A far rightwing commenter disagrees that there existed primitive communism in the past, as theorized by Marx. Instead, he opines that primitive man lived, absurdly, in some condition called “the free market.”
You could say primitive man was communal but NOT communist. There is no such thing as voluntary Socialism/Capitalism. Such are contradiction in terms, Robert. If work within a group are completely voluntary, then it is by definition a free market. If they were forced to work together, then it was some sort of authoritarian-ruled collective. Either way your argument is bunk.
Needless to say this fellow’s definition of free market (capitalism as per Adam Smith) is quite unlike any other I’ve ever heard.
Many primitive tribes lived under primitive communism. There was no free market among primitive tribes, there was no market period, there was no capitalism, there was no exploitation other than maybe of slaves, there were no wages, people lived in communes, hunted, collected, farmed, etc. for the common good. Food was divided amongst all members. No one hired anyone to do anything, paid them, marked up their labor, and sold it or products based on it for profit. Hence, no capitalism, no free market.
In the Middle Ages, there were many artisans, but they were more or less free agents akin to the self-employed. Shoemakers, tailors, chimney-sweeps, etc.
Much of the rest of society was under feudalism. Before the fencing of the Commons in England that was necessary for capitalism, most were primitive artisans or small landholders. Small parcels were farmed and some livestock was held. In the meantime, households made a few items here and there for sale.
There was no labor force for the plants that the capitalists wished to build. They were building the plants and no one was coming to work in them. Since people were happy to work their small parcels and do a little household industry on the side, no one wanted to give that up to become a wage slave in some Godawful capitalist firm.
In order to create a proletariat, the Commons was fenced off, and the small landholders were driven off the land into teeming towns where they crowded, starving and in rags, a new army of proletarian workers for the capitalists. There were long debates about this in the English Parliament about the necessity of throwing all of the small householders off their land and depriving them of their livelihoods in order to create a captive workforce who needed to sell their labor to capitalists or starve.
This process has actually been repeated over and over in the modern era and continues to this day in places like India, El Salvador, Paraguay, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Philippines and Colombia where the poor are continuously being thrown off their small parcels so their lands can be seized by large landowners, and the poor farmers are hence proletarianized and turned into landless peasants.
There are even suggestions that this occurred in the early days of the US. So many Americans were becoming small landowners in the West that this raised serious problems for the creation of a captive proletariat. Hence much of the land was grabbed by the state and turned over to the railroads in an attempt to deprive small landowners of land and force them to sell their labor or starve.
Read Marx, “The Genesis of Capital.”
Capitalism is a new thing, mostly since about 1400 or so.
- Marx, Karl. 1978. Genesis of Capital. Moscow: Progress Publishers.