Capitalism by asserting that the feudal system was

This preview shows page 6 - 8 out of 10 pages.

capitalism by asserting that the feudal system was almost dead by the 15th century. In response to Dobb and Takahashi’s argument for a feudal ruling class, Sweezy postulates that in the 15 th and 16 th centuries there might have been several ruling classes, each contending for supremacy. Christopher Hill dismissed this theory as a logical absurdity because it assumes that each of these classes were in a position to control the state. Hill concludes that while the state was still feudal, society was becoming increasingly bourgeois while bourgeoisie continued to be politically inert, the state would occasionally intervene on behalf of this class. Giuliano Procacci, like Takahashi, asserts that the 15 th and 16 th centuries should not be seen as a ‘distinct transitionary period’ for bith the relations of production and methods of surplus extraction anf the ruling class remained feudal. He suggests that it be seen as a period which retains its feudal character while bearing the ‘germs’ of capitalism. Sweezy challenges the two points regarded by Dobb as important in the rise of capitalism – the first regarding the origin of the industrial capitalist and the second concerning the process of original accumulation. Marx suggests that the capitalist class may emerge in one of the two ways-one is the ‘really revolutionary way’ in which the producer becomes a merchant and a capitalist while in the second the capitalists
rise from the class of the merchant bourgeoisie. Sweezy disagrees with Dobb's reading of this passage as a comment on the social origins of the capitalist class and asserts that it may also be interrupted to mean that in both cases, the capitalists rose from the same class. The real difference between the two, according to Sweezy, is that in the first the rising capitalist class circumvents the putting-out system whereas in the latter case, the capitalist rise through the putting-out system. Thus, as Procacci observes for Dobb the difference lies in the fact that the two ways were promoted by social forces with distinct interests and policies while for Sweezy the difference consists in the distinct types of productive processes. Here Takahashi makes a significant contribution by arguing for an opposition between the two ways in Marx’s tract. Thus, while the first way sees the subordination of commercial capital to industrial as the production of the rising capitalist class in not limited by the market he can top as a merchant, in the second way production is dependent on the market. This mean that it is the first way which necessarily leads to a rupure with feudal relatios of production. The second point raised by Sweezy is concerned with Dobb's theory of a two stage process of primitive accumulation by which the bourgeoisie first acquires ownership of land and other assets and then realizes its wealth by selling it off to acquire the required capital. According to Sweezy there is no evidence of this second stage. He disputes Dobb's theory that in order to acquire capital the bourgeoisie would have to dispose of its assets by suggesting that a banking and credit system had by then developed. Dobb replies to this by arguing that a credit system

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture