Monday, 13 September 2010

Laws of History: Economic Determinism

Economic Determinism is an undisputed law of history, though by no means the only one as many Marxists would argue. Societal institutions, the state, the economy, social classes, religion, the family, values systems and norms are to a large extent economically determined. The question is to what degree do other forces play a role in determining history and society? For Christians who hold to the doctrine of Divine Providence, history is guided by the hand of God, while for Hegel history is the unfolding of the mind of God. Are the laws of history more rooted in the spiritual as St. Augustine argued, the intellectual as Hegel and to some degree Kant contended, or in the material as Marx and Engels maintained? After the ceremony of president Ronald Reagan's funeral, former president Mikhail Gorbachev was asked if Reagan's high defense spending was the principal reason for the fall of the Communist bloc. Garbachev replied that there were multiple causes for the fall of Communism. Reflecting prevailing thinking among conservatives, Colin Powell insisted that defense spending was at the core. Since the early 1990s, Marxist scholars scrambled to explain why the fall took place and what this means for the future of Marxism as an ideology. If we assume that the laws of history are a reflection of the laws of nature, economic determinism is a very important law. Marx and Engels, among many others, deserve credit for their work in refining economic determinism into a coherent doctrine that helps all scholars explain history and political economy. Gorbachev was indeed correct that many forces precipitated Communism's downfall, among them economic. Semi-integrated into the world capitalist-system while pursuing its own regional integration, the Communist bloc was neither Communist nor capitalist, but a mixture of an anachronistic enclave that operated very inefficiently without meeting the material needs of its people and without offering much hope for the future. Ironically, the doctrine of "Economic Determinism" explains the fall of Communism. That should give hope to those who believe in Socialism as a viable system, and it should be a source of concern for those advocating globalization. The same forces that brought down Communism are at work in any political economy that fails to serve society and fails to keep pace with change".

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