History of Human Society
To understand the society we live in we have to see the historical development of different societies. Every new society emerges from the womb of another type. Each specific historical type of society differs from other types of society in various aspects of social organisation, organization of power, and organization of production. From history we can derive five types - primitive/communal, the slave owing, the feudal, the capitalist and now we are on the way to an egalitarian socialistic society.
Primitive, Slave-Owning and Feudal Society
At the dawn of civilization in the primitive communal society, there was no class distinction, no exploiters or exploited, and no state. People lived in clans, which united into tribes. The clan was headed by an elder, whose power was based on his life experience, worldly wisdom, his own integrity, and on the customs and traditions of that community. If important matters needed a decision, a council of clan members was called and this included all the adults in the clan. So the power to rule them was decided by the total group. This was a true democracy. There was a total fusion of civil life and policies in the clan.
The production system in the early primitive sommune appeared only with the creation of the first tools of labour made a stone, wood or horns. They earned their living by hunting, fishing and gathering. Production was limited to the bare minimum. There was no private property. At a later stage of the primitive community, the situation changed. The increasing productivity of labour resulted in a surplus product which exceeded the bare minimum required for survival. Now divisions of labour started, first between cattle-breeding and crop raising individuals or groups, later on it developed into private ownership, with material inequalities between individuals and families. This brought forth the emergence of classes and the State level of power. The commune was gradually transformed into an association of separate monogamous families with their own property. Handicrafts began to develop into a separate branch of human activities, giving rise to an exchange of products. The primitive communal system disintegrated. It gave birth to a new society. This society formed social groups, the dominant and the exploited. In this society the seeds were already sown for a future class: State as an instrument of domination by the dominant classes. Captured enemies began to be used as a labour force.
Slave Owing Society
Primitive society was gradually replaced by slave owing formations and the exploitation of captured human beings as slaves.
Many ancient states enriched themselves by the unjust fruits of slave labour. Numerous wars were launched by the salve owners to increase the number of slaves. The captured enemies were enslaved and thier properties taken away. This increased the material inequality in society and aggravated class antagonism. The slave-owners became the masters of land and chiefs of territories. In this setting, agriculture became predominant, animals were domesticated and then trained to be useful in agriculture. Men familiar with hunting started to handle domesticated animals. Until that time, women were doing the cultivation while men were away hunting. Now women lost thier autonomy and men took over the power and women were secluded from the production activities. In this period the economic production increased. What also disappered in this period is tribal democracy.
Separation between the civil society and political society starts here. There were rulers and ruled. The class society emerged and they got hold of the power. A good example is the Roman empire. The men who had gold and slaves were selected as Senators. A natural urge in the slaves compelled them to struggle for freedom. In this society emerged also a marginal group of poor citizens like foreign tradesmen, artisans, and others, they were relativley free and tried for political equality. The slave owning state was characterised through its compelling insistence of power by means of the army, the police force, the courts of law, the prisons, and the government officals. The population was divided according to territory not kinship. This periodically evoked protest, unrest, and even armed uprisings among the oppressed masses. In the first century B.C., 70,000 slaves led by Spartacus rose up, but were brutally crushed by the Roman army. This event happened in Italy.
In an effort to provide an ideological basis for thier policies of oppression, the ruling classes mislead the masses and made them believe that inquality, intellectual, moral, as well as material, was an unshakable, sacred principle decreed by heaven itself. Some progressive thinkers tried to express ideas of the equality of all people, masters and slaves alike. These ideas were met with an enthusiastic response from the working people, but were condemned by the ruling classes. Progressive thinkers were persecuted and severely punished.
By the middle of the first millenium A.D., almost everywhere the slave owining system gradually fell into decay. The slaves, who were the principal workforce of society, could see no prospect for improving their condition. Therefore, they had no interest in working for their owners, much less in raising productivityof their labour. Gradually this systemwas doomed. In its womb appeared the element of a new and more progressive social system : Feudalism. Slowly feudalism gained ground in the world.
