Marx's Perception of History in The German Ideology: relation of production, means of production
In his "The German Ideology" Carl Marx discusses two of the most central concepts of his theory of history and society: the means of production and the relations of production.
According to Marx in The German Ideology each historical stage holds a class conflict. Changing property patterns over the means of production creates different classes who are in a constant state of conflict with each other. This struggle is most of the time covert and is manifested sometimes in class clashes, social wars and revolutions which bring about a reformation of the social order. According to Marx, the revolution is always the result of the contradiction between the means of production and the relations of production. Means of production according to Marx are labor as well as the technical, technological and economical means at a society's disposal. The relations of production according to Marx include property and the division of produce and profits within society.
In The German Ideology Marx argues that at some historical point in the life of every society it reaches a point in which means of production cease to correspond well with the relations of production (for example due to the invention of a new technology). The ruling class, which has property over the means of production and thus enjoys a favorable position within the relations of production, sticks to the old relations of production. But these old relations of production become an obstacle in the path of development of new means of production. The subordinate class demands new relations of production which correspond with the new means of production. Tension erupts in the form of a revolution which brings about a change in the relations of production and a change in social hierarchies and division of power (in The German Ideology Marx uses the example of the French Revolution to illustrate his idea)