CONCEPTS

What is the Asian mode of production?

We explain to you what the Asian mode of production is according to Marxism and the debate raised around this concept.

  1. What is the Asian mode of production?

The Asian mode of production, according to the postulates of Marxism , is an attempt to apply the concept of modes of production with which Karl Marx studied and analyzed the economic history of the West, to non-Western societies that had different revolutionary developments.

It is a concept still involved in much debate, since it is not explicitly mentioned in the body of Marx’s work. However, many Marxist theorists propose it for those societies that went through periods of colonial rule by the Western powers.

Instead, Marx’s theoretical partner, Friedrich Engels, did refer to the Asian mode of production. However, for many contemporary scholars it was similar to the conditions of feudal Europe . Even so, in the economic history of Eastern societies like India, often referred to by Marx, the slavery patterns of the West did not occur .

It was distinguished because the State played a predominant role through the control of the irrigation channels indispensable for agricultural work . In addition, the State controlled the lands, political and military power .

The latter would be key in the formulation of the concept of Asian mode of production, in particular to refer to the predominant despotism in the so-called “hydraulic societies”, in which water management was the predominant factor in the organization of production , usually under state control

  1. Debate on the Asian mode of production

Marxism scholars have not reached an agreement on whether or not there was an Asian mode of production. Opinion often depends on the historical period. For many thinkers the model of the extinct Soviet Union is an example . Its rigidity and authoritarianism imposed by Stalin, closely resembles Asian authoritarian governments .

For others, it is only a possible interpretation of the economic history of China and India . Another alternative is to understand it as a mode of tax production : a model in which a “ state class ” is created that exclusively governs peasant surplus value , without however owning exclusive ownership of the land.

  1. Other modes of production

Just as we talk about the Asian mode of production, there are also:

  • Mode of socialist production . Proposed as an alternative to capitalism by Marx, it grants control of the means of production to the working or working class, to prevent them from being exploited by the bourgeoisie. Thus, the State assumes the abolition of private property and capital to put collective interests before individuals, as a step towards a society without classes but of such abundant production, that goods are distributed according to need and not according to merit. .
  • Mode of capitalist production . The model of the bourgeoisie , imposed after the fall of feudalism and the aristocracy, in which the owners of capital control the means of production. The working class offers them their workforce , but they are exploited in exchange for a salary with which to consume the goods and services they need.
  • Slave production mode . Typical of classical societies of antiquity , such as the Greek or Roman, sustained their production of agricultural goods based on a slave class, subject to a particular legal and social status, sometimes inhuman, which reduced them to being owned by a master private or state. These slaves had no political participation, no property, nor received any reward for their work.

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