TO MARX, human civilization has manifested
itself in a series of organizational structures, each determined by
its primary mode
of production, particularly the division
of labor that dominates in each stage.
tribal form. Tribal society has no social classes but is structured
around kinship relations, with hunting the province of men and domestic
work the province of women. The tribal form, according to Marx and Engels,
is quite elementary at this stage, "a further extension of the
natural division of labour existing in the family" (44).
During this stage, it is also possible to see a slave culture established,
particularly as the population increases, leading to "the growth
of wants" and the growth of relations with outside civilizations
(through war or barter). With slave culture, we see the beginning of
communism: "the ancient communal and State ownership which
proceeds especially from the union of several tribes into a city
by agreement or by conquest" (44).
During this stage, the concept of private property begins to develop:
"With the development of private property, we find here for the
first time the same conditions which we shall find again, only on a
more extensive scale, with modern private property. On the one hand,
the concentration of private property...; on the other hand, coupled
with this, the transformation of the plebeian small peasantry into a
3) feudal or estate property:
"Like tribal and communal ownership, it is based again on a community;
but the directly producing class standing over against it is not, as
in the case of the ancient community, the slaves, but the enserfed small
In the city, the feudal structure manifested itself in trade guilds.
The organization of both the country and the city "was determined
by the restricted conditions of production—the small-scale and
primitive cultivation of the land, and the craft type of industry"
which meant that there "was little division
of labour in the heyday of feudalism" (46).
Exploitation functioned differently during stage than during the heigth
of capitalism because each feudal peasant knew exactly what proportion
of his labor had to be handed over to the aristocracy and the church;
the rest was his or hers to use.
4) capitalism: because
of the eventual growth of commerce (and of human populations), feudal
society began to accumulate capital, which, along with the increased
debt incurred by the aristocracy, eventually led to the English Revolution
of 1640 and the French Revolution of 1789, both of which opened the
way for the establishment of a society structured around commodities
and profit (i.e. capitalism). In such a society, the proletariat is
fooled into believing that s/he is free because s/he is paid for his/her
labor. In fact, the transformation of labor into an abstract quantity
that can be bought and sold on the market leads to the exploitation
of the proletariat,
benefitting a small percentage of the population in control of capital.
The working class thus experiences alienation
since the members of this class feel they are not in control of the
forces driving them into a given job. The reason for this situation
is that someone else owns the means
of production, which are treated like private property.