ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DURING THE PERIOD OF FORMATION OF MAN AND SOCIETY
1. Periodization of pre-class society
It is well known that class society which starts its history from slave-holding system, slave-holding socio-economic structure is preceded by classless or pre-class society, and it raises almost no doubts now. In Marxist literature, this pre-class society is usually called primitive communal society, and, correspondingly, primitive communal socio-economic structure.
Disagreements arise in determination of historical bounds of primitive communal society, and it’s not only bounds, determining the beginning of primitive communal socio-economic structure but also bounds, which mark its end followed by domination of slave-holding system. In this chapter, we will dwell upon the first, initial border of primitive communal socio-economic structure only.
The majority of Soviet historians, economists, etc., think that the primitive communal socio-economic structure stems from that remote pre-historic time when the first apelike people began to make the first stone and wooden instruments of labour. They divide the primitive communal society into two stages: lower and upper. A group of primitive people which exists in common during the first stage is called a primitive human herd, during the second stage – clan, at that several clans unite into a bigger community – tribe. Thus, primitive-gregarious and tribal-clan indeterminate societies are two stages in the development of one and the same primitive communal socio-economic structure.
However, not all the researchers-Marxists agree with this periodization of pre-class society. Many researchers include in primitive communal socio-economic structure only the tribal society, i.e. that part of pre-class society, which is referred by many researchers to the second, upper stage of primitive communal society. As for the primitive-gregarious society, it is referred, being brought beyond the scope of historical bounds of primitive communal socio-economic structure, to the period of formation of human society and at the same time to the period of formation of the first, primitive communal socio-economic structure.
This point of view has been evolved most fully and fundamentally by Y.S.Semenov in the book “How mankind has arisen” (10). He writes: “…the essence of the period of primitive-human herd is not that it is an epoch of formation of tribal society, but that it is the period of formation of human society, the period of leap from the biological to the social, being the epoch of transformation of the herd of animals to the community of people. The period of primitive human herd differs qualitatively from the whole subsequent period of the history of mankind, which is an epoch of the development of formed human society, an epoch of the change of concrete historical forms of existence of formed human society. Thus, the qualitative border, which divides the primitive herd from tribal society is not just more important than bounds between tribal and slave-holding societies, slave-holding and feudalism, etc., i.e. between socio-economic structures, but on the contrary is far deeper as it divides a society which is being formed from finished society, whereas the latter divide one concrete historical form of the existence of finished society from its another form.
Thus, the history of mankind is first of all divided into two main big periods: the history of primitive herd (the period of formation, coming-to-be, building of human society) and the history of human society (the period of the development of formed, finished human society).
Human society always exists in a historically specified concrete form. The forms of the existence of human society, stages of its historical development are socio-economic structures. Until human society is formed there’s no sense in speaking about any historical form of its existence. That is why the category “socio-economic structure” makes sense only when applied to the second main period of the history of mankind – the period of the development of the formed human society. Socio-economic structures are forms of the existence of finished human society.
All this demands reconsideration of the very notions “primitive communal socio-economic structure”, “primitive communal system”… The unification of the period of primitive herd with initial stage of the history of formed human society and contrasting of this construction as the first socio-economic structure with all other stages of human society cannot be considered justifiable today. In fact, the first socio-economic structure is the period, which is considered in all schemes of periodization of primitive history as the second stage of the development of primitive communal system – tribal society, tribal system. It is tribal socio-economic structure that the history of human society is opened with” (10 – 28, 29).
Yu.I.Semenov’s conception of pre-class society periodization is shared by V.P.Yakimov in the article “The anthropogenesis” in philosophic encyclopaedia: “The transition from Neanderthal man to euhominid represents the second significant qualitative change in anthropogenesis. The morphology of man, who loses many primitive features, which are characteristic for ancient people (supraorbital protuberance, low calvarium, absence of chin, etc.), changes essentially. Labour activity becoming more differentiated, undergoes considerable changes. Social relations undergo a radical reorganization: primitive human herd changes into tribal society. The separation of man from fauna is concluded with the origin of man of modern type (euhominid), transition period of human society’s formation, which precedes the first socio-economic structure – the primitive communal system, ends as well” (11).
