primitive societies

Primitive communism

Primitive communism is:

A term usually associated with Karl Marx, but most fully elaborated by Friedrich Engels (in The Origin of the Family, 1884), and referring to the collective right to basic resources, egalitarianism in social relationships, and absence of authoritarian rule and hierarchy that is supposed to have preceded stratification and exploitation in human history. Both Marx and Engels were heavily influenced by Lewis Henry Morgan's speculative evolutionary history, which described the ‘liberty, equality and fraternity of the ancient gentes’, and the ‘communism in living’ said to be evident in the village architecture of native Americans.

The the model of primitive communism applies to early human societies because hunter-gatherer societies had no stratification order and did not create surplus. Furthermore primitive societies may have contained all of the features presently associated with the goals of "communism".

In a primitive communist society, all able bodied persons would have engaged in obtaining food, and everyone would share in what was produced by hunting and gathering. There would be almost no private property, other than articles of clothing and similar personal items, because primitive society produced no surplus; what was produced was quickly consumed. The few things that existed for any length of time (tools, housing) were held communally. There would have been no state.

Domestication of animals and plants following the Neolithic Revolution through herding and agriculture was seen as the turning point from primitive communism to class society as it was followed by private ownership and slavery, with the inequality that it entailed. In addition, parts of the population specialized in different activities, such as manufacturing, culture, philosophy, and science. This stratification is said to lead to the development of social classes.

Those groups that advocate a return to or are inspired by hunter-gatherer society are associated with the movement of anarcho-primitivism. However, Marxists believe that this would be an impossible task.


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