Feudalism had two roots, the ruins of the slave owning society and the primitive communal system with the distintegration of communal ownership of land. In both cases, large scale feudal and ownership appeared. The feudal landowners held in their power the main producers,the peasants and artisans. They had more interest in the production. The feudal lords allocated smalplots of land to them. They could also own several head of cattle, small farm implements, etc. This all enabled them to run a samll rfarm, till the land, breed the cattle, produce a few articles by whatever crafts. They knew how to support themselves. In retrun for the use of the master’s allotment the peasant had to perform certain services. Either he had to work for a certain period of time on the lord’s estateor give a part of the produce from his own plot. Through this the productive forces grew. A certain development in farming and agricultural activities took place. Handicrafts flourished. Trade bloomed. The clergy, merchants and the owners of the handicraft shops accumulated wealth.
Money economy started and men could save for the future. The division of labour increased. Exchange and trade increased. A struggle started between feudal lordsand traders. In different areas small towns started forming. The feudal lords started taxing the traders and businesman. A banking system came into existence. Traders got suffocatedly taxes and lack of infrastructure for guarding their trade. Primitive armiestook careof the different group needs and gave protection when the traders had to travel from one place to another. Life became increasingly difficult for the working classes. The growing struggle of the peasant and artisans against their oppressors was matched byt increased repression from the feudal state,which attacked the basic rights of the working classes. At this point, the feudal system had devloped into an absolute monarchy. The power of the supreme ruler -the King, the Tsar, the Emperor, the Sultan, the Maharaja was usually inheried and unrestricted by any laws.
Feudalisam in the West: Society became complex and the feudal lord was not able to take care of all admni strative functions. He appointed ministers, but the economic and political power the feudal lord kept to himself. At a later stage the traders took over the economic power from the monarch, but still a certain degree of autonomy existed in the political and economic system. Conflict arose between the traders and formal foms of power. Annexing the nations for trade became very important. Wars were going on against each other . Research centres started to find a sea route to India, Ceylon the United States etc. The traders organised themselves into companies. East India Company is one of the famous organizations during the colonial period. The monarch gave a monopoly to the traders and the got a lumpsum share of the profit. The Emperor ws the political leader. The monarch started overtaking the traders and a conflict between the traders and the monarchs developed. The craftsmen boycotted the traders. The traders counteracted. The craftsmen stareted giving loans to the decaying serfs. The traders started to form their own organizations. They demanded "No taxation without representation". Political representaion was demanded . This is the begining of the modern parliamentary system. The traders or capitalists wanted more workers in the emerging factories and the feudal lordswere fighting their last battle to keep the serfs in the fields. A class struggle was created in the economic field. From the 16th to 20th centuries, bourgeois revolutions took place in manycountries. In 1871 the French Revolution overthrew the monarch and the feudal system. The capitalists system came out of it. This system has full control over the production, and it exploits the masses. As differences in a society exist and so every society rests on constraintof some of its members by others and here enters the class struggle into the society and immediately our thoughts combine classs struggle with Karl Marx.
Karl Marx and Conflict Sociology
Marx was born into a reasonally well -off,middle class family,orginally Jewish, with both parents tracing rabbinic lineage, and gone over to Lutheran Christanity for political consideration, closely knit by mutual affection. Karl was the pride and hero of his three brothers and five sisters. His Gymanasium---secondary school--leaving certificate said. "His knowledge of Christian faith and morals is fairly clear and well-grounded; he knows also to some extent the history of the church. After a rather riotous year year at the University of Bonn, Germany, his father Heinrich Marx persuaded Karl to go over to Berlin to continue studies there. Meanwhile he was engaged to his childhood playmate and long-time love, Jenny Von Westphalen, whose family belonged to the high nobility and who was herself famous in their home city of Trier as the "Queen of the ball" and the "most beautiful girl" in the city. Karl went to Berlin. Within a short time of his arrival in Berlin we find Marx being transformed into a rebellious and militant atheist. The environment of the best universiy, where the most brilliant lights were famous atheists like Bruno Bauer and and where Ludwigh Feuerbach, rusticated for his atheism, still held the youth spellbound, could explain much, but possibly, not the entireriddle of such a sudden and total transformation. Meanwhile Marx continued to the most affectionate son and flamingly passionate lover that he had been, only he now appeared to be once for all committed to a higher duty and destiny. Marx started out with the study of law,his father’s profesion. However, as is common in German universities,besides every possible course in law itself, the now ravenously studious young man took many other courses, including philosophy and literature. Rare genius within, ignited by a consuminglove and affection for those from whom he had tolive away, and the most original a nd stimulating thoughts and ideas which confronted him in his readings and studies sent by the young Marx’s soul up in flames. Earlier it was acknowledged tha Marx became an atheist first and then a socialist and a communist. Marx’s central concern was defined in the pre-atheist, as well as in the aeheist and communist Marx,as humuanism, as an overriding concern for fellow human beings. While he was still at secondary school he wrote: 1 "Union with Christ consists in the most intimate, most vital communion with Him, at he same time he turn our hearts to our brothers whom He has closely bound to us, and for whom also he scrificed Himself. But his love for Christ is not barren, it not only fills us with the purest reverence and respect for Him, it also causes us to keep His commandments by sacrificing ourselves for one another. The chief guide which must direct us in the choice of a profession is the welfare of mankind and our own perfection. History calls those men the greatest who have enabled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as greatest the man who made the greatest number of people happy."
