Did Marx manage to explain the driving force of history with his theory?
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 heat and is plausibly coherent.
G.A. Cohen defends this functional explanation and compares heat 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.
To conclude, the driving force of history is seemingly explained by Marx’s theory of history. Which most prominently is the development and progression of technology and the means of which we produce material needs. We can understand historical development regarding material needs. The ideas that make up the superstructure in history are that of the ruling class which manifests itself as the ruling class from their prior revolutionary status. As such Marx and Engels’ quote that the ruling classes ideas are the ruling ideas of each age is plausible and contained within the theory of history. I ultimately agree that the superstructure of each epoch is built with the direct influence of the ruling class and that Marx and Engels are correct in their analysis.