[Marxism] Re: Conflict amongst feudal lords query

Mauricio Martinez kidvanguard at yahoo.ca
Tue Mar 22 12:18:02 MST 2005


Calvin,
 
Well, in response to part of your question:
Economic development in general occurs via the mobilization of labour power. The reason capitalism is such a dynamic economic system is due to the fact that the workers are "free in a double sense," that is, not tied to the land, nor tied to any particular capitalist. That means that the amount of labour power that is able to be harnessed by any particular capitalist is (theoretically) only limited by the amount of money they have. This is why capitalism requires constant reinvestment of surplus production - because there's no way of controlling the amount of labour-power the competition is able to harness, and the only way to counter that is to expand yourself.

In feudalism, because the peasants are tied to the land - and thenceforth a particular lord - and because land is not bought and sold but inherited, the only way to acquire land and peasants (and therefore expand production by mobilizing greater labour power) is either by intermarriage or war. It is important to note then that the surplus of this productive power was hardly ever reinvested in the means of production strictly speaking, but rather used to finance conspicuous consumption amongst the nobility - and there certainly was a competetive aspect to this conspicuous consumption as well, as nobles tried to outdo eachother in how much they could conspicuously consume. 
 
As for the emergence of strong central monarchies, from what I've read it tends to vary depending on the particular monarchy. In England, the creation of a strong centralized state occured because 1) the monarchy desired greater financial self-sufficiency (which it acquired through the acquisition of church lands and colonization) and 2) overseas merchant capitalists (and land-owning ones as well) thought that a strong central state could better defend their interests (with a strong navy, for example). 
 
Now I can't think of many books that deal directly with this matter (although I'm sure there are some), but you might want to look at _The Transition from Feudalism To Capitalism_ Ed. Paul Sweezy, or Bob Brenner's book _Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653_. 
 
M 
 
 
____________
 
Message: 9
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 11:14:58 +0000
From: "Calvin Broadbent" <calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com>
Subject: [Marxism] Conflict Amongst Feudal Lords Query
To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
Message-ID: <BAY10-F374751C341CFAD1CFEA788B74E0 at phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

Hi,

I wondered if anyone could help me answer a query I have. How do we 
account 
for conflict amongst the ruling class under feudalism? Unlike in 
capitalism, 
it would appear that competition is not an inbuilt facet of feudal 
economies. So the only sources of conflict in Feudalism would appear to 
be 
conflict over land ownership between emiserated serfs and landowners or 
amongst greedy or power-hungry landowners. Why should a centralised and 
unifying monarch appear desirable or necessary to disparate feudal 
lords? 
Or, for those who have seen the film 'Hero', why should an all-powerful 
monarch be a source of stability in the context of warring fiefdoms 
(i.e. 
why did the Feudal aristocracy tend to war with one another)? What were 
the 
sources of social dynamism in the feudal economy (since it would 
appear, on 
the surface, to be a relatively static social arrangement)? Where do 
kings 
come from?!

I would greatly appreciate even a cursory answer to the above queries. 
Is 
Perry Anderson's *Passages from Antiquity* a useful book to read on the 
subject?

thanks a lot.




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