Nikolai Bukharin

Historical Materialism

A System of Sociology

Written: 1921
Source: Nikolai Bukharin "Historical Materialism", International Publishers, 1925
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive ( 2002
Transcribed by: Edward Crawford
Markup: Mathias Bismo


Following the author's plan in the Russian edition, the material in the original book was printed in two different sizes of type. The general discussion covering the entire field appears in larger type, and may be read without reference to the matter in smaller type. More detailed elucidations of certain subjects including additional references were printed in smaller type for the use of the advanced student and reader.

Introduction - The Practical Importance of the Social Sciences

a. The Social Sciences and the Demands of the Struggle of the Working Class
b. The Bourgeoise and the Social Sciences
c. The Class Character of the Social Sciences
d. Why is Proletarian Science superior to Bourgeois Science
e. The Various Social Sciences and Sociology
f. The Theory of Historical Materialism as a Marxian Sociology

Chapter One - Cause and Purpose in the Social Sciences (Causation and Teleology)

a. The Uniformity of Phenomena in General and of Social Phenomena in Particular
b. The Nature of Causation; Formulation of the Question
c. Teleology and Objections to Teleology; Immanent Teleology
d. Teleology in the Social Sciences
e. Causality and Teleology; Scientific Explanations are Causal Explanations

Chapter Two - Determinism and Indeterminism (Necessity and Free Will)

a. The Question of Freedom or Lack of Freedom of the Individual Will
b. The Resultant of the Individual Wills in Unorganized Society
c. The Collectively Organized Will (the Resultant of Individual Wills in Organized Communist Society)
d. Accidentalism in General
e. Historical "Accident"
f. Historical Necessity
g. Are the Social Sciences Possible? Is Prediction Possible in this Field?

Chapter Three - Dialectical Materialism

a. Materialism and Idealism in Philosophy; the Problem of the Objective
b. The Materialist Attitude in the Social Sciences
c. The Dynamic Point of View and the Relation between Phenomena
d. The Historical Interpretation of the Social Sciences
e. The Use of Contradictions in the Historical Process
f. The Theory of Cataclysmic Changes and the Theory of Revolutionary Transformations in the Social Sciences

Chapter Four - Society

a. Concept of Aggregates Logical and Real Aggregates
b. Society as a Real Aggregate or a System
c. The Character of the Social Relations
d. Society and Personality; Precedence of Society over the Individual
e. Societies in Process of Formation

Chapter Five - The Equilibrium between Society and Nature

a. Nature as the Environment of Society
b. Relations between Society and Nature; The Process of Production and Reproduction
c. The Productive Forces; The Productive Forces as an Indicator of the Relations between Society and Nature
d. The Equilibrium between Nature and Society; its Disturbances and Readjustments
e. The Productive Forces as the Point of Departure in Sociological Analysis.

Chapter Six - The Equilibrium between the Elements of Society

a. Connection between the Various Social Phenomena; Formulation of the Question
b. Things, Persons, Ideas
c. Social Technology and the Economic Structure of Society
d. The Outlines of the Superstructure
e. Social Psychology and Social Ideology
f. The Ideological Processes considered as Differentiated Labor
g. The Significance of the Superstructures
h. The Formative Principles of Social Life
i. Types of Economic Structure; Types of Various Societies
j. The Contradictory Character of Evolution; External and Internal Equilibrium of Society

Chapter Seven - Disturbance and Readjustment og Social Equilibrium

a. The Process of Social Changes and the Productive Forces
b. The Productive Forces and the Social-Economic Structure
c. The Revolution and its Phases
d. Cause and Effect in the Transition Period; Cause and Effect in Periods of Decline
e. The Evolution of the Productive Forces and the Materialization of Social Phenomena (Accumulation of Civilization)
f. The Process of Reproduction of Social Life as a Whole

Chapter Eight - The Classes and the Class Struggle

a. Class, Caste, Vocation
b. Class Interest
c. Class Psychology and Class Ideology
d. The "Class in itself" and the "Class for itself"
e. Forms of a Relative Solidarity of Interests
f. Class Struggle and Class Peace
g. The Class Struggle and the State Power
h. Class, Party, Leaders
i. The Classes as an Instrument of Social Transformation
j. The Classless Society of the Future