Marx's Perception of History in The German Ideology: praxis, property and the division of labor
Marx's Perception of History in The German Ideology stresses the material aspect of human existence. Marx argues that humans must be able to live in order to make history. For Marx, the basis of all human activities, be it politics, art or religion, is material survival. The way mankind has been meeting it survival needs for the past thousands years is according to Marx production. According to Marx, the first ever historical act, which initiated history, was an act of production that what designed to meet survival needs.
Man does not only produce food, but also the means to produce it. This is what for Marx distinguishes man from animal – the ability to engage in production. This is the basis for Marx's concept of "praxis". Praxis according to Marx is conscious, thoughtful and meaning ascribing act of production. Marx denies the traditional distinction between manual and mental labor as a capitalist lie, and he argues that the two are inevitably entangled with each other in the praxis.
Marx also concluded that man's productive activity necessitates "negotiation" between individuals, which are the social-order surrounding production. The first ever division of labor is according to Marx that which exists between a man and a woman, first in the act of making children and consequently is the process of rearing them. This is the division of labor of human reproduction. This makes to family the first social unit and thus, for Marx, the first economical production unit which is based on a division of labor, inequality and private property (of the man over to woman and children).
In "The German Ideology" Marx describes how increasing production has led to the formation of larger social units (the clan, tribe, polis, city, kingdom and state), while in the process more advanced concepts of ownership and division of labor were developed. According to Marx, property is the ownership over the means of production and their produce. Division of labor according to Marx is describes that different positions assumed by individuals in the process of production.
In The German Ideology Marx describes history as an increasing process of division of labor with different relations of production appearing at different stages of history. The division of labor according to Marx is bound with the means of production. Primitive societies that have little and simple means of production have accordingly a very simple and minimal division of labor. But in the course of history society is continually being divided into more and more specific practices.
According to Marx, the division of labor is belligerent one which relays on the formation of property over the means of production. Thus society is divided into different classes according to whoever has ownership (property) over the means of production. The class who has property subordinates the ones who don't which depend on them for their existence.
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More summaries of Marx's writings and ideas:
An Extended Summary of The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels (chapter 1, chapter 2, chapters 3 and 4)