What factors prove Marx’s theory of history?
On the face of it, we can accept that there is an element of circularity with the interaction between economic structure and productive forces. A functional explanation is thus needed to explain the theoretical basis for the development of productive forces by the economic structure. The fact that in our current epoch, the economic structure of capitalism does develop productive forces and is why capitalism remains as the economic structure. And as such if capitalism ‘fetters’ as Marx put it, and is unable to develop productive forces, it will begin to cease to be the economic structure. This fettering thus becomes a component of the functional explanation of hismat and is plausibly coherent.
G.A. Cohen defends this functional explanation and compares hismat with evolutionary biology. An example within contemporary biology is the functional explanation of hollow bones allowing birds to fly. A bird can fly because they have hollow bones and they have hollow bones so they can fly. The advantage of these bones develops flight and flight drives the evolutionary process to develop bones. Thus in hismat, the productivity of given production forces determine superstructure which is the organization of these forces. This organization determines the further development of those forces. Therefore the present circularity within the functional explanation of hismat is maintained as the two developmental factors determine each other and thus Marx’s theory of history is consistent and plausible.