The few who dominated were the bourgeoisie who had originated in the mer chants

The few who dominated were the bourgeoisie who had

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wealth and by unequal distribution of the products of human labor. The few who dominated were the bourgeoisie who had originated in the mer- chants and craftsmen of the feudal epoch, and who rose to be industrialists and financiers. Meanwhile, the serfs were declared legally free to leave the land and go in search of employment in capitalist enterprises. Their labor thereby became a commodity—something to be bought and sold. It was predicted that there would be a further stage—that of Socialism —in which the principle of economic equality would be restored, as in communalism. In the present century, the phase of socialism has indeed emerged in some countries. Economically, each succeeding stage repre- sented development in the strict sense that there was increased capacity to control the material environment and thereby to create more goods and services for the community. The greater quantity of goods and services were based on greater skills and human inventiveness. Man was liberated in the sense of having more opportunities to display and develop his talents. Whether man uplifted himself in a moral sense is open to dispute. The advance in production increased the range of powers which sections of society had over other sections, and it multiplied the violence which was part of the competition for survival and growth among social groups. It is not at all clear ffiat a soldier serving capitalism in the last World War was less “primitive’’ in the elemental sense of the word than a soldier serving in one of Japan’s feudal armies in the sixteenth century, or for that matter than a hunter living in the first phase of human organization in the forests of Brazil. Nevertheless, we do know that in those three respective epochs—hunting band, feudalism, capitalism—the quality of life improved. It became less hazardous and less uncertain, and members of society potentially had greater choice over their destinies. All of that is involved when the word “development” is used. , In the history of those societies which have passed through several modes of production, the opportunity is presented of seeing how quantita- tive changes give rise ultimately to an entirely different society. The key feature is that at given junctures the social relations in the society were no longer effective in promoting advance. Indeed, they began to act as brakes on the productive forces and therefore had to be discarded. Take
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8 HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA for instance the epoch of slavery in Europe. However morally indefensible slavery may have been, it did serve for a while to open up the mines and agricultural plantations in large parts of Europe and notably within the Roman Empire. But then those peasants who remained free had their labor depressed and underutilized because of the presence of slaves. The slaves were not disposed to work at any tasks requiring skills, so the technological evolution of society threatened to come to a halt Further- more, the slaves were restless, and slave revolts were expensive to put down. The landowners, seeing their estates going to ruin, decided that it
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