produce his arguments with determination was the intellectual and historical pressures that were strong. Rigby argues that Marx interprets the social structure, and the historical change at a different perspective from that of the productive force determinism.
Rigby states that the productive forces are all the materials that contain a value in them. Te productive forces are seen in three elements, which include; instrument of production, work relations, and the mode of production. According to Marx (1988), the instruments of production include all the tools in which a producer applies in the alteration of the raw materials. Rigby explains exploitation according to Marx. Marx asserts that exploitation is not a moral criticism, but the ratio between the while doing the necessary and surplus labor. Marx finds a problem in differentiating either work relations as forces of production, or relations of production. The work relations of the society influence the work relations of production. Capitalist industries in the earlier days were based on human labor. However, after the industrial revolution, machinery was applied in industrial production. Marx uses the term ‘mode of production’ to explain the manner of production, and the ways in which production is implemented. Marx argues that, in capitalism, there are no daily revolutions. The mode in which production is implemented is referred to as the industrial stage according to Rigby (Rigby 1998). According to Rigby, Marx does not refer to the technical manner of production when he uses the word mode of production. By using the word mode of production, Marx refers to the social character of production. In order for Marx to distinguish the term federal mode of production, he uses the social definition.
According to Rigby, Marx advocates for the feudal mode of production, which enhances the production of surplus labour, and feudal rent. Rigby further argues that the rent can take three forms, which include, rent in the form of labour, rent in kind, and rent in the form of money. The argument is based on the facts that under capitalism, the laborers produce goods in which when sold produces cash that is used in the payment of the capitalist’s wage bill. The employees in the rest days of the week produce goods that are sold to make profits for the capitalists. Rigby explains that, under feudalism, rent is grouped under surplus labor, whereas, under capitalism, it is considered a redistribution of the surplus value that is produced by capitalist relations of production. Rigby further argues that the extent and number of the laborer’s wants are products of social development, and engage both the moral and historical element. The subsistence means that are required to reproduce the labor-power thus vary according to place and time (Rigby 1998). Marx included both the time required to reproduce labor-power, and the means used in the production of the subsistence.
S.H. Rigby identifies Marx as a productive force of determinism. Human society and existence is not possible without production. Productive force determinism implies that production is the fundamental element in the development of history. This is because, before humans are involved in making history, human being must be involved in the production. Marx believed and argued that relations of production in a society are determined by the level of productive forces on development. The division of history into three stages, stone, bronze, and iron seem to support the role of productive forces according to his argument. He gives an analysis of human history based on the growth of division of labor in the society. The concept of tracing the evolution through division of labor is crucial because it provides a measure in society’s productive forces in its development (Rigby 1998). Marx regard communism as primitive because the productive force of a society results to the emergence of particular forms of property such as tribal property. Tribal property is not production determinism because it confines the extension of division of labor.
Rigby compares Marx’s conception of history with that of Lewis Morgan. Morgan explains production determinism by subdividing the human social evolution into savagery, barbarism, and civilization. Humans in savagery lived by hunting and gathering while in barbarism they lived on animal domestication and little farming. Morgan’s findings on evolution of production are incontestable because they are not production determinants according to Engels. In the traditional society, production force was based on merging many tribes to form a city and possess slaves as property of the community. Marx argued that in order to utilize a slave, the owner of the slave must have materials of labor and few necessities for the slave. He further indicates that slavery cannot be an effective production force because certain levels of production development have to be achieved and unequal distribution eminent. Rigby argues that Marx does not state the growth of production forces but rather tend to assume them. This is evident in the German Ideology because Marx argues that the relation of production in the society reflects on the development of its production determinism. He depicts that evolution is not subjected to a generalized plan of individuals, but it relates to others gradually (Rigby 1998).
