Marx’s Concept of Ideology as Apology

  • H. M. Drucker


Marx’s theory of man and society is sometimes called historical materialism. As the name indicates, Marx was deeply impressed by the importance of history. Every event, every action had to be understood in the context of the age in which it happened. There are no transhistorical truths. An action appropriate to one age would be inappropriate to another. There were no events — or theories — which would be appropriate to more than one age. The labour theory of value, for instance, arose necessarily in the time of capitalism. It could not have arisen before capitalism, because previous economic systems were not (or at any rate, not obviously) dependent on labour. It had to arise in the capitalist era because labour was the basis of value in such a society and the rulers of the society needed to know how to manipulate this source of value.


Historical Materialism Class Struggle Virgin Soil German Ideology Holy Family 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See below, Chapter 9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    K. Marx, Theories of Surplus Value (Moscow, 1954) part 1, pp. 41, 68–9, 71, 77–9, 83, 85–6.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    From the afterforeword to Capital quoted ibid., p. 25.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
    Marx, The Holy Family, p. 176.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Marx, The German Ideology, pp. 448–9Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., p. 454.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    K. Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Moscow, 1954) vol. 1, p. 620.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., pp. 488, 648.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Ibid., pp. 61, 81, 82.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 760.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See p. 26 above.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Quoted in R. Meek, Marx and Engels on Malthus (London, 1953) p. 11.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid., pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Marx, ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’, in Bottomore, Karl Marx: Early Writings, p. 161.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© H. M. Drucker 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Drucker
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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