So, according to Y.I. Semenov and V.P. Yakimov (and many other researchers, Y.I. Semenov writes about it in his book), the whole history of human society should first of all be divided into two periods: the period of society which is being formed and the period of formed society. And only then, the second period, the period of formed society, can be divided into different stages of its development – socio-economic structures, the first of them is the primitive communal structure. Undoubtedly, they are right. But some supporters of this conception interpret it simplistically and not quite exactly.
For the latter, the reason of such periodization of pre-class society is the origin of man of modern type about 40 thousand years ago. Until there was no man of modern type, there was a society being formed, but the moment man of modern type appeared – we have finished and formed society. Thus, the objective laws of social development of society are in strict dependence on the objective laws of biological (at the given stage of the development of society) development of man and absolutely do not possess any independence. Moreover, they coincide, are identified. But it is not true.
The formation of man of modern type is not identical to the formation of society. They are different phenomena. Though during some part of time they are carried out simultaneously they are to be distinguished. First, we will listen to one more supporter of new periodization of pre-class society.
A.A. Makarovsky writes in his book “The Social Progress”: “We follow a point of view that the history of mankind starts when man of modern type formed finally… The society originated at the same time. Soviet scientists studying the problem of anthropogenesis (origin of man) and sociogenesis (origin of society) distinguish the period of formation of man and society. It’s a long period, which, probably, spreads all over about a million years. The whole this period can be considered as an enormous leap from fauna to human world, from lower to upper qualitative state of matter, from the biological to the social. Its beginning was a leap, which lay in transition from animal predecessors of man to the first hominids, a stable feature of which was making instruments of labour. Its end was a leap connected with the origin of man of modern type… Soviet anthropologists call these notions “the theory of two leaps”. The essence of the called “big” leap was transformation of pre-human into man, and a primitive herd – Soviet scientists call in this way an association, in the framework of which pre-humans existed and developed – into society.
…The period of anthropogenesis and sociogenesis should be considered as a transition period from fauna to man and society, to the first structure of society – the primitive communism. We think that this period should not be included in the history of the first socio-economic structure as its initial stage. It is a transition to the first structure of human society, not this structure itself. Transition period is a period, which combines in itself the elements of old and new quality. It should be distinguished from the time, when the new quality formed finally. In this case a decisive feature of such final quality was ousting of biological laws in progressive development of hominids with social laws.
During this long period of formation of man and society, the progress was not only social, it was biological as well. It is the moment man and society appears that the progress acquires a truly social nature: society develops on the basis of material production increase, man develops together with society as a part of the latter, his biological specific organization being invariable” (12 – 110 – 114).
For sure, the authors of the extracts above are right that the period of formation of society cannot be mixed with the period of formed society. But those followers of this point of view on pre-class society periodization, who unite the period of formation of society and the period of formation of man of modern type in single time limits, are not right.
The formation of man started before that of society and it ended before the formation of society as well. Moreover, the formation of man, its beginning and end, was a prerequisite for the formation of society. The formation of man had begun since that remote time when anthropoid apes (Australopithecus) began to systematically use crude stones and sticks for their various needs: defence, attack, shaking down fruits from the trees, cracking nuts, etc. The formation of society started several million years later when Australopithecus, who took a step forward in biological development under the influence of labour (with use of stones and sticks not processed by them) and other factors, gradually proceeded to making instruments of labour, to deliberate processing stones and timber to put them into a necessary shape and to use them later on for their own needs. Thus, the beginning of the formation of man does not coincide in time with the beginning of the formation of society.
In the same way the end of formation of man of modern type does not coincide in time with the end of formation of society. Man of modern type formed about 40 thousand years ago, and the tribal society – much later, probably about 15 thousand years ago. The origin of man of modern type meant not the conclusion of formation of society, it meant nothing but a prerequisite for this conclusion just as the beginning of formation of man meant only an appearance of prerequisite for a future beginning of formation of society and not this beginning of formation itself.
