Eras not in political dynasties or religious epochs, but in terms of stages of economic development: an age is defined by the nature of its productive activity and from the economic relationships, division of labour and ownership of property that followed it:
Tribal ownership: Undeveloped stages of production, basic division of labour confined to that of the natural DOL of the family
State ownership + ancient communal: union of several tribes into a city by agreement or conquest. Besides communal ownership, development of movable and non-movable private property, but subordinate to communal ownership
Feudal property: Based on community- but with enserfed peasant community. As soon as feudalism develops, antagonisms begin in towns
First advance beyond natural, estate capital was the rise of merchants, whose capital was always movable, then manufacturing, which made mobile a mass of movable capital. In manufacturing, the patriarchal relationship between journeyman and master was replaced by the monetary relationship between worker and capitalist
Structure of societies determined by relationship people have to the means of subsistence or production- all other political, social and cultural formations derive from this economic foundation
‘The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life’
Unfair access to the means of subsistence creates economically determined and socially constructed classes with inherently opposed interests.
Life is struggle between these antagonistic groups for control over factors of production
The inferior may overcome superior by overturning the whole basis of society in a revolutionary reconstruction of society
To affect revolutionary change, oppressed classes must become collectively conscious of their exploitation- thus human agency is an important motor of historical development
Marxism in Britain
Rise of Left-Wing politics in the late nineteenth century then in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917 national Communist Parties were founded across Europe. The C. P. of Great Britain was established in July 1920.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s convinced many that the capitalist economic system was collapsing.
Rise of fascism across Europe in the 1930s also encouraged sympathy for communism in reaction to it- the killing on an industrial scale witnessed during WW1 and WW2 was further proof of the destructive potential of western capitalism.
There was an outward looking, international orientation, among many of the intellectuals attracted to the British Communist Party during the 1930s and ‘40s. Many had served abroad during WW2; others came from Jewish families across Europe who fled fascist anti-semitism; most were inclined to see class struggles as transcending national boundaries (‘Workers of the world unite!’)
1946 Historians’ Group of the Communist Party. The publication, that same year, of a book by