Freedom and slavery. The birth of a capitalist formation


The decline of feudalism



Among the ruins of feudal Europe, the foundations of a new social system were laid. But the first blows to the old order were not dealt by merchants or usurers, but by the poorest and most oppressed layer of feudal Europe - serfs.

Medieval Europe was built on unpaid labor of this class of half-slaves, who were given a small plot of land, in return of which they were forced to work for free on the estates of the church and feudal nobility for several days a week. To this was added corvee, which required serfs to carry out certain tasks for the benefit of their masters. It is precisely in the struggle of this oppressed class of peasants for liberation from slavery that the history of capitalism is traced.

There is an old German saying "Stadtluft macht frei", which means "city air makes you free." The source of expression is the customary law of the Middle Ages, according to which any runaway serf who remained in the city for a year and one day will no longer be subject to the claims of his former masters and, therefore, will become free. But this custom did not just descend from heaven or arose by gentlemanly agreement between the rulers and their slaves. This was the result of many years of fierce class struggle.

The serf was considered part of the master's property, as if he and his family had grown out of the land itself. Consequently, he was completely under the jurisdiction of his master, which meant that he had few opportunities to seek justice from anyone else. The king himself was just another landowner, and the church was the largest landowner of all.

The simplest and most effective defense against the exploitation of the Lords was flight, and throughout the medieval period there was a constant struggle between the serfs, who sought to break free from the clutches of the Lords, and their hunters, who scoured the country in search of lost property.

One of the results of this clash was many free cities in Europe. These dilapidated settlements in some cases became powerful independent cities. Born from feudalism and yet opposed to it, the townspeople, known in France as the "bourgeois", were organized into city councils and guilds, which served as local authorities, through which these gatherings of individuals, united by a common struggle, turned into a class.

The growth of these cities and the rapid population growth until the "black death" contributed to a powerful upsurge of trade, which began to gradually undermine the foundations of feudalism.

Engels noted that "long before the fortress walls of the baronial castles were broken through by new artillery, they were already undermined by money." Already during the Crusades, some Lords began to demand money from their subjects instead of natural products (that is, peasant labor products) so that they could gain access to the various luxuries and exotic products that this trade was offering.

But the more lords demanded money rent from their tenants, the more both sides became dependent on cities. Previously, the feudal estate was a self-sufficient unit, combining both crafts and agriculture. The growth of cities brought with it more specialized products, such as tools and fabrics for the masses, as well as silk for the nobility. Out of this growing division of labor, new relations arose between rural peasants and the bourgeois in cities - commodity-mediated relations.

The fourteenth century represents a point of no return in the struggle to maintain serfdom, which was already in decline in most of Europe. The crisis caused by the "black death", which reduced the population of Europe by at least a third, did not in fact strengthen the Lords against the peasantry, but gave the peasants themselves greater trading power. The answer of the Lords was an attempt to establish the legal maximum wages of workers and crush the peasantry with taxes, the most notorious example of which was the poll tax.

The result was the peasant uprising of 1381, which, in alliance with the poorest layer of the London masses, took the form of a national uprising. Despite the brutal suppression, this revolutionary movement was successful on two fronts: there was no further collection of the poll tax (before Thatcher’s ill-fated attempt to resurrect it) and serfdom in England was practically destroyed. This influenced the social structure of England. Now the feudal nobility, increasingly dependent on monetary rent, was completely exhausted; independent small peasants were increasingly moving to cities, where they became workers in urban factories, and the bourgeoisie began to grow in cities.

World market


The decline of feudalism gave a powerful impetus to the production and exchange of goods. The developing division of labor between the craft industry in cities and agriculture has created a growing demand for goods of all kinds. And this demand has been fueled by an increasingly complex and powerful network of commercial routes through Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.