When the formation of man started (and it happened about 5.5 million years ago), only biological development of man’s ancestor took place. When the formation of society started (and it started, as modern science supposes, about 2 – 3 million years ago), along with biological development, a social one began to take place because productive forces (though primitive) of the society being formed appeared. Only from this moment the parallel biological and social development takes place, at that each achievement acquired in the development of productive forces accelerated the biological development of ape-man; and each achievement, acquisition in biological development of primitive man being formed accelerated the development of productive forces, accelerated the technical, technological and economic development.
The end of formation of man of modern type took place about 40 thousand years ago. The formation of society went on, as there were no developed, formed socio-productive relations. They still kept being at the stage of formation for some time. What phenomenon, event should be considered as the end of the period of formation of society, that historical boundary which divides the society being formed from formed society?
This event is the appearance of ownership of the main means of production that meant the end of formation of socio-productive relations, a social mode of production, the first socio-economic structure and, finally, society.
Certainly, ownership already existed during the period of formation of society. That was the ownership of foodstuff, dwelling, which was ownership in common; the ownership of clothes, decorations, etc., which was personal; the ownership of small means of labour: spears, chippers, vessels, etc., which was partly personal, partly community property, but there was no ownership of main means of production which at that time included forest, steppe, water and the like tracts with everything that was there: fruit, animals, food, fish, trees, raw stone, required for making instruments of labour. No one could lay claim to main means of production at that time just like the animals that did not do this. And when it happened after a while, a rather long period of time, after the end of formation of man of modern type, then the formed society appeared.
The first form of ownership of main means of production was community ownership and, accordingly, the first socio-economic structure is communal or as it is usually called in social sciences, primitive-communal socio-economic structure.
This leap in the development of society that divides the society being formed from formed society, the essence whereof is the origin of communal, community ownership of main means of production, and at the same time the appearance of the developed, formed socio-productive relations is the first social revolution – the communal revolution.
What was the reason of the first social revolution in the development of society? We have already stated above that the origin of man of modern type is just a prerequisite, not the reason of the end of formation of society, i.e. of carrying out the first social revolution as we can say now. This reason of realization of communal social revolution, the first revolution in the development of socio-productive relations, which divides the first socio-economic structure from the period of formation of society, this reason is the first revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces which we call the hunting-technical revolution and which began after the origin of man of modern type.
These two revolutions: hunting-technical and communal-social, which we are going to consider in the following chapters, are the first revolutions in the development of the society’s productive forces and socio-productive relations, the revolutions which are in cause-effect relation with each other.
2. The development of primitive society’s productive forces.
The history of human society being formed starts since that remote time when primitive people began to make the first instruments of labour. At first human ancestors (Australopithecus) gathering the fruit grown by nature scarcely used whatever objects, either processed or unprocessed by them. Anthropoid apes, man was descended from later, after their resettlement, as many scientists think, from trees to the ground in the course of struggle for existence used stones and sticks “processed” by nature for their protection against predators and struggle for existence against other animals, including apes. The use of these unprocessed objects made anthropoid apes stronger. Using a stone for striking a blow, say, for a nut or an enemy, they as if increased weight and hence the strength of punch. Using a stick, for example, for shaking down fruit from the branches, they as if made their hands longer.
Then human ancestors gradually begin to use unprocessed stones and sticks to obtain food more and more often. At first they take them in their hands only sometimes, when they are required, and throw them away at once as soon as there is no longer any necessity for them. But during the long process of gaining experience and biological development of anthropoid apes (development of straight walking, turning of hind limbs to legs, and forelegs – to arms, increase of volume and complication of structure of brain, improvement of memory, etc.) under the influence of, mainly, labour with use of these unprocessed objects which served them as temporary instruments of labour, as well as other factors: from time to time changes in food, particularly, use of more varied vegetable products, fruits during nomadic life; use of animal food; adaptation through changes of organism to changing climatic conditions; natural and sexual selection; under the influence of all that factors, anthropoid apes made sure more and more that the objects they needed could not be always quickly found. And it gradually led them to an idea that the sticks and stones they needed from time to time were to be kept. Moreover, it was necessary to find the most convenient pieces of stone or wood to hold them in the hand or strike a blow against an enemy or during accomplishment of some labour. And they gradually, during many hundreds of thousand years proceed from casual or sporadic use of these objects to their systematic use, keeping, finding and accumulation.
