Chapter eleven

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF SLAVE-HOLDING SERFDOM SOCIETY. USURIOUS PHASE.


1. Development of productive forces of society.


After the resolution of deep economic contradiction between excessive centralization of agricultural production and low level of operational division of labour, ever accelerating economic revival took place. Productive forces formerly being chained by huge latifundia took a push for their further progressive development. New, more productive and more perfect technics, especially mechanical tools: hand and drought mechanisms, began to be widely used. Colons, both slaves and free (that, however, were soon turned to serf slaves), unlike slaves in large latifundia, had some interest in the results of their labour that serves as a prerequisite for the following economic upsurge.

The new, more productive heavy plough, invented in Germany in the last centuries BC, became widespread in Europe. In the course of its spreading it was perfected more and more so that it took almost modern design by XIII century. It had vertical knife cutting the ground; plough-share undercutting this layer; mould-board turning this layer over; and wheels, one or two, enabling ploughman to make more even furrow and lightening his labour.

Perfection of the harness for horses was another large achievement of that period. Former harness, that was invented and widely used in ancient society during the agrarian-technical revolution, was only suited for bulls. It was ineffective for horses the major part of horse power was spent in vain, remained unused, that restricted application of horse in tillage agriculture as a source of moving force. Modern harness with collar, shafts, traces, etc. existed in Europe since IX century and by XII century it began to be applied everywhere. Horse-shoes appeared and became widespread in Europe in that period.

Owing to all these inventions that allowed people to use the power of horse in full measure, the effectiveness of agriculture (and cargo transportation) rose sharply, and less effective bulls were gradually substituted for horses.

Perfection of methods of tillage took place in Europe in the period from X to XII centuries. The three-field system of agriculture appeared and became widespread. According to this system, the land of a farmer is divided into three plots one of which is usually sown with winter crops, the second with spring crops, and the third remains free, unsown. Next year, winter crops are sown in the second plot, spring crops in the third one that lied fallow the year before. The first plot lies follow. This rotation of plots takes place every year. This method of agriculture had significant advantages over old ones: slash-and-burn, interlay and two-field systems; it led to the increase of productivity of grain crops. The three-field system of rotation of crops remained the basic system up to XIX century; even today it takes the predominant position in some countries. In Middle Ages, the increase of the number of cultivated cultured plants, as well as specialization of tillage and agriculture as a whole took place. Depending on geographical and other conditions, people sowed wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, flax, hemp, vetch, peas, vegetables, grapes and fruit. The progress of agriculture manifested itself in constant rise of volumes of agricultural production, first of all in the increase of sowing area. Considerable part of previously empty land suitable for cultivation was used as ploughed fields, meadows, pastures, gardens, vegetable gardens and vineyards. To increase the area of cultivated land, people drained bogs, mastered arid regions, and later began to win back land plots from the sea (Holland). At the same time, they began to use, together with manure, another fertilizers: marl, lime, mixture of straw with ground, etc.

All these and some other progressive changes in agriculture, as well as the transition from large to small agricultural production, a classic example of which being Ancient Rome, led to considerable increase of labour productivity in agriculture, rise of productivity of cultured plants, increase of production of food-stuff, and, as a result, to the rise of living standards of population. And this, in turn, caused the increase of demand for artisan production: ploughs, harrows, vehicles, spades, mattocks, sickles, scythes, saws, axes, etc. among agricultural population.

Progress in the development of productive forces and production relations (decentralization of agricultural production) enabled to satisfy increased need for industrial products. Suppose, that, owing to technical and technological progress in Middle Ages, the volume of agricultural production became half as much again (per capita). Suppose then, that, owing to social progress (substitution of large agricultural enterprises-latifundia for small households), the main consequence of which was the strengthening of material interest of direct producers in the results of their labour, the amount of production also became half as much again. Then the overall volume of production would increase 2 ¼ times. If, at that, farmers began to consume twice as much food-stuff in comparison with their consumption level before above transformations in agricultural production, then the possibility would appear to shift additionally 12.5% of rural population to industrial production (as well as commerce and transport) that would create (and they did create, though these figures are relative) or, rather, enlarge urban population, having resettled to old industrial and trade cities or having created new ones. And cities indeed began to grow in Europe of that period like mushrooms after the rain.

