Most Americans would argue that a capitalist economy is one of the strongest factors in forming a nation, however Karl Marx and Comte de Saint Simon, two enlightened philosophers, found major flaws in this system. Marx points out in his essay “Estranged Labor” how a capitalist economy alienates certain workers. Specifically he pointed out how some workers do not own the goods they produce and solely work for others, which in turn lends to a loss of self. ((Karl Marx, Estranged Labor)) Comte de Saint Simon criticized capitalism as well, however focused less on the worker and more on how capitalism could affect the people as a whole. He hypothesized that the competitive nature of capitalism would only allow a small elite group of people to gain from the system and it would also lead to people making fewer honest decisions in order to gain. ((Comte de Saint Simon, The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry))
These two men have very opposing views from Adam Smith, the English philosopher that we as Americans draw most of our influence of capitalism from. Smith argued that a capitalist economy would increase production and instigate innovation. ((Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)) Neither Comte de Saint Simon nor Karl Marx necessarily disagreed with these points, the question they ask is; at what cost? They ask if we would rather risk our honest work and our sense of self for a few individuals to succeed?
The question I now pose is one based on a term we learned in class the other day: jingoism. Are Americans so strong willed to believe that we are right no matter the obvious issues with our economic system that we would never consider changing it? Comte de Saint Simon and Karl Marx might say so.
Author:(1760-1825), Also known as Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon was a French economist who challenged his nation’s traditional economic composition. He believed that the economy should be strategically industrialized eather than run it a Laissez-faire manner. This was one of the earlier writings advocating socialism. His thinking that the common man was a hard worker demonstrates his positive reflxtion on human nature.
Context: France had always had a capitalist economic structure. Comte de Saint-Simon was a rising political figure in France. He believed that it was more beneficial to society to fit the needs of the working class rather than the wealthy or “idle” class. He felt that through an enlightened industrial class, products could be raised to fit the needs of the poor.
Language: Comte de Saint-Simon uses a persuasive tone that is design to appeal to the reader’s sense of emotion. He uses words that attempt to convice the audience that people should be hard workers dedicated to the betterment of society rather than their own interests.
Audience: Saint-Simon is addressing the common people of France. Wants to convince the majority of society that his new economic system is better than the old Laissez-fair system. He realizes that the wealthiest class will not support his system so he does not attempt to reach them. In fact, he even blames their own greed for the flaws in French society.
Intent: The essay is intended to create support for his alternative to France’s existing economic structure. He intends to spread his belief in the common man’s hardworking nature to the middle class in French society. He believes this composition as opposed to the existing capitalist structure would raise the standard of living for society. Likewise, he realizes that if his political system is implemented, he will likely be viewed as the face of French economics.
Message: The message of the essay is that society be tailored around the working man. He asserts that the working class is the cornerstone of the economy, however, the elite, or idle class, benefits the most from it. He advocates an economy that is based around virtues rather than the cut-throat nature of capitalism and he believes that it would make society better as a whole.
Keynes compares the livelihood of Europe before and after the war. He boasts about how self-sufficient Europe was, with the population secured for itself with dedicated organization and steady income of supplies. He believes the disruption of this system has contributed to the decline in livelihood.
To follow his first point, Keynes warns the population of the lurking danger of the rapid decline in the standard of living that will leave people starved, as well as mentally and physically disabled. He fears that the population’s distress will eventually disrupt the organization and lead individuals to doing whatever they can in order to satisfy their own desires.
Keynes notes that Germany, which was once an abundant agricultural state, has become completely dependent on industry. Following the economic depression, Germany will have suffered the loss of foreign investments and will be unable to import from abroad, which will ultimately lead to the diminishing of food and lives.
Why does Keynes believe those who sign the Treaty are essentially “signing the death sentence of millions of German men, women and children?”
Whom or what does Keynes blame for Europe’s growing insufficiencies?
