Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production

Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production

Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production

Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production

Excerpt

This book is a work of Marxist theory. Its object is to investigate the various pre-capitalist modes of production briefly indicated in the works of Marx and Engels and to examine the conditions of the transition from one mode of production to another. The fundamental concepts used in these investigations -- the concepts of mode of production, of necessary-labour and surplus-labour, of politics and the state, and so on -- are derived from Capital and from other works of Marxist theory. The aim of the analysis is to raise the conceptualisation of these modes of production and of transition to a more rigorous level. For each of the modes of production discussed in the book we attempt either to construct a general concept of that mode of production or else to show that such a general concept cannot be produced. Some of our conclusions, for example, that there is no 'Asiatic' mode of production, that the feudal mode of production requires neither serfdom nor seignorial power, and that the transition between one mode of production and another must be conceived in a non-evolutionary form, will appear controversial to both Marxists and non- Marxists.

1 Theoretical abstraction and concrete analysis

This book is a work of theory. Its approach is abstract and theoretical and it is concerned to determine the theoretical status and validity of certain specific concepts. There are two points here and it is essential that they be clearly distinguished. To say that our approach is abstract and theoretical is to say first that it consists in the application of the concepts of a determinate problematic, that of the Marxist theory of modes of production, to definite problems posed within it. All concepts are abstract in a very specific sense: they are defined by the place which they occupy and the function which they perform within a determinate field of concepts, a problematic. Concepts are formed and have their existence within knowledge. They are not reducible to or derivable from any set of 'given', 'real' conditions. The concept . . .

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