Letter to the Editors from the February 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard
“The whole doctrine of Marxism rests on the materialist conception of history”, says L Laurat in Marxism and Democracy. You are no doubt aware of the renewed interest in theories of history and historicism (Isaiah Berlin: Historical Inevitability; E. H. Carr: What is History?; G. R. Elton: The Practice of History, etc.).
You must also be aware of the fact that the Marxist conception of history and other forms of determinism have come in for a great deal of criticism—indeed they have been utterly discredited. The Marxist explanation of such events as the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the “scramble for Africa” are now recognised to be faulty if not demonstrably wrong.
In the light of later research and knowledge of history would you still reaffirm the materialist conception or would you concede that some modification is necessary?
T. Young, South Oxhey, Watford, Herts.
Mr. Young’s conjectures about the present status of Marxism are shared, no doubt, by many who have taken a passing interest in historical inquiry. His remarks, however, tend to be so general that we feel it would lead to a more fruitful exchange if he would be more specific in his criticism. We therefore invite a supplementary letter from him.