2. About so-called feudalism.


The majority of researchers think that, between the slave-holding and the capitalist socio-economic systems, there was one more feudal socio-economic system. At that, some of them call this society feudal, the others feudal-serf.

Serf slavery (serfdom) was eliminated in Western Europe: France, England, Holland, Spain and Italy in XIV-XV centuries. Bearing in mind that feudalism existed: in Holland up to XVI century, in England up to XVII century, in France up to XVIII century, we see that it is wrong to call feudal society feudal-serf society. It is strange indeed to call "serf" a society in which there was no serf slavery (serfdom). So, many researchers prefer to call this society not feudal-serf but simply feudal.

In social (humanitarian) sciences, it is accepted to think that feudalism in Europe appeared in V century AD as a result of the downfall of Western Roman Empire and existed during different periods in different countries. According to modern conceptions, the substitution of feudalism for capitalism occurred by means of bourgeois social revolutions: in Holland in XVI century, in England in XVII century, in France in XVIII century, in Germany, Poland, Russia in XIX century. But there were no revolutions in Russia in XIX century, so some researchers think that feudalism in Russia was replaced by capitalism only at the beginning of XX century.

What are the differences between feudal society and slave-holding (and capitalist) society?

The usual answer for this question is:

1) slaves hadn't got their households, their means of production, but serf peasants in feudal society had;

2) slaves hadn't got their families, but serf peasants had;

3) slave was in absolute ownership of slave-holder, but serf peasant was in partial ownership of feudal;

4) slave was not interested in the results of his labour, but serf peasant, on the contrary, was. Sometimes, other minor distinctions between slave and serf peasant are adduced, but we will not dwell upon them.

Let's consider the above arguments. But, first of all, we shall make a note that it is as absurd to call the main exploited class of feudal society "class of serf peasants", as to call feudal society "feudal-serf". Indeed, if there were no serf slavery (serfdom) in France in XVII century, then it would be absolutely wrong to call France of that century a feudal-serf state. The same way illegally is to call French peasants of that century serf peasants. How can it be: serf peasants (and serf system) without serf slavery that was eliminated in XIV-XV centuries? This emergent contradiction forces some researchers, those who call medieval society not feudal-serf but simply feudal, to call the main working exploited class of that period of development of society not class of serf peasants but simply class of peasants. At the same time, it is explicitly asserted or silently assumed that both serf and free peasants belong to this united class of peasants. At that, some researchers ascribe all free peasants to this class, the others only those exploited by landowners. And the part of free peasants who were not leasers of land of feudal lords and, consequently were not exploited by them, is referred by the latter researchers to the middle class, class of independent small owners.

Thus, the main working class of feudal society cannot be called class of serf peasants, since it also includes free peasants, especially after the elimination of serfdom, after the abolition of serf slavery. At the same time, the main exploited class cannot be named simply class of peasants, as many free peasants were not exploited by feudal lords, carried on their own households on the base of their ownership of the main means of production, they did not pay feudal lord product (natural) or money rent and did not work off gavel work in his household. If we (conditionally) call the main working class of medieval society class of dependent peasants, then we would have two antagonistic, opposing classes: exploiting class of feudal lords and exploited class of dependent peasants.

Lets turn to the arguments adduced by various researchers to distinguish slave-holding society from feudal one, and class of slaves from class of dependent peasants.

1) Slaves hadn't got their households, their means of production, but dependent peasants in feudal society had.

During the whole period of development of slave-holding society, together with large slave-holding enterprises, there existed small households of slaves as well. At the trade phase, the majority of households belonged to free peasants and craftsmen. And only an insignificant number of households were large enterprises of slave-holders or small households of slaves that gave back free of charge some part of products of labour produced by them in their households to their master, the property of which they were. At the productive phase, the overwhelming majority of land plots and other means of production belonged to slave-holders that managed large enterprises in which the majority of producers worked. There were comparatively few small enterprises, both households of free peasants and craftsmen, and households of slaves, if not in comparison with the number of slave-holding enterprises, then, at least, in comparison with the amount of production of large enterprises, and with the number of small enterprises of trade phase. At the last, highest, usurious phase of slave-holding society, the picture had changed again, for the second time. If at the first, trade phase, small households of free peasants and craftsmen dominated; if at the second, productive phase, the leading role belonged to large enterprises (latifundia and ergasteria) of slave-holders; then at the third, usurious phase, the overwhelming majority of households was carried on by slaves giving back free of charge a significant, as a rule major, part of products of their labour to the slave-holders the property of which these slaves were. At that, the number of small households rose sharply, they began to constitute the majority of enterprises and, at the same time, the main kind, form of economy already in II-III centuries, i.e. long before feudalism. Households of slaves existed even before but there were comparatively few of them.

