EDIT: I know wish I had read more of Spirkin as I think he helps summarize things in 'Chapter 5. On the Human Being and Being Human
Where he explicitly states
that the human being isn't a tabula rasa, but does speak to the social nature of humans where our nature isn't merely that of an animal but something that interacts with humanity's history of creation.
So skip my nonsense, he says much more clearly what I had hoped to get at. I'm really only doing a poor job of trying to regurgitate ideas such as his. Though I came to similar conclusions through other works when trying to understand dialectical materialism.
MB. wrote:See here is where I see a highly ideologically driven assumption that is not actually true. It is necessary for the Marxist historical ethos to believe that humans are indeed Russeau-like blank slates upon which all their values are culturally generated through socialization and therefore the social structure of the society is more relevant than the human individual itself.
This is, of course, not true. The latest science is that the nature/nurture debate is about 50-50 with genetics playing a significant role that may not be convenient to accept for ideologues who want to believe that human identity is completely determined by socialization.
I'm relucant to answer because this is a huge topic that I haven't immersed myself in to be able to boil it down to the crux of the matter (not that I'm any good at that anyway). But I will assert that whilst I am not some Marxian expert, I think to characterize the Marxist view point as positing a blank slate would be incorrect, even if without getting into specifics.
And it's incredibly difficult for me with such a poor grasp of the subject to try and quickly and clearly explain where I believe the differences of perspectives comes from.
I'm not sure what your worldview is, but I think it'll help my train of thought to begin from a point that I see as fundamental to many problems. One of unbridgeable dualities based within the limitations of Aristotelian logic, the most pivotal of which that I suspect is the fragmentation of man as clearly illustrated in Cartesian dualism. https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay2.htm
We formulated this problem in the preceding essay. Spinoza found a very simple solution to it, brilliant in its simplicity for our day as well as his: the problem is insoluble only because it has been wrongly posed. There is no need to rack one’s brains over how the Lord God ‘unites’ ‘soul’ (thought) and ‘body’ in one complex, represented initially (and by definition) as different and even contrary principles allegedly existing separately from each other before the ‘act’ of this ‘uniting’ (and thus, also being able to exist after their ‘separation’; which is only another formulation of the thesis of the immortality of the soul, one of the cornerstones of Christian theology and ethics). In fact, there simply is no such situation; and therefore there is also no problem of ‘uniting’ or ‘co-ordination’.
There are not two different and originally contrary objects of investigation body and thought, but only one single object, which is the thinking body of living, real man (or other analogous being, if such exists anywhere in the Universe), only considered from two different and even opposing aspects or points of view. Living, real thinking man, the sole thinking body with which we are acquainted, does not consist of two Cartesian halves ‘thought lacking a body’ and a ‘body lacking thought’. In relation to real man both the one and the other are equally fallacious abstractions, and one cannot in the end model a real thinking man from two equally fallacious abstractions.
The body lacking thought is what one inevitably arrives at with mechanical materialism
. And even within the whole nature nurture thing, mechanical materialists
, even whilst allowing for environmental influences still try and present the human subject like a machine with hardware and software. But their philosophical view is incapable of capturing the consciousness that we intuitively believe exists within ourselves and is captured within idealism. This is the background that seems pivotal to a lot of misunderstandings. That Marxists want to blend dualities, not posit them as ontologically separate or start from an ontology that assumes their separation and then wonder why can't bridge the gap.
Now, to further clarify that Marxism doesn't entail no essential human nature, I think this will be illuminating.this summary of Marx's conception of human nature by Erich Fromm
Of course, Marx was never tempted to assume that "human nature" was identical with that particular expression of human nature prevalent in his own society. In arguing against Bentham, Marx said: "To know what is useful for a dog, one must study dog nature. This nature itself is not to be deduced from the principle of utility. Applying this to man, he that would criticize all human acts, movements, relations, etc., by the principle of utility, must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch."  It must be noted that this concept of human nature is not, for Marx -- as it was not either for Hegel -an abstraction. It is the essence of man -- in contrast to the various forms of his historical existence -- and, as Marx said, "the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each separate individual."  It must also be stated that this sentence from Capital, written by the "old Marx," shows the continuity of the concept of man's essence ( Wesen) which the young Marx wrote about in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. He no longer used the term "essence" later on, as being abstract and unhistorical, but he clearly retained the notion of this essence in a more historical version, in the differentiation between "human nature in general" and "human nature as modified" with each historical period.