It is clear that Keynes is vehemently against the treaty, however, I find it rather strange that he offers no possible solutions or resolutions to the problems he addresses.
The Ulozhenie, or the Code of Law of 1649, illuminates the immense strength of the Russian government at this time. We read the first several chapters, on blasphemy and improper behavior in church; respect for the Sovereign; forging documents; forging money; and travel to other countries. Each section describes violent and physical punishments for people who fight or disagree in church or who plot against the Sovereign. These laws show not only a regimented society, but also a strong and organized one. By the middle of the seventeenth century, the Russian government had very specific procedures regarding legal documents; standardized forms of money; and clear, indisputable land boundaries.
Analyzing this document in regards to the Sudebnik of 1497 and the Pravda Russkaia of the eleventh century, I am most interested in the section on counterfeit money. The Sudebnik, 150 years before, included laws about blaspheming the church and even land boundaries, but the Ulozhenie is the first code I’ve seen which mentions money. The law dictates, “If mint masters should make either copper, or tin, or economical money…or if they should add copper, tin, or lead to silver and thereby cause harm to the Sovereign’s treasury, such mint masters should be executed by puring molten matter down their throats” (Ulozhenie). Violent and terrifying punishment aside, this act demonstrates that the “Sovereign’s treasury” was composed of silver, and that the common currency was also pieces of silver. Copper and tin were not valid forms of currency; the state had a standarized money system. Furthermore, the tsar understood that corrupting that system could severely disrupt the economics of the country–hence the brutal punishment for the counterfeiter.
This point, however, makes me wonder how widespread this currency was. The presence of a law does not mean that its citizens followed it. Were silver coins only used in the cities, with trades of goods still used in the country?
The Mongol invasion and occupation of Rus changed the economic structure of the country. People in the countryside needed the protection of nobles. This was essentially the roots of the serf system. The law system had also considerably evolved from past systems. The laws were written out and included provisions such as swearing on a cross, an equivalent to among other things our modern day swearing on the bible, and that all where equal in the eyes of the law. Most of the cases that we have records of have to do with property disputes. Fires where not uncommon so records where often destroyed. The system for evidence was also interesting. It appears as though those who were illiterate placed extremely high value on written documents while those who could read including judges placed a higher value on human evidence, even when the memories where 60 years old. It appears that dueling could be used to challenge evidence as well as a manner of determining the case.
I found the equality written into the law to be very interesting. It was declared in the first point of the first set of laws, However it only refers to men. Also the fact that it was written does not necessarily mean it was followed. In our own history we had a time that our constitution said all where equal, yet all people where not treated equally. I wonder if it was the same here? This of course does not even address the fact that the rights of women and children are not addressed there.
The nature of the economy in the Kievan state reflected the geographical diversity of the region. Indeed, some of the sources on the economy are derived from the commentary of outsiders, such as the Byzantine Constantine Porphyrogenitus, reflecting the wide space of influence exerted by the merchant-prince of Kiev. The foundation of the trade system was tribute, which moved furs, wax, honey, and slaves throughout the state from north to south. Tribute, besides being an effective means of gathering money and subordinating rival merchants, reflected the importance of trade because it was designed to protect Kiev’s commercial interests from rivals. Economic rivals were clearly an area of concern for the Kievan princes because trade and foreign policy were connected, and Russo-Byzantine peace treaties included provisions that aided Russian commerce. With the exception of importing amber from the Vikings, the Rus moved raw materials outside of the state and received manufactured and luxury goods from their trade partners.
The other facet of the Kievan economy was agriculture. The emergence of the agricultural theory is based on linguistic data on agricultural terms, spiritual beliefs surrounding nature, archaeological discoveries, and written sources. Agriculture differed between the south and the north because of the diversity between the steppe and dense forests, and forest agriculture evolved into a two and three field perlog system that increased the importance of livestock. Archaeology shows advancements in soil cultivation and technology preceding the primary chronicle. The idea of private property is a contested issue among scholars of Kiev, with some believing it emerged in the 11th century and others thinking it may have been in place before. This is an interesting question to consider in tandem with the law code’s penalties for moving field boundaries. Does this suggest there was direct individual control over the land to use it at will or does it suggest the princes were the only ones with the authority to administrate land holdings?
