Forwarded from Anthony

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat May 26 05:18:21 MDT 2001

Greg wrote:
>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.

Greg, I have a great deal of affection and respect for you. My hope is that
the list can continue to attract folks who are not only as erudite as you,
but who have the dedication to write such carefully considered posts. That
being said, your comment shows exactly the kind of Eurocentric blind spot
we are dealing with.

Bloch's books *do* apply to Latin America, but you do not need to look at
Europe. You need to look at the Aztec and Incan empires which were straight
out of Bloch's books. These are classic tributary societies in every sense
of the word, with all the abuses in fact. But even with the abuses, there
was the same kind of 'noblesse oblige'. For example, when Incan soldiers
defeated an enemy village and turned them into subjects, the first thing
they did was award the victims with fancy clothing made in Incan workshops.
(The Incans had a big fetish about looking sharp.) The Aztecs had their own
odd ways. While everybody goes on and on about the sacrifices, it is
probably more important to note that an Aztec subject could not have his
land taken away from him under any circumstances.

Needless to say, the society the Spanish created had zero in common with
this. Superficially, the Indians were their serfs, but this was not a
tributary society. It was the beginning stages of capitalism, with Indians
being worked to death in silver mines. In contrast, Incan silver mining was
a much less intense affair since the goal was to produce use-values rather
than satisfy an exploding global market demand. (Most Latin American silver
ended up in China and India.)

Louis Proyect
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