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Thread: How feudalism and early capitalism worked?

  1. #1 How feudalism and early capitalism worked? 
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    Many sources depict life of peasents under feudalism as very hard,hungry and unbearable.
    It seems they were enforced to give to feudal largest part of their labour and die of hunger
    after that in some cases, especially during bad harvests.Riots and fierce supression of such riots
    were common.But there is a question: how feudal was able to use all those agriculture products
    which peasents produced?Defenetly they can`t eat them all because size of stomack is not unlimited.
    Some part of it they were able to sell in cities in exchange for manufacturing goods.But according to
    some sources during 5th-15-th centuries peasants represented nearly 90% of population while all others
    only 10%.If it was so, then peasants were able to give only 1/9 of their labour to feed them all.
    What was sense in feudalism then?I mean, to withdraw 1/9 of agriculture products they could just
    charge some moderate tax or take such money as rent payment for land.Why such a repressive system
    was needed?
    Usually, it is assumed that feudal relations were doomed after development manufacturing of goods on
    factrories and rise of burgeous class.But why serfs could not be used on factories?For example some
    feudal could create a factory and used peasant to work there and produce manufacturing goods.
    Was feudalism really doomed?

    Some sources depict working day during early capitalism as very long.Sometimes 14-16 hours a day.
    But what used those people as a source of lightning?In winter in Nothern Europe sun sets at 2-6 PM.
    And for most of work you need lots of light.Were they used tons of candles or what?


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  3. #2  
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    It seems from what you have said that the 10% were capitolising from the hard work of the 90%.

    So in what way do you think feudalism is different from capitolism?

    now days I imagine the number who are really capitolising is less than 10%


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    It seems from what you have said that the 10% were capitolising from the hard work of the 90%.

    So in what way do you think feudalism is different from capitolism?

    now days I imagine the number who are really capitolising is less than 10%

    In feudalism peasants had direct control over their own means of reproduction. Under capitalism they do not. This is an enormous difference between the two that should not be understated.

    How much surplus was generated varies from region to region and over time. IIRC very few agricultural producers forfeit the majority of their harvest to their lords under European feudalism. I'm less familiar with Asian feudalism so I won't comment on it.

    A good deal of the surplus was still held in the hands of the peasants to trade with. European and English feudalism were also markedly different so what holds true for one may not hold true for the other.

    It was actually the English rent system that marked the beginning of the transition to capitalism so rent payment for land could be construed as inimical to feudalism.

    You seem to believe feudalism was far more repressive than capitalism. For most people it was not perceived as so. There were violent clashes in England during the transition. A large portion of the population was torn from their connection to the land to become a perpetual wandering class. Many starved and working hours increased greatly with no perceived benefit to the vast majority of peasants.

    I would suggest reading Transitions to Capitalism in Early Modern Europe by Duplessis, Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, and Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class. These books will answer your questions in full detail.
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  5. #4 Hi...I think your question is very interesting. 
    Forum Freshman Headdresser's Avatar
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    I'am no expert on that topic, but I think people usually where taxed with about 10%. In Germany we called it "den zehnten" The problem was that there harvest was so small that in most cases they needed 100% of it to survive.
    There was a lot of extra taxes, in cases of war or if the landlord needed money. In some cases the landlord wasnt collecting naturals, but the money that where made buy it.
    About the question if capitalism is more repressing I would clearly answer...Hell No!
    Yes....capitalism is repressing but in the end it depends on people spending money...so it is necessary for the rich people to give em possibilities to earn money. That wasnt the case in feudalism.
    People could be trated as soldiers or workers, they couldn't move without there landlords permission, the couldnt chose their profession or religion, and there was no court to sue your landlord if he was treating you unfair.
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  6. #5  
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    Feudalism: What period of time are you referring to?

    "how feudal was able to use all those agriculture products
    which peasents produced?"
    It depends on the timeline, initially peasants mostly likely did not have that much extra food beyond what they would eat for the next 3 seasons themselves and later as tools and techniques improved there were probably more food. Also note that initially a greater percentage of activity/harvest is for local/regional consumption, but later with trade, you have possible specialty crops that can be sold far away with trade, which adds the middleman that can sit between two interdependent producers and act as if they are dependent on him.

    "What was sense in feudalism then?"
    Im not sure I understand, from my misunderstanding perspective it sounds like going to the mafia godfather and saying "hey,why are you a mafia gangster? Isnt there a better way?"

    "
    For example some feudal could create a factory and used peasant to work there and produce manufacturing goods."
    Yes I guess they could have, but the King of spain did not personally go to the americas, and Doges of Venice etc didnt chart pirate infested waters or travel personally to the Orient, they could have, but were busy doing the palais and castle cloak and dagger things, with occasional assassinations and intrigue, while others were doing mundane things, including trading. (I think In feudal japan in some cases/periods/regions traders were seen as under class below peasants because they didnt create anything).
    A warlord that needs to raise armies, engages in court intrigues, and can send thugs with swords to a peasant and say give us X or else, has a different set of skills than a Bourgeois merchant, and it so happens that one of the aspects of a factory is that it has the ability to produce an abundance of goods, often way too abundant for local use hence the need to trade the vast amounts of surplus. BTW, I read an old economics book which viewed the factory output as problematic, abundance was bad, because you can produce enough razors for everyone in the region, and once everyone has what you produce you are out of business, unless you go to other countries to sell your razors, or have a war that destroys the razors, or have a bit of both with imperialism and colonialism (or what was not yet though of then, just make razors people just throw away, waste is good for capitalism, or make something like oil or opium that people keep asking for more). So the skill set to have a prospering factory thats able to produce and sell its output beyond the local region is more likely to be developed by merchants than land lords or feudal lords, but I dont think theres a hard reason why a landlord could not be a factory owner.