Complicated legal instruments, such as insurance contracts for trading companies, have been introduced in Italian city-states to cover the risks associated with regular long-distance trading. And along with the growing power of the merchants came the exaltation of “that common whore of mankind”: money. The creation of trading banks in large trading cities in Italy, such as Venice, was originally a response to the needs of commercial “capital”, then became the “spring” of the development of all capitalism, pushing him to great heights.

By the XNUMXth century, the booming commodity economy in Europe had reached what seemed like a natural limit. The production and exchange of more and more masses of goods created an urgent need for money as a means of circulation and payment.

The growing demand for precious metals to power an emerging market could not be quenched by the relatively scarce products of European mines. The result was the infamous "thirst for gold", which pushed European adventurers to search for global robbery, which we now call the period of geographical discoveries.

One particularly bizarre myth associated with this period is that it arose as a result of some unique European spirit of exploration and adventure. This would certainly come as a surprise to Chinese and Arab scholars of that period.

Wherever Europeans landed, they found new wealth to bring them home and sell with huge profits. Like old Midas, everything they touched turned into gold, which led to catastrophic consequences for the natives they encountered. Marx notes (in Capital, vol. 3) that

"merchant capital, when it occupies a dominant position, everywhere advocates a robbery system, so its development among the trading nations of the old and new times is always directly related to robbery, piracy, the abduction of slaves and colonial conquests."

Nowhere is this more visible than in the period after the discovery of the New World.

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus left the Spanish port of Palos. His goal was to reach Asia, sailing west through the Atlantic. Instead, on October 12, he stumbled upon the Bahamas and the people who inhabited them.

Historians estimate that in 1492 there were 1 million Indians in the Bahamas. 56 years later, only 500 of them remained.

It became a model for colonizing the rest of America. Destroyed by unknown diseases (sometimes intentionally), sent to early death in poisonous mines, almost 100 million people were sacrificed to the altar of commerce. At the cost of their lives were 100 tons of silver exported to Europe from Latin America between 000 and 1492.

Then, as now, the advocates of this genocide pointed to the advantages of European freedom, which were forcibly imposed on the natives. One such godly servant of God, Archbishop Lin-i-Cisneros, explained:

"The truth is that they are hiding in order not to pay tribute, abusing the freedom that they enjoy and which they never had under the Incas."

But these European liberators did not just liberate the indigenous population from their lives and treasures; each place of human sacrifice (in the form of mines and mines) became a new link in the chain of a growing world market, requiring intensification of production in the most barbaric ways. As the native Caribbean population declined, and the mines ceased to satisfy the needs of the merchants, African slaves and sugar plantations, first tested by the Portuguese on Cape Verde, took its place.

Instead of developing production at a higher level, the initial achievement of the world market was the expansion and intensification of slavery of the old times on an ever-expanding scale. By the end of 1853, between 12 and 15 million Africans were transported to the territory of America, of which 2,4 million died on the way.

This horror was an integral part of the early development of capitalism. This did not escape the attention of Marx, who emphasized (in Capital, vol. 1):

"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extermination, enslavement and burial in mines of the indigenous people of this continent, the beginning of the conquest and plunder of India and the transformation of Africa into a reserve for commercial hunting for blacks - all this characterizes the dawn of the era of capitalist production."

Nevertheless, this period appears before us in one respect as a huge contradiction. On the one hand, we see a developing world market with constantly expanding production and exchange of goods, but on the other hand, the methods used to produce these goods remain nothing more than strengthening the previously existing forms of exploitation to a painful degree.
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  1. Ross xnumx 4 February 2020 06: 52 New
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    The birth of a capitalist formation

    One can talk arbitrarily about the birth of the capitalist formation, but this happened thanks to usury. When instead of real gold, “security receipts” and “paper bills” went into circulation. It was the speculative policy of the emerging banks that gave impetus to the development of industry, productive forces and various forms of capital.
    1. Phil77 4 February 2020 06: 56 New
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      Good morning! So the appearance of bills is attributed to the Templars. Isn’t it early? hi
      1. Maki Avellevich 4 February 2020 07: 03 New
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        Quote: Phil77
        Good morning! So the appearance of bills is attributed to the Templars. Isn’t it early?

        do not confuse people with facts.

