In Marxist theory, society consists of two parts: the base (or substructure) and superstructure. The base comprises the forces and relations of production (e.g. employer–employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations) into which people enter to produce the necessities and amenities of life. The base determines society's other relationships and ideas to comprise its superstructure, including its culture, institutions, political power structures, roles, rituals, and state. While the relation of the two parts is not strictly unidirectional, as the superstructure often affects the base, the influence of the base is predominant. Marx and Engels warned against such economic determinism.[1]

TrivialityNeven Sesardic agrees that the economic base of society affects its superstructure, however he questions how meaningful this actually is. While the original claim of a strong form of economic determinism was radical, Sesardic argues that it was watered down to the trivial claim that the base affects the superstructure and vice versa, something no philosopher would dispute. Thus Sesardic argues that Marx's claim ultimately amounts to nothing more than a trivial observation that does not make meaningful statements or explain anything about the real world.[18][19]

See also