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Land ownership is especially important during a time of agricultural development. The slave-owning class "own" the land and slaves, which are the main means of producing wealth, whilst the vast majority have very little or nothing.

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The propertyless included the slave class, slaves who work for no money, and in most cases women, who were also dispossessed during this period. From a Marxist perspective, slave society collapsed when it exhausted itself. The need to keep conquering more slaves created huge problems, such as maintaining the vast empire that resulted i.

The Roman Empire. It is ultimately the aristocracy born in this epoch that demolishes it and forces society to step onto the next stage.

The Third Stage: may be called Feudalism ; it appears after slave society collapses. This was most obvious during the European Dark Ages when society went from slavery to feudalism. Aristocracy : the state is ruled by monarchs who inherit their positions, or at times marry or conquer their ways into leadership. Theocracy : this is a time of largely religious rule.

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When there is only one religion in the land and its organizations affect all parts of daily life. Hereditary classes : castes can sometimes form and one's class is determined at birth with no form of advancement. This was the case with India. Nation-state : nations are formed from the remnants of the fallen empires.

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Sometimes to rebuild themselves into empires once more. Such as England's transition from a province to an empire. During feudalism there are many classes such as kings, lords, and serfs, some little more than slaves. Most of these inherit their titles for good or ill.


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At the same time that societies must create all these new classes, trade with other nation-states increases rapidly. This catalyzes the creation of the merchant class. Out of the merchants' riches, a capitalist class emerges within this feudal society. However there are immediate conflicts with the aristocracy. The old feudal kings and lords cannot accept the new social changes the capitalists want for fear of destabilizing or reducing their power base, among various other reasons that are not all tied to power or money.

These proto-capitalist and capitalist classes are driven by the profit motive but are prevented from developing further profits by the nature of feudal society where, for instance, the serfs are tied to the land and cannot become industrial workers and wage earners. Some time after socialism is established society leaps forward, and everyone has plenty of personal possessions, but no one can exploit another person for private gain through the ownership of vast monopolies, and so forth.

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Classes are thus abolished, and class society ended. Communism will have spread across the world and be worldwide. Eventually the state will "wither away" and become obsolete, as people administer their own lives without the need for governments or laws. Thus, stateless communism or pure communism, which may be considered the Sixth Stage , is established, which has the following features:. Statelessness : there are no governments, laws, or nations any more. Classlessness : all social classes disappear, everyone works for everyone else. Propertylessness: there is no money or private property, all goods are free to be consumed by anyone who needs them.

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.

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If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Few applications of historical materialism, the philosophical system used by Marxism to explain the past progressions of human society and predict the nature of communism, account for a stage beyond communism, but Marx suggests that what has ended is only the "prehistory" [8] of human society; now, for the first time, humankind will no longer be at the mercy of productive forces e. Instead human beings can plan for the needs of society, inclusively, democratically, by the vast majority, who now own and control the means of production collectively.


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By implication, then, only now does the real history of human society begin. What factors influence the rate of change experienced by a society? What is the source of their power? Without these cookies, we won't know if you have any performance-related issues that we may be able to address. These cookies help us understand user behavior within our services. For example, they let us know which features and sections are most popular. This information helps us design a better experience for all users. To learn more about cookies, please see our cookie policy.

Sociology Reference Guide: The Social Organization of Work

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