Marx and Economic Determinism

Friends and enemies of Marx have caricatured his economic interpretation of history. They think that his celebrated preface of 1859 applies to universal history; we argue that it does not. With historical examples we show how Marx used his economic variables-technology, productive forces, and mode of production-in understanding the evolution of society. Was Marx a technological determinist? What does it mean to say that the economic base explains the superstructure "in the last analysis"? Does Marx's model of economic change help us to understand the history of ancient classical civilization? Is the materialist conception of history a theory or a method? These are some of the questions we consider.