Thus, not only dependent peasants in medieval society but also slaves in slave-holding (Antique) society had their households, their means of production. At that, before II century AD, there were relatively few households of slaves, but at the third, usurious phase, beginning from II-III centuries, the number of such households increased sharply so that they became the main form of economy.

2) Slaves hadn't got their families, but dependent peasants had.

In the time of Roman Republic, the majority of slaves exploited in large slave-holding households about two thirds were bought by slave-holders on slave market, and only one third of slaves were home-bred ones, i.e. slaves that were born and had grown up in the households of slave-holders. But in the time of Roman Empire, the home-bred slaves constituted already majority of all slaves, more than two thirds of them. This testifies to the fact that, like dependent medieval peasants, Antique slaves had their families, especially after the sharp increase of the number of slave households. Of course, we can, together with slave-holders, disregard the existence of their families, but this is non-constructive position. Besides, the main criteria of definition of one or another socio-economic structure are the form of labour (slave, hired or free labour) and the form of ownership of the main means of production, but not matrimonial relations.

3) Slave was in complete ownership of slave-holder, but serf (dependent) peasant was in partial ownership of feudal lord. Sometimes, this thesis is additionally illustrated in such a way: slave-holder could sell or kill his slave, while feudal lord could sell his serf peasant together with land but could not kill him.

Undoubtedly, a slave was in the absolute ownership of slave-holder that could sell him like any thing belonging to him. Nevertheless, slave-holder not always had the right to kill his slaves. In slave-holding states, the laws prohibiting killing slaves were passed very often. According to these laws, slave-holder that killed a slave could undergo a court examination; some of these laws even anticipated an expatriation for such a crime. Some time passed, governments changed, new laws were passed that superseded old ones. According to them, slave-holder was allowed to kill his slaves. Then still new laws appeared and killing of slaves was prohibited again. Looking closely at the history of slave-holding states, one can see that, in the periods when the lack of slaves was felt in the country, it was prohibited to kill them. And when the number of slaves increased, say, as a result of another conquest of foreign lands, the need in such laws disappeared and they were repealed.

But if we turn to feudal society based on serf slavery, then we would, probably, see some, at least short, periods when master was allowed to kill his serf with impunity. In feudal society based on personal freedom of peasants (in Western Europe since XV century) it was impossible not only to kill but even to sell exploited peasants.

Thus, understanding "complete ownership" as the right to kill a slave or serf peasant belonging to a slave-holder or feudal lord, we can see that both slaves in slave-holding society and serf slaves in medieval-serfdom society were now "complete", now "incomplete" property of their masters. But free peasants after the abolition of serfdom were neither "complete" nor "incomplete" property of exploiting feudal landowner.

4) Slave was not interested in the results of his labour, but dependent peasant, on the contrary, was.

The owners of both Antique slaves and medieval serf slaves applied both non-economic coercion and economic interest, material stimulus with respect to their slaves. However, it is clear that, in large latifundia, the main form was non-economic coercion. But, in small households of personally free peasants after the abolition of serf slavery, non-economic coercion was not used at all. As to serf peasants and slaves carrying on their small households, they, like slaves working in large slave-holding enterprises, were subject to both non-economic and economic coercion. But if, in large slave-holding enterprises, the main form was non-economic coercion and material stimulus only supplemented it, then, in small households of Antique slaves and medieval serf slaves, the leading position was taken by material stimulus, while economic interest and non-economic coercion, though continuing to exist, only completed it.

The aforesaid testifies that the arguments in favour of the fact that slaves in Antique society and serf peasants in medieval society are absolutely distinctive classes, and slave-holding and serf socio-productive relations are different forms of socio-productive relations, are completely unconvincing and wrong. As a matter of fact, the things are different.

