A commentary on Marx’s statement of “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.”

“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.” – The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx, in his later works, analysed capitalism in terms of class conflict and exploitation. He defined class in terms of relative economic power. He suggested that classes, rather than individuals, are the chief agents of historical change.

In his teleological theory of historical materialism, Marx suggested that communism could be achieved only after a series of stages, each characterized by its own economic structure, class system and class conflict. He identified four such stages:

1) Primitive Communism, or tribal society: material scarcity is the source of conflict.

2) Slavery: master-slave conflict.

3) Feudalism: land owners-serfs conflict.

4) Capitalism: bourgeoisie-proletariat conflict.

Marx, therefore, argued that human history had been a long struggle between the exploiter and exploited, essentially, the two classes of the society.

With the failure of the Marx’s predictions witnessed through the collapse of Communism, modern thinkers had to move away from the fundamental rigidities of Marxism and evolve alternative ideas.

Neo-Marxists such as Gramsci drew attention to the degrre to which ‘bourgeois hegemony’ upholds the class system, and not simply the economic or political power. Frankfurt School theorists such as Herbert Marcuse looked not to the conventional working class as a revolutionary force, but to groups of students, ethnic minorities, women and workers of the Third World.

Post-Marxists accepted that the central position accorded to the traditional working class were no longer sustainable. Thus, a new space was opened within Marxism for new social movements such as the women’s movements, ecological movement, LGBT movement, and so on.

Political Ideologies by Andrew Heywood

Changing nature of India’s Foreign Policy


The Hindu recently carried a good lead article on India’s changing relations with the global powers — US, Russia, China, etc.  

It was about the shift in India’s Foreign Policy (IFP) in the wake of the recent Obama visit in January and the conclusion of the nuclear deal. The author drew attention to the changing nature of IFP from ‘strategic autonomy’ to ‘strategic interconnectedness’ or ‘multi-vectored engagement.’

Let me explain:

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a change in the nature of India’s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). This change has been in the form of a shift towards joining the regional groupings such as ASEAN, SAARC, etc.

But in this new era of globalisation and liberalisation, apart from engagement with regional blocs, India also needs to engage with the countries at the bilateral and multilateral level. Hence the term ‘multi-vectored engagement.

Clear signs of change:

This change in policy is evident from India’s elevation of the “strategic partnership” with the USA to “global natural partnership” In my opinion, it seems a bit bizarre that India has a strategic partnership with  29 countries. I wonder how  “strategic partnership” is defined by our strategic analysts?

Then there’s also the matter of energetic engagement with China. This is to bridge the huge trade deficit that India has accumulated with China. The proposal to revive the quadrilateral arrangement of India, USA, Japan, Australia for the naval exercises in the Indian Ocean Region also exhibits India’s changing political and economic strategies.

How it helps us:

India is also focusing to collaborate and seek the benefits of mutual relationships in areas of social sector, environment and energy. There are many instances corroborating the standpoint —

  • Australia and Israel have recently sought to provide expertise in India’s river-linking projects,
  • UN’s efforts to eliminate poverty and help India to achieve MDGs targets,
  • India’s offer to Pakistan for its fight against Polio.

In conclusion:

As a rapidly emerging economy, India needs access to scarce resources for its development, while securing its geopolitical interests. In this era of realistic politics, such kind of multi-vectored approach and a balanced foreign policy would be beneficial for India in both short and long runs.


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