Crucial Roles of Petty Producers in the Transition to Capitalism

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Adam Arvidsson:

"All participants in the complicated ‘transition debates’ that raged in the Sixties and Seventies agree that the petty producers played a crucial role in the transition to capitalism. Exactly how that played out is too complicated and varied a story to reproduce here (cf. Sweezy et al,1976- Wallerstein, 1992, Heller, 2011, Moore, 2002). There is also general agreement on thefact that the overall affirmation of a capitalist society - as opposed to the mere existence of capitalist institutions and dispositions - rested on the proletarization of petty producers; the enclosure of the remaining commons and the widespread destruction of the alternative life forms that they supported (particularly by targeting women as ‘repositories of communal knowledge’, Federici, 2018). With this came a transformation of the radicalism of the Renaissance ‘First Modernity’ into a commercial mentality marked by the overall framework of ‘possessive individualism’ (Macpherson, 1973).In Europe, the enclosure of the rural commons started with the early commercialization of agriculture in Tudor England and lasted well into the end of the 19th century (Bravo and deMoor, 2008:160)."



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