The class society is divided not into three socio-economic structures: slave-holding, feudal and capitalist, but into two ones: slave-holding serf and bourgeois-capitalist socio-economic structures. And, accordingly, there are following forms of socio-productive relations: communal, slave-holding serf, bourgeois-capitalist, socialist (communist). According to this, there are two classes in slave-holding serf society: class of slave-holders and class of serf slaves. The class of slave-holders is divided into three sub-classes or three groups: class of slave-holders managers, class of slave-holders traders and class of slave-holders usurers. The class of serf slaves is also divided into groups: agricultural serf slaves, industrial (handicraft) serf slaves, trade serf slaves, etc. Together with the main classes, there were also auxiliary medium classes in slave-holding serf society: class of small free commodity producers (peasants and craftsmen) carrying on their individual commodity production (household), class of small traders carrying on the commerce by their own forces without the use of alien labour, class of small producers carrying on natural economy, and class of hired labourers.

The border dividing the class society into slave-holding serf and bourgeois-capitalist society is the abolition of serf slavery (serfdom). While the serf slavery existed, the society was slave-holding serf one, but with the abolition of serf slavery by means of bourgeois social revolution, the society turned to bourgeois-capitalist society. The XV century was a crucial century in human history it divided two epochs: slave-holding serf and bourgeois-capitalist, the same way as the middle of I millennium BC separated primitive-communal and slave-holding serf epochs.

3. Socio-productive relations.


If, studying the trade phase of slave-holding serf society and its socio-productive relations, we have a classic example of early Greek trade slave-holding states, and if, the same way, the state of Ancient Rome is a classic example of productive phase of slave-holding society, then the third, usurious phase of slave-holding serf society and its socio-productive relations can be considered at the classic example of Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, studying the socio-productive relations in the period of III-XV centuries, some researchers disregard this state preferring to take Western Europe as an example. This is absolutely wrong because Western Europe since the time of downfall of Western Roman Empire in V century cannot be typical example of natural-historical development of society.

Studying some stage, phase of development of society, its socio-production relations and productive forces, it is necessary to choose such a society, such a country that developed on its own internal basis. And it is Byzantium that can serve as a classic example in this sense. But if we take a country or a group of countries that developed not only on the base of self-development but under the influence of external factors, then we could not avoid confusion in revelation of universal regularities of economic development of society.

It is well known that Western Roman Empire ceased to exist in 476 AD. Its vast territories were captured by numerous, mainly German, tribes that, having settled on the land of former slave-holding state, partly destroyed its productive forces and completely liquidated its socio-productive relations. The common rule in historical development is that, in the course of conquest of some people by another people, the latter brings its socio-productive relations spreading them over the conquered people. At that, the conquered people are transferred from one social epoch to the other.

And Roman Empire was not an exception. On the ruins of it, a new (or, better to say, the old) social system was established that existed among the conquerors at that time. This was communal system. And, in this way, Romans were taken from slave-holding serf to primitive-communal epoch. On the territory of former Western Roman Empire, the old, forgotten by Romans, primitive-communal socio-productive relations were restored. That is why the conquest of Roman slave-holding state by the tribes standing on lower level of socio-historic development cannot be called social revolution. It was, rather, a social counter-revolution.

On Roman territories conquered by German tribes, the primitive-communal system was established; its existence lasted up to VII century. At the same time, in Byzantium, there existed the slave-holding system, the economic basis of which was, since II-III centuries AD (like in Western Roman Empire of that time), the small households of serf slaves. But if the slave-holding serf socio-productive relations in Western Roman Empire were eliminated, substituted for old primitive-communal relations in V century, then, in Byzantium, these relations existed almost unchanged, almost in the form that they took in II-III centuries after mass decentralization of large production, up to XV century when Byzantine Empire was conquered by Turks.

They say the feudal epoch began in V century, since the downfall of Roman Empire. But there were no crushes in Byzantine Empire: either military, or political, or socio-economic. This state, during the period from V to XV century, remained the same as it used to be in III-V centuries, i.e. slave-holding state with decentralized production. If Byzantium, say, in X century was a feudal not slave-holding state, so when did the social feudal revolution in it take place? No one event in the history of Byzantium could be identified with feudal social revolution. And it is natural, because there is no such in the development of society.

Byzantine Empire, up to the middle of XV century, remained the same as it used to be before V century, namely a slave-holding serf state, the main classes of which being slave-holders and slaves (serf slaves), and the main form of the economy (since III century) small households. These households were carried on independently by slaves and their families, that were, like their means of production, first of all land, the property of slave-holder, whom they gave back free of charge a considerable part of products of their labour and, sometimes, also worked in his household if there was such.