In line with this distinction between a general human nature and the specific expression of human nature in each culture, Marx distinguishes, as we have already mentioned above, two types of human drives and appetites: the constant or fixed ones, such as hunger and the sexual urge, which are an integral part of human nature, and which can be changed only in their form and the direction they take in various cultures, and the "relative" appetites, which are not an integral part of human nature but which "owe their origin to certain social structures and certain conditions of production and communication."  Marx gives as an example the needs produced by the capitalistic structure of society. "The need for money," he wrote in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, "is therefore the real need created by the modern economy, and the only need which it creates.... This is shown subjectively, partly in the fact that the expansion of production and of needs becomes an ingenious and always calculating subservience to inhuman, depraved, unnatural, and imaginary appetites." 
Man's potential, for Marx, is a given potential; man is, as it were, the human raw material which, as such, cannot be changed, just as the brain structure has remained the same since the dawn of history. Yet, man does change in the course of history; he develops himself; he transforms himself, he is the product of history; since he makes his history, he is his own product. History is the history of man's self-realization; it is nothing but the self-creation of man through the process of his work and his production: "the whole of what is called world history is nothing but the creation of man by human labor, and the emergence of nature for man; he therefore has the evident and irrefutable proof of his self-creation, of his own origins." 
When it comes to human nature in general, there are things that are quite intuitive about the nature of humans. A drive for sex, food, shelter and the basic needs that we held as humans since our ancestors. Human nature modified are the things that become needs as society itself develops, money becomes a need within the context of capitalism, it isn't a need that exists inherently within us. We weren't born with some need of money, but it becomes a need because it satisfies the same drives as mediated in the modern context.
But I don't believe these two can be separated for the majority of us, one can not find some isolated human nature in general from the social world. As the only person who is merely their drives (human nature in general) would be the animalistic feral child. But we aren't merely animals, we have consciousness, thought.
Academician N. P. Dubinin writes: “The possibilities of human cultural growth are endless. This growth is not imprinted in the genes. It is quite obvious that if the children of contemporary parents were deprived from birth of the conditions of contemporary culture, they would remain at the level of our most remote ancestors who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Whereas the children of such “primitive people” placed in the conditions of contemporary culture would rise to the heights of contemporary man.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/mikhailov/works/riddle/riddle3a.htm
From this standpoint the attempts to discover the specific nature of man’s inner world by analysing the physiological peculiarities of the sense organs and the brain are no more than relies of the anthropological interpretation of the human essence. And this being so, it is quite logical first to acknowledge the community of the natural, sensuous means of reflection in animal and man, and then introduce a highly important addition – the second signal system, language as a social phenomenon.
No one contests the fact that man inherited the means of sensuous perception from his animal ancestors. But the animal’s individual behaviour, its selective attitude to the objects of the external world are somehow predetermined by the sum total of biological needs peculiar to its species. The animal sees in the world around him only that which it needs to see, its perception is prepared by the evolution of the species and is, as it were, expected by the organism. “. . If an animal has no instinctive attitude to a given thing ... and the given thing is not related to the realisation of this attitude, then the thing itself virtually does not exist for that animal.” But an animal does see things that don’t exist for it. Yes, but how! Take Leontyev’s very apt analogy explaining how things and phenomena that have on direct biological significance exist for an animal: “You are walking along the street, absorbed in your own thoughts, you see houses, cars, you stop at crossings, you wait for the traffic lights to turn green. All this happens automatically, unconsciously or, as some people say, subconsciously, because your mind is occupied with your own thoughts. This is approximately how the animal sees the surrounding world, but with the one essential difference that it is not absorbed in its own thoughts, because it has none.