According to Rigby, in order to keep up with civilization, relations of production in the society need to adapt to the productive forces that keep evolving. This is because the increasing level of division of labor requires production forces to increase the output. Rigby also indicates that Marx fails to explain why production forces and determinism must keep on evolving. Historical development is determined by the level in which the production forces evolve. In Rigby’s view, the form of social intercourse and the different forms of production forces can trace the origin of history. This is because improved and developed productive forces tend to replace the earlier forms of intercourse and this increases the individual activities in the society. Relation of production to productive determinism leads to revolution and rising of the economy. This is due to sharing of diverse ideas, political battles, presence of different social classes and contradictions in reasoning. Rigby argues that production relations have an effect on the development of productive forces. According to Marx in the German ideology, he argues that development in the division of labor in the early tribal society led to growth of a class in the society (Rigby 1998). Marx’s productive force determinism is portrayed in Rigby’s book as consistent development of productive forces leads to high social relations.
Transformation of production relations according to Rigby’s on Marx’s theory is due to the assumption of development of productive force determinism. The mode of production in the feudal system as regarded by Karl Marx based on urban industry and serfdom provides a barrier in the development of capitalism. This is because when the serf is tied to the soil, free power was no provided and protection and regulation of individual craftsmen limited free market in the society. The development of the feudal system led to conflict among the feudal lords, due to conquest among each other leading to slavery. This shows the achievement of Marx in portraying the result of growth of productive forces. Capitalism developed from feudalism; hence it is an example of the consequence of production forces growth.
Rigby discusses productive force determinism as Marxist orthodoxy in his book Marxism and History. Orthodox Marxism developed after the death of Karl Marx that aimed at simplify and explain the contradictions and ambiguities of Karl Marx’s theories and methodologies. Marx’s productive force determinism did not consist of worked out theories, and it faced objections from different analysts. One of the defenders of Karl Marx admitted that Marx was mere assumptions because he had done little to justify them. Marx’s work was a task of the next Marxist generation, Plekhanov and Kautsky to systemize theories of the historical imperialism and make them understandable by the whole world. The Marxists assumed the Marx’s productive force determinism more than they defended it. There were a number of reasons for Marx’s productive force of determinism had a hold for later interpreters. Marx’s statements of his historical theory were not lengthy. In the occasions that he made his claims, they bore the nature of productive force determinism (Rigby 1998). The earlier thinkers had not realized the existence of conflict and change in the history of humans. Plekhanov further explained the origin of the material changes and conflict.
Narodnik interpretation on historical materialism viewed economic as one and he considered it as one of the factors in the historical development. Plekhanov regarded such an interpretation unworthy because they distorted the history of the society. The thinkers also explained that Marx’s productive force determinism had achieved its intention, because it showed that human nature could not explain property relations. They explained that historical process is because of the development of productive forces hence being the principle cause. The Marxists deduced that productive forces are the determinants of a society’s lifestyle. Class relations can be predicted using the level of productive forces; hence, the growth of production forces explains the rise and fall of various property relations in the society.
Thinkers like Plekhanov were prone to criticism due to their claims to defend Marx that environment was a key variable in the productive determinism. Rigby asserts that a modern editor cannot offer an objection on the Plekhanov view on geography, because he explains that geography influenced the different rates at which productive advances occurred around the globe. The Marxist therefore was trying to explain how different environment affects the human nature. Rigby also assesses the Bukharin’s on Marxism. Bukharin explains that the social democratic betrayal of 1914 was because of the distortion of the second international Marxism. The Marxist recommends the work of Plekhanov regarding historical materialism and outlining productive force determinism. Bukharin had little to add in the history materialism, , but he emphasized that the second and third break was not influenced by any crucial change of the Marx’s theory interpretation. The Bukharin also ensured clear appearance of productive force determinism, hence enhancing in systemizing Marx’s theory in history (Rigby et al 1998). On the other hand, Stalin made similar points to Bukharin such as population and geographical effects on historical change. Rigby though, observes that stalin was much concerned with plagiarism accusations hence did little in systemizing and explaining Marx’s productive force determinism.
In conclusion, the chapter in Rigby’s book, Marxism and history, explores Marx as a productive force determinist. Rigby explores on Marx’s ambiguous legacy, forces and relations of production, Marx’s productive force of determinism and the productive force determinism as Marxist orthodox logy. Rigby assesses on the validity of Marx’s theories as a productive force determinism and its impact in the history. Marx is as a productive force determinist according to Rigby has had impacts in the history. The growth of productive force led to the emergence of capitalism from feudalism.
Rigby S. H., (1998). Marxism and History: Manchester: Manchester University Press