        Ross22 came to the conclusion that the development of industry is evil that must be fought.
        It was the speculative policy of the emerging banks that gave impetus to the development of industry, productive forces and various forms of capital.
        1. Pessimist22 4 February 2020 07: 59 New
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          And the calculations are copper, silver and gold coins smile
          1. Ingvar 72 4 February 2020 08: 14 New
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            Quote: Pessimist22
            And the calculations are copper, silver and gold coins

            Kilowatts. Anything is better than bitcoins.
            1. Pessimist22 4 February 2020 08: 21 New
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              Better for whom?
              1. Ingvar 72 4 February 2020 08: 23 New
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                For people of course. For kW is real energy, not virtual dollar and bitcoin.
                1. nils 4 February 2020 08: 56 New
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                  Quote: Ingvar 72
                  For people of course.


                  Slave system - there are slaves, but they need to be fed, watered and forced to work. Serfdom - slaves feed and water themselves, but still they must be forced to work. Capitalism - slaves themselves come into slavery, feed themselves and drink themselves, and make themselves work.
                  "Democracy" - slaves themselves come into slavery, feed themselves and drink themselves, and force themselves to work. Moreover, they consider themselves free and they like it.
                  1. Uncle lee 4 February 2020 09: 08 New
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                    Slavery is slavery ...
  2. Uncle lee 4 February 2020 07: 13 New
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    Nobody has ever abolished slavery; it only changed video and changed its name — feudalism, capitalism, but there is only one essence — the slave is chained to his patch of land, or the machine tool. Only in the USSR, the furrier became a marshal, and the son of the shoemaker became the head of
    the most powerful and fair state.
    1. Monster_Fat 4 February 2020 07: 34 New
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      And very close, right behind the door, there is already "digital slavery", when simply by pressing the "computer buttons" the person will be written off to the scrap. "Electronic concentration camp" on the way.
    2. bessmertniy 4 February 2020 07: 43 New
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      It is bad that in the situation with the USSR it turned out that a person was greatly divorced from the results of his labor. He could choose labor and feel free. But, in the era of perestroika, it was noted that only 6 kopecks per ruble went to salaries, and the rest to the enterprise, the state, whence "social goodness" then fell upon a person. It was to some extent pleasant, but corrupting. And, again, the good people were not always distributed by justice, although for the most part - free education, kindergartens, trips to sanatoriums and rest homes, etc. hi
    3. Sadam 4 February 2020 09: 02 New
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      Is it your sarcasm ??? in the USSR passports were given to peasants only at 74m - such a reincarnation of serfdom)))
      1. Alf
        Alf 4 February 2020 21: 48 New
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        Quote: Sadam
        Is it your sarcasm ??? in the USSR passports were given to peasants only at 74m - such a reincarnation of serfdom)))


        Below, the date of issue is registered.
        1. Sadam 4 February 2020 21: 52 New
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          argument)))
          here is the first link from google ...

          According to various sources, the number of peasants of different ages in 1970 was about 50 million people (which is about 20,5% of the total population of the country). They were not allowed to leave their village for more than 30 days, and at the same time, they needed to take an appropriate permit (certificate) from the village council to leave for their relatives.
          According to historians, this is what the state did to its population so that the peasants could not move freely around the country and change their place of residence. Why not slavery, only in a more modern form? In contrast to this opinion, historians say that this fact is not confirmed, because in fact several million peasants were able to settle in cities. The talk that the Bolsheviks tried to attach the peasants to the land is unfounded, since the peasants found loopholes in the law and settled down in cities.
          1. Vladimir B. 5 February 2020 01: 11 New
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            Quote: Sadam
            argument

            where are you such arguments are born only ...
            Quote: Sadam
            They were not allowed to leave their village for more than 30 days.