    "
    Were they used tons of candles or what?"
    Maybe they were burning the midnight oil?


    Speaking of history, have many people here read "Tragedy and Hope" by C. Quigley?
    I think it presents the advent of capitalism in several overlapping stages, each stage made more likely to occur by the effects of the previous stage.
    I dont remember but its something like -agricultural revolution, -industrial revolution, -trading, industrial capitalism, financial capitalism, monopoly(oligarchy) capitalism, I really dont remember in detail but some might find it quite interesting (I found it was an extremely easy read, despite what I had read about it that said the contrary)



    Last edited by icewendigo; September 14th, 2012 at 02:18 PM.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headdresser View Post
    About the question if capitalism is more repressing I would clearly answer...Hell No!
    Yes....capitalism is repressing but in the end it depends on people spending money...so it is necessary for the rich people to give em possibilities to earn money. That wasnt the case in feudalism.
    Rich people who think like merchants would want to keep the supply of jobs artificially low in order to pay less for the labor.

    Supply and demand doesn't only apply to currency. If the supply of labor is high, and the demand for labor is low, then labor commands a low price.

    What people forget is that demand can be manipulated artificially. Like diamond companies in the UK buying up the world's diamond supplies so they can stockpile and then sell them a few at a time to keep the price high. Jobs can be stockpiled too. Production can be held off for later, until the workers are desperate enough to be willing to work more hours at less pay.

    there was no court to sue your landlord if he was treating you unfair.
    There still isn't in a lot of third world countries, and I'm starting to think that is the #1 thing that is keeping their system "third world". If you can't sue, then there is no check or balance against corruption. Dishonest magistrates are free to run amok taking what they like from the people. No need to even be as honorable about it as your feudal warlords and call it a "tax". They can just call it "I'm taking this. Any questions?"

    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    BTW, I read an old economics book which viewed the factory output as problematic, abundance was bad, because you can produce enough razors for everyone in the region, and once everyone has what you produce you are out of business, unless you go to other countries to sell your razors, or have a war that destroys the razors, or have a bit of both with imperialism and colonialism (or what was not yet though of then, just make razors people just throw away, waste is good for capitalism, or make something like oil or opium that people keep asking for more). So the skill set to have a prospering factory thats able to produce and sell its output beyond the local region is more likely to be developed by merchants than land lords or feudal lords, but I dont think theres a hard reason why a landlord could not be a factory owner.

    It sounds like merchants wrote that book.

    It's true, though, that "economy of scale" requires scale. That's why concentration of wealth is bad. Producing a few high quality luxury items for a few rich people deprives the factory of its usefulness. Once your production process becomes inefficient ---- well how else would you define a poorly run economy other than by the efficiency of production?

    If you want to only produce 2000 razors, then the price per razor will be very high. But if you produce 200,000 razors, then each one will be cheaper. So if you want to cheap razors, you need to find a lot of other people to buy them also with you. (And here we're not just talking money. We're talking real, physical, cost of production.)
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    What you said about keeping the work cheap is true. But a booming economy (which is the dream of any capitalist) normally have a low unemployment. And "not giving you the amount of money you deserve" is a kind of light version of depression compared to "not giving you any money for your work". This is a situation we normally find in feudalism, at least for farmers. And it is also a questions of rights, not only of economic stuff, if we decide wether or not some system is repressive.
    Education and Freedom of thinking is an advantage for capitalism (because those things pushing inovation)...or better to say a moderate, economy focused version of it.
    In Feudalism there have been almost NO approaches to educate the people and it was not seen as a good thing if opinions differ in a society. Pluralism is directly connected to capitalism. I think the greeks have been the first democrates because they have been traders.
    Trading is a possibility for poor people to get rich. No elite can controll that. But its kind of easy to control who gets a title.
    So..YES capitalism isnt a nice system and it is not needed, but it is less repressing than feudalism or monarchy.
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  9. #8  
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    don't confuse feudalism with manorialism
    feudalism was properly a structured arrangement between the kings and nobility who were granted lands in exchange for military service.
    manorialism was a holdover from the roman era, wherein peasants worked the land for the "lord of the manor".
    And, lasted well into the latter 20th century in parts of latin america as the hacienda system.

    The term "feudalism" was not used when the system was in place.
    The relationships with the peasants was different in every country/ethnic group and over time. Some areas were normally farmed by a free peasantry, and some not. During that time, there came into existance "free cities" to which peasants who had problems with the local lord could flee.'

    Capitalism existed in these free cities from their beginnings. Then we had the factors, who traded goods, then money for labor(noticed in early weaving societies). Again the relationships between factors and labor varied from place to place and factor to factor. That system began to dissapear with industrialism, and construction of centralized factories. A simular system was extant in China which never developed feudalism.
    Last edited by sculptor; October 25th, 2012 at 07:13 PM.
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