But it was not always possible to find a piece of stone or stick which was convenient to handle and which at the same time had, say, a sharp projection on the other end, which could be effectively used to strike a blow against an enemy, to crack a nut or to dig tuber out of the ground. And the same way gradually anthropoid apes begin to understand that stones and sticks should be transformed to impart them necessary shape, and they gradually start doing it. Since then anthropoid ape gradually turns into apelike man or ape-man or primitive man. Since that time, along with the process of human formation, the process of the formation of society starts.
The first objects processed by ape-man scarcely differed from unprocessed objects which had been used up to then by anthropoid apes. But primitive people gradually gained some experience, the result of it was the appearance of small hand chipper, which for a long time was a multi-purpose instrument of labour, i.e. was used for different kinds of work.
At the first stage of primitive (being formed) society, the most prevailing wooden instruments of labour were sharpened digging stick used by primitive people to dig different tubers, roots, larvae out of the ground; bludgeon and cudgel used over a long period of time as main striking (bludgeon) and missile (cudgel) implements used both for hunting and gathering, for example for shaking down fruits from the trees, and for defence against beasts of prey.
A spear, the invention of which was a great achievement of primitive man, appeared in primitive society a bit later. It gradually drove a bludgeon and a cudgel back.
In the course of time, along with chipper, different stone instruments of labour appeared and became widespread: strickles, scrapers, draw knives, cutters, knives, hammer-stones, sharpened heads, discs, spear heads, etc.
At first, simple instruments of labour were made of one piece of wood or stone. Then, along with them, man began to make compound instruments of labour. To the end of spear, usually by means of leather strap, a flint and later bone head was fastened. Wooden handles were fixed to some chippers and other instruments. Such chippers with handles attached typified future axes, hammers and mattocks.
Side by side with tool technics in primitive society non-tool technical means: different vessels, hearths, etc. became widespread. Vessels in primitive society were not of minor, but even of greater importance than instruments.
Various materials were used in primitive society to make different instruments of labour: wood, rind, branches and roots, pelts, tendons, bones and horns of the animals, tusks of mammoths and elephants, fish bones, shells. But not all these materials were applied to the same extent. Some of them were used more often, other – rarely. Stone and wood were the most widely spread in making different devices.
Of stone raw materials, flint was the most widespread, but jasper, chalcedony, sandstone, hornfels, limestone, quartzite, diorite, obsidian, diabase, marble, granite, basalt and other types of stone were also applied. The kind of rock, which prevailed on the surface, was used to a greater extent in the given region.
Flint, which became the most widely spread in making various instruments of labour, has a number of valuable qualities: solidity, ability to split into sheets and to give sharp cutting edges. Besides, flint is widespread all over the globe and lies on the earth surface or at a shallow depth. All this caused its maximal application as a material used for making technical means in primitive society.
Stone and wood were main materials in making technical means, other materials were minor and were used more rarely.
In making various instruments of labour and other tools, different processing techniques were applied in primitive society. Chipper was made by means of breaking off and chipping. The same and some other processing methods (crushing) were applied in making other stone instruments. At the last stage of primitive society, before the hunting-technical revolution had happened, retouch, the most complicated method of this period of the development of society, the period of its formation, becomes widespread.
A spear was made of a round stick, for this purpose the trunks of small trees and bamboos were used. One end of spear was sharpened by hand chipper which was a universal instrument of labour during this epoch. In wood processing, cutting and scraping were used.
The materials applied in making various vessels which were used for needs of gathering, transportation and storage of food, preparation and food intake were branches of trees and bushes, their bark, especially birch-bark, shells, wood and stone. Clay was not used at that time yet.