The researchers, that indicated quite precisely the border between slave-holding and feudal societies in Western Europe, this border for them being the downfall of Western Roman Empire, cannot agree about the border dividing slave-holding and feudal Byzantiums. In the light of the aforesaid, it is clear why this border is so difficult to find there is no such at all.

So, the last, highest phase of slave-holding serf society existed from III to XV century in Byzantium, and from III to V century in Western Roman Empire. In Western Europe, instead of the huge unified Roman slave-holding state, there were a number of small, medium and comparatively large semi-barbarian, semi-civilized primitive-communal semi-states: kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities.

However, already in several centuries, the West European semi-states began to transit from primitive-communal to slave-holding serf system. There were two reasons for this. First, although German tribes that captured the Roman Empire destroyed its productive forces but they did it not to the utmost they adopted and began to apply a considerable part of achievements in economic field in their economy. As a result, their productive forces, the level of which increased sharply in very short period of time, came into contradiction with their primitive-communal socio-productive relations; the latter became too tight for them. For their progressive development, new productive forces were in need for new socio-productive relations, namely for slave-holding productive relations that began to penetrate the depths of primitive-communal system of Western Europe.

The second reason for the transition of European primitive-communal semi-states to slave-holding serf system was the influence of Byzantium.

Since V century when the downfall of Western Roman Empire took place, Byzantium, for a long time, was the political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the world, towards which all the rest semi-civilized, semi-barbarian Europe was attracted. Byzantium exerted a great influence upon the European periphery by its might, its wealth, its culture, its splendour. This influence was also spread over the social policy of European governments. As a result of this influence, first, the transition of European countries from primitive-communal to slave-holding serf socio-productive relations was accelerated. Second, the transition of European countries to the slave-holding system took place not in such a way that they passed to the first, trade phase of slave-holding society they began to pass straight away to the third, highest, usurious phase of slave-holding serf society, i.e. the phase of development of society at which Byzantine Empire itself was at that time. And since, at that, the form of exploitation had not changed, the transition to the slave-holding serf system went on more or less smoothly, without political and military shocks and revolutions. This transition lasted approximately (very relatively) from VIII to XII-XIII centuries.

Before this transition period, the means of production were in communal ownership of all tribe or tribe union or primitive-communal semi-state. After this period, the major part of the main means of production was already in private ownership of single persons: not of the majority of community members as it was the case in Ancient Greece and Rome in I millennium BC during the transition to the slave-holding system but of the minority of tribal-clan aristocracy. The majority of landless community members were turned to serf slaves. This transition period was comparatively long, and enslavement of free community members took place during a number of stages. And comparing the social status of community members at different stages of this transition period, one can see that it was different at each stage. First, on the initial stages, community members were comparatively free, then their freedom began to be limited, first of all the freedom of movement. Then they were attached to the land, but they were not slaves yet. Then the landowners acquired a right to pass them to the new owner of land plot together with it. Formally, they were not sold but actually it took place. And, finally, they were legislatively, legally turned to commodity that could be sold, first only with the land, then even without it.

So if we take peasants from different stages of this transition period, consequently - peasants of different social status, and represent this process not in its development but as something constant, invariable, then an erroneous opinion that along with class of slaves there was also class of dependent peasants: serf, semi-serf, semi-free, free, etc. could appear. This wrong opinion is also conditioned by the fact that the enslavement of community members did not begin simultaneously in different European countries; the tempo of this enslavement was also different, so it could not end at the same time. But the main reason, that stipulated this erroneous opinion of the researchers dividing the slave-holding serf and bourgeois-capitalist societies into three socio-economic structures: slave-holding, feudal and capitalist, was the fact that European peoples, under the influence of productive forces of Rome and production relations of Byzantium, proceeded not to trade but to usurious phase of slave-holding serf society, by-passing trade and, especially, productive phase of its development.

