The idea of social progress has great tradition in the history of European thinking. It was a part of several revolutionary initiatives, political movements and philosophical activities. The first line of development of the idea of social progress (Montesqieu, Turgot, Condorcet) interpreted social progress as a postulated principle which is expected from the history and is realized with fatal inevitability and which assumes the character of categorical imperative.
The second line of developmental, the socialist line, creates qualitatively new presuppostitions for more concrete relations of social reality and its theoretical reflextion. It is one of the links of development whose qualitative completion was Marxist initiative.
On identifying Marxist-Leninist theory of social progress the basic task is the scientific periodization of social development. The general complex criterion of social development is characterized by a) the degree of mastering natural forces whose objective criterion and standard is the development of productive forces — that is the quantitative side; b) the degree of hegemony of people over social forces and relations which are controlled by them, vhereby this degree is dependent on the character of productive relations — that is the qualitative side; c) the optimal development of the essential forces of Man.