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