4. Usurious exploitation. Usurious profit.


The main classes of slave-holding serf society at its last, usurious phase of development were the class of slave-holders usurers and the class of serf slaves. Together with them, there were also another classes: small traders, traders slave-holders, small producers, slave-holders managers, hired labourers, arising capitalist bourgeoisie: traders, businessmen, usurers. Among the main classes of that period of development of society, the class of serf slaves (agricultural and, more seldom, handicraft) had their households, dwellings, families. Serf slaves usually gave back to their slave-holder a predetermined part of their labour product either in kind or in money. Besides, they also worked in his household, especially in Europe in the transition period and soon after it. The class of slave-holders led an idle mode of living, i.e. was not occupied by any productive labour. Slave-holders, being engaged in organization of trade and production, production and labour management at the previous phases of slave-holding society, now, at the usurious phase, attended to no productive labour. They led a parasitic way of life, turning from more or less useful members of society to absolutely useless parasites-usurers, unnecessary for the society. They became odd people, and the society could manage without them perfectly.

At the very beginning of development of slave-holding society, the small slave-holders traders and managers (businessmen) performed three main social duties: function of direct (physical) labour, function of management (of production and labourers), and function of ownership (of means of production and circulation). As their wealth rose, they evaded performing the function of physical labour passing it on to their slaves. However, they did not cease to be useful members of society being occupied with socially necessary labour management of processes of production and circulation, and this kind of labour is, to some extent, a productive one. Now the slave-holders left the function of management as well, and it took place not of their own free will, but as a result of natural-historic process of development of society. The slave-holders reserved to themselves only one duty function of ownership. Formerly, in order to own they had to manage, and still earlier to work physically as well, otherwise they would have nothing to own very soon. But now, in order to own they, on the contrary, should not manage and work. The society threw them out of the sphere of useful people, made them unnecessary, odd people. But if slave-holders landlords ceased to perform the functions of work and management, then one can draw a natural conclusion that they must cease to perform the function of ownership as well. The society had moral right to deprive the class having turned with time to the class of idlers, spongers, parasites, usurers of this function. And it had been done by means of new social revolution that took place in Western Europe in XIV-XV centuries, in Eastern Europe in XIX century.

The slave-holders exploited labourers already at the first, trade and the second, productive phases of slave-holding society, but there is a big difference between the slave-holders managers and slave-holders usurers. The former produced a little and appropriated a lot, the latter produced nothing at all but consumed a lot as before and even more. The former was of some benefit to the society, but the latter of none. Having dismissed them from performing useful social functions, the society passed its sentence on them; it had to discharge them, sooner or later, from performing their last function useless for society. If, in biological organism, the organs useless for it die off, the same way in social organism, the organs-classes of no avail to it disappear in the course of time. Formerly, the slave-holders together with other classes advanced the progress of society. Now, they began to hamper it consuming a considerable part of aggregate product of society but giving nothing in exchange. But the product consumed by them, with production of which they had nothing to do, could be used for further progress under other socio-productive relations. But the availability of this class of parasites useless for society was the obstacle for that. The only way out remained to deprive this class of its privileges by force. And this had been done by the bourgeois social revolution.

At the last phase of slave-holding serf society, the dominating form of exploitation became the usurious exploitation that very form that first appeared and became widespread already in primitive-communal society, at its last phase. And it is not by chance, because the wide spread occurrence of usurious exploitation means that the dominating socio-economic structure is at the last stage of its development; it is the beginning of its end. The wide spread occurrence of usury is the symptom of the fact that existing socio-economic structure, having passed during its development through the periods of childhood (transition period), youth (trade phase) and maturity (productive phase), entered the period of old age (usurious phase) which, as everyone knows, is the last period of life of any organism.

It should be noted that, along with similarity, unification of usurious phases of primitive-communal and slave-holding - serf societies, there is also a significant distinction between them. The usurious exploitation in primitive-communal society appeared and developed on the basis of ownership of such means of subsistence that, as a rule, do not belong to the main means of production: food-stuff, first of all grain, money, dwelling houses, etc. But the usurious exploitation in slave-holding - serf society appeared and existed, on the contrary, on the basis of, principally, the main means of production, and first of all land. It sprang from the monopoly of slave-holders for land.