From the tenth to thirteenth centuries Kievan Rus’ economy was largely believed to be based on agriculture. There is very little written evidence to support this, however due to the physical evidence of tools such as iron blades and plows, archeologists and historians have determined that agriculture, trade and farming held major importance in society. However, there is still little evidence to support the theories of whether or not Kievan Rus’ was a commercial society located mainly in towns or if they were an agricultural society that used towns for marketplaces. Archeologists’ findings of the various tools and wares create a broader understanding of how this culture thrived and survived.
Due to the vast differences in climates in Kievan Rus, the use of agriculture and trade as the central part of their economy made sense. People who had settled in southern Rus’ had a greater ability to grow and plant more food, while those in the northern regions had much more difficulty as the dense forests and poor soil quality greatly inhibited agriculture production. This made it imperative for those living in these various regions to adapt and learn to use the land to ensure their success.
The use of livestock as a part of trade and survival is reflected in an earlier reading where early Kievan Rus’ laws seemed to punish and heavily fine those who had stolen or killed a person’s livestock. This clearly shows why such a high emphasis was placed on farming, agriculture, personal property and trade, as they were incredibly important to the survival of the people and the culture. For example, “And if someone plows across the border, or beyond, a border marker carved on a tree then, he is to pay the owner 12 grivnas for the offense. (Reinterpreting Russian History, pg 29)”. Laws such as these reflected the ‘self-help’ idea that ensured personal survival over the overall survival of the community. How can a community truly thrive if the laws protecting the people stem from a self-help ideology that promotes the success of one as opposed to the whole?
Much of early Russian history has been contested and debated by historians for years. Unfortunately, the information historians can glean about this civilization is confined to the sources and artifacts available. Learning about the Kievan economy is no exception to these limitations. However, a lot of information about this group can be derived from both primary sources and archeological information.
At the base of the Kievan economy was the idea of tribute. This was the driving force behind the exchanging of goods from all over the area. A narrative written by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, a Byzantine emperor and scholar, describes how Kievan princes and their retainers would go on a tour throughout the land, collecting tribute. This process arguably formed the primitive basis for trading, as it enabled the entire population of Kievan Russia to be linked together through the goods that they exchanged. From this, the development of a North-South trade route that stretched “from the Varangians to the Greeks” (41) was established and became crucial to the survival of the Kievan state. How historians have learned this information is through the use of primary sources as well as artifacts. For example, historians know that trade was essential to the Kievan economy because many treaties that were created during this time, specifically the Russo-Byzantine treaties, had provisions dealing specifically with trade. By observing the meticulous, highly developed manner of these treaties, we can learn what was deemed important to these peoples. In addition, through studying the presence of amber in Novgorod, historians have learned that amber was brought to the city and used to create a wide array of items. There were references to the amber trade as well. For instance, in a book titled Natural History of Minerals, the author specifically mentions a testament made by one Philemon, who describes where amber was gathered in Scythia.
However, trade was not the only driving force behind the Kievan economy. Agriculture was also extremely prevalent in Kievan Russia. Similar to learning about trade, understanding the role of agriculture in this society can be done through the lens of archeology primarily, as well as through observing images, and other primary sources. For instance, historians know that agriculture was commonplace through archeology. In numerous digs, archeologists have discovered primitive plows that were used to till the land. Through the discovery of these tools, we know that agriculture was fairly sophisticated. The variety of tools discovered reveals the ability of these peoples to adapt to the various challenges they encountered, for instance with the evolvement of the Slash-and-Burn technique to light plowing. In addition, through an account depicted in a juridical document, we learn of raiders who stole plows, axes, etc. from peasants. The fact that this was mentioned specifically demonstrates the importance and commonality of these tools, and subsequently agriculture, to the Kievan economy and society.