            this is complete nonsense. everyone went quietly, moved to live in the city. My ancestors moved to the city from the countryside in 1964, without any problems. Throw out Wikipedia from the bookmarks of your browser and do not go to it, do not, it affects people badly.
            1. Sadam 5 February 2020 01: 54 New
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              Vladimir, I’m serious without jokes, and what sources do you get information from if you don’t believe the encyclopedias Wikipedia state statistics ???))) I didn’t find that happy time))
              I was also touched by werewolves in Moscow type show passport registration)))) there that martial law ??? in America I fly from coast to coast on water. rights in my wallet - at least one bastard asked)))
              1. eklmn 5 February 2020 03: 56 New
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                There is a saying in English:
                “Stubbornness is good only when constipation”
                Stubbornness is good only for constipation
                This is about those who do not believe the facts, these people are still Soviet ...
            2. eklmn 5 February 2020 01: 58 New
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              “... this is complete nonsense”
              unfortunately this is the full truth.

              “35 years ago, in 1974, rural residents of the USSR finally decided to issue passports, forbidding, however, to take them to work in cities. ”
              https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/1147485
              There were a lot of exceptions for collective farm workers getting a passport and leaving for the city, but Sadam was right - in 1974 all collective farmers received passports by law.
              Here is the list of exceptions (only part):
              “Those who live in rural areas do not have the right to receive this basic document proving the identity of a Soviet citizen. This procedure is currently not justified by anything, especially since in the territory of the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian SSRs, the Moscow and Kaliningrad Regions, some regions of the Kazakh SSR, the Leningrad Region, the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories and in the border zone passports are issued to everyone living there, regardless of Moreover, they are townspeople or villagers. In addition, according to established practice, passports are issued to citizens living in rural areas if they work in industrial enterprises, institutions and organizations or in transport, as well as materially responsible workers on collective farms and state farms. ”
              Read the article, learn a lot of feudalism about the USSR ....
    4. AU Ivanov. 4 February 2020 11: 41 New
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      Only in the USSR? Yah? Was Hitler from a family of oligarchs? Obama, who is Barack? Gene. Is Denikin the son of a former serf? What do you say about Eisenhower?
    5. New Year day 4 February 2020 11: 55 New
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      Quote: Uncle Lee
      in the USSR, a furrier became a marshal, and the son of a shoemaker became the head of
      the most powerful and fair state.

      Alas, this is in the past. Upward movement is now possible only through money or family ties. There are no random people
      1. Sergey Olegovich 4 February 2020 13: 04 New
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        Quote: Silvestr
        Alas, this is in the past. Upward movement is now possible only through money or family ties. There are no random people

        Indeed, now for a simple person without money and connections, getting to the top is not something that is not possible, not real.
  3. vladcub 4 February 2020 07: 24 New
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    Does the author talk about England or all of Europe? If the author speaks of England, then the term Lord is appropriate, but if of Europe, it is better to use the word: feudal lord
  4. rocket757 4 February 2020 07: 27 New
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    Nevertheless, this period appears before us in one respect as a huge contradiction.

    If only such a contradiction would not return to our world in camouflaged form.
  5. Alex66 4 February 2020 07: 29 New
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    the methods used to produce these goods remain nothing more than augmenting the pre-existing forms of exploitation to an excruciating degree And only socialism stopped the development of this diaphoretic system, with the Soviet Union abandoning socialism and the transition to capitalism, it will restore this system throughout the world and lead to the enslavement of workers on the new digital system. Gradually, one after one, all gains will be canceled, an 8-hour working day, weekends, PENSIONS, free education, medicine, apartments will become a luxury. Capitalization is not freedom, it is a path of sophisticated slavery, where the slave is told that he is free to choose between slavery and starvation.
    1. bessmertniy 4 February 2020 07: 48 New
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      We did not choose him, but we live in capitalism. Most work today on others to whom the wealth created is flocking. And after all, today no one raises the question that the first thing to change in the constitution is to determine precisely the return to the socialist path of development of Russia. In the past, he proved that the development of our country with him is much more effective than today. hi
      1. Sergey Olegovich 4 February 2020 13: 07 New
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        Quote: bessmertniy
        We did not choose him, but we live in capitalism.

