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Re: [ox-en] Re: [ox-en] Re: [ox-en] built-in infinite growth (was: Re: Meaning ofmarkets, scarcity, abundance)

Hi Michel

Michael Bauwens wrote:
Hi Graham:

Michel's approach to the collapse of the classical economies as being
due to finding more efficient social ways to increase production.

Surely the Roman ruling class was also competing in various ways for power 
and influence and the means needed to that and resulting from that. 

Competing with who? The Parthians? The Goths? One another? I don't see that.

it was also a economy and production system and access to resources, and their 
relative productivity, was also a factor. 

I thought that was one of the points of slavery, that the ruling class
should NOT be concerned with mundane things like productivity, which is
a topic suitable for slaves, but with the finer things in life.

We should not read our contemporary 
intentions into the past, but that does not mean that certain processes, which we 
now see but they couldn't see, were effectively at work.

As long as you mean 'we can analyse it from our point of view, even
though that wouldn't have been theirs', rather than 'there is an
essential meaning to history, which is more important than the people
who make it'.

What is your take on the collapse of the Roman slave system, and the general cycle of collapse of 
slave-based societies and tributary systems?

I'm not sure what you mean by the 'general cycle of collapse of
slave-based societies and tributary systems' - I wasn't aware there was

In general I don't believe in a model of discrete modes of production,
replacing one another in sequence, with transitions each time growing
productivity runs up against the limits of the mode. I know this is in
Marx - and bizarrely seems to have been accepted by huge numbers of non
and anti-marxists - but it's only in one place in Marx (the
Introduction..); everywhere Marx looks at modes of production in detail
(in Das Kapital, in the Grundrisse, even the 18th Brumaire etc) actual
societies are combinations of fragments of different modes of
production. The one that comes closest to a coincidence of society and
single mode of production is capitalism, and even that is not a total
coincidence (the peasantry and domestic service in Marx's time, free
software in ours, etc).

I prefer the side of Marx that says 'to know what went on needs picking
apart the actual details in the most concrete way possible, not fitting
the concrete into an abstract pre-given framework'.

Why did feudalism develop in the West, and not another slave-based system? 
Why did the former win, if not because it somehow also offered a more productive venue 
for society and its rulers?

People pre-Soviet Russia used to talk about two alternatives to
capitalism - 'socialism or barbarism', where barbarism is a result of
the 'mutual ruin of the two contending classes'. The barbarism option is
what happened to the western Roman empire. The ruling class wrecked
society and no other class was in a position to take over. They couldn't
even run their army properly by the end. So the germanic peoples
invaded. They had had serfdom for centuries (as mentioned already in
Tacitus' Germania) and brought it with them. It was easier to integrate
the local population in some areas than others where the coloni system
was already established, but that's all. In England for example there
was no internal evolution at all; the Germanic peoples just imposed
their own system.

Talking about 'offering a more productive venue for society and its
rulers' assumes some kind of continuity, especially for the rulers,
which just wasn't there. Unless you're saying that from the viewpoint of
some hegelian spirit of history different 'rulers' incarnate the same
function. I don't think the Goths ever said "we'll take over the empire
for you, but only on condition that production is higher than it was
when your agriculture was based on latifundia with slaves". They just
said "we'll have that, and this is how we run things".

I"m interested in your answers,

My answers may change next time you ask - no way I'm an expert on any of
this. Gregers would be a better person to ask.. :-)



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