During the period of formation of society, primitive people procured means of subsistence mainly by gathering vegetable and animal food. There was still no farming, even a primitive one, in this period of human existence. Hunting, though it appeared at the very beginning of the existence of human society being formed, played a secondary role, was a subsidiary branch of primitive economy, since in view of a primitive hunting weapons (chipper, bludgeon, cudgel, spear) it was inefficient, ineffective. By means of hunting as the main occupation primitive people of that period of the development of society would not be able to exist.
The main technical means of the gatherers was digging stick, its one end was sharpened, and woven baskets and leather vessels. Primitive gatherers were occupied with gathering various vegetable foods produced by nature: vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, berries, nuts, tubers, edible roots, cereal corn, algae and many other vegetable objects that could be used for food. In addition to vegetable food, they also gathered animal food, both meat – molluscs, larvae, insects, etc. and non-meat – bird eggs, honey. Gathering was bordered on hunting (catching) for small animals: frogs, lizards, snakes, shellfish, rodents, nestlings, etc. Primitive fishing gave fish food. Fish was caught with hands, baskets, was speared and leistered.
Before application of fire, the use of vegetable and small animal food was somewhat restricted as many fruits (some sorts of mushrooms, tubers, roots) as well as small animals in the raw state were either ill-digested or inedible. After taming of fire by primitive people, the range of vegetable and animal food increased considerably.
In addition to gathering, primitive people hunted for small and large mammals, as well as for sea animals, birds and fish. Though hunting was a subsidiary occupation before the hunting-technical revolution, primitive people placed high emphasis on it, especially in lean years when the amount of vegetable food was several times less than in other, more favourable years.
During the study of economical activity of primitive people, particularly the problem of relationship between gathering and hunting in their economy, many researchers express directly opposite points of view, they go to extremes, which do not represent the actual state of affairs. Some of them consider primitive people as almost vegetarians who ate vegetable food only and were not occupied with hunting at all, the latter appeared quite recently, only 100 thousand years ago. The other consider hunting, moreover - hunting for large animals - as the main occupation of primitive people, their leading branch from the very beginning of human existence. But observations of life of the most backward peoples isolated from more progressive ones refute both these points of view as unfounded.
We shall give an extract from the book by V.Folz, a German scientist who observed the life of people named “cubu” on Indonesian island of Sumatra in the first half of the XX century and described the economic life of primitive people more or less impartially. “Cubu mostly live a nomadic life and wander incessantly through their region in search of ripe forest fruits. In the place they meet evening they weave a simple awning from branches, which then protects them from bad weather.
They spend all their spare time and force in search for food. They eat fruits, berries, roots and tubers, which they dig out with their pointed sticks. They also eat lizards, frogs, caterpillars and larvae of beetles with pleasure …
Sometimes they devastate bird's nests with tender nestlings, catch fish, crayfish and crabs in brooks, find fat snails and shells. Hunting and fishing play a minor role in the life of cubu since they do not possess necessary implements for this. To fill their stomachs they have to gather food long and tensely… If there’s much food they stuff themselves, eat to the point of exhaustion, but quite often they go to sleep with empty stomach” (13 – 10).
Perhaps, there were single groups in primitive society, which lived solely gathering. One can also suppose that some groups existed for some time mainly due to hunting (or fishing), but such groups are undoubtedly an exception to the general rule. The rule in its turn is that, before the hunting-technical revolution, primitive people lived mainly gathering vegetable and animal food. Hunting and fishing, with rare exceptions, was a subsidiary branch of common economy.
Here arises an important question, what criterion should be followed in division (distinguishing) of separate branches of social production into main, leading and secondary, subsidiary branches. We think the reason why different points of view on this question arise is that different researchers follow different criteria. Some researchers think that since in primitive society (before the hunting-technical revolution) hunters from time to time killed large animals, which gave a lot of meat, hunting should be considered a leading occupation. At the same time they compare the quantity of vegetable and animal food primitive people used, taking into account caloric value of food as well. The other think that the leading branch is the one where more total labour is spent during some definite period of time, say, during a year, by a definite group, than in any other field. Hence, if a group during the year spends 50% of total working time for gathering of vegetable and animal food, 25 to 30% for hunting, then the leading branch should be considered gathering, regardless of the amount of food (its weight and caloric value) procured during hunting and fishing and by means of gathering.
