Forwarded from Anthony

Greg Schofield gschofield at
Fri May 25 22:16:07 MDT 2001

Louis, again it is years since I read Block but my impression was that he
was investigating Feudalism as it appeared in Europe without any suggestion
that it went elsewhere or differed from where Marx placed it in his Modes
of Production Schema - I could be wrong on this.

I do not believe that we can abstract from Block his descriptions of
classic Feudal production and use that as the definition of all things
Feudal, much rested on this production, including the character of the
ruling class. However, even so abstracted, was this not the dominate form
of labour in Spain during the period of the conquest of the Americas?

And another small twist in this, is that the surplus labour (free labour)
in Spain, plus the second sons of the landed gentry (another social source
for capitalism - they often had some money but little in the way of
position or security) these resources were precisely the ones who were
sucked away to the Americas in quite large numbers. Thus securing on one
hand the Feudalism of Spain (by acting as a safety valve) and as Lang
suggested spurring on capitalist development in the Americas themselves.
Something similar also happened in Britain with its colonies in North
America in the 17th Century, but the ability to export excess people was
outstripped by the creation of landless free toilers (the Elizabethean poor
laws being a classic expression of the problem).

Spain in the 16th century stabilised its Feudal order by conquest in the
new world, while Britain could not extract any where enough to achieve this
type of objective even if it were a social objective (I think there was
plenty of reasons to see the same factor at work, but just much weaker -
the East India Company was virtually liquidated in its early years by
Aristocratic directors squandering the surplus).

In England a century after the Spanish conquests and other factors led to
massive "freeing" of labour on an increasing scale which directly fed into
capitalist development, but even in Tudor times the number of propertyless
labourers in England was a thing often remarked upon by all visiting
foreigners from the continent and had swelled London especially.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

At 10:54  25/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
>I believe we have different definitions of feudalism. I rely on Marc
>Bloch's 2-volume "Feudal Society", which basically describes a 'natural
>economy' devoted to the creation of use-values organized around a manor.
>Peasants would turn over a percentage of their crop and perform labor
>services on the estate in exchange for protection by the lord's soldiers.

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