I've been recently studying Karl Marx's elucidations, including views on Historical and Dialectical Materialism, The Dialectics of Hegel, ETC, to a point where I can barely understand the concepts.

What I have sincerely came up with until now, especially by my indications of Vladimir Lenin sayings on the fact that Marx gathered the ideas of Materialism and Dialectical Materialism under one shell, is that based on Marxism, which recognizes a Deterministic essence to all the existence of the society is that the hitherto of the society, based on its Determined essence, shall be Divinable.

Since one of my biggest problems with understanding Marxism as a whole is that he indicates that the Proletariat Revolution would happen, and therefore class antagonism would fully vanish.

That profound statement is totally incompatible with the laws of Dialectics:

There shall always exist a negative, which is produced "by itself".

Therefore if class antagonism is going to stop, then due to Marx's own beliefs which sees the whole existence of humans and history through class, Determined and unchangeable, therefore is the history going to stop?

So throughout Marx's own life, did he hold any belief or prophecy, more sightseeing than the Proletariat Revolution? Did Marx and Engels provide any explanation to this question?

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    Marxist thought is no great interest of mine, but is well on topic for this site. Can some of you stop downvoting newcomers willy-nilly, no reason given? If you think the question can be clarified a bit, please indicate how, and provide some constructive feedback, rather than unexplained downvotes. Welcome aboard and +1. Commented May 19 at 22:08
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica As I have already noted in a comment to their previous similar question - it is about philosophy, not politics (and there is an SE community for that). Marx had a broad range of views - his enemies would say that his delirium has nothing to do with politics, while his admirers would claim that he dubbed in politics, philosophy, history, economics, biology and lots of other subjects. In either case, just because a question is about Marx doesn't mean that it is about politics.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 20 at 7:18
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    I didn't downvote but agree 100% that this question should be migrated to Philosophy.
    – Brian Z
    Commented May 20 at 14:35
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    @haxor789 "This question does not appear to be about governments, policies and political processes within the scope defined in the help center."
    – Morisco
    Commented May 20 at 14:55
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    @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad Funny; I'd contend that the claim that Marx made "no significant contributions to politics" (or political science) is based on western propaganda ;-). Commented May 22 at 7:23

3 Answers 3


Let's set aside Lenin for a moment and stick with 'pure' Marx. Lenin's view on socialism and revolution is a different kettle of fish.

The place to start, I think, is with Marx's core belief, that the state — or more broadly put the sociopolitical governing structure, however defined — should be subordinate to citizens, never superordinate. Government should serve, not rule. When a governing structure rules people, then the people who control the governing structure become a 'class' that naturally exploits the ruled people (perceived as other classes) for the benefit of the ruling class. This exploitation is the heart of the material dialectic. Classes are exploited by control of the means of production and given rulers are overthrown periodically as the exploitation becomes too severe; technological changes alter the dominant forms of production, creating new sociopolitical governing structures so that new classes replace the old as governing classes. Hunter/gathering clans develop farming and clan leaders are displaced by landed aristocracy; farming techniques advance and landed aristocracy is replaced by feudal fiefs; trade and early industry are developed, and the feudal system transforms into a mercantilist/colonial system where wealthy commoners overtake aristocrats; heavy industry brings in capitalism; global warfare capacity brings on statism; trans-state economies usher in corporatism; globalized labor exploitation raises socialism… The material dialectic is merely an interplay between who controls the means of production and how the means of production changes: who rules whom, and how, and how those relations evolve through exploitation and conflict.

Note: Marx framed it as a 'material' dialectic because he was frustrated with the impotence of 'intellectual' dialectics. Hegel is great and all, but ultimately Hegelian dialectics are just argumentation, and Marx didn't believe that any amount of logical persuasion would convince a ruling class that their exploitation of others was wrong, much less get them to change. The ruling class has to be supplanted, with bloodshed or without, and that supplantation is an inevitable outcome of the purely material forces of production and exploitation.

Now, the proletarian revolution is not a single event, but a repeated process once we reach the stage where laboring classes are globally opposed to being exploited in capitalism. The non-ruling classes will replace the capitalist class and set up a socialist state, where the state controls production as a proxy for the non-ruling classes. But these socialist states will all tend to develop a socialist class that rules, and new proletarian revolutions will replace such with new versions of the socialist state. The hope, ultimately, is to reach a point where the state is content to serve because no one (or everyone) controls it. At that point, the material dialectic reaches a final synthesis and ends.

The 'end of history' question is interesting, but open. The people who use that phrase mean to suggest that the history we read in books primarily recounts violence, victory, and to lesser extent innovation, at least where innovation produces some sort of victory. History (to their somewhat jaded minds) is stories told by those who win to explain why winning makes them good people. When there's no more exploitation, there's no more victory over others, and there's no need for such stories. History as currently written will cease. But people will still lead their lives, innovations will still occur, and all the little unrecorded histories of life will go on. If we remember what Orson Wells said in "The Third Man":

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Italy had history, Switzerland didn't. But the mistake lies in thinking that we need warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed to produce greatness, or that if we do, that greatness is worth the cost to others. And you know… Cuckoo clocks are nice.

