Richard Spear rspear at
Wed Mar 29 19:10:06 MST 1995

Alex's post, I think ... I lost the thread

> >      Anyway, my whole point in bringing up the case of the Mayans had
> > to do with the stages-of-production thread of discussion several weeks
> > ago; I was trying to show that the marxist schema of a necessary progression
> > in modes of production as a prerequisite for communism doesn't necessarily
> > hold. The revolt of the lower classes in Meso-America did not result in a
> > higher stage of civilization but in its abandonment, not in a higher mode
> > of production but in the virtual abandonment of production (some farming
> > was still done post collapse, but for the most part they returned to the
> > rain forest to gather and hunt).

The Maya were not gatherer/hunters ... they were milpa (swidden) farmers.
They cleared small plots of land to plant corn, beans and squash (mostly). At
least this was true at the family level. When organized into nascent states
they were large scale agriculturalists, clearing wide areas and using a wide
variety of agricultural techniques.

I have entertained the idea that they were able to return to family level
industry because they retained their knowledge of the processes. This might
still be true for many people not far removed from an earlier mode of
production. There are people everywhere who have only recently become
urbanized and who would not find it difficult to return to farming. It doesn't
take much imagination to visualize people burned out on capitalization
returning to their earlier ways ... if you've been to some of the Mayan sites
you've seen how they were abandoned ... it does look as though folks just left.

Regards, Richard
rspear at

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