“Now let us take the analogy a stage further. You are in a hurry to cross the street, but are compelled to stop to let the traffic go by. If you are thinking of something else, you will look upon the traffic merely as a nuisance and not consider whether a bus or trolleybus, a car or a lorry is going past, and certainly not what make of car it is. According to the eminent German psychologist Jakob Uexküll this is precisely how the animal perceives its environment.” [Leontyev]
So the “sensuous stage” that we have in common with the animals cannot, in principle, provide a basis for conceptual generalisation. One can only pity the person who has to be content with such knowledge. In fact, this can only happen to a person who grows up, is brought up outside society. But such cases merely confirm the fact that the biological means of sensuous contact with the environment that we have inherited from our animal ancestor are not in themselves capable of any cognition unless they are guided by the socio-historical experience of generations.
Thus we aren't simply our drives/human nature in general. These drives are mediated through social forms, and those social forms are derived from society which is organized around the means of production that have been developed from humanity's labour to satisfy his needs from early on in human history. https://www.marxists.org/archive/mikhailov/works/riddle/riddle3a.htm
We shall begin with the “moment” when the biological means of life-activity were finally deprived of their direct adaptive function and became, in a modified form, a natural “mechanism” of people’s social activity. In the formulation given by Marx and Engels this “moment” is described as the “first historical act”. The passage runs as follows: “But life involves before everything else eating and drinking, housing, clothing and various other things. The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself.” And this production is “. . an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history, which today as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human life.”
Production of the means of sustaining life is both the first historical act and a “fundamental relation” repeated billions of times throughout history and containing the fundamental (universal) contradiction of this act: “. . The satisfaction of the first need, the action of satisfying and the instrument of satisfaction which has been acquired, leads to new needs; and this creation of new needs is the first historical act.”
Consequently, in the process of production people acquire new needs, new abilities and the instruments for their satisfaction, that is to say, man takes shape mentally and physically along with all the social means of his life-sustaining activity. His ability to set himself aims, his ability to think, is also perfected, as are the instruments of this ability, from means of communication to the bodily organs (for instance, what A. N. Leontyev calls the functional organs of the brain).
It is from society that man has been able to develop so effectively, that in a sense that much that exists within men isn't something essential within his biology but outside him and only within him in his capacity to take it within his consciousness. In this sense, perhaps this is the blank slate that you criticize. It's unclear what you reject, whether one is of the position that language already exists within man. But I don't know what anyone would then make of the feral child or the cases of abused children
who missed the opportunity to engage in the social interaction to learn a language. That here we can acknowledge man's innate capacity to learn language (within early years of development) but note that the language isn't within man himself. The language one learns exists within the person at the level of their consciousness, which is something distinct from the process that allows them to realized that capacity.
And whilst there remains things like the essential drives such as a desire for food or sex, how it expresses itself doesn't essentially exist within the person, in that their means to meet that needs is socially mediated. Man is neither purely his consciousness and rational, nor is he simply his base desires, his consciousness and unconscious relate to one anther.
And this is where a lot of modern day thinkers end up with all sorts of nonsensical investigations in the desire to find the particular gene or psychological mechanism for people's capacity to do something. They have to clarify that there are things that one simply won't find within a person's biology, because it's within the mind and that mind is developed in conjunction with others
But this gets into some serious debates about the way people conceptualize the human, in part because many things within us are in the subjectivity and aren't specific parts or pieces in our body that designate a specific function. Perhaps one can find the parts of the brain that correlate with certain consious processes, but one doesn't find language.
Here we can get into the debates within sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, which originated from sociobiology, but put an emphasis on psychological mechanisms instead of overt behavior.
Sociobiology I characterize in a very crude manner as being behaviourism with an evolutionary twist. One observes overt behaviours and then begins to speculate to something innate within the person due to our evolutionary origins. But many behaviours aren't so much as something within ourselves but as mediated through our material and social conditions. That one has certain needs but one has to adapt to one's reality in order to satisfy that need.https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/comment/vygotsk1.htm
Piaget bases his theory on what are supposed in psychoanalytical theory as two opposite forms of thought determination - the “pleasurre principle” and the “reality principle”. Vygotsky deals with this irrefutably and in true Hegelian style:
“the drive for satisfaction of needs and the drive for adaptation to reality cannot be considered separate from and opposed to one another. A need can be truly satisfied only through a certain adaptation to reality. Moreover, there is no such thing as adaptation for the sake of adaptation; it is always directed by needs”. [Thought and Language, Chapter 2]
So remember the drives and desires that are considered as human nature in general, the means to satisfy that desire is different for a woman who is upper class in a industrialized country like the US than it would be for a lower class woman or a woman in a different mode of production/economic development. Their position within a particular set of conditions would alter the way they behave whilst they'd all have the same human nature. So for example, we see women cheat more when they are powerful
, something that wouldn't be realized prior to women obtaining power and a better position in a society. So if one universalized women's essential nature prior to post industrialization and improvement of women's rights, one would might try to find women's nature for monogamy which isn't something simply stuck within them but originates in the relation between them as humans and the world around them.
