Writing Out Loud: The German Ideology

In The German Ideology, Marx and Engels outline their theory of historical materialism, or the idea that social change happens through disruptions in the mode of production. In of their most eloquent passages, Marx and Engels argue that the ruling ideas of any period have always been the ideas of the ruling class. Keep this passage in mind as you answer the following questions about the reading.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. How did the development of modern societies through the division of labor lead to various forms of ownership, and what are some examples Marx and Engels give of the various stages of ownership?
  2. What do Marx and Engels mean when they write: “The social structure and the State are continually evolving out of the life process of definite individuals, but of individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people’s imaginations, but as they really are…”?
  3. Pick an example of something that you consider to be a ruling idea in modern society. If you were Marx or Engels, how would you explain where this ruling idea came from?
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