The period between the 10th and the 13th century was a period of economic prosperity for the Rus’. This can be proven by the study of the remains of both agricultural tools and proofs of an extensive trade of Amber. The location of Rus’ was, of course, propitious to the development of the economy: the Dniepr for example offered the Rus’ a perfect trade route.
The remains of agricultural tools prove that the Rus’ had a capacity to adapt to their environment but also that they also were able to optimize their work, as seen in the North by the evolution of the technique from Slash-and-Burn to a technique based on light plowing. This uniformity could be an indication that some communication between the North and the South subsisted since it is believed that the light plow originated in the North. The augmentation of livestock-raising in the North is also believed to have played a role in the evolution of the North’s agricultural techniques. This made me wonder: Can the increase of livestock-raising be explained by farmers from the North learning this technique from the South, or is it somehow linked to the trade of Fur which we know the North practiced?
The trade of amber was also extensive in Rus’, the fact that all the amber was being processed in Novgorod could show that Novgorod was in fact the most important city in Rus’. The North, and therefore Novgorod, was naturally more protected of nomadic invasions than Kiev, which we know has been sacked numerous times. We also know that the light plow has originated in the North, which might demonstrate that the North was superior to the South in agricultural ingenuity and craftsmanship: Since finished and unfinished amber were found in Novgorod, we can assume that the amber was processed there. Finally the drop in production of amber in the 13th century might show the end of the golden age of the Kievan Rus’ since we know that this century was marked by the invasion of the Teutonic Order and more importantly the Mongols.
I remember reading in the last few years that the reason Russia was so far behind Western Europe in subsequent century was due to the Mongol invasions which had not allowed Russia to develop as freely as Western Europe did. Upon reading about the Rus’ economy I am beginning to wonder if this is not the case. Prior to the Mongol invasion, the Rus’ had everything to become a strong power in Europe, a sound economy revolving around trade, which was greatly helped by its location, military victories – which proves that the Rus’ could fight and win – and one of the biggest territories of Europe. Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.
Russia from Clans to Empire
What we know about the Rus economy and how
There are very few States nations or kingdoms that have managed to survive soly on one form of economic subsistence. The only example that comes to mind is Venice during the enlightenment, but even then they did not have complete freedom from agriculture. The reason that this is such an important realization is that Rus during the 8th through the 15th century was no exception. Archeologists have discovered massive amounts of material both in the cities and in the country side showing that there was a very active trade network and a booming agricultural sector to support their economy.
From the records we can see that farmers living in the northern part of Rus were not excluded from this prosperity. We can see that the type of tools and the techniques that they used were by no means stagnated. For example the type of plows found were primarily light plows that were very effective at tilling the soil after a heavy plow has worked over the land. And in the south we find evidence of different farm techniques in the form of Fallow Land techniques. What is so significant about this is that the records show that this along with many other improvements started to slowly move across the land in a gentle wave. This suggests that trade and communication between famers was likely supported by steady commerce and a strong economy.
So we know that the nation of Rus had a steady interstate trade that would facilitate the needs of the farmers. We also know that there was strong international trade pushing their economy based almost exclusively on the Dnieper, especially in amber. The reason we know this is that we have found hundreds of unfinished pieces of amber and entire workshops devoted to the creation of amber jewelry. The key thing that this can tell us about the Rus economy is how dependent the trade routes were on travel through the Baltic land. We know this because in the thirteenth century the German Teutonic order started to attack and seize the Baltic region and Prussia. At the same time we notice a dramatic drop in the amount of amber found in local shops and towns. We know that the amber mines still had amber so the only logical conclusion is that the Rus had no second trade route to ship their goods and so their economy stared.