feudalism

What's the mess we live in - System series

Draft article for a series on 'the system we live in - for west London workers' paper WorkersWildWest

The Working Class Movement in England: Eleanor Marx

An account of the growth of the Working Class movement in England and the United Kingdom, from the middle ages to the 1890's.

The complete works of Rosa Luxemburg, volume 1: economic writings 1

This first volume in Rosa Luxemburg’s Complete Works, entitled Economic Writings 1, contains some of Luxemburg’s most important statements on the globalization of capital, wage labor, imperialism, and pre-capitalist economic formations.

Stop, thief!: The commons, enclosures, and resistance - Peter Linebaugh

In bold and intelligently written essays, historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of the seas, the ravagers of the forests, the despoilers of rivers, and the removers of mountaintops.

Daybreak in dark times: the origins and vicissitudes of the village commune, the municipality, the nobility and the urban oligarchy in Catalonia - Miguel Amorós

A brief essay reviewing the social, economic, political and demographic changes that affected the urban centers of Catalonia during the period between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and the consolidation of a united Spanish state in the 1400s, depicting the development and decay of feudalism from the perspective of the struggle of the common people for democratic rights of assembly and self-government against the engrossing tendencies of the competing feudal, royal and nascent bourgeois powers.

The mad history of the world - Michel Bounan

In this book first published in France in 2006, Michel Bounan recounts the history of the world according to a developmental schema defined not by modes of production, but by modes of “collective mental disorders”, specifically “socio-neuroses” corresponding to particular stages of human history (sedentary agricultural imperial civilization/phobia, classical capitalism/obsession, and the “society of the spectacle”/hysteria), and speculates that the catastrophic collapse of industrial society will result in a “true catharsis in which all particular neuroses are dissolved” and humanity will rediscover the lost “unitary consciousness” of our primitive ancestors.

Lessons of the counterrevolutions - Amadeo Bordiga

A 1953 text in which Amadeo Bordiga examines the lessons of counterrevolutions from the defeat of Spartacus to the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and from the Peasant War in Germany of 1525 to Stalinism (“State capitalism is not a semi-socialism, but just plain capitalism”) and recapitulates some “fundamental positions of Marxism”, which he describes as a “doctrine for the understanding of ... counterrevolutions”, since “everyone knows how to orient themselves at the moment of victory, but few are those who know what to do when defeat arrives” and “it is necessary to understand the counterrevolution in order to prepare the revolution of tomorrow”.

Agrarian class structure and economic development in pre-industrial Europe - Robert Brenner

Robert Kett, yeoman farmer who sided with the peasantry against enclosures

Robert Brenner's influential essay on the origins of capitalism, arguing that the balance of class forces in the countryside was crucial to the rise and dominance of capitalist wage labour relations.

The revolutionary workers movement and the agrarian question - Amadeo Bordiga

In this text first published in 1947, Amadeo Bordiga briefly discusses the historical and juridical background of forms of agricultural labor and landed property in the development of these forms from feudalism to capitalism, the political significance of the various strata of the agricultural working classes, and the impact of the proletarian revolution on agriculture (“thanks to one of many dialectical relations that intervene in the succession of social and historical forms, [the revolution of the industrial proletariat] will be able to abolish the principle of land rent much more rapidly and completely than that of the profit of industrial capital”).

Caliban and the witch - Silvia Federici

Illustration of a witch burning

Caliban and the Witch is a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.