You are on page 1of 5

CHAPTER

17
Stag Growth Marx Stages of Growth
Marxs analysis of stages of growth is based on his materialistic interpretation of history in which he attempts to show that all historical events are the result of a continuous struggle between different classes and groups in society. The main cause of this struggle is the conflict between the mode of production and the relations of production. The mode of production relates to a particular arrangement of production in a society that determines its entire social, political and religious way of living. People use the mode of production by entering into mutual relations. Marxs calls these relations as the relations of production which are continually changing. The relations of production relate to the class structure of society uniquely characterised by (i) the organisation of labour in a scheme of division (of labour) and co-operation, the skills of labour, and the status of labour in the social context with respect to degrees of freedom or servitude; (ii) the geographical environment and the knowledge of the use of resources and materials; and (iii) the technical means and processes and stage of science generally.1 Thus Marx relies upon his materialistic interpretation of history to develop his theory of stages of growth. According to Marx, historically society has passed through five different stages: primitive communal, slave, feudal, capitalist and socialist. We will study them one by one.
1. M.M. Bober, Karl Marxs Interpretation of History, p. 24.

132

The Economics of Development and Planning

1. THE PRIMITIVE COMMUNAL STAGE The primitive communal stage was the first stage in the evolution of society. During this stage, man succeeded in advancing from the use of sticks and stones to making new implements like bows and arrows, boats, etc. Man also learnt how to make fire. People lived in groups and in clans based on consanguineous ties. They lived in common dwellings, and worked on common lands with common tools. The products they produced were shared equally. But whatever they obtained was hardly enough for subsistence. Thus the relations of production were based on the common ownership of the means of production. The productive forces developed slowly but steadily. The primitive society developed and improved its work from gathering natural products like fruits, berries, etc., to cultivation of crops, and from hunting wild animals to raising livestock. The development of new tools and implements increased the skills and productivity of labour. The use of metal tools, the wooden plough with a metal plough-share, the metal axe, etc. made labour more productive. Later on, this led to the development of different crafts and occupations for making tools, implements, weapons, clothing, etc. within the community. The barter system began to develop when people started exchanging products and paying for work in the form of products. With the social division of labour, the clan began to break into families. This led to the institution of private property whereby the family became the owner of the means of production. But the head of the former clan was the real head of families who owned the means of production. In this process of social evolution, some producers began to produce more products than required for the subsistence of the families. This led to the appropriation of the surplus produced by them and to the exploitation of others. This paved the way for emergence of the slave society. 2. THE SLAVE STAGE In the slave stage, the development of productive forces was based on the corresponding production relations. In these relations, the slave-owner owned both the means of production and the slave alongwith whatever he produced. The production relations in the slave society gave rise to such slave-owning city-stages as Rome and Greece, having different organs of coercion and exploitation. They were the government machinery, court, army, etc. This superstructure was meant to defend private property and exploitation. The productive forces were further developed in this society. With improved tools, implements and irrigation facilities, labour productivity in agriculture increased. Ore mining and smelting of metals began. There were crushing and flour mills. Canals were built, dykes and water raising devices were used to irrigate land. The division of labour spread alongwith various crafts such as weaving, tanning, cloth and footwear making, pottery making, metal smelting and forging, weapon making, etc. With the growth of states, towns grew up, commerce and trade developed both internally and externally. This led to the construction of buildings and ship building. In the slave society, there existed domination, coercion, subjugation and exploitation of slaves by a few slave-owners. For sometime, slaves were used as the main productive force. But with the passage of time, the slave societys class structure led to the conflict between the productive forces and the relations of production. As a result, the exploited slaves rose against their enslavers which overthrew the entire structure of the slave society and on its ruins rose the feudal system.