So for example we can consider a biological fact of women's ability to get pregnant and showing how that mediated by social relations and technologies, we can see changes in the trends in women's sexual behaviour without positing that behaviour as explained by some yet to be identified genetics. Because it is in her consciousness she is able to comprehend her reality and make decisions on how to act based on that understanding.
Evolutionary Psychologist try to posit particular psychological mechanisms, but there's a lot of debate around that because their conception of the brain is likely not sound
. As they hope to find some particular part of the brain or process so that one can correlate mental states to some material mapping of the brain. But things seem to move away from the idea that discrete regions of the brain do any particular task but our mental life is non-localizable.
Here's a quote that I particularly like in trying to understand why attempts to find something so specific seem ill suited to understanding humans. It helps capture why evo. psychs. aren't likely to find any specific psychological mechanism and need to be broader when trying to conceptualize what is essential about human psychology. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/#MasModHyp
The second type of argument is one side of a perennial debate in the philosophy of cognitive science. Fodor (2000, 68) takes this argument to rest on the unwarranted assumption that there is no domain-independent criterion of cognitive success, which he thinks requires an argument that evolutionary psychologists do not provide. Samuels (see esp. Samuels 1998) responds to evolutionary psychologists that arguments of this type do not sufficiently discriminate between a conclusion about domain specific processing mechanisms and domain specific knowledge or information. Samuels articulates what he calls the “library model of cognition” in which there is domain specific information or knowledge but domain general processing. The library model of cognition is not massively modular in the relevant sense but type two arguments support it. According to Samuels, evolutionary psychologists need something more than this type of argument to warrant their specific kind of conclusion about massive modularity. Buller (2005) introduces further worries for this type of argument by tackling the assumption that there can be no such thing as a domain general problem solving mechanism. Buller worries that in their attempt to support this claim, evolutionary psychologists fail to adequately characterize a domain general problem solver. For example, they fail to distinguish between a domain general problem solver and a domain specific problem solver that is over generalized. He offers the example of social learning as a domain general mechanism that would produce domain specific solutions to problems. He uses a nice biological analogy to drive this point home: the immune system is a domain general system in that it allows the body to respond to a wide variety of pathogens. While it is true that the immune system produces domain specific responses to pathogens in the form of specific antibodies, the antibodies are produced by one domain general system. These and many other respondents conclude that type two arguments do not adequately support the massive modularity thesis.
And there are debates around the methodology as well, because it's dubious how one can accurately posit something as an evolutionary adaption innate to human beings and isn't something simply the product of one's interaction with the world.http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/ldc/GrayEP.pdf
Evidence for a modular evolutionary adaptation?
The saga of cheater detection contains another cautionary tale for Evolutionary Psychology. Essential to the design of the mind is the ability to create new cognitive processes in response to the environment within one’s lifespan. In situations where the same environmental pressures that allegedly shaped a module to suit life on the savannah are still active today (as they are with cheater detection), much more stress needs to be placed on proving that the resulting cognition cannot be the product of the flexible mind. Cosmides and her supporters present two arguments in support of the notion that cheater detection is a specifically evolved characteristic rather than a product of learning. First, they claim that evolved modules function independently of general processing, are automatic, generally opaque to awareness, and domain specific. Second, they argue that evolved modules are common to humankind and found across cultures (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997). The implication that learning (or broader experiential effects) cannot produce similar outcomes is spurious.
