Evolution Of Marxism Essay, Research Paper
Michael Mercorio Essay # 1
Econ 396 ? Independent Study
Evolution of Marxism
In theory, each mode of production is born and bread through the actions of the mode preceding it, such that feudalism begot capitalism and capitalism will eventually fold under its own convictions and lay the trails for socialism, or some form of communism. Feudal conduct laid a very distinct and traceable framework for the formation of capitalism. This paper will follow this path, pointing out the major points in the transformation from feudalism to capitalism, and then show the historical relevance of Marx’? theory of historical change.
The feudal mode of production consisted mainly, in a broad simplistic sense, of the relationship between lord and serf. The serf would work a portion of the lord?s land. In return, he was apportioned a part of that land to work on his own free time in order to provide for himself and his family, so he could reproduce his labor. The portion of the crop that he did not harvest for his own subsistence was given to the lord. ?The might of the feudal lord depended on the number of peasant proprietors.? (Capital, Volume I, pp878) This simple framework will be regurgitated in the layout of the framework of capitalism, with very minor variations.
The transformation from feudalism to capitalism is not immediate, but rather is a gradual process, with each step necessitating the next. Out if feudal society came the bourgeoisie. ? From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.? (Marx Engels Reader, Manifesto of the Communist Party, pg. 474) This new bourgeois class was surrounded by expansions manufacturing, leading to the expropriation of the agricultural population from the land. As stated in the Capital, ?the rapid expansion of wool manufacture in Flanders and the corresponding rise in price of wool in England provided the direct impulse for these evictions. The old nobility had been devoured by the great feudal wars. The new nobility was the child of its time, for which money was the power of all powers.? Unlike in feudal times, the wealth of the lord is no longer measured by the number of serfs he has, the wealth of the bourgeois was capital.
Now, what of the peasants that were pushed off their farms in order for the bourgeois to form sheep walks? They no longer have the comforts or a peasant lord relationship in where their means of subsistence are given to them. The own no land, no tools, and have no where to live. Thus begins the process of primitive accumulation. This is the process of ?divorcing the producer from the means of production? (Marx, Capital, Chapter 26, pp. 875) With nothing of their own, these peasants forced off their land are forced to sell their labor power as one of the forms of capital in manufacturing production. The now ?free-workers? are forced to become wageworkers for the ever-expanding manufacturers. The wage earned is barely enough for them to reproduce their own labor. In other words, minimum wage was barely enough to keep the workers alive and coming back to work.
During the time that this ?free-working? class is born, the bourgeoisie is obtaining more land by whatever means necessary. Land is no longer its own entity in the form of production, it is now the other part of capital. ?The spoliation of church property, the fraudulent alienation of state domains, the theft of the common lands, the usurpation of feudal and clan property under circumstances of ruthless terrorism, all these things were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation. They conquered the fields for capitalist agriculture, incorporated the soil into capital, and created for the urban industries the necessary supply of free and rightless proletarians.? (Marx, Capital, Chapter 27, pp.895)
The actions of the bourgeois not only acquired land for them in the form of capital; it set the stage for primitive accumulation, which must take place before capitalism can be born. The expulsion of the peasants from their lands disconnected them from their own means of production.
Part of these expelled workers became wageworkers for the bourgeois capitalists. Instead of the land being portioned into many small farms in which the peasants worked, the land is now portioned into a few large farms, in which many ?wage-workers? sell their labor for a wage. ?If by converting the little farms into a body of men who must work for others, more labor is produced, it is an advantage to which the nation should wish for? the produce being greater when their joint labors are employed on one farm, there will be a surplus for manufacturers, and by this means manufacturers, one of the mines of the nation, will increase.? (Marx, Capital, Chapter 27, pp.888-889)
The rest of these expelled peasants were forced to move into towns where they became artisans and skilled workers. Although the process was not immediate, the need for artisans and skilled workers of the such, became obsolete with the oncoming of manufacturing and free trade. Manufacturers were able to produce the same goods as skilled workers, faster and cheaper. So once again, the former peasants had to give themselves into becoming wageworkers.
The evolution of feudalism to capitalism has come full circle. The onset of free trade made the need for the serf lord relationship weakens. Many serfs left their ties to the land and became skilled workers in the early towns. Manufacturing became more profitable, and money became the main goal in work. Those serfs that remained as farmers or ?peasants? then were removed from their land for the use of, in the case of Europe, sheep-walks in the growing wool manufacture. These removed peasants provided the workforce needed in the form of labor capital. The land that was devoured by the bourgeoisie provided for the land capital. This in turn provided for large manufacturers to spring up in local towns. These manufacturers hastened the need for local artisans and skilled workers, and thus transformed them into wageworkers. So, out of the feudal relationship of serf to lord, we now have the relationship of wageworker to capitalist.
No longer is the worker connected to the means of production. He now sells his labor to a capitalist, and in return he receives a wage. The class relationship of dominant and subordinate remains. The relationship still continues to be that the dominant does little or none of the work, and reaps all the benefits, and the subordinate does all of the work, and barely receives in return enough to survive. It is evident that the capitalism was begotten of feudalism, the major differences are the names in which we give the dominant and subordinate classes.
Marx?s theory of historical change is as such, ?No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.?(Marx-Engels Reader, Marx on the history of his Opinions, pp.5) In other words, no mode of production will perish until it reaches its productive limits, and no new mode of production will emerge unless it is a direct result of the previous mode of production.
Marx?s theory holds up perfectly in the crossover from feudalism to capitalism. The productive limits of the feudal era were reached with the onset of the bourgeoisie. They were now producing capital in the form of a surplus, instead of just reproducing labor power when it was strictly feudal relationships. The actions taken by the bourgeois class in the accumulation of land, led to the emergence of an abundance of free-laborers, in other words wage-workers. The relations of production in the bourgeois class created an antagonism that arose from the social conditions of the lives of the individual affected by these relations. The productive forces that developed in the womb of the bourgeois created the material conditions for the solution to this antagonism. Thus, capitalism effectively was not born until the limits of the feudal era were reached, and was bread in the womb of the last epoch of the feudal era, which was the bourgeoisie.