Marx Stages of Growth

133

3. THE FEUDAL STAGE In the feudal stage, the development of productive forces was based on feudal relations of production where the feudal lord owned the land and the serfs as the main means of production. The serfs worked like slaves for the feudal lord. They performed all kinds of services like cultivating the land and doing all kinds of jobs alongwith their family members for the feudal lord. But unlike in the slave society, the peasants could own a plot of land, livestock, farming tools and implements, etc. They worked for both the feudal lord and for themselves. The serfs were also required to pay a part of their produce to the landlords. The state grew on the strength of the feudal lords who often had their own armies and helped the monarchy to expand its frontiers. The state, in turn, tried to preserve and consolidate feudal private property and the relations of production. Productive forces continued to develop under the feudal society. There was much progress in agriculture. Varieties of grains, vegetables and fruits were cultivated. Fertilisers and rotation of crops were introduced. The output of animal products was increased by animal husbandry. Draught animals were employed on a wider scale for farming, transportation, etc. Crafts were further developed with inventions of new machines, tools and implements, especially in textile production. People learnt harnessing water and wind power by making water mills and wind mills. They discovered the art of paper making and book printing. As the productive forces continued to develop, small handicraft workshops gave place to manufacturing units under one roof with a large number of workers. This led to large division of labour and specialisation which raised labour productivity. The manufacturing process was further encouraged by the discovery of new countries like America, India, etc. which spread the demand for manufactured products to them. Feudalism gave rise to two types of class struggle: one, between the serfs and the feudal lords, and two, between the proletariat and the urban bourgeoisie. This led to revolutions which replaced the feudal relations of production with the capitalist relations. 4. THE CAPITALIST STAGE In the capitalist stage, the capitalist owns the means of production and uses them for individual profit. The worker is free to work for any capitalist. He does not have any means of production. But he sells his labour power which leads to his exploitation. According to Marx, labour power is like any other commodity. The value of labour power is the value of the means of subsistence (commodities) necessary for the maintenance of the labourers, which is determined by the number of hours necessary for its production. But the value of commodities necessary for the subsistence of the labourer is never equal to the value of the commodite produced by him. Therefore, the capitalist forces the labourer to work for longer hours. 2 The extra hours he works, he receives nothing. Marx calls, it surplus labour. This leads to surplus value which increases the capitalists profit. But it is not possible to increase the working hours because the workers resist it. Therefore, the capitalists increase the productivity of labour in order to raise the surplus value or profit. For this, they bring technological changes (i.e. increase in constant capital) so as to raise output and lower the cost of production. This had been the process of capitalist development in its early stage. .
2. If a labourer works for ten hours, but it takes him six hours labour to produce goods for his subsistence, the four hours labour he puts in is surplus labour or value which goes to the capitalist as profit,

134

The Economics of Development and Planning

In the next stage, there has been concentration of capital in big enterprises, called monopolies, engaged in the production and marketing of commodities in bulk. To earn high profits, they introduce labour-saving machines to raise labour productivity. These capitalists who are unable to replace labour by new machines are squeezed out and their enterprises are taken over by big capitalists. The process of replacing labour by machines creates an industrial reserve army which increases as capitalism develops. But when the capitalist is replacing the workers by machines and increasing the industrial reserve army (the unemployed), he is reducing the surplus value. This reduces his profit. The increase in unemployment and reduction in profit lead to a capitalist crisis. Marx compares the capitalist to a sorcerer whose incantations bring into action such powerful forces that he is unable to control them. Ultimately, capitalism leads to a fierce class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This provides the economic basis for the revolutionary transformation from capitalism to socialism. 5. THE SOCIALIST OR COMMUNIST STAGE The last stage is communism which is brought about by the proletarian revolution whereby the dictatorship of the proletariat is established. According to Marx, in this stage, the state will wither away and each individual will contribute to the national product according to his abilities and receive according to his needs. But the followers of Marx refer to the socialist stage in which the means of production are owned and regulated by the state. The reward of every person is determined on the principle of each according to his ability and each according to his needs. There is no class struggle. Neither the exploiter nor the exploited exist. The entire production and distribution is controlled and regulated by a central planning authority for public welfare. Prof. Lange divides the socialist stage into two main parts. He calls the slave, feudal and capitalist stages as antagonistic because the owners of factors of production exploit the labourers in them. On the other hand, the primitive and socialist stages are non-antagonistic because the ownership of factors of production is in the hands of the common man and the society and there is no exploitation of workers.

MARX VS. ROSTOW


The stages of growth theories of Marx and Rostow have both similarities and differences which are discussed as under: Similarities Rostow presented his Stages of Economic Growth as an alternative to Marxs stages. He described his Stages of Economic Growth as a Non-communist Manifesto as against Marxs Communist Manifesto. Like Marx, Rostow also gave five stages of growth through which an economy has to pass. Both interpret the evolution of society from an economic perspective. Differences The following are the differences between the Marxian and the Rostowian theories : 1. Marxs theory of stages of growth is based on the economic interpretation of history. Marx provides the actual process of the stages of growth of the society right from the origin of mankind to the present. For this, he develops the theory of Historical Materialism based on the changes in the mode of production and consequent changes in the relation of production. But Rostow does not provide any specific theory of the stages of economic growth. He explains only some

Marx Stages of Growth

135

characteristics which move an economy from one stage to another. 2. Marxs explanation of the stages of economic growth is based on interaction between economic and non-economic factors. On the other hand, Rostow does not explain such a relationship between economic and non-economic factors in the growth process. 3. Marxs theory is highly consistent with historical facts in the economies of his age. It logically explains how one stage contains within itself the necessary elements for the next stage. But Rostow simply provides the classification of an economy into the various stages of growth. 4. Marx gives a realistic explanation of the stages of growth based on the actual evolution of the society. On the other hand, Rostow provides empirical evidence in support of his different stages but these evidences are not consistent and definite.