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    A very good answer +1. It's worth pointing out, too, that a revolution is still a revolution, even if it doesn't involve bloodshed.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Commented May 20 at 9:52
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    > But these socialist states will all tend to develop a socialist class that rules, and new proletarian revolutions will replace such with new versions of the socialist state. AIUI Marx thought that the coercive arms of the state would simply wither away from disuse. In practice the "new class" of apparatchiks did emerge as you say, but that wasn't predicted by Marx. Commented May 20 at 15:04
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    @PaulJohnson: As I recall (and I'll confess it's been a minute since I went into this in detail), Marx was fairly vague about post-capitalist society, merely suggesting a series of proletarian revolutions until the final classless society was reached. And honestly, a phrase like "the coercive arms of the state would [...] wither away" sounds a bit later: more like Gramsci or one of the other structural Marxists that emerged separate from Engels and Lenin. But I could be wrong about that… Commented May 21 at 0:55
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    @GraySheep: "a guy from the down"... Down-under? Down South? Down stream? Goose down??? And how do you know you don't already have a flying car? Have you tried to make it fly? Seems like some experimentation is in order… Try driving off a pier: that way you can tell if you got the flying package or the submersible one. 😊 Commented May 21 at 1:04
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    @Sneftel: My (personal) sense is that Marx was more of a social theorist than a purely political or economic philosopher. As I see it, each proletarian revolution would deepen and solidify people's understanding of social liberty and the proper purpose of governance. Eventually most people would find the effort to gain power over others distasteful, and those few who still tried would find little support. There's echoes of Madison there: tyrants need factions to have traction, but being factional means surrendering liberty. If no one wants to do that, tyrants make no gains. Commented May 21 at 18:17

I guess the people in the comments have a point and this, especially the Hegelian parts, are better suited within the philosophy stack.

Though as far as I understand it (which disclaimer is not a lot), Marx prided himself turning Hegel upside down and rather than explaining reality from ideas and consciousness, he tried to explain reality out of itself, so via a materialistic approach to dialectics.

So he intended that to become some sort of "science". Now I'm not well versed in that, it's 19th century "science" (so pretty early on), there are some interesting ideas, but also lots of things have been debunked and the whole dialectical approach allowed for developing theories, including both an effect and its opposite, that have been developed into unfalsifiable pseudosciences (Marx already did that, but especially implementations of "socialism/communism" apparently used that a lot to make the facts fit a philosophy rather than the other way around). So take any of that with a grain of salt.

That being said, it would at least explain, why this vanishing of class antagonism isn't a problem for him. It's not the idea (class antagonism) that creates the reality, it's the reality (production processes and relations) that creates the idea. Change the material conditions and you change the idea.

And apparently Marx was some sort of "libertarian" (in the original sense, not what people in the U.S. claim to be) who thought that the proletarian revolution would liberate people from their determinism and give them actual freedom, because they are no longer trapped in the determinism of class antagonism.

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. (Last paragraph in "Proletarians and Communists" from communist manifesto)

Essentially his idea seems to be that, unlike previous revolutions where one class (people in the same material conditions) dominated another class, in the proletariat revolution, it would be the first time that a MAJORITY CLASS would win decisively and if it would do away with the conditions of production that exploited them by making things public property, than who's left to be exploited? Like the former capitalists aren't plenty enough and without capital they are basically proletariat themselves. Also 1 manager can exploit 100 workers, but 100 managers couldn't exploit 1 worker. So they would need to DIY the work anyway. Though luckily industrialization already meant overproduction, which is a problem for capitalism, but awesome for everyone else, you can get your needs met and can freely pursue whatever goals you have.

So once the proletariat has won and used its majority power to coerce the capitalists into giving up their property and dispersing it among everyone and taking equal turns working it, that power is becoming useless because there's no other class left to wield it against. So the only class it could be used against is itself and you wouldn't find a majority for that in a society where people are essentially in the same position, making them exploiter and exploited at the same time. So rather than class antagonism you'd, you'd have a situation where every individual is equal to every other individual (in class), so the voice of every individual matters equally. Meaning rather than political power of the class, you'd have a direct democracy, where individuals either halt each other or progress together, by allowing each other their individual freedom.

So afaik Marx didn't talk much about what comes after the revolution, because that would no longer be deterministic and people would need to figure that out by themselves. Though given the quote he seems to have had the idea that it would correlate with what people had already floated as "communism" previously (classless, stateless, ...).

Now for a guy who's vigorously anti-utopian, that is pretty damn optimistic. Afaik he also believed that capitalism would end religion, nations, races and so on because all of these things will become negligible with respect to class and so far capitalism hasn't delivered and it seems people can, unfortunately, hold on much longer fighting us vs them battles than Marx expected.


In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a condition in which the proletariat, or working class, holds control over state power.[1][2] The dictatorship of the proletariat is the transitional phase from a capitalist and a communist economy, whereby the post-revolutionary state seizes the means of production, mandates the implementation of direct elections on behalf of and within the confines of the ruling proletarian state party, and institutes elected delegates into representative workers' councils that nationalise ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership. During this phase, the administrative organizational structure of the party is to be largely determined by the need for it to govern firmly and wield state power to prevent counterrevolution, and to facilitate the transition to a lasting communist society.


According to Marx, after a revolution, the proliteriat would put into place a dictatorship. It is a transitional phase between capitalism and communism, during which the state seizes the means of production and mandate the implementation of direct elections on behalf of and within the confines of the ruling proletarian state party.

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    I think this answer takes the title too literally. What happens after that dictatorship? What's the end game? A transitional phase definitely isn't.
    – MSalters
    Commented May 21 at 7:20

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