It seems to us that more correct criterion for the determination of place and role of various branches in social production is the latter. But it should be specified. The matter is that it is completely suitable for primitive society, but is not entirely accurate, not entirely right for the description of, say, modern society. But the right criterion is the one, which can be applied to any stage of the development of society and its productive forces.
If we take as an example any modern industrial-agrarian country with a mean level of economic development which has a highly developed industry and a less developed agriculture where half as much again labourers are employed than in industry equipped with the latest expensive machinery, then following this criterion we shall have to call not industry but agriculture the leading branch of social production, that contradicts reality. Thus, when determining the importance, role of one or another branch of social production, we shall take another criterion which would be suitable in analysis of all the stages of the development of society and its productive forces. Such criterion is the value of gross output in one or another branch, which, along with the expenses of payment of labour, includes expenses concerned with consumption of raw materials, energy, amortization of production assets, etc. In application of this criterion for the above example, we shall have to consider the leading branch of this industrial-agrarian country not agriculture, despite the fact that it employs a bit more labourers than industry, but the latter, since industry during the year produces the product of greater value than agriculture. As the consumption of raw materials, technical means, etc. in primitive society is minor as compared to direct labour inputs, the value of gross output (if this term can be applied to primitive natural economy) produced in one or another branch of common economy is calculated mainly by the amount of total direct labour expended, i.e. total working time. That is why, while determining the leading branch of primitive economy, one may follow the criterion mentioned above. And following this criterion we should inevitably consider gathering the leading branch, since the amount of labour expended in it is greater than that in any other branch including hunting and fishing together.
Thus, though hunting and fishing played a certain, sometimes, important role in primitive economy, before the hunting-technical revolution they were none the less referred to secondary branch. At that time, people hunted mainly in groups. Some people armed with bludgeons and stones, later – with spears, made an ambush near a way out of the valley surrounded with rocks. The other group making a noise and screaming chased a herd to a way out of the valley. When the herd was approaching the ambush, people rained down stones, bludgeons, cudgels and spears on them. In other ways of hunting the hunters drove an animal to a precipice, the animal fell off it and was badly hurt, or to marsh, where the animal bogged down was slaughtered. It was very hard to hunt alone at that time. As a rule, such hunting was unsuccessful. But even hunting in groups, primitive people procured too little food at that time. In general, they killed weak, ill animals or ones injured in fight against other animals and predators. Before the hunting-technical revolution, hunting for large animals on the whole was less effective than gathering. Gathering vegetable and animal food primitive man could feed himself and his incapacitated congeners but could not do this hunting. That is why primitive people hunted for and caught large animals, birds and fish occasionally, sporadically, at the same time they went gathering systematically, regularly, as far as climatic conditions allowed. Before the hunting-technical revolution, primitive people went hunting in their time spare from gathering as well as in lean years when the amount of fruit grown was far less than in usual years.
The researchers who consider hunting for large animals the main occupation of primitive people of pre-clan society are apparently guided by the fact that the sites of primitive people found by archaeologists often have the bones of animals, their quantity sometimes being large.
But they miss two circumstances. First, even if primitive people periodically coming back from other places to one and the same site, say, one and the same cave, kill during the time spent there, for example a month, at least one animal then during a long period of time there can certainly be accumulated a large quantity of bones and horns. Suppose, in some cave visible from afar primitive people live annually during a month, it doesn’t matter one and the same tribe or each time different. And during this time, they bring only one animal killed at hunting, spending the rest of the time gathering. Then for only one thousand years the cave will accumulate a huge amount of bones – the bones of a thousand of animals. What will be their amount for ten thousand years? It will be incredibly great. But, in our example, primitive people for a month of their dwelling there brought only one large animal killed at hunting.
Second, if primitive people bring to their site the meat of large animals it doesn’t mean that they could procure it only when they were hunting. In fact, they could get the meat of already killed or perished animal, the death of which they had nothing to do with. It is well known that predators having killed an herbivorous animal do not eat it completely at once. Having waited for predator to go, primitive people could take the rest of meat and bring it to their site.
