General definition of determinism: everything that happens is caused, and that the effect must be
just the way it is in virtue of its particular cause. Everything must happen the way that it is. This
is the denial that anything is free in the universe.
Example: pool shot the speed and trajectory are determined by the ball.
Nature of Marxist Determinism:
Each stage in the historical evolution of human societies is a determined product of what came
before it and the whole thing is progressing toward some final state.
2 Facets of Marxist Determinism:
a) Synchronic: the structure of social relations at any given time considered as a „snapshot‟.
Synchronic Marxist Determinism
Social Superstructure = religion, morality, politics
Economic Base = who controls the „means of production‟ (land, factories, etc).
Who control this determines a societies values.
Religion (example 1): regarding religion and economic suffering Marx says: “religion is the sign
of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.
Religion is the opium of the people.” (basically: life is shit; escapes to religion)
Politics (example 2): Government/Industry revolving door. Capitalist society = rich control
Morality (example 3): In a capitalist society a great deal of emphasis is placed on hard work
ethic. We see those on the bottom as blameworthy because we assume they have not worked
hard enough. (This is convenient for capitalists; they have a story to tell about how those on the
bottom belong there because they didn‟t work hard enough).
The Myth of the Meritcracy:
Rich people can buy their way to the top, even if they are slackers.
2. Diachronic: The structure of society over time. Each historic epoch arises inevitability out of
the one before it and gives rise inevitability to the following one. (They believe the end game is
communism). Antagonism between classes drives historical stages.
5 Epochs of Human History
1. „Primitive‟ communal society: no class antagonism. *non-hierarchal=peace*
2. Slave society (freeman, slave).
3. Feudal society (lord and serf = those work on land but do not own)
4. The Capitalist Society (bourgeois and proletariat)
5. Communist Society (no class antagonism, again)
Key: Historical evolution is an often violent process. One group may need to forcibly remove the
other. Revolutions are usually bloody. Why should there be a need for a revolution if the