Historical materialism is the central concept of social analysis in the work of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. The core idea historical materialism is that the political and intellectual history of human societies is shaped most importantly by the social and technical organization of economic production and exchange.
This view of historical materialism suggests that it is not principally intellectual ideas and knowledge that shape the structure and cultural values of social life, but rather the shape of social life, especially in the social organization of economic production, that chiefly shapes intellectual ideas and knowledge.
Historical materialism posits that relations of production which become stabilised and reproduce themselves are structures which can no longer be changed gradually, piecemeal. They are modes of production. Historical materialism does not deny the individuals free will, his attempts to make choices concerning his existence according to his individual passions, his interests as he understands them. What historical materialism does state is that these choices are strongly predetermined by the social framework and that the outcome of the collision of millions of different passions and options is essentially a phenomenon of social logic and not of individual psychology or individual pathology.
Historical materialism elevates the principle of the dialectical (dialectics) relationship between the particular and the general, which reveals the essence of phenomena, to the theoretical foundation of the dialectical understanding of history. Leo Kofler, Geschichte und Dialektik.
For historical materialism, there exist no eternal, unchangeable forms in any social phenomena. For historical materialism, the being of each social phenomenon can only be recognized and understood in and through its becoming. - Ernest Mandel
Historical Materialism and Supervenience
Historical Materialism and the repudiation of
subjectivism, Paul Cockshott
Marxist philosophy, especially historical materialism,
brightened the Chinese intellectuals who were seeking truth about the liberation of China
at that time, and drew them to such a common understanding that only Marxism can save
Retrospection and Perspective of the Studies of
the Controversy on the Social Nature in China - By Tan Qunyu