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Colonialism and later imperialism assured the spread of capitalism around the world.Paradoxically, the spread of capitalism creates the foundations for socialism.But for Marx, these tensions are rooted in the material character of society, not in ideas.
The causes of these changes, according to Marx and Engels, are rooted in the changes in production and exchange.
In the “Manifesto,” Marx and Engels argue that changes in technology allowed for the growth of the capitalist mode of production—with the division of labor and centralization of production in factories in cities that created massive profits for the bourgeoisie.
Rather, Marx took up Hegel’s dialectic, based on the idea of contradictions—thesis and antithesis coming into conflict and forming a synthesis.
Likewise, Marx sees society as characterized by conflicts and tensions, in constant movement.
We set out from real, active men, and on the basis of their real life-process, we demonstrate the development of the ideological reflexes and echoes of this life-process. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life.” In other words, we exist within material bodies that have material needs fulfilled through production, and it is this process of production and the “life process” that produces our consciousness.
In “The German Ideology” Marx says, “Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc.—real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms.
This means that, far from being a dogmatic set of truths written in “The Communist Manifesto,” Marxism is a way of analyzing the world in its current moment, taking into account multiple elements.
Distinct from other methods of analysis, including religious, postmodern and empiricist methods, Marxism is based on an understanding of a material reality that is in constant motion.
This form of production opened up immense creative possibilities for humanity to think, create and imagine, in contrast to the provincialism of feudal thought, while also closing off many of these possibilities for the working class.
While Marx has important criticisms of Hegel, he does not break with all of Hegelian thought.