“Marx says in ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire’: «Men make own history, but they do not make it of their free will, under conditions chosen by themselves, but under such conditions as they find at hand, given and handed down. The tradition of all dead generations weight like a nightmare upon the brain of the living». And he goes on to illustrate this idea out of the revolutionary history of France. Marx is concerned here not with the force of things external to man, the natural environment, but with the force of tradition, itself the work of man. Certainly, history is made by men in accord with their own nature – it certainly cannot be made by them in accord with the nature of some other being – but under conditions not of their choice. (And that is why Eastman’s great plan of social engineering is a wild, utopian chimera). In his complete lack of understanding of Marxism, Eastman finds himself caught in the antediluvian contradiction: nature of man – nature of things, as though there were a nature of man beyond space and time, independent of the physical and social environment. Third error. Eastman quotes Engels as follows: «All successive historic conditions are only places of pilgrimage in the endless evolutionary progress of human society from the lower to the higher». This sounds optimistically evolutionary, and Eastman rises righteous indignation. This time I cannot guess the source of the quotation, but I am willing to accept it as it stands, for I know how this matter of human evolution appeared to the author of the ‘Anti-Dühring’ and ‘The Evolution of the Family, the State, and Private Property’. – Looking back over the human past Engels saw an evolution – with many long interruptions and even regressions – from the formless horde to the organized tribe, feudalism, city-state, nation-state, empire; from self-sufficient small communities to world-commerce; from primitive agriculture and petty handicraft to the capitalistic great industry, which breaks through the barriers of nations and states, renders class division and class exploitation superfluous, and leads ultimately to the world community – communism. The driving force in the successive transformation he saw in the evolution of the instruments of production and exchange, which at one stage led to the coalescence of hordes into the tribe, at another stage broke up the tribe and gave rise to classes and class conflicts, states, and wars. At one stage it did away with communal property in the land, at another stage it renders private property in land and instrument of production a barrier to the further development of the productive forces. – This transparently simple; realistic conception appears to Eastman so “mysterious” that he can account for it only by Engels’ addiction to an ancient Greek “parlor game” [Herman Simpson, ‘In Support of the Marxian Dialectic’] [(in) Michael Curtis a cura, ‘Marxism. The Inner Dialogues’, New Brunswick, 1997]