A classic example of the distinction between implicit and explicit cognitive function is to ask bicycle riders what they would do if their bike started tilting to one side. Many bikers respond that they would lean to the other side to right themselves. This is incorrect and would result in the person falling off the bike every few meters. Surprisingly, people seem to be quite capable of riding over long distances with no mishap. When placed on a bike, if it starts to tilt, people turn the handlebars, using their momentum to right their center of gravity, avoiding the fall. This function is independent of general processing, exists without awareness, and is specific to the bike-riding domain. So do we have an evolved bike-riding module? The answer is obviously no. Obvious because there is an apparent learning phase to bike riding where people do fall off every few meters (and, yes, because of the paucity of bicycles in the Pleistocene). In an area where the learning phase is less apparent, and the Pleistocene pressure more plausible, such “modules,” created by the most fundamental of learning processes, can readily but incorrectly be heralded as evolved traits.
Cosmides and Tooby’s second method of inferring adaptation is equally problematic. Just because a behavioral trait is found across cultures does not necessarily mean it is a product of adaptive evolution. Comparative psychologists have emphasized for decades that species-specific behaviors can arise through species-specific patterns of experience (Gray, 2001; Gottlieb, 1976; Lerhman, 1970). People the world over eat soup out of a bowl and not off of a plate. Gravity acts the whole world over and people adjust their behavior in light of this. The whole world over there is a benefit to cheating (providing you don’t get caught) and a benefit to being able to know when you’re being cheated. The fact that cheater detection is crosscultural does not automatically mean it is an evolutionary adaptation.
And this is the gap where people take a leap of faith from observing trends and asserting an essential nature of people based on those observations, but what we observed isn't necessary the result of nature, but people's interaction with their environment. p. 9
Consider another example showing how beliefs about sex differences cloud people's analytical vision. How often have we heard question like: will women who enter high-status jobs or political positions end up looking like men or will the result of their entry be a change in the way business and politics is conducted? Implicit in this question are a set of strong assumptions: men have essential personality characteristics and cultural orientations that have shaped the terrain of high status jobs and women have different essential personality characteristics and cultural orientations. The conclusion is that and women's entry into these positions unleashes a conflict between their feminine essence and the dominant masculine essence that has shaped the positions. Either the positions must change to adapt to women's distinctive characteristics or the women must become masculine. (It is perhaps telling that those who raise this issue usually seem concerned only with women entering high-status positions; it is unclear if women becoming factory workers are believed immune or unimportant.) The analytical flaw here i assuming that masculinity has shaped the character of jobs rather than that jobs have shaped masculinity. In her well-known book Men and Women of the Corporation, Rosabeth Kanter argued persuasively that the personality characteristics associated with male and female corporate employees really reflected the contours of their positions. The implication is simple and straightforward. Women who enter high-status positions will look about the same as men in those positions not because they are becoming masculine, but because they're adapting to the demands and opportunities of the position, just like men.p. 42
Many authors have suggested that feminine personality characteristics (including a lack of drive) explain women's lack of success in climbing corporate ladders. Kantor has persuasively argued that these characteristics are really a direct result of structural conditions. Men placed in positions with no opportunities for advancement and with no effective power show the same personality and behavior characteristics as women in such positions. In the past, however, all women were condemned to occupy the positions without futures. Only men could realistically aspire to rise. Therefore we have good evidence that inequality produces differential motives to dominate weighed against no evidence of any inherent sexual difference in such motives
And this isn't to say that humans are purely determined by their structures, because again this would be working from the mechanical materialist view point which tends to treat 'nurture' as coming about as change in a passive biological form. Where the only way they can conceptualize change as a person's biology changing due to environmental pressures. What they can't explain and is outside the purview of their methodology and it seems their very philosophical view of the world (shift from certain assumptions for methodological sake to ontological positions), is the consciousness of the human subject. That Marxism isn't so one sided, it acknowledges the human consciousness that can't be examined by mechanical materialism. Which many materialists try to struggle against, not realizing that they often reduce consciousness to the mechanical processes and have to be slapped about.https://arigiddesignator.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/kripkes-refutation-of-identity-theory/
Kripke’s argument simply establishes that mental states are not identical to brain states. It still is possible that they be correlated, maybe even concomitant phenomena. Materialists do not like this because they want to explain the mind with only reference to physical facts. As Searle points out, “[this argument] is essentially the commonsense objection in a sophisticated guise” (39, Rediscovery). The commonsense objection is that pains and brain processes are simply two different kinds of things.
