Rise of Modern West

Topics: Karl Marx, Feudalism, Serfdom Pages: 4 (2109 words) Published: October 24, 2014

Jyoti Shukla
B.A. History (Hons)
Second year
Briefly point out the major issues in the debate of transition from Feudalism to Capitalism. Maurice Dobb in his Studies in the Development of Capitalism in 1947, elaborated the Marxist debate over the western pattern of transition from Feudalism to Capitalism and this debate developed in the early 1950s. Paul Sweezy, another Marxist economist & Takahashi, a Japanese economist, challenged Dobb’s reasoning over several issues.Several British Marxist historians including Rodney Hilton, & Christopher Hill, joined the debate. In 1970, the works of Immanuel Wallerstein, The Origins of the Modern World System, & Perry Anderson’s two volumes- Passages from the Antiquity to Feudalism 1974, and the Lineages of the Absolute State 1974, and recently, Robert Brenner’s three articles in the Past and Present, 1976 and 1982, and the New Left Review, 1977, renewed the debate in 1970s. The debate was mainly about two points – whether the extension of external trade dissolved the feudal mode of production- “the exchange relations” perspective; or whether the feudal mode broke down as a result of an inner contradiction in the feudal relation of production, i.e. the intensification of the extraction of the surplus by the nobility and its expenditure on unproductive activities like war and luxury consumption- “Property relations” perspective. A new dimension related to the relevance of demography was raised, after the research between 1947 and 1954, and reformulations were made including the demographic determinism perspective. Thus, the three schools of thought regarding the rise of Capitalism and the decline of feudalism were based on the Market theory, the Marxists and the Demography. Many scholars, like Dobb, base their theories on works of Karl Marx. Their chief interest remained in the study of capitalism. However, they wrote very briefly on the transition between...
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