Base and Superstructure  UP223

Marx and Engels investigate the question of whether humans are the same as animals. They decide that the status of independence is a question of production and the means of production. This means that there is a connection between the division of labor and one's autonomy. While owners of businesses function autonomously, the working class functions more as a body. Therefore, the ruling class dictates the intellectual shape of a society by the regulation of industry. This creates a dynamic of ideals, where the moral beliefs of the ruling class differ from the belief patterns of the lower class. So long as the ruling class can manipulate the general public's opinion of their interests, the system is stable and fixed. But, when the ruling class fails to convince the lower class that their interests are communal, the system becomes unstable.

1. The base is the whole of productive relationships, not only a given economic element, e.g. the working class

2. Historically, the superstructure varies and develops unevenly in society's different activities; for example, art, politics, economics, etc.

3. The base–superstructure relationship is reciprocal; Engels explains that the base determines the superstructure only in the last instance.”

Marx then turns to explain more about these ideas by showing the dynamic as a system comprised of a base and a superstructure. Base and superstructure are two linked theoretical concepts: Base refers to the production forces, or the materials and resources, that generate the goods society needs. Superstructure describes all other aspects of society including the culture, ideology, norms, and identities that people inhabit. In addition, it refers to the social institutions, political structure, and the state—or society's governing apparatus. Marx argued that the superstructure grows out of the base and reflects the ruling class' interests. As such, the superstructure justifies how the base operates and defends the power of the elite.