The usurious profit (income) of medieval slave-holders landlords became apparent in three main forms: form of product rent, form of money rent, and form of work-off rent (gavel work). The work-off rent existed mainly in Europe in the period of transition from primitive-communal to slave-holding - serf society. It was transferred, in updated form, from the primitive-communal society, in which the community members had a duty to work off several days a year for social needs (work tax). Thus, the work-off rent is a remnant of old society. This form is not the main one for the usurious phase of slave-holding - serf society. And the main forms of usurious profit in the developed slave-holding - serf society were product and money rents. Product (natural) rent prevailed in the countries with less developed commodity production, commerce, money circulation, where the natural economy predominated. As the portion of commodity production rose and, consequently, the portion of natural economy decreased, the share of product rent reduced. The money rent predominates there and then, where and when there exist the developed commodity production, commerce and money circulation. Obviously, the money rent was more spread in Byzantium than in Europe because the former was more developed economically. In its turn, in Europe of XII-XIV centuries, the money rent was more developed than in X-XI centuries, though in Europe as a whole, before the abolition of serfdom in XIX-XV centuries, money rent, unlike Byzantium, was not widespread.

If we divide the rent by the value (or price, if the land plot is not created by human labour by means of bog reclamation, cutting down of forest or bush, irrigation of arid lands) of means of production, including the land being in the ownership of the slave-holder, we would get the rate of usurious profit. And if the rent is divided by the part of labour product remaining at the disposal of family of serf slave, we get the rate of exploitation. The usurious exploitation chained the initiative of serf slaves, though not to such extent that it was the case in large latifundia at the productive phase. If a serf slave increased the labour productivity and, respectively, made more labour products, then the slave-holder, at once or in some time, increased the usurious rent so that all the surplus product was again expropriated from serf slave in favour of slave-holder landlord. The serf slave was satisfied with necessary product, and only sometimes, for short periods of time, some part of serf slaves gained, along with necessary product, a small part of surplus product. And significant part of serf slaves had not even got all necessary product but only a part of it. The remaining part of necessary product was, together with surplus product, appropriated by slave-holder landlord.

Each of the three forms of capital: trade (merchant), productive (enterprise) and usurious (loan), took the dominant position at one of the phases of slave-holding - serf society. Though, at the first phase, productive and usurious capitals, together with corresponding forms of exploitation: exploitation in the field of production and usurious exploitation, existed among others, but their scale, their part in aggregate capital of society and in total amount of exploitation were insignificant in comparison with trade capital and trade exploitation; they took a secondary position. At the second phase, the production capital and exploitation took the dominant position, and the trade and usurious capitals, along with respective forms of exploitation, became auxiliary forms of capital and exploitation. Finally, at the third phase of slave-holding - serf society, the dominating position passed to usurious capital and usurious exploitation, and the trade and production capital and exploitation became auxiliary, secondary forms of capital and exploitation of man by man.

The trade capital and trade exploitation took the leading position at the first phase of slave-holding - serf society by reason of the fact that it gave slave-holder owner of trade capital a higher rate of profit than productive and usurious capitals did. However, in some period of time, the rate of trade profit dropped owing to the action of the law of decrease of it and matched, more or less, with the rate of productive profit. As a result, the transfer of great funds from the field of trade to the field of production took place that was conditioned by needs of society. As the need in funds, in capital in the field of production was multiply greater than that in the field of trade, the sphere of production accumulated the major part of funds, capitals.

But the rate of productive (enterprise) profit and, together with it, the norm of trade profit (because they were levelled at the productive phase owing to the competition of traders and managers) also dropped as times went by, while the rate of usurious profit, on the contrary, rose. As a result of the action of these opposed tendencies, the overall levelling of rates of profit: in production, in trade and in usury took place. And this led to the new mass transfer of capital or, rather, to the transformation of form of capital and form of exploitation. The major part of productive capital was transformed to usurious capital by means of mass decentralization of production. And the exploitation in the field of production was substituted for the usurious form of exploitation. Taking into account that, at the usurious phase of slave-holding - serf society, a partial naturalization of production, i.e. decrease of commodity production and trade in favour of natural economy, took place (as some historians-economists assert), then one can speak of decrease of the portion of trade capital and trade exploitation in overall capital and exploitation in favour of usurious capital and usurious exploitation.

The usurious capital and usurious exploitation were victorious over trade and productive capitals and trade and production forms of exploitation exclusively owing to the levelling of rates of profit in the fields of production, trade and usury. As times went by, the rate of usurious profit became even higher than rates of profit in the fields of production and trade as a result of tendency of usurious profit rate to increase.