        True. We were simply confronted with the fact; overnight everything turned upside down. With the transition to capitalism, people divided into very rich and very poor. This is capitalism "with a human face."
      2. DNS-a42 5 February 2020 09: 56 New
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        Quote: bessmertniy
        first of all, in changes to the constitution, it is necessary to determine precisely the return to the socialist path of development of Russia.

        laughing

        But the Bolsheviks were stupid! They made some kind of socialist revolution, but it was necessary to change only one documentary.
    2. AU Ivanov. 4 February 2020 09: 37 New
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      Yes of course. The example of the USSR is an example for kapstran how not to do it. Enslavement? Well, in a completely capitalist Finland, there is a serious discussion about reducing the retirement age for women. But the never-socialist Switzerland and Norway are discussing the introduction of unconditional income for citizens: paying each citizen a monthly, fairly large amount from the budget. Moreover, the Swiss voluntarily refused these payments in a referendum.
      1. IS-80_RVGK2 4 February 2020 17: 31 New
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        Quote: AU Ivanov.
        Yes of course. The example of the USSR is an example for kapstran how not to do it. Enslavement? Well, in a completely capitalist Finland, there is a serious discussion about reducing the retirement age for women. But the never-socialist Switzerland and Norway are discussing the introduction of unconditional income for citizens: paying each citizen a monthly, fairly large amount from the budget. Moreover, the Swiss voluntarily refused these payments in a referendum.

        Forget about the Scandinavian social network. For there is an aging population, and therefore the retirement age will only increase in the long run. And all these games with AML are an attempt to delay the collapse of capitalism and nothing more.
  6. bober1982 4 February 2020 07: 49 New
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    The author of the article, in my opinion, of course, greatly exaggerates the role of all kinds of discoverers in the role of the formation of capitalism in Western Europe.
    The transition from feudolism to capitalism in the countries of Europe in the XNUMXth century was facilitated by improved production equipment, more complicated tools, that is, improved production technology itself, which led to the expansion of markets, both internal and external.
    The process of decomposition of the small feudal producer took place, and as a result, the growth of the social division of labor. This was the main sign of the transition from feudalism to capitalism.
  7. bober1982 4 February 2020 08: 06 New
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    By the way, Marx quite correctly defined the process of transition from feudalism to capitalism.
  8. Pessimist22 4 February 2020 08: 13 New
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    The industrial revolution, starting from the second half of the 18th century, was accompanied by a sharp increase in labor productivity, urbanization, at the moment, we are on the verge of the fifth industrial revolution, there is a massive introduction of robots into production, in the coming decades, many professions will disappear with the introduction of artificial intelligence. capitalists will replace people with robots.
  9. EvilLion 4 February 2020 08: 27 New
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    And under feudalism, did they cut each other less?
    1. AU Ivanov. 4 February 2020 10: 35 New
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      And were the socialists white and fluffy? Hitler, I recall, is a National Socialist.
      1. Vladimir B. 5 February 2020 01: 14 New
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        started about socialists, and ended with Hitler and National Socialism. where is the logic?
        1. AU Ivanov. 5 February 2020 10: 13 New
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          The logic here is direct: national - socialism is one of the forms of socialism. Along with Juche socialism, the Maoist version of socialism, Polpot and so on.
      2. DNS-a42 5 February 2020 10: 00 New
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        Quote: AU Ivanov.
        Hitler, I recall, is a National Socialist.

