3.1. Method (historical materialism)

Any activity which is designed to transform the existing situation and change the structure of society cannot but come from an analysis of the situation it finds itself in. The absence of such an analysis inevitably leads to an inability to understand and establish what objectives to aim for in order to obtain the desired transformation, what the social structure's weak points are, what its contradictions are. It is impossible, in other words, to prepare a revolutionary project (which in order to be just that, apart from being clear in its aims, must inevitably mark out a direction which can guide its action).

The absence of a project conceals to a greater or lesser extent the conviction (at times implicit and not understood) that the contradictions in the present social structure can contain within them the inevitable end of the capitalist system. In other words, a mechanical, spontaneist conception which for that very reason believes in the self-destruction of the system, which involuntarily activates, but above all without the possibility of dispensation, its own process of extinction (for example by allowing the proletariat's rage to grow, organize and explode). The long, messianic and useless wait for the cathartic moment of revolution which has been with us for well over a century now, has definitively proved this approach. If only the Luxemburgists knew!

What we need to do, then, is begin this analysis, but first of all we must define a methodology which we can use to interpret the situation. In defining a method of analysis, the first thing to be said is that it does not, and must not, have any pretence of being absolutely objective. Methods designed for different aims are inevitably different. One thing, however, is important: the method, which we will analyse and define, without doubt provides the only key to reading both the past and the present. In other words, it is the only one which can make sense of the varied panorama of scattered facts which present themselves. On the other hand, this does not mean that we will abandon it if certain facts cannot be explained by it; first of all, because there is as yet no other method which is as successful as far as the interpretation of history is concerned; secondly, because history is not a linear process without contradictory aspects, which can therefore require a comprehensive outline in which every aspect can be contained (our method takes account of and has as its proposition, this contradictory fact, and seeks only to re-construct the lines which undergo historical development); lastly, because historical materialism, the method we are talking about, is simply too appropriate for our ends and it has provided too many positive results in the history of the proletariat.

Its most precise definition is provided by Marx and Engels:

"The first historical action is therefore the creation of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself, and this is precisely a historical action, a fundamental condition of any history, which still today, as millennia ago, must be accomplished every day and every hour simply to keep man alive [...]. In every conception of history therefore, the first point is that this fundamental fact be observed in all its facets and that its place be recognized".

Historical materialism is therefore a methodology for the analysis of historical facts which can establish the primary cause for these in the evolution of the productive structure of society, in the development of relationships and forces of production; every event that history presents us with is therefore not the result of ideas and the clash between different conceptions of life, but the result of the economic interests at stake - direct and indirect manifestations of the relationships which establish themselves with human society in the production of those goods which are necessary for the satisfaction of our historically and socially determined material needs. History is not the history of ideas. Ideas are backdrops created by real movements that can themselves, however, influence the movements. History is the history of the antagonisms created by the production relationships. It is the history of the struggle between the classes.


3.2. Classes (the protagonists)