[an error occurred while processing this directive]
                         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 on the rising
 middle-class. Thirdly, the rise of the bourgeoisie created competition
 for the state sanctioned monopolies, reducing its profit.
 Howard Erskine-Hill refutes Marxism. He states that neither ...
 "the 'rise of the gentry' ... ideas concerning resistance to rulers
 ... nor even the narrowing financial base of the Tudor and Stuart
 monarchy ... determined the outbreak of the Civil War ... They are
 circumstances . . . contributing to an outcome which was not
 Jack A. Goldstone, in his work Revolutions, argues that once
 historical data is carefully examined Marxism falls short. The Marxist
 reasons for the revolution are factors, but its scope of analysis is
 to narrow.
 "...the neo-Marxist view... with its focus on elite politics
 and the failings of Charles I run into difficulties when confronted
 with evidence."5
 An example of this "evidence" that Goldstone refers to, are the
 enclosures. The land owners had support from the farmers who resided
 on the land. The parties that were affected by enclosure movement were
 the artisans and merchants. These merchant and artisan, or rather
 Marxism rising bouroeisie, were the unfortunate targets of this
 policy. The rising English Bourgeoisie used the land to satisfy there
 needs for resources (i.e. wood for fire and craftsmanship). Thus, a
 new theory must be introduced to explain the factors leading to and
 the Revolution itself.
         Charles Tilly, in his work, Political Conflict Theory,
 introduce the theory of "Resource Mobilization"(RMT). The two aspects
 of RMT are government and those who contend with the government for
 power. Power is defined as control of the resources. The resources are
 capital, means of production and personnel. 6 There are three
 characteristics to the RMT7 that help further explain the revolution.
 First, two or more organizations (government included) must claim the
 right to rule and control government. The conflict between the Crown
 and the Parliament during the 1640's meet this criteria. King Charles
 I during his rule attempted to close the rift between Catholics and
 Protestants. This policy was disturbing to the English populace.
 However, the brunt of this new policy was felt in Scotland and
 perceived was a direct assault on their religious organizations. The
 Scots rebelled and amassed a army to invade England an emancipate
 themselves from Charles I's authority. The King needed to acquire
 funds to raise an army so he called Parliament into session.
         After 6 years of silence, Parliament was aggressive against
 the crown. Instead of strong support for the King, they came with a
 list of grievances which needed to be addressed.8 It is this
 aggression which characterizes an organization contending for power in
 the government. The second characteristic, is the commitment of a
 significant amount of the population to each organization. In January
 1642, the King attempted to arrest five MP's (Members of Parliament).
 Having failed, the King traveled north to an important port which was
 also a military stronghold, as well. Parliament denied him access.
 This was a definite sign of the waning power of the King. Charles I
 traveled to Nottingham to raise his standard. People began to rally
 behind the King. Parliament severely underestimated the influence of
 the Charles I and the idea of the monarchy. A significant amount of
 people rallied behind the King and the Civil War soon followed9.
         The third, and the most applicable, is the incapacity of
 and/or the unwillingness of the government to suppress the challenges
 for power. The King was desirous to put down the Scots, and eventually
 Parliament, after it was called into session (long Parliament). He was
 incapable in raising an army earlier without Parliament's
 appropriation of the necessary funds to pay an army.10 Therefore, the
 opponents of the Crown were given space to develop and acquire
 resources. Resource Mobilization Theory focuses on the leadership of
 both the revolutionary organization and the government in power. The
 three above stated characteristics of England in the 1640's, only
 emphasizes the short term factors for the revolution The fact that
 Parliament is actually part of the government provides a complication
 in the application of RMT. However, Parliament was struggling against
 the King to acquire more control over resources. The King showed
 himself as a bungling statesman in dealing with parliaments demands
 and grab for power. This is a classic example that shows what happens
 when "carrot ideas"11 are implemented without discretion and
 supervision. It could be argued that Charles I lack of sensitivity to
 the people was the cause for this lack of discretion.
         Even with the application of two theories, a satisfactory
 explanation of both the factors leading to the uprising and the
 revolution itself are lacking. A third theory must be brought to this
 case study. Samuel Huntington's, "Institutional theory", argues that
 there are inherent tensions between political and economic
 developments. If there are large economic changes in society then
 there must be political change to guide the modifications which are
 taking place, as well as, incorporating new social developments.12
 England's Crown during the 17th century was lacking in ability
 to be dynamic. Trade and production began to increase so did the
 population. This increase created a middle-class in England. The
 middle-class consisted of artisans, merchants, land owners and
 landlords (these classifications are not all inclusive). Competition
 between the middle-class and state encouraged monopolies became
 evident during this time. There was a definite power shift away from
 property to the people. 13
         Another long term factor lies within the King's policy toward
 the Catholics. This relaxing of tensions between the Protestants and
 Catholics was not viewed as favorable by the rising gentry
 (Middle-class). A form of Protestantism referred to as Puritanism was
 the main belief system of the gentry. This was an extremely
 conservative sect of protestantism, religious toleration was not
 acceptable to them14. This was another social development which
 Charles I "over-looked".
         Institutionalization was never a reality in British politics
 during this period in history. The organizations that existed in the
 English monarchy during the early 1600's were unable to promote value
 and stability. The system became rigid and unadapting to the demands
 for change made by new socio-economic factors. The constant attempts
 by both the Crown and the Parliament to subordinate one another
 removed their ability to reach a compromise. Thus, there is not one
 theory that can be used to satisfy all of the causal factors,
 institutional developments and socio-economic changes of the English
 revolution of 1640. Marxism addressed the changes the English economy
 made creating capitalist markets and free trade. It maps out the
 general factors which helped lead to capture and execution of the King
 of England, Charles I. Resource Mobilization Theory argued in more
 specific terms, defining that the organization which controls the
 resources has the power. It clarifies the power struggle between the
 Crown and the Parliament. Short term factors, present before and
 during the revolution, were emphasized by RMT. The last theory
 presented by this paper was Institutional Theory. It explained, in
 long term factors, the causes leading to the revolution by discussing
 the rise of the gentry, economics and religious intolerance.
         There is no single theory to explain every relevant factor
 present in revolution. However, the application of a select number or
 combination of theoretical approaches, helps to establish a proper
 framework for analysis of revolutions. Despite all of the ground
 breaking research and theorizing being done on revolution, it still
 remains a phenomenon and can not be predicted.
Search For:
Free Essays – Free Term Papers – Free Book Reports