Marxism and Economic Theory



Human relationships have always been dynamic. Change and

adaptability have gone hand in hand with the passage of time for human

society. Systems have been developed to regulate, direct and control

the resources of this society. The systems are referred to as

governments and the resources as the populace or inhabitants and

forces of production. A government must be dynamic in its nature

reflecting the change in society. At times these systems have resisted

the necessity to adapt with its components (Society) creating a

deficit between the system and those it regulates. As the deficits

develop, they cause instability, and could lead to revolution.1

Theories have been developed to explain the systemic

phenomenon called revolution. This paper will discuss three modern

theories and apply them to the English revolution of 1640. The first

theory, developed by Carl Marx (Marxism), will address the economic

evolution in English society. This theory will emphasize and explain

how the shift from a feudal/mercantile system to capitalism affected

English society. The second, called the Resource Mobilization Theory

(RMT) developed by Charles Tilly, will explain how the English

organizations (the Crown and the Parliament) effectively obtained,

amassed and managed resources. Samuel Huntington's, "Institutional

Theory", will argue that the existing government at that time was

unable to incorporate the demands and personnel that the

socio-economic changes created.

Marxism was formulated in the 19th century. Carl Marx and his

associate Frederick Engels observed the socio-economic changes that

were transpiring in Britain. England was the dominant world power and

had the largest industrialized economy during the 1800's. The

development of the factory and the institution of the assembly line

created a large demand for workers. This demand was satiated by

migrating peasant from the rural areas in England and Ireland to

developing urban centers. As these urban centers or cities evolved

using industry as the economic backbone for the population, a large

number of factory workers were accumulated to operate the machinery in

horrid conditions. These workers, which would be termed as the

peasantry under a feudal system, were now the working class or

proletariat. They entered cities with hopes of bettering their lives

and survival. Though revolution never took place in England during

this period, it allowed Marx to study industrialization, urbanization

and imperialism.

The theory of Marxism has three basic concepts: historic

materialism, forces of production and relations of production.

Historic materialism is defined as a society's past performance and

present capabilities of satisfying the basic means of life.

Humankind's basic needs of eating, drinking and shelter need to be met

properly. The forces of production (technology, capital, the

infrastructure of society, etc.) are important for the simple fact of

who ever controls them controls the society. The last aspect of

Marxism, the relations of production, deals directly with the

relationships between classes of people (the aristocracy, the

middle-class and the working class).2

Marxism includes a predictive analysis of socio-economic

structures. Using history, logic and the dynamic nature of humankind

as guidelines, Carl Marx attempts to map out a sequence of events

which will eventually lead to utopia (anarchy). In his work, Das

Capital, Marx details the six steps. These steps are primitive

socialism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, communism and then

anarchy. The evolution of the English economic system during the 16th

and 17th centuries points to a shift from feudalism to capitalism.

This shift is exemplified by the enclosures. The landlords began to

fence their property in the common land areas. The "commons" were

large plots of grazing and farmable lands that were used by both

farmers and artisans. When the land-owners and manorial lords began to

partition these lands the concept of private ownership of property was

introduced to the socio-economic system.3

During the time period of the 16th and 17th centuries the

crown's economic base began a gradual decline. This economic shrinkage

came to a spearhead during the reign of Charles I. The monarchy

favored a monopoly market system over a competitive one. The purpose

for this position was for taxation and control of the profits. As the

artisan and merchant populations increased, the policy of the crown

began conflicting with economic growth. This created instability in

three areas. First, the English monarchy needed money to support its

army which insures social compliance. The second area of contention

was the restraints and interference the Crown initiated on the rising

middle-class. Thirdly, the rise of