"Men make their own history. But they do not make it just as they please; they do not make under circunstances chosen by themselves, but under given circumstances directly encountered and inhereted from the past."
- Karl Marx
- Karl Marx
Atividade da aula de inglês: comentar essa passagem.
Marx's approach to History, known as "historic materialism," implies that its driving force is the struggle between classes. That means that, although men indeed "make their own history," that does not happen in the void; instead, it takes place within a given historic, cultural and social context.
The state of affairs in Europe as a whole, and in Germany in particular, at the time Hitler rose to power, can be traced back to events that took place decades or even centuries before.
In the Middle Age, the European feudal social system provided security to the people. The person would be born and live predictably in the same social group -- and religion would ensure them that that was right. The sense of security, therefore, stemmed from being part of a group - be it social (i.e., peasants) or religious.
Two social transformations, however, would join forces to weaken this base of security. The emergence of Enlightenment ideal -- especially the idea of individuality -- compounded with a new economic system - Capitalism -- would change fundamentally European societies.
These changes were made possible, according to a Marxist perspective, only because a new social class was emerging -- the bourgeoisie. For its economic strength to have a political expression, a new set of values was required. Individualism and secularism would legitimize the new ruling class and, at the same time, weaken the traditional elite (clerics and nobles).
Another new class emerged as an offspring of Capitalism -- the working class. They sold their labor to the owners of the means of production. They would be gathered in urban centers, away from their traditional rural homelands, and without time for leisure or for religious duties. Never before, according to Hobbsbawn, was thee a social group so disenfranchised religiously and culturally.
At the end of the 19th century, Germany was arguably the most industrialized nation in all of Europe, and its workers had the best legislation, which was put there by Bismarck's social reforms. The Versailles Treaty, instead of solving problems that led up to the Great War, gave in to French revanchism. When Hitler came to power in the 1930's, his neurotic personality found fertile ground for self-destructive attitudes in the humiliated and insecure German society -- making it possible for him to lead his nation to near suicide.