A lot of animals perish each year as a result of natural disasters: flood, fire, storm, earthquake, etc. Many male animals perish during cruel fights with each other during the periods of sexual activity. Animals perish because of diseases, when crossing rivers, falling down from rocks, etc.
It would be natural to suppose that the meat of some such perished animals was brought by primitive people to their sites. That is why the presence of large amount of bones at some sites cannot be considered as evidence that hunting was the main occupation of the inhabitants. Many sites had no bones after all. Why? Because hunting in primitive society was a subsidiary occupation, the main being gathering.
3. Ownership and exchange
We have mentioned above that in primitive society being formed the ownership (community, family, personal) of dwellings, hearths, clothes, decorations, foodstuff, labour tools, etc. already existed. Earlier we also said that during the period of formation of society, unlike the period of formed society, there was no ownership of main means of production, which at that period of the development of society included forest tracts, woodless lands with herds of wild animals wandering through them which were sometimes hunted for by primitive people, reservoirs (lakes, rivers) with fish also procured by primitive people though in small quantity, groves with fruit trees, marshes with berry bushes, etc.
Thus, the main means of production, unlike modern society, include natural means of production created by nature, not man, whereas the main means of production in modern society also include man-made means of production: plants and factories, machines and machine-tools, production buildings and raw materials, power plants and mines, etc.
Naturally, here arises a question why in society in the period of its formation there was no ownership of the main means of production, unlike the next period of society, the formed one? The question may be put from other angle: why the ownership of the main means of production in society arose only after the origin of man of modern type, not earlier, say, a hundred thousand years ago, in the epoch of origin of Neanderthal man on the Earth?
We shall answer the question, why the ownership of the main means of production arose after the origin of man of modern type, or rather, after the first revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces, i.e. the hunting-technical revolution, later, during consideration of the first social revolution. Here we should consider the question, why the ownership of the main means of production did not arise earlier, before the origin of man of modern type.
The absence of ownership of the main means of production before the origin of man of modern type can be explained with two reasons: first, nomadic life of primitive groups, second, the fact that quantity of primitive people was relatively small whereas the quantity of the main means of production was, correspondingly, too large and their appropriation, even for ownership in common, was of no use.
As we have already said, the main occupation of primitive people was gathering vegetable and animal food. But the amount of such food was not sufficient for a group of primitive people, at least a small one, 20 to 40 in number, to live permanently in one and the same place, i.e. to lead a settled life. That is why the condition of the existence of primitive people was not settled, but nomadic life. Coming to a new place where vegetable and animal food, which could be consumed, was in abundance they consumed everything they found rather quickly, procured what could be used for food. After a time they began to feel a deficiency in foodstuff, its finding was becoming more and more difficult. In other words, labour productivity of primitive people began to reduce. Primitive people had nothing but to move to a new place, where, as they new from their own experience, there was much more food and where they could have, though for a while, a comfortable life. Staying in the same place meant always to be half-starved and sometimes even entirely hungry. After moving to a new place, primitive people lived there for some time and then again for the same reason set out in search of food. Sometimes, as some time passed, they could come back to one of their previous places where they had already lived, but the most of the places were visited by them only once in their lives.
Here arises a question: could these small groups of primitive people lay claims to any territories? Certainly not. In this case they would have to control the territories appropriated, to protect them from penetration of other primitive groups of people. Owing to nomadic life, that was impossible. Of course, if they declared a small territory to be their property they would probably be able to protect it from encroachment by other people, but the moment the amount of food reduced on that territory to an extent that its shortage would become more and more perceptible they would have to leave this territory and therefore to resign a claim for it.
If some group of primitive people began to claim for a territory of such dimensions that was sufficient for it for the whole year round to feed only on food produced by nature on this territory this group would not be able to control it because of its huge dimensions. And its claims would turn into nothing.
Let’s consider the second reason. It is well known that material values, which people lack (scarce commodities) are valued higher than in case they are abundant. It deals not only with the products of human labour but with the gifts of nature as well. We shall give two examples.