Marx family lived by begging from Engels. Sometimes they lived in extremeprivations and unbelievable sorrows. Three of his children died young - of malnutrition. Of the three daughers who grew up, two died as young mothers, his son died young. TheMarx family was middle class. Marx was romantic, intellectual and revolutionary. Jenny his wife, intelligent and cultivated, his perfect counterpart, firm like rock in their mutual loyalty and affection. By 1880, both husband and wife, though only in their sixties, were thoroughly worn out and lay critically ill. Jenny died in December 1881, and Marx never recovered from her death. Marx died in London on 14th March,1883. Marx is seen as a humanist par excellence. His humanism had to do with a partisanship of solidarity and strugle with the poor and exploited, the industrial labour or proletariat, who are seen as the carriers of human destiny and the champions of universal liberation. Marx was a great student of history. His mastery of the historical processes gave him valuable isights into the future of human society. He saw the emergence of a new socio-economic system known as capitalism. He saw the emergence of a new socio-economic system known as capitalism. He believed that human society passed through different stages of development. Although the class war was has always beenbetween the oppressor and the oppressed. The leading contenders in the social drama of conflict different markedly in different historical periods. The fact that modern workers are formally "free" to sell their condition historically specific and functionally distinct from that of earlier explotied classes.
Karl Marx is undoubtedly the master theoretician of conflict sociology. It is largely a sythesis of power relations and competitive struggle in classical eonomics with its primary focus on the unequal distribution of rewards in society, and this forms also, the root-cause of poverty in the world of today. The Marxian prophecy of the downfall of capitalism has not come true however.
Communist countries who followed the Communist Manifesto, which is the guideline of revolutionaries around the world, have ‘developed’, but the masses of these countires like Russia and China (where the poor are probably better off than the poor in capitalist countires) are still deprived of the abundance available for the masses in capitalist countries.
What we therefore observe now in the world of today, is that mankind needs to be conscious of the fact that we have to work for a holistic society -- a world beyond mere communism or mere capitalism. Glasnost is an indication in the Soviet Union of this fact. The revolt of the Chinese stundents during the summer of 1989, and the major changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s are symbolic of this trend in the communist world. These examples seem to indicate a need for a balance between collective decision making processes, democratic aspirations of people, individual needs for achievement and material fulfillment, and at the same time not rushing in for the ruthless logic of the market place -- so typical of advanced capitalist societies.
Purely economic considerations are forcing the superpowers to rethink ideological positions that have in turn spawned the arms race of the Star Wars type. In India too, even as we question the unequal distribution of power in society, we need to question the pattern of development and who benefits from our current development choices and how much.
The ecolution to a higher conscious human being is on the march, the process will be slow as an enormous amount of ground and people have to be covered. People have to be educated and developed, to be human beings. This involves a reeducation in the meaning of life, so that people will not be blocked in coming step by step to a realization of the higher self. If a fair share of mankind can reach this stage, a new society will emerge, and here and there signs are hopeful. This new society will be a true socialist society in a holistic world.
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