And without going into detail as would probably be preferable, Marxism is a ontological position between mechanical materialism and forms of idealism in which again I blast more reading material
as I think this is still a very light read for an introduction to what's going on. And I'm basically running out of steam.
But if recall the quote that man is neither a body without thought (mechanistic materialism), nor thought without a body (metaphysical self/idealism), then should see that Marxism's dialectical materialism rejects these one sided fragmented half truths and considers them as a whole within man himself. And it's within consciousness, which is social in nature as it is developed in relation to the society. Is something entirely untouched by the mechanical materialist perspective which can only hope to describe material processes, and often does a insufficient job trying to relate mind and matter. It's because it can't touch human consciousness that it repetitively tries to posit it's existence in some specific form in the body. It would ease their worldview to find the genetic coding that pre-determines us to a particular end like finding the right hardware and software in a robot that makes it do a particular action. Because they don't accept a degree of agency within humans based on our consciousness, idealism is the position that acknowledges such agency, though it posits it in some metaphysical realm.
And within our consciousness is our rational nature, the one that separates us from animals, but our unconscious (animal/human nature in general) exists in our unconscious drives and they work they mediate one another within our selves. Thoughts can precede feelings and feelings precede thoughts, the two are inseparable though when considering man as he is. And within this relation man is driven to act upon the world not only to satisfy his base desires but because he has a rational consciousness and society has developed itself through economic development, he doesn't act like an animal without any social sense. He has to mediate his desires and drives through the standards of society, he can't steal food, he has to buy it, he can't rape a woman, he has to seduce her.
And here we could get more into Hegel's perspective
that transcends British empiricism where he resolves the combination of appearance/form and meaning/essence.
Where man doesn't simply see a sensuous world (empiricism) but he cognizes it and conceptualizes it in to parts and pieces (individuation) and holds it within his consciousness (rationalism). And for Marxists, it is through our actions, our social relations that any given thing has a particular meaning. This stuff is laid out in the previous page I guess. But here is the point that our consciousness, subjectivity is immersed in a sort of social culture, this is what the broadest form of ideology is, we're immersed in a sort of social meaning of things based on the relations of a society. And so our consciousness/subjectivity originates from outside us in a sense, though of course our material being is what gives us the capacity for all of this, we're not metaphysical souls. That it seems for Marxists' thought isn't simply language, it's a sort of consciousness that is derived through the process of interacting with the world, that men combines the appearance and essence of things within himself in conjunction with social relations organized by a mode of production. You don't merely put a label to water from the sky and call it rain though the sign itself is arbitrary, but rain derives its meaning from one's real world relations to it. A person who hadn't experienced what we call rain couldn't understand what one means when one says rain. Because the word without the content of what rain actually is sensuously, means nothing.
So perhaps this helps to frame what kind of nature Marxist's see :\
Pretty crude, but I think it might help to show how there are things that exists outside us that we take into our consciousness that we couldn't have if they weren't objectively there in society. And I think I might've been repetitive in trying to simply say that the the materialist position found within most people's thought lends itself to being unable to consider subjectivity. In their inability they try to explain it through genetics or some psychological mechanisms that determines that behaviour. But our consciousness is more complicated and we're able to mix our core desires and drives with the reasoning of our consciousness to satisfy them within socially tolerable standards.
The obvious followup question is about the formalization of the structure itself: how did it emerge if not through human agency? Addressing this very concern, Wellsy goes on to write,
That sensibility you describe is an illusion (reduction) caused by our limited understanding, to be sure, and the true situation is that the social structure interacts with the agent in a reciprocal relation, as I think you'd agree. I think Stirner would argue here that the structure is a "ghost" that functions in the mind of the agent and reproduces itself in that sense- like the meme described by biologist Richard Dawkins.
Indeed, reciprocal, that reality is complex and can't adequately be expressed through linear thought. Rather it's a non-linear system
of which we can approximate probabilities based on the limitations of a thing under examination.
As an extra, I think I've found a nice quote for this subject recently in trying to look into human nature that captures the point you make about things emerging from human agency in a nice analogy.https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/spirkin/works/dialectical-materialism/ch05-s04.html
The unity of man and society. A person's whole intellectual make-up bears the clear imprint of the life of society as a whole. All his practical activities are individual expressions of the historically formed social practice of humanity. The implements that he uses have in their form a function evolved by a society which predetermines the ways of using them. When tackling any job, we all have to take into account what has already been achieved before us.