It is well known, that in many countries where sweet water is in abundance, reservoirs are not (it is not a question of the modern socialist society) and were not in the past someone’s property, either private or in common. They were and are “no man's”. And vice versa, where there’s a shortage of sweet water all sweet reservoirs are monopolized, i.e. are someone’s property and one should pay for the water in such reservoirs. Moreover, in dry years the prices of water and these reservoirs rose, in wet years – fell; the drier the year was, the more grief, poverty, suffering it brought to common people, the more pleasure it brought to the owners of reservoirs since water prices went up as the drought grew.
In places abundant in sweet water, no one could even think of buying a reservoir since nobody was going to buy water in case he would like to sell it. Thus, the ownership of water and reservoirs appears, as the history shows, there and at the time where and when they are scanty at a definite period of time, and never appears where they are in abundance.
The same refers to arable or other lands the nature created finished. In densely populated regions of different countries, all the land is appropriated, monopolized; leasing it the owner collects ground rent. In thinly populated regions, and it refers mainly to the past, there is a large quantity of fertile land (or forests), it does not belong to anybody though, perhaps, it is under the jurisdiction of state. What do we see in primitive society? Primitive people are almost systematically short of food, foodstuff; that is why the fruit gathered or the meat, fish, bird eggs, etc. procured pass into their common ownership and are jointly consumed. Primitive people are short of place to sleep, for example, in a cave or a shelter of branches or some other building and that is why a cave or a dwelling as well as a hearth with fire are their joint property (for the time of their dwelling in given area). Primitive people are lack of some means of labour, clothes, decorations, etc. and that is why spears, decorations, clothes, etc. are their individual property.
But the number of woods, lands, reservoirs, groves, steppes round the small groups of primitive people scattered far from each other who were in search for food was so large, that the very thought of turning them into their ownership could never and had never come to them. They turned into their ownership the fruits of fruit-trees to eat them, but not the trees themselves; they turned into their ownership fish, not a reservoir; they turned into their ownership roots extracted from the ground, not the ground itself; they turned into their ownership the meat of individual animals, not the herds of these animals, etc. And what sense made an appropriation of what they could not hold, what they had to leave soon for other area and, perhaps, what they would never see again. Why they had to appropriate, say, a reservoir, if there were many other unoccupied reservoirs around. The reason why they consumed little fish, birds or meat of large mammals was not a small amount of the main means of production, the reason it took place was that, because of a low level of the development of productive forces, they could not procure them in sufficient quantity though they were in abundance all around. That is why they could not try to seize what they could not use themselves or what they did not require. Their attention, their claims were directed not at the main means of production but at such means of subsistence which served them as foodstuff, clothes, dwelling, fireplace, small means of labour which could not be referred to the main means of production.
Wandering from one region to another during the whole their life in continuous search for food, primitive people from time to time met other groups and came into contact with them. In addition, they sometimes exchanged different products of their labour. But this exchange was of occasional not systematic nature. It can be explained with two reasons. First, the contacts of different groups of primitive people were rather weak because of thin density of population. Second, they had few products of labour which they could exchange since they produced almost no surplus product, i.e. such product, which was produced in excess of product absolutely necessary for their existence. If they produced it at some more favourable time, then wandering from one region to another they would have to throw it away so as not to carry an unnecessary weight.
The absence of the regular manufacture of surplus product in primitive society being formed, that can be explained by an extremely low level of the development of productive forces, an extremely low level of labour productivity, did not facilitate the development of exchange between individual groups. But exchange, even occasional, sporadic, on a dwarfish scale, did existed. At that, the products of labour were exchanged not in accordance with the value of labour spent for their production (working time), i.e. not in compliance with economic law of value, but on an absolutely different basis, on the basis of utility, actual or imaginary, of the products of labour exchanged. In the period of formation of society, the products of labour could not still be exchanged according to the law of value, as primitive people did not know and could not estimate the labour spent for manufacture of the product of labour which they were going to exchange and which, perhaps, they saw for the first time. The law of value began to show its action only after the establishment of a regular exchange between individual communes and people which took place after the first revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces and the first social revolution.
[Table of contents]