Certainly, at all the three phases of slave-holding - serf society, the surplus product was created only in the field of production, but the matter now concerns not the methods of production of surplus product but the methods of its expropriation from working classes, the methods of its appropriation by exploiting classes, the methods of realization of profit (income).

5. Economic laws and economic contradictions.


At the usurious phase of slave-holding - serf society that lasted from III to XV century, in Eastern Europe even up to XIX century, some of contradictions typical to the productive phase were absent. This fact explains its long existence. It concerns, first, the contradiction between the centralization of production and the level of operational division of labour that took place at the productive phase and was absent at the usurious one. Second, it concerns the economic contradiction between the size of commodity market and the level of social division of labour that, though being present at the usurious phase in some of the largest states, nevertheless, was by far less acute than in huge empires of Alexander the Macedonian and Ancient Rome.

But the usurious phase of slave-holding - serf society was not free from other contradictions. One of them is the contradiction between the increase of human needs and slower growth of labour productivity. Of course, this contradiction appeared not at the usurious phase of slave-holding - serf society, it existed previously; we mentioned it many times. In particular, this contradiction was one of the reasons of mass decentralization of production in III century AD.

Here, some misunderstanding may arise, because we have said above that decentralization of large agricultural production was the resolution of contradiction between the too high level of centralization of production and the low level of operational division of labour. However, there is no any contradiction here. The excessive centralization of production comparing with low level of operational division of labour generates the contradiction between them, the consequence or, rather, manifestation of which is a slower growth of labour productivity, or absence of any such growth, or even the decrease of labour productivity. And it is the latter that generates the contradiction (or sharpen the already existing contradiction) between constant growth of human needs and a slower increase of labour productivity. Thus, these contradictions, the resolution of which was the mass decentralization of production in III century, are interrelated. The contradiction between high level of centralization of production and low level of operational division of labour was the first cause, while the contradiction between the high level of social needs and low level of labour productivity, that was subject to stagnation, was the direct cause of one and the same phenomenon mass decentralization of production that spread to all the slave-holding world in II-III centuries.

At the beginning of usurious phase, this contradiction disappeared, or, at least, decreased sharply, faded, as a result of sharp rise of labour productivity after the decentralization of production. However, in the middle of usurious phase, it appeared again as the ability of small households of serf slaves and free peasants and craftsmen with their primitive technics draught mechanisms, hand mechanisms and simple technical means was exhausted. The growth of labour productivity slowed down while the needs of society, of people in material and spiritual benefits continued to grow. And in the course of expansion of this gap, the contradiction between the increase of needs and slower growth of labour productivity not enabling to satisfy these growing needs became more acute.

This contradiction grew, became stronger until the society found the way to resolve it. It had been resolved by, first, the origin and wide spread, since about XI century, of a new form of mechanical technics machines, the application of which enabled to increase sharply the labour productivity in many branches of social production, first of all in industry. The second way of resolution of this contradiction was no less wide spread occurrence of operational division of labour that also helped to raise labour productivity significantly.

The wide spread occurrence of machinery, since about XI century, meant that the new, third revolution in the development of productive forces began in the society. We call it the industrial-technical revolution and will consider it in the next chapter.

But, with the origin of industrial-technical revolution, there appeared and, with the development of the revolution, became more acute a new contradiction between the dominant form of socio-productive relations and the nature of labour of working classes.

As we have already said, with the change of nature of labour of the main mass of labourers in the course of just another revolution in the development of productive forces of society, the substitution of existing socio-productive relations for new relations takes place sooner or later. In other words, every revolution in the development of productive forces of society is inevitably followed, sooner or later, by a social revolution.

In the course of the agrarian-technical revolution, the nature of labour changed by reason of transition of majority of labourers from hunting and fishing, that were the main branches of economy before this revolution, to agriculture, that became the main branch after it. And the change of the nature of labour caused, as we have already said, the change of social system. The same took place in the course of industrial-technical revolution with the development of which the significance of industry rose more and more; it absorbed the ever growing number of labourers. And the character of labour of industrial workers differs qualitatively from the nature of agricultural labour. The labour of industrial workers is incompatible with serf slavery. This caused the contradiction between the dominating slave-holding - serf socio-productive relations and the nature of labour of industrial workers, that was resolved in Western Europe in XIV-XV centuries and in Eastern Europe in XIX century by means of abolition of serfdom, by means of bourgeois social revolution.


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