        If you read the inscription on the elephant’s cage: buffalo, do not believe your eyes.
  10. GenNick 4 February 2020 11: 00 New
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    Quote: Essex62
    This is how such a select package of tickets sold in the USSR? How many year-olds do you have? Are you in the USSR, not the perestroika traitor tagged, but real, social lived? I doubt it very much. The Soviet government paid me a pension for the loss of a breadwinner more than my mother’s salary. We traveled to the south, to the warm sea, every year, two other summer months in a pioneer camp, with full support and full control of staff for restless tomboys. The living conditions were excellent. . And I’m not a marshal or a general’s son, but a simple Air Force captain. And where are you now kindergartens now seen free? About education; from my class, an ordinary high school, one became an academician, one general, and so on trifles colonel, Ph.D. Enough to spread disu here, we are still alive, we will tell the Soviet and young people how to build a humane state. The kayak will come to the rogues, sooner or later. The craving for justice, the Russian peasant, is not superfluous, and experience, not so old, is available. So, "eat pineapples, grouse chew, your last day comes bourgeois."

    My mother also received a pension, after the death of my father, my brother and I have 24 whole rubles.
    I myself lived under socialism, and under developed socialism, and during stagnation. To this day, I smoke the sky under decaying capitalism ...
    Eh - ,, ... where are my 17 years old ??? ... "
    1. Essex62 5 February 2020 09: 02 New
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      You have a strange gradation of periods of socialism. Can you put it over the years? I know military communism and later the NEP of Lenin, the Stalinist construction of socialism, in a single state, the NEP of corn and developed socialism under Brezhnev. I don’t remember any stagnation, stability and confidence in the future - yes.
      I don’t know where such a minuscule could pay for the loss of a breadwinner, my grandmother, the daughter of an “enemy of the people," who did not work for the Soviet government for a day, and even then received a pension.
  11. GenNick 4 February 2020 11: 05 New
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    Quote: EvilLion
    And under feudalism, did they cut each other less?

    Of course less, but ... ,, tasteful ''
  12. Operator 4 February 2020 11: 43 New
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    Quote: yand
    live in such a country, in general, for happiness

    Why haven’t it been dumped there yet?
  13. iouris 4 February 2020 12: 01 New
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    Quote: "... the methods used to produce these goods remain nothing more than amplifying pre-existing forms of exploitation to an excruciating degree." The end of the quote.
    The translation of the word “exploitation” into Russian is “use”.
    Marx wrote: "A machine is an inanimate slave. A slave is an animated means of production."
    Excessive labor leads to a reduction in the normal period of functioning of the labor force, to the “destruction” of its value, which is a violation of the normal conditions for the sale by the worker of his labor force. In this regard, Marx writes: “Capitalist production appears to be the most economical ... in relation to materialized labor ... And at the same time, capitalist production is more wasteful in relation to man than any other mode of production, to living labor, it squanders not only the flesh and blood of a person, his physical strength, but also his mental and nervous energy. Indeed, only at the cost of the greatest damage to the development of each individual individually, is their general development achieved in those historical epochs that are a prelude to the socialist organization of human society ”(ibid., P. 186).
    Capitalist production is directly interested in this “manslaughter” - in the overuse of the working class. Only the resistance of the working class can prevent the realization of the immense claims of capital.
    Is there a solution (or was it?).
  14. ukoft 4 February 2020 16: 25 New
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    The author forgot to take into account that probably the beginning of everything was an increase in productivity in agriculture, which allowed for the maintenance of more and more numerous citizens. Productivity has increased due to climate and also due to the light of technology
  15. g1washntwn 5 February 2020 09: 24 New
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    For the first time, the problem of the fair distribution of the subject of labor arose long before the feudal lords and capitalists - when one monkey took a banana from another, for which she became too lazy to climb. The difference between socialism and capitalism is only in who distributes these “bananas” and how, and what is your personal role in this distribution system. Those who want to "not climb a palm tree, but there are bananas" will always be, even in interpersonal comparisons, even in the global between countries.