What are the modes of production?

We explain what are the modes of production, the forces and relations of production. In addition, the feudal, capitalist and other modes.

  1. What are the modes of production?

According to the Marxist perspective of the economic history of the human being, known as historical Materialism, the modes of production are the specific ways in which economic activity is organized within a specific human society , for the satisfaction of its needs of goods and services.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels talked about this concept for the first time in their book The German Ideology . It was written between 1845 and 1846, published posthumously in 1932. Marxist theory proposes that an analysis of the modes of production from the beginning of civilization until today, allows us to understand the way in which the economy has changed over time .

These changes depend, on the one hand, on the productive possibilities of the moment, such as technology , resource availability, knowledge development, etc. However, they are also affected by the social and political order of the society that this model produced.

To understand them, we distinguish between two important factors :

  • The productive forces . Where human actors are considered to put into practice their work force , that is, their body and their time to work, and the set of organized knowledge and tools necessary to produce, known together as means of production .
  • The relations of production . The relationships that occur between the different productive forces and that organize society based on relationships between people and their work objects, as well as between different social classes .

According to Marx’s theories, the ability to produce and the participation of different social classes in the productive cycle determine the mode of production of a society. These modes can be read diachronically or evolutionarily to understand how changes occur between one and the next.

  1. Production relations

The relations of production, as stated before, have to do with the place that individuals and social classes occupy within the productive circuit , especially with the control and ownership of the means of production. It is, therefore, a type of relationship between men, but with respect to things. They may be:

  • Property and control relationships legally validated, with respect to real estate, assets or machines used in production.
  • Labor relations or distribution of work, including domestic.
  • Socio-economic dependencies among individuals according to their participation in the productive cycle.
  • Quantitative proportions of the social actors in the productive circuit and in obtaining their benefits.
  1. Primitive Production Mode

The first mode of production that Marxism contemplates is the primitive, also known as primitive communism. Typical of the prehistoric era , prior to the so-called Neolithic Revolution produced by agriculture and livestock.

Primitive communism occurs in the absence of a State and a social hierarchy , as well as of social classes, distinguishing at the time of distributing work only in the physical capacities of each person. It is a model of limited production, of a very low level of development , which hardly allows the subsistence of the community.

  1. Slave Production Mode

modes of production economy maximum slavery slavery
Slaves are treated as property of other human beings.

Slavery mode of production, as the name implies, is sustained by the submission of other human beings and their reduction to the condition of ownership, at most third-party citizens, whose wills are subject to a particular master or to the State itself.

Slaves give up all their work capacity, without participating in the distribution of the benefits obtained from it, except for the minimum necessary to guarantee their survival and their continuous work. This was the model of classical societies of antiquity , such as Greece and Rome.

  1. Feudal mode of production

The feudal production model prevailed in many agricultural societies of antiquity and in medieval Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire to the European Renaissance and the entry into Modernity .

It was characterized by a decentralized political order, in which the different kingdoms recognized the local authority of the feudal lords, landowners from the military nobility. These, in turn, ruled over the plebeian peasantry.

The feudal lords took a high percentage of the production that the peasants obtained from their land . In return, they were offered order, stability, military protection and permission to live and feed on the crop. It was an eminently rural production model.

  1. Mode of capitalist production

modes of production economy maximum capitalism
According to Marxism, capitalism is the exploitation of wage earners.

It is the production model after mercantilism and the rise of merchants as a predominant class, rather than the nobility. It emerged with the bourgeois revolutions that ended the Middle Ages and later the monarchical absolutism.

As money shifted in importance to land tenure, and science and technology to faith in religion , a new world took its first steps towards an industrial society. The peasant servants migrated massively to the cities and became workers .

This is the current model in most countries of the world today. According to the Marxist reading, it consists in the exploitation of the work force of the proletariat by the bourgeois , owners of the means of production, in exchange for a salary.

Thus, the bourgeoisie keeps the surplus value , which is the added value that workers bring to the final price of the product, and that is always higher than the salary that is granted to them.

  1. Mode of socialist production

Proposed by Marx and Engels as the transitional model between capitalism and utopian society without classes, it consists of a society whose production is orchestrated according to the use and needs of the community , rather than accumulation and monetary gain.

For this, the State has to organize the productive forces, abolishing to some extent private property and preventing the unequal distribution of wealth. This type of mode has never been successfully implemented anywhere. Marx and Engels themselves did not leave in writing how it could occur or occur.

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