Marxismus und ländliche Armut

Within recent debates on the status of central Marxian categories, reference has repeatedly been made to issues of rural poverty and their implications for the Marxian model of class. This essay seeks to clarify the late Marx’s position on the developmental prospects of rural societies, relating it to some of the main tendencies within the ongoing controversy on “new peasant movements” and the significance of subsistence and semi-subsistence agriculture in many parts of the world, including Central and Eastern Europe. The essay also discusses the current renaissance of Alexander Chayanov’s theory of peasant economy, exploring the context within which that theory was developed (the Soviet Union of the 1920s, which experienced major famines and rural unrest) and using Chayanov’s model of the family farm to show up some of the limitations of the Marxian concept of “doubly free wage labour”.
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