The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves

Faced with a peasantry that didn’t feel like playing the role of slave, philosophers, economists, politicians, moralists and leading business figures began advocating for government action. Over time, they enacted a series of laws and measures designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support.“The brutal acts associated with the process of stripping the majority of the people of the means of producing for themselves might seem far removed from the laissez-faire reputation of classical political economy,” writes Perelman. “In reality, the dispossession of the majority of small-scale producers and the construction of laissez-faire are closely connected, so much so that Marx, or at least his translators, labeled this expropriation of the masses as ‘‘primitive accumulation.’’

Source: The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves

Update: Jan 29, 2017

How did so many of us, Homo sapiens, quite late in our species history, come to live in sedentary heaps of people, grain, and domesticated animals and governed by units we call states? And what was the relationship between these polities and those remained outside their control? The earliest agrarian states were small and fragile. More people lived outside them than within. They were subject to internal fracture, abandonment, and raiding—both sporadic and systematic. They also represented valuable trade depots that enhanced the exchange value of products from non-state ecologies. The result was, for a time at least, what one might call a “golden age of barbarians.”

James C. Scott is the Sterling Professor of Political Science and Professor of Anthropology and is Director of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has held grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science, Science, Technology and Society Program at M.I.T., and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

His research concerns political economy, comparative agrarian societies, theories of hegemony and resistance, peasant politics, revolution, Southeast Asia, theories of class relations and anarchism. He is currently teaching Agrarian Studies and Rebellion, Resistance and Repression.

Recent publications include “Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed”, Yale University Press, 1997; “Geographies of Trust: Geographies of Hierarchy,” in Democracy and Trust, 1998; “State Simplifications and Practical Knowledge,” in People’s Economy, People’s Ecology, 1998 and “The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia” (Yale Press, 2009). Source: https://www.soas.ac.uk/politics/

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