The wealth and complexity of the individual's social content are conditioned by the diversity of his links with the social whole, the degree to which the various spheres of the life of society have been assimilated and refracted in his consciousness and activity. This is why the level of individual development is an indicator of the level of development of society, and vice versa. But the individual does not dissolve into society. He retains his unique and independent individuality and makes his contribution to the social whole: just as society itself shapes human beings, so human beings shape society.
The individual is a link in the chain of the generations. His affairs are regulated not only by himself, but also by the social standards, by the collective reason or mind. The true token of individuality is the degree to which a certain individual in certain specific historical conditions has absorbed the essence of the society in which he lives.
Consider, for instance, the following historical fact. Who or what would Napoleon Bonaparte have been if there had been no French Revolution? It is difficult or perhaps even impossible to reply to this question. But one thing is quite clear—he would never have become a great general and certainly not an emperor. He himself was well aware of his debt and in his declining years said, "My son cannot replace me. I could not replace myself. I am the creature of circumstances." It has long been acknowledged that great epochs give birth to great men. What tribunes of the people were lifted by the tide of events of the French Revolution— Mirabeau, Marat, Robespierre, Danton. What young, some times even youthful talents that had remained dormant among the people were raised to the heights of revolutionary, military, and organisational activity by the Great October Socialist Revolution.
It is sometimes said that society carries the individual as a river carries a boat. This is a pleasant simile, but not exact. An individual does not float with the river; he is the turbulently flowing river itself. The events of social life do not come about by themselves; they are made. The great and small paths of the laws of history are blazed by human effort and often at the expense of human blood. The laws of history are not charted in advance by superhuman forces; they are made by people, who then submit to their authority as something that is above the individual.
The key to the mysteries of human nature is to be found in society. Society is the human being in his social relations, and every human being is an individual embodiment of social relations, a product not only of the existing social system but of all world history. He absorbs what has been accumulated by the centuries and passed on through traditions. Modern man carries within himself all the ages of history and all his own individual ages as well. His personality is a concentration of various strata of culture. He is influenced not only by modern mass media, but also by the writings of all times and every nation. He is the living memory of history, the focus of all the wealth of knowledge, abilities, skills, and wisdom that have been amassed through the ages.
Man is a kind of super-dense living atom in the system of social reality. He is a concentration of the actively creative principle in this system. Through myriads of visible and invisible impulses the fruit of people's creative thought in the past continues to nourish him and, through him, contemporary culture.
Sometimes the relation between man and society is interpreted in such a way that the latter seems to be something that goes on around a person, something in which he is immersed. But this is a fundamentally wrong approach. Society does, of course, exist outside the individual as a kind of social environment in the form of a historically shaped system of relations with rich material and spiritual culture that is independent of his will and consciousness. The individual floats in this environment all his life. But society also exists in the individual himself and could not exist at all, apart from the real activity of its members. History in itself does nothing. Society possesses no wealth whatever. It fights no battles. It grows no grain. It produces no tools for making things or weapons for destroying them. It is not society as such but man who does all this, who possesses it, who creates everything and fights for everything. Society is not some impersonal being that uses the individual as a means of achieving its aims. All world history is nothing but the daily activity of individuals pursuing their aims. Here we are talking not about the actions of individuals who are isolated and concerned only with themselves, but about the actions of the masses, the deeds of historical personalities and peoples. An individual developing within the framework of a social system has both a certain dependence on the whole system of social standards and an autonomy that is an absolutely necessary precondition for the life and development of the system. The measure of this personal autonomy is historically conditioned and depends on the character of the social system itself. Exceptional rigidity in a social system (fascism, for example) makes it impossible or extremely difficult for individual innovations in the form of creative activity in various spheres of life to take place, and this inevitably leads to stagnation.
I suspect it might be of interest to the OP to explore A. Spirkin's work as it seems like it might have fruitful material. I haven't read his work in any length and only stumbled upon it somehow where his piece on causality blew my mind wide open having not considered it as he expressed it yet.