Class Struggles in the Ancient World.

[Wason, M. Class Struggles in Ancient Greece. 1947].  Hesiod 8th century BC.

Golden Age = Savagery (Palaeolithic). Silver Age = Barbarism (Neolithic). Bronze Age = archaeological bronze age + early civilisation.

Golden Age of Hesiod = two significant features of the Palaeolithic. Thus – first articulate speech, and second is food gathering as means of production. Therefore – food gathering, not food producing. Equates with the first stage of savagery.

Iron Age of Hesiod = new urban civilisation built on remains of Bronze Age = new inventions, iron, alphabet. From now on human history became one of social rather than physical development. See Hesiod – Mesolithic, 6000 BC.

Palaeolithic = three stages of savagery – out of the crises of savagery arose the domestication of animals and agriculture. Continuance – live and work in small units containing several families. Thence – storing grain, pottery working. Thus = division of labour. Grain could only be stored if there was a surplus. Great extension of man’s social unit. Thence – production of a surplus and the consequent division of labour led to primitive government, with minority authority that was religious in character.

Women – economic importance with matriarchy common in the Neolithic, e.g., pottery, agriculture. Some places – male husbandry with man’s social dominance and patriarchy. Revolution in the means of production = domestication of animals + discovery and development of agriculture. Thus > beginnings of Neolithic Age or Age of Barbarism. Thus speech and man as social. Now > agriculture created the conditions for the emergence of the state. Hence > start of class struggles.

Neolithic lifestyle = (1) agriculture, (2) domestic animals, (3) pottery, (4) polished stone tools, (5) obsidian, (6) absence of weapons.

Thessaly = worship of the Mother Goddess. 1st half of 3rd millennium BC. Second economic revolution = with Neolithic communities – trade + exchange and use of metals. The third human milestone = demanded a greater surplus, thus intensified agricultural production – the plough, irrigation, canals, wheels, ditches, pottery, solar navigation. But – women decline in status.

Beginning of archaeological Bronze Age = upper stage of barbarism. The transition to civilisation. Trade development = economic and social inequalities which helped alter the whole structure of family and society. Thus accumulation of wealth was essential for development of trade in the Bronze Age. Thence the oppression of poor = increased use of slaves.

Palaeolithic man = group of families = social unit. Neolithic man = ‘elders’ – authority in community based on family and tribe. Bronze Age = extensive use of division of labour. New social unit = state, states, empire. Plus rigid social hierarchy. Laws, customs of gens now incapable of controlling new economy.

Thus – first appearance of the state = the means used by one class to exploit another and to control the production of the community. Establishment of cities which replaced the village as the characteristic social unit. Bronze Age = demand – more workers = more wars, enslavement with only a small surplus. Class struggles. Stagnation + break-up of city states. This = middle bronze age.

NB – Egypt, Mesopotamia, Hammurabi Code (Empire of Babylonia 2000 BC), reign of Thotmes III (1501-1447 BC), Iknaton (Akenaton) = 1375-1358 BC and monotheism.

 

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