Socialism vs Capitalism... Revolution or Evolution. Part 1
Throughout our human history we have been through many forms of government, and have utilized many different social structures as we evolved as a species.
In our early beginnings, pre history, a communal or communist life style was not really a choice. It was a necessity for our survival. Even during this period of tribalism someone, usually the strongest of the group, took it upon themselves to control those resources in order to minimize conflicts over their distribution. Everyone gets the same amount, therefore, there are no conflicts. That is the simple logic of it all anyway, and it worked very well on the small scale of those communities. Usually no more than a few hundred people living a nomadic, hunter gatherer lifestyle in which all resources were shared equally among the community.
By the Neolithic era, 15000 to 2000 bc, we begin to move away from the communal society into more of an individualistic society. This was due primarily to our discovery of agriculture. Some women threw out seeds of some sort at a campsite. When they returned the following season they discovered that these seeds had grown into food bearing plants. Agriculture was born. This was a very fortunate discovery as well, because by this time we had through our exceptional hunting skills, pretty much decimated the local large animal populations we depended on as our primary food source. We were starving.
The discovery of agriculture is widely considered to be the birth of our modern civilization. Therefore, our move away from the socialist style communal system was a necessary and natural evolution as well. We simply no longer needed it. Because agriculture, and all of the industries that were necessary to support it, gave us the means and the power to take control over our own lives.
Agriculture also took the concept of supply and demand, and put it on steroids. Forms of capitalism as we know it today, have existed since the first time two people met and made a trade for goods. During the agricultural revolution though, capitalism evolved into a powerful economic system that by necessity divided the populace into classes. Since one person now had the freedom, and means, to exceed the wealth of his neighbor, we now had competition. We also now had inequality.
Those who did not have the means to gain land, and therefore wealth, begin to flock toward the ever growing cities seeking employment. Life was harsh for these people even if they did manage to find a job. For those who didn't, life was spent in abject poverty. Governments of this time period were generally localized (and highly corrupt) with the most wealthy being in control of all of the decision making, and by default, all of the resources.
Inevitably, those in power realized that resources were beginning to dwindle as the population outgrew the lands ability to support them. Expansion was needed in order to have more land, to support more people. Obviously, those who held ownership over the lands needed, were less than willing to give them up. They had to be taken by force. From these wars we saw the rise and fall of empires with the most successful of course, being the Roman empire. 27 bc - 476 ad.
The fall of the roman empire brought about the end of ancient history, and the beginning of the modern age with the invention of organized politics, and a form of centralized government they called the Republic. (Around 30 years later the Athenians in Greece would develop the first forms of democracy.) During Rome's fall, the two halves of the empire went in very different directions.
The Western half, having lost most of its lands through peace negotiations with the Northern barbarian tribes, collapsed entirely by 476 AD. This resulted in the eventual progression into the decentralized social system of Feudalism during Western Europe's middle ages, 5th to 15th century. Into the key pivot point of our society around 1760, with the industrial revolution in western Europe and the young United States.
The eastern half, now called the Byzantine empire continued until 1453 AD. when it was conquered by the Islamic Ottoman empire,1301 through 1922. Prior to its demise, the byzantine empire became a strong influence on the Kievan Rus' , a loose confederation of Slavic nations in eastern Europe that would eventually form the Russian Empire. Its fall in 1917 would open the door for the rise of the Soviet Union in 1922.
This is how our political ideologies became known as the western and eastern philosophy, becoming the absolute division of our cultures that continues today.
Up until this point, the 18th and 19th century, and the industrial revolution. Political structures and forms of government (with the exception of the Romans and Greeks, republic and democratic systems) pretty much developed naturally out of a necessity to meet the needs of a growing, and developing civilization. New technology, and an ever expanding system of trade needed an economic system capable of handling it.
Capitalism was not developed, it evolved naturally to meet the growing, and changing needs of our civilization..
Prior to the discovery of agriculture in the Neolithic era, covering some 200,000 years of our earliest existence, we were by all definitions, a socialist society. Agriculture changed all of that once trade manifested a supply and demand based on surplus goods, not simply population needs. Since this created vast amounts of wealth, which of course translates into power, we have spent every moment of every day since, fighting over who is going to control that power. That fight is still going on today.
In part two we will look at the industrial revolution. An age of tremendous technological advances, monumental wealth being created, and the refinement of capitalism into a full blown socioeconomic system. We will also look at the dark side of this time period, rampant poverty, deplorable working conditions, child labor abuses. And the rise of a new man made social system that claims to combat this inequality, called socialism.
Our early days. Homo Sapiens.
The Neolithic Era. Farming Discovered.
The Roman Empire, or Republic
Origins of democracy, or "rule by the elites"